Carolyn Kopprasch is the CHO – Chief Happiness Officer at Buffer (http://bufferapp.com). Buffer is a social media productivity website and app that allows people to efficiently and seamlessly schedule content on various social media platforms. She is head of the Happiness Team that is dedicated to delivering a stellar customer service experience with their software.
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- How Buffer uses customer service as a marketing tool
- How to decrease the time it takes to respond to customer requests that will result in happier customers
- 3 practices that Buffer uses to achieve phenomenal customer service results
To See These Tactics In Action:Click Here To See The Secret Weapon That Buffer Uses To Build & Maintain A Large Customer Base
To See The Transcript:
Tim:Welcome to Conversion Cast, the only podcast that gets to the heart of the metrics. Now here’s another data driven case study.
What’s up fellow marketer? It’s Monday and that means it’s time for some marketing goodness. Today’s guest is going to share with us the three keys to customer happiness. We have those keys available for download right on our website so take two seconds right now and download them at ConversionCast.com/bufferdownload. Again that’s ConversionCast.com/bufferdownload. Now let me forewarn you. If you’re close minded, you’re going to hate this episode. Why do I say that? Because today’s episode on its surface won’t appear to be about marketing at all. It is in fact about customer service. But Tim, you might be thinking, this is ConversionCast. I want to hear about marketing. Settle down my young pat one because for the folks at Buffer, that amazing social media app that everyone and their mothers are using their customer service is their most powerful marketing too. They’ve got heavy customers left and right including us happy folks at LeadPages and those customers are evangelists. I’ve probably been responsible for at least half of their success. But all exaggerations aside, today’s guest Caroline Kopprasch is the chief happiness officer at Buffer. Her goal is creating happy customers and that’s just part of the buffer philosophy for a very good reason. So I’m sorry to say you won’t be hearing any clean cut metrics and unfortunately after this episode, you won’t be able to split test anything. However you will leave with a few incredible ways to turn your customers into free advertising especially if you download the guide we’ve put together to Carolyn3Keys@ConversionCast.com/bufferdownload.
This episode won’t appease the marketing purists but if you want to be miles ahead of your competition, listen in and take notes. I’m Tim Page, the Conversion Educator here at LeadPages. This is Conversion Cast and here’s Carolyn Kopprasch from Buffer.
All right. Carolyn, thank you so much for being here today. I’m really excited to talk about some of the cool stuff that you guys are doing over at buffer.
Carolyn:Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.
Tim:Cool. So the first thing that we like to do is we like to talk about just the result, just to kind of give a little teaser, get everybody’s like appetite and that so can you tell us what result you were able to achieve with what we’re going to talk about today?
Carolyn:Sure. Yeah. So I’d say the main result is that we went from being a team of one with customer number zero to a team of 15 with customer number of over a million in little under three years.
Tim:That is huge girl in three years so that’s awesome. I’m excited to talk about that but first let’s kind of let’s talk a little bit about what Buffer is and what it does and then also what your role is there.
Carolyn:Sure. Buffer is a social media application and the idea is that it’s for small businesses and individuals who want to schedule posts for their social media profiles. So the benefit of that is that you can schedule things in advance like to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn that kind of thing and track the results. So just it basically helps you share [0:03:29] [Indiscernible] and spend a little bit less time on the social media and so that you can get back to running your business.
My title is chief happiness officer and the happiness team is basically the customer service team at buffer. So I lead the team of four people who answer all tweets and emails and that kind of thing for customers.
Tim:That’s awesome. I’m excited and the way that I was introduced to Buffer is I believe it was Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA was talking about it on one of his podcasts. I remember him saying you know, like he tweets out a ton of articles I mean constantly tweeting out stuff. He goes if it were up to me, I’d have about a tweet every five minutes and people would never continue to follow me. He goes so I use buffer so that I don’t have to worry about that. The thing that is really cool about the app is that it actually – it’s kind of built on when people are most likely to read the tweets. Is that right or am I messing that up?
Carolyn:That’s exactly right. It’s based on sort of the philosophies of each network. So the idea is that for Facebook you will want to share certain types of content a little bit more especially images. You will want to share a little bit less frequently because content is recycled by their algorithm [0:04:44] [Indiscernible] So if something is doing well, it will get shown to more people and it’s not strictly chronological. So you’ll want to share a little bit less frequently and let content sort of run its course. Whereas on Twitter, it’s strictly chronological and so when you share and how frequently you share is really important. So we treat those two networks differently and we’ll send out content differently for those two networks and so on.
Tim:Yeah that’s awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about that. What was the philosophy behind why you focus so heavily on customer happiness?
Carolyn:Yeah, that’s a great question and it starts kind of right from the beginning. So this is actually the second company that Joel has started, Joel our CEO. So when he was going about beginning this company he was so – he recognized you know the value of customer service and he had one company fail so or not fail but he had sort of let it run its course. So at one point, he started validating the idea that people might need a service like this until he was tweeting and he was doing a lot of things to make sure that people really needed this. So he was really closely in contact with people from day one. He experienced that that was extremely valuable for retention at least in the very beginning.
It’s a little bit hard to quantify in the very beginning but he would send an email to every single person from his personal email address who signed up and say high it’s so nice to meet you. You know, I’m the creator of this, how can I help you. He also learned that he learned a ton and was able to move really fast from the product based on the feedback that we got. So it really, it allowed people to get to know him and feel a connection to the brand which helped with retention and it also invited a lot of feedback and allowed him to learn really fast and iterate in a way that he wouldn’t have been able to do if he wasn’t in contact with customers.
So that’s kind of how it started and then that’s just been kind of built into our DNA ever since for those two reasons. First of all because it just makes the customer feel awesome and it makes us really happy to do it and also that it helps us so much and it allows us to really connect with the people who are using our product and let them know that we’re grateful for them and that we don’t take them for granted and also that it helps us so much when we’re prioritizing bugs and features and that kind of thing.
Tim:Awesome. Yeah I’m going to be the guy that’s like or the girl that’s like listening to the show right now that’s going well I’m not going to be the girl but you know what I mean?
Tim:I will be the person listening to the show right now and going that’s great, I already believe in great customer service, I can’t stand it when companies have terrible customer service. So how do I do it? How do we have customer service like what you’re doing at Buffer?
Carolyn:Yeah. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there that everybody sort of gets it. Every person who has ever been a customer which is every person really understands the difference of how you feel about a business that treats you with respect versus a business that maybe is a little bit more inclined to take you for granted. So that’s the question of the hour. It’s like everybody gets it but how do you really do it and I think that that’s something we’re continually learning. I would certainly not claim that we figured it all out but yeah one of the things that has been super valuable for us is staying really organized about the things that customers are reaching out to us about. So we keep track of every single report of every single feature class and every single bug.
Carolyn:Yeah. We use a combination of help scout and trelo and various and [0:08:22] [Indiscernible] and a couple of other tools to do that. So staying really organized like that maybe not at the extreme beginning when you are sort of your own – you’re just managing it yourself. But once you have a team doing it, this is the best way to move fast and have a direct line between the customer service team and the product. The thing that we’ve noticed with this is that we’re a team of there’s four of us and so if I get a report of a bug and my other three colleagues get a report of a bug, then we’ve each only heard it once and we don’t know that it’s a pattern.
But if we keep track of it in our trelo report then we know it’s a pattern based on as soon as the second time it’s reported and we’re able to move really fast and connect with the product team on that. So that would be one recommended way to do this is to choose your tools really carefully and I’ll happily. We just actually wrote a blog post about a tools that we use for this kind of thing so I’ll happily shift that over to you if you want to put it in the show notes or anything. But so yeah just staying really organized and documenting everything and [0:09:26] [Indiscernible] this one is little bit more murky but setting goals for customer services we found are really valuable tool. So we set goals to respond to people faster and we have the hypothesis that responding faster was going to result in happier customers. So what we’ve noticed is – so we use an app called [0:09:48] [Indiscernible] which allows customers to say yes I’m happy or no, I’m not happy after the exchange. It wasn’t clear right at first but when there’s a big change in our response time, there’s a direct correlation with the change in self-reported happiness from customers.
So we validated that theory and so like just setting a goal and trying a bunch of different things to find out what actually does make customers happy versus doesn’t. We were kind of surprised by that actually because we are known for writing really personal you know, really perhaps verbose emails [0:10:29] [Indiscernible]. And making them feel really special and investigating their website and saying something personal about them. We found that that’s actually not what makes customers happy. What makes customers happy is getting an email that says this is all set and then they just get to move on with their lives.
Carolyn:So yeah just trying different things and setting different goals and finding out if there’s a success or not with each of those ideas.
Tim:Yeah that’s great. I mean those are some really good ideas in terms of what to do. So you know, this is a show about marketing and the people listening to the show love metrics. It’s like everybody’s favorite thing. We don’t have –in this case, we don’t have a before and after you know, metric or result in terms of you know, we did this one thing and then we were able to give this. But what we do have are some really unique customer service based metrics that you guys have been able to achieve in the past couple of years. I think that’s what makes this worth having for Conversion Cast for a marketing show because these are things that we should be striving for even in our company’s own marketing. Because if we have better customer service, obviously it’s going to work with churn, it’s going to work with you know, obviously word of mouth and that kind of stuff. So let’s hear some of your most, the metrics that you would say that you’re most proud of.
Carolyn:Sure. That’s a great one. Yeah. So our customers have sort of gotten to know us as people who respond. So that has definitely helped us define our brand. So even though our customers have increased we feel is a great rate. You know, we’ve gone from in January for example of last year we only emailed with like 2600 customers and generated or I guess the last month of December, we emailed with 4600. So that’s not even doubling. But the total replies that we’ve sent have gone from for example, you know, 4300 to almost 8000.
Carolyn:Yeah. So the amount of replies that we’re sending has gone up and so that’s one of the things that we’re really proud of is even as you know, we think that that means that we are addressing the simple problems well with our product. So you know, we introduced an FAQ and much more importantly, we listen to the types of common questions that people have and we fix them. So we’re able to sort of really dig in when we’re emailing. We’re able to really investigate the ones that are tricky as opposed to helping somebody you know, click this button to do that thing. We just made the button more obvious. So that has felt like a success, the fact that we’re talking more with each customer which some companies might actually not consider that a success but since our goal wasn’t to decrease our communication, it was simply to decrease our unnecessary communication.
Tim:Oh yeah I like that. That’s a great point.
Carolyn:Yeah I mean we believe fully that the – I mean we love our support and believe firmly in it but we subscribe first to the idea that the best support is no support.
Carolyn:You know, somebody can have a better experience by not speaking to us and just having it work. That’s clearly better. So that’s been one of the things that we’ve been really proud of is our total replies percentages has increased. You know, we get about 15% to 20% increase per month and we’ve been able to keep our percent within one hour and percent within six hours relatively stable. So that’s something that we’re really proud of as well.
Tim:Yeah those are some pretty cool metrics and it’s stuff that you don’t hear a lot of people talking about. So it’s cool to hear that you’re focusing on something that does have – it has an indirect impact on marketing efforts so it’s something that our audience can definitely appreciate and you know, as you go forward, is there anything that you’re really looking forward to doing or any ideas that you’re looking forward to testing in terms of being able to continuously improve your customer service?
Carolyn:Yes, absolutely. So the thing that I think is the next step for us that’s going to be the most important thing for figuring out where to allocate resources is to make the connection between these numbers and the numbers that affect you know, revenue and that kind of thing. So if what we’re going to try and figure out is are the people who interact with us more or less likely to upgrade and to stay on board.
So that’s really going to affect whether or not we continue with this theory of we want you to talk to us versus find the answer on like a forum or an FAQ and that kind of thing. We want you to reach out to us. Because if the people who talk to us are actually not having a better experience then we need to totally change our theory. So I think if we can figure out you know, if we respond faster than retention it goes up. You know, like if that’s the kind of connection that we can draw then we’ll be able to have the – we’ll be sort of willing I guess to add even more resources to the efforts that we’re having and doing. If not then that’s a really interesting conversation as well so and we’ll have invalidated a theory that’s really valuable to know even if it turns out to be a failure. So that’s I think the biggest thing that’s next for us is to connect the customer service numbers to the bottom line.
Tim:I love it. I love that you’re actually going to be really focusing on tying in the customer service to the marketing. That’s fantastic. Well Carolyn, this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for coming on Conversion Cast today and I hope that we can talk again and see how those tests actually work out for you.
Carolyn:Yeah, my pleasure and I would love that [0:16:10] [Indiscernible]
Tim:Awesome. Thanks so much.
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