Hiring A Mary Poppins of Email Support: Kind and Funny With a Carpet Bag of Tricks

One of the best things you can do for your business and your customers is to make sure someone rock solid is on the receiving end of all those tickets.

Why? The studies don’t lie. Here’s why investing heavily in email support hiring is well worth your time.

7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service, according to a study from American Express. A study from Harvard Business Review found that it’s anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

By the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

In a forward thinking report from Walker, they found that by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. It’s more important than ever to create that world-class customer service team so that your business will continue to grow.

Here’s how to find and hire your own Mary Poppins of email support agents.

Learn From Others’ Mistakes

The scary thing about customer service emails is that they can be saved for perpetuity. And if you don’t have an empathetic email support team member, this can backfire.

Take the Australian women’s clothing store, Gasp. A customer complained that a sales girl in the shop was rude to her, so she sent off an email to management, who promptly defended their employee. In the midst of all of this, the internal email about the incident was leaked and went viral. The sales girl called this customer a “pig” among other offensive names and the rather rude response from the store area manager to the unhappy customer was, well, unfriendly. Here’s an excerpt of his email response:

“Chris is a retail superstar, who possesses unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.

So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.”

Seven years later, we’re still talking about this major snafu. A bad customer support story can follow you and your brand forever.

Learn From Major Wins Too

Here’s a story that might make you a little misty-eyed. A young boy lost his favorite Lego character when it fell from his pocket, so his Dad suggested he send Lego an email inquiring about a replacement.

Here’s an excerpt from a very clever customer support agent.

“My bosses told me I could not send you one out for free because you lost it but, I decided that I would put a call into Sensei Wu to see if he could help me.

Luka, I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay minifigure was purely an accident and that you would never ever ever let it happen ever again. He told me to tell you, “Luka your Father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!” Sensei Wu also told me it was ok if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.

You will see an envelope from LEGO within the next two weeks with your new minifigures. Please take good care of them, Luka. Remember that you promised to always leave them at home.”

It’s safe to assume that Luka is a customer for life after receiving an email like this. And if he ever ends up being a Dad himself, we’re pretty sure his kids will be Lego fans too. Now that’s a solid ROI.

Establish The Key Principles of Your Customer Service Experience

The mission for your email support team needs to be clearly defined. Once you hire a new agent, you want them to know the principles of your customer service department in order to guide them on how to best respond to emails.

Here’s a few questions that both you and your support team should ask before replying to customers.

Is The Customer Always Right?
It’s the golden rule of retail. And this should be drilled in the back of every customer support team member’s head if it’s how you operate your business. Even when the customer is absolutely wrong, you don’t want your rep to tell them that. Make sure this is taped to every computer screen of your team, so they know to jump through hoops to make sure every customer is a happy one.

Is My Ego Checked At The Door?
Empathy is crucial to a great customer service rep. The occasional ornery customer may come across as combative and rude. While you don’t want your employee to ever field abuse, you do want to make sure they never fight back. We’re sure you’ve heard Mom say you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Well, turns out Mom was right. Again!

Am I Making Someone’s Day Better?
Customers don’t really like having to waste time on any form of communication about tracking down a lost order or to deal with an exchange. It ranks up there with cleaning the toilet and eating cold broccoli for dinner. Instill in your team that solving problems quickly and being proactive towards customers is the best way to ensure that customer will be a repeat one. There’s no Facebook ad or SEO work you can do that will guarantee that.

Have I Overdelivered? 
According to this study, waiters that leave candy with a check always get a bigger tip. What candy can you leave behind with your customer? You want reps that go out of their way, above and beyond the call of duty, sort of how Lego did with little Luka. Give your customer something to praise you for. A really nice tweet about your business can go along way.

Give your customer something to praise you for. A really nice tweet about your business can go along way.

Five Crucial Steps To Finding Your Mary

You’ve got it in your head that you want the Mary Poppins of customer service reps. Someone that is kind, gentle, funny and will pull anything out of their carpet bag of tricks to help a customer out.

If you’re hiring for remote email support jobs, you can cast a wide net for where to find the best talent out there. So how do you find this singing and dancing nanny, er, customer service superstar?

Here are five key steps to follow – no spoonful of sugar required.

Step 1: Create Your Dream Checklist

Do you actually know what you want in your eCommerce customer service candidate?

This is the most crucial step in finding the right hire. Think about what’s important to your customers and your business. Is it someone that already has experience in email support jobs from home? Is it someone that can pull out the one-liners all day long?

Maybe compassion has to be flowing from their veins? Or perhaps a whipfast sense of humor is what you think you need most? Either way, jot it all down and make sure this list appears in your job description.

Step 2: Vet For Email Skills During The Application Process

You’ve put effort into your checklist, so don’t waste all that good work on a poor job description. We’ve got a whole lengthy post about writing killer job descriptions, but for this topic specifically, here’s a few things we’d suggest.

– Ask each applicant to write responses to common email questions they’ll actually be receiving should they get the job.

– Throw a crazy scenario out to them and ask how they’d respond. Pick from either the craziest one you’ve encountered or make one up.

– Ask them for background into their customer service experience. This might seem obvious, but ask them to write it as part of the cover letter so you can get a sense of a) how they write and b) how they got into the field.

Put an emphasis on the cover letter instead and make it the most crucial component of the application.

– Don’t make submitting a resume mandatory. Gasp! Shocking suggestion, we know. You’re looking for writing skills. Specifically email writing skills! Put an emphasis on the cover letter instead and make it the most crucial component of the application.

Step 3: Make Your Interview Questions Email-Centric

It’s important to ask customer service centric questions to your potential new hire. Gone are the days of “Why did you apply for this position?” and “Tell me about yourself.” Instead, you need to ask specific questions related to email support. Here’s some to consider asking.

Tell us about a time you felt like you really made a customer’s day.
This question will help you get a sense of how willing your future email rep will go out of their way for customers.

Have you ever had a situation where there wasn’t a good process in place for a customer’s issue so you had to address it yourself?
Empathy is crucial, but identifying ways your company can improve is also done through customer service. This is a great gage as to how a support team member will identify problems but also solve them on their own.

How’d you get into customer service?
You’re hoping for a really cool story here or at least one that makes sense. You probably don’t want to hear “Oh I just fell into it” in order to nab a stellar support rep.

If a customer wants an email escalated to a manager, how would you handle that?
Naturally, you’ll need an actual system in place should this ever come up. But find out what they’d do. Do they try and continue to handle the issue themselves or would they just instantly forward it along? You want someone that will take customer service issues off your plate, not add to them.

Step 4: Onboard With An Emphasis on Workflow

Once you’ve found your ideal candidate, you need to invest time in quality onboarding to ensure they’ll be operating at their peak potential.  Here are a few suggestions to get them up-and-running quickly:

Give Them The Tech Stack Rundown
First things first, show them the software. If you’ve hired someone that has zero experience with the current support software you’re using, you’ll want to prioritize training them on it. Make sure they are fluent before they start using it solo.

Teach Them The Workflow
Make sure your new hire is trained in how the process works, where tickets go when issues are resolved, when certain tickets are escalated and what to do if the inquiry is one they can’t find an easy answer to.

Have Them Respond to Mock Requests
Run email support simulations with them until they’re comfortable. Offer feedback and suggestions for each one. Their ability to respond to customers will only improve with practice.

Review Their Work
As your email support agent begins working on customer emails, have a review process in place.  Even the best agent will undoubtedly answer replies differently than you’d like.  By reviewing their work, you’ll be able to see where they need coaching and support – both in their general approach to providing support as well as to the nuances of handling specific situations for your company.

Set Them Up To Succeed
You need the proper documentations in working order so that your email support rep has the information they need on hand. Included should be an extensive library of product details for them to reference along with how to respond to your most popular queries. It’s up to you as a manager to have SOP documentation and templates already in place.

Continue To Review and Offer Feedback
Once you’re comfortable enough to let your superstar support member shine, you still can’t wholly give up the reigns. It’s important to always review customer support tickets on a weekly basis to make sure emails are being responded to in a timely and professional manner.

Step 5: Continue To Offer Support As They Grow Into The Role

Imagine logging into your job every morning to a slew of emails that are 90% complaints. It’s not exactly a pick-me-up, is it? There are definitely “bad days” in the world of email support, where it’ll feel like your agent is putting out fires left and right. Even for the best email customer service team members, this can be draining.

Here’s a few tips on making sure they can be great at their job, even on a day where they feel they can’t win.

Schedule Mental Health Breaks
Everyone needs a quick break from dealing with customer service issues. Whether it’s a 15 minute break you schedule into their Google calendar to take time away from the screen or it’s a monthly treat you send, like a gift certificate to their local coffee shop, give them opportunities to take a break during their shift.

Check In Regularly
Schedule weekly check-in calls to get a sense of how things are going. Ask them about any issues that came up that were hard for them to handle, but ask about emails they think they handled really well too. This is especially crucial for employees in email customer service jobs from home since you won’t have daily in-person interactions.

Offer Feedback
Pick out a few emails every month that you think they could improve on and offer actionable advice. You should also choose a few examples of emails where they really rocked it and show them praise for a job well done. It’s important to continue offering ways they can get better at their job, but also tempered with noting that they’re being rock stars.

Ready to hire? Post Your Job Here.

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of email support hiring, you should post your position to our job boards.  It’s where empathetic, well-written support agents come looking for support based roles.   Between our podcast, email list and website we reach over 80,000 people a month.

Post your position right here today.

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6 thoughts on “Hiring A Mary Poppins of Email Support: Kind and Funny With a Carpet Bag of Tricks

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  6. William_pap on

    It is always impressive if we can approach an employer on your behalf with this candidate has expressed great interest to work in your company . While we can t guarantee to secure opportunities with all companies (some do have the 564 ir own internal hiring teams), being selective and targeted with the list of organisations you give to your consultant typically results in a more successful job search than being open to any vacancy. Have an idea of the size of business you would like to work for, the industry you would like them to be based in and be realistic. Then check the news to see which of these types of employers are doing well in the current market.
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