In this interview, we talk to Eva Schaller, head of support at Sendle, where she has built and manages a 25 person customer support team.
Some of the topics we cover:
- Using customer service to differentiate
- CX strategy and how it fits into growth strategy
- The best customer success metrics
- When/how to build a remote support team
- Benefits of working with Influx - flexible outsourcing for high growth brands
Sendle is consistently growing 20% month on month, and is one of the fastest growing companies in Australia. They’re a logistics business, empowering small business owners by making parcel delivery simple, reliable and affordable by connecting these business owners to a distribution network of couriers.
Much of their growth comes through word of mouth referrals which requires an exceptional and superior two-way support experience. They need to respond to customers quickly and effectively, and they need to troubleshoot and proactively fix any fulfillment issues with their courier network.
How they work with Influx
Influx provides a buffer layer of support, ensuring excellent service, Monday to Friday, between peaks in support demand and internal coverage, while Sendle builds their own team.
The Influx team works alongside the Sendle team, providing elastic and burst coverage. This ensures a consistently high-quality support experience during Sendle’s rapid growth and seasonal bursts.
This interview dives into how Eva set up her team for success.
Thanks for connecting! For starters, how would you describe Sendle?
Sendle is a technology logistics company helping small and medium businesses in Australia deliver parcels to their customers. We provide door to door pickups and deliveries, helping our clients save money and save time by not lining up at the post office.
How are you different from your competitors?
Three things. First, we’ve simplified pricing so that Sendle is about 40% cheaper than Australia Post. Second, we pick up parcels from our customers saving them the hassle of getting to the post office and queuing up. Third, we provide a sleek and easy interface and dashboard for our customers to track their orders. The entire experience is simple and easy. And we provide extra levels of customer service, so that customers have a team that is dedicated to them.
Our main vehicle for growth is people sharing their experience. It’s people talking about Sendle and enjoying the service and using it and referring it to their friends and family.
How would you describe your customers?
We have tens of thousands of small business customers. They range from the mum at home sending her creations like ceramic pots that she sells on Etsy or eBay to the bigger, medium sized companies that are all around Australia and send their products without complications.
What do you think is driving your growth?
Our largest growth channel is referral - people sharing their experience. It’s customers who use Sendle, enjoy the experience and then refer us to other small businesses and their friends and family. That’s the best kind of growth there is!
What is your customer experience strategy?
We want to proactively resolve customer issues. We’re building a system that automatically raises alerts and fixes problems, usually before the customer feels a thing. The main goal is to address all the issues that a customer faces before they become a big problem.
How does your customer experience strategy fit into your business strategy?
We want our customers to be successful and happy, and by doing this we’re creating positive word of mouth. When you send parcels, you’ll inevitably face issues, and the support team is there to solve problems and make the sending experience as easy as possible.
How do you define success for your customer experience team?
Success can be measured through KPIs, but one thing that I teach the team is that KPIs are only one dimension of success, if we have the right behaviours in place, the numbers will take care of themselves. Ultimately, we want to help the customer. If all of the agents have that in mind, then the metrics will reflect that.
We measure things like first response time, NPS, ownership and solved tickets. All of these metrics help us understand how much we’re helping a customer.
Soon we’ll also be rolling out CSAT to rate the overall support experience. Our NPS relates back to the product, not just the support experience.
How is your team structured?
I have 25 people in the team with three team leaders, who have direct reports. About half of our agents work with our customers and the other half work with our couriers. We also have a recruiter, a business analyst helping create business processes and structure, and soon we’ll have a full-time trainer.
Our internal team is entirely based in Manilla, and then we have Influx.
Our goal is to build a team that is quite different from the BPO industry. We wanted to get away from agents reading from scripts, sounding like robots, and not being accountable for the customer and their conversations.
How does Influx fit into your structure?
They act as an extension of our team. We treat Influx as if they were team members, so they have access to all of our resources, internal documentation, training, the lot!
They help with burst coverage and they act as a buffer layer between support demand and our own internal agents.
We originally started working with Influx because we were struggling to find the right agents for our own internal team. Influx stepped in and helped us as we needed them, which allowed us the time to hire the right people.
How did you set up Influx for success?
From the beginning, we considered them as an extension of the Sendle team, giving them access to the same help documentation and training materials we use for everyone else. We also have one person who is dedicated and responsible for the Influx team. That person runs a weekly meeting ensuring regular feedback in both directions.
Why did you build your own team in the Philippines?
From the beginning we decided to put together a team there. There is a very good pool of customer service representatives to work with in the Philippines. The industry there is so big that there are a lot of great candidates.
Why did you build your own team in a new country rather than work with a BPO (Business Process Outsourcer)?
Our goal was to build a team that was quite different from the BPO industry. We wanted to get away from agents reading from scripts, sounding like robots, and not being accountable for the customer and their conversations.
With BPOs, I think it’s very difficult to create a collaborative and helpful culture with a focus on nurturing and developing people and their careers. Many of them - not all - hire people at the lowest cost. I would have no control over the people that get hired and no control over the culture they create in the office.
With our own team, we don’t do much hiring. Instead, we focus on retaining and training our team. We’d much rather not hire someone than hire the wrong person.
People management is a full time job. I’m training people that can help develop people and help the team grow. It never stops. It’s all about having the right people in place and setting the right expectations.
When is the right time to build out a remote support team?
The right time is when you want to invest in a team long term. It’s not something that just works. Building a team remotely is like building a team anywhere. You need to invest in their success and invest in people who will then be developing people.
Right now, building out a remote team is my full time job. People management is a full time job. I’m training people that can help develop people and help the team grow. It never stops. It’s all about having the right people in place and setting the right expectations.
Any more benefits working with Influx?
We now have the flexibility and confidence to plan for spikes in tickets.
It’s also been a great learning experience for the team. By training a remote team - Influx - they’re learning how to improve their communication in a way that’s setting us up for success in the future.
Lastly, Influx gives us more time to do other things like personal development and project work, helping us improve the product, office, and overall service.
Any predictions for customer support? How will customer support be different in 5 years?
I think there is going to be a much higher level of proactivity in the way we diagnose and fix problems. When something goes wrong, we’ll be able to provide a much more customized and, ultimately, better interaction with the customer.