Be human, be there for the customer — Feedly’s Secret Sauce to Great Customer Support

We interviewed Petr Pinkas, from Feedly, for our secret sauce series. Hear from him as he tells us about Feedly and their kickass customer support experience.

Hey Petr, thanks for saying yes to the interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Petr feedly customer story

Hey, I’m Petr, I live in Brno (Czech Republic) and work remotely for Feedly. I really love the product and the whole team behind it. My goal is to make Feedly customers and users happy.

Being human is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from supporting customers. —Petr @feedly #secretsauce #customersupporttips Click To Tweet

Tell us a little about Feedly and what you do at Feedly.

Feedly HQ is in Redwood City, California and we have a couple of remote employees around the world. I’m in Brno – Czech Republic or from anywhere I’m currently at. For example I plan to spend a month in the mountains this June so I’ll work from there, in winter we plan to go somewhere warm and I can work from there as well.

Feedly customer story
Petr likes to manage his work along with his vacations

We have colleagues in Portugal, France, LA, New York and soon Croatia and more.

I am the Customer Support Hero for our Feedly Pro users on all channels — email, social media plus many different projects. We’re still a relatively small company where we need all hands for all the projects we try and execute.

Feedly is a single place where you get all the information you care about from all the sources you follow. We’re currently working hard on adding machine learning to make Feedly a better tool for discovering new content and also prioritizing important articles for you. We’ve recently also launched Feedly Teams for team collaboration.

Why is the role named Customer Support Hero? How is your current role different from anything that you’ve done in the past?

The role was created before I joined, so I’m not the one who can answer that 🙂 We don’t focus on the role/title names for what we do, we’re rather focused on the work done.

There are a couple of major differences in this role from the previous work I’ve done, first Feedly is based in Silicon Valley, second I work remotely 100% of the time (with couple team visits per year) and I handle support for all our Pro (over 100,000) and Free users (over 10M).

We don’t focus on the role/title names for what we do, we’re rather focused on the work done. —Petr @feedly #customer support Click To Tweet

How big is your team and how many questions do you get from customers every day?

The whole team is now around 20 people. For the Feedly Pro customer success part I’m the only one. We currently support over 9 million users. We have a dedicated team for Feedly Teams as well. I usually get somewhere between 40-60 questions per day (there are also busy times when I get 100+) plus all the social media interactions.

How do you manage support for 9 million users?

Only our Pro users are entitled to get priority support, but we also help everyone who reaches out to us on our social channels. It is all about prioritization and staying focused. To be honest, Feedly is pretty easy to use so it is mainly about helping everyone to get the most out of it.

You mentioned that you work remotely. How easy is it support customers remotely considering your tech team isn’t sharing the same office space to help you with tech-related questions?

Our team is very responsive, so at the most, you’ll wait couple hours to get an answer before the tech team wakes up.

What makes Feedly’s customer support different from its peers?

It is an endless joy to read all the positive praises. It is a very uplifting experience to practically read every day something positive about Feedly.

A lot of questions/complaints start with “I love Feedly and what you do, I use it every day” and after that there is a question, feature feedback or request. I think that says a lot about Feedly’s customer experience!

How do you handle a situation where Feedly has taken down a feature that users love?

It is important to explain the situation, sometimes it is a decision made by a majority of users, sometimes to make things more easy to use or navigate. It is always hard to make a change for a feature you’ve had in the product for couple years. We communicate and try to find workarounds if we remove a feature for good.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from supporting users/customers?

Being human is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. We’re all humans and if we’re compassionate it helps both sides.

I noticed that users are open about how much they love Feedly. They are also quite vocal about what features they’d like to see in Feedly. What happens after you tell your users that you will ‘pass on the feature request to the team’?

We document all the feature requests from our users and regularly review them. When some feature request gets popular we usually add it to Feedly. During the process we invite our users again to review the design proposal and Beta test the feature.

I believe that as someone selling or supporting a product or software, we should be our own customers. How often do you use Feedly? What are your favorite features?

Every single day, multiple times 🙂 My go-to use is to scan titles, scroll in Title only view, read what is interesting to me and also share to social media.

Now, the big question — What’s the secret sauce to great customer support/experience at Feedly?

This goes across the whole company — growth mindset. Design like you are right. Listen like you are wrong.

Where do you think support will be five years from now?

I believe we’ll see a lot of automation for repetitive questions/answers and maybe some pre-scanning of a question by a bot. On the other hand, a human voice and human response will be super important, because we’re humans and we’re not supposed to talk to bots all the time especially when we’re frustrated or looking for a tip on how best utilize the product we use.

What does it take for someone to go from being a customer support hero to customer support superhero?

I believe in humans and their general willingness to help and understand each other. Being a compassionate human being is a great start. Reading How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie is another one and following with Buffer support heroes are doing is another great path to succeed in this role 🙂

Being a compassionate human being is a great start to becoming a customer support superhero! —Petr @feedly #customersupporttips #secretsauce Click To Tweet

A cliche question but I’d ask anyway — What does a typical day look like for you?

It is different all the time, but I usually get up at 5:30-6am, get a lot of work done and catch up with what happened overnight in 60-90 minutes, get breakfast, do another 2 hour spring, go for a run, have lunch, maybe do some shopping or things that needs to be done during non-busy hours, get back and work until the US team gets up. Play with my son, read a book, prepare dinner and work for another hour or so when the team is awake and I can interact in real time. By talking about this, it is really different every day. ?

Design like you are right. Listen like you are wrong. —Edwin @feedly #secretsauce #customersupport Click To Tweet

Do you listen to music when you are handling support? ? If yes, what’s your playlist like?

Sometimes I do, I don’t have a specific playlist, usually whatever I get in Spotify, when I need to be super-focused I like “epic music” from movies, that keeps me pumped 🙂 Sometimes I tuned into some brain-food lists in Spotify, sometimes I like to listen to metal when I’m tired and need a pump.

So, how does a support hero stay productive?

Recharging batteries is super important as well as taking regular brakes. I recharge by running/biking/yoga and also by playing with my 6 months old son ?

Petr- Feedly customer story
Cute! Isn’t it?

Closing it off with a fun question — You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Green, it is a Feedly color 🙂 And I love Feedly! ?

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