Rocketium’s Secret Sauce to Customer Support
Rocketium is a cloud-based software that lets users create, automate, and edit their own videos with text, images, voiceovers, footage, and motion graphics. When I added their brand’s email as an example in one of my articles, their CEO, Satej Sirur was kind enough to give us a thumbs up. Fast forward to today, here’s a detailed secret sauce interview on how customer support works at Rocketium, the tools they use, the strategies that have made them successful, and much more.
Founder & CEO of Rocketium
Tell us a bit about yourself and where did the spark for Rocketium come from?
I am an avid gamer and came up with the original concept for Rocketium in 2005 based on a game called The Sims. The idea was simple — most of us are lazy and will not take the effort to improve ourselves unless we can do it in an interesting way.
Over the years, I approached the idea in multiple ways. When the startup where I worked as Head of Product and Strategy was acquired, I decided to work on the idea formally with a colleague of mine.
Rocketium began as a platform for people to share informative content in the form of mini-games. In the first six months, we changed the content format to stories-like cards. In the next six months, we changed it to short videos.
Today, Rocketium still serves the original mission by allowing anyone to create videos that inform, engage, and educate. We are proud to help thousands of businesses, nonprofits, and educators from around the world create impactful videos that resonate with their audiences.
Rocketium looks like it’s meant for marketing and sales. What about customer support?
Our goal is to make communication more visual and concise. Salespeople and marketers are naturally drawn to this but we have customers in almost every industry and role — educators, nonprofits, business owners, HR, and, yes, even support. We recently launched a Chrome plugin that enables users to record their screen or webcam to create support and onboarding videos. This should be very useful for customer support teams who can quickly record videos showing how a feature can be used instead of sharing an article or having a long conversation. Such videos can easily be embedded in knowledge base articles for a better self-service experience.
As a business that is just starting out, how important do you think is customer service?
Regardless of how businesses see themselves, customers see businesses as service providers. A business offers a service regardless of whether they make hardware devices, software products, or delicious food. And customers expect implicit and explicit customer service from service providers. Explicit customer service manifests in the usual forms of call center, email, tickets, chats, and social media. Implicit customer service is what customers experience at every touchpoint. This makes customer service one of the most important parts of a business. Companies like Amazon and Apple have created massive companies on the back of excellent explicit and implicit customer service. In today’s world of SaaS, customer service plays an even more important role.
Does the support strategy of a startup change as it grows?
Yes. Startups have parts and motivations similar to larger enterprises but they manifest in very different ways. Below is my take on how the support strategy and tactics of a startup change throughout its journey.
Comparison of strategy and tactics based on the company size
Which are your support channels?
Web chat is our primary channel for users of our online video creator. These users can also use self-service support via our Help Center knowledge base and bots. We support our enterprise customers who use our API and white-label solutions via email, phone, and even WhatsApp. We get occasional queries on Facebook and Twitter too.
Self-service is already a big part of our support offerings. We get hundreds of new signups a day and are still able to manage with a lean support team thanks to self-service support. We involve our engineering, content, and design teams to make sure knowledge base articles are concise, up-to-date, and well-designed.
We also have Rocketium Academy that has deeper articles about best practices for how videos should look, how videos can be used for different use-cases, and so on. This covers a lot of consultative queries we get in support.
However, social media and phone are not channels we have scaled given our customers have not used it much.
Do you think it’s a good idea to invest in a customer support software right from the start?
The importance of the right tools cannot be overstated. They give structure, create a workflow, and help in measurability, which is needed by every department. Customer support software helps us achieve this and though the tools might evolve along with a startup, the fact remains that every company should invest in customer support software.
What is the average volume of support issues/week?
We typically see 80-100 new conversations every week. This includes FAQs about pricing, inquiries about product capabilities, product issues, and feedback.
What kind of questions do you typically get from your customers every day?
New customers ask us about pricing and removing watermarks from videos. Existing customers have questions about our changing user interface and new features we keep adding.
How large is your customer support team?
We have one product specialist who handles customer support in addition to working closely with the product team to represent the voice of the customer. One developer is on call every week and assists in conversations and resolving issues.
Our sales team monitors chats to discover potential new customers. Our account management team jumps in to help with more complex conversations and solutions for enterprise customers. My co-founder keeps an eye on all conversations to see trends and put out fires if any.
Since there’s only one support person, how do you attend to issues that arrive outside their work timings?
Though we have just one dedicated product specialist in charge of our support channels, a few other folks keep an eye on customer requests — account manager, sales rep, on-call dev, head of engineering, and my co-founder. Each one has a different goal for monitoring incoming questions but they all chip in to solve any ongoing issues.
Why is it important for someone like the co-founder or the head of engineering to monitor chats?
Chats are a boon for product-oriented companies like us as they allow us to get close to our customers. They lower the friction for customers to report issues, share feedback, or just say something positive about their product experience. If we think of it as a tool to respond to issues alone, we lose the chance to engage customers proactively and get their feedback. By monitoring chats, we also gain the opportunity to see trends in the type of questions and understand hidden motivations behind customer requests. Having senior folks like a co-founder or head of engineering get direct access to customers reduces the number of hops needed for feedback to be incorporated into the product.
What made you distribute the customer support work across all teams?
To be honest, this was not by design. Different team members started monitoring support requests for their work and then began responding to customers directly based on their area of expertise. There have been weeks when the most active support person was our designer who was engaging with customers on feedback about a product redesign. We think of support as an extension of our product. We assign chats to ourselves and use our chat’s internal note feature to convey the context to the rest of the team.
How do your other teams participate in support conversations while managing their core responsibilities?
Some team members think of monitoring support channels and occasionally responding as part of their job – our sales rep can close more deals if they see opportunities to convert a user, our account manager can upsell customers by telling them about new features, and our engineering head can monitor conversations to get a pulse of what customers think about our product. Other team members get involved as and when their work will benefit from talking to customers. For example, our growth marketer has been engaging customers and then getting on calls to understand their needs and buying process better.
How has this helped in the growth of your team and Rocketium?
Our customers love our responsiveness and helpful nature. Being available and solving problems on time has lowered our churn and driven word of mouth referral. Conversion and upsell are routinely driven from our support channels. We have also improved our product quality significantly by identifying product improvements and getting user feedback for upcoming features.
So, how do you effectively collaborate on support issues when another team’s help is needed?
Our product specialist runs a weekly support review that is attended by our head of engineering, the past week’s on-call dev, the current week’s on-call dev, and one or both founders. We talk about the past week’s metrics, identify the top trends, and decide issues that need to be immediately addressed and features that have to be added to our roadmap. Apart from the weekly meeting, we involve other teams, as needed, when issues arise. This works by tagging the on-call person, sales team, or one of the founders, as the case might be. Our chat support is synced with Slack so the larger team also gets notified and can jump in if needed.
What’s the secret sauce to customer support at Rocketium?
I think it starts from the gratitude we have towards our customers who trust us with their time, money, and business results. We are truly blessed to have thousands of users who rely on Rocketium and genuinely lose out if our product is unavailable or not working as expected. Knowing this deeply helps us prioritize ongoing customer issues over everything else. We also follow a thumb rule that for every person who reports an issue or suggests an improvement, at least ten more are feeling the same, but not expressing it.
How do you deal with angry customers?
The most important part of support is empathizing with customers. When someone has taken the time to reach out to us, whether patiently or angrily, we strive to be contrite. At the same time, we do not apologize excessively. Not only does it not solve the problem, it also makes our customers lose their confidence in us. We ensure that we respond promptly, understand the problem, and communicate regularly until resolution.
What are the steps you take to keep your support team productive?
We assign one developer each week for on-call duties. Devs who are on-call do not contribute to ongoing projects but spend all time in responding to customer queries or fixing previously reported issues. This gives additional backup to our single support person. We use saved replies in our chat to save time responding to common queries. We tag similar queries into categories like FAQ and Feature Requests to help us find common patterns. We use a combination of notifications, emails, and product changes to solve common problems.
What strategy do you use when there’s a sudden increase in the number of support issues leading to higher resolution time or first response time?
We get more team members involved in driving down the number of open issues. This includes our on-call developer and sales and account management teams. If the issues are related to a single underlying cause, we send an in-app notification notifying users about the ongoing problem.
What metrics do you measure and how do you derive insights from them?
We started by measuring the number of support conversations, time to first response, and time to resolution. Over time, we started measuring the number of bugs that were reported and fixed as it had a direct impact on the number of support conversations. We also look at the number of search queries in our knowledge base and how many questions the bot answered. Our product specialist also looks at product metrics to understand the usage of different features and identify areas of improvement.
How do you measure the success of your customer support team?
Our customer support team is part of the product team and shares similar goals. We want to drive down the number of issues and requests because that indicates the product is not easy to work with. Doing a great job with support will happen in conjunction with the product and product marketing teams who will build the right product and communicate it right.
We do not expect the support team to convert or upsell customers but that is a positive side-effect of being available, solving problems, or explaining how to use the product better.
How do you measure customer satisfaction after resolving an issue?
We do not measure this quantitatively as of now. Yet we ensure that most conversations are closed to the satisfaction of our customers. The usual signs of this are gleeful emojis 🤗❤️🎉 and GIFs.
What do you think is the future of customer support?
We are in the middle of a few trends that seem irreversible– cloud, mobile, self-service adoption, consumerization of enterprise, design focus and machine intelligence. As with other fields, customer support will be influenced by all of these. I see customer support moving towards self-service with videos to guide users. While Microsoft’s paperclip assistant was criticized back in the day, AI has brought back the trend in the form of digital assistants and chatbots to help customers proactively. Customer support teams will not be eliminated. They will start helping out customers with complex issues or consult to improve customers’ business processes. Customer support will move closer to customer success with technology playing a big supporting role.
What’s your take on AI?
AI has tremendous scope to transform how we interact with the world. Like earlier industry shifts of cloud computing and mobile, AI will change our lives through computing. Though AI is still in its early days, we are seeing strong results across different products. In fact, a lot of companies have started incorporating AI into their products.
Before any sort of generalized AI, we will have hundreds of building blocks of different kinds of AI — text, image, video, speech, data, prediction, recommendation. These building blocks will be offered as services by general-purpose players like Amazon and Microsoft or other specialized players operating in a niche. These will be used by companies to add value to their products. We will also see a few companies building their in-house AI engines for very specific problems but, over time, I see all this moving to third party providers. This is for the best in the long run as every company will be able to add intelligence to their products and make customers’ lives better.
What is the scope of AI in video creation processes?
Videos contain images, footage, music, text, voice-over, and animations. Each of these elements can be impacted by AI. For example, AI can help create a storyboard for a video based on a few outlines given by a user– a product listing, an article, a news story. If users type in captions, AI can suggest relevant images and video clips to complement the text. The captions themselves can be made better and more relevant for the use-case; for example, ads should have more snappy captions while informational videos should have longer captions. Caption colors can be changed automatically by analyzing the background footage or music can be chosen based on the mood. We see intelligence permeating pretty much every aspect of video creation, so the customers will feel like they have a talented designer by their side.
If you would like to improve on one aspect of your customer support, what would that be?
We would like to be available 24/7 to our customers. Though we make sure that questions or issues are addressed first thing in the morning, it is a terrible feeling knowing that they were waiting for us to respond and we were not around.
Tell us about one memorable customer support instance.
One of our customers started a support chat irritated by something odd he was seeing in the video preview. Our on-call got involved and fixed the issue soon. At this point, we usually trade pleasantries and close the conversation. But in this instance, the conversation went towards food. Our product specialist had just come back from lunch and our Australian customer was just cooking dinner. He ended up sharing photos of his meal and the chat went on about Masterchef Australia. It was a memorable and definitely hunger-inducing conversation!
We started the Secret Sauce series to find out more about what makes the customer service of some great companies click. We get in touch with one awesome support rep and pick their brains. We find out all about their support process, what inspires them to go above and beyond their call of duty to make customers happy. If you know of a customer support rep you’d like to see featured here, drop us a line in the comments or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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