Trouva is a marketplace that brings together hundreds of the best independent boutiques with a physical presence so that customers can buy handpicked, unique products online. Trouva is passionate about helping independent retailers not only survive but thrive in a time when our high streets are going through substantial change. As a company they’re exploring the ways people can shop from local boutiques online to bridge the gap between online and offline retail for the smaller players on our high streets.
Amy Louise Smith, is the Head of Customer Support at Trouva and manages a team of 10 people in London, UK. Trouva receives about 500 tickets a day.
Despite the team’s diversity, they come together to create awesome experiences for their customers. Let’s find out how.
Hey Amy, could you tell us a little about yourself — what you do at Trouva, your hobbies, or just about anything that you would peak our interest.
I’m Amy – I fell into Customer Service almost 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back! I’m a bit of a health freak, a big coffee nerd, and also LOVE a musical.
How does your day at Trouva look like?
I’m still relatively new to Trouva and my role is still taking shape. I’ve been handling a lot of queries to understand firsthand what we do and how we interact with our customers and boutique owners.
We start our day with a team stand up where we discuss performance for the past day and any issues that we noticed, along with assigning out our daily tasks.
The team has some additional areas that we focus on which are not ‘standard’ CS responsibilities.
– Specific types of queries
– Managing our live chat
– Keeping an eye on our #fraud channel on Slack
Could you tell us a little more about your team?
We have a wide mix of personalities and as a company typically hire bright, intelligent graduates who are problem solvers, but may not necessarily have out and out customer service experience. When you mix these hires in with experienced and stand out customer service team members too, you get a good, balanced vibe.
Historically over the Christmas period, the whole company learned the ropes and helped to share the workload, which is a great way to build awareness of the challenges a support team face. By having our Product team work in CS we saw a lot of changes that have made a massive difference to our daily workload down the line – a fantastic result!
How do you approach the challenge of working with a culturally diverse team?
As a people manager, it’s often a hard balance to find – my team is a wide mix of ages, levels of experience and personalities but as I’m now working in my 4th startup, it’s definitely become something I’ve adapted to.
Do you work remotely? If so, as a remote team, how do you align everyone on the same page and how do you stay on top of what everyone is up to?
We embrace remote working at Trouva. One of the CS team recently moved to Margate and is experimenting with full-time remote working. The team, and in particular our founder Alex, have worked really hard over the last year to implement tools and structure to ensure that remote working is productive, runs smoothly, and is viable for employees.
How big is your team and how many questions do you get from customers every day?
I’m part of a team of 10 which deals with around 500 new queries a day.
What channels do you recommend your customers use to reach out to you?
As a team we can more efficiently help if we have structured information from a customer – so ideally, customers contact us via our web form from their account.
However we offer phone and live chat, as well as being available via our social media channels.
Your FAQs are incredible, pretty up-to-date and optimized. It looks like that’s your primary channel of support. Is there a reason for choosing self-service?
We want our customers to be able to find the answer themselves. Sometimes, giving the option to help yourself is a great way to provide support.
We’re reviewing our FAQs and self-service options in the short term as we want to offer more: the ability to request a callback, start a live chat and also having even more information available for our customers.
As of now, we’re doing are full review for an integration with our Customer Support software.
How quickly do you respond to a customer who couldn’t find their answer in the FAQs/help docs?
Our typical response time is around 1 hour (during business hours) – so even if you’re having trouble finding your answer, one of our wonderful team will be able to give you a hand.
I understand that as a company you are tech-driven. How do you use technology to provide great shopping experiences for your customers??
We use a lot of really cool integrations with our help desk software and our backend system to be able to provide personalised responses, but contained within a macro. We pull through information on our boutiques and a customer’s order details to tailor the responses we give to our customers.
This also helps us drive home the message that we partner with independent boutiques run by passionate real people, our passionate shopkeepers.
Our Customer engagement lead is going to talk about how we re-structured our knowledge base in just two months. We had to re-write more than 300 articles but found a way to do this quickly and simple.
How is customer support at Trouva different from its peers?
The cookie button! What an amazing way to show a customer you really care and are genuinely sorry something’s gone wrong. We send a cookie personalised with the customers’ name if for some reason they have not had a satisfactory experience with us.
Another important aspect of the way we do Customer Support is that we take feedback seriously — both good and bad. And we make sure we have ways to make it up to customers when things go wrong.
Like I mentioned, we’re typically the middleman between our boutiques and customers. Over the course of the next quarter we’re going to be redefining our Support vision and mission to evolve with the changes in the Support industry and with a focus on efficiency, consistency, technology and structure!
A personalized cookie? That’s so cool, Amy! How do you manage to do that? How do customers respond to that gesture?
Our Product team built a one-click button behind the scenes that generates that cookie request. We’re integrated with a service that allows us to send personalised items out to customers. We’ve had a lot of lovely feedback from customers on social channels and via email telling us that it’s a really nice, personal gesture they appreciate.
As a business, first impressions really do count. I think that adding a personal touch shows that we’re a genuine bunch of people who truly care when things go wrong. It’s all about creating a positive impact on someone’s day. Even though it’s just a cookie, it brings a smile to our customers and shows them how much we care!
Sweet! How many people came back to your website because of the cookie?
We haven’t dug into the data of the power of the cookies yet. However, recently we had one customer who had asked to be unsubscribed. After receiving the cookie, she reached back to us saying “I’ve never seen a business do something like this, please sign me back up!”
That summed it up for us.
From a retail perspective, what are some interesting techniques your support team has in place for efficient support?
We use a lot of personalised messages when it comes to notifying customers about their orders. Sometimes an item sold online via Trouva goes out of stock off the shop floor from the boutique, especially as our products are unique so there are never very many of each item. It’s never nice telling a customer something isn’t available anymore, but we contact the customer immediately and explain why this has happened as well as suggesting alternatives that the boutique has in stock instead. This extra level of service is what matters most – our boutiques are run by real people who care!
What about the holiday season? What’s your support strategy to handle high ticket volumes?
Trouva has been around for almost 3 years and in the first two Christmas periods, it was a case of all hands on deck. Over the past 2 years we’ve refined our Christmas strategy to rely less on the rest of the business stopping in order to help out with CS and are now in a position to focus more on optimizing processes and tools to enable the current team to be more efficient.
We have an intake of interns for a few months over Christmas to enhance our core CS team. We’ve been lucky to have found some wonderful members of the core team who have come on board through the intern intake and been offered full time roles at the company.
What does customer happiness mean to you? How do you measure it at Trouva?
For me, customer happiness is all about having an impact on someone’s day, no matter how big or small.You never know what is happening in a customer’s life so going above and beyond in that instance can have a profound impact. – @wearetrouva #CustomerSupport Click To Tweet
It might be something tiny and inconsequential for the business, but it’s rewarding to know that you’ve made a difference.
We use a Slack channel (#good-news) to share positive feedback about our interactions with customers with the wider business so there’s some awareness of the impact we have. We also share all of our NPS responses with the wider team via Slack – giving that finger on the pulse of what customers are saying, which helps guide changes we’re making to Trouva in the long term!
Tell us about a great customer experience that you delivered. We love a good story. 😉
We had a logistical issue recently with some large mirrors being sent out by one of our boutiques in London recently. Due to the size and weight of the products the orders ended up getting damaged in transit.
As the customer was based in London, we decided the next day to rectify the issue by arranging a courier taxi pick another one of the mirrors up to ensure that it was received in time as a present for the wife of our customer. I’d popped over to the boutique that morning to ensure that the order had gone off without a hitch with the courier, and then reached out to the customer that afternoon to ensure it’d reached them problem-free.
I think he appreciated us going above and beyond to find a workaround for him in time for his wife’s birthday, and knowing I could help gave me a massive buzz.
Woah! That’s amazing, Amy. What according to you is the secret sauce to great customer experience at Trouva?
Doing things with a sense of humility and humanity.
We pride ourselves on the personal level of service we give to both our boutique owners and our end customers.
We’ve really put the emphasis on how we can improve the customer experience as we’ve grown and now we’re really turning a corner in terms of what we’re able to do.
Where do you think customer support in retail will be five years from now?
I hope that there’ll still be a huge emphasis on making the support experience as seamless and convenient as possible, and as human as possible. As a consumer, I’ve had enough bad support experiences, so it pays for companies to value their customers as people. In terms of Support at Trouva, I’d imagine we’d be less of a middle man between boutiques and customers, and there to act as a facilitator if things were to go wrong.
How do you get back to your happy place after a customer call that’s gone bad?
Sometimes just a quick 5 minutes away from your desk is all you need to recharge after a particularly difficult encounter with a customer. As a Support person you develop a thicker skin over time. You just need to remind yourself that there’s nothing personal and just try your best to resolve the situation for the customer.
I bet you love listening to music when you are handling support. Tell us, what’s your playlist like.
I typically have a lot of cheesy tunes on the go as that’s what takes me to my happy place. Also, some of the Spotify concentration playlists help me get into the zone.
What’s your advice for customer support reps in retail to avoid burnout?
I think having a bit of fun with it helps lighten the mood.
Most of us in Support have been through the tough days. It’s important to have a team you can trust to get you cracking and plough through with a smile.Someone who remains cool under pressure is key for the team. – @wearetrouva #RetailCustomerService Click To Tweet
Closing it off with a fun question — what’s your favorite GIF on the internet to recharge yourself?
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 the call of duty to make their 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