Software Executive Magazine

August/September 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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Page 24 of 43

also devised a word-of-the-day trivia game. Customers are given a heads-up and asked to call support, and once they phone in they are asked to define the word of the day (yes, they will even give the coach the word in a sentence). Customers are then entered to win a cus- tom-built email template. Even if the trivia game's main purpose is to be a relationship-building tool, it also pro- motes one of Front Rush's additional revenue streams (custom-branded templates range from $55 to $200 per team). Another support team member is responsible for creating a quarterly newsletter. Another runs train- ing sessions on the side to help colleagues learn basic programming and database query best practices. The support team at Front Rush is empowered to do much more than close out tickets. The benchmark is be personal, and be professional. There are no call or email scripts. Cook says, "We don't want robots working in the company. There are customers who call us just to talk. They don't even have questions." The support staff doesn't spend all day having casual conversations with customers; they are efficient in answering 80 percent of emails within an hour. They rotate who covers incoming tickets in the evenings during the week, and they also have someone checking in on a less frequent basis during the weekends. The average customer response time after hours and on weekends is under 4 hours. Cook explains it gives people additional insights into customer needs and makes it easy for the support team to take time off. It's a good thing Front Rush believes in staffing support on nights and weekends, because that's how it discovered an untapped revenue stream. Cofounder Sean Devlin believed in the importance of customer support and vol- unteered to handle incoming tickets during off hours during the early days of the company. This not only gave Devlin a better understanding of customer pain points, it ultimately led to the development of Front Rush Pass (a product for college admissions offices) and Coach Pack- et (an add-on for coaches to track recruits and automate data capture at camps and large-scale recruiting events). Today, roughly 20 percent of Front Rush's employees are dedicated to supporting these products, and according to Cook, the support team continues to have a loud voice in the development of new products and features. The culture on the Front Rush support team mirrors the way Cook describes customer support interactions. The fun, transparent, relaxed environment he touts is befit- ting of a young, fast-growing SaaS company. All new hires spend their first two weeks with the support team, fur- ther emphasizing Cook's belief that support is the most important department in the company. At Front Rush, customer support is more than an operational necessity — support is the foundation for the company's success. S follow-up. Patalano explains other software companies shouldn't automatically brace for negative feedback or expect to pivot based on NPS results. In some cases, Front Rush heard feedback on features and improve- ments that were already on its road map. It was simple to move these initiatives higher on the priority list and communicate that to already happy customers. Another key takeaway from the NPS survey was to reach the less engaged customers. Most companies, re- gardless of industry, only hear from their happiest or their most miserable customers. There are many more customers who fall somewhere in the middle and who rarely take the time to point out inefficiencies or voice minor frustrations. For example, Cook said the support team wasn't getting a high volume of tickets related to the mobile version, but the NPS feedback revealed several areas it could improve. The mobile speed and functional- ity improvements were easy fixes, and the support team likely wouldn't have communicated these changes to the product team. Cook says, "Any SaaS company wants to have a great product and customers who say that they are happy with the support. In order to have this, the support team has to be able to not just answer the tickets, but also provide feedback to the product team." Front Rush was thrilled with the insights gleaned from its initial NPS survey, but it isn't stopping there. Moving forward, its goal is to conduct a survey twice per year to be able to better measure improvement. BAKE COOKIES & ENCOURAGE MORE PHONE CALLS (YES, REALLY) Front Rush doesn't want to wait for its next NPS survey to hear from customers. Cook says, "A lot of companies look to reduce calls to support. Yes, we look to reduce unnecessary contacts by making the product easier to use. But on the other hand, we're not trying to eliminate all tickets because our tickets are our communications. That's what makes coaches go from one school to the next and bring Front Rush with them. We want people to reach out to us." The kind of customer engagement efforts Cook oversees might be more commonplace for B2C companies, but Front Rush knows how important relationship building is. Turnover in the college coach- ing world can seem just as high as in the software world, and Front Rush wants its software to be sticky. Increasing that stickiness at Front Rush comes from increased contacts with customers, regardless of how that might impact ticket or call volume KPIs. The sup- port team brainstorms ways to get customers to reach out to them. For example, they ran a holiday promotion where a support team member shipped homemade cookies to customers who provided feedback. Cook has 25 SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

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