Why Customer Support = Startup Success

"Customer Support may be the most under-appreciated role in SaaS."

Justin: Hello, welcome to build your SaaS.

This is the behind the scenes story
of building a web app in 2022.

I I'm Justin Jackson.

I do marketing.

Helen: I'm Helen Ryles
and I do customer success.

Justin: Nice Helen, two weeks in a row.


Helen: yeah, this is
tuning into my podcast now.


Justin: I like it, especially since I'm hoping
that maybe we can just pin this recording

to the end of the weekly meeting you lead.


So that we, we do it every, every week.

Cuz the hardest thing about podcasting is the.

It's just finding the time to do it.

For whatever reason we've been able
to, we've been able to keep that weekly

team meeting, like every Thursday.

And so, yeah, we'll see.

We'll see.

But this is great, John and Jason are both
on vacation, which is, which is great.

I, and, uh, but.

Yeah, we're, we're gonna record
an episode today and we just went

through, uh, a bunch of things.

We launched the podcast websites feature.

How's the feedback been on that so far
in, on the customer support channels.

Helen: Um, it's been really positive really.

Um, so people have sort of taken the time
to reach out to us and, and let us know

that they like the new theme and like, um,
the sort of direction that we're going in

with, um, making things more customizable.


Um, yeah.

I, I, I.

Um, you know, for every person that
takes the time to reach out there's other

people that kind of, um, have seen it
and are, are liking it, perhaps haven't,

uh, you know, mentioned it to us yet.

So all, all good feedback is, uh,

Justin: appreciated.



If you're, if you've tried it out and
you're listening, definitely reach out

on customer support and, uh, on the live
chat and, and let snow, cuz it it's fuel.

I, I think that's what I, I think I
mentioned this one time on Twitter.

And you'll know this too, from building
your personal projects, but when

somebody takes the time to reach out
and like, Thank you or mention that you

did a good job or whatever, that's like
fuel for the indie hacker, isn't it?

Helen: yeah, definitely.


Um, especially even before, like on small
projects, when there's not even any revenue,

you are kind of just existing on that
motivation of, uh, feedback from other people.

So now it is, it is really good.

And, um, it's, uh, kind of.

Especially interesting to get kind of
insights from people on sort of what

they're hoping comes next or kind of what's
the next stage and, uh, what features

they will use from what we've built.

And, yeah.

Justin: Um, do you wanna mention
some of those, like, I think

people would find that interesting.

So we, we launched this new theme.

Like you can select a new
website theme for your podcast.

And there's a little bit of new customization
you can do, but what are some of the other

things people are like thinking about that
they wanna see on those podcast websites?

Helen: Yeah.

So I guess it's more, just more customization.

So being able to, um, add new pages
and, um, have a dedicated space

for sponsors and things like that.

Um, things that been kind of thinking
of and, um, discussing over time.

Um, but it's good to see those
kind of repeat things come up.

Over and over.

Cause I guess it just shows that there's a, a
genuine demand for those particular features.


Justin: Yeah.

And especially, I think the other one is
that the host profiles like show, you know,

here's a photo of the host or the hosts
and a little bio, uh, people have been

hacking our about pages to do that, but
that's kind of actually the benefit of that.

Like right now, our about pages
don't have a Wey wig editor.

You have to know HTML and.

From a customer experience, point of
view, that's not a great experience,

but the advantage of that is we get
to see people kind of hacking it to

do the things they wanna do, right.

With sponsors and hosts and guests,

Helen: if people will put that time and effort
into kind of make something, um, you know, as

much as it possibly can, um, fit a particular
a feature, then you, you know, that they'll

definitely kind of use it if it was built into

Justin: the product.


Yeah, exactly.

So sometimes, you know, I don't know how you
actually build that in, in a conscientious way.

Cuz for us it was by accident.

It's it's more accident of history.

That, that about page is the, is the thing.

But, um, I.

The having it there and just
seeing how different people use it

has been incredibly instructive.

Are, are you in the
notifications channel in slack?

Have you seen that?


And so every time someone uses the
new website theme, it posts a link.

I find it so eyeopening to see all
of these different podcasts us that

I've never seen before on our system.

Updating their website and seeing
how they use it, but also just

getting a sense for our customers.

I found it really interesting.

There's just, you know, every once in a while,
I'll just pick a random account and listen to

the show, but this new notification channel,
it's just interesting to see all these people

and then you go to their about page and can see
like how they've, you know, configured that.

And yeah, it's.

It's really fascinating.

All the different shows on the

Helen: platform.


So I'm just having a look now, I think we've
got about sort of 15 in there today, so yeah.

It's kind of nice to see things in real time.

I probably pop into that a little bit more.



Justin: A lot of people switching over,
you've been doing customer success for us

for probably what two, three years now.

Helen: Yeah.

It's the end of 2019.


This the

Justin: end of 2019.

And then before that, um, are, are you
allowed to say who you've worked with before?

Yeah, I don't.

Don't say why not?


So who have you, you've done customer
success for other companies too.

What, what are some of those companies?


Helen: so I guess like my kind of main
background really was in like, it.

Um, project management mm-hmm so like
running help, running help desks for like

housing companies and banking companies.

And, um, I've worked a
lot in like it education.

So colleges and schools, um, and then, um,
sort of more recently over the past few years,

I like worked for convert kit and makeup pad.

Um, and then now transistor.

So yeah, it's kind of been quite a,
quite a very journey, but I think

customer success has been the main kind
of thread through it all, whether that.

Um, like it help desks or,
um, support for SAS companies.

Um, yeah, it's kind of been.

The main say of, of what I do.



Justin: When you were doing it for,
in, in education, were you, was

that remote or were you on site?

Helen: Um, so it was kind
of, um, a bit of both.

So, uh, in the early days we're going
back away now one of my first job was to

have like about 15, 15 goals that I would
like visit and then travel around to and

be kind of like, um, somebody who would
visit with like, to fix issues within like.

One day a fortnight and then it would kind
of be moving to being like in a central, um,

it office for like a large college who have
like satellite schools and feeder schools.

And then obviously we would be
remotely fixing issues there.



Um, there's, there's always
been an, there's always been an

element of kind of remote support.

Even if the company isn't a hundred
percent remote, you may just have

like, um, an office down the road.


And interestingly, when you kind of work,
um, in banking, if you've got like a.

A company that's got 15,000 employees,
you know, even somebody just who works

on a different floor feels like a remote
customer to you because they're, you

know, in a different building or like
three floors down or something like that.

So, yeah, I guess that's a

Justin: lot of employees strange.


That's more, we don't even have
that many users on transistor.

I don't think

Helen: I know.


It's kind of, um, you can kind of work for
a company for lots of years and like, Just

go to a different floor and you have people
you've never seen before in your life.

Justin: yeah.


So you've got lots of experience
in this, this, this kind of broad

category of customer success.

And, uh, you mentioned, I,
I tweeted earlier this week.

I think this is my most
popular tweet this week.

I've been, I've been trying to like, I get back
on the Twitter train and, uh, And experiment

with growing my Twitter, following a little
bit, I've actually been trying to help, uh, Dr.

Sherry walling grow her Twitter account.

And so as a part of that experiment,
I've been like, okay, I gotta figure

out, you know, what works for my account.

So I signed up for type fully.

Have you heard of that?

It's like a thread writing.



And they've got stats in there.

And then I also have ILO, uh, or sorry, ILO.

Do so Ella.


And so I've been, uh,
looking at my stats in there.

And so the top, the top tweet from this past
week was me talking about customer success.

And I think.

In so many ways, like a lot of people
hear like support and I think, you know,

something comes to their mind in particular.

Do you know what I mean?

Helen: Oh, D yeah, definitely.


I know exactly what you mean.

It's different for every, um, company
really, because you can do a customer support

role and that could be part primarily, um,
Dealing with people who aren't yet customers

strangely mm-hmm , even though it's customer
support, he could be, he could be presales.

It could be, um, you know, kind of answering,
um, less technical questions or at the

completely under, or the end of the scale.

It could be really kind of
in depth technical bug fit.

Could bug fixing mm-hmm um, So, yeah, it,
it covers such a wide range, even though

there's kind of a, um, we think we all
kind of know what, what the role involves.


Justin: totally.

And I also think I'm, I'm glad we've
got some of these new ways of describing

the role, like describing it as customer
success, because I think for a long time

support had like this negative connotation.

With it, you know, like, oh,
that's just customer support.

And, um, you know, for me personally,
like that's how I got started in the tech

industry, was doing customer support.

And then really how I, I, I kind of
grew my career was moving into more of a

customer success role and say, no, this
isn't just like answering support tickets.

This is a lot more than.

Than just that it, and kind of crucially,
I think customer support or customer

success is really inside sales at a lot
of, or inbound sales at a lot of companies.



Like when somebody lands on the transistor
website and they see that little chat

bubble, you're the first person they talk to.

So it's not just like the,
the, that we've we've given.

Um, you know, in some people's minds,
it's like, well, these people are

just answering support tickets.

And in my mind, it's like,
no, you don't understand.

This is like one of the most crucial
roles in any software company.

And at transistor, you're primarily
responsible for it, but all of us, um,

myself, John and Jason, we're all in crisp,
which is our support software every day.

And I, I just think it's so crucial this
idea of giving customers a great experience.

Uh, so it's customer experience.

It's customer success, helping them
get set up so that they actually.

Can succeed with the product and it's like
signing people up, you know, like getting,

convincing them to enter their credit card.


And it

Helen: is really good that we, we all do,
um, spend time in crisp and answering those

questions as well, because I think it makes the
kind of responses we, we give better because.

Like, I will learn things from you
and, um, you know, you'll pick up on

things from John and, and it just gets
better, you know, from there on out.


So yeah, it just

Justin: kind of, oh, we, we pick
up on stuff from you all the time.

that there's like, there was a time where it
was like John and I were getting a little bit.

Curt in our responses.

And then I, I noticed how you were answering.

And I was like, John, we gotta like, take
some notes from Helen here cuz uh, we're

we're a little bit too blunt sometimes.

cause there there's a consideration there.



And I

Helen: guess kind of, um, I think
everybody has a different, different way.

And I think we we've each
got kind of different ways.

Um, I think you are very
good at kind of responding.

um, to everybody as though they, they are
already your friend , um, which is, which is

really great because that makes it happen.

You know, it, it makes kind of like those
connections and those relationships be

more than just a transactional thing.

People are actually invested in the product
and the story and everything that goes into

kind of like how it's been built as well.

Um, whereas I.

Um, kind of a little bit different than that.

And I, I try to perhaps learn from you a
little bit and be it less, um, I dunno,

what's the word I'm looking for a word yeah,
I'm probably more informal and you are

probably more informal and, and hopefully
there's some happy, happy medium in there

somewhere that, uh, suits, suits all different
types of people because different organiza,

you know, large organizations do expect
a formal response and then individuals.


Really appreciate that friendly kind
of, um, you know, back and forth

kind of, um, chatty chatty kind of,

Justin: uh, help, I think.

And I think the, the one thing I
picked up from you that is super

important is often people will, will,
you know, send in a, a, a message and.

Sometimes I don't.

I like one simple thing you do is you just go
hi name and then, um, and just taking time to

say hello, and then their name automatically
there's this friendliness about it.

So cuz responses can seem really blunt
and rude if you're not care a fall.


What, what are some other tricks you,
you do to like, just help cuz I don't.

I think sometimes people don't realize.

When they're answering support
tickets, how, uh, you know, you can

sound different than you, you, in your
mind, you're just replying quickly.

But to the person on the other
side, it's like, oh, this person's

kind of being a jerk, you know?

Helen: Yeah.

I guess, um, yeah, it's just one of
those things where there's a lot of

reading between the lines sometimes.

Um, the questions that people
ask, aren't always the.

Questions that they want answers to.

It's normal, sometimes a different
question that they want an answer to.

And it's kind of about maybe, um,
pulling, pulling out some more

information or asking for more details.

Um, mm-hmm, just to try and, and sort
of help them get to what the actual

root cause is rather than, um, Sort
of taking something at face face value

and just going, yeah, that's fine.

Uh, you know, kind of maybe digging
a little bit deeper or trying to

make it a thorough first response.

So it doesn't require two or three
or four back and forward emails, or

if they're on live chat, that's fine.

But sometimes, you know, uh, we at a
kind of our support system is the emails

and live chat is all on the one place.


So, yeah.

Um, I could make, you know, sort of live
chat E uh, messages a lot more, uh, informal.

Um, but sometimes they sort of
do get sent by email instead.

So I kind of try and almost
write for email all the time.

Um, at least in the first, at least
the first message and the first contact

that we have, and then maybe kind of
make it a little bit more informal

Justin: from there on out.

Yeah, I think.

I think that's super important.

I, and, and also being okay to show some
enthusiasm, like, uh, you know, using

exclamation marks, um, you know, judiciously,
but, you know, having, uh, a little bit of

enthusiasm, uh, the other thing is we've
decided not to have any sort of chat bot,

um and although a lot of people often
assume that they're talking to a bot, right.

That, that does.

Does that still come up?

Yeah, we, we do get quote.

Helen: We do get questions.

Are you real?

Are you a human?

Put me through to a human

Justin: and I just think it's, it's incredible.

Like in that thread, the Twitter thread.

People, some people were like, you know, I
can't believe you, you folks do live chat.

That's so much work.

Um, and I suppose it depends on, you
know, the number of tickets you get.

Cause we get like, what
did we have this past week?

You said it's, it's been
down a little bit lately.

Helen: Yeah.

It's sort of around eight
tea conversations week.

Maybe a little bit less.


Um, we kind of look at it on a Thursday,
um, for the, like a full prior week.

So, um, sometimes we get a busier
Friday or something like that,

which may skew the numbers a bit.

But, um, yeah.


I mean, it has been quieter period,
but that's probably sort of due to,

um, you know, shoes that were sort of.

In bumping the numbers up being permanently,
permanently resolved, or, um, we kind of have

these sort of phases where we seem to get, um,
questions that seem to be like linked in, in

certain topics and certain topics sort of seem
to be like, uh, hot for a particular week.


And then fade out.


Justin: it's strange.

So like there can be a zeitgeist around
all that stuff, but I, I, I mean, I

personally, and this is something I got
from Spencer at podium is live chat.

Like when you have an
incredible live chat experience.

There, there is something really
nice if you're frustrated and you

can just get an answer right away.

And I mean, we're not always
able to get people right away.

Like sometimes people wait
20 minutes or whatever.

Um, but to be able to get an answer right
away is so helpful when you're stuck.

And, uh, I, I think it's worth it.

And we're a team of four people, right?


The general idea is you're in the UK.

And so you can cover when I'm sleeping.

And then the next day, you know, we have some
overlap between, um, you know, around 9:30 AM.

My time is when you're kind
of winding down and I think.

It's doable.

It's doable with a small team.

You can be a team of 2, 3, 4 people
and manage live, chat support.

And it's, uh, I, I think especially once you
get somebody who's kind of in a different

time zone than you, uh, Like for us in
north America, I think the UK or Australia,

um, you know, the somewhere that's up
when you're, you're sleeping, as soon

as you cover that, you're kind of good.


And I

Helen: think, um, The fact that it is
manageable with four people says a lot about

the product and how well it works really.

Um, because our, you know, different
products would probably have a different

kind of, uh, need to support, um, customers.

You know, if you've got high
volume customers or kind of.

Or perhaps a product that is more susceptible
to, um, sort of issues that have an impact

on a, like a real time mm-hmm product.


So I think we are kind of fortunate that this
sort of the quality of the product and the time

zones that were spread out in it kind of makes
it to be, um, you know, a, a manageable thing.

I think I saw somebody, um, tweet
something the other day about having

a scalable product and at what point.

Would you, you know, would you have to double
to have issues with your customer service?

Would it have to be five times at what point,
you know, what's kind of your capacity yeah.

To grow the, grow the product and still retain
the quality of customer service and thought

that's kind of an interesting question really.

Cuz you kind of, um, hopefully hopefully
there's some like a room to, to grow

with the current setup that we've got

Justin: as we yeah.

Well, and, and so much of it is like,
we've, we've been able to notice, like you

said, like sometimes we implement a change.

Uh, for example, uh, you were
talking about the, we have a way

of submitting a podcast to apple.

And the process is complicated.

It's it's they don't have a submission API.

And so we just, you had given us
some, some feedback to say, you know,

people still ask about this a lot.

And then John just went in and modified some
of the language and some of the UI there.

And I, I think that cut
things down quite a bit.

Did it?

Helen: Yeah.

Um, since we made that to, we haven't had any
issues, so people were kind of going through

halfway through the apple submission process
and then getting a little bit frustrated.


That, uh, they hadn't realized that there
was steps that they needed to finish off.

So we just put kind of a, a bit of an
indicator within the, uh, sort of our

distribution screen that helped people to.

Sort of loop down the list and realized that
that wasn't the process wasn't quite finished,

so they would go back and finish it off.

So yeah, just those kind of tweaks and
getting the feedback and learning from perhaps

frustrations of customers and putting, putting
that into a better, uh, user experience.


Justin: Yeah.


And, uh, here's some of the people in
the Twitter thread, so you're right.

Like, we are lucky in some way
because, uh, Tyler King says.

I'm jealous.

We average 55 new tickets per day, much
more if you count ongoing conversations.

And I, I think our ratio is around 60, 70 new
tickets and then 60, 70% new tickets and then

30, 40, uh, responses to existing threads.

So for him to be getting
55 tickets per day, that's.

You know, quite a bit more than us.

Helen: Yeah.

And I guess the, the first thing you would
look at with something like that is like, what

are the top 10 things that are being asked?

Are there sort of gaps in
terms of documentation?

Um, are there things aren't clear that you
can kind of, um, you know, permanently.

Um, solve forever.


I remember sort of one role, one role
I worked at, I kind of worked out

that password reset were, uh, like
causing 20% of our ticket volume.

So just implementing a better password
reset feature, just got rid of 20% of

tickets overnight, really, which was
thousands at that particular point.

Justin: So that's amazing
that, I mean, yeah, that.

Being able to identify those big things.

And another thing you you're really
good at is identifying when we just need

a video or a, or a guide or whatever.

And, uh, you know, sometimes just like
having the right video to send people just.

It, it answers all the questions.

They just need to see a walkthrough
and then they're good, you know?

Helen: Yeah.

And that kind of saves, um, us time from
kind of having lengthy conversations.

Mm-hmm um, and taking up customers time,
we can, we can provide them with something.

They can watch their own convenience
that answers it thoroughly.


And seeing, so seeing somebody
talk about it and seeing your

face on videos is really helpful.

Mm-hmm um, It kind of builds trust in,
in what we're saying and, and how to,

what the best practices practices are.



So I think, yeah, I mean, even when I started
with transistor, we were kind of fortunate

that you gone to the trouble of creating
such a, a good catalog of, um, the core

documentation that, um, Yeah, we've, we've
kind of just built upon that a little bit,

really, but even, even starting out the gates
mm-hmm um, I think that probably, um, saved

you and John a lot of time in the early days.

Oh yeah.

Justin: And, and in Chris, that's the
help desk, uh, live chat software we use.

You can just click, uh, there's a short
key for, uh, question mark, and then you

can search all of your knowledge base
and then insert those into your answers.

I do that quite a bit.

And then I, I don't know
if you use text expander.

I, I use text expander
quite a bit for, um, like a.

Very common replies.

You know, I've got one for private podcasts
and other things that I just, I have a, you

know, a short, short code, shortcut code
that I just enter and then it rolls it out.

And, um, you gotta be careful with those not to
like, uh, put them, you know, you still wanna

be, uh, engaged in the conversation, but I find
just having those shortcuts is really helpful.

For, you know, answering people, you

Helen: know, where all my mess, all my
messages are he crafted every single time.

Justin: that's how you
know, you're a professional.

Yeah, yeah.

Um, yeah.

And then, uh, Riley chase said that.

So Tyler, he has 20 people total on his team,
eight people on the customer service team out.

Uh, he's got quite a big team there.

And then yeah, 55 new tickets a day.

And then Riley chase is doing, he's
got three full-time support people, one

part-time and they do 293 tickets per week.

So 41 per day, which is yeah.

Quite a bit as well.

Helen: Yeah.

It, it's interesting to see the
numbers of full time support people

compared to the numbers of tickets.

Mm-hmm um, Yeah, I guess, uh, there've
been sometimes I guess as well.

It depends on how, um, we, we are counting
individual tickets, but that's not

necessarily messages, so we may have.

One back and forth with, with a customer,
we, or we may have TW you know, a really

long 20 message convers conversation, really.

So that's kind of, it doesn't kind of account
for how long it takes to solve an issue.

Um, I would say that our questions are all kind
of relatively, kind of quick respond to there.

There's um, definitely been sort of
organizations I work for where the kind

of there's been a need to step through.

Detailed sequences and that like
one support ticket could take, uh,

a quarter of a day sort of thing.

Oh yeah.

So we, we, we are fortunate that we're
able to kind of, um, capitalize on the

docs that we've got in the videos and
respond quite quickly and then yeah.

Move on to

Justin: help another customer.

Yeah, yeah.

That, that would be exhausting.

I, I don't know if I could do that.

That's part of the reason I like
doing our support is that it just.

It does often feel like
it's quick enough, you know?

And, um, and I even have support on my
phone, which again is a danger because

the responses can be a lot shorter and
more, uh, cur if you're not careful.

But, um, there, I just get so much
satisfaction out of being able to answer

somebody's questions when I'm on the
chairlift snowboarding or whatever.

just like, yeah.

That, that, that immediate response and.

Because we've all had that experience,
you know, when we've been stuck on

something and I have this old tweet, I
was, I found to Jason Cohen at WP engine.

This is like from back in 2016 or 17,
I'm like, Jason, I can't believe it.

WP engine answered my ticket at
11:00 PM on a Friday, you know?

And there's, there's just
something about that, that.

Like you don't get that from your internet
company or your cell phone company, right?


Helen: we, we need a prize for the kind
of most unique place that we responded to

Justin: at crisp picky.

It should, you know how Riverside
like takes screenshots of us.

As we talk, as we're recording this
podcast, they should have that in

crisp where they, they just take a
selfie of you every once in a while.

and then you're like on the mobile app and it's
like, oh, here he was on the chair lift there.

He was in the restaurant.


Helen: there.

I am in the vets waiting

Justin: room.


Yeah, exactly.


I love that idea.

Uh, any other tips you think you'd
have for people like indie hackers,

people starting SAS companies, um,
maybe let's have it this in two parts.

What do you think founders should do?

Solo founders, um, or partners
that are just starting out?

What are some of the considerations you think
they should have when they're are trying

to give customer support in the beginning?

What are some tricks you think they could use?

Helen: Yeah.

So I think it's, I dunno whether you agree
with this, but it's quite common for,

uh, SaaS founders to kind of leave, not
leave it too late to hire, but kind of.

Um, yes, I agree.

Try, try and do every, do
everything as long as possible.

Um, and, um, I sort of recommend like
onboarding somebody, um, before you desperately

need them, because, um, if you are kind of
swamped with custom customer support and

you've got to kind of have the patience to
have help somebody get up to speed with, with

something that, you know, kind of inside out.

Um, I would recommend kind of doing that
before you think is probably necessary.



Justin: Um, co-sign on that

Helen: for sure.


And, and sort of like writing, writing
documentation as if there is somebody

else within your company, even before
you've hired somebody mm-hmm um, To

kind of planning for that next stage.

Um, yeah, because I guess as a founder,
there is so much in your own, in your

own head about the product and why
things work the way it does that.

Um, It then will become kind of
a double time investment to sort

of pass that on to somebody else.


So yeah, I would, I would recommend
hiring earlier than you think.

And, um, yeah, and I guess like just sort
of try trying people, Aren, giving people

a chance in terms of, um, seeing how it
works, especially with the remote team.

It's hard.

It's kind of hard to hire remotely in
some ways, because if you haven't met

somebody, you don't necessarily know.

Uh, you won't be sitting next to them.

Mm-hmm um, you know, maybe sh one thing
that's worked quite well is kind of, um, when

we've had, uh, like other contractors working
for transistor and not other places as well,

I've worked just kind of shadowing in terms
of like doing some support tickets together.

Um, if you have that overlap, um,
we are fortunate that you have

some hours in the day where we are
both kind of in our business hours.

Um, and that's been kind of
really valuable to kind of.

Ask for your feedback or, um, yeah.

Ask for help.

And then, and then I can kind of
move on and, and run with things,

uh, with a little bit of that

Justin: overlap, really?

So yeah.


We, in, in, in our tool and a
lot of tools, you can do this.

You can a mention somebody in a note, um, and.

We often do that.

We'll be like, Hey, what
do you think about this?

Or, um, and it's also where
we give each other feedback.

Like if, if I was too cur or blunt,
um, you know, we might say, Hey

bad, this is a little bit too.

Uh, maybe not, not, not, uh, Nice enough.

Um, although you gotta be careful of
those notes cuz John and I have both

accidentally published notes that were
meant for each other to the actual chat.

Helen: Yeah.

That, that, that, that is a golden rule.

Don't ever write anything that you
wouldn't want anybody to the customer

Justin: to see.



And what do you think?

So you and I met in the MegaMaker
community, which was a community

I've been running since 2013.

uh, eventually you started helping me moderate
the community, and I knew you were doing work

with convert kit and maker pad and other folks.

And so when we were looking for somebody, I
already had introduction, I knew, I was like,

oh, I bet you Helen might be able to help us.

And it was, I, I think initially
it was like, let's just try this

out for a month or something.

I can't remember how we did the initial trial.


Helen: I think we said.

Something like an hour, a day for a month.

And then we, and then after like four
or five weeks, I think we sort of had a

catch up and just asked if it was kind
of working or what your feedback was.

Um, and then we kind of, uh, just kind of moved
onto it being kind of a rolling thing, whereas

I'd be perhaps helping out early in sort of
my morning time, um, first thing, um, so that.

You would you kind of wake up with, um,
not kind of like overwhelmed with things to

answer, you could focus on what you wanted
to, and then obviously your support would

still be necessary in your time zone, but
that would be perhaps later on in the day.


And not with the backlog of people waiting,
you know, sort of angry Europeans waiting for

Justin: a reply.

Yeah, that's right.

That's right.

That's right.

Because initially, cuz you were
working a full-time job somewhere else.


And you would kind of, you would.

You would answer support
before you left for work.

And sometimes when you got
back from work, is that

Helen: right?


So it was, it depended on, I mean, sometimes
it would be the case where you may have gone to

bed quite late and you might have been working
quite late, so I might get up and there might

not be much for, you know, you might have,
um, kind of out the queue cleared that out.

So it, yeah, it depends.

It did sort of depend.

So, um, with working in education,
my kind of hours were kind of like.

Quite a short, short day.



Um, so I kind of might go to a coffee shop
after work and do some work or, you know,

just grab, grab my laptop and, or, um,
first thing in the morning, um, do a little

bit, so yeah, it worked out quite well.


Justin: It was quite interesting.


And so, and that was a great for us
because we were so like, We're just

like typical founders and you're right.

We should have hired somebody way earlier.

And, um, and I think, but doing
that part-time thing where it

was just like, An hour two a day.

Uh, that was, that made it manageable.

And then eventually we realized like,
wow, we could scale this up for sure.

Um, even though, I mean, yeah, cuz
you were our first full-time hire.

So there was a little bit of like apprehension,
like, are we get, what are we getting into?

But uh, I think John and I recorded
an episode right after like a

month after we hired you full time.

And it was like, why did
we not do this earlier?


Like why did we not have someone full time?


So I, I think, I think it is manageable.

Like if you're starting a small
startup, you could get, just try having

someone answer tickets for an hour a
day and just see how that works, you

Helen: know?


And have having somebody, um, you know,
at least an additional person who knows,

um, How things work is, um, like really
valuable if you need to call somebody

in, if somebody's not well, or yeah.

If you have an issue and you're
getting an unprecedented demand for.

Responses or things like that.

So that is

Justin: actually, that is another point.

That's another way we learned to scale
up is that I knew I had to be gone for

a few days and I asked you if you could
like, just be more in support more often.

And so it, it, it also helped with us feeling
like we could take some time off, uh, um,

which is why I think eventually we probably
will need to hire another support person.

Um, Who's either part-time doing like
four hours a day or another full-time

person in north America, just so that
we have more slack in the system.

So like when you take time off John
Jason and I have to pick up the slack and

then when any of us are taking time off.

You know, like right now,
Jason and John are off.

And so you and I are like, we're on it, right?


Helen: And if I spent more time on demo
calls or kind of articles or, or writing

things, then I guess there would be, um, you
know, there's that kind of balance that if

anything increased, there would be obviously
the trade off in, in some, some other area.


So yeah, I think, um, it's the sort
of no actual progression at some

point and see how, see how that goes.


Justin: So maybe to finish off.

I think one question we're gonna get is people
are gonna go, how do I find someone like Helen?

How do I hire someone like you?

What do you, what advice
would you give to people?

Like what watering holes
should they be hanging out in?

How do they find people that can
take on this customer success role?

And, um, or even finding more junior
customer support people, uh, we were

lucky with you that you had all this
experience, but you know, maybe some

people just wanna hire someone more junior.

That's just getting started in tech.

What, what kind of advice or
ideas would you give folks?

Helen: Yeah.

Um, I'm always quite kind of, um, sort of
keen to help people to get into that really.

Um, I guess one thing, um, that
you could do is to kind of.

Look at other companies that
you like the support of.

And there may be people who have worked down
the past mm-hmm um, so that's obviously

one of the, you know, you, knowing that ad
worked convict kit kind of gave you an, an

idea that, um, I had like done some work
for, you know, SAS companies in the past.

Justin: That's a good, that's a good point,
cuz uh, a lot of those folks, some of

those folks are only working part-time so
they might be at a company you like, but

they, they might still have bandwidth for.

Doing more than one client, right?

Helen: Yeah.

Or they might have moved on or they
might be doing something, you know,

freelance or things like that.

So, um, just kind of picking up an idea of
the types of support that are perhaps similar

to yours and who may have worked there
before, um, people on Twitter that, you know,

you are probably in sort of your, kind of.

bubble anyway, really sort of thing.

Mm-hmm so, um, and then just asking
people really, if you are, I think

you'll be surprised at the kind of,
um, number of responses you'll get.

If you kind of just.

Put an opportunity out there.

It doesn't have to be a permanent thing.

It doesn't have to be a full-time thing.

It can be, um, you know, just an
experiment to see if it works or not.

Um, and you know, you might might find that,
uh, it doesn't necessarily reduce your.

Uh, kind of need for support
down or something like that.

But, um, I would definitely try sort of, um,
in communities, in slack groups, you know,

I think a lot of people perhaps spend money
on job postings, um, and for something,

something quite casual, it might not be
worth necessarily spending that money.

So, um, probably looking within your
own network, um, and looking for kind of

people who have, uh, worked for companies.

That do support that you have
experienced yourself that you think is

a, a, a sort of a good quality level.


Justin: Yeah.

Yeah, no, I think that's great advice.

And, and the other thing that we tried
is we had UIN day, um, who worked

with us for a while, and she was
interested in a junior developer role.

And we, we were just too small to be able to
do that, kind of have that kind of program,

but we said, well, why don't you come and do
support customer support with Helen and Helen

can kind of help you get onboarded into that.

And, uh, I said every once in a while, when
I need help on the website, On the marketing

site, let's do some pair programming together
and, and do some of that work together.

And so I think that could be another
opportunity if you have somebody who wants

to get into tech and you know, maybe they're
doing a little bit of web development

on the side, or I think also you've been
really involved in the no code community.

And I think a lot of those
folks could be really go right.

Cuz they understand a lot of these tools, they
understand about optimization and um, They

might be looking for their first job in tech.


And they, they, they, they
may have come from other.

Other, uh, industries or whatever, but
it can be a great way to get into tech.

Helen: It definitely is.


And I think it's, especially for people
who know, uh, you know, a little bit about

a lot of different tools and technologies,
um, you know, it's a kind of right.

Kind of role for, um, kind of people
who like, um, lots of very question is.

Completely different technologies from
one qu from one ticket to the next.


Um, and that's, that's one of the
reasons I like it is that every

single question is completely
different and every day is different.

Um, yeah, totally.


And it's, it kind of is a really kind of
broad, it's kind of, you need to be kind of a,

quite a broad technologist rather than a yeah.

Uh, you know, sort of deepen particular.

You know, programming language
or something like that.

It's more of a, uh, you know, kind of helping
people with all the different integrations

we've got totally all the different, um,
all the different software that comes

before to produce a podcast as well.


So people asking for advice on, um,
you know, audio video, even though.

We don't produce video podcasts.

People ask us for those kind of, kind of
peripheral advice on those kind of technologies

Justin: as well.

So actually, I'm, I'm more excited about that.

No code idea now, because you're right.

Like there's so many, it's like, how
do I update my DNS settings on hover?

It's like, well, we've.

If you're a no code person and you've been in
the community forever, you know how to do that.


Uh, what tools can I use to, uh, so
being able to help people with more than

just what's in our scope is so helpful.

Like how do I embed my podcast on WordPress?

Well, I can, I can show you because
you know, we've done it before.

So yeah, I think you're right.

Looking for those generalists, those, uh,
technologists, uh, or people that have

that kind of a varied experience are.

They can be awesome for this kind of stuff.

One thing

Helen: I wanted to ask you was, um, sort
of, what, when did it kind of feel like

the right time to, to hire somebody?

Was there a particular point particular moment?

Was it kind of just a, a long, um,
long standing thing that you kind

of intended to do that, um, kind of
finally became, uh, more essential?

Justin: I mean, I think especially when we
were growing really fast at the beginning, so

like, 2018 to 2019 was kind of our on-ramp.

And then once we went full
time, it just accelerated.

Then it was like, wow, we get so many tickets.

And, you know, I can't focus on
anything else except for support.

And I also knew from being on other
teams, like we're gonna need help.

And, and it's, it, it, sometimes it's
hard to do everything like all at once.

So I thought if we could onboard some
people part-time like you'd mentioned

that would help us ease into it.

Uh, we had to like debate because John and
I have different spending philosophies.

Uh he's he's definitely more
conservative on the spending side.

And so, you know, there was like, it, it took
a while for us to negoti that internally,

but, um, I mean, definitely by the time.

We, we started talking to you about you coming
on fulltime and even leading up to that.

I think I checked in with you every
once in a while, maybe even three, four

months before I said, Hey, I know cuz
you were working full time at the time.

I said in the future, if you are ever looking
to go full time, I think John and I are ready

to have someone come on full time and, and
then yeah, maybe three, four months later.

Um, it kind of happened, right.

So there was like this kind of gradual,
you gotta plant some seeds in order

to, you know, uh, harvest later on.

So yeah, I think, yeah.

And, and the times where I feel like we
need more people, like when I'm in the

regular flow of a day, it feels fine.

But as soon as I take time off, or as soon
as I, you know, I'm gonna be traveling,

that's where I feel the pressure.

And also, I think, you know, another
thing to check is like how many times

is my family getting upset at me?

Because I'm answering
support tickets on my phone.

Like that, that was another indicator for me.

Like, okay, I gotta, I
gotta get some help here.

And, and like, I'd be waking
up in the middle of the night.

And my first thought was to open up
crisp and like start answering tickets

cuz there's probably some tickets there.

So I think once you're
starting to feel those things.


It's it's time to start looking
for, uh, somebody, hopefully

Helen: that's got a little bit less

Justin: now.

oh yeah.

I mean, we noticed it right away.

It was just, and even though you're in
a different time zone, and even though

most of our tickets are still in the
north American time zone, just having

somebody else who's in charge of it.

And, uh, I mean, and you ever quite a quite a
day, um, you know, we give you the freedom to.

Figure that out on your own, but you do cover
a big, we've been, you've been quite generous

with us in terms of how, how long you cover.

Um, but yeah, we just noticed it right away.

It was just so helpful.

Helen: I kind of start and it's
quite quiet in the mornings.

And then obviously later
on it kind of gets busier.

So, um, I do kind of, sort of structure my day.

So we do have some overlap between the team to
catch up mm-hmm and even just chat and slack.

Sometimes it's just nice to see.

What everybody's up to and, um,
who's around and who's on holiday

or who's, you know, doing fun

Justin: things.

So, yeah.

Yeah, yeah.

You shift your day a bit
later for yourself then.

Helen: Yeah.

Just sort of just to make sure that there's,
that kind of, um, overlap with when the

majority of the customers, um, are asking

Justin: questions really.



No, that's great.

Uh, this is fun.

I, I think we, we could
definitely do more on this.

Folks, if you're interested in
customer success, if you want to,

um, like even if you're interested
in knowing who should you should hire

definitely, uh, follow Helen on Twitter.

She is Helen Ryles.

So Helen and then Ryles is R Y L E S.


It is.



And that's in the show notes as well.

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From listening with any luck, we
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Why Customer Support = Startup Success
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