At EVELO, about half of our current staff is focused on customer service.
When we initially launched the company, our support was primarily e-mail focused and followed a traditional offering of Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. It was an acceptable – and perhaps even the norm in the business world – but nothing really remarkable or note worthy.
Over the last year, we’ve come to a realization that for many of our customers, a good customer service experience can be almost as important the product that they order. It was remarkable, but true – the interaction that the customers have with our team before or after the sale have a dramatic impact on how much they enjoy the actual bike.
So, using the resources that we had, we started to make changes to our customer service:
- Expand Business Hours by Hiring on Both Coasts
As we begun to expand our customer service department, we decided that we’d hire good talent regardless of where they are located in the country.
After all, with having customers all over the country, we rarely see them in person – doing most of the interaction via email and phone. With today’s technology, high speed internet and other online tools, a customer service agent can do his work effectively regardless of where they are.
As a result, we ended up with a customer service team spread out between New York, Boston and Seattle.
Having team members on both coasts actually allowed us to stagger everyone’s shifts and expand support hours to around 8am to 8pm EST. This provides better coverage and allows us to do a quicker turn around time.
- 24-Hour Response Guarantee
I, and most of the people I know, at some point had the sort of a customer service experience where you’ll email a company without any knowledge or expectation on how soon you’ll hear back.
So, we decided from the outset that we’ll guarantee a 24-hour response time. Even if it’s just to let the customer know that we’re working on an issue and will follow up with them with a complete resolution in a bit, we didn’t want anyone to feel left in the dark.
Now, what usually ends up happening, is that during the business hours (including weekends), most of the issues get a response and a resolution within 30 minutes to 3 hours. There is NO reason why it should take longer.
- 7 Days a Week Support
When we had customer service team members available Monday through Friday, inquiries that would get submitted on Saturday or Sunday would have to wait until the following Monday to be resolved.
This was a poor experience both for the user AND for our team because it made Mondays incredibly hectic and busy. So, we decided to resolve this issue by adjusting everyone’s schedule, so that we have coverage 7 days a week – including weekends.
Right now, we have dedicated staff covering the weekend shifts. This balances out the load more evenly throughout the week and also allows us to honor the 24-hour response guarantee more effectively.
- Hire a Call Center to Route Calls
Although we have team members working 7 days a week, from around 8am EST to around 8pm EST, we still do have some off-hours and some periods when things get really busy. We wanted to figure out a way how to keep providing a good experience for the end-user even if they try to call us when everyone is working on another issue or during the off-hours.
As a result, we engaged a local Call Center company to accept and route all incoming calls. This means that 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, if you call us, you will get a real live person who will be there on the other side without any hold time. The call center’s staff main responsibility is to take down your information and route appropriately, so that it gets resolved quickly.
Although this is not a perfect solution – in the ideal world, we’d have fully trained electric bike specialists standing by 24/7 – this does make our team more efficient and removes the need for our clients to wait on hold.
And, since we typically aim to return these calls within 30 minutes or so during the business hours, we find that a lot of customers are actually caught a bit by surprise by the quick turnaround.
In time, we will aim to move away from this – but in the interim, as the company is still growing, this seems to be a pretty flexible solution.
- Customer Satisfaction “Beer” Index
When our first Customer Service Manager, Bill (now Director of Customer Service), joined the team, the customers were so impressed with the level of support that they received, that they’d frequently offer him to buy it a beer. It informally became a benchmark for us to measure how well we’re doing – whenever a customer finds their interaction with us so good that they volunteer to buy our team member a beer, we know that we’re on the right track.
We still have a long way to go and a lot of ideas on how to keep improving the customer service experience. But as a young company, we take an enormous amount of pride when we hear comments like this:
“Customer support with these people ranks even better than the bikes! I love my EVELO!” ~ James in FL
“The best part of all of this is that the customer service has been great” ~Richard in VA
“The greatest component EVELO has is the amazing customer service.” Randel in VT