In a world constantly on the brink of disruption and innovation, perhaps the most novel thing we can do to bolster competitive advantage isn’t newer and shinier products, but immaculate and attentive customer service.
We’re improving our approach to customer service and satisfaction with fresh perspectives and a renewed dedication to making sure OnceHub is a joy to use and to communicate with. At the center of these efforts is Monique Viljoen-Platts, who has recently joined our team as Head of Customer Success. We spoke with her about her career journey thus far and her goals for her department and OnceHub at large.
1- Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in customer service?
I initially started my career as a pastor. After a few changes and setbacks and having been denied work on the basis of my gender, I had to pivot and pursue a different path.
As luck would have it, my brother along with some colleagues were starting a no-code website building platform and it was seeing great success but they were in desperate need of someone who could deal with clients and assist them with support-related matters. So I joined as the first support representative for the new startup and grew out a very successful support team that scaled alongside the business.
2 - What motivates you to do this job every day, and how has your passion for it evolved over time?
My passion for customer service stems from the direct interactions I can have with people and help them through an issue they’re facing. Seeing a problem through with someone and getting to see their happiness and satisfaction when we reach a resolution is something that motivates me daily.
In terms of changes in both the industry and the consumer, the previous model of customer service was almost entirely based in and around the call center. Then along came social media and responses and replies could be made live instantly and conversations that used to be a two-way street were suddenly made visible to the entire world. Clients now have an expectation for instant gratification.
Whereas social media was the first big disruptor, AI is swiftly lining up to be the next. We’ll be seeing a lot more cases of rudimentary AI dealing with tasks and queries that were previously handled by humans. I am of the opinion that you should always make sure that machines do the work machines are supposed to do, and make people do the work people are supposed to do. In this regard, AI presents more of an opportunity than a threat for the future of Customer Service.
3 - What is your definition of high-quality customer service?
The customer must be in control of their support experience and be able to conduct the conversation as they see fit. The support you provide must be technically sound, yes, but it is extremely important to understand the emotional desires of your customer and use that as your compass in navigating often difficult conversations.
We don’t want to just resolve issues, we want to have our customers feel happy and delighted by their experience. Customer service should also act as the voice of the customer within a company structure and provide recourse so that it is a better experience for all.
4 - Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision in the interest of the customer, and how did you handle that situation?
Sometimes developers release catastrophic code that degrades or breaks a customer’s experience with the product. This is no one’s fault and is pretty much a given when working with tech or software. Sometimes things just go bust!
One time in a previous role, we got a call late at night about a seemingly innocuous change to a text editor and quickly found it had broken all our right-to-left language sites. Now we were left with a subset of high-volume customers who were extremely angry and we had to address the issue immediately to assuage their frustration and fears.
There was also a case of a particularly vicious DDOS attack on the domain of a company I worked at. It compromised legions of sites that used the same hosting provider.
The situation was so grave that we had to get a PR firm to double-check if our efforts in solving the issue and dealing with clients was correct. They assessed the situation and came back with zero notes and commended our approach. Pretty great feedback to hear at a time like that!
5 - How do you keep your team motivated and engaged to provide exceptional customer service?
Catch people doing things right! We’re way too focused on corrective behaviors and criticism for improvement that sometimes we forget to single out successes and positive performance.
Additionally, while the customer should always feel like we have their back and want to help them, when a conversation crosses the line into abusive territory, I pull the plug immediately. We all need to look out for each other and be intolerant of racism, gender discrimination and foul language. We simply refuse to feed any trolls!
6 - In B2B SaaS, what are some of the common customer service issues people face regularly and what is the ideal way to resolve them?
When you’re dealing with a B2B SaaS product, you’re essentially dealing with a product that is in perpetual beta. Oftentimes there is a bit of a discrepancy between a product’s roadmap and the actual user experience. Missing features can be pain points, so there is a never ending feedback loop that must be understood and respected and changes made accordingly.
B2B clients tend to have very unique requirements that inevitably mean a lot of hand-holding and white glove treatment. It’s just a fact. More requirements mean a more personalized approach to support.
Oh and of course, there will always be billing-related enquiries and conversations. Subscriptions are always a point of discussion.
7 - What do you think sets your customer service approach apart from others in the industry?
It is very easy for Customer Success teams to look at the cases in their queue as issues to be solved by providing a technical solution. I approach Customer Success as, first and foremost, a relationship with a person. Our customers are real people with real needs, desires and pressures related to their business.
They entrust us with vital aspects of their operations. Because of this, each interaction with Customer Success should demonstrate a passionate concern for the customer and their business and leave no stone unturned to ensure that they are successful using our product or that problems are quickly corrected when they occur. We need to be authentic, transparent and act with the utmost integrity in all that we do for our customers.
8 - What do you wish customers would realize that would improve the experience for both entity and client?
I wish customers would realize that when we ask for troubleshooting steps or for them to join us on a call, it is out of a real desire to get to the bottom of their issue and resolve it as quickly as possible.
We understand that by the time a customer reaches out to us they are often already frustrated as something has gone wrong with their ability to use our software.
We don't want to add to that frustration by asking them to take additional steps, but working with your CS representative and trusting that they have your best interests at heart can go a long way to arriving at a speedy and satisfactory result.
9 - Finally, what message do you want to convey to our customers about your commitment to providing excellent service and support?
As a OnceHub customer, when you use our platform for scheduling, you place a critical aspect of your business operations in our hands. We deeply appreciate this and are keenly aware of the responsibility this places on us, which is why we're available 24/7.
We have a dedicated and enthusiastic Customer Success Team who is passionate about our product and helping our customers. However, there is always room for improvement.
We are excited about building an all-new support and service infrastructure that will better serve your needs throughout your journey with us, and bring us closer to the impeccable level of service we aspire to.