Celebrating Customer Service with Gordana Warga and Chad Horenfeldt

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Celebrating Customer Service with Gordana Warga and Chad Horenfeldt
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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by two other CX pros at Kustomer – Gordana and Chad. Both have experience in service and support and are celebrating customer service week with their agents. Learn more about how you can celebrate CX every day, not just for customer service week, by listening to the full podcast.

Let’s Hear it for Customer Service Week!

Here at Kustomer, we love each and every one of our CX agents. They are the backbone to our company and help us to provide exceptional service to all of our customers. We want to make sure they know how much we appreciate them by celebrating their efforts during customer service week. To do so, Gabe Larsen met with Chad and Gordana from CX to learn more about how to support agents throughout the whole year, and how to let them know how essential they are in business. Gordana says:

Customer service is such a difficult job and to really just take a week out and celebrate all of the different agents that do this, this is so important and so valuable. We try to do it all throughout the year, but to really focus on it for a week is just it has a tremendous impact on the team and that’s why we really decided to focus on it this year.

For leaders across the globe, it’s so important to show your appreciation for your agents daily. Some ways you can do this is to occasionally treat them to lunch, send around recognition messages for excellent work, and to make them feel heard and understood when they talk to you through authentic conversation.

A Customer-Centric Culture Starts with Agents

It’s true that when agents are happy, their customers are happy and NPS scores skyrocket, something that both Gordana and Chad can attest to. As a leader, building a customer-centric culture starts with you and how you interact with your team. How you react to different situations really sets the tone in the company environment and can simply either make or break your agent’s day. 

Chad explains, “You really want to treat people, in terms of individually, as an individual and celebrate the smallest moments and I think that if people know that you care about them, they’re going to care about what they’re doing and especially care about the customer.” For birthdays, Chad goes out of his way to make that employee feel celebrated and noticed on their special day. Making your employees happy in the workplace really can be as simple as caring about them as individuals and showing them how much you enjoy having them on the team. 

The Time to Have Fun is Now

So, how do leaders make customer service week an every day celebration? Gordana suggests having fun in the office and bonding together as teams. “It’s a hard enough job…they put their all into it. Really build in that time and make sure the team does take a few minutes to have that break and enjoy each other’s company.” Some ways to boost employee morale and to include fun daily are allowing them to have time to get to know each other. There’s no reason why employees who work closely together shouldn’t know who they’re working next to. Starting the morning off with a fun meeting or exercise can start the day off right and in many cases, help your agents to feel a better bond with those around them. With customer service having taken most of the brunt during the pandemic, they could certainly use a break. The time for fun is now and it’s never too late to start making the work environment more positive and friendly.

To learn more about customer service week, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Celebrating Customer Service with Gordana Warga and Chad Horenfeldt

TRANSCRIPT

Intro Voice: (00:04)

You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)

Welcome to customer service week. Well, it’s not customer service week. We’re doing a LinkedIn Live, but this week was customer service week. So excited to be chatting today. And we wanted to celebrate this great occasion. It’s a fun day. It’s a fun week to take some time and recognize each person who through the last year and a half, I think has taken a lot of brunt of some of the things going on. And so ultimately, to be able to recognize this customer service group today, I think it is fantastic to do that. We brought on two special guests. One is Gordana. The other is Chad. Why don’t we take a minute and have them introduce themselves? Gordana, why don’t you start?

Gordana Warga: (00:49)

I’m Gordana Warga. I’m the Director of Global Support here at Kustomer. I’ve been out building and rebuilding a technical support team for years, and I’m excited to be here celebrating customer service week.

Gabe Larsen: (00:59)

Awesome. Awesome. And Chad?

Chad Horenfeldt: (01:02)

Hey everyone. My name’s Chad Horenfeldt and I’m our Director of Customer Success here at Kustomer and my main role is to make sure that our customers get value out of our platform. And I’ve been working in Customer Success and SAAS for a number of years as well.

Gabe Larsen: (01:15)

Awesome. Awesome. Well excited to have you both. Would love to kind of start with the big picture. Just what are your thoughts on customer service week? Why is it important? Why should we even be talking about it? Gordana, maybe you start?

Gordana Warga: (01:26)

Yeah, no, I think it’s absolutely phenomenal. Customer service is such a difficult job and to really just take a week out and celebrate all of the different agents that do this, this is so important and so valuable. We try to do it all throughout the year, but to really focus on it for a week is just, it has a tremendous impact on the team and that’s why we really decided to focus on it this year.

Gabe Larsen: (01:49)

Awesome. Chad, what would you add to that?

Chad Horenfeldt: (01:51)

Yeah. From my perspective, our customers are the ones that are creating those amazing experiences for their customers, and they’re the ones that are on the front lines. They’re using really advanced technology and they’re just trying to do the best things for their customers. And so it’s nice to just take a moment and recognize some of them. And we’re trying to do some surprise and delight for some of our customers this week and just show our appreciation. We really want to make them feel that this is really important to us and know how hard it is for them.

Gabe Larsen: (02:23)

Yeah, I just, I’d mentioned it just to start, but it does seem like the customer service has taken a brunt, I think, of some of the things that have happened over the past year with the pandemic. Supply chains have been hard, products may have been delayed, people weren’t ready for the demand. Sometimes that came or didn’t come. Any just quick thoughts on that, as people continue to try to navigate these quote unquote interesting times when it comes to customer service and showing appreciation to them?

Gordana Warga: (02:52)

Be kind, always be kind. The team that’s helping you is generally understaffed and generally doing a lot of different things all at once. And everybody that I’ve met, even when I haven’t had the best customer experiences, everyone has actually wanted to help. And so go in with the best of intentions and try to be patient. I think that really means a lot. But also share your feedback when something isn’t going well. And you’d be surprised at how much, how many companies really are listening and want to make improvements, but we want to do it in the right way. And I think that goes a really, really long way. And even just a thank you when an experience goes well, you’d be surprised how that could really make somebody’s day who’s on the front lines.

Gabe Larsen: (03:32)

Yeah, I do. I think, like you said, just, I think they’ve taken the brunt and I think just take a deep breath. Let’s be kind and let’s see what we can do together to make this better. It is sometimes the small stuff that makes a huge difference. As you guys think about the power of customer service, what are some of those everyday actions that you’ve found you do or you’ve seen in others that just impact those long lasting client relationships? Chad, let’s start with you.

Chad Horenfeldt: (03:58)

Yeah. I think one is just being responsive. So it could be that an email that was sent to you and just responding right away and providing either an answer right away or letting them know that you’re going to get back to them in a certain timeframe. So setting those right expectations. Another thing could be getting the customer in touch with the right person and it could be someone at a higher level, it could be someone, let’s say on your technical team that has that expertise and can provide more of that insight. I think as a customer myself who’s purchased software and just purchased anything as a consumer, you just want to feel that you’re heard and that it’s not just, you’re just being passed off. It’s not just a minor thing and little things can go a long way. And I think any situation that happens, even if it’s a crisis situation, it’s how you respond and how you either build that trust or rebuild that trust. Those are the things that you have to focus on. We call those moments of truth.

Gabe Larsen: (05:01)

Yeah. Those kinds of moments of truth do matter. And it does seem, I’ve been reading more literature. I think generally the engagement level of the entire US, for example, through all this has maybe gone down a little bit and I love that word, listen. I think customers want to be listened to just a little more, we’re kind of in a bad mood just with the nature of things, and I think employees want to be heard a little more because just generally, I think the way things kind of have shaken out over the past a little bit. Gordana, what would you add? What are those everyday actions that you feel like can impact that overall customer relationship?

Gordana Warga: (05:40)

I think that Chad and his team does a phenomenal job of this. We all take the time to recognize the small wins and to really recognize when we’ve helped each other and when we’ve helped clients. So we’ll do a lot via Slack and via other channels where we just really give shout outs and reward all of the different positive things that we see happening each day.

Chad Horenfeldt: (06:01)

Yeah, it’s funny. It’s like, I don’t even think about some of the things that we do, but one of the things that we do that I think that any customer service organization can do is, we do a weekly retro and we use Slack here and there’s a little bot that we use. The Geekbot that does a weekly retro. And we ask each other, who do you want to give a shout out to? And it’s nice. Like, we just have that. We take that opportunity. We take that time and we reflect on what we’ve done this week. Not only the good things, the challenges. And then we give time to shout out to people and Gordana’s team gets a lot of shadows from my team. And then I share that with that individual and typically with their manager and we celebrate it. It’s just, because a lot of the time, like we don’t hear all those great things that are happening. And I think that’s one of the things in support, it’s unfortunate because there’s so many amazing things that are happening on many different interactions and it’s on those customer service leaders to bring those things up and surface those and so that we can all celebrate them.

Gabe Larsen: (06:59)

Yeah, I’m trying to actually take notes. I love doing the retro, doing a shout out. I probably shouldn’t be taking notes right now, but that is a good idea. How else, Gordana, did you in our, even thinking about our organization and others in your past, but how do we encourage customer obsession here or in your past lives? Chad gave a couple of examples –

Gordana Warga: (07:23)

I do it through more work oddly enough –

Gabe Larsen: (07:28)

How many more hours a day? I don’t know if-

Gordana Warga: (07:29)

No, not more hours. But I find that we have such a great team and they’re all so smart and so just highly technical. And you don’t want to be answering all the easy things all the time and just be doing the same things. So I give my team a lot of flexibility and opportunities to build solutions for clients based on the challenges that they see. And then we encourage taking a look at this to see how we can scale those solutions to actually affect more clients than just the ones we’re working on. So that sometimes becomes products. Like we have a couple of team members that are working on apps that we plan to publish in our directory. We have different things that we do that lead to documentation. So there’s a lot of different things that can lead to larger frame projects that really kind of encourage us to be customer obsessed and just brag about all the cool things that we’re doing. Geek out a little bit, if you will.

Gabe Larsen: (08:17)

No, I think that is. Sometimes finding passion in the role, that does help. So much of, I think the client experience, the customer obsession starts and ends with the employee. In our words, the Kustomer Krew here, we like the K, the double K, Kustomer Krew. How do you guys feel? I feel like both Gordana and Chad, you guys have done an amazing job building a culture on the employee side that facilitates that obsession. Any quick tidbits that you’d say more on the employee side? I love, Chad, you kind of mentioned the Slack thing. Ways you found to recognize employees? And as you were saying, Gordana. Maybe get passionate about the product. Chad, let’s start with you. Anything else you’d add on that?

Chad Horenfeldt: (08:58)

Yeah. The little things are super important. We had an amazing opportunity where we got our company together in person last week. And just as a small example, it was someone’s birthday and I knew it was their birthday and they’re away from their loved ones. And I made sure that we talked to the staff there at the resort, we got them some special cupcakes and they had a candle and it was on LinkedIn. And you can go to my LinkedIn, you can see this picture. And it was just a special moment for our team. We all say happy birthday to this individual. So you really want to treat people, in terms of individually, as an individual and celebrate the smallest moments and I think that if people know that you care about them, they’re going to care about what they’re doing and especially care about the customer.

Gabe Larsen: (09:45)

Yeah. Yeah. I like it. I like it. Gordana, anything you’d add?

Gordana Warga: (09:48)

Yeah. I mean, along those lines, we try to celebrate that the smaller wins by gamifying some of our metrics. We had a little game that kind of goes on and when we get ten five star CSATs in a row, we celebrate in Slack and start putting out little champagne bottles and things like that. We also try to treat the team to lunches and different things every now and then. And I just periodically check in to see if they’re okay, especially when things are very, very busy. I might call someone and say, “Do you need anything? Can I take something off your plate?” Because it can get overwhelming sometimes dealing with the volume of work that we’re doing, that we’re working on all the time.

Gabe Larsen: (10:24)

Yeah. Sorry Chad. Go ahead.

Chad Horenfeldt: (10:24)

I want to say one thing just to point out, like, one of the things that I do is I think the surprise and delight is a really interesting one where I’ve really focused on getting all of our communications from our customers in a centralized way. And it’s so important. And then what I like to do is to do some spot checking and see what are the types of interactions that we’ve had and then look for those positive interactions that they think nobody’s looking at and call them out and really celebrate them. So those are little things that you can do as well. And it just goes such a far way, because a lot of times people just, feel like it’s that tree that’s falling in the forest. No one really cares. And if you can find that tree that fell and celebrate it, then it’s a big win

Gabe Larsen: (11:06)

Makes a big difference. I think, Gordana, you alluded to this as well as it does seem, something I probably need to do a little better job at, as this organization is scaling, there’s so much going on. It’s hard to find those one-on-one meetings or those skip level meetings where it’s just that one, “How are you doing?” And doing it in a way that’s kind of more authentic and it’s not all business, but, “You doing okay?” Because yeah, I think we’re all trying to run and I do believe most everybody is trying to do their best, but sometimes it’s a problem, system, challenges. So giving ear to those people, I think does matter. One question before we look to wrap a little bit here is it’s obviously customer service a week. We’ve done a couple of fun things here at Kustomer. I know people are always looking for something different to do, to kind of celebrate that. Gordana, maybe we can start with you. What are some of the things you feel like are ways people can kind of, I know we’re done with kind of the week, but maybe next year, even if we still have a few hours, what can you do to celebrate customer service?

Gordana Warga: (12:06)

We’ve done the two things that I think were the most impactful this week, and we’ve actually done a lot. So maybe three me three things. One, we started introducing daily games into our daily meetings. And so the first half hour we spent just doing like just a warmup game, which we hadn’t done before. And I’m actually seeing the team interact very differently because of it and we might actually keep those after customer service week. The other thing that we introduced was company-wide shadowing. And so we allowed people from the company to just sign up for different shadowing times and see what we do and get a closer kind of interaction with clients than maybe they normally would. And at first I was worried that maybe this would be a lot of work for our team and maybe they wouldn’t get as much out of it, but they got just as much out of it as the folks shadowing. And so this is something that we’re also planning on continuing as we move forward. And the third is we actually had one of our clients come and give a presentation to us about how they use Kustomer and how they support their clients. And that gave us a lot of great ideas and it was just so cool to really hear from them directly what works for them and that we’re all in the same boat. I did think those three things were very, very powerful this week.

Gabe Larsen: (13:08)

Wow. Chad, I don’t know if you can add to that. That’s a tough act to follow right there. You might want – anything you’d add?

Chad Horenfeldt: (13:14)

I can’t add too much to that. But one thing we have been doing is we’ve been partnering with our marketing team. So thanks, Gabe, for this budget. But we’re just surprising anyone, instead of sending like a massive email out to our clients and saying it’s customer service week, we’re kind of doing a surprise and delight campaign where just random acts of kindness that we’re sending to our clients. And it’s just really appreciated. And I think it’s been done in a really nice way. I’m getting a lot of nice messages and our team’s kind of scrambling and anyone that’s interacting with us, we’re trying to just reply and give them something small and just to show our appreciation and it’s been very well received so far.

Gabe Larsen: (13:53)

I like that. Yeah. The surprise and delight. And I do think there’s so many challenges in the world and so many problems.

Chad Horenfeldt: (14:02)

I think what I like that we’ve done is that we’re not automating this. Like this is us responding and we’re being humans, human to human. And I think that that way, people have really appreciated it a lot more.

Gabe Larsen: (14:15)

They can feel that difference. Well, yeah. Certainly a lot going on. I appreciate the conversation. We’ll wrap it here. Want to give each of you just the ability to kind of do, maybe a quick takeaway, leave behind as we think about customer service week and appreciate those frontline people who have probably taken a little bit of the brunt over the past year. Anything you’d leave as advice to customer service leaders for celebrating that moving forward to provide that optimal customer service? Gordana, let’s maybe start with you.

Gordana Warga: (14:40)

Build in the time to have more fun. And it’s a hard enough job. You really, everyone works really, they put their all into it. Really build in that time and make sure the team does take a few minutes to have that break and enjoy each other’s company. And you’ll see that it will just have a tremendous impact on just the way that they see their role and the way that they help their clients and the way they help each other.

Gabe Larsen: (15:00)

Okay. Love it. Love it. Chad?

Chad Horenfeldt: (15:02)

Yeah. And look for the small things. Look for those small things that nobody sees and celebrate those and call them out.

Gabe Larsen: (15:08)

Yeah. Small things. Through small things, great things come to pass. I’ve heard that statement before. I definitely agree with that. So I’ll just finish by saying thank you, both to you. I think you guys are obviously part of this customer service week and it doesn’t go unnoticed I think from the leadership team at Kustomer. Challenges sometimes that you have with the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, but thank you for what you do and the engagement you push out to your team. And I’d say that for our customer service week. It doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s a tough job and it has been extremely tough in the last little while. Might not mean that much, but we see it. We wish you the best. And hopefully during customer service week, you got just a little bit of recognition. So with that, Chad, thanks so much Gordana, thanks for joining.

Chad Horenfeldt: (15:51)

Thank you.

Gordana Warga: (15:52)

Thank you so much. It’s been great being here.

Exit Voice: (15:59)

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