Simplr on the Unofficial Shopify Podcast
We’re officially Unofficial! Vincent was recently a guest on Kurt Elster’s Unofficial Shopify Podcast on outsourcing your Shopify store’s customer service. Below is a transcript of their conversation on ways customer service can make your store money and how Simplr can be your 24/7 sales and support team… on demand.
Kurt: Hello, and welcome back to The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I’m your host, Kurt Elster, recording from beautiful, scenic Skokie, Illinois. It is a wonderful, overcast autumn day. I love this, because it tells me, I can feel fall is around the corner, which means Black Friday’s around the corner, which means this is when everybody starts scrambling. You’ve got to get everything ready, get all your pieces in places. And one of the important things to have in place, of course, especially leading up to, during, afterward, the whole time, always and forever, is good customer service. And it’s a thing that’s been top-of-mind for me ever since I had my life-changing visit to Disney World. I did not think that I would become one of those weird Disney freaks. It is absolutely not my nature. Much more likely that I’d be some hipster doofus, but no. Disney altered my brain.
And it makes sense. I was asking my business partner, the producer of this show, Paul Reda, I said, “What is the deal here? How did I become this Disney’s head?” And he said, “Well, it’s because they’ve got two things going that you love; processes, obsessive processes, and an obsessive dedication to customer service. I said, “Oh, my gosh. You’re right.” And it turned out, they have a book that I … I’ve surrounded myself with books I haven’t read. I haven’t gotten to this one yet, but there’s a book called “Be Our Guest,” and it is literally, it is from the Disney Institute and talks about Disney’s commitment to customer service. So there’s my reading recommendation for you, coming up.
But back, all the way back in May or April, whatever it was, at Shopify Unite in Toronto, I sat down on a coach, and I heard a nice gentleman tell me about their forthcoming app, service, whatever you want to call it. And I got really, really excited. I said, “Wow. That sounds incredibly cool.” And it’s about, purely a customer service app for Shopify. And I thought, “Man, that is really neat. You’ve got to come on the podcast to talk about it.” And it makes sense. He’s more than just an app developer. Our guest today is Vincent Phamvan, who, listen to this, has led customer service operations supporting 10 of the Fortune 100. So literally 10% of the Fortune 100, this gentleman has led their customer service operations. That’s amazing. Currently, though, he’s the head of growth at Simplr, where he helps high-growth companies engineer unforgettable customer experiences through top-notch human and AI powered customer service.
So you could see, this checks all the boxes for something Kurt might get excited about; like amazing customer service, an app, Fortune 100 companies, artificial intelligence. Oh, my gosh. So without more of my banter, Vincent, how you doing?
Vincent: I’m doing great, Kurt. Thanks so much for having me today.
Kurt: Oh, wonderful, wonderful. And where are you located, good sir?
Vincent: I am in Nashville, Tennessee. Our headquarters is in San Francisco, but I just happen to be here this week.
Kurt: Very good. And the … Nashville, I have not been to Nashville yet. I want to, I do. I romanticize the South. I like the South. And Nashville’s so cool. All right, give me one restaurant or bar recommendation in Nashville.
Vincent: My favorite restaurant in Nashville is one that’s called Pastaria right now. It’s been neat. There’s been, I mean, over 100 restaurants that have opened in Nashville in the past year, great environment, great vibes. There’s good things happening in this city, and quite a different city than I moved to five years ago.
Kurt: Okay. And so you live down there? You live in Nashville?
Vincent: I do.
Kurt: You split your time between Nashville and San Francisco? Or is it remote?
Vincent: I split my time. There’s, we’re fortunate enough that, about a year ago, there’s a couple direct flights back and forth now.
Kurt: Very good. And at Simplr, all right, let’s start with that. Simplr is a customer service tool, so that’s what we’re discussing. But let’s define it. What, when we talk about, in the context of Shopify and e-commerce, when we say customer service, what is it we’re discussing?
Vincent: Yeah, absolutely. So customer service, we think of it as having conversations with customers. You know, some Shopify merchants only think of customer service as your conversation with the customer, after that customer makes a purchase. But as you know, so much of the conversations that we have with customers happen through social, or happen before a customer makes a purchase. And so some might refer to that as sales, but you know, all of that feeds into the customer experience.
So different types of questions that customers might have, the most basic of it is trying to learn about your products and services, and trying to make a decision as to whether or not it really solves a problem that that customer has. So these could be things related to the products, variations of the products, whether it’s available in specific colors, and whether that product is currently available. We see that many customers have questions about return policies, and shipping policies, and things like that, that help them get more comfortable with making a purchase from a brand that, potentially, they haven’t heard of before. Of course, after a customer gets an order, then they have all the questions about, “I ordered a red one. I accidentally did this. I’m actually interested in a blue one,” or in the unfortunate situation, where it’s, “It was on my way to the house. It says it’s delivered, but it just didn’t show up. What do I do now?”
Kurt: So earlier, you had said, “We think of customer service as conversations with customers.” And that’s interesting, because when I asked you, “All right, what are these jobs to be done? What’s going on here,” all of it was framed as questions customers have and answers you would give them. That makes sense, though, total mindset shift, it had never once occurred to me. So we’ve got presale questions, right? Number one, “Who am I buying from? Who is this individual, to ask me for my credit card number?” And we try to answer that, like with an “about” page. We’ve got questions about the product itself, so objection busting around the actual product; maybe we can answer that by adjusting our product description or FAQ. “Once I’ve placed my order, has it shipped? When am I going to get it? What’s going on here,” some like, some of those, you know, trying to continue the excitement questions.
Kurt: And then after they’ve purchased it, there may be support questions there, or just exchanges, that sort of thing. So really, it is, you’re right, it is very … I had not thought of customer service in that way. It’s very conversational. So it’s not … You want to be proactive and answer all this stuff, via like a product description, bullet points, an FAQ, that sort of thing. But it is folly to think that everyone is going to read every single thing on the site. So even if we have managed to answer all of these questions in a myriad of ways, there’s still going to be people who just want to ask the question, right?
Vincent: Absolutely. I mean, there’s really two different types of companies. There’s companies that try to avoid having conversations with their customers, and there’s companies that really embrace it and build great longterm relationships with their customers. And customer service is actually the number-one factor that impacts a customer’s level of trust in a brand that they purchase from.
Kurt: Okay, I like this. This is starting to click, here. I’ve got … So, yeah. You know, I could go out of my way to never solve all these issues, never interact with someone, and that can have a negative effect. I actually saw this in our own apps. We initially, you know, we were getting tons and tons of reviews for Crowdfunder, and it was because people would have trouble installing it. And they’d say, “Can you do it for me?” “Yeah, sure,” and install it. And they were so happy with it, with that service and with that personal touch, that they would leave a review. And then we built this automated installer. And then the automated installer got better, better, until it just worked, and no one had to ever ask for help.
So we never had these conversations. And in doing that, we ended up like, we’d shot ourselves in the foot in terms of, it was much harder to get reviews, because everything just worked. How crazy was that? So what you’re saying is, “Hey, maybe we should be embracing these customer conversations.” Okay. So you talked about the importance of it, and it’s the number-one factor. What are customers’ expectations for customer service in general, and then specifically, like for an online store? Because you know, I use the Walt Disney World example, but that’s going to be different than like my expectations for my cable company, which are very low, versus Amazon, versus your online store.
Vincent: Yeah. I would say the goal would be to be better than the expectations of the cable company, for sure. We see that customers really want three things when they’re communicating with a brand. The first one is, they expect to be supported where it’s convenient for them. So you think about the ways that you communicate with your families and with your friends, and a lot of that is through text messaging. It’s through Facebook Messenger. And so the number-one mistake that we see many companies make is, they only offer phone support to start, when consumers actually oftentimes have a preference towards live chat, text message, Facebook Messenger, and email. And so number one is, be there for your customers, where it’s convenient for them.
Vincent: Number two is, we see that customers want super quick responses. So 45% of consumers actually expect a response in under a minute on a live chat. And over half of customers actually attribute this to the biggest factor in having a good experience with a brand. The third one is, they just want to be seen and heard. So many of brands want to put customer service at the forefront of their brand. You have Bombas socks, with their happiness guarantee, Casper, with their 100-free-night trial. They’ll pick it up. They’ll remove it for you. They’ll donate your mattress to charity if it’s not a good fit for you. But empathy really does wonders. It can prevent angry customers from unleashing about you on Yelp or on Google. And it actually drives more loyalty. And customer service is so important today, especially because social media has a huge impact on what customers share about whether they have a good experience or a bad experience. And 45% of customers actually share bad customer experiences on social media, and this has a huge impact on whether or not other people make a buying decision.
Vincent: So based on the research that we’ve seen, 88% of people have been influenced by some type of online customer service review when they make a buying decision. So you definitely want your loyal customers, and even your occasional customers, saying favorable or positive things about your customer service experience.
Kurt: Absolutely. And even if like you’re going to get, at some point, some volume, you’re still going to get the occasional bad review. But when it’s drowned out by all these positive experiences, wow, that makes a big difference to people, seeing that. Okay. So you rattled off for us, kind of, customers’ expectations for us. What, building on that a little bit, what constitutes good customer service? Like if I’m trying to … You know, for you, what are the benchmarks, so that I can kind of compare myself and see, you know, maybe I don’t have a frame of reference in my own business. So I’m trying to figure out, how do I know if I’m offering good service, if I’m lacking, if I’m going beyond people’s expectations? I really don’t know. How would you define your gold standard, your benchmark for good customer service?
Vincent: In good customer service, it starts as a relationship. It’s a one-on-one relationship between a person who’s a part of a brand and a customer. So I would say the first benchmark is, if it feels like you’re talking to a machine, or talking to a robot, or if it feels like somebody’s cutting and pasting a script to you, that’s a clearcut sign of poor customer service. The second one, I would say, is going above and beyond, and anticipating customers’ needs. So one of the most basic examples of this is a customer asking, “Where’s my package?” A check-the-box solution that’s a cut-and-paste response would be, “Here’s your tracking number.” Going above and beyond would be doing things like checking where the package is, checking what day it’s anticipated to be delivered, and if there happens to be a delay through the shipping carrier, being proactive about that and apologizing to the customer. And just going back to what I said earlier, the customers often just want to be seen and heard. And so showing empathy goes a long way in that human-to-human relationship.
Kurt: Ah, human-to-human relationship, a common refrain on the show. And we heard it, you know, the previous episode with Sully is, people buy from people, not brands. So you can extend that exact same concept to your customer support. One of the things I loathe is when I email like a customer support thing, and it’s like, “Support, at. Info, at.” And it comes back with no name, nothing. It’s just like, “Yeah, here’s what you do.” And even if it was satisfactory, it just, it still feels weird when the person is unwilling to just attach their name to it.
Vincent: Yeah, that’s absolutely right.
Kurt: And like, it’s not … Nothing you’re saying, suggesting so far, is difficult. It’s just a, you know, mild mindset shift. Okay. But the stuff you’re suggesting, though, it seems like it’s something I have to invest in. It’s going to take resources, be it time or money. What’s the ROI of good customer service?
Vincent: So the ROI of good customer service, many companies think of customer service as just a cost center, where your goal should be to minimize your costs. And for so many companies, this is where doing customer service for them has become a race to the bottom. How low can you drive your cost? We actually think of customer service in a different way. So when you think about the trifecta of running a Shopify store or an e-commerce store, you want to drive average order value. You want to drive your cost per acquisition, or your CPA. And you want to drive your customer lifetime value.
Vincent: And so we really think of customer service, and being able to answer those presale questions well, because if you have a person that’s talking to your customer, who’s currently navigating your website through a live chat, that person has the ability to, A, make sure that that customer purchases the right product for them, which reduces your returns. And on top of that, if there’s a way to be able to make a recommendation that makes sense to either cross-sell or upsell, that’s a great opportunity to be able to do it in a not-salesy way; in a way that helps you actually understand who that person, behind the computer or that phone that you’re talking to, is as a customer, to be able to make a recommendation that’s right for them.
Vincent: For the customer lifetime value, some of the things that we’ve seen is, it drives repeat purchases from other people. And bad customer experiences have even a worse impact, because 52% of customers will actually stop buying from a brand after a bad customer service interaction. And this, even, is worse for high-income households. So oftentimes, when you take a look at your best customers, 79% of high-income households are likely to avoid a brand for at least two to three years after having a bad customer experience, before giving that company another chance. So the ROI of having good customer service is not even about minimizing costs. It’s about being able to drive your average order value up, by having a one-on-one relationship and conversation with that customer. And it increases your customer lifetime value, because that customer is going to feel more loyal, and feel an emotional connection to your brand.
Kurt: I can definitely relate, because like, as you said that, I know I’ve done these things, where it’s like, there’s a local furniture store. I bought a bunch of furniture from them. I had one bad experience. We simply found another furniture store. I’m not going back there. That is, there’s a clear opportunity cost here when customers have this negative experience. One of the things that I think entrepreneurs struggle with is giving themselves permission to let go, to delegate, to outsource things. Why is it okay to outsource your customer service? Let’s say I’m starting, I’m a solopreneur. You could grow, certainly, we’ve seen people grow, you know, high-six-figure businesses by themselves. When is it okay? Why is it okay?
Vincent: Yeah, absolutely. So we see companies go through three different stages. So the first one that you mentioned is, it’s a small store, it’s a solopreneur. We actually recommend that the founders start doing their own customer service in this phase, because it’s a great way to be able to understand how your customers are reacting to your product, to be able to really ensure that you’re building a great product or a great service, and that you have product-market fit. Where it becomes challenging is, when the solopreneur starts scaling, they don’t scale with the hours. So some of the best brands out there offer 24/7, 365 support. And those, sometimes, are your competitors. And that doesn’t scale. Unless you have figured out a way never to sleep, that part doesn’t scale.
Vincent: And so we never recommend that somebody fully let go, but this is kind of the first phase that people come out of as they start getting momentum on their Shopify store. Oftentimes, a common solution is, a merchant will hire a VA, or a virtual assistant. This sometimes works as a strategy to be able to start out. Sometimes it’s risky, though, because you don’t know the level of quality in that person, especially if you’re just hiring somebody that may or may not even be located in the country that you’re currently in, or if your customers are in. And it’s risky, because there’s no continuity. They can leave at any moment, and they really have no commitment to you or your team. But the other part is, let’s say that they don’t leave, and they are loyal. That person gets sick. And just realistically, that person deserves a vacation. And that person, sometimes, is going to get sick, because life happens.
Vincent: And so that’s really hard. Scaling that person to be able to cover 24/7 for your business, you need at least six people with eight-hour shifts. And that doesn’t even fully account for covering breaks, covering lunches, vacations, and you know, the stuff that just falls into the category of “life happens.” In that media … Yeah, go ahead.
Kurt: It sounds like a lot of our limitations are around time and availability, right? We’ve got a finite amount of time, no matter who we are. But early on, all right, it sounds like we’ve got, there’s different stages of customer service as you grow from small to large. And so I’m assuming they have different pain points, but early on, it’s just you. You’re the solopreneur, and you should be in it, because it gives you a feel for it. You build that relationship. It makes sense. Then as you grow, you go, “All right. I don’t have time for this. I need to outsource it. It’s not valuable for me to be in it, 100% of the time.” So let’s say you get support ticketing software so you can keep an eye on it, or just, you know, a separate inbox; and you hire a VA, you train a VA, somebody remote.
Kurt: All right. They’re working on it. But now you’ve got an issue, in that you’ve created the single point of failure there. And they don’t have enough time. So, okay, now I’ve got to add more people. And you said, you know, ideally, I’ve got six people. I’ve got them in shifts. And that way, I’ve got redundancy. What … So, like that’s, we’ve got those stages. All right. What would be the next stage, after that? How many stages are there in customer service, and support, and teams?
Vincent: For the simplicity, we’ll bucket it into three stages; so, small-stage solopreneur, you have your growing stage, and your medium-size. And then eventually, you hit a large stage, where you can take advantage of efficiency at scale. And part of what we’re really excited about is, you know, as technology gets better, these smaller companies can take advantage of the type of technology that larger companies can also be able to take advantage of today. But that medium-size store is common when you hire your first customer service employee. So it’s usually a customer service representative. They work for you, whether that’s remotely, or whether it’s in the same place that you work at, or where you ship out your own things. And eventually, you hire more employees.
Vincent: But that first employee that you hired was a customer service representative; not a supervisor, not a manager. And so this might be the person that’s really focused on doing a good job, but they might not have the experience to be able to scale the type of volume for your first Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or to be able to expand into new hours of coverage, or expand into new channels of communicating with customers; channels like text messaging, or Facebook Messenger. That person is typically just really focused on them, individually, doing a good job interacting with your customers; not necessarily some of the strategic stuff.
Vincent: But I mentioned scaling up for Black Friday, scaling down for the holidays. In this medium-size, one of the biggest pain points is being able to scale up, and scale back down, and to have the flexibility. So we’ve worked with many companies who have had a successful marketing campaign that just took off. Like, it went viral on the internet. And then, all of a sudden, they have this great problem to have, but a painful problem, which is, they have more customers than they were prepared to be able to handle. On the opposite side of that, something that you never plan for is, you have a kink in your supply chain, or you have a problem in your fulfillment, or there’s a hurricane, or some type of weather event that has caused a significant amount of delayed packages. And again, something that, life happens, you don’t necessarily plan for that. But that’s one of the pain points in this medium-size phase.
Kurt: Okay. So backing up a little bit, how do I know when I’m hitting a wall with my customer service? So how do I know either when it’s time to delegate, or when it’s time to scale up?
Vincent: Yeah. One of the quickest ways of being able to know that is, customers want fast answers. And so if you take a look, you mentioned earlier, in a ticketing system, so in this phase, you typically start exploring different ticketing systems. And all of them typically have a metric that’s called “first response time.” And this is just the time that passes between when a customer sends you a question and when you send them the answer to that question. And so as that grows, that’s a telltale sign that it’s time to start scaling your customer support capability.
Kurt: Okay. So once I know it’s time to start scaling, and I need to scale, I need to delegate this stuff, how do I do it? What are we … You mentioned VAs, but what are my options here?
Vincent: So your different options are, hire your own employees. There are companies that you can partner with, or you can hire contractors, such as a VA. And there’s different pros and cons at all of these different stages, where your solutions, traditionally, that have scaled, smaller entrepreneurs typically don’t have access to these types of services in the past. And so that’s been a pain point, there.
Vincent: Once you get to a large customer service team, then there’s plenty of companies that want to partner with you to be able to help you with your customer service. But we’ve found that, in the past, they’re really built for large companies. They’re not small. They’re not nimble. They don’t work well with online-only brands. And it’s really difficult to negotiate a contract with them. Oftentimes, they’re really complex. And you’re locked into this multi-year agreement with so much upfront cost in trying to integrate with that company, that that’s one of the downsides here, where entrepreneurs, in the past, just haven’t been able to have access to product and a solution that really meets an entrepreneur’s price point, while scaling well with their store.
Kurt: So I think … Okay. So if I’ve got to start delegating this, I’ve got to get a … Well, first, I need a runbook. I need to start recording my common answers and questions so I can help train somebody. I’ve got to get support ticketing software, and there are myriad options out there. I’ve got to train somebody, ideally, multiple people, VA, or get a service that can handle this stuff. But there is another solution here, and it’s, give it to the robots; it’s AI. And we’ve seen service has started to pop up with this. All right. Talk to me about AI in customer service.
Vincent: Yeah. One of the, I think, advantages with technology that I mentioned before is, technology gives smaller companies access to the same type of resources that large enterprises use. And AI and machine learning is all of the buzz right now. Kurt, do you have an Alexa?
Kurt: Yes. I have several.
Vincent: And I mean, this is one of the best technologies out there in chatbots. And even today, I probably would not trust Alexa to fully take over my customer service.
Kurt: Yeah. You ask her a question, [crosstalk 00:25:06] she gets it like 50% of the time.
Vincent: Yeah. How would you feel if 50% of your customers got a great response?
Kurt: Yeah. I’d be happy for that 50%. The other 50% would be awful. That’s, it wouldn’t work. It’s not successful.
Vincent: Yeah, absolutely. So we think that AI in technology is really exciting. Right now, at least for Simplr, we use it behind the scenes to make humans smarter and faster. And so AI is really good at empowering these humans to be able to generate personalized responses, at scale, for customers, in a way where your customers still know that they’re talking to a human. But the AI is really critical for being able to scale, and it brings a ton of growth abilities to Shopify stores.
Vincent: And so with Simplr, at least, our position is, we use a blend of AI and machine learning with humans, to be able to deliver an efficient, scalable solution that also has a heart, and also has a sense of humor, and doesn’t let you down for the half of the times where the chatbot just doesn’t understand what you’re asking.
Kurt: It sounds cool, but I can’t picture it. Walk me through a working example of what that would look like.
Vincent: So a working example of what that might look like is, a human being that’s writing a response to you. So let’s take the example earlier, where I said a customer is asking you where the package is. You can use machine learning to interpret that customer’s question. You can then use, in an automated way, pulling the tracking number from Shopify and putting that in front of your human being, without them having to go, and manually look up the order, and all of that. And you can even take the next step, of using, looking at that tracking number, and going out to UPS, or FedEx, or whoever, and finding out the current status. And from there, you can craft a sample response.
Vincent: But the thing that the chatbot’s not always going to be able to do is, to be able to tie that information to the cause; and the cause being, “Hey, you know there’s a hurricane that’s happening right now,” or being able to take that a step further and say, “This was something that was caused by our brand. And we want to take ownership over that, and we want to show you empathy.” And so the right thing to do here is actually to just apologize to the customer and take ownership. And those are the types of extra touches in customer service that really make a difference in building that relationship with that customer. And that’s most of what you miss out on if you go to a 100% chatbot-only solution, at least today.
Kurt: Because yeah, chatbots really, they’re not getting context. They’re just picking out, they’re very good at picking out keywords in natural language processing. But they certainly cannot empathize. They can’t figure out like, current scenarios. And you’re right. The concept of like, “Well, this is delayed because hurricane,” it would never, ever manage this; at least, you know, not yet, not today.
Kurt: Okay. So it’s the customer … So I go, I’m on a Shopify store. I’m on your Shopify store. And there’s a live chat. I use the live chat. I ask the question, you know, this is my preferred method, about my order. The natural … Your AI picks it up, figures, knows, okay, knows my name, knows, sees like, “Where’s my order,” is a question; and is able to come back, pull, craft a dynamic, templated response. And then a person reviews it. It does not just send on its own.
Vincent: Yeah. That’s how our Simplr Solution works today, is we have a network of Simplr specialists who then review these answers and send them off to these customers-
Kurt: Oh, hold up. So it’s not just a tool set. My understanding was, you know, it’s a tool. I’m still hiring a person, my own VA, to tackle this thing. You have a person who reviews the answers on your end. I don’t have to train anybody or deal with this.
Vincent: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s back up, all the way to the beginning. What Simplr’s goal is, we were a group of entrepreneurs who, we all started off building different types of businesses. And with every single one of them, we found that scaling customer service was really challenging to be able to do well. And so we focused on building the entrepreneur’s choice and the entrepreneur’s solution to scaling customer service.
Vincent: So there’s two parts of that. There’s the technology to be able to do that. And then there’s also being able to have the right people. And so what we’re really excited to be able to share is, with this podcast, on your podcast, we’re excited to announce that we’re launching a Shopify app. And with that Shopify app, it’ll give merchants of all sizes, small and big, access to the technology, as well as a network of people, on demand, who can help you answer these customer questions.
Kurt: This is phenomenal. Oh, my gosh. Okay. So what are the … I don’t even know. How do I sign up for it? Like, what’s that process look like? Do I … Walk me through it.
Vincent: So like many other apps for Shopify, we are in the Shopify App marketplace. So you would go there and do a search for Simplr. And then one of the things that we found is that people want fast onboarding. And so many of the traditional companies that we’ve talked about in the past, it could take you months, or weeks, or a half a year to be able to really get set up and working with them. With us, we’ve automated much of that with technology, in terms of learning and analyzing how a company has answered their questions in the past, and using that to be able to build these suggested answers for our network of Simplr specialists.
Vincent: So oftentimes, we’ve had instances where we worked with a boot company, where one day, they launched a sale, wildly successful, sold out of five different boots, all in one day. They contacted us at 5:00 PM that day and said, “We don’t know what to do. We’re just overloaded in customer questions. Our plan is, we’re just going to stay up all night, and everybody on the team is going to answer questions.” And by 7:00 that night, after they installed our app, we actually were able to jump in with them and start answering their customer questions. And by morning time, we had cleaned out, with them, that entire backlog of questions. And over the weekend, they averaged a response time that was quite fast. And so it gave them the ability to be able to essentially double their customer service team in 24 hours.
Kurt: I love it. I want it. It sounds exciting. It also sounds high-touch and expensive. What does it cost?
Vincent: Yeah, that’s a great point. So we know that we, on average, save our partners about 40% to 60%. So we’re about 40% to 60% more affordable than all of the other solutions that we’ve talked about; whether that’s hiring your own person, whether that’s partnering with a large company, or the traditional route of using that VA. And the best part is, there’s no contract, so you’re not committed to anything longterm, and there’s no minimums. And all we do is, we charge a flat-rate cost of $2.25 for every customer question that we answer and resolve for you. So this is not a, you pay per the email or per minute. We really want to incentivize ourselves to fully answer customer questions.
Vincent: So they might ask one question or three questions over the course of three emails. That entire customer interaction is just one, flat-rate cost, and you only pay for what you use.
Kurt: So it’s a performance-based model. That makes it incredibly affordable. I love it. That’s great. What does it integrate with? Do I use my … Like, do you have a live chat widget I put on the site, in forums? Or how does this work? How does this tie into my store?
Vincent: Yeah, great question. So we’re system-agnostic. We can plug into the most common ticketing systems that are out there. So we’ve found that for 90% of the companies that we’ve partnered with thus far, whatever ticketing system they’re currently using today, we just plug straight into that. And the best part is, is this is not something where you have to hire a developer to be able to do, or to be able to do a ton of work. It’s a quick and easy integration that takes less than an hour to be able to complete. And you see all of your customer questions in that system, as well as our responses in that system, so none of that changes for you. You have access to the same type of reporting.
Vincent: The best part, though, is we’ve added a business dashboard on top of this that can actually give you insights into your customers’ feedback to you. So you remember when we talked about, in the early days, entrepreneurs should be really close to their customers, do your own support, so that you can really understand what those customers like about you, don’t like about your product or service, and get a really good understanding of that. As you scale, it’s unrealistic that somebody could read thousands of these customer interactions as they scale, and somebody else is helping them with their support. And so we’ve built this business intelligence dashboard, where we can actually feed those insights back to the business owner.
Vincent: And so some of the things that we’ve been able to do are, we had one company that we were working with, where they grew a lot, had partnered for their fulfillment, but they weren’t the last ones touching the box before it got sent out to the customers. And so we actually noticed a trend in the tickets. Well, our machine learning noticed a trend in the tickets, where a certain product just wasn’t packaged well. And that product was getting damaged in shipping. And so we put this on their business intelligence dashboard. And as a result, they changed their packaging and improved that. So we’ve had another example, where a company was selling shoes, and they had a particular shoe size that their customers were interested in. But unless you were reading their hundreds of tickets, it would be impossible for you to know that a small percentage of your customers, the reason why they’re not making a purchase is because this particular shoe size wasn’t available.
Vincent: And so in addition to being able to help entrepreneurs scale their support, we’ve also built this intelligence dashboard that gives these business owners access to the same types of insights and learnings that they had when the company was at a younger state, when they were doing their own support.
Kurt: This thing’s a game changer. That’s quite extraordinary. Okay. I’m excited. We’re coming to the end of our time together. Let me ask you, in your experience, what are some of the common mistakes people run into, or even just the number-one, common mistake people make, with their customer support?
Vincent: Yeah. So not planning for scaling up and down is probably the biggest one. You don’t want to invest in the traditional solutions. You don’t want to invest ahead of the curve, and then end up paying for people who are ready to take your customer tickets, and there’s just no customer tickets or customer questions coming in; even worse than that is not having enough people. So we’re really excited that our solution scales up and down with you. You can have it on, on weekends only, or nights and weekends only. You can have it on just for the holiday season. You can pause it any time you want.
Vincent: The second one is settling for less than the best. They think that they can’t afford good customer service. And so because of that, they have to hire that VA that’s not, that doesn’t speak the same native language as their customers. And we see that that has longterm negative impacts on customer lifetime value. So that’s another big mistake, is affordable customer service is out there, with solutions like ours, or there’s many other solutions out there as well, that combine this technology with humans to be able to help you scale your support at a fraction of the cost of being able to do it yourself.
Vincent: And the last one is not having support available 24/7, 365. The reality is, you and I are recording this during the day. We do a lot of shopping at night from our cellphones, and that’s where customers are. And if you’re not staffing your support, and you’re not giving answers to your questions, they could be not making a purchase, which is not great for your store; or slightly better, but still not good, they’re making a purchase, but they’re ordering the wrong product. And then you have to return it, and then exchange it, and then reship out a different one to them. You can solve for all of this by having somebody available there. And traditionally, hiring those six people is really timely and expensive, to find them, to train them. And so now, there’s a great solution to being able to scale, 24/7, 365, and only pay for what you use.
Kurt: This is, I see no downside to this. It’s really quite phenomenal. And we’ve got, with the holidays coming up, man, sign up for this thing now. Save yourself some time. Make customers happier. And this business intelligence dashboard, very clever stuff. All right. I’ve got a note here, it says you’ve got a special offer for our listeners. Tell me about that.
Vincent: We do have a special offer, and there’s no better offer than free. So this is kind of a crazy offer, but we will do support, and your sales support, and answer all your customer questions for your store, for free, for 14 days. And there’s no commitment. This is double the time period that we normally do, only for listeners of this podcast. And so 14 days, you can try us out, no commitments, and no cost during that 14 days for you. We’re excited to be able to share the solution and give everybody who’s listening to this podcast an opportunity to be able to experience this type of support for their customers, firsthand.
Kurt: I will … To get that, we go to Simplr.AI/podcast, correct?
Vincent: That’s right. Simplr.AI/podcast.
Kurt: All right. I will include that in the show notes. Man, this is a … There’s been so little innovation in customer service for so long. Like, it’s just kind of, it feels abandoned, compared to some of the more exciting marketing stuff that’s easier to sell. So really, I’m thrilled to see something like this. It’s so cool. Vincent, thank you.
Vincent: Thank you so much.