We recently had the opportunity to see Mark Bangerter, Director of Customer Success and Support at ClickFunnels, speak at Support Driven Expo. Following his talk, we sat down with Mark to dig a little bit deeper into how support teams are moving from cost centers to revenue generators, and how to empower your support teams to do just that -- drive revenue.
ClickFunnels enables people to grow their companies through sales funnels. Essentially, we help small businesses sell on the Internet. I’ve been with the company for three and a half years.
I started out as a technical support agent, and I often found myself answering the same questions over and over again. I saw a need to develop a knowledge base, and I worked hard to fill it, and to provide value to our company. I worked my way up to my current job, which is Director of Customer Success, where I lead our success team of 135+ employees located all over the world, across content, customer service, customer experience and non-technical support teams.
My background is in e-commerce and marketing. I actually have a Master’s degree in internet marketing. I stumbled into this function and this role. I was working for a very small startup before ClickFunnels where I was wearing many hats, and I was actually a ClickFunnels customer and fell in love with the product and the company and decided to join it.
Mark Bangerter, Director of Customer Support and Success at ClickFunnels
ClickFunnels is the only company I’ve worked for in the support function, and I’ve always been curious about best practices and how other companies do support. I saw that there was a gap in our growing team when it came to training our team. We used to focus only on productivity – classic metrics such as ‘number of tickets processed per agent per day’ – and we realized a couple of things. One is that efficiency gains only get you so far. The other thing we realized is that our CSAT wasn’t improving at all, and in some cases, it was actually declining as we improved efficiency. We had been so focused on quantity over quality, and I started thinking about what we could do to improve quality. That’s what got me interested in training as a potential superpower for our team at ClickFunnels.
One of the first things we did is we started tracking quality assurance and ticket quality metrics. We did this in coordination with specific training on various topics. Within a month, our CSAT went up by five points. Once we saw that, we realized that training was a great force multiplier for our support team, especially as we started scaling our team to support our fast-growing business. We realized that our team needed to constantly make themselves better, and training was the best way to do that. We were able to use the positive results from our early experiments to make the case for hiring a training and quality assurance manager to manage training for both new hires as well as ongoing training for our team.
I always come back to the book Freakonomics. One of the main ideas in that book is that we often treat the symptoms to a problem but ignore the root cause. In our world, it’s much easier to tell an agent “don’t do that”, but it’s the wrong answer. The right answer is to dig deeper and actually figure out why an agent does what they do.
Let me give you a concrete example of treating the symptom vs. addressing the root cause. A few days ago, our CEO messaged me about a customer who told him they were having an issue with support. I looked at the customer history and saw that we hadn’t addressed a ticket for more than 12 hours. It turns out the customer had submitted multiple tickets in the time span of a couple of days, and our agent was still working on one of the previous tickets. It wasn’t until I understood the full picture that I could properly address the symptom of the customer not having heard back for 12+ hours, and it led to a good training moment for our team on how to handle similar situations.
Another mistake I see leaders make sometimes is that they focus on the wrong metrics. For example, even with us, we were focused on quantity over quality, and that actually was not the right set of metrics to judge the health and effectiveness of our team.
The first step is identifying the right set of problems to solve. This becomes even harder when you have a remote team like we do. We often do remote co-working screensharing sessions with our team leads and agents, so our leads can coach agents on how to do their jobs better and identify any larger issues. But identifying the right set of problems to solve is definitely the first step.
The second step is to actually create concise training materials in a variety of media – whether it’s written articles, videos, real-time trainings. We are still definitely not perfect on this front – we are always striving to improve, and it’s really a never-ending journey.
The last step is to ensure that your agents understand the material and have fully comprehended the lessons learned. We do this through quizzes and tracking results of those quizzes – how many have taken quizzes, and what % pass the quiz. This is really critical for us as a “close the loop” step as it helps us figure out what’s sticking.
Do you have any stories on how great training helped someone on your team deliver a better customer experience?
Back in December, we did a training based almost entirely on Shep Hyken’s Be Amazing or Go Home. It was after this training that we saw our CSAT scores go up significantly.
Do you see your team as a cost center, or do you see yourself as part of the revenue team?
This point actually was one of my takeaways from SDX. I came back from that event and told my leaders that we could make a meaningful contribution to revenue.
Our agents contribute to revenue in two specific ways – one is that we actually end up saving a lot of customers from canceling. Often, customers come to us because they’re frustrated that they couldn’t figure something out. If we can help them solve their problem, then they stay with our company, and we’ve stopped real revenue from leaving our door.
The other way we contribute to revenue is in upsell. We have some services and other add-ons that can help our customers get much more value out of our solution. Often, when we’ve delivered a great customer experience, the customer is highly receptive to hearing about what else our company and our solution can do for them. Think about how hard it is to get time with a prospective customer, or even a customer unless they have a problem. But they come to us willingly, and for free, every time they engage with Support. Why not treat this as a revenue opportunity, assuming of course that we have solved their problem quickly and effectively?
The funny corollary is that number of incoming tickets actually has nothing to do with our support team – it has to do with the product team and our onboarding team. We are just takers of whatever tickets come in. So, metrics like cost per ticket are really not useful to measure our performance. We are definitely moving toward becoming a more strategic function within our company, and I suspect that other companies are in the same boat.
Thank you so much, Mark. How can people get in touch with you for advice or professional networking?
You can email me at mark at clickfunnels dot com, connect with me on LinkedIn, or Slack me at @markbangerter in the Support Driven community.