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This week, the Institute of Customer Service celebrates Customer Service Week. All businesses strive to do very well, but dealing with customer queries is not always easy. I grilled Matt Cutbush, the head of our own Support team, on the topic.

A: What is one thing that you think people don’t realise about our Support team?

M: A lot of clients don’t think that they’re real people. They start a chat asking a random question to test if it’s a computer generated answer.  And they’re actually surprised to find that they’re not robots.

A: Customers generally, not just in our industry, expect better and better service. How can one stand out from a Support point of view?

M: Well, if I think about Adestra, there’s three things.

First, it’s the relation we have to marketers.

We appreciate that the people at the end of the line are on a deadline. I see the team frantically trying to get something done, not just because they want to move on to the next thing, but because they know it’s important to the other person on the line to have it solved.

However long it takes to solve a problem, I know that the team do whatever they can to make sure it’s done as soon as possible. Many things are resolved on the chat, or within 1 or 2 email responses.

Secondly, it’s the actual offer. Our first line Support isn’t really first line in the traditional sense. We do a bit of digging around and fix the problem there and then, usually without escalation. Quite a large proportion of the problems get solved that way.

Thirdly, it’s about skills. I can’t say enough about how good the team is at what they do, especially under the pressures that they’re under quite a lot of the time. Everyone has their speciality areas but the general knowledge base in the team is fantastic.

And that’s it: dedication, practical help and knowledge.

A: What do you mean by ‘digging around and fixing’?

M: So, you might have a template that has a particular problem, it’s not rendering the way you want it to. The team can usually identify that problem just by having a look at the code, and they resolve it on the spot. I think that’s quite unique within our industry and it’s just a standard service that we offer. We also give advice if needed, but usually it’s about getting in and altering the code for an immediate fix.

And it’s useful to clients to know they can rely on us. If something doesn’t look quite right, they can get in touch with the team and they’ll get help right away.

A: How do you make sure you’re responding to clients quickly enough?

M: Our aims are to respond to your email within an hour, to pick up the chat within one minute and answer the phone within 3 rings. And I’m happy to say we are well within our targets. Our email response time on average  over the last two months is 41 minutes.

Obviously, there are times of the year and of the day when we’re busier, but that’s what stats say. And we’re always reviewing our processes and the Support technology we use, to see if there is another, more efficient way to do it. Our primary concern is the client.

A: Could you give me an example of something that really made you feel good or proud in your job at Adestra?

M: Well, we had always heard anecdotally and from external surveys that clients thought the Support team was really good. And I knew how hard the team works because I see it every day. But we wanted to quantify it. So we set up a customer satisfaction survey that is sent out automatically after a Support query.

Customers rate the service from very poor to very good, or from 1 to 5 if you wish. And they can also leave a comment if they want to. The thing that I am very proud of is that those scores were good from the moment they started coming in, and they are getting better. Our current 3 month average is at 4.79 out of 5, from about 4,500 responses.

We thought we had industry-leading customer service, and then we start this and we realise that the scores are great.

A: What surprised you most about the email industry when you started?

M: I think some people believe many companies are out there just to send spam.

But having seen what the industry entails, I was surprised of the responsibility and care that’s put into making sure that’s not the case.

At least at Adestra, we go through great lengths to make sure that our clients adhere to the laws to protect the collective’s reputation. Coming from outside the industry, you don’t necessarily expect to see the time and effort spent in this area.

About Matt

Matt Cutbush has been with Adestra for 4 years. After starting as a Support Executive,  he became the link between Support and Development for 2 years. After developing an in-depth understanding of the MessageFocus infrastructure, he returned to lead the Support team as Support Manager.