Sophie’s Voice: Scaling the Personal Touch in Customer Service


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we can scale our “personal touch” with clever use of technology, intelligent processes, and strategic hiring decisions.

We’ve hit on the perfect customer support person, and as a company that prides itself on customer support above all else, we have to figure out how to scale her as we grow.

How do we plan to scale “Sophie”?

1) Automated messaging, but “real” interactions

Every new user gets a welcome e-mail from Sophie. Although these e-mails are sent automatically, all replies are sent directly to Sophie, and she replies manually to each one. We would love it if everybody responded to these e-mails, but only a small percentage actually do. Those that do, get to know Sophie and rely on her for ongoing support. They actually like her. People feel like they “know somebody at WePay,” and they often ask for her by name.

This is surprisingly scalable. Next month, you may receive an automated email from [email protected], and if you respond, your message will go directly to him. Adding a personal touch to automated messages and routing the responses appropriately is low hanging fruit.

2) You just need to personalize the “mouth of the funnel”

When it comes to fixing problems, or answering complex questions, actual customer interaction is pretty minimal.

While Sophie (or Tom) communicates directly with the customer, usually questions are answered and problems are fixed behind the scenes. At this point, we rarely get “new” questions, so Sophie uses Zendesk Macros to answer the meat of the question, and then just personalizes the response on the margins. If a customer is trying to change something with their account or report a bug, Sophie is rarely the employee who actually makes the changes. Whoever does will usually respond to Sophie with an e-mail, which she will personalize and deliver to the customer.

3) Synchronous, semi-synchronous, and asynchronous customer service

Contrary to popular belief, most people hate calling customer service lines. But if that’s the case, why do people get enraged when they can’t find your phone number on your website?

When people have a problem, they want it fixed immediately. When they have a question, they want it answered right away. Until recently, a phone call was the only real solution. More and more sites (including WePay) have turned to live chat as an alternative. We use Olark to allow WePay users and visitors to instantly message WePay customer service. Most users prefer live chat to a phone call because it’s faster and easier. But for WePay, it’s semi-synchronous: a good rep can effectively talk to half a dozen people at once.

Live chat also gets customers accustomed to communicating online rather than over the phone. Once Sophie has engaged somebody on live chat, she finds out if they … Next Page »

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Rich Aberman is the founder of Follow @

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6 responses to “Sophie’s Voice: Scaling the Personal Touch in Customer Service”

  1. David L says:

    WePay users who have interacted at least once with a WePay representative are happier with the service, transact more, and are more likely to refer friends than users who haven’t.

    Not to poke holes, but it sounds to me like the customers who are happier are the ones who transact more, and are therefore likelier to end up interacting with a representative–not necessarily the other way around.