How an innovative shoe accessory company scales its customer support
In 2012 Gaston Frydlewski founded Hickies, a stretchy alternative to shoelaces, because he felt there had to be a better way to tie his shoes.
Six years and two successful Kickstarter campaigns later, Hickies high-performance elastic “laces” are now sold in over 50 countries around the world, including the U.S., Argentina, Japan and the U.K., on the company’s own Shopify website as well as on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
But as Hickies grew, so, too, did its need for a more seamless customer support solution.
“Since we are growing a lot, we really need a platform that works, that has different types of e-commerce-focused features and that can easily be used by our customer service team,” says Virginia Roldan, customer service manager at Hickies.
She continues, “We have to handle every issue that our customers have, both on our own website and on the marketplaces we sell on, everything from questions like ‘When is my order going to arrive?’ to ‘I want to exchange this color for another one.’”
Hickies needed customer support software that wouldn’t hinder its growth
As the company scaled up and began selling in more markets, it didn’t take long for Virginia to realize that its then customer support software—Zendesk—wasn’t cutting it.
“It was very difficult for us to see if a support ticket was coming from the U.S., from Europe or from Asia, or even what channel it was coming from,” Virginia says, adding, “We also couldn’t reply directly from some channels and the option to forward a message to another team member was not very user-friendly.”
Not to mention, a growing business meant an expanding customer support team—and Virginia quickly realized that training new hires to use Zendesk was taking too long.
“Every time a new agent joined the team, he or she needed to get familiarized with Zendesk and because it’s not very user-friendly, there would always be issues and we would miss tickets,” she explains.
First impressions are important, especially for a growing e-commerce business that does not yet have the benefit of brand recognition to back it up. For that reason, the ability to respond to queries quickly is critical to customer relations. A slow response (or worse, no response at all) could be detrimental to a brand’s reputation and future sales.
“Because we were growing a lot, we needed something more user-friendly that could help us solve problems—not cause problems,” Virginia notes.
And so, Hickies’ IT team set out to find a customer support solution that was easy to use and connected its myriad e-commerce channels in one place.
Hickies wanted more than a ticket management system
After weighing up the pros and cons of other support software on the market, the company realized an e-commerce help desk was the answer to its specific set of customer service problems.
Ultimately, that’s why Hickies switched from Zendesk to xSellco Helpdesk. Connectivity was one of the main Helpdesk features that caught the attention of the IT team—and Virginia says it’s made the greatest difference to her support agents’ productivity.
“My team members like that whenever they log in to their dashboard, they can see clearly if something is a new message, how much time is left in its SLA (service level agreement) and if it’s coming from Facebook, Amazon, Shopify or eBay,” Virginia explains. “Having all that information in the main page is really useful because it helps my agents to manage their time and prioritize support tickets.”
Connectivity is key to resolving customer queries quickly
xSellco’s integration with Shopify, in particular, has helped to cut down response times. Most of Hickies’ sales come from its own e-commerce site that services six different regions: the U.S., UK, Brazil, Germany, France and the EU at large. That means the support team has to field queries from customers in all those markets, potentially written in different languages.
“If you sell in a lot of countries, you need to have everything connected,” Virginia says, adding, “One of the greatest benefits of xSellco Helpdesk, for us, is that it can be connected to Shopify. So if I get a ticket from Shopify, I can immediately see which channel it came from and the order number of that client, without logging into another account.”
Plus, Helpdesk’s auto-translation gives the support team the ability to communicate in every language.
Another favored feature: auto-assign. After all, collaboration is key to answering queries quickly and Hickies’ agents streamline their support queue by assigning the relevant agent to each ticket and sharing the workload.
All those things combined help Virginia and her team to provide excellent e-commerce customer service.
Faster, personalized customer support
“Whenever we have a ticket from social media, like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, we want to respond within three hours of receiving that message and we don’t want to sound like a robot,” she says, noting that while her team does use plenty of Helpdesk’s pre-built templates, they also personalize them.
She explains, “We are a very human company. We like to be very meaningful and kind with our words and we want to help every customer in the best way we can.”
In fact, Hickies has learned that, as a growing e-commerce company, transparency can help create a connection with customers and better manage their expectations.
“When you’re a small company and you want to sell in every country, you will always have an issue somewhere. But if you’re really transparent with a customer, explain the situation, let them know why their order is not arriving, keep them updated with information and provide options to return, cancel or modify the order, that is the secret to having a happy customer,” Virginia says, noting that most people will understand. “We can’t control DHL, but we can provide our customers with the best support and help them with whatever they need.”
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