Ben Goodey
By
Ben Goodey
October 15, 2020
3 minute read

Customer support in a hypergrowth company, lessons from three innovative startups, and tips on communicating with product

Karolina Zielenow, Head of Customer Support, MoonPay, ex-Revolut
Karolina Zielenow, Head of Customer Support, MoonPay, ex-Revolut
Listen to this interview:
Episode 3

Karolina joined Revolut in 2016 when they had just 20-30 employees and had just set up their first dedicated customer support office.

Fast forward 4 years, Revolut has +1,500 employees and is one of Europe's biggest success stories of the past decade.

At one point, they even hired 100 people in one day into the support team.

But, now Karolina has moved to MoonPay to head up the crypto-tech startup's customer support as they scale.

This interview was so exciting because not only did we get to hear stories from the warzone (AKA a startup in hypergrowth), but we also got to deep dive what best practice Karolina has learned while working in three fast-paced Fintech startups.

I found it most interesting how customer support and engineering team's worked so closely together. We got a rare understanding of how companies that work in an agile way incorporate customer feedback into their product, working very closely with customer service to uncover customer insights on each feature and process.

See what they love and hate about your customer experience | We used our text analytics engine to understand +300,000 customer reviews from worldwide tech companies like Gousto, Hello Fresh, Revolut, MADE and TransferWise. Download here.

A company works extremely well when customer service and the product team work together closely.

Customer service can fight short-term fires, but relies on product to make product changes that reduce support tickets over time.

Topics covered include:

- How to maintain good customer service despite the chaos

- How each team member was still selected to stringent requirements (despite 100 joining in one day)

- How each team member received promising career prospects

- Why Karolina loves the chaos and learning opportunities that a startup offers

- Scaling up product & customer support insight

- Staying on top of tons of new feature releases

- Why it's important in industries like FinTech to be quick, clear and communicative

- Why a clear communication channel between support and product/ engineering is vital

- How product and support work together to create a great customer experience

- The number one lesson from working in three Fintech startups

- The one the that Karolina would do differently and change about the way things are done

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Transcript

Ben: Hi Karolina, welcome to the podcast!

Karolina: Hey, hello. Really excited to be here today.

Ben: So I thought we could just start off as a couple of quick fire questions just to get to know you a little bit. So firstly which company do you think is doing this kind of customer-obsession customer-focus stuff really well at the moment? Who would be your favorite?

Karolina: I'm a big fan of the FinTech space and I think a good example would definitely be Monzo. I think they have a great company culture and their stuff is always very friendly and approachable. And, for me as a client of theirs, it was always very easy to understand what are the rules and how everything works.

And each time I've spoken to them I got a quick reply and I felt like I'm talking to a friend rather than like a corporate banking company.  So definitely they would be a good example in the industry of what good customer service looks like.

Ben: That's so true. Actually I use Monzo as my bank and I've definitely had a few conversations with their live chat within the app and it's just been like super pleasant, loads of emojis and that kind of thing.

Okay the next 'favourite' kind of depends on whether you do this kind of thing, but do you have a favorite blog or influencer that you follow?

Karolina: Oh, it's hard to pick one. I definitely follow a few different thought leaders in this space.

But I don't have any one source that I follow regularly.  I'm just like connected to different kind of companies that provide some solutions for people that wor in the field.  So I try to sign up to different webinars that are available online, but, I can't really pick any specific blog if I'm being honest.

Ben: Okay, no problem. I kind of predicted that would be a bit of a tough question for most people. So okay final favourite question, what is your favorite part about working in customer support?

Karolina: I ended up in this field quite accidentally.

I think that for a lot of people, a job within customer service is very often something that you think you would do temporarily as like a job you have when you're still studying, or you're trying to kick start your career in the space environment. So for me, it was the same but I always considered myself a people person and I quickly just realized that this is something that I want to do.

Cause you know, I enjoy talking to people and definitely helping and solving problems is very rewarding.  Working in customer service, I think I enjoy the most helping people, hearing what they need and really feeling like you're the most important part of each company because you actually know what your customer needs, what is not working well.

So you're like the link they connector between your actual customer base and, whoever works on your product team because otherwise they wouldn't know what failed, what we should change, what we should improve or add in the future. I think just kinda feeling that you are really important in the company and being directly in touch with your customers and being able to listen to them and also.

So help resolving them problems is really rewarding.  sometimes people leave reviews online and mention names of agents that help them, or just how grateful they are for, saving their lives very often. Cause you know, we deal with their money. And that  is something that really puts a smile on my face.

Ben: Yeah, I definitely agree. I mean that is the problem we're actually working on, is we think customer support can be the absolute center of business growth and continuous improvement, but I think a lot of companies don't really realize how much customer feedback data support teams actually hold and getting that out of the silo of customer support and getting it released to the rest of the company is one of the most important things a company can focus on to become more customer-centric.

Karolina: Yeah, I definitely agree. I agree. And I see that some good changes are happening in this space recently when the service departments were given a little bit more attention and appreciation because previously it's definitely been seen as the thing that generates costs and, you're never really able to let's say, they get rid of the tickets and this is not how you should think about it. Any feedback you receive and actually the worst feedback the better for the company, because then you can actually see all of the problems and something that you've missed during the development stage, something you've not been able to test or, you, maybe you thought that this feature will be a success, but actually people don't really like it and they would prefer something else. So I think if you work for a company that really values customer success and customer service, then they can really benefit from it because they'll be able to just hear back from their audience.

So if they really respect their clients they should really respect the customer service role and their position of the company as well.

Ben: I love that. I think a lot of people now commonly believe that constructive feedback is great for a person to help them grow, but I still think people are really scared of getting criticism for their company and think that will really put a lot of people off and it becomes not a source of improvement.

I now really wanted to jump into MoonPay. So you told us that you fell into  customer service,, but now you lead customer service. You're the head of customer service at a really fast growing startup.

So let's just start at the beginning, what is MoonPay?

Karolina: Yeah, sure. So MoonPay is a financial technology company. And what we do is that, we make it quick and convenient for people to convert between the standard fiat currency and cryptocurrency through literally just a few clicks.

So the main product is a widget that basically our partners can integrate with their project or application, or you can just directly use our own website, to purchase cryptocurrency. So we're like a bridge between the card acquirers and banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, just making it easy to purchase cryptocurrencies.

Ben: So what made you choose to work at Moonpay?

Karolina: It's a really exciting company, the team currently is very small, but we're growing very fast. So I think just the cryptocurrency space is very interesting for me. And, having been in FinTech industry for a couple of years now, I haven't had really that much exposure to cryptocurrencies before, but it's definitely a fascinating topic and a lot you can learn about it and I see a different kind of use cases for it.

And, I truly believe that this will be the future of how we transact and how we use currency and money in general.  So for me, it's just very rewarding and fast to be in a space that is still not that heavily regulated and many people are still figuring out how to use it and how to adopt it. And i like to be in a company that facilitates the mass adoption and also is focused on making it accessible to the people and providing necessary knowledge about crypto in general.

I can learn a lot myself and I can share that knowledge with the customers and also, other people who are looking to just start making their first crypto purchase.

Ben: yeah, definitely it's such an exciting space at the moment. And I think quite a natural progression from your work at Revolut. So is that quite a challenge for you in the support team? Coming across a lot of people who are actually kind of uneducated on the subject, it's relatively new, and it's quite difficult to understand. So how do you deal with that?

Karolina: Yeah, definitely. So I think what makes it a little bit more original working at MoonPay is that we deal with a lot of people who are fairly new to the concept of cryptocurrencies, but it's definitely been a hot topic in the last couple of months. So people wanted to learn more and want to know make their first purchase and try it out.

So we definitely talk to a lot of people who've never done this before. Who don't really fully understand what these tokens are. What is the wallet address? What is blockchain in general? So apart from just solving people's problems, we are also trying to provide a bit more further information about just cryptocurrency terms and how everything works , and also, for example, how to prevent yourself from a common scam online.  

So that's really part of our daily job. And , this is something that the entire team enjoys doing as well.

So, what does your setup at MoonPay actuallyBen: look like? Because you're in some respectives b2b and in others b2c. Are you dealing directly with customers or mainly just with partners?

Karolina: We do both. So, you know, mainly our team communicates directly with customers. So those will be people who directly purchase from MoonPay, but also through one of the partner's sites as well.

Each time they use the widgets they are being given contact details to our team. So at any stage of a journey or regardless if they purchased directly with MoonPay or with one of the partners, they can reach out to us directly with any questions or concerns.  

So we answer these tickets via email, but we also communicate internally with our partners in case their client contacted them instead of us.

And then we are always available for our partners as well, to answer questions or to provide more details about a transaction or a problem that relates to their purchase.

Ben: Okay. So there is actually quite a lot of end user interaction within your team. So how many people have you got in the team?

Karolina: Yeah, so we're growing and hiring on a regular basis. When I joined the company, they just started building a dedicated support team. So previously, it's very common for like early stage startups to have the entire team involved to a certain extent with customer support.

So this was the set up so far and we're still keeping it as it was so that every single member of the team is supposed to help with support and to talk to our customers. This is so they also understand all of the different pain points and how to make the journey better or what the most common problems are.

But we also have just a dedicated team that deals only with support and partner requests. As MoonPay, we are a fully remote company, so we have team members spread across the globe, which also helps us to be available for our customers 24/7  without really forcing the team members to work night shifts and things like that.

So yeah, we have currently a few team members just in support team. And then we receive additional support from other teams within the company in fewer number of hours, but everyone is involved in the life of customer service and in the customer journey in general.

Ben: I think that has to be one of the biggest benefits of being both B to C and being an early stage company. Like you're small enough and you have enough kind of incoming tickets that anyone including the product team can just jump on a call, learn from the pain points of the customers and really track. In enough detail that you can get some good insights

Karolina: Yeah. Yeah, totally. And everyone here is like really excited to do it because they in learn a lot from being able to talk to the customers. Cause you know, even when you work on in the engineering team, you can't always test every single possible scenario  or, you're responsible for making like an admin page for a support analyst to be able to see the customer's information and things like this and, from your perspective, everything looks like it should, but when you actually do the job yourself,  you might realize that we could do with like additional button here or there, or you might see like a weird case in support because you were talking to customer and then you can see that as a  maybe we should prioritize fixing this problem or maybe we should change something within the customer journey.

So everyone has access to support tickets and everyone is like encouraged and welcome to speak to them for as much time as they have because obviously they have to combine it with their normal responsibilities, but people are in general, are very happy   to help and be in touch with customers directly.

Ben: How do you make sure someone doesn't look at one support ticket and accidentally start changing the product in a way that the rest of the customers aren't having that problem ? How do you make sure you're not being subjective in the way that you inform product?

Karolina: Yeah, sure, so basically the way people can contact us at the moment is they have access to our knowledge base, and also in the same place you can submit a support request which is basically a contact form. We ask the customer to provide the description of their problem and also to like self label the kind of issue they have, what is the exact problem? Which category does it belong in? So then the customer can help us navigate which area of problem we should focus on and then this gets filtered into our support inbox and we automatically assign the relevant tags to these tickets. So then, we can obviously edit them at any stage if we find that necessary, if the customer sort of self-labeled wrongly and we know that this is actually a different problem, then our analysts can do it.

But in general, every single ticket that is submitted, is labelled internally and has certain tags applied to it , so we do have a specific support dashboard set up where we can track the volumes and things like this. And we can also see specific volumes per tag so we can see the impact of a specific problem and we can see whether this is just something that happened today, or is this like a recurring problem that we can see every day? Is this one of the most common issues or is it more minor and it's just been a couple of tickets?

Everything will always be treated as a matter of urgency as well, but definitely the tag system help us prioritize between things that impact a larger customer base and something that is more of an edge case scenario.

But what, obviously we're trying to pay attention to every single problem and improve in all possible areas.

Ben: Yeah definitely volume can just be a really clear indicator of what was causing the biggest frictions for customers

I'd love to know more about this from Revolut perspective. So I think like it's crazy actually that you joined Revolut in the first 20-30 people and now  it's got thousands of people and you must've seen the huge scale-up that happened within the support team as well. I think I even read that you hired 100 people in one day, which is pretty wild. Would you mind talking about that a little bit?

Karolina: Yeah, it was very crazy times. So I pretty much started my professional career with Revolut when I just joined as an agent. And the I was a team leader and also worked later on in their headquarters as part of legal team where I was investigating formal complaints, like more serious cases that belong to the customer service department.  

So yeah, I joined when  Revolut had just set up a dedicated to let's say support office in Poland which is now the biggest office that Revolut it has, with the most number of employees.

And so I was there at the very beginning when we were just a few people and yeah, I would say around 20 to 30 people in the company in general. So it was at the stage where also everyone in the company  was kinda involved in answering the tickets. But obviously it is never really scalable to continue doing just this. At some point, you need to think about a dedicated team, whether you do it internally or whether you outsource or do a mix of the two, you really do need a team because obviously as you grow as a company and you have a larger customer base the number of tickets is always going to increase.  So you need to be prepared for that. So when I joined Revolut it was, I would say, still pretty hard to even find any information about them as a company online and now obviously they're one of the fastest growing FinTech companies in Europe.

So I was there when they reached their first million customers and it wouldn't definitely be easy, especially when someone something went wrong and, we had this one day when we had a server issue and nothing really worked within the app so then every single customer almost will try to contact us. You can never really be prepared and have enough agents just for this, but I really wanted to be available for the customer always, at any time needed and be able to provide that response as quickly as possible.

Also considering that it was a live chat, so the environment is very much back and forth in a very quick way.  So yeah, at some point we just needed to grow the team really fast because the only way for us to solve this problem was to bring more analysts. So we hosted like an open day when we contacted a lot of local universities,  and had some ads online that encouraged people to come to an open day to our office where they could basically learn more about the company, speak to some of our team members and leave a copy of their CV if they're interested. So then we just collected dozens of different CVs from different people. And then, whoever sort of looked suitable for the role, we just set up follow up interviews and, and yeah, it just brought a lot of people within basically one day, proving that hiring doesn't have to be that difficult and time consuming.

Ben: Did it feel chaotic? The hiring process, was there much less importance placed on the individual about how they are going to contribute to the company or were you still able to be very strict on who was hired and have stringent requirements?

Karolina: We definitely stuck to our standards  so obviously, you know, within the customer service department you always need someone who enjoys what they're doing and has the ability to think logically and investigate problems until they find the right solution and definitely someone who is communicative and is a team player.

So we definitely tried to look for these traits during the interview process.  But we also developed a quite successfu training in-house. If someone just from a character perspective, had the right potential to do the role, we could just train them on everything they needed to know: how the product works or what the different processes and workflows are.

Definitely at the stage when you have a couple hundred people working in support departments you lose touch, and you're not able to maybe remember all of the different names. But we divided the team into smaller teams and each had their own team leaders. So they always had a couple of people they worked with on the same shift that they knew, and they had their own team leader who was always available to help them and answer their questions and have regular catch-ups with people. And we definitely focused on being able to offer career development paths for everyone in the company. So when you join, you start as a regular agent dealing with tickets, but then based on your performance and also your own interests, everyone has a chance to specialize in a certain area of support or maybe become a team leader themselves.

If someone just really has the aspiration to just learn and grow within the company, it was always made available for everyone who was a new joiner.

Ben: Scaling that fast must have been crazy, did you find it fun or stressful or confusing? What did you think?

Karolina: There's definitely some stress involved working in a startup but, this is something that I personally enjoy. Like I would be so bored working in a company when, everything was like you have to follow strict rules and everything's super organized.

And, I really enjoy working in this kind of open office spaces when yeah, there is some chaos, but also once you managed to tame that chaos, it is very rewarding and you learn a lot in a quick space of time. In the end, all that kind of pressure and maybe a couple extra hours here and there really pay off because you gain a lot of experience.

Ben: I didn't think we can even call Revolut,  a normal startup, you know, it was in hyper-growth stage. At that point.  how did your team at Revolut maintain a good customer experience with all those new people coming in? Were you able to keep your customer service uniform across the customers?

Karolina: Yes. We had a couple of team leads that were just specialized in training new people.

So we were reviewing the training materials on a regular basis and each time we made some changes or worked on a new product within the company, we always received information about how everything is going to look like beforehand so we could test it internally, we could ask questions, and we could prepare some internal documentation  regarding that new feature that we could also integrate into the onboarding training.

But yeah, we had to also some of the team members who kind of worked in quality control. So when a new starter joins they basically  receive a theoretical training on how everything works, who we are, what we do, what is important to know about the role.

Everyone is also receiving a mandatory compliance training to know that this is also responsible, that we can't tip off some of suspicious customers and we need to stick to this processes in a certain way. And once they start working they were not just thrown into the deep water on their first day but, everyone is assigned another team member that is more senior to be their buddy.

They just work alongside each other so the new person can always ask questions or receive guidance or can do some sort of shadowing and reverse shadowing with a more senior team member. So to  ease them into the role and then they just start with more basic tickets and later on, they specialize in something that they find the most interesting. So the  full journey takes a couple of weeks really to know everything and be able to  to work independently.

Ben: God, the ramp up period is so quick in startups. That's definitely something I love about it as well actually, you just get stuck in as quick as you can. Something you mentioned a little bit before is that when you, were at your first million users and something goes wrong that affects every single one of them, and all the support tickets start flooding in, what did you do in those situations? Like what happens? How do you deal with that as a team?

Karolina: Yes. Basically everything is about transparent communication.

So there's always some things that will be beyond our control, but the important thing is to be able to know what's going on. Maybe what the reason is that this is happening, what you are trying to do to resolve it, and when the customer is expected to have that problem resolved so they can use the feature again.

When we had like a massive outage or something that was impacting a larger customer base, we would always post a communication on our social media. Because this is where people go when they need to find out what's going on. And we would also put up a banner within the mobile app that will basically inform people, "hey, we're currently experiencing issues with this, if you need to find out more, please read this article".

So we would always prepare like a blog post or there would be some separate screen within the app that would basically outline the most relevant information about the problem. And, and yeah, if needed, we would just prepare like additional compensation for the customers, regardless of what the problem is, it really yeah, depends what the outcome was, but sometimes,  we would offer some sort of compensation for the downtime where we would communicate to the customer what they have to do to participate in this and yeah, internally just prepare a separate tab for the problem.

So we could just quickly get back to as many people as possible with often a prewritten response that would just outline the most important information.

And then once the problem was resolved,  we would then have these tickets targged so we could get back to the people to let them know, 'Hey, this is now working fine. Thanks for your patience, you can use this this feature or the app again."  So yeah, all of our communication before they even reach the support and preparing some relevant articles or posting on your social media and then following up with people once it has been resolved.

Ben: So there's quite a big amount of sort of prevention? Stopping people actually contacting in the first place rather than dealing with a million tickets at once?

Karolina: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. When you have your like normal let's say daily volumes, and then if something goes wrong and it impacts almost all of your customers, you can't necessarily have enough agents to respond to that many tickets. So you always are looking for ways to automate.  So definitely some pre-written responses that will be around for our team,  that will be helping our analysts to work a little bit more.Efficiently and quicker. And also we try to focus on self service by posting basically   a banner within the app or having a post on a blog or on social media that always decreases the amount of tickets that we would otherwise get if there was like no communication whatsoever.

Otherwise everyone would be like ,"why is this not working? I've tried to do this and this happened." And we would have to basically answer the same type of question, but like thousands of times. So sometimes it's just not worth it from the perspective of time and the limited resources you might have on the team.

Ben: I'm really interested to know, obviously by the time you left Revolut there was a lot of these processes and responses in place. But when you're there in the first 20 to 30, and you're building that team from scratch, there must have been plenty of times when it was the first time that it ever happened and, i mean, do you remember some of those first times i do you know what you did and how how you dealt with a brand new situation?

Karolina: Yeah, I think I do remember some of the first times it happened when we didn't have that many prevention tools in place back then. So in that scenario, we were kind of resolving tickets for as long as needed so that we answer every single customer. So we definitely have had some delays when it comes to our response times, but we definitely learned a lot from that experience. And then we didn't want it to happen again because you know what happened is  people who were willing to help definitely put some extra hours into staying a little bit longer and answering more tickets than they normally would.

Obviously everyone was compensated extra for this as well, but to avoid that in the future we definitely thought of different ways of how we can manage this crisis situation a little bit better for three.

Yeah, basically more or less and a better communication with the customer as something happens and as soon as it happens.

Ben: I think that is part of the fun of working in a startup, really this process of, uh, having a new event happen, fighting the fire, but then making sure you learn it for next time.

Karolina: We also had like multiple team meets at the stage where the team was already a big enough for this. So there was always someone on the manager level that was available any time of day and night to help the rest of the team manage the situation if something unexpected happened.

And they would also always have the contact details to someone on the engineering side, for example, that we could basically reach out to yeah at any point of the day saying, "Hey, we have a massive problem. This is happening. Can you please help it? "  And there were always people who were basically available at any time to quickly jump in to make sure that our customers are not suffering. Because what we do is very important and it's people's money, so we do need to be available to talk to people, but also to solve the associated problems basically any time of the day or night or weekends, it doesn't matter.

Ben: Yeah. That's just something that strikes me about the financial industry is that if you just don't, for some reason the ticket gets lost, and you don't respond to it, that could be really important for someone.

Karolina: Yeah, exactly.  We've dealt with a lot of let's say weird or strange situations that were super important to the customer.

It is very important to be empathetic and to be able to respond as quickly as possible. And sometimes to really go along the way and really explain what is the problem, why certain things work a certain way.

Through years of working in the FinTech industry, I've realized that this is the money that people worked hard for, it's something that they need here and now, and they can't really wait any longer or they can't just not receive any communication whatsoever because otherwise they will definitely fight for their money, which, they have the right to.

So there's an added responsibility on our end to treat every single case very seriously, and really try to resolve it until the very end. Because we can't just abandon something and tell someone like, "Hey, you've lost your money. Or like we don't know, or we don't care."  We do care and we will always try to investigate until the very end to make sure that everyone is satisfied and everything's working as it should.

Ben: So we talked a bit about MoonPay and  how everyone on the team sometimes will get involved in customer support and that kind of helps everyone stay aligned with the customer's problems. How did you do that at Revolut?

So when you go through from everyone being able to be involved with support to, okay, now we've got like a really high growth everyone's busy and we've got a huge dedicated support team.  How do you feed back the customer support data to the rest of the team?

Karolina: Yeah, definitely we make use of some of these dashboards that outline the most important data.

And we had specific links between the team to another relevant team within the company.  So it wouldn't maybe be so direct that every single person in customer service could approach anyone else in the company with this problem because it would get quite chaotic. But, we, for example, use specific Slack channels and every single day there was someone from the engineering team who was assigned to be like the responsible person for the day, to help with the problems that were posted on this channel.

And then everyone in support who basically noticed a certain problem would just post on that Slack channel. And then we have always someone from the  developers team to look into this and they basically would know the process because they're part of the engineering team. So that would get converted into, let's say a Jira ticket  or they will note that, "Hey, we actually are aware of this problem and this is something that we're working on at the moment."

So all the different sort of like questions and feedbacks and problems would be just filtered through specific channels that we have on our internal communicator. And then someone from the relevant team will go through them, knowing what's going on inside that team and whether this is something new or something that we already aware of so they will be able to provide an update to the analyst, and to the customer as well.

Ben: Interesting, so teams across the company would be able to just browse through their slack channels looking for the most common issues that were raised?

Karolina: Yeah. Yeah. Revolut is currently, an app that has a lot of different products  inside of it.

As part of the customer service, we would also have separate teams that are just dedicated to a specific feature.  Something that relates to let's say perks or insurance or something that relates to Revolut premium or metal, there would be like a separate team working on these cases.

So they will always know who is like the contact person or what's the escalation process. Let's say that we release something new, and then our analysts are obviously informed beforehand how the future looks like, what to expect, but if the unexpected happens and they deal with the specific queries and they know that the feedback about the feature should be filtered back to this person and this team so then, we, many times we went through a release that was successful, but there's something that we've missed and we learned about it from our customers. And then we did like a second iteration of the same project after we have realized that something was not working or we should change the journey slightly.

So definitely having that back and forth and having a link between a support for the customer and then support being able to talk to the relevant team that was responsible for the feature or with the engineers that have developed some thing. definitely help to navigate, the process and also help to provide an update to the customer whether this is something we're planning to change and when this is going to happen.

Ben: I'm interested to know what the aim of this was for you. Was it all about creating a great customer experience? Or what was it about reducing support tickets overall and solving problems so they don't get complained about again in the future?

Karolina: Yeah, so actually reducing the number of support tickets wasn't the KPI of the support team, but it was the KPI of the team who was responsible for releasing certain features. Obviously I'm not part of Revolut at the moment, but there was a point in time in which every sort of product owner is like their own entrepreneur within Revolut and was just responsible for their features. So this was like their project and their baby. They were responsible for the entire journey and the success of that feature basically.  And the amount of support tickets was definitely a part of that success.

So each product team would be questioned about how many tickets this generated after release. So, it would definitely impact the kind of success of a new feature or product.  So after a release they would always try to learn as much possible from the support department about what went wrong and what we could improve to see that decrease in the volumes related to specific tag for the future that they're working on.

We just dealt with communication and solving the problems and channeling that feedback back to the product team. But the KPIs to actually decrease the amount of tickets were always something that was on the product side, because it is very  closely related. When you work as a support analyst you can't change the feature yourself.

You can just listen to the customer and understand what are the pain points and what they would like to see within the app. But you can't necessarily fix the problem yourself. So you always need to channel that feedback to the relevant person who can, and then they need to make the decision, and make necessary changes so then you can communicate it back to the customer. But, sometimes solving problems is not really a responsibility of the support team, but someone who is responsible for the product that generates these tickets.

Ben: Was that a similar situation at both PaySend and MoonPay?

Karolina: Yeah, definitely. Very often you would realise that your most common problem is something broken in regards to the process, or maybe some things is a bit more confusing on the customer journey side. So this is always something that product teams should be aware of and should work on the improvement of those. Some times it's impossible to satisfy all of the different customers because people have different expectations and some of them really contradict each other. So you can never really satisfy,  every single person.  But, if you notice that something has a massive impact and this isn't something that you as part of support can fix, but this would require a change on the overall customer journey and the change in basically how the product looks slide and what is the offering  then we definitely,  work with that customer feedback and try to improve as much as possible.

Wherever I worked, this was always the case that the product team will be very closely working with the support team and really analyzing that feedback. And, we receive help from the product team because we then receive less tickets about something that people complain all the time and they can release more successful feature knowing, yeah, it's the feedback and what we could improve.

Ben: That's really interesting. Was there any frustration that like, when you couldn't control certain bits? Or the product team wasn't fixing certain bits?

Karolina: I would say maybe in the early days when I started working with support, I felt a little bit frustrated when  I couldn't do something myself.  I later realized that everything takes time and you need to prioritize according to the needs of the business and to the needs of your customers.

Sometimes you might think that, I would solve it for the customer because you know they complain about it a lot, but overall there is a certain flow and a process for everything. Every single concern will be addressed but sometimes we need to hold on a little bit longer until everything is resolved in appropriate time for it.

So I think that poking the engineering team and be like, "Hey, solve this issue now and solve this issue now" they wouldn't even know where to start and there will be like a  massive mess. So having an organized product and engineering team definitely helps where everything, in my two previous companies we worked in two weeks sprints basically,  where before the start of each sprint the product team would always consult with support. "Is there something you require? Is there something you need in terms of changes in the internal system that we use? Or anything that people complained about that is a customer facing issue? And that would be integrated to the next engineering sprint, and after that sprint  we would consults or how these changes would look like,  provide feedback on the delivery of those changes and then, move on to the next sprint. So everything has a clear timeframe and deadline.

It became less frustrating for me as soon as I realized that I know that this is being worked on, but there are currently other priorities. So all we can do is just  continue communicating with customer and patiently wait and know this is because now we're working on a few other problems that are more important right now.

Ben: It's actually so hard to know as a non-engineer how long these things take anyway it just seems like it happens like magic .

Karolina: I definitely think that, everyone is specialized in their own area. And whatever you do that is your job, you know the best how to do your job, and whoever else might think that they know how to do your job wbut it's never really the case. So you know, you just can share your feedback and your requests but, the engineering team will always know how long it takes, how complicated that is and how much of the impact it has and what kind of resources do we currently have to release or implement something.  

As long as there's like a clear communication and it's easy to receive a follow up and know what is going on, and at what stage this is then it's all good because we can then communicate with the customer and,  for us as analysts and for the customer, it's just about this kind of knowledge that we know about it and we are making the following steps to resolve it and you should expect it within this timeframe.

That is everything that the customer needs and they will often wait until this is solved as soon as they know that this is something you are working on.

Ben: Yeah, definitely. That makes a lot of sense. And I think it really fits well with what you said earlier about communication being really important to how the customer deals with problems. So we're actually coming to the end of our interview very soon, but yeah, I wanted to ask you two final questions. First thing, what is it from your time at Revolut and PaySend that you will take forward as best practice and on the flip side, what is are some things that you won't do again in the future?

Karolina: I'll say that each of these companies are in the same industry, but they all organise  themselves in a different way and prioritize different things. So for example, support communication channels are totally different for each of those companies.

So you can't really do support multiple times the same way. Let's say one company you sort of organized where you use the following tools and then you move on to the next company and you try to do it the same way cause it was successful there. But you would realize that maybe this is not the best option for this specific company.

I think just being adaptable  and trying to understand the product and also, who are your customers and what they need, is definitely going to help you navigate how to organize your support.

Like where your customers are, what kind of coverage do you need,  how do they prefer to communicate with you or  what kind of tolerance have in terms of how long they are willing to wait for our response?

There's things you just need to nail down as you join a company and try to talk to people and see how they react and how they communicate with you and what are their expectations. And this will basically help you to make the right decisions for your company, but there is really like a universal recipe for how to do support successfully you just need to be company-focused and understand your audience.

Ben: Yes. So the lesson that really is to be responsive to your environment and to your customer and what they need. Is there one thing that you have seen done that you think needs to change or you think people can do

Karolina: I think the hiring is very important part of the role.  So like he said, there isn't one kind of unified recipe for how to do support successfully, different things might work for different  companies. So you might want to build the entire team that's hired in house just for your company so you can control what's going on and you can train people and they're part of your team, you can just fully outsource if you want to, or do the mix of these two. And that is absolutely fine. Whatever works for you, but when you have fast growth company, you sometimes need to like overestimate what do you need in terms of resources and how many people there should be. Because sometimes there's this tendency in startups to say,  "Oh, we can do that later. Or this is not something that we need now."

But, you move to the next stage of your business quicker than you think? Yeah, like I said, at Revolut like we were forced to hire almost like a hundred people per day.

But if you try to think about the growth of your team a little bit in advance then you can ensure smooth scaling of your business because  otherwise you'll be just trying to catch your tail and you will always be a little bit too late.  So thinking in advance is something that I've definitely learned, and trying to document everything and set up a little bit more processes than you need just so that you don't have to deal with it later when it gets a little bit more stressful and hectic. And try to build them team and hire a little bit ahead of your needs because then you will be really on time. Otherwise, if you're just trying to catch up it's never  really enough and it's always going to have an impact on your response times on like the quality of support you provide because everyone's time pressured.

I think a lot of startups struggle with it because yeah it's nice to work in a small team and yeah it's always a little bit of a test as you grow and your customer base grows in a quick way, but you really need to think ahead and have that positive thinking of yes, we will be a big company with a lot of customers and we need to be able to be prepared for them.

Ben: Definitely. I think that's great advice. I can imagine this scenario of a startup always playing catch-up. But also not wanting to overspend just in case. Um, but as you said, I think thinking positively there is the best option for the customer. Cool thank you so much it's been a really insightful conversation i've learned so much about you and your role .

Karolina: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, it was really exciting to participate and, yeah, I'm really looking forward to sharing my experiences and my knowledge with whoever will be interested in this topic and also  to follow the other episodes and see what other leaders in the industry had to say about, similar problems or challenges.