Today, I welcome the super savvy support leader, Stacy Justino!
Stacy is Director of Customer Happiness at Wistia, which makes marketing software, video series, and educational content that helps their customers use video to grow their business and their brand. Stacy has been at Wistia for two years, and in leadership for 10 years altogether.
Hi Stacy! Thanks so much for joining me today!
I know you have a long and distinguished career in support, which we’ll dig into shortly… but where did it all begin?
I first got into CS in May 2008. My original goal after returning from 2 years teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, was to get a job on a research team at a video game company. Big Fish Games was hiring Customer Support Representatives, so I thought it was a good way to get into the industry.
Eventually, there was an internal opening in the Customer Support team for a Billing Lead, which I applied for and got.
I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to go down, and I was still interested in pursuing a Research role. However, I figured that I really liked teaching children and so those skills would transfer to a team lead role. I also thought adding people management experience would be a good career move regardless of what direction I eventually went.
Making the move into people management is always tricky. Were there early challenges?
Shortly after I became one of the two Billing team leads, we had a hiring freeze. That meant that some of my team members had to wait almost a full year to be converted to full-time employees. One of the other first challenges was working with reps who didn’t understand why we had quality guidelines to adhere to, especially since they were answering a high volume of tickets.
And how did you manage those expectations around quality?
While I couldn’t completely change every rep’s mind on this one, I was able to focus on a few key elements to get us to a place of understanding and acceptance. First, I acknowledged that getting back to more customers, especially when we were behind is an important part of keeping them satisfied. But without quality expectations, focusing on speed alone can lead to dissatisfaction. That’s particularly true when it comes to quality issues that cropped up as a result of going too fast: not answering all of a customer’s questions or concerns or not doing the necessary research (including asking clarifying questions) to correctly identify the problem. I also highlighted that the high volume of responses often correlated to higher responses per ticket, so at some point, it has a negative impact on overall efficiency.
Do you think there are particular skills a great CS leader benefits from?
I think transparency and empathy are essential. Frontline reps can often feel in the dark, so I’ve found that being as transparent as I can be has greatly helped in times where there are a lot of unknowns, less than ideal situations, or changes are introduced. As far as empathy, it can sometimes be easy to forget all the things we ask of our reps to do day in and day out. So when I’m thinking about how to improve the customer experience or introduce a new process, I try to keep the impact on the frontline reps in mind.
What does success look like for your team?
There are the quantitative KPIs like average first reply time, CSAT, and efficiency metrics like averages responses per ticket. But just as important are delivering on fulfilling projects and team initiatives as well as tracking the professional and personal growth of team members.
Metrics are important, but they require context to tell the full story. They also need to be reviewed regularly to make sure they’re still relevant to your team and business. I also think you need to make sure you consider pairing metrics to make sure there’s a balance and to check for adverse effects of focusing on a single metric.
The rest of our success is in other parts of the work. As much as possible, I try to make sure that team members have some protected time (10-20% out of the inbox) to work on projects and goals. I also try to make sure we can send a few folks to relevant conferences or events each year
Now you’ve been a leader for a long while, is it what you expected it to be?
I didn’t realize how much the power of repetition comes into play in leadership. I think when I started out I thought that if you were a good leader, you wouldn’t need to repeat yourself. I realized that repetition is required for people to build habits and to internalize concepts.
The thing I have to continually practice and remind myself to focus on is inclusive listening and to ask questions instead of jumping to offer advice or a solution.
Personal development is important. I regularly read books or articles. I try to attend at least one conference a year, and I connect whether in-person or online with other leaders, both in support and outside of support. The SupportDriven community is probably the best place to connect with likeminded support leaders, no matter where you are in your journey.
Do you have any stories of great customer service?
My husband and I got married in Las Vegas. Two nights at Caesars Palace were included in our wedding package. For the other six nights we were there, I had bought a package through a third party travel company. When we went to check in, I asked them how it would work with the two separate reservations and when we’d have to move rooms. The desk clerk said that wouldn’t be necessary and that he’d upgraded us to a petite suite for our entire stay!
Where there’s a best, there’s always worst… what’s not been great?
I had an almost 2 month ordeal going back and forth with a support team after my account was closed for fraudulent activity. Even though they had proactively closed my account due to the 2 fraudulent orders, they did not respond to my refund request and I eventually had to file a chargeback with my corporate credit card. Once I got my new account setup, I still had issues and had to reach out to support again in order to unblock my credit cards under the new account.
Last but not least, how do you sign off on an email?
It really depends on the context of the email. I think I generally default to Cheers.
Cheers, Stacy! Thanks so much for telling me your story.
Look out for another leadership story here next week!