Using Tech & Customer Service to Drive Your Business: Alex Richards

Customer service. It’s a buzz term we hear all of the time in the business world. While corporate companies can get away with a few less-than-stellar Google reviews, smaller companies or startups heavily rely on each and every customer experience. Whether your service is consumer-facing or not, customer service should remain a priority — because, where would we be without the support of our customers? This week we chatted with Alex Richards of Stella Connect about why good customer service is important and what tools you can use to track the level of customer satisfaction

1. What do you love most about the DC Startup Community?

I think DC is a great city and a hotbed for startups, similar to Austin, San Francisco, and New York. However, a lot of other startup communities lack the educational tools and resources to make ideas become reality, and this is where the DC Startup Community delivers unique value.

We were introduced to DC startup week through our partner Boldr, and one of the things we realized is that there’s so much opportunity to raise awareness around CX and help startups build a customer-focused business early on. We love the type of people involved in DC Startup Week and we’re so excited to be a part of this community.

2. Tells us a little bit about yourself and Stella Connect

I oversee sales engineering and partnerships at Stella Connect, and love the industry we are in. I’ve been in the SaaS space for over 12 years, leading professional services, training, and implementation teams for various advertising and technology companies such as WPP and Apple. Now at Stella Connect, I work closely with partners across the technology and CX community, focusing on trends and making sure we have the biggest impact possible.

Stella Connect is the customer feedback and quality management platform built specifically for customer experience teams. Our intuitive platform makes it easy to harness agent-level customer feedback after every interaction and deliver high impact coaching and QA programs to help drive agent engagement and customer satisfaction.

3. What inspired you to become a thought leader?

From a young age, I’ve always wanted to help build and help grow a company and make a lasting impact on others. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to the success of a number of businesses, and joining Stella Connect has enabled me to share my interest and experience in CX and technology best practices with others.

I feel we as an industry can offer more education and awareness on the everyday challenges, processes, and platforms that make up a successful CX ecosystem. Community, awareness, and education sets people up for success who are new to the CX space, especially when technology companies tend to prioritize the product over service.

4. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started your career?

Patience is a virtue. I realize now that when I was younger I was very eager but also impatient at times. I’ve always had a hard-working mentality (instilled in me by my parents) and that has gotten me to where I am today. However, better patience and communication would have really benefited me in my early career and led to less friction. I learned very quickly from my mistakes, and if you can’t do that, you’re doing something wrong.

5. A large component of Stella Connect is about measuring customer service and agent performance. How important is it to ensure a positive customer experience? Any tips for startups to ensure consistency in this department?

At the end of the day, your customers are your business. It’s important to put your customers first and make sure you’re listening to them. This feedback helps you develop your business and also shows you where to pivot when there are gaps or issues. Having the right tools in place will help you as you scale.

In addition to your customers, engaging your agents is crucial. Make sure you’re equipped to measure performance, provide coaching opportunities, and celebrate the success of your front-line team. Customer support can be a thankless role and I think it’s more important than ever to elevate and reward the unsung heroes of CX.

6.  Customer service can be very exhausting and challenging at times. What are some tips to make sure employees are happy?

Make sure employees feel valued and are rewarded for their accomplishments. Take the time to give recognition where it’s due, give agents the opportunity to learn and grow in their roles, and show individuals their impact on the business. It’s important to inspire and engage your agents through multiple channels, such as customer feedback, company mission, leadership, and work-life balance. 

At the end of the day, startups are best positioned to make a meaningful and lasting relationship with their employees.

Thanks, Alex. These was great insight. It’s pretty awesome to see tech continue to evolve and help not only major corporations, but also all of us in the startup community. Like you said, measuring customer satisfaction is crucial and the customers are certainly the backbone of businesses — large and small. We are excited to see you continue to make moves in the DC Startup community!