Nicholas Martin, Manager of Customer Experience Operations at Harry’s, Inc. joins us in this episode of Support Ops Simplified.
Interviewer: Okay, we’re live! Hi, guys. Welcome to another episode and I’m super excited to introduce Nick Martin on today’s show. Nick is the customer experience manager at Harry’s. For those of you who don’t know, Harry’s is a men’s personal care product line out of New York, specifically razors. So that I don’t butcher it any further, Nick, do you want to introduce yourself and Harry’s?
Nick Martin: Yes, thanks so much. I’m Nick. I’m a CX or customer experience operations manager at Harry’s. We are exactly that. We’re a men’s care grooming brand that started with razors and it has expanded into other men’s care products, mostly in direct to consumer but now we are across most stores that you shop at right now. We have some retail presence as well as online. I’m thrilled to talk today.
Interviewer: Yes. I particularly loved the motto of Harry’s. I think I read somewhere it said, “Helping men one five o’clock shadow at a time.” Tell us a little bit about how this whole thing came about and the social mission that comes with Harry’s as well.
Nick: Yes, certainly. I think it came about actually with our co-founder, Andy having an experience that a lot of us have had before where he walked into a local store and needed to get some razors, struggled to find where they were, noticed that the packaging was just plastic on top of lightning beams and laser beams. It was locked behind a case and he had to wait for someone to come and open the case for him. Just a really, kind of pain-point experience. He called his friend Jeff, and said, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” That’s really where Harry’s started.
Some of our social mission is that actually really interesting. To have a high five times what we call it or like a social mission of everyone has five days in their year that they can use for our social mission. We also donate a considerable amount of money to organizations. It’s actually how I first came across Harry’s. I started at a nonprofit that was a partner of Harry’s. I had to come up for a hackathon, where most startups might hack 48 hours of code. Harry’s led to hack into one of their social mission partners’ problems that we’re dealing with.
I came over from a nonprofit partner called Cydia. I spent a day at the hackathon, fell in love with the culture and it was professionally time for me to make a move. That’s when I transferred over to Harry’s.
Interviewer: That’s interesting. In fact, it’s a great segue because I’ve been looking through your profile and, you didn’t always come from the customer experience. Can you guide us a little bit more into how you ended up in customer experience and how some of your previous roles influenced where you are today?
Nick: Yes, certainly. My most recent role was in admissions, which I view as a customer experience role. I spent my years recruiting about 300 to 400 what we called core members for a year of service. A lot of that was spent on phone and email, providing information and helping solving answers and then actually bringing them from across the country to all meet in one city to start their year of service. I had a lot of customer experience, just not in a formal setting.
When I moved over to Harry’s, I started as a frontline associate. For about two years, I was a frontline associated with Harry’s and spend my time on phones and mostly emails at the time and had over 50,000 individual conversations with customers for the first two years. I definitely cut my chops there.
Interviewer: That’s awesome. How big is the team right now at Harry’s?
Nick: We have 27 associates. Those are frontline associates. It’s a very amazing team that we have that is distributed across in-house, so right in the office that I’m sitting at right now, but we also have a remote workforce that is superb around the tri-state area. We have a lot of events where they come in, but they’re working remotely most days of the week. We have part-time and we have full time. Then we have 14 leads who are on my team that manage those 27 associates.
At the same time, we also have two different arms of our customer experience team that are very important for our mission which is our quality training and development arm. We have a few teammates under quality and training and development and then we have a trust and safety or some teams that might know it as fraud and payments arm. They are also extremely important and then we all report up to our director.
Interviewer: Okay, that’s interesting. You basically have two if not three different operations within the customer experience umbrella, if I got that right?
Nick: Yes. I would say that we have two operations in a formal sense. We have the main operation which is the 30 or so associates right now. It’s direct to customer and then that trust and safety arm is, I would consider that operation as well because it’s pretty important to have a fast turnaround on that. Quality training and development are really supportive and like driving arm that we have their main client should be our CX operation.
Interviewer: Okay, got it. What what are some of the challenges that you see on your side of the business today as you guys are growing and trying to integrate more items into the men’s personal grooming site?
Nick: Yes, certainly. I would say, we’re adding new items over adding new products to our customer experience, the number one challenge that we would face is how to educate customers about those products. I think this is a normal concern that companies would have when they’re adding SKUs or products and taking it another level which is how do you educate the customer from our customer experience standpoint, from like a personal neighbor to neighbor or family conversation?
I think it’s very easy to say, “Hey, this two-in-one shampoo doesn’t strip away your oils as other typical ones would be.” When you’re bringing that down to a one-on-one conversation you’re having with someone over the phone or on email or chat, it might make more sense to have a more question and answer or personal experience type conversation of, “I’ve found that this worked well for me because of this. Have you ever had this experience?” Taking that and those new products and turning it into a conversation we can have with customers when they’re interested.
Interviewer: Okay. Just going to explain a bit to me in terms of how you engage with your customers. Are these customers were calling into you with a question or concern, or you’re reaching out to them to find out what their experiences have been with a product or a little bit of both?
Nick: A little bit of both. We value our customer’s voices very heavily at Harry’s and have from day one. It’s been something I’m extremely proud of. Yes, we do have your reactive or regular traditional customer experience where people call and email with a question or concern, and we help them get on their way and have a wonderful experience. We also do a lot of proactive outreach.
Say, “Hey, we’ve noticed it’s been so many days since your last blade refill, we think that you might–” and that’s a razor blade shaving blade, “We think that you might be ready for a new set of blades. Can we help place that order? Or do you have any concerns? Do you want to ask us questions about life in general.” Which is something huge that we ask in one of our emails to establish more of a personal relationship? That is back and forth is actually with an individual on my team. There’s some proactive automation, but the whole conversation is always happening with our teammates. It’s a combination of proactive and reactive.
Interviewer: That’s really cool. How do you guys go about gauging customer experience in these conversations? I know the emphasis is a lot on having that personal touch and making sure that it’s a convenient, free-flowing conversation. How do you measure that at scale across all the interactions that are going on at the same time?
Nick: Yes, certainly. I am a firm believer in effortless experience and the way that we measure that as a customer effort score. We have a little bit of a CSAT and our company as a whole has NPS and tons of other metrics that we would measure, but when it comes down to that individual transactional often conversation, I believe that we should be making it as effortless as possible for the customer. It’s really important that that’s perceived effort.
There are a lot of things that are in our control when we talk about perceived effort. So maybe the issue is something that happened with billing where it’s really out of our control, maybe the credit card is expired or something along those lines. The perceived effort that someone has to go through to get that resolution is actually in our hands. Are you using words with LY? Definitely, certainly, they have a proven psychological impact on someone’s perceived effort.
Are you assuming that you will take care of someone before moving onto a resolution? Have you solved what their next problem will be? Like have you thought about, “Hey, in three months from now, they might have the same issue. Maybe I need to have an opportunity here, educate them on how to improve their user ability to update their credit card on the website. I’m just following here, but those are really important things that we think about.
I measure effortless experience, specifically, for how to measure how great the experience was. Then we have about three or four operational metrics, which are tied to response time, first-touch resolution, and a few other things that, at the end of the day, how fast you get back to a customer. We cannot forget that’s a very important metric for their experience.
Interviewer: The KPIs, if you will, which are your time to respond, your time for resolution are table stakes because you need to do nail that. Then the North Star, from what I hear, is the effort score, which is based on the perceived effort of the customer. The part that I’ve always had interesting conversations with others on the show, as well, is, I think we all agree that that’s the right way of tracking things. I think the challenge sometimes, becomes, well, how do you track it, other than doing a manual intervention and listening to phone calls or coming up with some kind of a way which is repetitive to get to that point? How are you guys tackling that?
Nick: We have a combination of an internal and an external process to be able to track the quality of our experiences. Internally, we use a tool called MaestroQA, and we have a quality assurance analyst as well as the team leads who are the direct managers, follow a pretty regular reoccurring process to assess how we feel we’re doing, and also calibrate on what we think is quality or not quality in a conversation. That’s really important for us because there are certain things that our customers will never notice that we want to hold ourselves to those expectations. We need to have an internal process. That is one side.
Then the second side is, which I’m pretty sure everyone out there has some sort of version of this, which is like, how are you collecting the voice of the customer? We’ve gone through three or four different iterations of this as we’ve grown as a company because we’ve been growing so quickly. Our current standard right now is, we’re using StellaService to send out a very human, how was your conversation with Alex? How was your conversation with Sadie? Then that collection is tied to our customer effort score. We have that customer effort score in there.
Then we can do the fun part, in my opinion, not in everyone’s opinion, is certainly taking that and cutting, scrubbing that across every single type of contact indirect manager, region that someone’s sitting in, everything along those lines, and see if there are areas, there are friction points that you, maybe, need to give a little bit more attention to. That’s my favorite part.
Interviewer: That’s playing with data and trying to analyze it to see where we can do more or reward people. The data forms, the rich source that you need to be able to do that. What other tools and tech stack do you use in your operations? You mentioned a few, like MaestroQA and Stella. What are some of the other systems that you use, means of operational work?
Nick: We have a pretty large tech stack that’s growing right now, on a regular basis. I think its foundation is on the CRM, our ticketing system, which is Zendesk. In Zendesk, we use that for our support, so for email as well as our voice. Then we’ve also started to use it for Guide. We have an internal knowledge base in Zendesk Guide into potentially be an external FAQ type of page or knowledge base for our users or customers.
On top of Zendesk, I mentioned Maestro, which is our internal quality assurance platform. We also use Stella, which is our external voice customer collection tool. Then we have this very new tool, which is called Assembled, which we’re using for workforce management. We spent a lot of time building our daily and monthly operational calendars, forecasting to actual, balancing everyone to be at the right place at the right time to meet the customers where we need to meet them.
Assembled these are attempts right now of being able to do that a little bit smoother and there’s our workforce management system, they’re wonderful to work with, certainly. Then we have Sprouted for our social engagement. We do customer experience in controls across, I think, five social engagement tools. Then we have SnapEngage for a chat and a few other review sites that we have to check in on a regular basis.
Interviewer: Nice, so your channels of communication with your customers are coming in through your phones, your portals, probably, but more also from the social aspect like through social media channels and then from chat interactions and such?
Nick: Yes. When I think about just channel functionality, we have a voice, email, chat, social, and review sites.
Interviewer: Okay. That’s interesting. When you’re working through your customer experience scores and then looking through all of these channels using all of these tools, how accurate do you think is the voice of the customer, or the way you’re collecting that information, and how well does that tell you with your KPIs? Because a lot of times, people are conflicted about, “Are we tracking the right KPIs and is NPS telling us the right thing?” How has that been in your experience?
Nick: I don’t think there’s a silver bullet for a voice of customer metric or a KPIs. I like to see everything, side by side if you will. Be vulnerable and talk about a time that we had a pretty hard customer experience month last year due to a shipping issue, then that month you could see a dip in this KPI and, maybe, let’s say, response time and a dip-in customer effort score.
Then you could say, “Okay, maybe there is some correlation here. Let’s look into the qualitative data, the compliments, and match up exactly what happens.” Or we can cut it again and say, “Look into the type of contact.” Was the type of contact related to, “Hey, what is your shave gel compared to your shave cream?” Or was it related to, “Hey, I noticed my packages a little later than it normally is”? Then we can really, really break the circles down until you get to a specific target to know that we’re measuring.
I never look at one thing as a whole. Then bringing that up to the company level is really important. A small percentage of customers are talking to our customer experience team, no matter how proactive we are, so taking our version of the voice of the customer, and then handing that off to the product team, and then the customer insights team and the retail team. Building a much more holistic picture is pretty important if you’re making business decisions on moving forward directionally.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Yes, I know that. That makes a lot of sense. What is the one thing that you have done on the basis of all of this data? You mentioned a hard experience. Can you tell us about a good experience or something that you’ve changed for the better recently, with all of this data or the analytics that you’ve done?
Nick: Yes. I think a really amazing experience we’ve had recently is, we have a way to tell, pretty easily, if someone that’s contacting us is a shave plan customer, someone that is on a plan that ships on a regular basis. Obviously, they’re really extremely important for the company because they ship and get billed on a regular basis. They’re more loyal. They pay back the company fast. They’re just great. They give good feedback and everything.
We found that our ship time at, I think it was one-on-one, twice a day, sometimes they would need to modify or cancel before that shipping time. Depending on how fast we are to get to them, if we miss that, of course, we’re going to take care of them. By taking care of them, we’re losing a refund or replacement. I could tie in dollar values very, very easily to this. What we tried to do was, looking at that data, I built something that’s a single stream, and in our Zendesk workflow, but I automated a way to prioritize customers with those types of questions or concerns to have faster response rates.
Our associates are still working FIFO, first in, first out, but they are getting to people that need to modify or cancel their shave plan shipment before the drop time or shipping drop time at a faster rate and we’ve been able to see a pretty significant savings in replacement and reach fund costs because we are prioritizing certain customers that have more of an urgent request.
Interviewer: Interesting. It was definitely a great use case for using data in the right way and then also a good way to show and demonstrate how a lot of these interactions that are coming from a support organization and can impact the decisions or the efficiencies of the whole company, right? So all the more reason to collect that and analyze that in a way that makes sense.
Nick: Yes, of course.
Interviewer: Cool, Harry’s has been a great story for growth and clearly you guys are doing some really wonderful things. What does the future hold? What are some of the things that you’re looking for in the next year?
Nick: In the next year, I’m personally– this has been something I’ve been wanting to work on for a very long time. I’m hoping to continue to prioritize the employee experience so my 27 associates right now but also, we don’t claim to have all the answers in supporting our associates and team’s growth and development. We’re always trying to do new things and what I really would like to do is I’d like to connect the employee experience with the customer experience on an operational data metric level.
I think a lot of people talk about it. I’ve never seen anyone do a really good job. I’ve never seen a tech stack that has a really great effective connection between your employee experience and your customer experience. Everyone–
Interviewer: Can you define that a little more like what exactly are you talking about when you say the employee experience and the customer like in terms of the efficiency of the employee or?
Nick: No, the engagement of an employee.
Interviewer: The engagement. Okay.
Nick: Everyone will say a happy employee and engaged employee equals a better customer experience but no one will ever say, “Okay, well, let’s take maybe an engagement survey or a slack tool pulse check or something along those lines and tie that directly to your CES, your customer effort score or your productivity metrics or anything like that.” I’ve done it a couple of times manually and it’s been very fascinating, but I would like to have that be a regular part of our conversation where instead of focusing on, “Hey, we need to have a coaching conversation on productivity or on, I noticed that this quality could be an area of improvement.”
Let’s focus directly on the employee trust, that we’ve hired the right employee and give them autonomy and make sure we’re focusing on their engagement and that will tie directly into our customer experience.
Interviewer: That’s definitely a very interesting thought and a lot of people are starting to go towards that way and you’re right, I haven’t seen a solution that really does it well, in terms of tying the agent experience with the customer experience in exploring what kind of tendencies or correlations there is between them.
Nick: Yes, and that’s fascinating to me. I think I’ve seen it. Everyone that is experienced in this world 100% knows that it’s true but I need more than a gut feeling and I need to be able to identify some things, target different metrics and be able to drive towards a goal with it so I want to see those numbers side by side and really, really double down on my employee experience. It’s something that I’m always thinking about but always can improve.
Interviewer: Yes, no, that’s fascinating. You come from a place of empathy I find and trust, where you’re prioritizing the agent experience along with your customer experience and making sure that you’re hiring the right people for the right reasons. Where did you learn some of these approaches to management from? Who’s been one of the mentors that taught you the ways, if you will?
Nick: Yes. I think there have been a few different mentors that have taught me and a lot of research that goes into my trust and autonomy in the experience relating to good performance. If you do a lot of reading and a lot of networking out there, I believe it will guide you down the same road but most of my time at Harry’s has most likely been listening to any associate on the front line. I know that might be a cheesy answer but if you’re not spending time doing skip levels, doing brainstorm sessions, different surveys and [inaudible 00:25:02] a lot of those customers, then you’re probably not driving in the right direction.
I don’t know if I can pick one person but I would say a lot of the associates, it’s an effort with across, these six years.
Interviewer: Okay. No, and I said one person but it definitely didn’t have to be. If it’s a community approach, it’s a community approach and I think that works well too. Finally, any good books you’ve read recently or any articles that you’ve come across, that would be interesting for our listeners.
Nick: I mentioned Effortless Experience earlier. I think that is a wonderful book to read if you’re thinking about how you want to measure your customer experience, it’s not a one size fits all solution. I think it fits very well for any DTC companies out there. It doesn’t fit well for probably a hospitality group, you’re really driving towards fast, effortless experiences. That’s not to say we don’t have a allow program or a capture the moment or whatever program, we do have that but that’s, again, more on the employee experience side than the operational side. I would say Effortless Experience.
We’ve also been reading as a full company, actually, The Happiness Advantage for a year. A very interesting perspective that I find valuable about a lot of us, personally and professionally might strive to get to happiness and feel like once I reach that next level then I will become happy compared to finding your happiness and finding your gratitude to perks and that will only help you get to whatever level you’re going to so that is incredible [inaudible 00:26:54].
Interviewer: Awesome. That’s a great recommendation. Well, we are at the end of our time questions here and Nick, it’s been great talking to you. Amazing having you on the show and hopefully our audience got some great insights on how you can share some effort off of your customers when they’re getting in touch with you, no pun intended.
Nick: Hey, thank you so much. We love puns in Harry’s and I’m always thrilled to talk about the customer experience, the employee experience and making it better so I appreciate the time today.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Thanks, Nick.
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