Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma7 min readRemote cultureJune 12, 2020

Our support strategy almost ruined our business (+ how we fixed it)

Our support strategy almost ruined our business (+ how we fixed it)

Customer support has always been our focus, it’s a service that will never go out of fashion. We’re continuously trying to improve the ways we offer support to our customers. This hasn’t changed. Our approach, however, has.

In this blog, I will take you through our support journey and let you in on the story of how our good intentions almost ruined our business.  

You’ll learn why a great idea can end up being your biggest failure, and how to recognize this (by learning from our mistakes). 

Let’s start by traveling back in time and begin with our first experiment.

In 2014, we started our first customer support experiment. Once a month, everyone at MailerLite worked at Customer Support. I was excited—it seemed like a great idea! Our entire team would get to know our product and customers. 

After a year, I raved about how “it was one of the best decisions we could have made”.

MailerLite customer support FB posts

The experiment seemed great as having people from other areas in our support team helped us to see situations from a different angle. 

If a designer is talking to a customer about their campaign, they could suggest improvements or offer our custom template service. A technical person might not have thought of that.

Similarly, when I would talk to a customer and see their open rates, I could easily add in some suggestions for their email strategy. 

This experiment benefited both our team and our customers. Our company stood out because it felt more personal and dedicated. Our team members had more drive and patience since they only did customer support once every month.

After 5 years, our customers still remember that everyone, including our CEO, answered support tickets.

Twitter screenshot happy MailerLite customer

In 2016, we realized that our product had become more powerful and complex. This made it hard for people to jump in every month and successfully close tickets. 

With everyone having their own tasks to do, many employees could only answer generic questions, not the specific ones. This led to lower quality support for our customers. 

On top of that, our product’s foundation started crumbling.

You see, when a Developer works in support, it could happen that they created a custom solution for a customer to help fix their problem. Though the intention is great, the result wasn’t.

A couple of years in, we realized our product was full of custom made solutions that weren’t compatible and burdened our development process.

We did not foresee this problem until we experienced it first-hand. This taught us that it’s important to think experiments through and keep reflecting and reinventing as you go.

Today, we have an amazing support team that helps our customers 24/7. Our CEO and developers are focusing on their own tasks, which turned out to be a much better solution for all of us.

Screenshot of customer support page block

The biggest advantage of our current team is the fact that we’re a remote-first company. Our strength lies in the fact that people can get in touch 24/7 and there will be someone wide awake to offer support.

Our team members are working from Canada to Thailand and from Lithuania to Honduras. We operate in 3 different shifts (day, evening and night). Each team has its own lead, works independently and shares responsibilities and tasks. 

For example, Laura works from Portugal. Her vision on how to offer outstanding support is: 

“Be empathetic, always. If customers reach out, it is important to them. No matter how busy or long the day is, you should treat each customer like the first one. If you don't know the answer, ask the customer for more details. Sometimes they don't know exactly what they are asking but you can find out together.“

I couldn't agree more!

All teams work proactively to improve processes and try out creative ways to solve certain issues. When something works, the shift’s team lead shares the findings with other support teams.

For example, Silvestras advises to really put yourself in the customer’s shoes to better understand their situation. 

“The key is to understand what kind of person you are dealing with. Does the customer like to joke, is he/she serious? What emotions is the customer showing? What is the time there now? What’s the age and location? All these factors help to adapt to a specific situation and act accordingly.”

Silvestras customer testimonial

After years of trying different methods, our current strategy feels most beneficial for our business and customers. 

Since our support team is our front desk, we need them to be very informed about our product and its features.

They’re also the first ones to know when we are having an issue. We’ve set up systems so it’s clear how and whom to inform. 

The same goes for the requests. We created a separate space at Notion where support members write down integration and feature requests from our customers:

Integration request Notion screenshot

As a SaaS business, people expect us to constantly improve our product and make it more powerful. Though features are important to us, we put high emphasis on delivering great support. 

A Walker study found that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Which is why we keep reinventing our customer support. From the looks of it, our 2020 strategy is what we’ll stick with for a while.

Customer responses collage

  • Before you experiment, think of what long-term consequences might cause trouble. What are things that could go wrong and how do you prevent it? 
  • Yes, it’s fun to talk with the CEO, but our customers’ priority is to get their questions answered as fast and correctly as possible
  • It’s easier to come up with creative solutions when people know their job and responsibilities
  • We believe customer support is a main competitive advantage. Your happy customers are the best marketing and source to grow your business
  • The support specialists are the front desk of every company. Make sure they get all updates, features and information first 
  • Create a clear communication process for requests and issues

What's your customer support fail? And how did you solve it?

Ilma Nausedaite

I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.