Emma, Inc., in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, won the Gold Stevie® Award for Customer Service Department of the Year in the customer service awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the U.S.A. (The entry deadline for the 2013 ABAs is March 27, request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.) Here we look at what steps they took to improve an already great experience for their customers and clients.
Providing friendly, expert, and entirely non-robot-like customer service is a cornerstone of the Emma experience, but nonetheless, last year this email marketing services agency turned its customer service process on its head (gently, of course) and examined it from every angle to see if it could be improved.
"Our team isn't afraid to try a new approach or change an internal process if it means a better experience for the customer," commented Kyle Floyd, leader of the Emma customer support department.
The agency took a simple approach: to change what didn’t feel Emma-worthy and to build on what did. Here are the improvements that were made to the customer service process:
1. Creating "Hosts" to Welcome New customers.
Consultative sales set the tone for a new customer's experience, so Emma analyzed the customer's next steps immediately after opening an account. What they found provided an opportunity to enhance the personalized experience for the customer. Emma now provides an individual to act as a host and reach out proactively to new customers in order to guide them. The host helps new customers to work with Emma’s designers and to customize their account so they can be set up for email marketing success.
2. Launching an Emma Concierge Program for VIP Clients.
Emma attracts customers who like a strategic approach to email: the agency recommends a targeted, personalized approach, and provides access to in-house email strategy experts. Emma recognizes the unique needs of its agency clients, and especially clients with well-developed marketing plans. For these clients, email is just part of an overall brand strategy. In addition to creating fast-tracked account support for these customers, Emma has established a concierge program that provides small teams of email experts to help those key accounts reach their business goals.
3. Improving the Emma Phone System Experience
Emma customers love to call the agency. They appreciate the minimal phone tree, and they know the person who answers their call is empowered to solve problems, answer questions, and even to anticipate those questions. But as the company grew, the phone system wasn’t keeping up. Clients were being prompted to leave a message if the customer support team was already on calls.
When the Emma’s customer support department put themselves in their customers’ shoes (ballet flats and cowboy boots, typically) they recognized that customers should have the option to wait on the line for support. Now Emma’s phone system provides that option, and the agency experiences fewer missed calls. At the same time, Emma is proud to sustain a 90% answer rate.
"We're the team that's most in step with the day-to-day experience of Emma's customers, and we don't take that responsibility lightly,” added Kyle. “I love that we really do take customer feedback to heart and use it to drive Emma forward."
4. Launching the "Emma Moments" Initiative
Emma has always loved finding ways to celebrate its customers, and took an extra step with a program called Emma Moments. The agency has a tradition of giving fellow staffers "kickass cards"—gift cards with a thoughtful note, enclosed in a blue envelope. Getting a blue envelope is something special for the Emma staff, and the agency decided to pass that feeling along to its customers.
The agency now sends handwritten notes, t-shirts, and "medals of awesomeness" to unsuspecting customers who excel in their field, are doing some good in their community, or have carried out a successful email campaign. To date, the agency has logged over 800 Emma Moments.
"I've never worked with a more talented and caring group of people than the team here at Emma," said Kyle. “I’m delighted that their hard work and dedication has been recognized with a Gold Stevie.”
About Kyle Floyd:
Customer Support Lead Kyle Floyd manages Emma’s support team, overseeing efforts to provide customers with a consistent, Emma-worthy experience. Supervising a team of 12 who power Emma’s support lines, Kyle directs strategy, training, and internal development resources. Kyle has worked at Emma for two (glorious) years. Before joining the agency, he was a Senior Shareholder Account Representative at American Funds.
Kyle received his Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Belmont University.
About Emma, Inc.:
Emma is an email marketing service that helps small and midsize companies market and communicate in style. Founded in 2003, Emma makes it easy to create attractive email campaigns, send to large opt-in audiences and track the response in real time. Based in Nashville, with offices in Portland, Denver, Austin and New York, Emma’s 100+ employees serve more than 30,000 organizations worldwide.