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Expert Interview Series: Niraj Ranjan of Hiver on Using Email and Texting for Customer Support

December 29, 2016 12:00 am by

Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder and CEO of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.

We recently checked in with Niraj to learn more about Hiver and why tools like it and text messaging are essential for customer support and marketing. Here’s what he shared:

Can you tell us about the mission behind Hiver?

Email is the de-facto standard tool for collaboration and communication in the workplace. But at the same time, email clutter is the No. 1 productivity killer at most workplaces.

Hiver’s mission is to fix this. We want to make collaborating on email an effortless and enjoyable exercise for teams.

What challenges or pain points are you helping your customers with?

We help our customers manage critical business functions like support, sales and hiring right from Gmail. With Hiver, teams can use their email to get all this done efficiently, without having to learn and adapt to another set of tools.

How have consumer’s expectations about customer support evolved in the past five to 10 years?

Earlier, customers were happy to receive an automated response with a ticket number. Now, customers hate ticket numbers and automated/canned responses. Customer support has to be personalized, and it has to be fast.

I think speed and personalization are the top two trends in customer support over the last few years. Any company that gets these two right wins.

What are some obsolete or outdated customer support methods you’ve observed businesses using?

A. Strange formatting in emails, and things like “reply above this line to respond to a message.” A customer support email response needs to look like a “normal” email that has been “hand-written” by a human. Many companies (and help desk tools) still don’t get that.

B. Using canned responses without the responses actually answer the customer’s question. This is really an agent training issue. Prioritizing speed over accuracy/relevance is usually not a good idea in communication.

What are the risks to companies that don’t update their customer support?

They run a real risk of being driven out of the market. A company does fast, high-quality customer support has a very signifcant competitive advantage over one does bad customer support.

With social media, application marketplaces and online communities, news about both bad and good customer support travels fast. Any company that intends to survive and grow better do very good customer support.

How can brands incorporate text messaging into their customer support and marketing efforts?

While text messages have been used quite well for marketing, they’re a great tool for customer support, too. Texts are a great tool to inform customers about updates to their support requests, refunds and new features/releases that they might be interested in. Texts can complement customer support over email and social channels in a very significant way.

What brands have been the most innovative with how they’ve managed customer support? What can we learn from them?

Amazon and Zappos are two brands known for their customer support. The philosophy of “customer first” is a great thing to learn from Amazon. They really prioritize the needs of the customers above literally everything concerning their business.

What trends or innovations are you following in your world right now? Why do they interest you?

The use of chatbots in support are a great idea, but I think at least five years away from being ready for the prime time. I’ve been following this area closely, and I think going further this can very significantly impact how customer support is done.

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