Nathan’s been with elevio for 6 months now, being responsible for customer support, building partnerships, and anything else that comes up outside of product and back-end development. After chatting to so many support people at other companies it made sense to talk to Nathan about his magic tricks for making and keeping customers happy. We also got into all things adventure, being personal, and on that note – the perfect date.
What’s your background? Where and how did you grow up?
I grew up in Melbourne in an Italian family. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated, but I was really good at English and writing, so I decided to study law. Once I finished my law degree I was planning to travel Europe and America, but it didn’t end up happening. At the same time Matt asked me if I wanted to come into elevio and help with customer support, so here I am, while also getting my law practising certificate.
What’s the most exciting part for you about working with elevio?
I love the fact that I can directly follow and watch the company grow. With law on the other hand you just do your work and pass it on, you’ll never see it again.
Here I can log into Chartmogul and can see how many customers we’ve got and how everything’s going. I can follow our progress. It makes you feel like you’re really a part of it. You’re not just coming in, doing some work and then going home again. You’re growing with the company.
Talk us through your day – what does a usual day look like for you?
I get up depending on what time I go to bed. I have breakfast (this morning I had weet-bix) and a shower, and I’m out the door. When I get into the office I do some support, and then the day always changes. Sometimes I might be doing a bunch of demos, sometimes I’ll be writing blog posts all day, sometimes I might be doing both. Sometimes I’ll be talking to people, sometimes I talk to no one and I’ll have headphones on all day. It’s good that no one day is the same.
What I do after work changes every day as well. I might go to the gym, to a gig, see some friends, go on a hike. I don’t often have days where I just go home and do nothing. Those days are rare, which is good, I like to keep it that way. I’ve been pretty active my whole life and generally feel full of energy all the time, so I’m always finding stuff to do.
What are your top tips for building amazing relationships with people? Both customers, internally, and across other companies?
The biggest tip I have for all three is to just be yourself, and not some sort of customer support business person. Just be casual and super friendly. When I started relating to people this way it was great. We’re a small startup, no one’s expecting us to be formal, it’s probably better if you’re not. That applies to anyone.
Another key is to not just answer the question and then get rid of them. There was a question I had about a month ago from a guy who was Italian as well, so we just had a big back and forth about Italy. He’d always throw in a little question about Italy or something related, and then his question regarding elevio. I’d answer his question and then also reply to the personal part. Always find something to connect with on a personal level.
Also, if you’re solving people’s problems, they generally like you by default.
What struggles have you faced so far when it comes to customer support? How did you deal with them?
The fact that I know nothing about coding. I’ve learnt a little bit, just basics. I know how our product works, but I don’t know the code that makes it work. That’s the biggest struggle. And while I don’t think I’ll ever know much about code, I slowly know enough now that I can send basic code commands to people. That’s definitely the biggest struggle in terms of support.
What do you think is the number one thing in customer support, to make customers happy?
Something I’ve found is that if you can throw in a little extra bit on top of answering the question it always helps. It shows that you’re actually looking into it, you’re over delivering.
How do you measure ROI of customer service, as well as customer happiness?
I think it’s almost impossible to measure. If you google it, there are a million blog posts about it because no one knows how to do it. Everyone agrees that if customer support was really bad, the company would suffer. But there’s no way to measure the opposite – if customer support is really good, how does that help?
It’s hard, and I think that’s why the way we structure it is good – we’re also doing other things outside of handling support, e.g. we write blog posts and we help in other ways to make an impact. All the other work you’re doing is helping. Plus, no one wants to do customer support all day.
The thing about surveys to measure customer happiness is that they hardly ever get answered. In a way you can measure customer happiness if you don’t hear back from them – it means you’ve likely helped them out. It’s all guess work.
And you also know when you respond to a support ticket whether you’ve given them a good answer, or whether you’ve just guessed. It’s something you’ve got to work out for yourself without having a metric to grade it on. It’s more the emotional part of the business.
Let’s talk about some fun things. What are you passionate about? What makes you happy?
Definitely music, and in a very broad sense being active. Whether that’s going for a big hike up a mountain, taking up Mixed Martial Arts, or doing something that’s newish, like drums for example. It’s adventure. I really like leaving my comfort zone and doing new things.
What do you want to achieve in life, what’s on your bucket list?
Doing that really big trip I said before, and also travel to LA, hire a car, drive to NY via the North of America, and then drive back via the South and take four to five months and just do that. I also want to go to a big overseas music festival.
What impact do you want to have on elevio, how do you want to help the company grow?
We’re the only two people here doing anything outside of product and coding. So it’s hard to measure success in those type of things. But to get all that up and running, to get all the blog posts, sponsorships and partnerships running, and doing something where you can see what you’ve done, that’s a challenge I want to master. Everyone else codes, it runs, and you can see what they’ve done. It’s very easy to measure, whereas we don’t really get that luxury. You can do the work, but you can’t measure it. Getting that tangible result is something we need to get better at measuring.
Have you got any awesome ideas/suggestions to make work more enjoyable and build a great working atmosphere?
It’s pretty good as it is at the moment. It always gets harder as you grow though. When I first came in here 2-3 days a week there were five of us, now there are nine. It’s still a good number, but as it keeps growing you have to hire the right people to make sure everyone fits. If it’s a smaller number of people you get to know everyone better and quicker. You just have to make more of an effort as you grow.
But so far it’s pretty good, every so often there’s something new that gets added which everyone really likes, whether it’s a new fridge that’s got drinks in it, or a ping pong table, or board games, or couches. As long as something keeps getting added that makes people excited to come to work, that’s a good thing.
What does the perfect date look like for you?
Ha, geez, that’s a good question. Something out of the ordinary. It depends on how much I like them. If they seem really cool, then I’ll put in the extra effort. It also depends on how much time there is. Going to a gig is definitely up there, something music related. Or on the other hand something that they really like, which I don’t know anything about. For example, I went on a date last year – I know nothing about wine and cheese, so we went to this big wine and cheese tasting event. That was really cool, it was fun. If I could give a similar experience to someone who knows nothing about something that I really like, that’d be cool too. But I don’t have a set answer, there are too many variables!
Thanks Nathan. If you’ve got any questions related to elevio, customer success, or just want to say hi and have a chat, drop Nathan an email.