You satisfy your customers, but can you satisfy our curiosity?
With Rahel Kunkel, Operations Lead at Ostrom.
Please tell us a little bit about your company and what you do there.
Ostrom is driving the green energy transition in Germany by making renewable energy accessible and inclusive. We created a seamless, multilingual energy management platform to help consumers effortlessly switch, track, and reduce their electricity consumption. I am the Operations Lead and I’m responsible for fast switching processes, excellent customer support, and all of the automations around that.
“Receiving demanding or even rude inquiries teaches you to stay patient along the way, but what really helps me is trying to understand the customers and their problems”
What’s the most valuable thing that working in customer service has taught you?
It’s probably patience and trying to understand where the customer is coming from. Receiving demanding or even rude inquiries teaches you to stay patient along the way, but what really helps me is trying to understand the customers and their problems. This often takes away the feeling of personal attack and helps you focus on the issue – and also how to prevent it from happening again.
What’s your greatest productivity hack?
Plan your day in advance and stay focused. Every morning, I sit down and plan my to-dos realistically. I try to only fit in a certain amount of tasks, including a time estimate, and leave some room for ad-hoc tasks or questions. During those tasks, I try not to get distracted and even turn off my notifications for email or Slack. Another great hack is to plan your calls smartly. I try to reduce the time between different calls and, if possible, only schedule meetings on certain days, leaving at least one day a week without calls at all. It’s a great way to focus and get work done!
What gif best describes your mental state right now?
What’s the best customer service you’ve ever experienced?
It was for a company I rented a long-term scooter from. The customer service was quick, direct, super friendly, and proactive. With one answer, all my questions – even the ones I didn’t ask – were addressed and I received the right amount of information.
What’s the worst customer service you’ve ever experienced?
Ah, I had some trouble with returns from an online shop and the bot just kept asking the same questions and giving the same answers over and over and over, not ever giving an option to speak to an agent. It was super frustrating, especially because the bot’s suggestions didn’t even come close to solving my problem, and I’m pretty sure I was not the first customer to have encountered the issues I had with returns.
What can you do that a bot will never be able to replicate?
Show empathy and read the customer’s tone to react accordingly. Also, think outside the box and solve problems creatively.
“Ask for help if you need it – it’s not a weakness, it’s a strength”
What do you doodle when you’re on video calls?
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to your peers in the customer service industry?
Ask for help if you need it – it’s not a weakness, it’s a strength. And don’t take anything personally (even though it is hard sometimes). Set your own boundaries because you know them best.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I just finished an epic romance novel, Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, and will probably read another one! Reading is my break from everyday life!
What’s the best thing a customer has ever said to you?
It’s probably “You rock” and leaving a Trustpilot review mentioning my name and praising how I helped out :-)
What’s your most used emoji in customer chats?
🔌 – as we are an electricity company – and 😊
Do you identify more with the title “customer support,” customer service,” “customer success,” or “customer experience,” and why?
Customer success, because helping out and/or making a customer happy is a success.
What do you wish people knew about working in customer service?
We are not a bot, we don’t want to harm you, we always give our best, we are also humans behind the screen, and sometimes mistakes just happen :-)