With Gill Fisher, Head of Customer Experience & Delivery at SMARTY
At a glance
In an industry filled with complex and confusing tariffs, SMARTY is on a mission to bring simplicity to mobile phone plans. Powered by Three UK, the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) uses Intercom to deliver great customer experiences along the way.
Gill Fisher, Head of Customer Experience & Delivery at SMARTY, is responsible for turning the company’s vision into reality. Gill and her team of customer champions strive to provide the best possible quality of service and experiences for their customers, while striking a balance between being efficient and personal.
Powering support at scale
Having enjoyed exponential growth over the past 12 months, Gill says Intercom was pivotal in enabling SMARTY to scale to meet the needs of its growing customer base.
As expected with such rapid growth, the team saw inbound conversation volumes rise dramatically during 2020. Starting the year at 30,000 monthly customer conversations, that number quickly rose by 69%, with the team now managing up to 56,000 chats a month during its busiest periods. Gill explains that by using Intercom’s Team Inbox management features and powerful automation capabilities, the team was in a strong position to manage this sharp increase and continue to create the same, conversational experiences their customers expected.
Creating personal experiences
“Intercom is pivotal for us, it’s the one and only way that we’re able to talk to our customers in real time. It really helps us engage with them,” says Gill. Having used other support platforms in the past, she explains that they don’t offer the same level of customer insight as Intercom, which makes it almost impossible to create tailored, personal support experiences.
With Intercom, Gill highlights that the team is able to communicate in a conversational way through the messenger, keeping customer interactions friendly and helping them to build lasting relationships. “Intercom’s the most inspiring tool I’ve ever used to connect with our customers, it lets us use gifs and emojis so we can build that rapport with our customers, which is so important,” she says.
Balancing the workload
When Gill stepped into her role as Head of Customer Experience & Delivery, there were a number of immediate problems to be solved. The massive spike in growth meant SMARTY’s support advisors were faced with a backlog of over 2,000 conversations, with some customers waiting over four days for a response, and a support team that was feeling overwhelmed.
Gill leveraged Intercom’s workload management feature, which enabled her to look at the situation holistically and make critical resourcing decisions. In splitting up the workload and limiting the number of conversations a support advisor could handle at any one time, Gill says they were able to navigate through the backlog and maintain a high level of employee satisfaction. “Utilizing all the features that Intercom offers like workload management, we were able to balance the work we were giving to advisors so they weren’t getting overwhelmed. It’s been an absolute lifesaver,” she says.
Gill highlights three key capabilities as standout benefits of Intercom:
Ease of use: Being able to seamlessly onboard support advisors in multiple sites and getting them aligned on how they work.
Bots: Gill’s team has saved 7,000 support team hours in the last year by empowering their customers to help themselves with Custom Bots and Resolution Bot.
Articles: Having their help desk and knowledge base hosted on a single platform enables the team to create a seamless journey for their customers.
“What I love about Intercom is that it completely aligns with our brand value of being simple. I’ve worked with different platforms in the past and they’re clunky, legacy systems, whereas Intercom’s easy to use and seamlessly integrates with our website. Our advisors shouldn’t even have to think about the platform they’re using, they should just have to focus on creating great experiences for our customers,” Gill explains.
Seeing immediate results
After working through their chat backlog, Gill notes the team began to see some incredible results. In January of last year, their median first-response time stood at just over a day, but using Intercom, they have been able to reduce that to three minutes – a staggering 99% drop.
Intercom’s self-serve support capabilities have also been hugely impactful in helping SMARTY support their customers. As Gill explains, “Intercom’s Resolution Bot is now resolving 12% of our total chat volume. That amounts to 37,000 conversations a year, or 7,000 support team hours saved – which is amazing!”
Leveraging Articles to power their help center, Gill’s team also supports the company’s marketing campaigns. “We launched a big campaign around our new “WiFi calling” feature recently that directed people straight to the help center. They were able to get all the information they needed before speaking with our team, and it actually reduced the number of chats coming in,” Gill says, “I think chat should just be there for those more complex queries. If there’s something a customer can do really easily, why not utilize the bot, why not utilize the help center?”
Staying ahead of the curve
Using reporting in Intercom, the support team analyzes customer conversations to understand how their needs are evolving, spot recurring trends, and get ahead of known issues to proactively support their customers.
As Gill explains, staying ahead of the curve has been a game-changer in efficiently scaling their support. “Intercom lets us look at any themes or trending topics that we might not have spotted yet. A recent example of this is that we saw a rise in inbound questions from customers asking, ‘Where’s my sim?’ and two days later it was announced that there were national mail delays due to resourcing issues, so we were able to get ahead of that and support customers while it was being resolved.”
Highlighting the benefits of being able to easily analyze and report out on support performance and customer insights from a single platform, Gill says, “The way the data is presented to you in Intercom’s Conversation Topics feature is fantastic. I can quickly log in and see that the biggest topic is ‘undelivered sim’ and we’ll know to go and focus on that. It’s great,” she explains, “When I’ve used other systems, you’d have to take all your data, put it in a spreadsheet, and do some analysis. Intercom’s Conversation Topics tells me at the click of a button. It allows us to be proactive in where we help our customers most, which is amazing.”
Championing customer happiness
The highest priority for the SMARTY team is ensuring that their customers consistently have great experiences with their service – and it shows. Over the last year, Gill and the team have increased their NPS score by an impressive 17 points.
Acknowledging that temporary outages and issues can cause customer satisfaction to fluctuate, Gill points to Intercom as a key driver in monitoring customer sentiment, enabling her team to quickly spot when temporary issues arise and put action plans in place to maintain the high quality of service they pride themselves on. “Intercom’s great at helping us pinpoint where customer issues are – we use everything from conversation tags to conversation topics to get a clear picture of where we need to jump in. It’s so seamless,” she explains.
Planning for the future
With big plans for the future, the team at SMARTY has no intention of slowing down. Confident that Intercom will be a key partner in their continued growth, Gill points to the three big objectives her team is focused on in the year ahead: unlocking more of Intercom’s capabilities to further supercharge their support, expanding their reporting to measure bottom-line metrics like customer retention, and most importantly, “to get to true live chat,” she says, “I don’t want any first-response time to be over a minute.”
Speaking about why SMARTY chose Intercom as their partner in supporting and engaging their customers, Gill says, “We chose not to have a phone line because we’re a truly digital business. Intercom helps us to support that because it’s a truly digital platform.”