The tide of online education is continuously making an impact on the way we learn.

With abundant access to information and instructors that we didn’t have just a few of years ago, we’ve been given the gift to chase our curiosities and learn new skillsets, all through online learning.

The challenges of online learning companies, though, involve the quality of the information and the design of the student experience. What happens internally is a different world.

Alexandra Hernandez

I spoke to Alexandra Hernandez, community manager at OpenSesame—an eLearning company that offers a simple training model and is one of the world’s largest content library with over 25,000 courses and over 400 providers.

Alex shared her insights into how OpenSesame uses Help Scout to interact with buyers, sellers, and companies to create a seamless experience.

The Dominant Trait of Great Support

“Empathy is huge,” Alex said. “Just looking for somebody’s personality that is understanding, patient, and helpful.”

Indeed, in speaking to companies of all kinds, empathy is the word that reverberates throughout great support teams. The necessity to step into the customer’s shoes is vital—it puts us at eye-level and allows us to properly determine a solution.

“We position ourselves for success by basing our business model on a standard of customer service,” Alex said. “That’s the experience. We first and foremost want to make the use of our marketplace really easy.”

OpenSesame Team

Because customer support is the first point of contact for a company, it shouldn’t feel like an obstacle that needs to be hurdled.

What, then, is the strategy for ensuring that customers feel at ease?

Email, Live Chat, and Unbelievable Response Times

“We really hone in on 15 seconds or less reply time on live chat, and 15 minutes or less for email,” Alex said. “The customer is a buyer or a seller. We want to make sure that they feel heard. People are constantly blown away by a 15-minute response time for email. It’s how we want to do things.”

I was so shocked by the response time that I had to ask if this goal was consistent. “It is. Chat is usually 100% of our goals, email is like upper 90’s,” Alex said, laughing.

The tools and the context matter. For minor concerns, live chat is ideal, but if someone inquires through live chat about purchasing a bunch of courses for a large team, the conversation should take place through email. “We want to get the ball rolling by providing them with resources and answers, then connect them to their own assigned account manager,” Alex explained.

Customer support teams benefit from deeply understanding human nature, like the desire for immediate gratification and the desire to be understood. Translation: I want a response now.

It makes customers feel like they’re being listened to and appreciated. You can probably recall a time in your life when you sent an email to a company and received a quick response—so quick that it shocked you, widened your eyes, and made you happy.

Creating these emotional experiences influences the construction of a memory—a staple in how customers make decisions and view your company.

OpenSesame Support Culture

Combine the traits of great support teams, like empathy, patience, and fast response times, and you’re likely to hear the praise of a happy customer.

OpenSesame goes further still. “We want to go above and beyond to help the customer. We want to be really smart and open-minded, not overbearing. We want to make referrals if we can’t find a position or course for the customer. We’ll gather the information even if it involves sending them to a competitor,” Alex said.

Does it get any better than this?

Using Docs to Compile Product Feedback

A great support team not only benefits the customers but also the company.

If engineers aren’t spending time in the queue, how else will they gather necessary feedback for iterating the product? The inbox is a treasure trove of product feedback, because that’s where customers go to deposit their frustrations, concerns, and successes.

“We have daily meetings where we search and find out things that need to be immediately solved,” Alex said. “Things that are feature requests and things that are user experience stories. We use Help Scout Docs to create articles around the things that pop up quite a bit. If we don’t have a feature, we meet roughly once a month with the product manager to sit down and discuss the scope of the development and capabilities. We map it all out and then implement on it.”

OpenSesame Docs knowledgebase

Although this is a seemingly straightforward process, we see the importance of writing these things down, compiling the feedback, and sharing it with the rest of the team—without even a simple process like this, nothing can move forward.

Having a customer base that feels appreciated and heard and who receive responses in a seemingly impossible time frame is perhaps a gold mine that replenishes on its own. Customers will develop a sense of loyalty. This may compel them to send in useful feedback that the company wouldn’t otherwise receive.

When the front line develops these kinds of relationships with their customers, they position themselves to garner valuable insights that will ultimately transform and improve the product. No guessing, and no empty theories. Just real experiences that reflect what’s happening, and, in turn, how it can improve.

Thank you to Alexandra and OpenSesame for sharing this valuable insight and showing that empathetic, helpful, and quick response times are not an impossible feat.

Paul Jun
Paul Jun

Paul is head of content at CreativeMornings and a Help Scout alum. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.