At my company, every single employee — from office manager to the CEO — must create a Gorgias account and spend 20+ hours answering customer support tickets. It’s an unusual program, but it’s incredibly impactful.
My name’s Amanda Kwasniewicz, VP of Customer Experience at Love Wellness, a brand dedicated to helping women improve their gut, brain, and vaginal health.
When everyone interacts with customers and learns how customer support operates, we become a more customer-centric, collaborative company. Below, I’ll share more details about this program so you can build something similar at your company.
Why you should have non-support employees answer support tickets
In my eyes, this program truly adds so much value back to the company. It always generates insights and improvements for the CX team (as well as other departments). Plus, it facilitates ongoing collaboration between support and other departments, long after the program ends.
Here are some specific benefits, each illustrated by real-life wins, to help you understand why this program is so impactful:
Establish respect for support
Customer support was never disrespected. But this program helped the entire company understand how much we’re responsible for. Plus, it gives everyone a better idea of how our work impacts the rest of the business (and vice versa).
At many companies, all kinds of decisions are made in silos that impact customer experience, and a handful of people on the CX team are left to clean up the mess. This program helps the rest of the company consider the downstream impact on the customer’s experience for whatever they’re working on — whether that’s updating the website, developing a product, or planning logistics.
In other words, it helps give CX a seat at the table and encourages everyone to think proactively about how their work will impact customers.
Find areas to improve support
Getting all kinds of skill sets and perspectives into the helpdesk has sparked many smart improvements to the CX team’s processes. A couple of examples:
- Someone from our Ops team recognized a high number of DNRs (orders the customer never received). They suggested we turn on an “Order delivered” notification so customers can grab the order the minute it hits their doorstep, or can reach out to our team right away if they can’t find it.
- Another Ops team member suggested an app that tracks delivery issues (like failed delivery attempts and returns to sender). Now that we track these issues, we can proactively reach out to impacted customers to better manage the issue. (By the way, the app we use is Trackhive, but it’s no longer available — a simple app like TrackingMore should work!)
Find areas of opportunity outside of support
When other departments get into the helpdesk, they discover tons of ways their work impacts the customer. This program always sparks ideas for changes in other parts of the business to improve CX:
- The Product Development Team noticed customer complaints about our packaging and pushed our manufacturers to update the packaging so it’s easier to open.
- A marketing email was sent out with a broken link and an incorrect promotion, which led to an influx of support tickets. The marketing built a new process to test marketing emails before they go live, preventing countless mistakes going forward.
- Our Retail Team discovered a product issue caused by the way retailers stored one of our products. They jumped on the issue, and are now attuned to these kinds of issues, and quickly help solve issues stemming from retail orders.
- Our VP of Finance learned we had an effective system to track replacement orders and was able to use that data to improve the company’s operational budgeting.
Improve cross-functional collaboration
Once non-CX employees understand the value and processes of Support, they’re more likely to rope you into conversations and support your team down the road.
Here are a couple of examples from my experience:
- When the company evaluated a new 3rd-party logistics (3PL) partner, we were roped into the conversation to ensure we chose an option that let us automate more support tasks, like canceling orders and editing addresses.
- During a particularly busy period, our small team of 5 needed help managing the support inbox. 3 non-CX employees (who had previously gone through this program) stepped in to catch up with our inbox. It’s a great strategy to manage the Black Friday — Cyber Monday surge!
How I structure this kind of program
Getting non-CXers into the helpdesk and answering tickets requires customer service training and guidance. Especially since we’re pulling employees away from their roles, we need to make sure it’s an efficient and effective program.
Here’s how my team manages it:
Train a cohort every 4-6 weeks
Training new hires one at a time would be a big timesuck for my team. So instead, we train a group of new hires (or anyone else we missed in the past) once every few months or so. For us, groups of 6-8 work well — but adjust for the size of your team.
Onboarding is a 2-hour session run by me, where we cover the fundamentals of CX, the tools we use, and the processes they need to know to answer tickets. Here’s a checklist of what I cover:
- Customer Experience fundamentals (including Love Wellness’s CX philosophies)
- Where our information lives (the Help Center for customer-facing content, and Guru for employee-facing content)
- Shopify 101: A tour of the checkout flow and order details
- Gorgias 101: A tour of the helpdesk, including how to respond to tickets
- A tour of Macros (listed in the image below), so they rarely have to draft emails from scratch
Set up a dedicated View in Gorgias
During the last 30 minutes of onboarding, we give each employee their own Gorgias login and set them free to start answering emails. To make the inbox more digestible (and steer trainees away from complex emails), we set up a View with simple inquiries as a sort of training ground, in addition to adding them to a Training Team.
We prefer to manually add tickets to this view when the CX team stumbles across simple questions. But you could easily set up an auto-tag to send simple questions — like subscription renewals or requests to edit orders — to this View.
We also have a simple process for trainees to hand off tickets that become complicated to the CX team. They simply send the handoff Macro, which lets the customer know an answer is coming and automatically assigns the ticket to the CX team.
Require 20 hours of support work over 4 weeks
Once training is complete, the cohort is set free! The expectation is that everyone who participates in this program spends 20 hours on CX over a month.
How they choose to spend that 20 hours is choose-your-own-adventure style. They can answer 1-2 emails daily, for 3-4 days a week, to meet the 20-hour requirement. During lighter periods, they can also study past tickets or read FAQ content — anything that helps them better understand CX and how we communicate with customers.
Appoint a CX’er to be available for support
While trainees self-guide their 20 hours, one member of the CX team is available to answer questions or jump in to provide support. We also schedule a 30-minute, 1-on-1 shadowing session so the trainee and the CXer can deep-dive on any topics that come up.
These 1-on-1 sessions are where we spark a lot of great ideas. Naturally, the trainee and the CXer learn more about one another’s departments and processes and find opportunities to collaborate or support one another.
The CXer that manages the program has a few additional responsibilities over the 4 weeks:
- Monitoring a Slack channel where trainees can ask for help
- Sending weekly updates on each trainee’s stats
- Running a survey to gather feedback from the trainees
How to get buy-in
This program requires 20 hours from every employee, which is no small ask. If you’re excited about implementing something like this at your company, I recommend preparing a business case to convince your boss that it’s worth the investment.
Here are some tips as you prepare your case:
Find an executive champion
I was lucky that a previous boss had an operational background and understood how CX is deeply interconnected with other parts of the business. She was actually the one who suggested this program, and her executive support was essential to put the plan into action.
If possible, find someone with leadership status to champion this program. They can help convince whoever has the power to approve the program and get the rest of the company excited to participate.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to implement this program, I want to encourage you to frequently showcase the work of your CX team to executives and the rest of the company. It’s not often that CX gets a spotlight for their work — unless something is on fire. By showing how complex and impactful the team’s work is, you’ll boost team morale and get buy-in for out-of-the-box initiatives like this.
Emphasize the cross-functional benefits
This program is great for your CX because you’ll get new ideas to improve processes and a trained staff of agents who can step in during busy periods. But the larger benefits — the ones to emphasize when building your case — are the cross-functional collaboration and improvements.
Be sure to underscore how this program orients the entire company to think about CX and adopt a more customer-centric mindset. Plus, share a few examples about how Marketing, Product, and other teams (like Logistics and Wholesale) could refine processes by understanding how their work overlaps with the CX team’s work.
Share this article
A testimonial from someone with first-hand experience goes a long way — let this article be that testimonial! My anecdotes about the benefits of this program are 100% real, and I’m confident any company could see similar improvements.
Plus, you’re welcome to use my structure as a template to get started.
Choose a helpdesk with unlimited seats
Most helpdesks charge per user seat, which makes this kind of program impossibly expensive. You’d have to pay for each account, limiting your ability to get additional help in a pinch or share CX insights from customer conversations with the rest of your team.
One of the (many!) reasons we chose Gorgias is because it allows you to have unlimited users, so every single person in the company can create an account, interact directly with customers, develop a great understanding of CX, and find ways to refine processes and implement customer feedback throughout the business.
If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend chatting with the Gorgias team — it’s a no-brainer for any ecommerce brand looking to make their CX more effective and efficient.