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[INTERVIEW] SECRETS OF "ROCKETBANK" SUPPORT SUCCESS: MEMES, DOTA, AND LOVE

Alexandra Shiryaeva
Head of Customer Comfort at UseDesk
Our credo is learning from the best. We interviewed Danil Izotov, the head of support at Rocketbank (he asked to call him Captain SSV Normandy SR-2), to find out how "Roketbank" manages to maintain a crazy high level of support quality, operating in a complex environment in terms of friendliness. And, of course, we asked how to build and motivate a dream team.
Mr. Izotov
Captain SSV Normandy SR-2
ALEXANDRA:
How do you find candidates with a good sense of humor and, at the same time, with an adequate level of responsibility?
DANIL:
It's hard to measure a person's level of responsibility without giving a task. However, it is not impossible. Usually, during an interview, I ask questions about the last job, about life, to figure out whether a dude is willing to take responsibility for himself and others. Among other things, there is such a wonderful thing as cases. You can come up with any hypothetical situation, or even with a real one but with changed names. Then we mentally place the candidate in that situation and ask what he would do.

It is important to define the condition: the one and only decision maker is the candidate himself. A simple example: "Night. You and 3 other new employees are the only ones in the office. Everything has broken and customers are waiting for answers. Colleagues are sleeping; developers are on Bali vacation with no phone access. What would you do?"

It is much easier with humor. During the conversation, the interviewer should joke a couple of times or direct a conversation to a joke to see whether the candidate laughs or not. Ask about his favorite comedy shows, stand-up comedians, the favorite memes of 2017 and so on.
ALEXANDRA:
The most important trait of the candidate for the position of a support agent is ...
DANIL:
I pay attention to three things: smartness, humanity, and hard working. Smartness is a skill to learn quickly and ability to memorize a lot. This is especially relevant for young companies, where things change quickly; or for those companies, where support is not just a scripted screw but a superhero.

Humanity means empathy, kindness, and the ability to feel and understand the emotions of a person. All of us who work in support are contacted mainly to report the problems, so the ability to share the feelings of another is the key one.

Hard working means the ability to work hard, and even harder later, and extra-hard afterward. This covers a responsibility. A person came not to work but to save lives. And you need to save a lot and do it great. As one of candidates said to me: "Money is paid to not let us die of hunger, but, actually, we are all heroes here."

Ideally, look for those who have all three of these traits because you can teach the procedures in the company but you cannot change someone's personality.
ALEXANDRA:
Is it possible to teach a new employee to be pro-active and helpful to the customers or is it something that should be a part of personality?
DANIL:
It is manageable to open an introvert and turn a person offended by people to the light. But if there are no such grounds in personality, it would be nearly impossible. Usually, during the first month, when the veil of novelty falls down and fear of mistakes weakens, you can see the real attitude of a person. Has he come to spend billable hours or to make someone's life better? If you gave an inspiring speech about the holy mission that is carried out in this small open space, and the support agent's eyes do not shine — you are on the wrong path. We take the person's traits that are already there and develop them.
ALEXANDRA:
How long, on average, does an employee remain in a regular support agent's role?
DANIL:
1 year. All our new hires are required to pass a probation period. Sometimes, this period is longer than a standard three months. In general, by the 6th month of working, the desire to grow appears. Most often, the dude goes from the first line to the second one. We are looking for people that would stay with us forever: we want them to share our values and join our family. Thus, we conduct a thorough selection, and we care and cherish each of our employees. This does not mean there are no cases of burnout, leaving for family reasons or other sudden force-majeure. Staff turnover is not something we like, but there are enough refusals at the first entry point.
ALEXANDRA:
In case you cannot do something for a customer, and he insists you do this, how do you get out of the situation?
DANIL:
I follow the human approach. At the same time, each of us is the face of the bank; we are responsible for each other, just like Sasha Bely's squad. Therefore, if there is a common position on the issue, then we deliver it directly to a customer. We never avoid the responsibility but describe things as they are. Of course, with love. Truth, when it is said with no love, hurts like a knife hurts the heart. We try, if not to help, but at least to share someone's feeling. On top of that, we have a lot of patience, but if we are in a situation where we absolutely faced a closed door, we have to put the point. It is impossible to win an argument with us.
ALEXANDRA:
Is it true that you call support team-leaders "the captains"?
DANIL:
Yes. We figured out that every team wants to have its own distinctive features. This helps to maintain an individual approach. It can be compared with the fleet of civilian ships in Great Britain in 1940. We are all of different tonnage, color and size, but we all together are sailing to Dunkirk to get people out of the enemy surround. In "Rocket", the captain recruits people for himself. Each team has its own traditions (for example, members of one team wear the collar shirts on Wednesdays), hymns, boards with pictures, decorations, and other symbols are coming. We are so different and still together.
ALEXANDRA:
How to maintain an atmosphere of fun and keep the team motivated?
DANIL:
I can tell you only about my Normandy. I always praise the guys for good cases, raise the salaries when they pass the skills assessment.

I like to give ceremonial performances accompanied by epic music. When one of my fighters passed the test to be admitted to the second line, I turned on Wagner's music and clapped her on the shoulder, loudly announcing that she had passed the test and had received a grade. It was cool.

In the team chat we always exchange jokes and memes. Today we had this one: "I do not understand why you go to work, where you and your colleagues do not laugh out loud."

During a lunchtime, we like playing Dota or Overwatch (the multiplayer computer games). On Fridays and weekends, we get together to discuss something and just to hang out.

In short: we create a comfortable atmosphere, so that it is not workplace but the second home.
ALEXANDRA:
How does the team affectionately call the customers?
DANIL:
Client, dude, guy, boy/girl, or comrade. Dude is the favorite one.
ALEXANDRA:
Were there any cases when the reputation of a too friendly support made it worse or contributed to customer's over-relaxation?
DANIL:
Of course. It happens that the customers forget that they communicate with the bank. There were few cases when they sent us obscene pictures, or they wanted to meet the agent outside of his work duties. Some people do not see the boundaries. However, we know how to process such cases and make it clear what and why happens. I would not say that friendliness and being open greatly disturb us. It is rather an extra-weight, which we agreed to carry along with the genius idea of being close to people.
ALEXANDRA:
How to teach new hires to be relaxed with a customer and feel free, but do not go beyond the line by being too familiar?
DANIL:
The first option is practice. Each hit of the wood by hand strengthen the hand and you get used to the pain. The same here: to overcome a fear — get closer to the source of fear. A good tutor sitting next to you, who explains every tiny detail, helps a lot. Keeping in mind the fact that the monitor is a sort of barrier and, actually, there is nothing to be afraid of, also helps. When you feel comfortable, it is hard to be scared by something. As for me, to stay away from being too familiar, my tutor has explained me the importance of maintaining a distance with the customer through tickets' analysis.

We understand it this way: a customer is not a stranger to us, but not a member of our family also. Here, the practice is important, and from distancing a customer you can go to being open and kind, though not too much.

When it comes to humor, we have the rule that jokes should be as accurate as possible. In other words, each joke can be read seriously. Those who got the joke will laugh.
ALEXANDRA:
What metrics you use to measure customer satisfaction?
DANIL:
Just like in "Mafia" game, "thanks" plays a significant role. We always double-check whether we said everything correctly, sometimes, we do it together with more experienced agents. Not every "thank you" means the issue has been resolved. Sometimes it means — "Okay, I see, leave me alone."

The evaluation forms next to a ticket also help. We always provide a comment section and analyze the feedbacks. Additionally, we monitor the brand mentioning in social networks, and we work to figure out whether people like what we do. Overall, this is such a huge combination of many things, and it is a topic for a separate long discussion.
ALEXANDRA:
What level of customer satisfaction is successful one?
DANIL:
Only 100%. All or nothing.
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