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Customer support update: Bigger, better and back on track

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When you last heard from me about our customer support situation in August, our team was buried in a backlog of support requests and begging for your patience. But what a difference a couple of months can make! With a few new team members, some hard-earned insight and the support of the rest of the company, we have better oversight of the incoming requests and our response times are back on track to better support you! Keep reading to find out how we got things under control and what we’re doing to keep it that way.

The secret to closing 3000+ tickets? Processes, people and pizza

Since mid August, we’ve gone from 6000 open customer support requests down to 2800 (all of which are in the process of being resolved). And our response times to new requests from you are also back to where we want them to be – between 24 and 48 hours. So how did we manage that? We tackled the problem from a variety of angles to solve the immediate issues as well as set ourselves up for long-term success.

First, we temporarily brought in an external consultant to help us improve our overall process management. A few things they identified and helped us solve included ensuring we had more reliable data to improve our analysis and forecasting, and improving our alignment with other departments.

Next, we expanded our customer service team. First by growing the team in Amsterdam, focusing on hiring people with a variety of language skills and relevant experience to make sure everyone was productive as quickly as possible and we could offer stronger Europe-wide coverage. Secondly, we started working with Xtrasource, an experienced multi-lingual consumer tech support company. The great advantage for you is that they are an engaged group of individuals who now know all about Fairphone and are inspired by our social focus in tech. For us, the great advantage is that we can rely on them for more capacity and less stress on the in-house team whenever we need to deal with unexpected peaks in the future.

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However, new processes and new employees always take a bit of time to ramp up and onboard. So in the short term, we turned to our in-house experts (umm… every single person working at Fairphone) to resolve all the open requests as quickly as possible. For six weeks between the mid July and the end of August, Fairphoners from every team volunteered their time after office hours one or two days a week to help us work our way through all the tickets. To keep everyone motivated, these evening sessions were fuelled by a total of 100+ homemade pizzas churned out by our Olaf, our tireless office manager.

Next steps to ensure top-notch service and satisfaction

As we had hoped, the above changes not only improved our response times, they also boosted our customer satisfaction ratings. We’re now back up to 87%, but our goal is between 93% and 95%. So while we’re moving in the right direction, there’s still room for improvement.

To ensure you, our customers, get the service you deserve, we’re first working to resolve a couple of logistics-related issues. In short, we’ve been facing some disruptions with the delivery of phones and spares parts to our repair center, which has been slowing down some of the Fairphone 2 repairs. (So despite improving our response times overall, we know that a few of you are still waiting!) We’re currently working with the factory in China to find a solution and ensure a consistent flow of parts.

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We’re also planning to improve the customer support section of our website. Our FAQs, tutorials and forum already cover many of the most common support questions, but it’s often difficult to know where to look. With better navigation and organization of information, we want to make it easier to find what you need and help yourself – fast. In the near future, we’ll be reaching out to you for your suggestions, as well as asking some of you for your assistance in the forum.

Next, we will continue to expand our language capabilities. We’ve recently translated the key pages of our website into Italian and Spanish, and will slowly be doing the same for the most important support content.

Finally, we’re looking into extending the customer support opening times and communication channels. We know that urgent Fairphone issues aren’t limited to regular business hours, but until now, we haven’t had the capacity to offer support in the evenings or weekends. We don’t have the answer just yet, but we know that this could make a huge difference for lots of our customers.

How can we help?

With the adjustments we’ve already made and our plans for future improvements, we’re dedicated to making our customer service the best it can be. But we’d love to hear from you! If there’s something you think would make your customer support experience better, please let us know in the comments.

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A special guest at Fairphone customer support, can you guess who?
Photo: Marjo Baasin

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