Our recipe for customer support success: what makes support at Railnova different from other companies in railway?

Story by Karin van der Have, Customer Engagement Specialist at Railnova
Nov 2, 2017

I can still recall my first meeting with Railnova’s CEO, Christian Sprauer, like it was yesterday. Because, while talking to Christian, I quickly realised that Railnova wanted to provide precisely the same customer experience to their clients that I had always wanted to implement (but wasn’t able to at my previous jobs). I once read that

the quality of a company can be measured by the place customer support has in its organisation,

and it immediately became very clear to me, that customer support was not just a cost center for Railnova, but that it was at the very center of their product development.

Before joining Railnova as customer support manager, I had already been working as director of customer support for a medium sized company for the last 11 years. During that period I oversaw global teams and met with global customers, ensuring that they were satisfied with the company’s services.

When I started looking for my next professional challenge, at some point, I had to choose between a similar role in a similar company, or a more challenging position, where I’d be required to think more strategically and to shape the customer support processes in a business that was entirely new to me and a lot more technical than I was used to… (Challenge accepted of course!)

Railnova’s recipe for customer support success was clear to me from the very start: we are close to our customers, our customer support is personal and easy, and everyone in the company is involved.

We are close to our customers.

We communicate on a regular basis with our customers. From these conversations we get a real sense of the problems they have, and we’re able to build and develop a product that answers their needs. Being close to our customers has also helped us to shorten the feedback loop between customer requests and product iterations, and it makes us even more invested in improving our product.

Everyone is involved.

This is probably what still impresses me the most. I joined Railnova with a solid background in customer support, but I had never worked in such a technical environment before. I am literally working with almost exclusively software and hardware engineers.

You may think that it requires quite an effort to translate our customers’ needs directly to our hardware and software development teams, but at Railnova, it doesn’t. “Everyone on support” is not just a slogan here. And although I am representing the voice of the customer internally, it has always fascinated me how my colleagues from development and our leadership team are staying close to customer support and interacting with customers on requests on a continuous basis.

The benefits of this are clear: as our developers are product experts, they are able to provide detailed support for complex issues in no time. On top of that the interaction with our customers prevents them from getting detached from the consequences of their actions and of what they develop. It helps them to create a product that truly fits the need of the customer.

Customer support is easy.

There are no endless menus to choose from when calling us and no tedious and impersonal ticketing tool to send us requests or feedback. We strive for a frictionless product and support experience: users call me on my mobile phone for urgent topics, and chat with me and my colleagues directly on our Railfleet fleet management platform or simply send us an email.

In order to make the support experience as easy and as human as possible, we implemented Intercom as our customer communication platform, shortly after I joined Railnova. (Read more about our experience with Intercom)

Not only does Intercom enable our customers to reach out to us whenever and wherever they need us, it also helps them to help themselves through a structured and easy-to-use knowledge base.

We also try to proactively solve any issues or questions our customers might have: our personalised onboarding process helps our customers get started with Railfleet in no time and on the fast track to getting the value they’re after.

Customer support is personal.

I am getting a great deal of job satisfaction directly from my daily interactions with our customers. Rather than treating each question or request as an anonymous ticket, we enter a continuous conversation with our customers. Because of this it doesn’t feel any different from talking to a colleague when I’m talking to the users of Railfleet.

These conversations are more personal than traditional support tickets and contain important feedback, which helps us continuously improve our products. I am repeatedly hearing from fleet managers and maintenance managers how they still have to maintain daily or weekly spreadsheets, manually collecting all the operational data on the fleet they are responsible for, and dispatch this data to their internal and external stakeholders. It is always a pleasure to hear the positive feedback, when they discover that Railfleet can automate this for them, so they can focus on more important tasks, like generating savings or improving fleet productivity.

These four ingredients (being close to the customer, having everyone at Railnova involved and making sure the experience is easy and personal) have turned our customer support into a successful part of our product. This is also reflected in the messages and feedback we receive from our customers, like the message from a client who was wondering why his company was not mentioned as one of our happy clients on our website. The entire Railnova team loved it! We added the company, gladly!

And sometimes, the stories and feedback we hear from operators are as funny as they are informative! Such as the fact that previously paper defect reports and notes were sometimes getting lost because they flew out the driver cabin windows, which they can now avoid by digitising the entire process.

Positive feedback from a client, even something as simple as a thank you, always makes my day and brings a smile to my face. It reminds me every time, that I made the right choice to join the Railnova team, and that we, at Railnova, are taking the right approach to customer support.

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