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Startup Central — How to stay connected to your customers with Digit, Fandom, and Lever

See how they've modified their practices to meet customers' changing needs.

By Brandon Rhea

Last updated July 14, 2022

We’re in uncharted waters. As people adapt to the times, what can businesses do to meet new expectations? In our latest Startup Central Virtual Meetup, we sat down with Jen Burton, Head of Customer Support at Digit, Justine Matison, Head of Customer Service and Support at Lever, and Brandon Rhea, VP of TV, Movies, and Anime at Fandom to talk about how they’ve modified their practices to meet customers changing needs.

Motivating your team during difficult times

Making the switch to remote work can make it hard for teams to share experiences and hear feedback. Bringing a human touch to digital contact and keeping your team motivated is key to making this shift successful.

Jen says she’s able to keep her team engaged, motivated, and inspired by staying connected. They carve out time from their weekly meetings to talk about what’s on their mind and what they’re experiencing.

“It’s absolutely imperative that myself, the support team at Digit, and the rest of the company remain human overall,” she says. To support their employees as they go through this difficult time, Digit gave their employees a day off — called “Digit day off.” Jen says, “prioritizing humanity is really key, not only every day but especially now in the world of COVID.”

Justine and her team take the time to talk about how they’re feeling and what they’re dealing with. She says, “without the people who are driving that [the business] we’re dead in the water.” Like Jen, Justine and her team also find value in letting their employees “off the hook” on days they’re feeling especially stressed. “You have to keep them engaged by letting them know that it genuinely matters how your team is feeling,” she says.

In making the switch to remote work, her team created a virtual office space, which has allowed them to develop a level of communication that they didn’t have in the office. They’ve learned a lot about how to work successfully as a team but “at the core of everything, the engagement is about being able to genuinely care about the people,” she says.

Keeping customer-facing teams connected

It’s important — especially in today’s environment — that teams stay closely connected in supporting their customers.

As a company grows, it’s easy to develop silos. This is why it’s essential that customer-facing teams develop an effective line of communication between each other. “At Lever, one of our core values is cross-functional empathy,” Justine explains. This means understanding what other teams are responsible for, what their goals are, and what drives them.

“The more remote you get the more intentional you have to be about that communication.”
Justine Matison, Head of Customer Service and Support at Lever

The first thing Digit did was put together a coronavirus response team — including members from operations, product, and CS. From there, they created a support hub, which provides financial help, mortgage, and rent relief, and stimulus check information. “Our main goal with that cross-functional effort was providing a level of support to our customers that they weren’t getting anywhere else,” says Jen.

Meeting customers where they are

Customer needs are unique at this moment in time. It’s important to listen to their feedback and be proactive.

Brandon mentions that specific customer needs aren’t what’s changing, but the scale. “Fandom is all about giving people the right tools that they need to consume entertainment content the best that they can,” he says.

Fandom’s primary sources of content are their “Digital Companion” — a subscription-based platform called “Dungeons & Dragons Beyond,” which is a toolset for Dungeons and Dragons players, and Wiki — a reference-based model that underwent replatforming after being 7 years out of date. With new tools being added to “Dungeons & Dragons Beyond” and the restructuring of their Wiki — that means change. “The entire world is changing and their entertainment is too,” he says. It’s difficult during this unprecedented time to change up the way people consume content, but Brandon and his team at Fandom are sensitive to the feedback and are trying to meet the needs of all their consumers.

At Lever, customer conversations “have gone from very specifically strictly business-driven decisions on their part, to very emotional, almost reactionary in some cases, decisions,” says Justine. Amid the pandemic, their customers are unsure about whether they can continue to make their monthly payments. In reaction to this, Lever pivoted and rolled out a new flexible payment and contracting option to create a partnership with their customers. “We’re meeting them where they stand,” she says.

Want to learn more? Watch the full video of their talk below.

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