Product Support at a RegTech Startup from scratch

    By Alla Vinogradova, Product Support and Training Lead at ClauseMatch
    on 1 June, 2018
    It is a well-known fact that customer support is an invaluable element of any business. Hundreds of articles speak about its importance as well as how to best deliver high-quality customer support, each with its own recipe.
    5 things learned while helping banks adopt structured data
    Our perspective and advice are based on experience working with top-tier global financial firms, providing them with a SaaS-based platform to streamline policy management and compliance. ClauseMatch is used by compliance, legal, finance, operations, and risk departments to help automate impact assessments, streamline the implementation of regulatory changes, and to collaborate effectively on thousands of documents across the organisation.

    ClauseMatch 'documents' are stored as data elements which link textual information to the people, regulations, and internal workflows relevant to each section, or clause, of internal policy/procedure documents. We enable automation and workflow improvements by transitioning this information previously stored as unstructured data in traditional document editing tools into our structured data format. Structuring textual data in this way is the first step on the path to the automation of the entire compliance workflow. In doing this we aim to re-shape the way people at global financial institutions draft, review and approve their documents.

    I am pioneering this work with users of one of the largest global banks to get the employees accustomed to the structured data approach. I strongly believe that regulators could also adopt this new approach as it is already being implemented by global banks.
    1. Evaluate before you implement
    This may seem simple or even obvious, but nonetheless, it is fundamental.

    It's important not to rush into actions before making sure the result will make a needed change for your user.

    There are millions of great solutions, practices and techniques that work amazingly for many companies and teams, but not all of them will work for you.

    For instance, email communication may be considered somewhat outdated these days, its popularity as a support communication tool is constantly fading. However, in the financial world email still remains the most popular and frequently used communication channel and therefore it is a primary support communication channel for our users. We remain mindful of this with respect to the organisation of support processes and our choice of service desk software.
    2. You're not only supporting customers, you're providing invaluable input to your product team!
    In so many companies, there is far too limited communication between different teams or units (product, marketing, support, sales etc.). In many cases, when a support ticket comes in, a support agent resolves it, responds to a customer, and the work is considered complete.

    But support tickets should not literally "die" and be forgotten, when hitting the button 'Mark as Resolved'.

    Keep asking yourself: What was the issue? Why did the customer have that problem? Where are the bottlenecks in the product functionality? How can we make sure this problem does not happen again? These are the questions that matter, and both product and support teams should take them into account.

    Customer support is a valuable source of information on user behaviour and user experience.

    Support queries help better understand how your users interact with your product, which features are hard to master, which have the most bugs, and so on.

    At ClauseMatch we provide statistics on reported incidents along with user feedback to our product team on a regular basis. Additionally, we structure our internal communications and processes to ensure all teams interact with one another all the time which keeps us all aware of what's going on with different business and product aspects.

    A nice example would be the following case.

    Our platform allows document export as PDF or Word files. One of the questions a user asked us was if there was a way to download an older version of a document or at least to view a clean copy of an old version (i.e. not in comparison with the new one). There were certain cases when a clean old version of a document was required to be examined as a part of an investigation in case of a policy breach. We studied the case and learned that such functionality will indeed bring value to our customers in financial firms as it is crucial for them to be able to track full audit trail and control all changes.

    Now it's possible to download and view clean old versions and also download any version's audit trail.
    3. Building relationships with users is important
    We all know that "human-less" customer service is not well received.

    For us, it's important to build and maintain relationships with our users and give a personal touch to our communication. And I dare say I know for sure our users would much rather interact with Alla from ClauseMatch than with an abstract "ClauseMatch Support Team".

    Users who know you and value your help are more likely to stay engaged and content with the product.

    Due to specifics of the services we provide, the people who contact us most often are managers responsible for high-risk documents and they raise queries not only for themselves but also on behalf of their team and their document collaborators.

    Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your customer results in getting more valuable customer feedback on the product and on the service.

    Our customers know that we are always there for them just as we know they are there for us when we'd love them to share their thoughts on our product and services.
    4. Educate your users
    End users who know how to get maximum benefit from the product are more likely to enjoy using it. What's the point of a tool that doesn't lead to a more effective job done? Mastering a new technical solution can be tough, so don't overlook user training, particularly in such a new field as automating regulatory compliance where users are very comfortable in traditional tools such as word and excel.

    Training and demo sessions, besides their direct purposes, consistently prove to be a valuable source of feedback on the product and help us understand our users better.

    At first, we were getting a lot of 'How-Does-This-Work' and 'How-Can-I-Do-This' type of queries. It's a shame but some of our first users confessed they didn't get enough initial training when starting to work on our platform, so the direct support we were able to give them was invaluable.

    To ensure a solid foundation of training is in place through various mediums we offer an interactive user guide, detailed video instructions, online and onsite training sessions. As a result, the number of 'How-To...' queries has reduced significantly.
    5. Encourage self-help
    As anything, support needs a balance: reducing customer effort is important, but encouraging users to search for answers and solve an issue themselves as well as enabling them with easily accessible means to help themselves is crucial.

    It's good to know they can always reach us directly, but even better when the tools available enable them to not need to reach out in the first place.

    Your support team may work 9 to 5, but a helpful knowledge base will provide a 24/7 assistance to your users.

    This is crucial for users who need to change their working habits switching from older practices and tools to newer technology.

    As mentioned, we offer online and on-site trainings, but if a user sees the platform for the first time, absorbing a lot of information on "How-To-Master-This-Completely-New-Tool" is not easy either. To help them we created detailed step-by-step video instructions available online, so whenever a user sends in a question, we always provide them with links to relevant articles in case they'd like to know more about the feature or if they want to search for more information about the platform.
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