I attach a face to customer emails An interview with Mike Minnick from Carbonmade

Carbonmade helps you manage your portfolios online. It offers a variety of tools that allow you to change how you display your work. The core idea behind the design of Carbonmade is to keep your images or videos at the forefront. For a better idea on what Carbonmade can do for you browse through their customer portfolios here.

Mike Minnick

Mike Minnick is the morale specialist at Carbonmade. He single handedly manages the entire support operation across channels like mail, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.

Nithya: Hi Mike, How are you? How has your day been?

Mike: I am doing great. In-fact I am pretty excited. Just now I got this sweet mail from a lady because I got back to her real quick on a query.

Hi Mike, Thank you for your prompt response and for your attention to customer service - something that makes a great impression of your company and is still highly valued. Joelle B
Nithya: Oh that s nice! How do you manage to surprise people. Are you always on the mail?

Mike: Pretty much, unless I am out. But I am generally not out for long. I am away for lunch and sometimes when I take my dogs out for a walk. Usually I let them lie around when I work.

Nithya: Do you have anybody else in the team helping you with mails?

Mike: For the number of people using carbonmade the number of emails is comparatively small. I probably get an average of 50-100 emails a day. For most part I handle it all by myself. If there s anything specifically business, Spencer handles them. One of our main programmers and partners Jason handles anything that is tech.

Nithya: How were you hired?

Mike: I have known Dave the person that designed Carbonmade for almost 12 years now. I was a part of a band and Dave was the one to design our website, records, shirts and everything else. I have known him from high school. When I joined Carbonmade, I didn t have much experience. It took sometime for Spencer to show me the ropes. Right now, my main job is drinking tons of coffee and getting people in the company hyped!

Nithya: Oh yeah...I guess that s what it takes to be the Morale specialist ! Is your day all about mails and twitter?

Mike: Apart from that, Spencer and I do some stuff on Tumblr where we feature cool images that our customers have in their portfolios. When people post their portfolios or talk about the company on twitter, I quickly check them out. That s how we find a lot of people that we feature.

Nithya: Does your day involve answering customer calls too?

Mike: Not really. We offered phone support for a while but not anymore. We have switched phone support over to the appointment only model which is working out pretty well.

Nithya: How long did you offer phone support? why did you decide to introduce it and then pull it back.

Mike: We introduced it to see how it works because we were getting a few suggestions for it. Most times people called with questions that could be better handled over an email. But since they had called I would spend close to half hour on it while neglecting the mails. This sort of inefficiency made us switch over to the appointment only model.

Nithya: Did you ever feel it was easier to convert people when you offered phone support? Did it help in signing them up or converting them into a paid user?

Mike: Emails work pretty well. I didn t notice anyone upgrading because of phone service.

Nithya: How long have you been with Carbon made? Have you seen the volumes grow?

Mike: I have been working here for almost a year. The volumes are much higher than what I started with. That s because we are getting record sign-ups. We have been breaking the record for people signing up every month.

Also, there has been a big jump in the number of people that contact us through twitter and tumblr. A year back I used to check Twitter once a day. Now I check it as frequently as email. Non stop.

Nithya: Does answering emails get mechanical after a point? Do you recognize your customers from their mails?

Mike: It might sound kind of crazy but at this point I know if someone has emailed us before because I always look at their accounts. Even if it s a question for which I am not required to look at their portfolio I still do it just so that I can attach a face to the person that is mailing me. Just from doing this over the year I usually know if someone has emailed us before even if it is from a different email or not from the email thread that I talked to them before. I try as much as possible to put a personality in my replies so they don t get the feeling that they are just getting an automated response or talking to a robot.

Nithya: That s amazing. You go through portfolios even when you are not required to just to understand your customers?

Mike: Yeah. And it just isn t bad at all. I am just looking at cool portfolios all day!

Nithya Rajaram

Nithya Rajaram