Head of Customer Experience Curve
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How one CX team saved its company from crisis

When disaster strikes, CX teams often have the answers and if not, have a passion for finding solutions to the most complex of problems.

4th Aug 2020
Head of Customer Experience Curve
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fireman crisis

Curve is a payment card provider. When we launched Curve back in 2016, we partnered with WireCard Solutions Limited to process all our transactions. So on June 26th, when The Financial Conduct Authority suspended Wirecard’s permission to operate without prior notice or warning, we were forced to temporarily suspend all transactions which meant that none of our customers could use their Curve card until further notice.

We’d not experienced anything like this before and sure enough, just hours after the announcement was made, our customer experience team’s backlog increased by a massive 400%. 

CX to the rescue

Scenarios like these put the customer experience team right at the centre of a business. 

Our CX mission is to do everything possible to help our customers, so in the midst of all the madness, they became our main priority. We were just as disappointed as our customers to have to tell them to carry a backup card as they wouldn’t be able to hold their money on their Curve card. This was a major inconvenience for them, who are used to having to only pay on one card. 

As the head of the CX team, I set myself three objectives:

  • Help the team organise and mobilise with short notice, ensuring we didn’t get overwhelmed with an unmanageable spike of cases.

  • Guarantee that our customers’ needs were met while finding the best solution for them. 

  • Define a plan that would help us respond as quickly as possible, and share it with the team so that they all knew what they needed to do.

We knew it wouldn’t be easy to bring our core product back to what it was before this incident. But we also didn’t want to leave our customers unsupported, so the plan was to bring back one feature at a time so that our customers could gradually use Curve as soon as possible. It was key that the CX team had all the information and tools they needed to update our customers every step of the way.

The game plan

For the sake of clear communications we needed to keep updates in one single place so customers had a single touchpoint for information. This also helped avoid additional tickets being raised.

Our options were: 

  • Our FAQs.

  • Our community.

  • Our blog which we weren’t using that much.

The Help Centre, where we host our FAQs, was being remodeled so this wasn’t an option. We felt that the community may have derailed the discussion away from our primary goals, so we opted for the blog, which we would update frequently with any new information as we received it.

Crunch time

The Curve team worked at full capacity from Friday 12:30 until Sunday midnight to bring back our product as if nothing ever happened, despite spending 60 hours trying to get things up and running again. 

Defining clear roles and responsibilities at leadership level from the very beginning was crucial, as it helped us drive the entire team to the same goal. Having clarity from the beginning saved precious hours that could have very easily got lost to confusion and miscommunication.

To be as efficient as possible, the team re-routed all Wirecard-related queries to a specific queue, handled by a dedicated team who were very quickly brought up to speed. This allowed us also to help customers with non-related issues and keep the backlog as low as possible. To achieve this in the most effective way possible, we made full use of collaborative tools like Slack, Hangouts, Mural and G-suite, which also helped keep the team united and connected. 

Silence isn’t the answer

Rule 101 of good customer experience is honesty. This was a fast-moving situation and we didn’t always have the answers. In lieu of answers, be transparent. OVERcommunicate, and when you do have information, get it shared as widely as possible, as quickly as possible. To have simply stopped communicating was just not an option, so we made it our mission to give regular updates, even if there weren’t any. 

CX employees often have the answers and if not, have a passion for finding solutions to the most complex of problems. For once, they didn’t have an answer - which was tricky for them to get used to at first. It required flexibility, and meant they had to embrace the uncertainty. All they could do was have faith that the situation would get resolved ASAP. Phrases like “we’re working on it” or "we don’t know the answer yet”, while sometimes frustrating to hear, demonstrated transparency to our customers and showed that their concerns hadn’t been forgotten. 

Keeping spirits high

When you’re working through a weekend with customer tickets piling up fast, feeling disheartened is inevitable. Mistakes were bound to be made – I certainly made my fair share. Sharing these with the team and recognising the hard work they were all doing helped them stay strong and keep morale high. From daily stand-ups to food deliveries, we tried our best to lighten the load of having to work on a Saturday night. They were also boosted by the hundreds of supportive messages that came flooding in from customers. So many reached out to express their sympathy and solidarity with us, which fuelled us, even when we were at our most exhausted. 

My advice to any CX team in a crisis: engage, communicate and set the right expectations. Customers just want to feel like they’re being kept in the loop, and that the company is on top of the situation. Most of our customers really appreciated our honesty and transparency during this challenging time. Sometimes, the worst thing you can say is nothing at all. 

A weekend we won’t forget

It was a Herculean effort from a fully-dedicated team of passionate employees, working over the weekend to bring Curve back in business. 

That weekend, though very tiring, left us with loads of learnings that will be marked as an inflection point in the history of the company. At a customer experience level, the team was able to stay on top of the queue using new tactics and, even though the backlog is still high, we’re getting it back to normal as soon as the product and its features are rebuilt. 

We’ve learnt that sending customers to a live blog was very welcomed and, based on feedback, customers felt they knew what was happening and what was coming in the pipeline. Because in the end, it’s the customer who defines the success of a company. 

#wirecardgate will be remembered as a time when all areas of the business came together with a clear objective, working as a team and trusting our potential. We all knew how crucial the situation was for the company. This was an event that could tear a team apart or create an even stronger one. In our case, it definitely created a stronger one. As one of my team leaders said that weekend:  “These are unprecedented times for all of us at the company but we will all come through it stronger if we work together AS A TEAM. We win together, we lose together, let’s make sure this one is a win.” 

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