Tech Choice: Chris Hicken, COO at, Shares Customer Support Tips

Posted By on Sep 13, 2013

Chris Hicken, COO at and Co-Founder and CEO at LottoJar, shares tricks of the customer support trade and how he uses Boomerang to provide the best communication possible


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Describe your work life.

As COO, I’m responsible for hiring people (that are better than me), growing revenue, and solving business problems that happen with rapid growth.  I work closely with the co-founders, Dave and Darrell, who are both incredible business people, to think through strategic company issues.   Teams that are focused on growing revenue report to me — that includes Marketing, Sales, Biz Dev, and Client Success.

I’m an entrepreneur at heart, so I always have hobby projects in the works — there’s an in-store item finder that I’m developing for iOS, there’s a hiring platform for job hunters and hiring managers, and there’s LottoJar – a platform that allows people in California to buy their lottery tickets online.  But most of my time goes to

How does manage internal communication?

A lot of our workflow in the company is done through email, so we use plugins like Rapportive and also Canned Responses, which we’re using less frequently now. Some of us use a plugin called HelloSign that allows you to sign documents from within email.   Many of us use Evernote to organize projects that come in over email.

I also use Boomerang Calendar for scheduling meetings, especially the feature that allows you to propose times.  But the core Boomerang product has completely transformed the way I process email.  With Boomerang, I remove clutter from my inbox and it returns to me at the moment I need it, schedule messages to send in the future, and never forget to follow up on important emails.  I can’t imagine doing business without it.

What tools does use for customer support?

In the past, the customer support team used a shared Gmail account to respond to customers, and we used Boomerang really heavily. It was a productivity-enhancing tool for us in terms of managing our customer flow, getting back to customers, scheduling–all these things were a million times easier with the Boomerang products.

We believe in treating customers with love and respect, so we’re not happy unless our customers are delighted with their experience. If a customer communicates a question or a problem via email, it’s important to make sure they receive our follow-up message. We do this by Boomerang-ing customer emails back to our inbox the next day, so if we don’t hear back we can send a separate email to confirm that the problem was resolved. One of my favorite features is the ability to choose whether I want a message to Boomerang only if someone doesn’t reply or no matter what. It’s really powerful.

Essentially, the inbox is organized so messages are automatically prioritized when they come in, but they’re not auto-assigned to a Customer Support Rep. This way, our customers don’t have to wait a long time for a specific person to respond to them, and it also allows our agents to respond more appropriately than someone who’s been randomly assigned and may not be familiar with the customer or issue.

No one person is tasked with looking at the inbox and manually assigning emails; all eight of our agents can see the messages coming in and decide what to work on. If an agent emails a client and the client responds, the response will automatically be assigned to them. But otherwise, the team stays organized by communicating internally. For example, we use SnapEngage chat on our website, so when a chat comes in someone will be like, “Oh that looks familiar,” and they’ll take it.

We don’t do a lot of screen sharing with our customers, but we do use Jing, a screen sharing service where you can record videos on the fly on your computer screen. A lot of times, our agents will record a demonstration for our clients on how to do something they’re inquiring about, so it answers the question and also provides reference material if the client wants to figure out how to do it the next time. works with the top 10 web properties in the U.S. Do you find it harder to work with large businesses?

Honestly, all of our customers are a joy to work with. We get to work with startups trying to solve really interesting problems, and we also get to work with companies like Google who have done usability testing in the past and typically have fewer questions than smaller businesses. Both have their own needs, which is why we have one product specifically designed for Enterprise companies and another for small businesses.

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