conversion rate optimization customer service

24 April 2017 - Written by Ryan Riggin

Optimizing Your Conversion Rate Starts With Customer Service

Everyone involved with your marketing optimization team should spend at least a week in customer service. Seriously. You think I’m crazy right? Why would you pay an agency to come into your company to do customer service? Not only should your agency spend some time working in customer service but everyone on your marketing team should.


A few years back, I heard an interview from Kayak Founder and serial entrepreneur Paul English. In the interview he talks about how he hung an annoying red phone in the area where the Kayak software engineers worked.

While talking about how his team handled customer service he said:

The engineers and I handle customer support. When I tell people that, they look at me like I’m smoking crack. They say, “Why would you pay an engineer $150,000 to answer phones when you could pay someone in Arizona $8 an hour?” If you make the engineers answer e-mails and phone calls from the customers, the second or third time they get the same question, they’ll actually stop what they’re doing and fix the code. Then we don’t have those questions anymore. About a year ago, I bought a red telephone with a really loud ringer for the office. Whenever a customer calls the help number on our website, that phone rings. The engineers initially complained about it. They said, “That’s so friggin’ annoying!” And I’d say, “There’s a really simple solution: Answer the friggin’ phone and do whatever it takes to make that customer happy. Then hang up, unplug the phone, walk it down to the other end of the office, and plug it in down there.” When the phone rings, I literally jump over the desks just so I can get to the phone before anyone else. I love talking to customers, even angry ones. I learn a lot from them about how to make the site easier to use. When the call’s over, I’ll say, “If you have any follow-up questions, my name is Paul English; I’m the co-founder of the company.” I’ll give out my personal cell-phone number. Only one out of 20 people might actually call, but they’re blown away when I do that.* -Paul English*

“I LITERALLY JUMP OVER THE DESKS” “I literally jump over the desks just so I can get to the phone before anyone else. I love talking to customers, even angry ones,” he says.

conversion rate optimization customer service

This is a picture of Paul himself answering the red phone. Credit to the team at GrooveHQ for the image and a very nice blog post about how to establish a culture of customer service within your team.If you’re looking for an easy to use help desk tool I would check them out.

This is insane right?? I’ll admit. When I first heard it I thought he was crazy. Then I started to buy in. I could hear my boss at the time, and how he would’ve reacted if I’d told him I was going to do that. “That just won’t scale. It’s not efficient,” he’d say. We’ll that’s bullshit.

Here’s the thing:


  • Digging through Search Query Data in Google Adwords (we’ll talk about this in another post)

  • Talking to customers

THAT SOUNDS SO SIMPLE RIGHT? TALKING TO CUSTOMERS? But people that wear suits don’t want to do it. More importantly, they’re so obsessed with operational efficiency that they don’t see the value. At first glance you might think its crazy to put your most expensive employees on the front lines dealing with customers. What they’re missing is the learnings you absorb from talking to customers. It is gold.

  • Feeling the customer’s pain.

  • Hearing the agony in their voice when they can’t figure something out.

  • Understanding why they’re pissed off.

  • Listening to them tell you EXACTLY what they want.

  • All of the customer research, surveys and analytics data in the world can’t give you what you’ll get by spending a few minutes talking to the customer.

I learned this first hand in my last business and it was gold. For real. My previous business was an online gold buying site. We had a simple model, but we took a different approach to customer service than most of the businesses in that space at the time. Most of the sites in that world were paying ridiculously low rates compared to spot value, and were taking advantage of uneducated customers. We zigged when they zagged. We posted our pricing. We were transparent about our payouts. We offered no risk appraisals. I remember when we started I used to sit on my laptop while watching baseball games at night and man our customer support live chat. It was incredible.

We grew this business based on learning what the customer wanted, then optimizing our ads, website, conversion path, follow up strategies, and customer service infrastructure to fit. It worked.


I’m running an optimization firm that performs these marketing & conversion optimization services for clients in all types of verticals. Why would we do it any differently? When we first engage with a client, we conduct an optimization audit. This audit is a full scale analysis of your customer groups, your website and the data that you have. After that we dig in and spend time working with your customer service team. This can come in the form of live chat, shadowing a customer service rep, manning an email account, or putting on a headset and working in a call center. Whatever it takes. We’re going to engage at a level that no other agency will.


A lot.

  • We figure out what IS working: Companies waste a lot of time fixing what isn’t broken just because some manager doesn’t like the font on some landing page, or the subject line of an email. When you listen to your customers you find out really quick what they don’t like, and what’s working just fine. We’ll quickly bucket the opportunities for large ‘needle moving’ optimizations and push aside any of the frivolous stuff that doesn’t really need fixing.

  • We hear the most common frustrations: All of the bad stuff rises to the top. Typically within a few hours of being on the phone you can pinpoint the customer’s most common pain points. After a week you can build a nice list of the ones you hear the most and begin to prioritize them.

  • We build a prioritized roadmap for Testing: Yep, you guessed it. Now we start planning. Based on the feedback we’re hearing from customers and the data we see in your analytics we start to organize a roadmap of the tests & optimizations that we can make to you conversion process.

  • We put ourself on the same level as you (the client): When we roll up our sleeves and spend time working customer service with you, we immediately become part of your team. No longer are we a third party. Well technically we are, but you get the point. We’re in this with you.

WHAT ELSE? What other benefits could you see from having your marketing agency spend time in customer service? Are you doing this already in your company? We would love to know!

Shoot us a tweet and tell us what’s up, or schedule an optimization audit

Ryan Riggin

Ryan is a marketing guy who likes to get his hands dirty with technology and data. Outside of that you can find him out riding a bike somewhere.

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