“We’re not going to be like this.”
After starting as Head of Operations several years ago, when OpenPayd was still fairly small, this was literally the first message our founder Ozan sent to me. Attached was a link to an article outlining how poor customer support and operations were in the financial services industry.
At the time we were a startup but had high ambitions and were starting to grow rapidly. We wanted to build an approach to Operations that was world-class and scalable – not something we’d constantly be reshaping and restructuring with every new stage of our growth. It needed to be fit for purpose for a global company, but still have that close, startup feel.
Having worked in customer support for over 10 years, I knew what I never want to hear from a client about our service: “the issue was not resolved”, “the response was too slow” or, my personal worst nightmare, “they sounded like a robot.”
So, how have we achieved scalability but remained human? I’ll get on to that, but first, let me explain exactly what an Ops team does in fintech.
Oil in the machine – the role of Ops
Relatively well-hidden, an invisible force of nature, making the impossible – possible. Ops is the department that ensures everything is running smoothly, while always keeping an open mind about how things could run better. We work with different departments such as tech, sales, customer success and compliance, to make sure we can support the innovative new ideas that businesses bring to us.
But most importantly, we work closely with our clients. When they have questions or issues – we are the first point of contact. For example, if a client can’t find a particular transaction which one of their end users is querying, or they need a certain type of account statement, or they have any questions about how to use their dashboard, it’s Ops that they speak to.
One of the most common misconceptions people make is assuming they need technical support. For the vast majority of queries, even if the matter seems technical (like needing to reset a password), it’s Ops that they need.
At OpenPayd, we’ve fostered a culture where everyone in the Ops team is free to speak their mind and propose improvements. We hire intelligent and capable people, they hear what our clients want, they see the daily struggles, and they keep us close to our customers.
Beating what’s expected
“The team has been super impressed by the service and relationship we have. The speed of response on all matters has been brilliant. Credit to you all.”
Nothing’s worse than a company telling you: “Your query is important to us”. 10 days later, you’re told it’s still very important, but nothing has been resolved.
I’ve included the above quote from one of our clients as it’s one of the things we hear most. We’re not perfect, but we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can be as quick as possible when it comes to assisting our clients.
Firstly, I’ve already mentioned that queries are usually resolved by Ops, so we don’t waste time by asking clients which department they need. We should be experts and know our product inside out. If it’s something we need additional input on, it is faster for us to make that decision, rather than having clients bouncing between different departments.
Clients want a quick resolution, and they want their payment partner to take ownership of any issues. Operations exist to do exactly that: own it, contain it, permanently resolve it, communicate it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Fast.
Secondly, we have 24/7 communication channels with all of our clients. This makes it easy for multiple members of staff to view the same query, tag team members where necessary and respond in a transparent and open way. For the sake of clarity I’ve been using the term ‘clients’, but really, we view it more as a partnership. It is not ‘them’ and ‘us’, we’re all part of the same team.
Finally, we have begun introducing Service Level Agreements with clients so that it’s not just a case of being as fast as we can, it’s setting a very high standard that we are committed to reaching.
Designed for growth
When you’re a startup, providing personal support is fairly easy. Everyone is in the same office, you’re all aware how everything works. If you need something sorted out, you can go and have a conversation with a colleague on the opposite table.
OpenPayd is long past that point, we now have offices in five different countries and hundreds of employees. So how have we maintained a high level of operational support? Instead of going with what was needed at the time, we built a framework that would be applicable even when we are 10x the size we are today. We streamlined our processes, reduced the number of touchpoints from various departments, created a proper knowledge base with training materials and prepared the team for the growth we’re now experiencing.
Now, if we hire someone to the Ops team tomorrow, we know exactly how long it will take them to be fully onboarded and able to deliver the exact same standard of support.
Providing more than support
Let’s face it, when you work in customer support operations, you can potentially start sounding like a robot. Answering queries with the same solutions over and over again and then going home. Or, you can view being the first point of contact as an opportunity to innovate. The company relies on you to understand what is and isn’t working and come up with creative improvements, not just for the client in question, but for all other clients – current or future.
Being the voice of your clients, it is your responsibility to add value and propose improvements and solutions, even to problems which may not yet exist.
That’s the culture we’ve created at OpenPayd, and it’s a commitment we’ve kept ever since I received that very first message from Ozan. Luckily for me I have a 24/7 team of fantastic, dedicated people walking down that path with me and helping build what we have today.