Building Freetrade

Why Freetrade’s Product team spends one day a month working in customer support

Louis Sutton

April 20, 2021

Louis Sutton

Product Manager Louis Sutton on his first months at Freetrade.

I joined Freetrade at a brilliant time. Trade volumes were going through the roof, customer numbers were skyrocketing and Plus was receiving great feedback. The rocketship had definitely taken off. 

Onboarding tens of thousands of new customers in such a short space of time was a massive challenge for the organisation, especially for our customer service team who are on the front line to answer any questions customers have. 

As a product team, we knew customer support was stretched and we wanted to help. 

So we decided to commit one day each month to helping out, jumping on Intercom (the tool we use to talk to customers) and answering customer questions directly. 

Two months later...

Two months in and we’ve seen enormous benefits from this practice. 

I’ve written this blog to share our learnings and explain why we think it’s important for product managers and designers to spend time each month on customer support. 

Building customer empathy

More than ever, product managers and designers are being encouraged to make “data-driven decisions”. While this is absolutely right, dashboards, percentages and A/B testing can only tell you so much. 

Qualitative data is data too. The specific words customers use while explaining their pain points are important. Understanding the subtlety between disappointment and frustration could make all the difference in helping prioritise a new feature or fix an existing bug. 

Personally, I found that reading raw and unfiltered customer feedback added a sense of urgency and personal context to any pain point they felt. 

Building colleague empathy

If you're anything like me, you expect brilliant customer service as a given, especially with fintech products. Despite this, it's easy to forget that delivering this level of customer service is challenging and our team has to be experts in our product to make it happen. 

Spending some time each month working in the customer service team gave me enormous respect for the work they do each day. 

Part of my role is focused on building internal products for our colleagues to use. Understanding some of the pain points our colleagues experience doing their job and walking a mile in their shoes really helps me feel that pain and take action to fix it. 

'Sweating the detail'

One of our five values at Freetrade is that we're 'focused'. In practice this means that we identify the most important things and 'sweat the details' to deliver above and beyond for our customers.

Deciding what's important to our customers is our first challenge. As a product team, one of the ways we can do this is by looking directly at the conversations we're having with customers and spotting common themes or requests.

You may have seen that we’ve recently launched instant deposits, enabling our customers to deposit cash in their Freetrade app within a matter of seconds. The decision to prioritise this feature came directly from reading feedback on Intercom and understanding the value of instant deposits to customers. 

Delighting customers

Last but not least, it’s incredible to see first hand the real difference our product is making to the lives of customers. 

We’re incredibly grateful that our customers and our community take time to give us both constructive and positive feedback. Spending time each month on customer support ensures that our product managers and designers read each and every piece of good feedback too.

Conclusion

The past year has been a great opportunity for UK retail investors to get into investing and at Freetrade we’re very proud we’ve been able to play a role in that. 

As a product team we’re still constantly learning more about our customers and their investing pain points. Spending time each month supporting our customers directly through Intercom is now an irreplaceable technique that enables us to build better products, stay grounded with our customers’ needs and see the benefits of our hard work first hand.

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