#SeedStage Startup Advice

(III) Authenticity & Empathy Are Our Roots

Sun 19 Apr 2015
By Shan Lian

There are myriad tools and how-to lists startups can rely on for managing customer service, but when it comes to making people happy, the tool you use is only as worthy as the intentions behind it. We have two core brand values here at Shippo: simplicity and friendliness. These values inform our approach to customer service every day and keep us on a path toward customer happiness that is pragmatic, intuitive, sincere, and, most importantly, truly helpful.

Early on, I decided that our customer support team should be built in-house. This allows us to keep our fingers on the pulse of our customers’ thoughts and needs every single day. We use every interaction to build a relationship with the individuals that have joined our Shippo community. When you are personally emailing or tweeting customers, you’re able to move beyond that strangely opaque wall between you and “the customer,” and can begin to build empathy with the individuals whose names you know and products you begin to recognize. This helps maintain the quality of support that we are proud to hang our hats on.


Empathy is at the heart of our customer support. Putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes, understanding what it means to be a small business owner or running a fast-growth e-commerce company, is crucial for us to best aid our customers. Not only does this approach help us better address our customers’ questions, but it also builds a neighborly bond rooted in trust and care. We can’t be the simple shipping API and app without this foundation.

We go out of our way to truly know our customers and their businesses. We discover and compliment them on new product lines, wow them with an extra-special support experience (check out #3 here), prepare them for the onslaught of orders of a Kickstarter campaign, walk them through sticky shipping situations over holiday weekends, and we even once visited a customer’s office to help optimize their operational process. Creating shipping labels, shipping logistics, and international shipping - all of it - is complicated. We’re crafting a holistic customer experience that eases this shipping pain. Providing warm, useful support levels the relationship human to human, rather than high-tech product to confused customer. This, in turn, helps us develop relationships founded in loyalty and trust encourages all sorts of potential customers to feel comfortable trying Shippo.

Another important aspect of customer service is fast customer-facing email communication. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Authenticity goes a long way in email support, but its impact is greatly diminished if an irritated customer has waited days for your response to appear in their inbox.

To keep our communication as streamlined as possible, we use Zendesk to manage our customer support tickets. Zendesk allows you to assign customer support tickets to multiple support agents on your team and track whether those tickets have been resolved or not. That tracking has enabled us to improve our email response times significantly. Zendesk’s analytics, in particular, effectively inform other support modules on our website. We always know what issues our customers most need help with and what help center content is the hub of traffic. Additionally, Zendesk itself has a fantastic model of customer service, which means our customer support system is always in ship-shape.


Improving our customer service is a continuous learning experience. We’d love to hear what you think we do right or need to improve upon. Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

LBW, CEO & Co-Founder of Shippo

This is the third part of a series on customer support at Shippo. Read Part II here.

Next post

Apr 21, 2015
Top 7 Challenges Facing E-Commerce Stores

Previous posts

Apr 17, 2015
Ship Ship Ship

Apr 16, 2015
4 Tips to Simplify Your E-Commerce Shipping - Part II

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