Honest Ecommerce

Bonus Episode: Obsess Over the Problem, Not the Solution with Amit RG from Richpanel

Episode Summary

On this bonus episode, we talk about how Richpanel helps you to provide customer service, why it’s important to respect the customer’s time, how inaction is more devastating to your brand than mistakes, and so much more!

Episode Notes

Amit is the co-founder and CEO of Richpanel - customer service platform for DTC brands on Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. 

Richpanel helps Ecommerce brands scale customer service without hiring more agents by automating more than 50% tickets through self-service. 

The platform enables the CS team to become true revenue enablers and not just a back-end system. 

Before co-founding Richpanel, Amit was operating a full-service E-commerce agency focussed on enterprise brands. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 


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Episode Transcription

Chase Clymer  

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That will let the algorithm know that you like this content and it will help us produce more.

Amit RG  

Any startup founders are guilty of is they obsess over a solution. It's like you have the hammer and then you start looking for a nail.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. Today, I am being joined by the wonderful Amit, the CEO of Richpanel

They are a customer service software for Ecommerce direct-to-consumer brands. Welcome to the show.

Amit RG  

Thank you, Chase, thanks for having me.

Chase Clymer  

I'm excited to dive in and chat here. 

So first and foremost, let's just talk a little bit about the product just so people can be aware of the problems that your solution exists to solve, just so they can have a little bit of context for the rest of the conversation.

Amit RG  

Absolutely. So at Richpanel, we have a unique vision about customer service, the whole product is about what we believe the best customer service is no service. And contacting customer service is never a pleasant experience. 

If you have tried to contact any of the airlines or Ecommerce brands, it's not a pleasant experience. 

And all the existing help desk players out there, we believe are doing it the wrong way, the old way, where they believe in hiring a bunch of agents, training them about various situations, and buying help desk seats for them. 

But we believe that the future of customer service is going to be product-led. And a great example of that is what Amazon has done with their My Account section. 

So on Amazon, I must have bought like 100 orders in the last 12 months. And I've never contacted them even once because I'm able to do returns to exchanges... 

Even if I forgot to apply a coupon code, they have a flow, which allows me to edit the order and re enter that coupon code. So that's our vision. 

We want to bring that Amazon level automation of customer service to other Ecommerce brands, so that their agents can focus on the visitors which have a high intent of purchase and convert more visitors.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. That's a great vision and a great product goal to have in mind. So how did you end up here? 

I'm assuming Richpanel wasn't your first foray into tech and into Ecom. So what was your journey like and how did you end up as the CEO?

Amit RG  

I actually took my first job in a tech company that used to service ecommerce clients. I got the opportunity to work with some very large Ecommerce brands like Bed Bath and Beyond, Wayfair, Staples, Home Depot... 

And all my learnings about Ecommerce came from there. I worked at that company for about 5 years, working on some very critical tech projects with these companies. And that's where... 

My mind was always exploding with ideas. I knew I wanted to do my own thing. But the close vicinity of working with these brands exposed me to some problems. 

And we finally picked a problem that was exciting enough. And we thought there was a big enough market for this. 

So that's how Richpanel was born.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Do you remember what the MVP of the product was?

Amit RG  

Yeah. Yeah, we do. So honestly, speaking, I'm not allowed to use the word "copy". But my designers and product team prefers the word "inspired". Yes. (laughs) 

They don't feel like we ripped off anything else. But the MVP was actually creating what Uber has done in their help center.

I'm not sure if you've ever tried the help center of Uber, but they've done a fantastic job. The other day, I forgot my jacket in... That was not an Uber. That was actually a Lyft, but I forgot my jacket. 

And all I had to do was like go in the help center, click on forgot an item, they asked me to describe the item, they calculate the distance because the driver had already left and said that, if the driver confirms that they have this item, then it'd be like a $15 to book a reverse trip. So I did that. 

And 30 minutes later, I got a call at the hotel reception that "Somebody has left your jacket there." which I think is beautiful. 

Because if you look at the volumes that these ride sharing apps get, it's like 10,000 people are forgetting their phones and laptops and belongings in the cab every day. So you would need a call center of 200 people just to handle this one situation. 

And that's the genius of these products. They afford to put like 100 engineers on automating each and every scenario. 

But for others, you have something like Richpanel where you can get that same level of capability, but get it in  less than 15 minutes. So the MVP was similar to that. It was like [an] issue tree with... It was like Typeform

It was like a bunch of issue trees. You fill in a bunch of conditional forms and then it's able to take actions on behalf of the customer without involving support agents.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Do you have any examples of some traditional issue workflows that you guys had solved earlier on?

Amit RG  

Sure. Actually, the way we designed the whole thing is, it's like a "no code". When I say "no code", I mean literally zero code support automation tools. 

So you can go in there and automate anything under the sun from product recommendations, to returns, to exchanges to... 

Even a flow like damaged item, which could be semi-automated. Lots of brands, they want to see the picture, collect details as to what exactly was damaged. "Was the packaging damaged? If it was a health or nutritional product, was it spilled?" 

Because they have to do some reporting and analytics around what went wrong. And then you can have the user even upload a picture, which then goes for manual verification, and then whatever action you can take based on that. 

So all of these flows, you can create, and... We could have gone live... 

Through the length of this podcast, we can go live 3 times. That's how easy it is.

Chase Clymer  

That's fantastic. So what's the journey been building a SaaS business? I'm always talking to founders and people that are building Ecommerce businesses. 

But I feel like building a SaaS business is a little bit different. So can you remember any milestones where you're like, "Wow, we're really onto something here."?

Amit RG  

Hmm. I think, again... We started... And I would always recommend founders to do the same. If you're very new into the startup world or the tech world, then absorb and consume all the literature there is by a few people. 

I follow Y Combinator, and I made myself and my entire team consume every blog post, every video, every literature that was out there by Y Combinator, because they're really the authority when it comes to building like a zero to one business, and keep your focus on fundamentals, and not get distracted by vanity metrics. 

So I think that was really critical in helping us or guiding us when I started. And YC was one thing, and then I also had a lot of friends, which had made it quite big in the SaaS world. 

So I have... I took some of them as my mentors. And whatever possible mistakes one could be making, we made all of them. So we're guilty of making all [the] mistakes. But that never stopped us. 

Because as long as we were realizing the mistakes that we were making, that was progress for us. 

If somebody is logically telling you why this is the wrong way of doing things, and we realizing it, yes, we feel stupid but we also feel happy about having realized that mistake and moving on to the next thing. 

So our philosophy from day one has been like fail fast, learn fast. And that's been like, very fundamental. 

And yeah, my advice to all founders is to go through the YC application process. Even if you don't make it through, it would... 

Even by filling the questionnaire, it will make you answer some very honest questions and you will see, "Hey, I need to know the answers to these, very clear cut answers, if I want to crack it or I want to make it big." 

One of the biggest problems that all startup founders or many startup founders are guilty of, is they obsess over a solution. It's like you have the hammer, and then you start looking for a nail. But the best way to start a business is to obsess over the problem. 

Forget the solution you have. Forget the ingenious idea you have. Just set it aside. Focus on the problem, see if it's big enough, if it's... If there is a gap and people are willing to pay for it. 

And then you put all your energy into coming with the perfect solution. That's my advice for at least a zero to one stage.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, no, that's fantastic advice. 2 things that resonated with me. The first being is... When we made mistakes, which we made a few, you were happy about it. You weren't getting discouraged. 

And I think a lot of entrepreneurs get caught up in this "not making choices" [state] and the analysis paralysis,  which is just the worst thing ever. 

And I really want everyone out there to realize it doesn't really matter what choice you make. It's not going to bankrupt your business. It's not going to put you out of business. 

A series of terrible choices will. For sure. But every single individual decision will not do that. And just making a decision is oftentimes 10 times more impactful than like waiting for the perfect decision.

Amit RG  

Absolutely. Absolutely. There's A CEO that I follow, and his advice to us was that there are far more deaths by inaction than taking the wrong decisions. 

So there are too many startups that fail by not acting than startups that made the wrong decision. So I agree with that advice.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And then the second thing that you ended on was, focus and be obsessed with the problem. And I've heard that, not only from SaaS founders. 

I've heard that from direct to consumer brand founders as well, if they really didn't set out to build a product and sell a product and build this brand. 

But what they did is they set out to solve a problem for themselves and they got obsessed with it. 

And they learned that the solution really didn't exist anywhere out there. And they've stumbled upon a market and a business. 

And now they've got a really successful business going there. So it is so true. 

You said it before. You said, if you have all you have is a hammer, everything's a nail. And that's like something that always gets me annoyed in this industry. 

It's like, you'll see people that are saying that "My solution is the only solution that's out there for this problem." And that's the worst way to think about it. Because every business is unique, every solution is unique, every problem is unique. There's a lot of similarities out there, but you can be... 

People ask me all the time, "Should I build this on Shopify or should I build this on something else?" 

And I'm like, "I don't know. I need a little bit more information here." And I tell a lot of people all the time. 

I'd be like, "That would be a terrible thing to do to build on Shopify." even though it's got the best marketing out there. 

Everyone's thinking about it top of mind. It might not be the best solution for you. And you always want to use the best tool for the job. 

Amit RG  

Absolutely. I agree. 

Chase Clymer  

So let's talk a bit more about the types of brands that your solution works best for. Are they in certain kinds of product verticals? Or a certain stage in their business?

Amit RG  

Yeah, absolutely. I think Richpanel becomes very essential for brands with at least a couple of million dollars in revenue. And we also have customers, with hundreds of millions in revenues. 

So the bigger you get, the more prominent this problem will become because you'd have to keep on adding more people, the unit economics will not look healthy, because you're just hiring a bunch of people to do redundant/repetitive stuff and it's not a great job for them either. 

So, as you grow, this problem becomes very evident. You'd want a standard, standardized service that goes to all. You can always segment it, even within Richpanel. 

You can have a different return policy for people with a high lifetime value and a different return policy for people with a lower lifetime value. I remember just recently contacting one of the Ecommerce brands without naming them and we bought all our office laptops from them. 

We bought all our accessories from them. So it's like $50,000 worth of purchase over a lifetime. 

And I remember one of the cords came faulty and I said "I would like an exchange," and this support rep agreed to send me a replacement but he made it sound like such a big deal. "As a one time exception, I'm doing this... Don't do it again." And all of that. 

And I felt like he... "Look at my history, I'm not here, trying to get like a $20 or rip you off for like a $20 cord. But look at my history." So customers do expect to be treated differently. And that's something that you can do inside of Richpanel. 

You can create those segments and have different customer service to different segments. But at the end of the day, you want to standardize that experience. You want to be available 24/7. We've also seen some customers... 

Brands spend a shit ton of money in acquisition and perfect creatives. And founders are not very focused on customer service. 

And I don't blame them for it, because all their energies are going on revenue generating activities, campaigns, influencers, things like that. 

And customer service is one area where they have a leaky bucket. Because if you look at any ecommerce brand 50% of orders result in a support ticket, which by the way is a terrible metric to live by. Like 50%... 

If you get 100 orders, they get 50 tickets. So 50% of the people are going to run into some kind of a problem. How you deal with that problem is going to determine whether they buy again or not from them. 

So this is a big leaky bucket that a lot of brands overlook and we want to come in the picture and say, "Hey, all people are going to get like 24/7 service, they'll be able to automatically resolve 60% - 70% of the issues. Only 20% to 30% will make it to the agent. So this is one very good value proposition. 

And even if you look at certain situations where I place an order and make a mistake, it's Saturday, and  you're not providing customer service on weekends. 

So I write back to you saying, "Okay, I made a mistake, I'm gonna change the order." Guess what, you know, firstly, I don't get a response. And this is very common.

I get a response directly on Monday saying like "Hey, too late, we've already shipped the order." And it's very frustrating because you're penalizing me for making a mistake and you're like, "Oh, you'll just have to return it." 

And I'm like, "I don't waste like 10 - 15 days for a mistake that I made because I wrote to you within 5 minutes and the brand could not accommodate that request." 

If you use something like Richpanel, you will be able to fix it immediately. You will be able to do the order edits based on certain rules or logic you set. 

And so I think it's too basic that a lot of brands miss out on and that's where they lose to bigger companies like Wayfair and Amazon because they have these capabilities. 

And we want to give D2C brands a level playing field where they can offer that same level of capabilities like Amazon.

Chase Clymer  

That's fantastic. And so to that example that you just spoke to about a brand not having a customer service agent available on the weekend. 

With a solution like yours, how does that solve that problem? They still don't have a customer service rep. So do these automations and these flows help to resolve some of those more common issues? 

Amit RG  

Yes. 100%. So you can... Typically, when an Ecommerce customer, --actually, I would say any business-- would get like... Most of the support tickets are repetitive. 

People are not contacting you complaining about their girlfriend problems. They're contacting about something that went wrong with your website, something that went wrong with your policy, something that got broken. They're not contacting you to chit chat. So you got to like... 

The first step, whenever we onboard any customer and Richpanel, the first step is a pattern analysis: "Why are customers contacting in the first place?" Let's break it down. "Could that contact be avoided? Could that contact be avoided?" 

And you will find like, "Okay, for 70% to 80%. It can be avoided." So you design flows to automate those flows and you deploy it. And it's like having an army of agents available 24/7, because it's all programmatic. 

You've created an interface and people can go and  resolve those issues. And you can only funnel the 20% - 30% semi automated or where a human agent is really needed, [or] a conversation is needed. 

Only those will be funneled to the support agents. So yeah, it's 24/7 and all these issues can be resolved by the end customer.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And that's a fantastic call because it's almost like the 80-20 rule. It's like a lot of your customer support inquiries are gonna be the same problems over and over and there's the same solution over and over. 

And you can start to build out those workflows and start to solve for them or maybe to solve for them before it even has to be a customer support issue. That's something that we do all the time at the agencies. 

We look at customer support issues and find out how we can make this not even an issue anymore: Fix the experience on the website, fix the messaging, fix communication because... 

A perfect example here is sometimes we work with clients where there's a bit of a lead time on certain products because they're custom. They do a terrible job of explaining [things] like, "It's going to take us a week to make this and then we're going to ship." You know what I mean? 

So just a simple email to let people know that "This is... You bought a custom product. This is gonna take a little bit longer. It's gonna ship out next week, you probably just mitigated 100 emails a month, right? Depending on your size. 

So I guess where I'm going with this roundabout thing is because CRO is always top of mind, for me. It's like, a wealth of information can be found from all of your customer support requests and getting and talking... 

Having your development team and your CRO team in your app and talking to those customer service reps, finding the words right out of your customers mouth of what's wrong with your website or the communication. 

You start to solve for those and you're gonna watch your tickets go down, your conversions go up, and it's gonna be fantastic.

Amit RG  

I cannot agree more. In fact, a lot of the founders I speak with, they're like, "Meh. Why should I care? So what if they have to write an email? So what if they have to send... Do a live chat to get the issue resolved?" 

And I'm like "Put yourself in the shoes of the customer. Would you want to do that? Because your best customers are the ones which have good paying jobs. They're busy. 

You cannot expect them to spend 15 minutes of their time resolving an issue that could have been avoided in the first place." 

And if you look at one of the very interesting stats, Gartner did a study in like last year, with like thousands and thousands of respondents where they said "If a customer contacts you and speaks with customer service, then they're 4 times likely to become a disloyal customer than a customer that never contacts you." 

People love to do business where their time is respected and where it's hassle free. We don't go to Amazon for discount shopping anymore. That was 10 years back. Amazon was the cheapest. 

Now, you go to Amazon because it's the most convenient: They have my address, they have my payment information saved... 

Any issue that I run into after making an order, I have confidence that it will be... I will probably be like one of the self-service options. That's why I go to them. 

So your best customers are the ones where their time is precious. They don't care about discounts. And you need to respect their time to own their business and own their loyalty.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now Amit, if I am curious about the product that you've been talking about so highly today,  where should I go? What should I do?

Amit RG  

It's very simple. So we practice what we preach. So you can sign up for Richpanel without having to speak with salespeople. 

All you [have to do] is go on www.richpanel.com and create a free account, answer a bunch of questions, and you will literally have Amazon-like customer experience or customer service in your store in like less than 15 minutes. 

You can obviously build on it, make it more and more customized. But you will have a customer interface that looks like Amazon's My Account section, you will have a helpdesk, which gives you all channels, all customer context in one place. 

So it's a win-win for your customers and agents and you can sign up for yourself. We also have a free plan to start with so it will help you get started before you decide to make a purchase.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now, is there anything I forgot to ask you about that you think would resonate with our audience?

Amit RG  

I can't think of anything. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing all those insights about customer service. It was a lot to think about and I enjoyed the conversation a lot. So thank you so much.

Amit RG  

Absolutely. Thank you, Chase. Thanks for having me.

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. 

And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.