Baking in Full-Stack Support to Build [Value] From Scratch

By: Victoria Krauchunas on 10 May 2016

One of the best things about joining a startup is the ability to create things from nothing. In my case, it’s customer support.

Customer support is an interesting role - generally it means you spend your days doing your very best to make customers happy when they come to you with a question or problem. It can be painful, and also incredibly rewarding. But there’s always a lingering question: would customers be happier if they had never had to contact you at all? What if their problems… just didn’t exist in the first place?

Many support organizations are bursting with ideas on how to make that a reality. It may be by adding product features, rewording in-app help, or even adjusting the kinds of customers marketing is targeting. Unfortunately, in many places, their ideas never spread to the other departments, possibly because the lines of communication were never built, or the support agent role is too narrowly defined. Without that insight from support, other teams can’t act, customers continue to experience the same problems, and support agents are stuck answering the same questions.

This can make for a very frustrating experience for all involved. Have you ever wondered why a product is missing a feature you just have to have, and the customer support agent doesn’t have a good explanation for why - or even offer to pass your thoughts along? It may be because they just don’t have the tools to act on your feedback.

Having experienced this, both as a support agent and as a customer, I knew it was something I wanted to avoid when building out support here at Final.

Luckily, the rest of the team is very supportive (pun intended) when it comes to making the customer experience as amazing as possible. Even prior to launch, I’ve been in close contact with the product and engineering teams, working with them to build a great product, and anticipate customer feedback and pitfalls. Establishing that relationship early on made it easy to put processes in place to ensure that all teams got the relevant customer feedback they needed.

So, that’s one problem solved: establishing the lines of communication. What about the other problem? How do you make sure the support role isn’t too narrowly defined, forcing agents into being reactive instead of proactive? For that, I thought about what other startups are doing in this space. You may be familiar with the term “full-stack” - for the uninitiated, being “full-stack” means you are a generalist.

For instance, full-stack developers may be able to work on many pieces of a codebase, full-stack marketers may both analyze data and write email communications, etc. However, the term doesn’t seem to have spread to customer support, especially not when it comes to products in the financial space.

I think it’s time to change that. Customer support agents shouldn’t be constrained to only providing support after customers have already run into a problem. Instead, deputized to spend time working to prevent the problem in the first place. It sounds like Minority Report, but can happen practically in a number of ways:

  • Helping the engineering teams establish customer-focused workflows by participating in QA during development.
  • Partnering with the product team to help understand and prioritize feature requests.
  • Providing insight to the marketing team on how different kinds of customers react to the product.
  • Analyzing ticket data and updating documentation as needed.

When agents are given the opportunity to share and spread the insights they learn from working with customers every day, the entire company can improve. Customers will run into fewer problems, and everyone will be happier.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably either already an early user of Final, or you’re interested in becoming one. If you are a user, nice to meet you - or talk to you again! If you’ve never reached out to us before, please don’t hesitate to drop us a note at, introduce yourself, and let us know what you think. Our goal is to build the best possible credit card experience - working behind the scenes to make sure you don’t have to.