In most companies, customer support is relatively simple and the stakes are low. The goal is to resolve issues that may arise with a product or service. Customer support representatives receive “tickets” that contain technical issues or complaints from customers. The reps respond and solve the problem. When necessary, they forward the ticket to another employee or “escalate” the issue by involving supervisors.
Even when there is a persistent technical problem or an upset customer, not much is truly on the line. Customers may be irritated if they need to wait a few extra days on a shipment or refund, but they’re OK.
People who use Talkspace are not only “customers.” They are clients who decided to work with a therapist to cope with all kinds of issues. Many clients simply need to speak with a professional who may have strategies for feeling less stressed with work or how to have better relationships. Some sign up for Talkspace when they are experiencing emotional pain following a traumatic event like going through a breakup, losing a loved one, or suffering abuse — or dealing with the long-lasting effects of these experiences. Others use Talkspace to treat mental illnesses: everything from mild anxiety and depression to borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia. All of them come to us needing to feel better.
The customer support process is more complicated because representatives need to liaise with both clients and the more than 1,500 therapists who work with Talkspace. We also have a team of mental health professionals that occasionally needs to review tickets and use their years of expertise working with clients to resolve issues.
Because of these special circumstances, our customer support team handles every case with as much delicacy and empathy as possible. Nonetheless, the goal is still to help them resolve the issue.
“My job as a support rep is to acknowledge where this person is coming from, but also try to figure out how to help them effectively and efficiently,” said one of our customer support representatives.
Representatives have a responsibility to respect the relationship between client and therapist, so there are some limitations to how they can respond.
“It’s vital to resist playing a surrogate therapist,” she said.
The team succeeds by establishing strict boundaries and consulting our clinical team when necessary. Our clinical team makes sure clients are receiving a great therapeutic experience at every stage in their journey, and this includes customer support.
To formulate more thoughtful and helpful replies, our team spends a lot of time analyzing the text in emails from clients. Because of the stigma of mental illness, many clients do not spell out every detail of their condition.
“We know there could be a deeper story behind why people are reaching out to us for help,” said another one of our customer support representatives.
Sometimes much of what they want or need is implied, not stated. Thorough analysis helps our team be more effective without needing to ask prying questions that might make clients feel like their privacy isn’t being respected.
Every customer deserves respect and consideration, especially those who are brave enough to be vulnerable and seek therapy. At Talkspace we do our best to ensure each client feels supported and accepted during every part of their journey.