How Can We Help You? What Shopify Gurus Can Teach Us About Customer Service

How Can We Help You? What Shopify Gurus Can Teach Us About Customer Service

Shopify Merchant Support TeamEvery time a phone rings, my skin instantly reacts with a wave of goosebumps. My first post-college job in a call centre may have landed me with permanent phone-anxiety, but it also gave me mad respect for anyone working in customer support. Especially those who are really, really good at it.

We’ve nagged you more than once about the importance of great customer service for your business. We mean it: it’s important. In fact, we practice what we preach.

In the past year, Shopify Gurus had over 1 million merchant interactions with a 90% “smiley” rate (that’s Guru for “positive feedback”). 365 Gurus in 125 cities have worked through Christmas parties, long weekends, Sunday dinners, and playoff games – every company event and every major holiday, without pause.

Gurus IRL at Retail Tour

Photo: Shopify Gurus helping merchants IRL in Portland, OR

Chances are, if you’ve run your business on Shopify for any reasonable amount of time, you’ve probably interacted with our Merchant Support Team. If you haven’t, gold stars for self-sufficiency! But no matter how tech-savvy or business-minded you might be, sometimes you just need a little helping hand: a 3AM live chat about shipping woes, a phone call to get help to pick the right Shopify plan, an email with questions about tweaking your theme.

We take support seriously. And so should your brand.

A customer support strategy for your Shopify store is crucial from day one. The stakes are high: complaints multiplied by Twitter buzz, then compounded by a poor social crisis management, can equal death for a business. Excellent experiences, however, translate to (free!) word of mouth marketing, and customers for life.

But don’t take it from me. Hear it from the Shopify Gurus who touch the lives of entrepreneurs every day.

The people behind our incredible 24/7 Merchant Support Team are also: opera singers, gamers, novelists, designers, film buffs, biochemists, bloggers, makers, wizards, and of course, small business owners. These are their stories:

How Can We Help You? What Shopify Gurus Can Teach Us About Customer Service

Kaleigh

Victoria, BC, Canada
1 year at Shopify

Kaleigh is a history buff and published author, currently working on a sequel to her vampire novel. Between writing and her Guru gig, she somehow finds time to travel the world, and sew contemporary fantasy and historical costumes.

What’s the best interaction you’ve had with a merchant?

“I remember having a chat with a merchant who was absolutely furious about something, but the more we talked, the more we found we had in common. We spent that chat comparing stories and swapping jokes until she told me something that really moved me: ‘I came in here ready to be angry with someone who didn't care about my problem, and I'm glad I got you instead’. That's what made everything we do worth it.”

What’s your advice for merchants?

“Have fun with your website – it's a working piece of art but it's yours. Play with it, change things up, don't get fixated on little things if something isn't working, rearrange, think outside the box, don't get hung up on the details. It's more art than science.”

Rearrange, think outside the box, don't get hung up on the details.

Kaleigh’s favorite Shopify store: Basket Lady

John

John

Vernon, BC, Canada
1 year at Shopify

Small business is in John’s blood – his parents became entrepreneurs when they emigrated to Canada from South Korea. He now runs his own business, 13th Floor, a community organization bringing music and people together through events in the Okanagan.

What do you love about being a Guru?

“It always feels good when you teach a merchant a new concept or how to set something up. You know that you're getting them one step closer to success.”

What’s your advice for merchants?

“I would recommend that all merchants check out the amazing content Shopify produces in our blogs and podcasts. There's some really helpful tips you can find, but more importantly they inspire you to get started.”

John’s favorite Shopify store: Livestock

Ariel

Ariel

Montreal, QC, Canada
1 year at Shopify

Ariel is a fan of RPG video games, a passion that inspired a store she’s building on Shopify. The idea was born out of artist experimentation: the discovery that polymer clay could recreate the hyper-realistic elements in fantasy games. Her creations – clay plant life in tiny specimen bottles – will be sold through her new store, The Bottled Naturalist, launching soon with Ariel at the helm as Head Wizard Botanist.

She comes from a family of artists, and draws on her education in media arts to help in her Guru role every day:

“In a conversation with a merchant, I learned that she was in her 50s and had recently spent two months teaching herself how to use Photoshop. During the first month, she’d developed tendonitis in her right wrist and was warned by her doctor to stop using the darn thing. This did not stop her. This amazing woman then proceeded to learn Photoshop with her left hand and created all of her site content with it!”

What’s your advice for merchants?

“Social media, daunting as it is, can be amazing for site traffic. Our blog has some extremely helpful articles that can de-mystify social media and also help with ideas for campaigns. Plus, there are some cool apps like Social Photos, for example, which allows your customers' hashtagged Instagram photos to show up on your site!”

Ariel’s favorite Shopify store: Piper & Scoot

Iain

Iain

Victoria, BC, Canada
6 months at Shopify

Iain lives and loves (pizza) on the west coast. When he’s not helping merchants build their own stores, he’s designing Canadian-manufactured apparel that he sells through his own store Is This Menswear?. He also documents his daily outfits on his Instagram account by the same name. Style game: strong.

What do you love about being a Guru?

“It’s rewarding to teach someone how to add a product or build a collection for something they are passionate about. There is also something so special about what merchants don't see: the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making sure we can provide the support we do.”

It’s rewarding to teach someone how to add a product or build a collection for something they are passionate about.

What’s your advice for merchants?

“I recommend that everyone reads 50 Ways to Make Your First Sale – it’s a great list for any business to look over and reflect on how they could be reaching customers, even beyond the first sale. Of course, I also recommend that merchants get in touch with us if they ever have questions. We’re here 24/7 and are always happy to help!”

Iain’s favorite Shopify stores: Livestock and Haven

Ana

Ana

Vancouver, BC, Canada
6 months at Shopify

Ana crushes contradictions: she’s both a dreamer and a doer, a cat and a dog person. Before starting at Shopify, she built The Good Closet – an offshoot of her sustainable fashion blog – and is now building another store. Her own entrepreneurial experiences have helped her help others:

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely and risky experience - it requires vulnerability and a willingness to be open to and embrace change.”

Tell me a story about a great interaction you’ve had with a merchant.

I had a call with a merchant that at first seemed pretty straightforward, but after the call, it really hit me that we're not just here helping merchants learn how to use Shopify, we're here to support them in their entrepreneurial journey, period. I didn't think too much of our interaction after we hung up, but the next day I saw that he had left me feedback – paragraphs long – of how much he appreciated my patience, my willingness to listen, and getting his problems solved. He even wrote that he had been seriously thinking of leaving Shopify but that I had opened up his mind to the possibilities of what could be done through Shopify.

We're not just here helping merchants learn how to use Shopify, we're here to support them in their entrepreneurial journey, period.

What’s your advice for merchants?

Just keep on moving. Stalling on a decision can end up being worse than making the ‘wrong’ decision. I talk to so many merchants who get hung up on this theme or that theme, this app or that app, who spend hours, sometimes weeks, trying to get one small thing right. Conversions matter later on, but in the beginning, they pale in importance to things like product/market fit, just getting it out there, and building momentum while keeping things as lean as possible.

Ana’s favorite Shopify stores: SokoglamThe Simply Co, Kindred Black, & Comfortable Club

Val

Val

Toronto, ON, Canada
10 months at Shopify

Before coming to Shopify, Val was a professional dancer and hockey player and has spent the past two summers in Italy performing as an opera singer. He'll soon be launching a Shopify store, selling t-shirts that riff on American politics.

Tell me about some great feedback you’ve received as a Guru.

“A call back in December slowly became a conversation about the merchant’s personal struggle with making ends meet. After carefully listening to her frustrations, I was able to provide some insight and support. At the end of the conversation, she left some feedback: ‘I can honestly say that this was the best service experience that I have had in a very long time. Some people are so genuinely kind and helpful that it shines through the phone.’ I saved this comment because it inspires me and serves as a constant reminder of how much power we have to touch other people’s lives."

What’s your advice for merchants?

“Let Google be your best friend. Almost every single question you have someone else has already asked. Simply Googling the question might make you realize that the answers are easier to come by than you thought.”

Val’s favorite Shopify store: Love Your Melon

WORK WITH US: Our Merchant Support team is growing – we’re currently hiring Shopify Gurus in Canada and Ireland. 

Christina

Christina

Moncton, NB, Canada
6 months at Shopify

Christina is a self-proclaimed “Beyoncé fan, closet nerd, and wannabe fit-girl”. She owes a lot of her fitness success to ditching the treadmill in favour of lifting weights. Her love of fitness also inspired her to launch her Shopify store, Humbly Confident, a workout apparel brand for women.

Tell me about a merchant interaction that inspired you.

“My favourite experience was helping a merchant through the entire process of setting up his new store. He was totally new to everything ecommerce but he gave us a shot. I had the pleasure of answering his first email and partnering with him through the process. Most tickets end up going away after a few interactions but we communicated so often, and I kept getting follow-ups for about a month.”

I love being able to see a store grow!

What’s your advice for merchants?

“Working at Shopify has really taught me how to move things inside the box. What I mean is that simplicity is key. When you have an issue, break it down into smaller parts. Often, the obvious, underrated answer is the right answer. It’s really easy to get excited by all the apps, techniques, and tools available, but you should focus on just a few key things until you’ve mastered them. Think simple and you’ll crush it!”

Christina’s favorite Shopify store: Dying Breed Apparel

Drew

Drew

Toronto, ON, Canada
9 months at Shopify

Drew splits his downtime between working on a superhero novel, and his gig as a vocal coach for Fandom Musicals. He also has entrepreneur and photographer credits on his impressive resume, selling his prints via his Shopify store. 

Tell a story about one of your favorite interactions.

“I had a call with a merchant who was selling essential oils – she was looking for help in setting up a free shipping code. In my follow-up email, I mentioned that if she ever decided to sell to Canada, I would be her first Canadian customer. She immediately added Canada to her market! After I ordered, she let me know that I'd forgotten to use the discount code that I had helped her set up in the first place, so she included an extra oil for me!”

What’s your advice for merchants?

“I would definitely suggest checking out our webinars! They're full hour sessions packed with information, tricks, and tips. You even get a copy emailed to you afterwards so that you can always have it to review.”

Drew’s favorite Shopify store: Overtone

Anne

Anne

Galway, Ireland
11 months at Shopify

Anne spends most of her Guru earnings on food, cooking up mounds of healthy meals and desserts. She likes psychedelic metal and 90s grunge, walking through rainy Galway, and living by the water. But mostly, she loves science:

“I'm a qualified Biochemist, Microbiologist and Nutritionist. I find working at Shopify very much like forensic customer service, which makes it very fun!”

Tell me about a merchant who inspired you.

“I spoke to the merchant behind SuraiTea a few weeks ago and as a herbal tea lover myself, I asked him about their product. When he told me that they are employing Syrian refugees in their business, my heart exploded. Afterwards, I bought some of their tea (which is delicious)!”

When he told me that they are employing Syrian refugees in their business, my heart exploded.

What are your favorite tools for merchants?

“Two of my favourite resources for Shopify merchants are the Launch Checklist and the SEO Checklist.”

Anne’s favorite Shopify store: Designist

Danielle

Danielle

Toronto, ON, Canada
1 year at Shopify

When she’s not helping merchants, Danielle can usually be found jetsetting and hanging with her dog, CJ (short for Captain Justice). She honed her business skills while running a British candy store on Shopify before moving over to work with us full-time:

“My biggest life lesson as an entrepreneur was realizing that I was capable of so much more than I thought before - it's a very liberating feeling.”

What’s your most memorable call?

“I was speaking with a merchant just as she was about to make her store live, and she said 'I have butterflies for some reason,’ to which I replied, ‘Because it's exciting to launch a business!’”

What’s your advice for merchants?

“Subscribe to our blog! It has so many great resources and tips for marketing, SEO, and social media. Also, check out an app called Lucky Orange – it's great for analyzing customer behaviour and you can see a heatmap of their activity on your site!”

Danielle’s favorite Shopify store: Boutique 1861

Shaylee

Shaylee

Vancouver, BC, Canada
1 year at Shopify

Shaylee is probably deep in a book right now (she’s currently reading Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger) or sipping sangria on a patio with friends. Stay tuned for her soon-to-be-launched store, Tiny Little Print Shop.

Best interaction you’ve had with a merchant?

“I had a merchant call in tears after a debacle with their developer. The shop had not launched in time, nor did it look the way they’d envisioned. She hadn’t launched an ecommerce site before and was feeling really dejected. We had a nice long chat and she decided to push through and learn Shopify on her own (knowing she could lean on our support team anytime). It was a testament to how important it is to have live support 24/7, and how easy it is to work with the platform. I’ve checked back in a few times and I am glad to say she is doing very well!"

What tools do you recommend to merchants?

“Our bulk editor is a super handy way to edit prices or add tags to many products at once.”  

Shaylee’s favorite Shopify store: Herschel Supply Co.

Tyler

Tyler

Ottawa, ON, Canada
2 years at Shopify

Tyler runs a t-shirt store on Shopify when he’s not helping other entrepreneurs build their own. You can otherwise find him mucking around in Photoshop, and his latest project combines it with another love: film. He’s currently using digital painting to recreate a movie poster based on the 1978 classic, Halloween.

“My Photoshop interest positively influences my role at Shopify, primarily when it comes to assisting merchants with improving the look of their store. So much of a store’s success relies on the visual content.”

What was one of your most memorable calls?

“I was speaking with someone who was wondering if Shopify POS was right for them.  I eventually found out we had a mutual friend (who lived on the other side of the country). It turns out our mutual friend had recently helped them shoot photos for their store! Small world.”

What’s your advice for merchants?

“Be confident and keep moving forward. Success rarely comes easy but passion is forever, and you’ll always kick yourself if you give up your passion without a fight. Also use social media. If cat pictures can take the world by storm, so can you.”

Success rarely comes easy but passion is forever, and you’ll always kick yourself if you give up your passion without a fight.

Tyler’s favorite Shopify store: DODOcase

Where are they now?

Some Gurus even make an impact at Shopify long after they’ve moved on from their roles. A sizeable chunk of Shopify’s workforce is made up of people who started in Merchant Support and transitioned to other areas of the business.

Former Gurus work on our UX, IRL, and Shopify Plus teams. They write content and code, and are the voice of Shopify on Twitter

Where are they now?

Our support team cares about the business as much as our founders, and that’s the key to great customer service: hire people who share your passion.

How can we help you? Give us a shout.


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About The Author

Dayna Winter is a Storyteller at Shopify. She follows more dogs than humans on Instagram and isn't a real redhead.

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