Words at work

– 6 min read

Taking a ‘quality over quick’ approach to customer support in the pandemic

Amy Cuevas Schroeder

Amy Cuevas Schroeder

“My job is to learn about what our customers care about most,” says Jen Lehr, head of customer support and communications for Modern Fertility.

The San Francisco–based company has built a foundation on the uncertainty that often comes with fertility, a feeling that has only heightened with the pandemic. 

As Lehr explains, many of Modern Fertility’s customers’ fertility-related doctor appointments and procedures have been postponed indefinitely. “It’s not just uncertainty about what will happen if they become pregnant, but also the concern around delays to potentially time-sensitive fertility treatments,” she says. Lehr’s team develops resources to answer customers’ common questions, work through their heightened sense of ambiguity, and connect on a human level.

Jen Lehr of Modern Fertility
Jen Lehr is Modern Fertility’s customer experience team lead

Modern Fertility produces at-home fertility testing kits. Once women submit their blood samples to Modern Fertility, they receive a physician-reviewed fertility report within a week. Modern Fertility also provides information about test results and reproductive advice. Leading a team of seven customer support specialists, Lehr’s responsibilities include making sure support agents have the tools, resources, and know-how to deliver an exceptional experience to anyone reaching out with a question or looking to have a conversation.

How are things going for you and Modern Fertility’s customer experience team since the onset of the pandemic?

The most important function of our team has always been to support people through uncertainty. We do a lot of educating on the idea that there’s no absolute predictor of fertility, and work to connect our customers with the resources they need to feel confident in their plans and next steps.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Eliminating uncertainty is not possible — but knowing that you’re making decisions based on the highest quality information available is the next best thing.” quote=”Eliminating uncertainty is not possible — but knowing that you’re making decisions based on the highest quality information available is the next best thing.”]

I see some significant parallels between the experience of navigating fertility and family planning decisions — potential stress about the unknown, uncertain timelines, lack of absolute control — and the new norms of living through a pandemic. The reality is that eliminating uncertainty in either case is not possible — but knowing that you’re making decisions based on the highest quality information available is the next best thing.

When the pandemic hit and shelter-in-place orders began, we worked with our marketing team to centralize a communications plan for customers. Our lab remained open, so we were very fortunate that our supply chain was unaffected. 

Our marketing and clinical teams wrote a lot of helpful content about COVID-19 and fertility, and we also hosted a webinar with a reproductive psychiatrist and our OB-GYN adviser for customers and our broader community on navigating family planning decisions during this time. We have a Modern Community Slack channel, where customers can connect with each other and with Modern Fertility experts, and we launched a #covid-19 channel there so that people can chat about whatever’s on their mind regarding the pandemic.

What are your team’s top priorities now — are they different than pre-COVID-19?

Our team’s top priority has always been to make every customer feel like we are their personal fertility team. That definitely hasn’t changed. Fertility can be a really emotional topic, pandemic or no pandemic. So we’re looking to layer on the TLC as much as we can and link customers to the best resources Modern Fertility has to offer, whether that be a webinar, a one-to-one consultation with a fertility nurse, or our online Modern Community where customers can chat with others about their fertility journeys.

Have you pivoted or made any significant changes in your approach, communications style, or messaging with customers?

For some people, thinking through their fertility timeline right now could be a big source of stress, and they’d prefer to pick things back up later. For others, having more info now is an essential source of reassurance. 

We never make assumptions about where someone is coming from or what goals they have. The biggest change we’ve made is emphasizing to customers that they have options in terms of how and when they collect their Modern Fertility sample. We want our customers to know they can get this info on their terms, and we’re here to support them when they do. 

What new ways of working have worked well for you and your team?

When customers have questions that are more clinical in nature, it’s usually very well-received when we let them know that we’re checking with our clinical team regarding their question. We respond as soon as we have more info from an expert source, such as a doctor or a fertility nurse. 

I’ve found that people usually appreciate a quality answer over a quick answer, especially if you set expectations appropriately about when you’ll be getting back to them. 

Our brand is very conversational and personable, which I think is a refreshing change from interacting with support teams that are more stiff and formal. From our tone, customers get the sense that we are people like them. That said, you won’t find a lot of fluff in our support responses — we get right to the point. The informal motto of our team is, “Every word is additional work for the customer.” 

What are your top tips for other organizations that need to change their approach to customer service and support during the pandemic?

I think the most important thing right now is proactive communication wherever possible. For example, we had a number of customers writing in asking if our lab was still open, so we sent out an email blast to everyone who had already ordered to reassure them that we’re still accepting samples. Customers understand that there’s a lot going on in the world right now, so just touching base can be helpful.