In 2003, rock musician Chris Vinson founded Bandzoogle. The small team worked tirelessly to create a website builder for musicians, by musicians. Handling customer support himself at first, Chris understood that incredible support would set his business apart.
As Bandzoogle grew, Chris hired Stacey Bedford as the first full-time customer support representative. As the CEO now, Stacey’s commitment to musician-focused support has influenced all of the members on the team, including our Support Team Managers, Adam Percy and Joe Longo.
Musicians themselves, Adam and Joe joined Bandzoogle in 2013. They’ve seen the company grow exponentially and they now share their expertise with the team, through training sessions and meetups, and Bandzoogle members, through hands on support.
This year, our commitment to thorough, practical, and unique support has been recognized by the Stevie Awards. The Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service recognize excellence in organizations with dedicated support. We’re honored to accept the Silver award for Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year.
We’re sitting down with Adam and Joe to learn more about what makes the Bandzoogle Support Team stand out.
Congratulations on the Stevie Award win! What do you think sets the Bandzoogle Support Team apart from other organizations in the industry?
Adam: I say this a lot, but the main difference is most of us being musicians - we all, in some capacity, have experience with gigs, recording, writing and trying to make our music work. We are all really into music, and helping other musicians succeed beyond just setting up a website here.
We all have our own sites on Bandzoogle for our own musical projects, we know our software inside and out, and I don’t know of any of our competitors who could say they have that same kind of background with their own support.
Joe: We keep a culture of relating to our members on a very human level. More often than not we’ve had similar experiences in the music industry and we can put ourselves in their shoes. We don’t defer to help articles or canned responses and we make a point of going above and beyond for our members in every way possible. As Adam mentioned, we’re just musicians helping out other musicians.
You have been with Bandzoogle for almost a decade now! What are some of the major changes Bandzoogle has experienced in that time?
Adam: The biggest was probably our platform move from Cold Fusion to Ruby about 7 years ago - Joe and I got hired around the time that was being put together, and that was a massive change that helped to ensure the great software we have could stay current and awesome for our members.
Another major change was our visual editor - in the early days, our theme designs were fairly limited in customization. But with the visual editor we not only can provide a lot more control for our members in customizing their looks, but I know it’s an important element in us being able to release a lot more designs regularly.
Joe: The expansion of not just our membership base, but the size of our support team over the past decade has been one of the biggest changes. The team has tripled in size over that time yet we’ve been able to keep the same culture of providing personalized help to each and every person that trusts Bandzoogle with their websites.
What are some of the unique characteristics of the support team that helps them support Bandzoogle members?
Adam: Well did I mention we’re all musicians ;)? To expand on that, we’re a very diverse group of musicians and artists.
For example, Aljumaine is studying interface design and doing really cool things with making noise art installations and electronic music, whereas Anita is a folk musician with loads of touring experience and an eye for design. Luis is a killer drummer who plays in a few stylistically different outfits, I’m a producer and keyboardist with an obsession for vintage synths and drum machines.
Not only that we’re like the commando unit of support - we’re a smaller team, but very efficient, we all work from home, we’re quite engaged, and have a strong vested interest in what we’re doing. We not only support a range of musicians - from singer / songwriters to beat producers - we actually get what they need, and what they are trying to do with their music.
We’re all friends too - while we’re spread out around the world, I know if we actually were in a central office somewhere we’d all be doing beer and burger nights for fun every other night… that translates to our members in the support we give I think.
Joe: What Adam said ;) Not only do we all have musical backgrounds that directly apply to the conversations we have with our members everyday, but we all have diverse technical backgrounds as well.
Our team is made up of gigging musicians, producers, composers, Twitch streamers, entrepreneurs, people with depth of experience in e-commerce solutions, web design, graphic design and so much more. We treat every member question as a group effort where we all chip in and share our unique expertise. So when someone talks to one of us, they’re really talking to all of us and have access to all that experience and info.
What are some of the challenges the support team encounters? What are some of the most important questions our members ask?
Adam: Working remotely can definitely make troubleshooting things like someones email settings a little tricky! We do run retraining on some of the tougher issues like that pretty regularly together as a team to make sure we’re as efficient as possible when problems like that come up.
In terms of important questions, I’d probably have to say the bigger ones tend to be related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is a topic that has an almost mystical quality for most people, and there’s a lot of confusion about it as a result.
It’s also one of those things that doesn’t have a ‘technical’ fix per se - good SEO mostly comes down to the content someone adds to their pages. And while well coded sites (like ours) can help with that, the content in those sites is the key to success with it.
So questions around SEO often need to go beyond the technical, and helping people understand that putting up great content to get the results they want, and the kind of content they should use, is critical.
Joe: One of the biggest challenges our team encounters is probably troubleshooting issues for 3rd party platforms, from a distance. For example helping someone who’s having issues setting up their Bandzoogle email inbox on Outlook so they can send/receive from there if they choose to.
While some tech support teams might just defer them to Microsoft for help as it’s not our platform, we always do everything we possibly can to walk them through it. As you can imagine this can get challenging, but we never give up in doing everything in our power to help them solve the problem.
How is the support team equipped to answer questions from our members?
Adam: We’ve been a virtual company for over 17 years, so we’re already well equipped and very familiar with a lot of online tools to give support.
We use services like Slack and Basecamp for our communications and day to day notifications - it’s a great way for the team to help each other out as well if someone is stuck on a tricky support question.
While we have a lot of documentation, we put quite a bit of focus on training and retraining - we emphasise personal, over ‘canned’ responses, everyone writes replies themselves. When a new feature or theme design is launched by the development team, we’re all testing and trying it out - it’s a lot to stay current on our new options sometimes!
Joe: Calling back to one of my previous answers, we have the wealth of knowledge of the whole team in our arsenal. We encourage everyone to post in our main chat with anything they’re not sure of and everyone chips in to make sure we give our members the most in-depth, accurate and helpful response we possibly can.
What are the advantages of having a music website?
Adam: There’s the idea that you want to have ‘Your own corner of the internet’ and that’s a big advantage.
With a site you have way more control over your web identity, you’re not competing with the branding of some social media company, and everything on that site is yours. Including things like your store - musicians often struggle with their own bottom line, the best way to get more towards your bottom line is selling direct from your own site.
Joe: You also have all the freedom in the world to customize the look of your site to match your vibe that you’re trying to project. Instead of just having another Facebook or Instagram profile that looks the same as the next person’s, you have a unique place that matches the feel of your art. This couldn’t be more important for musicians.
What is the most underrated or your favorite feature on Bandzoogle?
Adam: That changes a lot for me, but right now if I had to pick, I am really stoked on the new Printful integration.
It’s still new, but I know lots of members are trying it out and liking it - providing integration with a print on demand service like this gives our members much less expensive ways to sell merch to their fanbase than what was available to them before.
Printful’s options are very robust, we built our integration so that it’s seamless with our existing features and checkout, and while it takes a little bit to set up at first, once you do, it pretty much runs itself. You don’t even need to ship anything to your customers, they handle all of that for you.
Joe: Commission-free sales on all our e-commerce features is and will always be #1 for me. This is what initially attracted me to Bandzoogle as a customer 10 years ago and is what I still love the most about us. We’re here for the musicians and we never take any cut of their profits like other platforms do, which is unheard of.
My second favorite has to be the newly launched ability to collect recurring payments on your site. At no extra cost! Not only is this an unbelievable way for artists to have an additional source of income, but the money is all commission-free and we don’t charge extra for the ability to do this. Which can actually cost 100’s of dollars a year with other sitebuilders.
What does a day in the life of a support team member look like?
Adam: Step #1: coffee. Step #2: coffee. Next, check out the Basecamps for new happenings, quick email check, sign into the helpdesk and Slack, quick hello to the team, then straight into support - either tickets, chat, or both!
The team has a lot of extracurriculars if requests are a bit slow, so we’re often writing free site reviews, making sure our blog comments and socials are addressed, transferring domains... Then, more coffee. End of day, we sign off with the team in Slack, and leave a note about what was worked on in Basecamp.
Joe: Wake up, roll out of bed, coffee, login and get going. To start our day we review any new announcements and happenings in Basecamp to get all up to date. Then jump right into chatting with our members directly or responding to emails as they come in. We have a policy of not making people wait for help as much as possible, which keeps us pretty consistently busy throughout the day.
What’s next for the support team?
Adam: If the last few years is anything to go by, getting bigger! Our growth as a company has been pretty incredible, and support has become the biggest department in terms of personnel at Bandzoogle.
Joe: More coffee! Bandzoogle is in a constant state of innovation and growth, which keeps us on our toes. Always learning and expanding our skill-sets to better help our members achieve their goals. Never a dull day at the ‘Zoogle!
Thanks to Adam, Joe and the support team for their continued success and their recent win. Bandzoogle strives to maintain an honest and positive relationship with our members. As musicians, we know how crucial it is to have a website that works. With a shared passion for the music industry, the support team is ready to help you make a music website.
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