Customer Service Summit: New York, NY October 4–5. Meet us there!

Mod of the Month – September 2018

It’s officially fall, y’all! While Halloween decorations have been in stores for weeks already, we can’t enter October until we’ve taken care of the most important part of September: our newest Mod of the Month. So without further ado, please join us in a pumpkin spiced round of applause for our September 2018 Mod of the Month, Tarina C.!

Tarina joined ModSquad in August 2014 when a family friend, a ModSquad Project Manager at the time, mentioned he was recruiting Mods for a large project. Over the past four years, Tarina has done forum moderation for several of our video game clients, as well as some work on social media projects.

Currently, Tarina works for a client that’s one of the busiest airports in the world, providing customer support and engagement via social media to many of the thousands of travelers who pass through the airport each day. In addition to providing helpful information and friendly welcomes, she is also responsible for responding to social media reviews and escalating feedback and requests to various internal departments at the airport.

Tarina may be humble about the work she does, but ask any Project Manager who’s worked with her and they’ll confirm she’s stellar. For Tarina, it’s all about doing everything she can to take care of a customer.

I enjoying making people’s days a little bit better, and both forum moderation and social media allow me to do that, in different ways. I would say my proudest moments are any time that someone follows up with a positive message after I respond to a complaint.

Outside of work, Tarina stays busy with a full house, including her husband, a daughter in high school, two dogs, and three cats. As she puts it, “When I’m not watching my daughter’s tennis matches or chasing the dogs away from the cat food, I can be found involved in a wide range of activities.” Tarina’s creativity fuels many hobbies, including watercolor painting, calligraphy, and photography. She also loves video games and is currently building her own game using RPG Maker. And as if that’s not enough, she co-directs the drama program at her daughter’s former elementary/middle school.

“Amazing is an understatement. Tarina is absolutely an invaluable part of our project and is always ready to help out in any way she can. She is fun, witty, and engaging in her responses to our broad customer base, and our client has called out several of her responses for being so good. Tarina is fantastic and the very definition of what a Mod of the Month should be.”
— Kellie Cioffi, Project Manager

“Since starting on our project, Tarina has impressed everyone with how quickly she learned the material and how easily she’s matched the brand tone for engagement. She’s been absolutely incredible! She’s extremely attentive to detail and does outstanding work for our customers, our client, and our team. I’m super grateful to have her on our project. If we’re still adding Mods to the eventual cloning candidate pool, Tarina has my vote for sure!”
— Cassie Daley, Project Manager

“Tarina has been consistently excellent in every project I’ve worked with her on over the years. She has a great sense of humor that lights up group chats, and she is professional and timely with her engagements. She’s a real treat to work with, as she helps makes projects shine.”
— Mike Poe, Project Manager

Customer Care for the Mobile-First Consumer

Let’s be honest: our daily lives involve a lot of this.

So why when we need to contact customer support should we have to do this?

We’re living in a mobile-first society. For the majority of brands, it’s in your best interest to cater to the mobile customer. Below are a few essential steps you can take to ensure you’re providing a mobile-friendly customer experience.

Design a Mobile-Friendly Website

By now, this should be a no-brainer, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. If your support portal is hosted or designed separately from your main site, ensure that it’s easy to navigate via mobile as well.

Make sure to try it out for yourself or contract some QA testers to do a thorough pass. Do your customers have to pinch and zoom to read important text? Do essential buttons like “Submit” or “Contact Us” get lost off the side of the page on certain size displays? Is it responsive to all phone displays or just the most recent models?

If you offer phone support, make your contact number an easy click-to-call button. Don’t display your phone number as part of an image or as text, forcing customers to bounce back and forth between their browser and call app to manually enter.

Respond on Social Media

The vast majority of social media usage is via mobile devices. In addition to sharing their own content and connecting with others, people actively use social media to reach out to brands with questions and feedback, and they expect a response (a quick one, at that). Unfortunately, most of these messages go ignored; let’s not feed that statistic.

If you have a social media presence, don’t just post content and call it a day. Have someone (or multiple someones, depending on volume) who monitors your social media channels to respond to comments, tweets, messages, and reviews. Positive customer experiences on social media have been proven to contribute to greater brand loyalty, and who doesn’t want that?

Offer Text/SMS Support

When you need a quick response from a friend, do you email them or text them? Exactly. So why should customer support be any different? Familiar and convenient, text support is like a live chat, but without the need to stay connected the entire time.

In 2017, the world sent approximately 16 million text messages. Per. Minute. It’s safe to say texting has become most people’s primary form of communication. As with social media, leverage the platforms your customers are already comfortable with to provide them the most convenient support possible. Don’t worry, your agents won’t have to use mobile; there are several tools that allow them to manage text messages from a computer. Just keep in mind that customers will likely expect quick responses and around-the-clock availability.

Respond Quickly

The average response time for a text message is just 90 seconds, and even that can feel too long when you’re waiting for an important reply. Compare that to the average response time for a customer support e-mail (around 12 hours), and it’s easy to see why consumer expectations may seem more demanding in a mobile-first world.

Whether you’re just considering the mobile-first customer or honing your current support strategy to better serve them, consider both short- and long-term goals. Some website adjustments will take longer to roll out, while things like a click-to-call button can be quick to implement. If you don’t have the bandwidth to add full-time staff to support your social channels or offer text support, consider outsourcing to a team of experienced agents who’ve done both for a range of businesses. It’s a worthwhile investment; the payoff will be in the smiles on your customers’ faces when they eventually look up from their devices.

Director Profile: Izzy Neis

The subject of this installment of our Director Profile series, Izzy Neis, is a true renaissance woman. Izzy is our Sr. Director, Digital Engagement, and in her well-rounded career, she’s done it all, from teaching and writing to working as an artist and a coach. With a recurring theme of helping others running through her work, Izzy jokes about a particularly helpful book she wrote, an essential tome on the eternal struggle of potty-training kids. (It’s a true collectible: A working, mint-condition book will set you back a few hundred dollars at the time of this writing.)

Izzy has worked in publishing, marketing, entertainment development, and customer engagement. She has spoken at conferences, schools, universities, symposiums, and — in a personal favorite moment for her — in congressional meetings discussing children’s safety legislation. Today, Los Angeles-based Izzy brings her skills as a strategy consultant, community manager, and safety/COPPA expert to ModSquad. We caught up with Izzy to discuss her work.

Tell us about yourself. What was your background before coming to ModSquad?

Before joining ModSquad, I worked for several entertainment brands and game companies, primarily focusing on the areas of digital entertainment branding, user engagement, community development, and online safety (in particular as they pertain to children). I initially met Amy Pritchard, ModSquad’s CEO, a little over ten years ago. She discovered my industry blog, reached out, and we became friends. I had been a ModSquad client three times before joining the team.

What are your primary responsibilities here? What is an average day like for you?

I wear a few hats here, and no two days are the same. I’m an Account Manager for several amazing clients, and I provide strategy consultation. Additionally, I head the Digital Media team, oversee community and social media services, support the digital side of communications, and work very closely with Marketing, Business Development, and Sales. I’m very proud to be a part of the core team in our Services department, innovating and ensuring the highest quality support for our clients.

What sets ModSquad apart, in your opinion?

The people. Our product is our people. ModSquad is a sum of its parts, and its parts are passionate individuals who care about brands, games, experiences, and engagement. We are all fans of something, hobbyists or devoted super fans, who have found a way to tie that passion into a profession.

We’re not a hall of cubicles with bad lighting and precious red staplers. We succeed because we allow people to strive and grow and be creative. We have levels of choice here. If you’re passionate about comics, go for a spot on that new comic client. If you’re a game expert, we need you on our massively popular game client. Have 30 pairs of designer jeans by the same label? You’d be a great help assisting fellow customers.

I have one client, an entertainment brand and game, that has been with us for nearly six years. I still have the majority of the same team that I had when we launched, and they only want to work on that client.

Our Mods are our business, and their passions are our passions. We excel because of the sum of our parts, and that’s the people and the passion they put into work.

Do you have any favorite memories or stories about your time at ModSquad? Was there a memorable rewarding experience you’ve had here?

Where to begin? A few years ago I was flown to Walt Disney World to speak to their parks team about tweens and digital communities. That was a bit of a dream come true. There have been some epic trips with the management and executive teams for yearly planning sessions or conferences like SXSW. Whenever we have a chance to be in the same location at the same time, it’s magic.

And yet, some of the most rewarding experiences have come from the crunch times. Quick launches, large-scale requests, supporting teams as we diligently work through queues for clients. You really see the mettle of people when they’re deep in the “make it work” mode. It’s inspiring, and I’m always reminded how grateful I am for our team and their work ethic.

ModSquad continues to grow, both in size and ability. We flex and flow, and we embrace and support. Every year I’ve been here has shown me a new layer or dimension. The talent we retain, and the new muscle we bring in? That’s a testament to the quality of ModSquad.

The Vital Roles of Social Media Manager and Community Manager

When we read about roles in organizations that participate in social media, the terms “social media manager” and “community manager” are often used interchangeably. While there are some shared commonalities, there are subtle but important differentiators.

Let’s take the role of the community manager (CM), for starters. It’s the goal of the community manager to build a bridge between people. Whether it’s for a brand, a topic/passion, or an experience, community managers look to facilitate a sense of “group” by fostering relationships, engaging users, and keeping conversations and activities progressing in a welcoming and healthy environment.

A skilled CM has the unique responsibility of serving as both the voice of the company to the customer and the voice of the customer back to the company. Sharing the passion of the community while also understanding and driving the greater good is a necessary (and sometimes tricky) balance. The ultimate goal is creating a sense of group loyalty and growth.

A community manager’s role is a combination of host, party planner, mediator, camp counselor, press secretary, rule enforcer, and support. Keeping the audience lively and engaged, welcoming new faces, setting rules and expectations, and boosting the brand’s visibility are key aspects of the position.

Sharing many of the same core aspects of the community manager, the social media manager’s role expands due to the open, public visibility of social platforms, and the marketing/PR/advertising undertones.

A social media manager is on point for driving digital communications strategy, while helping to influence and guide the public’s experience and engagement across social platforms. A social media manager’s priority is to pay close attention to the perceived value of a brand’s social networks, from positive engagement to PR crisis handling.

Social media managers craft the content calendars and often write the material that fills up that calendar. He/she schedules posts across multiple channels, with a keen understanding of when best to engage an audience, where, and how. Knowing the habits and behaviors of communities as they pertain to the unique customs and abilities of each social platform is a must, as is tracking growth via KPIs and undulating trends to help determine success.

Social media managers must be on their toes. Innovation added to fresh styles of communication help maintain and grow social media presence, and social media managers need to be ever-present in monitoring competitive campaigns, new social offerings, the latest community trends, memes, gifs, and pop culture overall. Meanwhile, the heart of the community will beat strong if the energy, passion, and support a community manager puts into the environment is high and genuine.

In essence, the social media manager develops the material and experience a company needs to bring in and help grow a brand’s community on a public stage. The community manager focuses on managing and growing the collaborative and interactive experiences of the community itself. They’re both interacting with the audience, but go about their work with different focuses and goals that are equally vital to developing a strong relationship with your customers.

Engaging a Remote Workforce

When your workforce operates remotely 24/7/365 and spans the globe, you can’t keep everyone engaged using the same strategies you would in a standard office setting. We’ve learned a thing or two over the past 11 years about engaging a remote workforce, and while we don’t have Angela’s Party Planning Committee, we have other tactics that are just as effective (and don’t involve arguing over streamer colors).

Unlike other companies that offer work-from-home opportunities, ModSquad was founded as a distributed model, valuing unique flexibility for both our clients and our Mods. Remote work is core to who we are; it’s interwoven into our company culture. We feel connected to our clients and their causes, rather than to a cubicle.

While we may not see each other face-to-face, we strive to motivate our Mods by coming together in digital spaces. It’s an essential initiative for any company utilizing a remote workforce. Here are some of the ways we’ve found work best.

Connect People to Work That Matters to Them
Ultimately, it’s important to connect people with work they care about. Our Mods are fans of the brands they represent, which means they get to work for clients they believe in, using their skills to engage, moderate, and support customers they can connect with. When the work is rewarding, Mods feel they’re making a positive impact.

Find the Time (Zone)
If you work in a global organization, you’ve probably lamented at least once of the complications presented by differing time zones. While many companies choose to operate off of a standard time zone for communication purposes, that doesn’t change the fact that for some people, it’s day when for others it’s night. When scheduling meetings, both one-on-one and as a group, find times that work for everyone, no matter where they’re located. If it’s not possible for a meeting to be convenient for everyone, it’s a good idea to take turns accommodating different schedules.

Celebrate Greatness
Always look for ways to acknowledge and celebrate the individuals within your organization; doing so goes a long way in showing how much you value their contributions. Here at ModSquad, our Project Managers nominate a Mod of the Month to recognize the stars among us and their outstanding work. Not only does it highlight a job well done, but the recognition helps engage the whole team.

Share and Connect
Inviting remote workers to share things that matter to them is a great way to get to know one another and find common ground. So many friendships have formed at ModSquad, among people who have never met in person. That’s because we make it a point to share with each other: photos of home, books that inspire us, hobbies we enjoy, among other things. We introduce the pets who make sure we never work alone (many of whom our colleagues come to know and love). And we enjoy a bit of healthy competition during special events like the World Cup.

Although remote workers operate on their own, we’re all working toward a common objective. By encouraging collaboration and engagement, people feel that they are a vital part of an organization in which they believe.

If you’re an experienced professional who loves the idea of remote working, find out how to join the Mods!

Bad Weather? No Power? No Problem!

We love to talk about the weather; for many of us, it’s more than small talk. There’s no end to the drama that unfolds on your local weather station, but there’s no need for your business to suffer (even with hurricanes hurtling toward landfall and snowpocalypses burying cities in two feet of powder and ice). You can avoid these headaches and potentially dangerous situations by investing in a remote workforce — either one of your own making or one to which you outsource your services. It’s a smart move, as we’ll illustrate below (besides, it’s the future that we’ve been promised for decades now):

It maximizes your productivity. When your workforce is based in a single location, you’re at the mercy of whatever circumstance may throw your way. Storms, floods, power outages, states of emergency, and widespread ailments can shut down your operations overnight. Spreading your workforce around the country or around the world eliminates that risk; even if some team members are down for the count due to loss of power, your remote workforce can help pick up that slack. The U.S. federal government instituted a telecommuting policy after the bird flu pandemic of the early 2000s. That policy proved to be a wise decision after snow-related closures in 2009 and 2010; government employees weathered the storm by working from home, saving more than $30 million a day during that period.

It creates a more inclusive workforce. Employers who build a team of remote workers provide opportunities to people with disabilities, military families, and those who are unable to commute or need a flexible schedule. It not only opens up the possibilities of a greater range of team members, but encourages workers to stick around longer. Giving team members the flexibility to have schedules which enable them to balance work and home goes a long way toward building loyalty.

Weather is no longer a major concern. With the winter comes new obstacles to overcome, and those in snowy regions are well familiar with the hazards of wintry weather. Warnings to avoid travel during heavy snowfall are often accompanied by requests of commuters to work from home. While some fortunate workers are able to do their duties remotely, others aren’t quite so lucky, and must put themselves at risk in order to perform their job. Having a remote team not only increases productivity and saves money, it keeps team members out of harm’s way.

The numbers don’t lie. Studies have shown that telecommuting reduces the cost to businesses and workers and is environmentally friendly. A 2016 report examining the bottom-line impact of telecommuting found that if those who wished to work from home did so just half the time, the annual savings would top $700 billion.

Preparing for poor weather is always a major element of any business continuity plan, which details the tasks that need to be undertaken to ensure a company remains up and running in any given situation. Embracing a remote workforce is one way to eliminate a few of the risks outlined in those sorts of crisis plans. Risk reduction, improved productivity, happier workers, and financial benefits: The benefits of utilizing a remote workforce couldn’t be clearer. Just ask your friends here at ModSquad.

4 Tips to Reduce Call Abandonment

How many times have you called up a company, only to drop off somewhere down the line? It happens to most of us at some stage. Even if you’ve made it through an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system with enough options to make your head spin, you might still face long hold times to speak with a real person, which naturally creates the urge to drop off the call. Not only will this increase call-abandon rates, but it can also reduce first-contact resolution and leave a sour taste with the customer — both of which are detrimental in the world of customer service.

Although IVR messages and hold times are inevitable, there are still ways to improve the process and thereby reduce your call-abandonment rates. Think of these tips as options on your automated response system — please read each entry fully, as our options have recently changed.

Press 1 for “Anticipate high volumes.” Having a solid understanding of your weekly volume trends and high-traffic periods throughout the year will help you prioritize staffing efforts. Know when to maximize your capacity to properly accommodate the demand. Manage the customer’s expectations by using pre-recorded alerts that acknowledge the high volume, or give the caller the opportunity to leave a message. If people are left waiting too long, they’ll either give up on the call or take out their irritations on your agent.

Press 2 for “Implement a smart IVR.” Talkdesk recently explained that inbound callers don’t just abandon in queue, but also typically abandon in the IVR. That usually means that the IVR is either too long, too complicated, or uses unclear prompts. Using a concise, helpful IVR can go a long way; the customer’s needs may not be fully understood, but they’ll feel that they’re making progress. Something as simple as a menu including live call, voicemail, call-back, and a prompt on where find information online would be a great start.

Press 3 for “Set proper expectations.” During periods of high volume, it’s hard to avoid putting customers on hold at some point. A great way to combat this is a simple IVR message letting the customer know where they are in the queue or how long they will need to hold. Customers will know their expectations and agents will know what their goal is for each call — everyone wins!

Press 4 for ”Properly configure your support software.” It’s not uncommon for an abandon rate to seem higher than what it is; this could be due to the way your talk software is configured. If a caller can’t be answered by your agent because of a software issue, the customer will have to wait longer and will be more inclined to abandon the call. Ensure strong technical performance by staffing those with a solid understanding of how to identify and fix these issues before they affect your customers.

Now that you’ve gone through each step, you’re likely providing more efficient and communicative phone tree messaging and management. You’ve successfully improved the quality of your customer support, evidenced by your lower drop-off number. Congratulations — and thanks for calling.

Mod of the Month – August 2018

August has come to a close, which for many teachers and students means heading back to school. The school buses are back on the roads, but for those of us who work remotely, our commute hasn’t changed. Instead, this is the time when… drum roll, please… we get to celebrate our August 2018 Mod of the Month, Danielle G!

Danielle can officially say she’s been with ModSquad since 2017; after all, she started her first shift on December 31. From that day on, she’s felt right at home. She was already a fan of Second Life, the virtual world in which ModSquad (then Metaverse Mod Squad) came to be, and the positive reviews she’d read only further confirmed this was the company for her.

In her time as a Mod, Danielle has provided customer support via live chat, email, and phone and moderated user chats during gaming live streams. Of all the tasks she excels in, customer support chat is her favorite.

I think I truly shine in chats. I love being able to help a customer resolve their issue or question in that single, real-time interaction. I absolutely love working as a moderator too!

Prior to joining ModSquad, Danielle worked as a trauma surgeon for the U.S. Army, but was medically retired after sustaining severe injuries while deployed. She’s worked from home for the past five years across a range of projects, from government to gaming.

Working from home has allowed her to better balance her work and family life with her husband and six kids, including a pair of twin daughters and a set of triplet boys. Talk about a busy bee!

“I’ve worked with Danielle across two projects, and not only does she have a great attitude, she’s got a lot of determination, and it shows in her work ethic. She’s awesome!”
—Erica Powers, Project Manager

“I have worked with Danielle on a few projects now, and she has done an amazing job on every one! She is always willing to learn and improve, and she puts her best work forward. She stays in communication with the manager and makes sure she does everything according to policy. She has an amazing work ethic.”
—Christopher Carpenter, Assistant Project Manager

“I couldn’t ask for a better Mod when it comes to dedication, teamwork, and work ethic. Any Project Manager would be lucky to have her on the team.”
—Kimberly Mayfield, Assistant Project Manager

Resume Writing Tips For the Gig Economy

When it comes to the job hunt, the most important tool to have across the board is a well-written resume. Whether you’re a traditional employee or someone looking for work as an independent contractor, your resume is the key piece of material that you’ll need to effectively sell yourself to prospective employers. While a contractor’s resume is similar to a traditional resume, it can serve a dual purpose. The contractor’s resume is not only about showing experience, but also about getting across your readiness to jump in feet-first on a project and deliver results.

To help your contractor resume stand out from the crowd, we’ve assembled four helpful hints on how to assemble the strongest resume possible.

Think of it as an elevator pitch on a page. Being able to effectively synthesize your experience and relevant skill set on one page will stand out more than having multiple pages of drawn-out job descriptions. Above all, make sure your resume is clean and easy to navigate, with correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The little things are key.

Get creative. While your resume should be straight to the point, don’t miss out on the opportunity to show you care about the position you’re applying for. Most recruiters are looking for keywords from their job description when scanning a resume, so take the time to make sure you include a few of those tailored keywords. It’s helpful to have a base resume, from which you can highlight (or remove unrelated) skills to effectively showcase you as the strongest candidate for the position.

Quantify, not over-qualify. When it comes to contractor resumes, you should focus on making the most impact when discussing your job history. The company is looking for someone with high-volume ticket experience? Turn that skill set into a number. Include the average number of tickets you’ve completed in a day, rather than just state you’ve had high volume experience. Being able to show how exactly you’re qualified, rather than filling the page with soft skills and flowery language, will take your resume farther.

Prioritize and be factual. Unless you’re a recent graduate or just starting out in your career, the education section of your resume can be moved to the end. If you want to make it clear early on why your resume might be a little sparse, list your education first. A degree from an accredited university may help you get your foot in the door. But be aware, this is not the time to list every club and side project you were ever involved in. Make sure to only add projects that are relevant to the position, that you have actually worked on, and for which can provide details if asked. Your resume is the best way to market yourself, and you don’t want to be called out for false advertising.

As we at ModSquad can attest, the gig economy is flourishing, providing plenty of opportunities for go-getters to work on assignments that best suit their skills and interests. The hardest part is getting noticed by the appropriate decision-makers. With a professional, well-thought-out resume, you’ll be letting your experience and attention to detail help tell your story. The time you put into your resume now raises the likelihood of your work search story having a fantastic ending.

ModSquad Celebrates World Photography Day

For nearly a decade, the international photography community has been celebrating World Photography Day on August 19th, trending #WorldPhotographyDay and #WorldPhotoDay on Twitter and Instagram, and launching campaigns to influence positive change across communities.

The date itself marks a historic watershed in the invention of photography. On August 19, 1839, French inventor Louis Daguerre presented his research on a process (daguerreotype) for capturing the physical world around him. Little did he know at the time, he would ignite a revolution that has since transformed the possibilities for photography. Even today, the way we use our mobile devices can be as much camera as it is phone.

As a digital engagement company with a global presence, we feel a special significance in World Photography Day, both in its acknowledgement of the power of content and in the potential for photography to help us connect in a digital world. In celebration, some of us at ModSquad shared photos of our hometowns from the United States to South America, across Europe, Asia, and beyond.

Here is a small snapshot. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this tour of our diverse environments and experiences.

Antoine A., Saigon

Joe M., Southway Hill, Northern Ireland

Sionainn W., New Smyrna Beach, Florida, United States

Weena M., Pain de Sucre, Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe

Marcio L., Porto Alegre, Brazil

Marco S., Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

To see more MODsome images from World Photography Day, check us out on social media!

9 Customer Service Lessons from Ron Swanson

Parks and Recreation may have wrapped in 2015, but its legacy lives on. Fans of the show sport Lil’ Sebastian t-shirts. They know full well what it means to treat yo’self. And then there’s Ron Swanson, a man who’s more than a character; he’s a lifestyle.

It turns out, you can learn more from Ron Swanson than how to consume meat or turn a sconce into a wedding ring. Beyond the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness lie several important dos and don’ts that will help you raise your customer service game.

1. Always use the customer’s correct name.

And spell it correctly. It goes a long way in personalizing your communication and making the customer feel heard.

2. Never lie to a customer.

If you don’t know, don’t guess. Use the resources you have to give accurate information, and don’t be afraid to escalate to someone with the expertise the customer needs.

3. Read and listen fully.

Don’t assume from a few key words that you know what a customer is asking. Take the time to hear them out (or read thoroughly) and ask follow-up questions to make sure you’re addressing their individual needs.

4. Give each customer the attention they deserve.

Multitasking generally isn’t a good thing. Focus on the customer you’re helping before moving on to the next one. The short time the second customer has to wait will be well worth the better quality service they receive from your full attention.

5. Be careful with humor.

Especially when customers are contacting out of frustration or confusion, humor isn’t always well-received. Humor and sarcasm can also easily be misconstrued in writing, so play it safe unless you’re certain the customer will understand and appreciate your joke.

6. Know your limits, and escalate when necessary.

This is especially true for inquiries related to exchanges and refunds. Don’t take actions you aren’t authorized to; it may cause more complications for the customer or the company further down the line.

7. You win some, you lose some. Take it in stride.

As much as we want to, sometimes you can’t please everyone. Some customers will not be happy with the solution you provide (and that’s okay). Don’t take it personally if you can’t turn every upset customer into a happy, loyal one.

8. Stay calm.

No matter how the customer’s feeling, it’s important to keep your own emotions in check and not take things personally.

9. Start your day with a healthy breakfast.

This is just good advice for everyone. That said, you may want to consult someone other than Ron on an accurate definition of “healthy breakfast.”

 

NEG_8420” by Montclair Film is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

Speak Their Language: Supporting a Global Gaming Community

Single- or multiplayer, MMO or MOBA, there’s no doubt about it: Video games attract a global audience. As a developer, building something that appeals to such a wide range of people can be as exciting as it is complex. In what languages do you localize the game? What resources do you have to do that? Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll also need to be ready to provide support in those languages.

It’s one thing to speak gamer — to know that when a player says pop, they’re probably not referring to soda. And when they talk about a mob, they mean a single non-player character (NPC), not a large group of people. It’s another thing entirely to know how those terms translate into German, French, Korean, or any number of other languages spoken by gamers around the world.

In order to deliver the best community and support experiences possible, you’ll want to hire people who speak the same languages as your players and who, ideally, are gamers themselves. They’ll know best how to connect with your customers. The same goes for moderation: Native speakers who are game enthusiasts will know what constitutes normal PVP banter and which comments cross the line.

Along with answering the “who” of staffing comes the “when,” “how,” and “where.” Hiring full-time agents to cover each language 24/7 might not make sense if the majority of your players speak English. It also means additional costs to keep your office open around the clock for potentially just a handful of agents. That’s where ModSourcing can come in handy. We work with our clients to figure out exactly which hours they need support, taking into consideration the time zones of their players, when they’re most active, and trends in ticket volume.

Thanks to our large, diverse pool of Mods working remotely across the globe, we’re easily able to staff projects with native speakers who already play the types of games that need their support.

As we head to Gamescom in Cologne, Germany next week, we’re as excited as ever to see what our favorite games have in store, meet up with clients from around the world, and build new connections. Our Senior VP, Global Operations, Rich Weil and VP, Sales, Clive Jefferies will be there, speaking two languages: English and gamer.

What We’re Reading: A ModSquad Book Report

In our free time, we all need something to wind down with, and a great way to do this is by diving into a good book. Today being Book Lovers Day, we thought we’d celebrate the occasion ModSquad-style with some recommendations from the team!

Whether our preference is an imaginary world to which we can escape, or a non-fiction tome to help us understand the world around us, there’s no doubt that a great book can expand our outlook. Books promote our creativity and connect us with characters who, while not physically there, are very real on a personal level.

With that, let’s have a look at some of the books our team have enjoyed, from good recent reads to books that have had a major impact on them.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
This book is both inspired and inspiring. It looks at how to grow and present ideas in a way that promotes meaningful change. Although super-readable, I’ve been taking my time with it, letting everything sink in.
— Jenny Y.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Do you like Harry Potter? What about the likes of CSI, NCIS, or similar TV shows? Rivers of London (and the rest of the series) has the magic and wizard-in-training feel of J.K. Rowling’s saga, but with the added bonus of a cop investigation story. It’s full of fun pop-culture references, is slightly more adult, and often a quick and easy read for those of us with a busy life.

Bonus recommendation:
If you like sci-fi with a touch of horror, check out Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It’s a bit old school, but still a great read.
— Leigh G.

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
I think that every single person should read this book at least once in their life. It’s a good self-help book without actually being self-help. It teaches you how to be safe and trust your gut.
— Anna C.

The Xanth series by Piers Anthony
Xanth books are for people who like puns and ridiculous humor. These are what I like to call “junk food books.”
— Kay S.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
It’s a fascinating look at a part of our history (medicine and research) that most people may not be aware of. I didn’t know about Henrietta and her immortal cells prior to reading this book, but now I can’t stop recommending it to others. The story just stuck with me, and I’m glad that her family has managed to get the recognition for her contribution (countless medical breakthroughs due to her cells) that she did not get in life.
— Aunya S.

The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
It’s a story about the Romanovs after they are being held in Siberia, as seen through the eyes of their kitchen boy. The book is fiction, but so very believable, and it keeps you guessing until the very end.
— Olivia L.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
This book is not only filled with the nerdy quirkiness that makes up Felicia Day, but takes the reader through a journey of struggle, success, and learning your limits in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
— Katie C.

Now Playing: Your Brand’s Content (How To Put Your Best Face Forward)

According to Hubspot’s report on 2018 video trends, “72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.” The report further underscores video’s explosive growth by noting that 81% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool, compared to just 63% in 2017.

Producing video for businesses is neither quick nor simple. Quality of content, video editing and production, and ensuring engaging context can be full-time work. Most importantly, it’s imperative to understand the platforms and audience for which your video is intended. With social media driving a lot of visibility for new customers, building strategy around social marketing and customer engagement is key — especially strategy that cuts through the noise and speaks to your audience.

There are many platforms to publish on, each with its own audience and idiosyncrasies. Here are some of the most popular video platforms and the types of content that work well on each:

YouTube: One of the premier video platforms, YouTube is great for longform video. Videos are best received when filmed horizontally. The platform serves as its own search engine, and with strategic use of keywords, your content can be discovered through the behemoth search engine Google, YouTube’s parent company (definitely a favorable thing). YouTube is perfect for brand videos, product demonstrations, or behind-the-scenes looks at your business.

Snapchat: Snapchat allows for the quick sharing of fun, light-hearted content, as users of the app users tend to be younger — think teens to young adults. A selection of fun augmented-reality face filters help with creating witty, engaging content. One of the platform’s benefits is the ability to submit branded filters that are geographically tagged to allow users in a specified area the ability to embellish their videos with your branding. Talk about promoting with minimal effort!

Facebook: Despite competition, Facebook continues to be one of the most widely used social media platforms. And no wonder — you can promote your videos via feed posting, Facebook Stories, and live streaming.

Facebook Posts
Video can be natively uploaded as a regular feed post. As your followers scroll their feed, they can easily access your video content with this option. Consider utilizing subtitles, as users are likely to watch without sound.

Facebook Stories
These videos appear at the top of a user’s feed. This method of sharing video is not widely popular on the platform, but is experiencing steady growth. Shared video here is limited to 20-second clips. Videos can be embellished with GIFs, text, and geotags. Keep in mind that videos shared here disappear after 24 hours.

Facebook Live Streaming
This option is great for real-time Q&A sessions or sharing behind-the-scenes content. Live streams can be downloaded upon completion and appear on your feed for people to watch after the session has ended.

Instagram: Instagram is one of the most popular spots for mobile video. Like Facebook, video content is shared on the platform through feed posts, Stories, and live streaming; Instagram also offers the ability to share longer video through the IGTV feature. Where you decide to publish will dictate how you edit your video for things like length, dimensions/orientation, and production quality.

Instagram Posts
Mirroring the functionality of Facebook, video uploaded as a post is available via a quick scroll of a user’s timeline. The big difference here is that your in-stream video uploads here are limited to 60 seconds. The viewer doesn’t have to venture from their timeline to view your content.

Instagram Stories
Stories on Instagram are more robust than on Facebook, and also last for 24 hours. To increase audience engagement and gain insight into their interests, you can embellish your videos with such engaging overlays as an ask-a-question box, music, polls, and text. Vertical clips display best, and are limited to 15 seconds. The feature also allows you the ability to cross-promote stories to your Facebook page with a simple tap.

Instagram Live Streaming
Instagram also offers you the option to interact with users in real time. Live videos on the platform disappear after 24 hours. Just like with any content you post to your Stories (video or other), you can opt to keep live videos visible on your profile by including them in your Story Highlights.

Instagram TV (or IGTV)
IGTV, an extension of Instagram Stories, allows for the posting of longer videos (showing a preference for vertically shot clips). Videos can be linked into an Instagram story, which encourages additional engagement. IGTV-hosted videos can last up to an hour in length, and users are able to comment and ask questions in real time if you utilize live video. This feature makes it easy to do Q&A sessions and other engaging activities with your audience.

Twitter: Eye-catching graphics and video perform best on this platform. Video content can last up to 140 seconds. Twitter moves faster than some of the other platforms, so when creating content, strive for something that will immediately grab the user’s attention. Another rule of thumb when creating video for Twitter is to include subtitles, for accessibility and to engage people who may not be able to listen with sound. When scrolling through their feed, people are often in public places and opt to watch videos on mute.

LinkedIn: Now that LinkedIn supports native video publishing, it’s a strong option for any corporate social strategy. Studies have shown that videos on LinkedIn are 20 times more likely to be shared by users than non-video posts. In terms of content, stick with what’s tried and true for LinkedIn posts in general: business-oriented content like marketing videos, interviews, news, or informational videos.

Vimeo: Vimeo is a community of video content creators. Businesses can host on the platform through Vimeo PRO or Vimeo Business. While the platform may seem similar to YouTube, there are no ads and there’s a membership cost to access business-friendly tools like live streaming and storage options.

The best video strategy is one that engages your audience on their preferred channels. Catering video to each platform opens your content up to being viewed by a larger audience. There’s no need to create separate videos for each platform; rather, properly strategizing your content enables you to create a master video that can be specifically edited to appeal to each platform.

Mod of the Month – July 2018

If you asked us which we enjoy more, pleasing our clients or celebrating our awesome Mods, our answer would be “Yes.” And with such superstars within our ranks, it’s easy to do both! And with that, we’re pleased to introduce our July 2018 Mod of the Month, Jann-Lennart M., better known to all of us as Lenny.

It’s been just over a year since Lenny started as a Mod contractor in March 2017, and in that time, he has earned the praise of everyone he’s worked with. He first heard about us from ModSquad alum Guido Schenkel, who shared how flexible, fun, and rewarding it is to be a Mod contractor.

Hailing from the town of Elsfleth, Germany, Lenny provides customer support and community moderation in German and has been a true asset to a number of our video game projects, including that of one of our long-time clients, Edge Case Games. In addition to providing accurate, helpful information to players, Lenny prides himself on knowing the right approach to take with any given player.

I would say my best quality is being able to tailor my tone and the style of my answer based on that of the customer.

In his spare time, Lenny enjoys a variety of hobbies, including weightlifting, drawing, playing video games (both single-player and competitive multiplayer), and food. He also loves spending time with his 120-pound (55 kg) Russian terrier, Conrad; now we understand why he practices weightlifting!

Since joining his first project last year, Lenny has impressed his Project Managers, who all have great things to share about their experiences working with him.

“Not only is Lenny an absolute machine when it comes to getting stuff done, but his positive attitude makes him an extremely pleasant Mod to have around! He always achieves his goals, and does so remarkably effortlessly. He’d make your jaw drop if you saw what he’s capable of! I wouldn’t want to run my projects without him. To quote our client: ‘Lenny is our guy! We seriously love him!’”
—Hauke Denissen, Project Manager

“Lenny is amazing, his QA is flawless, his productivity is one of the highest in our team, and he has the best and sweetest attitude to match. He quickly catches onto new workflows and still finds time to send funny memes.”
—Matea Makek, Project Manager

“Can’t imagine our German support efforts without him! Solid QA and performance — just a top-notch Mod all around. He is very funny, personable, and welcomes all Mods with whom he shares shifts. Best of all, he somehow finds a way to turn any conversation topic to one about food. Now that’s a gift!”
—Samantha Walker, Project Manager

The Public Ramifications of your Private Social Media Accounts

In the world of social media, people who otherwise might not be heard have found a platform for their voices. And while some may see that as unbridled empowerment, both careful navigation and keen discretion should be considered. As Jon Ronson writes in his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, “Its egalitarianism is its greatest quality.” Each one of us can become loved (or not-so-loved) overnight on social media. Although we revel in others liking our posts and tweets, even individuals with a positive standing can take a downturn.

Justine Sacco is a perfect example. One moment she’s tweeting what she considers jokes to her small circle of Twitter followers about the travelers on her flight; the next, her comments send her reputation into a tailspin. By the time her flight landed, she found herself at the center of a social media storm and dismissed from — and here’s the irony — her PR job.

The best course of action is to take social media seriously as a platform (even if you’re looking to develop a fun persona), and to understand the responsibility that comes with having an empowered voice.

Below are some helpful considerations for navigating an online presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and beyond.

Who is your audience?

In most cases, our audiences will be our friends and acquaintances, particularly if we’ve kept social media accounts private or haven’t gone out of our way to amplify our own content. In this case, it’s probably safe for us to think, “My friends will like this!” because we’re probably right. These are social circles you move in and understand. But some of us hold a social presence that far extends this private reach, and thinking that your friends will or won’t like your content is potentially irrelevant. It’s much more difficult for us to think about the macro impact of our views than it is within close groups. This is where it’s important to consider whether your content is suitable for a potential global scale, because we really don’t have that viral formula down yet. We could be the next social heroes, but there’s a fine line between hero and villain.

You are a brand!

On social media, we’re essentially our own brand, and anything associated with an individual is like a partner company. The farther your social reach, the more people see this as fact. The more people see this as fact, the closer your associated school, university, workplace, etc. are seen as reflecting your views. Of course, we may think it’s not the case because of the disclaimer all views expressed are my own, but unfortunately that doesn’t cut it. Think of yourself as your own personal brand manager and carefully consider the messages you want to convey.

Transparency

We’re hard-wired to dislike dishonesty. So imagine hundreds or thousands of others seeing something where we slipped up or posted something that didn’t come across as intended. Deleting such content won’t do the trick — screenshots can be taken and retweeted with a much greater speed and reach than you might imagine. Transparency and owning your actions are a huge part of successfully operating a Twitter handle — not just for celebrities who say something a little out of line, but for everyone. In fact, there’s a hashtag calling for apologies simply called #apologize.

Think before you tweet/post/reblog

It’s straightforward advice, yet remains stubbornly hard for us to implement as we work to grow our social presence. We wouldn’t go around saying whatever came to our minds immediately in daily life without some consideration; we wouldn’t have much of a social life if we did. But an easy rule of thumb would be to stop and consider whether we’d like any given individual to see our content. If we conclude that we probably wouldn’t say that to so-and-so, then it shouldn’t be posted. Social media is a shared space for everyone; as such, we should aim to be respectful.

When used properly, your social media accounts can be a wonderful way to maintain communications with family and friends and make connections with individuals you’d like to know. Proper adjustments to your pages’ privacy settings are a must, as is a good dose of common sense. Remember that old adage that warned not to put in an email anything you wouldn’t want published in the local paper? The same general wisdom holds true on social media.

Project Manager of the Quarter – July 2018

For our newest Project Manager of the Quarter, 2018 marks eight years since he joined ModSquad. He started as an outstanding Mod contractor. Now, he’s a hardworking, dependable, and yes, still outstanding Project Manager. That’s why we’re shining our spotlight on Andrew Monk, our July 2018 Project Manager of the Quarter!

Andrew joined ModSquad (then Metaverse Mod Squad) back in August 2010, as a Mod contractor doing Quality Assurance analysis for one of our gaming clients. His work impressed the client and his Project Manager so much that he applied for a full-time employee position and is now a Project Manager.

Most of the projects Andrew has managed over the past several years involve technical support for enterprise clients or customer support for consumers. With his years of experience working in customer support, Andrew is a strong advocate for the value that proper support provides to any business. He knows how important each individual customer experience is and emphasizes that to the Mods on his team.

When individual experiences are not prioritized in the grand scheme of a company, they can lose a lot of customers who otherwise would be loyal to their brand based on positive experiences. Through positive customer experiences, my clients are able to nurture long-term stability for their company, as well as their internal employees.

Andrew makes it his goal as a Project Manager to ensure the Mods have all the resources and tools they need to deliver excellent experiences every time they interact with a customer. With a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Game Design, combined with his Associate’s degree in multimedia, Andrew is able to optimize the documentation he provides his teams.

The ultimate goal is to make project ramp-up smooth and easy for all involved.  I put a lot of work into our resource sites and documentation, while trying to break down processes to the simplest steps possible in order to achieve that goal.

Andrew encourages all Project Managers to build toward three essential goals: documentation, teamwork, and trust. He works remotely but lives not too far from our Sacramento, California Operations Center. Outside of work, he can be found playing one of the many games in his video game collection or catching a local wrestling show at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

The Account Managers who’ve worked with Andrew have only great things to say about him and the way he dedicates himself to his work. We’d need an entire new blog article to include them all, so we’ve selected just a few to include here.

“Andrew managed the projects for several clients of mine, and he’s proven to be focused on making sure each one gets the maximum value of the services we provide. Whether he’s launching a new project ahead of schedule or crafting solutions for whatever pops up, he always finds a way to pull off the impossible. In addition to exceeding all of our internal expectations, the most telling measure of his work is the consistent stream of kudos and thanks he receives from our clients. Each one he’s worked with considers him invaluable to their success in customer engagement.”
—Chris Nichols, Account Manager

“I’ve worked with Andrew for the past five years. I was lucky enough to have Andrew on my team when I began as a Project Manager. He made my job easy with his enthusiasm for customer support and technology. His understanding of soft customer support skills and the technical support process quickly made him an indispensable asset for my client. And he’s never stopped with that drive. I think that’s his most notable quality. Andrew navigates our unique work space with ease and consistently succeeds and improves. He’s always evolving, becoming a better manager, and becoming an expert in each project he’s involved in. Andrew cares about our clients and Mods. He leads by example. My clients have nothing but great things to say about Andrew. I’m incredibly happy to have Andrew as part of our team and I know our clients are, too.”
—Jay Biros, Account Manager

ModSquad Spreads World Cup Fever Around the Globe

We came. We saw. We soccered (or footballed, depending where you are).

As an international company with Mods around the world, we have a collectively endless range of hobbies and interests. Our individual passions are what enable us to tackle projects of all varieties, but we also look for ways to come together around a common interest.

Even with a vast network of 10,000+ Mods, we don’t shy away from fostering digital camaraderie, and we love when something comes along that we can all get excited about. Most recently, that something was the World Cup, and we jumped into the action with our own ModSquad World Cup tournament! Talk about friendly competition that everyone can qualify for (yes, even the United States).

In our Operations Centers in Sacramento, California; Austin, Texas; and Derry, Northern Ireland, and among our remote Mods around the globe, we divided into teams and filled out brackets as part of a company-wide pool. For the past month, we’ve watched intently and (mostly) patiently to see who would earn bragging rights (a few prizes) and the right to be named the winner of the ModSquad World Cup.

Keep scrolling to see how our celebrations played out.

Spreading World Cup spirit from Sacramento to Austin, Derry, and beyond.

This globetrotting soccer ball is part of an awesome prize package for a few lucky Mods.

You can’t have a celebration without decorations! Here’s our Austin office, all dolled up.

Our World Cup excitement is years in the making. Here’s our CMO, Amy K., getting up close and personal with the Winner’s Trophy back in 2014.

Looks like team spirit!

Our Operations Centers prepped for the final match in the best possible way: ice cream, of course!

Sandrine from our People Ops team was in France to experience the glory of their win firsthand!

With their smart predictions and a little bit of luck, a few folks will receive some awesome prizes as winners of our World Cup pools. Congratulations to:

  • Alex P., winner of the Sacramento office pool
  • Steve H., winner of the Austin office pool
  • Sandrine C., winner of the Derry office pool
  • Abdu S., winner of our global pool

The games may be over, but that doesn’t mean our friendly competition ends… after all, there’s the neverending debate over whether the sport is called soccer or football.

Habits of Effective Community Managers

Community managers are responsible for promoting the well-being of online communities, where people meet in the digital world to discuss the things they care about.

Online communities are diverse, ranging in size from small sub-communities of only a handful of members to global social platforms like Facebook, with over 2 billion users. The interests they represent are equally as varied, bringing people together over a fascination with birds with arms and to connect men with beards through their unique beard profile.

Regardless of the size or nature of the community, an effective community manager (CM) can improve the community’s chances for success. Ultimately, the CM is responsible for establishing the ground rules for engagement and developing a relevant strategy, among other things.

It’s a huge amount of responsibility with several moving pieces, so it’s important for CMs to stay on top of their game. In order to effectively manage communities, here are a few habits to keep in mind.

Play on the team before becoming a coach. Highly effective CMs get their knowledge not just from managing their community, but by being a part of it. A video game CM doesn’t just post patch notes; they play the game on their own and can anticipate how those patch notes will be received. A CM for an airline knows exactly what excites and infuriates travelers, because they travel frequently, too.

It’s not just about understanding what makes people tick; it’s about genuinely sharing those passions with fellow community members day in and day out. CMs who are part of the community can walk the walk and talk the talk.

Keep your finger on the pulse. As CMs often plan and create social calendars, it’s important to stay up to date with new features and changes to the social platforms. As spokespeople for the community, it’s essential for a CM to be highly knowledgeable about what’s happening in the industry and stay on top of important trends. If a new game drops or a new flight route becomes available, the CM needs to know about it first.

Beware of news, fake or otherwise. Breaking news can greatly impact a community. It’s important to read headlines voraciously in order to stay relevant and sensitive to what’s happening in the world. At a time when the world is more connected than ever, news ranging from celebrity gossip to natural disasters to security crisis, travels fast. We can’t control global events, but being mindful of what’s happening around us and how it could impact the community is key.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The truth is, the news isn’t the only thing we can’t control. Communities are living and evolving spaces made up of unique individuals. While it’s possible to make smart predictions on how the community may react to a specific change or update, it’s important to have plans and preparations ready for any eventuality.

Show off your passion. The best CMs bring their passion to work. Fluent in internet slang, brand tone of voice, and niche jargon, a great CM knows how to communicate in a way that inspires. It is ultimately this ability to give passion and personality to a community that attracts new members and keeps them engaged. People may come because they’re interested in the topic, but they will stay for the way the community makes them feel.

Having created and managed myriad online communities, we know how a highly effective CM will take great care in making their gathering place a welcoming environment. Putting these five habits into daily use helps them to do just that.

For more tips and tricks, check out Habits of Effective Social Media Managers.

Infographic: Americans to the Internet, “Clean Up Your Act”

For months, Americans have debated the issue of objectionable content in social media and other online platforms. Publishers of these online discussion platforms have faced pressure from the public, the press, and government to examine the level of moderation within these forums.

For a better understanding of public opinion on the topic, ModSquad enlisted Harris Interactive to poll 1,050 U.S. consumers in an online survey. We wanted to know how people feel about the content they see online and whether they feel that material should be censored, reviewed and moderated, or always allowed. We present the results in this exclusive ModSquad infographic.

Mod of the Month – June 2018

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the halfway mark on 2018. As summer gets into full swing across many parts of the world, we’re continuing one of our favorite monthly traditions: celebrating yet another one of our awesome Mods. This month’s honoree is all about helping others, and her giving nature is right in her name. Without further ado, please join us in congratulating our June 2018 Mod of the Month, Charity S!

Charity joined ModSquad two years ago while searching for a remote-work opportunity. She loved ModSquad’s dynamic and that we were so in tune with how digital engagement and support have evolved over the years.

Charity has worked on several projects over the two years she’s been with ModSquad. Currently, for our client KeyMe, she provides phone support to customers who call in with questions or issues. She has an extensive background in customer support, having worked in service roles for the past 15 years. And while she excels in all forms of customer support, she says her favorite tasks are phone and live chat support.

I love getting the customer’s issue resolved in real time so that they’re taken care of and won’t have to be waiting around or going back and forth. The feeling of knowing I’ve helped the client and the customer is so rewarding!

Of all the customers Charity has helped during her time as a Mod, one in particular stood out: a customer whose phone call started in tears of frustration and ended in tears of joy.

An elderly customer called in and was so upset. She had just lost her job and was choosing to go back to school, using our client’s app to access her books. She wasn’t able to get into her account, not realizing there were several steps required to register the account. I calmed her down by asking her about a detail she’d mentioned while explaining her issue. She talked about that while I worked on the back end, activating her account. I walked her through everything to make sure she was able to access her account and use the app. She cried tears of joy because of how helpful I was.

In her off-work hours, Charity can be found with her family and her dogs, either at home or at the beach near her North Carolina home. It’s the simple things, she says, that mean so much to her.

Here are just a few of the awesome things Charity’s Project Managers had to say about her:

“Charity is so amazing. She steps up to the plate and always goes above and beyond to get the latest project info and stay up to speed on all the changing processes. She’s a rock star, and I want to have her on every project ever!”
— Lauren McClune, Project Manager

“I worked with Charity for a year and a half and she was amazing! She is always wanting to know more and is 100% engaged in everything. She is a sponge for anything that has to do with a project and comes up with great ideas. It’s so nice to see her recognized for her hard work and dedication.”
— Cheryl Wagner, Project Manager

“She’s super smart, funny, always up for learning something new, and she brings a positive energy to all. I would work with her anytime!”
— Laura Ankerson, Project Manager

Account Manager Spotlight: Monica Armstrong

It’s time for another chapter in our Account Manager Spotlight series. This time, we catch up with Monica Armstrong, who lives not too far from our Operations Center in Austin, Texas. Monica joined ModSquad just after we opened our Austin office and has quickly become a go-to Account Manager for new social media and digital strategy clients.

Having worked with clients around the world and having lived in all different places, Monica’s global experience brings a perspective that jibes perfectly with who we are at ModSquad. When she’s not impressing her clients and colleagues, you can find her out and about in Austin with her dog Atlas or planning her next adventure abroad. Just how does she impress everyone? Her answers during our recent chat made that clear.

Tell us about your background.

My background is diverse, to say the least. In college, I majored in finance, with a minor in creative advertising. I started my career in marketing at American Airlines’ headquarters in Miami before taking on a financial analyst role with a timeshare exchange company. After about three and a half years of very long work nights, I realized I no longer wanted to work in Excel spreadsheets for the rest of my life.

I bought a one-way ticket to the opposite coast and moved to Los Angeles, where I transitioned into an hybrid media buying and budgeting role that I molded for myself at a global advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. My primary client was Lexus, and after four years of developing this role, I decided to take my skill sets and work experience abroad. I transferred into the London office and resided with the company for eight more months before deciding I wasn’t leaving the UK anytime soon and switched companies. At Mediacom Worldwide, I worked as a Global Investment Account Manager, working with global brands and their teams around the world, including countries such as China, Italy, Turkey, Japan and Slovakia.

Ironically, l met my English husband while living in Los Angeles, and our relationship turned into marriage while living in London. In October 2016, we decided to continue our adventure and move back to Texas (I grew up in Dallas), specifically Austin. I immediately took on a contract position overseeing all social media, marketing, and events for a startup coworking space.

What brought you to ModSquad?

I discovered ModSquad at SXSW in 2017. Its British-inspired Mod branding is what initially attracted me, as I’d just moved back from London and clearly felt nostalgic. A month or two later, I came across a ModSquad pamphlet in my bag and decided to check them out online and noticed there were some attractive open roles. Being able to work remotely was a huge bonus; it was a business model I hadn’t encountered in my previous jobs, and I really wanted to experience it.

What do you do for ModSquad?

I am an Account Manager and I’ve worked with a range of clients, from high-end fashion brands to gaming to an international airport.

As the saying goes, no day is ever the same at ModSquad, especially as an Account Manager. I work with clients to make sure we’re representing their brands in accordance with our high standards and the brand’s guidelines/tone. To me, it’s all about creating a connection with consumers and audiences to drive brand loyalty and satisfaction for the brands we represent.

What sets ModSquad apart, in your opinion?

ModSquad’s business model itself is unique compared to a lot of other companies, with our remote-work model. Our entire company is adaptable and flexible. We’re also able to scale easily; we’ve had clients whose original contract entailed only one service area, like customer support. Through cultivating the client relationship and demonstrating more ways ModSquad can provide value, services can extend to other areas, such as community management and engagement. Those instances are fun wins.

Any great stories that stand out in your memory?

Having the opportunity to work closely with our offices across the world and with people from just about everywhere in the world is a humbling experience. As my father is from India and my mother from Brazil, travel and culture continues to play a huge role in my life. I appreciate that ModSquad’s diverse network enables employees to connect and collaborate with one another, both culturally and professionally.

Living in Austin, I’ve been able to watch ModSquad’s Austin Operations Center continue to grow. When I first started, we had just opened the location, and over time it’s been really great to watch the Ops Center and its team develop. Being able to put a lot of faces to names and having the opportunity to join group outings have both been really important parts of building the culture here. We keep it weird.

ModSquad’s Dog Squad: Meet Our Canine Companions

Whether rescued as adults or raised from puppyhood, dogs easily become trusted, four-legged members of a family. With the unconditional love, emotional support, and the silly memories dogs provide, it’s no wonder dog lovers can’t see themselves without their furry companions.

Here at ModSquad, we’re no different. Our dogs are constant loyal companions, keeping us company during work hours. Warning: The following endearing pooches may give you Fido fever.

When you work from home, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Let’s meet some of the many puppers and doggos that keep us company here at ModSquad.

Take your Dog to Work Day ModSquad 2018

Stella is very special to me. She was the only puppy of her litter to survive. She follows me everywhere and works the same office hours I do. Her talents include being a champion couch potato and cheese eater! Stella is a six-year-old English bulldog, but will always be a puppy to me!”
— Tammyann R.

“We rescued Dingo about 10 years ago when my fiancé worked for a pizza place. He spent a month gaining her trust with pepperoni before bringing her home. She’s a snuggly old dog who loves everyone she meets, except cats and ducks. She’s afraid of cats and ducks.”
— Lauren M.

Zarya came to us just before Christmas. She’s a border collie rottweiler mix and the master of giving high fives! When I’m working, she keeps me company and is absolutely my best friend.”
— Janeen L.

Take Your Dog to Work Day ModSquad 2018

Princess is our best friend. She wakes up our kids every morning. Because of her, they’re joyful and ready to start the day with smiles on their faces.”
— Elva S.

Bill found us last summer. She had been abandoned and wandered into our backyard to drink the condensation from the air conditioner. She was very sick, and we nursed her back to health. She likes to sit at my feet while I work. She has her own hashtag on Instagram (#bailiffbill) and loves to have her picture taken.”
— Cory B.

Opie is the answer to the question ‘Who’s a good boy?’ I’ve had Opie since he was a pup. He likes to dress up when persuaded with cheese or anything tasty.”
— Nate M.

Take Your Dog to Work Day ModSquad 2018

Jax is a resilient pooch. He survived parvo, giardia, and colitis at just four weeks old.”
— Emily W.

Louis is a Pomeranian poodle. His hobbies include modeling, eating, and stealing my socks. His favorite sleeping spot is on my head or in my lap.”
— Ella L.

Desi is a pit bull mix rescue doggie that I fell in love with before I ever met her. She lies here all day as I work and quietly waits for the headphones to come off, which means it’s time to play. I pay her in hugs and lots of snacks!”
— Vanessa M.

Take Your Dog to Work Day ModSquad 2018

Raiden is a Siberian husky who loves to climb on furniture when we aren’t home. He snaps at any bugs he sees flying and loves eating his veggies!”
— Kimberly C.

Lucy is a hyperactive border collie who loves to play fetch and go for long walks in the park or along the beach. She’s my office buddy when I can take my laptop outside.”
— Kyle M.

“I’m not sure how it happens, but every pillow or cushion Jax sits on explodes! We have no idea how it happens. We’re lucky he remains unharmed.”
— Kelly A.

Take Your Dog to Work Day ModSquad 2018

Maxie passed away last month, but he was always right there with me while I worked. He always helped me stay on task. Maxie loved being six inches away from me at all times.”
— Mike D. P.

Lulie is a black Labrador mix that I adopted when she was five months old. Two days after getting her, she trashed a brand new sofa, but stole my heart. She usually hangs with me in my home office. She still thinks she’s a puppy and loves to jump on my lap, although she weighs around 80 pounds.”
— Marcio L.

“My husband and I had been looking for a dog for a few years. He sent me a photo of Molly from a corgi rescue website several states away. It was love at first sight! We ended up driving nearly eight hours to adopt our pup. She’s now spoiled in a happy forever home with lots of treats.”
— Kay S.

Jackson, or Jax for short, is the silliest of the silly. He loves squeaky toys but knows when one of his people are on a work call. He used to nap under my desk, but now at five months and 70 pounds, it’s a tight fit under there.”
— Michelle C.

Willow is an Australian cattle dog and has only known the work-from-home version of me. From the time she was a tiny puppy, she would curl up on my feet or behind my knees. She’s now roughly 50 pounds but still thinks she is an eight-pound dog and tries to curl up on me!”
— Aunya S.

“My wife and I acquired Nova, a border collie-beagle-Akita mix from a local shelter. Nova waits for me to get off work so we can play or go for a walk. Sometimes he gets a treat if he’s being especially good about keeping his barking to a minimum. He’s a great dog and my best friend.”
— Jamie J.

Lilly is a Jack tzu, a mix of shih tzu and Jack Russell terrier. She likes to play tug-of-war, fetch, and bark at stuff.“
— Mike P.

Starla Jane is a Maltipoo. She enjoys going to my eight-year-old grandson’s soccer games and playing tag with the kids. She loves to walk, explore, and play fetch. She brings our whole family joy.”
— Jennifer G.

Rosabella (Bella) is my shadow. We adopted her from the shelter when she was eight weeks old. She is a Labrador-shepherd mix that I was going to train to be my service dog, but she gets too happy when she meets new people. Stori is different; he’s a ball of fire. He’s a purebred boxer and has no regard for personal space. Stori is our trick dog. He can catch toys out of midair.”
— Samantha W.

“We adopted Charlie from the Oregon Humane Society a little over a year ago when he was just three months old. He loves that I get to work from home and take him to the dog park at lunch. His favorite thing to do is go swimming, especially in the ocean.”
— James C.

ModSquad’s June Roadshow: E3 and US-Ireland Top 50

Just in the past week, ModSquad was represented at two major events on both coasts of the United States, meeting clients and partners, soaking in new offerings in one of our favorite industries… and did we mention picking up another shiny award for the ModSquad trophy case?

Los Angeles: We started our E3 experience a day early to attend EA Play, a fan-fest and showcase event at which EA Games previews their newest titles. The most anticipated release is action MMO Anthem, in which players will don mech suits called Javelins and explore a vibrant and gorgeous open world. EA Sports took the spotlight with new FIFA, Madden, and NBA Live titles in the works for 2019. Other exciting upcoming titles include Star Wars: Battlefront II, Battlefield V, and a multiplayer update to platformer title Unraveled.

At E3, the Bethesda booth was our first stop, which set the fun-and-games tone that would prevail throughout the show. What better way to kick off E3 than by smashing pennies in the Mement-O-Matic? We attended a Fallout-style Reclamation Day party and accepted an invitation to an ice cream social held by the developers of Rage 2, where we got a sneak peek at gameplay. Bethesda also had some VR experiences; it seems they are creating VR games for all of their beloved franchises.

Other standouts included the Nintendo booth, where we experienced the new Mario Tennis Aces and new Nintendo Switch versions of Fortnite and Overcooked 2. The Playstation booth offered playable demos for Destiny 2: Forsaken and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Over at the Microsoft Theater at LA Live, we familiarized ourselves with the new Xbox Adaptive Controller, developed to allow greater accessibility for those with disabilities. Multiple customizable inputs can be linked to the single Adaptive Controller to allow users to connect and play on their own terms. The Xbox showcase also previewed Gears of War, Sea of Thieves, and Halo Infinite.

At the IndieCade E3 Showcase, which featured a curated selection of international independent video and tabletop games and installations, we played the demo for promising 8-bit racing game Desert Child. We also hit the National Videogame Museum for a healthy dose of nostalgia, where we spent some quality time with an archaic Vectrex. Hey, all games start somewhere!

But the cherry on top was the celebratory dinner we hosted for friends and clients at Fleming’s Steakhouse at LA Live. It was a grand gathering filled with fabulous food, liquid libations, and congenial camaraderie.

New York: ModSquad was honored to be feted at the eleventh annual US-Ireland Top 50 New York-New Belfast Conference. For the fourth year in a row, ModSquad (which has an Operations Center in Londonderry, Northern Ireland) was recognized as a high-performance business in Ireland and around the world.

We’re in good company. Along with ModSquad, brands like Amazon, Bank of America, Allstate, HBO, Moet Hennessy, and Mastercard were among the recipients of the coveted award. Representing ModSquad was COO Mike Pinkerton, who also took part in a panel discussion in the “Tech Start-Up Shaping the Future” presentation.

“In 2015, our three-year plan was to triple our business with European clients and hire 100 employees in Northern Ireland,” said Pinkerton. “We were thrilled to exceed those goals and we’re excited to be honored again as a US-Ireland Top 50 company.”

At ModSquad, we keep a hectic travel pace, from conferences to awards ceremonies and more. When will an event bring us to your corner of the world? Watch this space.

World Premiere Video: Meet the Mods

We’re proud to present the world premiere of our new video, Meet the Mods. In this two-minute clip, you’ll meet Mods from all around the world. Get a look at the life of a Mod as eight Mods talk about where they’re from, what services they perform as a Mod, and why they’re so enthusiastic about their work for ModSquad.

In the video, we ask our interviewees to sum up ModSquad in one word, which they do. We can describe, in two words, what truly sets ModSquad apart…

Our Mods!

We’d like to thank the Mods around the globe who participated in the making of this video, which can be viewed below or at its new home on our Why Us page. Now sit back, crank up the sound, and Meet the Mods!

 

5 Tips for Planning Seasonal Support

Seasonality is the name of the game for many companies and organizations, whether they rely on post-Black Friday sales to stay out of the red or ramp up for the summer, when their products fly off the shelves. If you find yourself taking a deep breath before your busy season and not exhaling until it’s all over, you know what it takes to navigate seasonal spikes. And you’re not alone: Last year’s Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history, with consumers spending $6.59 billion in just 24 hours, a $1B increase from 2016. Seems like many merchants were ready for the rush. As noted, the summer season brings its own need for all hands on deck. Just look at the European tourist industry, which welcomes 33% of annual nights spent in just two months, July and August. Talk about a summer rush!

With these surges come fantastic opportunities beyond revenue spikes. It’s a chance for your company to pull in new customers, impress them with your product and service, and retain them as a customer throughout the year. A long-term, loyal customer is worth much more to your brand than the value of that single sale-day purchase.

In order to put on your best face, you have to be prepared with a sufficiently sized and well-prepared workforce that ready to supplement your traditional and social customer support team. Normally, that entails a huge hiring push that sees your HR team inundated with applicants and on-ramping workers that will have to be let go months later. It’s a laborious process that can overwhelm anyone.

But there’s a better way. As longtime readers of this blog well know, it’s possible to outsource (or ModSource) a flexible, cost-effective team of experienced agents that can ramp up and scale back in perfect alignment with your company’s needs. ModSquad has provided seasonal support teams for some of the biggest names around, so we know that the careful planning and management of these seasonal spikes can pay off in a big way. As you map out your plan, here are five tips for planning great seasonal support.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. You need time to prep your team; there’s a learning curve that can’t — and shouldn’t — be rushed. You’ll also want to nest your support agents, putting them in a live environment with assistance, to ensure they’re fully equipped to handle your customers and represent your brand with the knowledge and professionalism you require.

Reschedule company events as needed. Do you hold annual corporate gatherings, training sessions, parties, or retreats? It might seem logical to celebrate the holidays during the appropriate season or venture on an outdoor excursion when the weather is nice. But if that’s the time your team is most in demand, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s not unheard of to celebrate the end-of-year holiday season with a January gathering, as scheduling your activities during quieter periods makes sense.

Set priorities based on past performance. If your call volume heavily outweighs your need for social customer support, plan accordingly. Similarly, if you find that agents supporting your chat feature racked up longer times to close tickets last year than you would have liked, give them the assistance they need.

Maintain your standards. You may be bringing on a support team on a temporary basis, but they’re still representing your brand to your customers. Apply the same quality metrics to these new agents as you would to a traditional worker. They may be filling in a short-term need, but that customer who’s calling in still deserves to be welcomed by someone with technical know-how, empathy, support skills, and a shared passion for your product. Your team is only as strong as its weakest link.

Stay on top of your schedule. This is not a one-and-done. Keep a close eye on the schedule to watch out for gaps and work swiftly to resolve any issues. Try to maintain the same support ratio for agents as you would during normal periods if you hope to uphold the same high-quality performance level.

Handing your seasonal spikes smartly is about more than making a few extra sales; it’s about filling your client base with satisfied brand ambassadors who will in turn bring new customers to your door. This is done by offering top-tier service during each and every customer contact, even in crunch time. We’ve seen again and again how proper planning and staffing can make all the difference to your customer experience.

Updates to Social Media Platforms Target Privacy, Community, and More

In a single minute, the world publishes 481,000 tweets, creates 2.4 million snaps, and watches 4.3 million YouTube videos. And along with all that content, the platforms we share it on are constantly evolving to better serve us as users.

If you’re still in the process of multiplying 481,000 tweets by 131,040 minutes, you can stop (it’s around 63 billion). We’re here to tell you all you need to know about how the major social platforms have evolved since our last update, and more importantly, what these changes might mean for your brand’s social strategy.

Facebook

New Tools for Groups
With millions of active groups and billions of users across them, Facebook is upping the support it provides group administrators. A new online portal gives group admins access to best practices for managing their groups. Facebook is also testing a dedicated support portal that group admins can use to get quick answers from the Facebook team.

For all groups, the new pre-approved members feature allows selected members to bypass pre-moderation on their posts. This is great for groups that require moderator approval of posts but also have members whose content you trust. When posts do need moderation, an additional moderation tool allows admins and moderators to easily inform users their content was removed. We’re excited about this feature, as educating a community about the rules goes a long way in preventing repeat offenders.

Changes to Reviews (on the horizon)
There hasn’t been an official announcement of this yet, but several of us here at ModSquad have noticed some changes to the way Facebook handles page reviews. Instead of giving 1–5 star ratings when posting a review, some users see “Do you recommend <page name>?” with Yes and No options.

Facebook’s new scoring system gives all pages a score of 1–10, instead of the previous 1–5 based solely on page reviews. It claims new recommendations weigh more heavily in calculating the score, so for those of you lamenting a lower-than-expected score, give the “Do you recommend?” option some time to roll out to all users.

Instagram

API Limitations for User Privacy
Instagram has limited the access to its application program interface (API). This will impact how teams use third-party tools to interact with user content discovered through hashtag and location monitoring on Instagram. Even comments on a brand’s own content can no longer be deleted through a third-party platform. All of these actions must now be done natively, typically adding extra steps to existing processes.

Analytics have also been impacted by these changes. You now need a business profile for your third-party tool to pull your Instagram data.

Add More to Your Bio
All Instagram profiles can now include in their bios clickable profile handles and hashtags. Add another user’s handle to your bio as a way to promote partnerships or feature fans or influencers. A hashtag in your bio can be used to promote a campaign or to share and encourage user generated content (UGC).

Upgrades for Stories
It seems there’s always a new feature to add to your Instagram Stories. Among the latest are the emoji slider, type mode, and the ability to upload multiple pieces at once. Use the emoji slider to ask your followers a question they can answer using a rating scale. Type mode allows you to create a story asset without needing a photo or video background; no more uploading blank images just so you can add a text-only slide!

For those of us who like to curate our Stories and preview them before they go live, you can now upload up to 10 photos and videos at once, rather than one at a time. This is perfect for major announcements and refined storytelling where you don’t want your avid followers sitting there waiting for you to add the next slide.

LinkedIn

That’s right, LinkedIn made our list this time, with an important update they rolled out recently. Drumroll please…

Multi-Photo and Native Video Publishing
Ta-da! LinkedIn now supports native video publishing for all pages and profiles. This was a long-awaited feature, as pages would previously have to upload their video to YouTube or another video hosting site in order to share it on LinkedIn. You can also now publish an update with multiple photos, instead of just one. The only sticking point so far is that video can’t be published or analyzed via third-party tools.

As the social media world turns, we’ll be here to keep you updated with all the latest changes and how they might impact how you engage with your followers. Will the updates we covered here change any aspect of your social strategy? Others have you not sure how to proceed? Comment below and a member of our digital strategy team will get back to you.

ModSquad Heads to E3 2018

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3) powers up June 12–14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and with it comes another chance to meet up with friends and colleagues in the video game industry. With our large roster of game-industry clients, ModSquad has considered E3 to be one of our must-attend shows for a decade. Awesome game industry shows like E3, the PAX shows, and Gamescom are always great opportunities for the ModSquad team to connect personally with clients and other game-industry professionals.

There seems to be quite a bit of positive buzz around E3 this year, with a lot of interesting announcements on tap, including the usual gamut of game previews, with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Destiny 2 leading this year’s pack. But you won’t have to wait for E3 to hear about all of these announcements. More and more, game publishers are putting on their dog-and-pony shows before E3 officially opens its doors. This year, Electronic Arts is hosting their EA Play show in the days prior to E3, and games like Bethesda’s anticipated survival RPG Fallout 76 have been announced in recent days. See the rundown below of the major press conferences to keep an eye on.

ModSquad’s mix of player-facing services, including in-game and in-app player support, moderation, social media, and community management, means that there are always have quite a few interesting conversations and encounters at E3; check out last year’s post-event recap of E3. I hope to see you there; if you’re going to be in attendance, drop me a line.

E3 2018 Press Conference Schedule

Saturday, June 9

  • Electronic Arts — 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET

Sunday, June 10

  • Bethesda — 6:30 PM PT / 9:30 PM ET
  • Devolver Digital — 8 PM PT / 11 PM ET
  • Microsoft — 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET

Monday, June 11

  • Sony — 6 PM PT / 9 PM ET
  • Square Enix — 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET
  • Ubisoft — 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET

Tuesday, June 12

  • Nintendo — 9 AM PT / 12 PM ET

Rich Weil
Senior Vice President, Global Operations

Mod of the Month – May 2018

If we ever decide to put together a squad of cheerleaders for ModSquad, we know where to turn. Our newest Mod of the Month has no shortage of enthusiasm, and it only makes us appreciate him more. Let’s give a warm, it’s-almost-summertime round of virtual applause to our May 2018 Mod of the Month, Edward O!

Eddy first joined ModSquad in September 2016 and, in his words, has “been lovin’ it ever since!” He explains that his approach with every customer service interaction has always been to make each customer feel like family, and in that same vein, ModSquad feels like home to him.

Eddy is extremely passionate about the clients with which he works, including a gourmet coffee and tea company for which he provides customer support. He excels especially in live chat and phone support, where he builds trust with customers and ensures their problems are resolved.

I want to be able to make sure customers feel heard above all things. In a world full of technology, it can sometimes be difficult to make that connection and have customers feel heard, so I make it my personal responsibility to see a customer through it all.

Eddy’s long background in and passion for customer support allows him to excel in the work he does for clients. After graduating from college, he worked in technical fields but always found himself being drawn back to working with customers. Before ModSquad, Eddy worked for top software and technology brands, where he provided support directly to customers, performed quality assurance, and trained new agents. These roles helped him build the skills he uses to ensure his ModSquad clients and customers are satisfied.

You can be the best at any skill in the world, but the relationship you build with your customers is what makes any business successful.

When he isn’t wowing customers, Eddy can be found paintballing, fishing, learning the violin, or enjoy the beautiful beaches near his home in Miami, Florida. We expect mastering the violin will be a proud moment for him, perhaps on par with his proudest moment at ModSquad, which he says was the day he landed his first project:

I’m proud to be with an amazing company and to be given the opportunity to meet some great people here at ModSquad.

His managers think Eddy is great as well, and they are just as proud to work with him.

“Eddy is an absolute champ on every project. He’s the go-to Mod that always wants to help and always has a positive attitude. His work is exceptional, and he is always looking for ways to improve or be more efficient. He’s super hard-working and is always a great asset.”
—Christina Williams

“Eddy worked on one of my projects and he was a stand-out Mod. His productivity was outstanding, too. He asked all the right questions and was just an overall team player! 10 out of 10 from me.”
—Tera Tilden

“He always does an outstanding job on my project. He is always eager to jump on tasks for the client, and it is obvious he takes pride in his work.”
—Erin Lewis

“I’ve worked with him on a couple of different projects, and he’s always been seen as an extremely valuable resource. He makes it his business to find out how everything works, and uses that knowledge to provide an extremely thorough level of support to customers.”
—Shane Beeton

Tourism Ireland and ModSquad Explore the Future of Tourism

This month we were honored to spend time in the beautiful Irish seaside town of Malahide, County Dublin, to meet with our clients and friends at Tourism Ireland (TI) for their Digital Days conference. The annual event brings together TI’s local teams, international teams, and core strategic partners to review, discuss and plan around the digital future of the organization.

This year, the event focused on the Future of Tourism and how digital opportunities can provide more individualized services and experiences for potential visitors. Core to these discussions were the relationship between technology and human connection, and how to develop the two to work in harmony with one another.

Malahide, County Dublin, Ireland - Location for the 2018 Digital Days

ModSquad was invited to participate again this year, representing the voice of consumer engagement and the important role we play in TI’s Digital Roadmap. During the event, our ModSquad team had the opportunity to facilitate discussions around community: what community means to TI and how effective community management and engagement can support ongoing efforts for a diverse range of teams and goals. Partnership is the heart of client services, working together toward common objectives and overcoming shared challenges. We are delighted to work in this manner with TI, serving as an extension of their wider team.

For the second year in a row, we left this event feeling inspired and energized for what’s to come. The core themes that shone through the conference are those same values we share in our work together: trust, customer-centricity, and evolution.

Trust

During the conference, we were reminded that a brand should elicit trust. In this same way, we work to build trust every day with our customers and our clients. It is through open and transparent work that we can achieve great success with partners like TI.

Customer-centricity

In the field of customer support, the customer must be central to all that we do. ModSquad and TI share this value. We work hard as individual organizations, and also collaboratively, to ensure our work is rooted in customer-centricity.

Evolution

As ModSquad is a digital engagement provider supporting a digital marketing organization, there are tremendous opportunities to develop ourselves, our tools, and our systems to continuously evolve with new technologies and approaches. Just as change is a constant in the digital space, it is a necessity in client services.

Tourism Ireland ModSquad Digital Days 2018

As we continue beyond the Digital Days, we move forward with a renewed shared purpose to meet the needs of our client and our customers, inspired to put news ideas into action.

Mod Holiday: Our Favorite U.S. Destinations

In part one of our Mod Holiday series, we highlighted countries, cities, and islands around the world that are frequented by our Mods. The ModSquad crew works hard, and they play hard too, creating memories with family and friends in locations across the globe. Whether they’re embarking on fun, off-the-beaten-path adventures with friends or taking a simple walk on the beach, these are the moments they look forward to when it’s time to recharge.

In this latest installment of the series, we asked Mods to share some of their favorite vacation destinations in the United States. Read on for some inspiration for your next U.S. getaway.

Charleston, South Carolina
“The historical architecture in this little city is absolutely beautiful. The Southern hospitality, seafood, and sunny beaches make it a relaxing getaway.”
— Jennifer Morgan

Saint Mary’s, Georgia
“There is a camping spot called Crooked River in Saint Mary’s that’s nice, quiet, and leads into the Atlantic Ocean. I like to camp in a tent and go to the dock at dark to fish. Last year I landed a 6.5-foot bull shark on my birthday.”
— Jennifer Berry

Phoenix, Arizona
“My vacation every year is spending a weekend at the Phoenix Comic Fest, where I see friends, family, strangers, and celebs. I get to wear costumes and gosh, it’s fun!”
— Cory Benzenhoefer

Denver, Colorado
“Every year in June, my friends and I go to Denver. The city has great craft beer and fantastic brunch spots, and there’s always something to see. Then we spend a day outside the city in the mountains. We always stop at a truly terrifying clown museum located in someone’s shed.”
— Chris Coder

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
“I love the ocean and all of the water activities. You can never run out of things to do there, and the beach is so beautiful at night.”
— Marla Lendor

St. Augustine, Florida
“I love the beach, the warm weather, and the plethora of activities available in this area. There’s a marina just about everywhere you turn, historic sites, and sailing. I grew up close by, and it always brings back fond memories, so I love to visit every chance I get!”
— Matt Williams

Anaheim, California
“We’ve been going to Disneyland for years as a family. Those are some of the best memories of my childhood.”
— Charel Grimes

Using Customer Engagement to Express Your Brand’s Values

Customer engagement is not only a way to support and connect with your customer community, but also a way to showcase your brand’s core values. Making efficient use of all the customer touchpoints through which you engage your customers (such as social customer support, moderation, and traditional customer service) provides a golden opportunity to go beyond sharing information about your products and services to convey your values. Therefore, you need a digital engagement strategy that encompasses social media moderation and customer support with a personal touch that expresses who are you as a brand.

Younger generations are leaning toward companies with values that reflect their own belief systems. Being public about those values with strong declarations about what you stand for was shown in a Harvard Business Review study to lead to better financial performance. And consider: If your company’s employees have shared values, you’re nine times more likely to have high customer satisfaction.

Here are four key strategies that will keep your messaging consistent and ensure that your values are effectively conveyed to your customers.

Don’t wait — take action. Effective interaction with your audience is all about being proactive vs. reactive. Think about your brand, its values, and how you want to treat your customers. Take the lead by jumping in early and often and steering your brand’s conversation and personality.

Customer care is not a silo. Engagement execution needs to dovetail with the overall brand/marketing strategy. Be sure that every public touch point reflects the same commitment to quality and your core values.

Deal with issues in open forums. Resist the temptation to resolve all matters via email or bidirectional closed conversations. When appropriate, share your customers’ relevant concerns with the larger audience and allow your community to understand how committed you are to properly resolving those issues.

React well to bad things. Unfortunate incidents occur, so it’s vital to proactively develop strategies to show your best side during problematic times. Whether it’s developing a crisis management plan that’s informed by your core values or simply rising above the trolls and working hard to keep the community conversation elevated, be prepared. As with people, companies are often judged by the character they display during difficult times. While not ideal, a crisis offers a unique opportunity for your brand to shine and rise to the occasion.

Ultimately, the goal is for your brand’s logo to be seen as a trust mark. With proper support, your customer engagement strategy can serve the dual purpose of better serving your audience and building the value and trust they place in your brand. This is done with every customer interaction, from support conversations to social interactions, and even through moderation. Excellent customer engagement should not be purely viewed as a method of brand protection; it provides a mechanism for enhanced, proactive engagement that can help you share your brand’s core values with the world.

Clive Jefferies
Sales Vice President

Mods at Play: What We Do in Our Leisure Time

When prospective clients ask us about ModSquad’s services, we have been known to say, “Our Mods do it all!” Of course, we’re talking in that case about our range of digital engagement services, but it also extends to our personal lives. If you’ve read any of our previous blogs covering our hobbies, volunteer work, and favorite vacation spots, you know we keep busy when we’re not hard at work.

Here are just a few of the hobbies some more of our talented, diverse Mods enjoy.

I love working with miniatures; 1/12 scale is my favorite. I have been working with miniatures since stumbling across it over two years ago. I used to think dollhouses were only for children, but that’s just a misconception. Being able to build your own scale house and add the decorations in any way you like is an amazing feeling.” — Jessica Dyer

My hobby is gaming in any form. I am an avid player of MMOs, MOBAs, and roleplaying games, depending on the day. I currently spend a lot of time on JRPGs, and I have been part of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that we run within Second Life every Sunday.” — Michael McDaniel

I love making jewelry. In particular, I have learned how to sew beaded earrings. I discovered the method at a craft show from a vendor who was sewing beaded sleeves for pens. I took the idea home and started working on my first patterns to create jewelry. It takes a LOT of time and patience, as the beads are about the size of 1/4 of a grain of rice. But the outcome is just gorgeous!” — Jessica Wilkin

My hobby is running. I have been doing it seriously for about seven years now, though I picked it up purely by accident. I live in Canada and travel down to Florida for March break. I decided to do some running along the beach and found I enjoyed it. When I got back, a friend saw I had been running, and invited me to do a half marathon. I did it, and found it to be really relaxing.

“For me, running is very zen. After the first 1-2 kilometers, my thoughts go quiet, and all that’s left are my feet and the pavement.” — Marcel Beaudoin

My hobbies are reading and video games. I have been reading ever since I first learned to read, and I have been playing video games since around age 10.” — Cat Schenk

I create travel content for my blog, including photos and videos. I started doing this in 2015 when I went to San Francisco for an internship, and I have since been to many places in Asia and Europe. It’s a way to make tangible memories that aren’t just photos on a hard drive. Joining ModSquad has allowed me to pursue my passions and discover new places.” — Antoine Aarens

My hobby is Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve played it for 39 years, and everything good in my life, from making lifelong friends to all the great times, has involved this game.” — Michael Raper

Mod Holiday: Our Favorite Places for Adventure and Relaxation

The ModSquad crew calls various cities around the world home. Located in more than 70 countries and speaking over 50 languages, our Mods have quite an array of interests and hobbies. That’s reflected not only in the diverse array of projects at which they excel, but also in the impressive range of destinations they seek out when they’re not at work. From the Mayan Ruins to annual festivals, our Mods love to see and experience much of what this world has to offer. Join us as we hear from the Mods, who are eager to help us discover some exciting and exotic places that are perfect for rest, relaxation, and adventure.

We asked our Mods: What’s one of your favorite places to get away?

Bermuda
“My brother and my mom’s side of the family live there.”
— Nicole Moose

La Romana, Dominican Republic
“The people are extremely kind. The food is great and the prices are reasonable. La Romana also has some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean!”
— Miranda Halla


London, England
“I adore British history and culture, so London is the city of my soul! I see magnificent shows in the West End and walk along the south bank of the River Thames.”
— Christine Rose

Perú
“Swimming with sea lions, dune buggy riding, sand boarding, and white water rafting — all fun things to do there.”
— Matilde Sanabria

Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
“I recently went on a cruise. While in port in Progreso, we visited the ancient Mayan ruins. It was an awesome experience.”
— Stacy Long

The Bahamas
“I cruised here once, and it is so beautiful. I enjoyed playing volleyball on a private island with strangers and trying new foods.”
— Ina Witherspoon

Belize
“It’s so beautiful and the temperature is just right. I also get to spend time with my family and enjoy all of the fresh seafood.”
— Morgan Dalton


Dartmoor, England
“Badgers Holt is set in a valley amongst the rolling hills of Dartmoor, with little to no internet connectivity. The apartment I rent for the holidays there is just meters away from the banks of the River Dart. Waking up to the sounds of nature, the river, and having my morning coffee is a pleasure beyond compare.”
— Darren McGrory


Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
“This small town in the south of the France is known for its wild horses.”
— Charlotte Benoit

What’s your favorite vacation getaway location? Where do you go to recharge? Got a secret spot that only you and the locals know? Be a sport and share it with us in the comments section below.

Case Study: ModSquad’s High-Flying Customer Support Boosts Flybrix’s Sales and Revenue

Overwhelming customer demand is one of those double-edged situations. While you might be grateful for the success of your service or product, you’re also in a precarious situation. If you don’t live up to customer expectations, your reputation and sales might take a hit.

Such was the dilemma in which the founders of Flybrix found themselves. The hardware firm launched with a focus on combining consumer-oriented drones and computer vision technology. During the development of their product, they tried assembling a drone using popular interlocking plastic bricks. It was their hallelujah moment. Soon, the company was offering this product to the world, to a resounding response.

From the start, it was clear Flybrix had a winner on its hand. The company was inundated with customer inquiries and orders, and sold out of its inventory in 15 minutes. The Flybrix group quickly found themselves struggling to keep up, with the amount of back orders necessitating them to scale up by a factor of 10 in the four weeks before the intense holiday shopping period. While they were confident they could ship their orders in time for the gift-giving season, they knew they needed help with customer support.

That’s when Flybrix turned to ModSquad. With the help of the Mods, Flybrix saw ticket response time reduced by 75% during that period of 10x scaling. In just 10 days, ModSquad processed thousands of backlogged tickets and ultimately generated and processed 35% of the company’s revenue increase for 2017. For the behind-the-scenes look at how it all came together, read this new case study from ModSquad.

How Being Pop-Culture Savvy Helps Moderators

Over the past decade, pop culture has been remarkably influenced by the ways in which we receive and understand online content. From the development of odd languages to the prevalence of digital currency (and the diverse variations), the internet continues to redefine how we communicate and interact with our environment.

Even seemingly innocent emojis have double meanings, which certainly should not be used or endorsed by many brand pages (we’re looking at you, peach). Therefore, it’s important for those moderating content and managing social media and communities to understand these reference points.  Over the years, we have witnessed many examples of brands that have dropped the ball when it comes to using pop culture references and memes for their intended message. Fortunately we more often see brands really nail the use of memes to connect with their audience.

One notable example comes from a well-known travel company that caters to an 18- to 35-year-old audience. This demographic would seem to be more receptive to this type of marketing, particularly if the ad pokes fun at a very relatable aspect of the service they offer. I mean, who hasn’t got to the airport to find that their meticulously packed suitcase is well over the allowed weight?

When a brand shares funny, relatable material, it naturally lends itself to the consumer sharing back with the brand. That’s where intelligent moderation comes in. This a fantastic marketing opportunity for brands, but it’s vital for content moderators to be able to understand the content that’s being shared.

User-generated content (UGC) can be a powerful marketing tool, but it can also go wayward. Consumers and communities are more responsive to UGC than brand content because the independent, human element implies credibility. With that comes an allowance for the consumer to utilize pop culture references which a brand may not necessarily get away with. It’s essential that content moderators who happen to come across such content in their daily work have a good understanding of memes, emojis, and their particular audience. Without this understanding, potentially inflammatory,  inappropriate or even great content could pass by unchecked. Your team should constantly update their frames of reference to ensure they’re able to appropriately handle the next meme of the day.

The world of pop culture and content moderation is an ever-growing encyclopedia of delicate nuances, obscure jokes, and intricate reference points. In order to ensure that all content is understood, acted upon, or engaged with appropriately, it’s increasingly important for brand representatives to keep up with these ever-changing trends. Because even using a dated meme won’t put you in good light with the evolving crowd.

ModSquad and Extra Life: A Roundtable Discussion

As regular readers of the ModSquad Blog know, Extra Life is a fundraising event that’s near and dear to us. Gamers of all ages raise sponsorship donations in support of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals during a 24-hour gaming marathon. In 2017 alone, players raised more than $11 million. ModSquad has taken part in this annual event for the past five years, and we’re planning to go even bigger and better next time around.

This March, members of the ModSquad family joined hundreds of other charity gamers at Walt Disney World to participate in Extra Life United, a gathering that brings together fundraising participants from across the nation for four days of games, camaraderie, and fun. To get an inside look at the event, and at ModSquad’s ongoing efforts supporting Extra Life, we spoke with Amy Pritchard, ModSquad’s Founder and CEO; Matt Hostler, ModSquad Account Manager; and Mary Pritchard, avid gamer and Amy’s daughter.

How did ModSquad become involved with Extra Life?

Amy: It started with Matt Hostler. He is entirely responsible for bringing this amazing charitable organization to our awareness five years ago.

Matt: I’d watched game developers and communities participate over the years and always thought it looked like a fun, silly time. I thought, Why isn’t ModSquad doing this? I did some research and talked to people at the Sacramento office. Surprisingly, I found that a bunch of people were also crazy enough to stay up all night playing games!

How has the team’s participation with Extra Life grown over the years?

Matt: I really thought the first year was just going to be about the Sacramento office. Surprisingly, Mods from everywhere tuned in to our live stream to cheer us on. It was humbling. I knew we had to not only keep participating, but go even bigger. Since then, ModSquad has opened two additional offices, and last year we had video feeds from each one of the 24-hour Extra Life gaming marathons. We even had a satellite Extra Life party happening in Tennessee.

Amy: Again, all the credit goes to Matt. He started our involvement and has grown it over the years. This past year, we had a splash page and banner on the website promoting Extra Life. Matt said, “Wow, this feels so official now!”

What makes the Extra Life event stand out?

Mary: It’s a great excuse to be glued to a screen or a board for 24 hours! But seriously, the idea is genius. Who wouldn’t want to play video games for charity?

Matt: Extra Life is about playing games and helping kids. Game communities, developers, blogs, streamers, and everyone else in the industry all come together to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. And it’s a lot of money!

Amy: I met one longtime participant at Extra Life United. His team raised $180,000 last year. He said to me, “A bunch of middle-aged engineers aren’t going to run a marathon for charity. Playing board and video games? Now that I can recruit a lot of coworkers for.”

Tell us about Extra Life United.

Amy: Extra Life United is a game tournament held at Walt Disney World as a part of the Children’s Hospitals Week. ModSquad sponsored Mary to play and raise money. We met the most incredible children that have benefited from Extra Life fundraising and were completely blown away by the passion of everybody involved. We were asked extremely important questions at the beginning of the tournament. Like, is pineapple on pizza okay? (No!) We also had a huge, 200-person round of rock-paper-scissors. I actually made it three rounds in!

Sounds like a fun crowd!

Mary: Oh my gosh, everyone was so cool! I met a ton of new friends and friendly competitors. It didn’t matter that most of them were twice (sometimes thrice) my age.

Amy: I remember Mary’s first event was playing the board game Down Force. She sat down at a table with seven men between 20 and 60 years old. Oh, back up, Mary is 12. It was so funny at first, but they welcomed her as one of them and had a raucous time. The entire rest of the weekend was just as fun.

Meeting Victor and Jo Ellen Enmon was so impactful. Extra Life was started to honor their daughter Victoria, who passed away from leukemia in 2008. One particular friend was Jose, a teacher from L.A.; we still regularly correspond. But the best was meeting the Extra Life Champions. They were the rockstar kids that have benefited from care at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. There was a really fun pin exchange, and Mary got photos with a lot of those champs.

What are ModSquad’s future plans for Extra Life?

Matt: Global domination! It was great to have all of the offices involved last year. But ModSquad is in more than just three cities. We’re everywhere! So now we’re working on how to include more people, play more games, and, most importantly, raise more money! Mark your calendars for November 3, 2018. ModSquad is going bigger than ever!

Mary: I’ll definitely come party with one of the offices come next year!

Amy: We are blowing it up.

Mod of the Month – April 2018

April showers bring May flowers… so it must be time to shower one of our Mods with praise and appreciation! It’s time once again to introduce one of our outstanding Mods, and we’re excited to shine to spotlight on our April 2018 Mod of the Month, Vicki K!

Since starting with ModSquad in October 2016, Vicki has dedicated her time to one of our women’s fashion clients, providing customer service via phone and email. Because of the skills and experience she’s built over her time working with the client, she handles the more complex customer inquiries that come in, as well as returns and disputes.

Vicki is no stranger to working from home and has been doing so for the past 15 years. She excels at handling all sorts of customer service requests, from simple questions to frustrated complaints.

I always try to take a happy, personable approach when starting a call with a customer. The calls then seem to roll along nicely, and I challenge myself to end each call on a good note with the customer. I’m a firm believer that you need to have fun and share smiles when you help others.

Vicki loves working with numbers, so she excels in processing returns and handling disputes. She says her overall goal, both personal and professional, is to continue finding new challenges and learning all she can.

When she’s not assisting customers and wowing her client, Vicki can be found with her husband riding on their motorcycle around southern Florida, crafting, or spending time with her two sons. She has a few four-legged family members, as well: two dogs and a tortoise.

Vicki says that when she found out she was selected as Mod of the Month, she danced around like a little kid. Based on the fantastic work she’s done, we’re sure her Project Managers do happy dances all the time, too.

“Vicki is beyond amazing. She’s loyal and dedicated to our project and works so hard, often going above and beyond, to produce brilliant work. She’s a real all-star!”
—Cherise Verrett, Project Manager

“Vicki is very dedicated, has a great work ethic and a sharp mind. She stays balanced, and responds quickly and positively to new challenges.”
—Rabbit Korbin, Project Manager

“Vicki was always a “go to” person for the project I was on with her. She is an excellent resource and outstanding asset to any team that she is a part of.”
—Shane Beeton, Project Manager

8 Ways to Improve Your CSAT Score

A happy customer is a loyal customer. And in a business landscape that’s as competitive as ever, loyalty matters. It costs up to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, so once the sale has been made, it’s more than worth the effort to ensure ongoing satisfaction.

To understand their customers, many businesses measure the success of their customer relationship by utilizing a Customer Satisfaction Score, or CSAT. This key performance indicator illustrates how much the level of support that was experienced meets the customer’s expectations. If you’ve ever been asked to stay on the line after a customer service call and rate your interaction on a scale of one to five, your survey response has been used to measure CSAT.

In order to cultivate an audience of happy and loyal customers, you need to understand the most effective ways to move the CSAT needle in the right direction. We’ve compiled eight tips to help ensure that you’re taking the right steps to boost your company’s CSAT score.

1. Treat customers the way you’d want to be treated.

It’s called the Golden Rule for a reason. Anything you would expect when contacting customer support yourself should be provided to your own clients — and then some. Go as far as treating the customer as if s/he is your boss: with respect, full attention, and a commitment to providing top-notch quality. Act as though your job depends on it; ultimately, it does.

2. Minimize wait times.

This one should be a no-brainer, but we’ve all called support lines that “are experiencing higher than normal call volumes.” Whether due to an unexpected rush or understaffing, it’s the customer that gets the short end of the stick. Plan ahead and have a flexible support staff on hand for peak periods.

3. Offer multichannel support.

Many customers would rather have their issues resolved through methods other than a traditional phone call. If your audience is more comfortable communicating via chat, email, or social media, meet them where they are. In fact, providing positive support experiences through social media can help drive customer loyalty.

4. Empower your agents.

Allow agents to manage a customer issue themselves rather than needing to escalate up the chain of command. By empowering your agents, they’ll feel greater pride in their work while making life easier for your customers, who won’t have to repeat themselves to a supervisor or manager.

5. Survey says…

How can you make your customers happy if you don’t know exactly what they’re looking for? Read online reviews to discover what they’re saying about not just your product but your support team. Proactively resolve issues you discover through these reviews. You’ll also gain valuable insights by soliciting feedback through user surveys. Be sure to allow customers to explain their ratings and offer suggestions on how your customer service can be improved.

6. Follow up on the data you’ve gleaned.

Those surveys you asked your customers to take are filled with pearls of wisdom, if you take the time to look. Examine any complaints from your audience and follow through: act on them, learn from them, and acknowledge them with your customers. Identify and improve where your service is lacking and build upon the cited strengths.

7. Set expectations.

When can your customers expect to have an issue resolved? Will they hear back from a member of your team today? Is their feedback being directed to the right party? Let the user know exactly how you’ll proceed… and then raise the bar with a quicker-than-expected response or similar grand gesture. Exceeding their expectations brings you that much closer to winning their loyalty.

8. Your customers have a name… use it.

Everybody appreciates being recognized as an individual, rather than a customer ID number. Use your customer’s name in verbal and written interactions, and make that extra effort to make them feel special. Reward them on their birthday or on the anniversary of their initial purchase. It’s little things like these that can have a big effect on customer sentiment.

Keeping your customer top of mind is one of the best investments you can make in your business. Use your knowledge of what’s working and what isn’t with your customer service to make informed business decisions. In today’s rough-and-tumble marketplace, you owe it to yourself… and your customers.

Multilingual Mods: European Edition

Here at ModSquad, language is a key element of the services we provide. With clients around the world looking to us for outsourced digital engagement, our network of 10,000+ Mods in 70+ countries is ready to deliver, in more than 50 languages and dialects. When a project requires native speakers of a foreign tongue, we’ll locate just the right Mod to take on the role.

But who are the Mods providing customer support, moderation, social media, and community management services in nearly every nook and cranny across the globe? Let’s meet some of the Mods providing native-language services that extend beyond English and learn a little more about them. For this virtual meet-and-greet, we touch down in Europe to say hello to three local Mods.

Name: Tanya Brandi
Country: Italy
Provides Services in: Italian, English

Tanya is a lifelong resident of Livorno, near Pisa. She puts her Italian language skills to work doing customer support and English-to-Italian translation in the gaming arena. When she’s not working for some of our video game industry clients, Tanya loves to pack her bags and head out to visit the most magical place on Earth. “This is something my coworkers all know because I talk about it all the time, but I love the Disney Parks. I try to go often. So far I’ve only seen Disneyland Paris, but I want to visit them all.” Her journeys take her beyond the parks as well. “I love traveling in general, and want to see as much of the world as possible. It may be a bit cliché, but there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing different places and interacting with different cultures.”

Tanya interacted with travelers in an earlier professional capacity. “I used to work as a tourist animator [also known as an activities director], which definitely contributed to my desire to travel. It was a fantastic time and a great way to see interesting places and meet people. Unfortunately, I had to dance for kids every evening, and I’m a terrible dancer! But it was lots of fun.”

Name: Julien Voiry
Country: France
Provides Services in: French

Heading over to the Grand Est region of France, new dad Julien has had his world rocked in the best possible way by his son’s arrival late last year. “This is the biggest change I’ve had in my life; it’s like a new beginning. It’s an unspeakable joy to see my son evolve and do new things every day.”

In his now-limited spare time, Julien loves video games, which fuels the passion he displays in his French-language work assisting customers of ModSquad’s video game clients via email. “What I find very interesting in MMORPGs is the interaction between the players. You can find all the richness in personalities and styles that you see throughout the real world.” When he’s not immersed in a virtual world, he studies ancient mythological ones. “I read every book about mythology I can find. I have a preference for Greek myths, but am strongly interested in Celtic myths as well.”

Name: Valentina Lamusta
Country: Spain
Provides Services in: Spanish, Italian, English

Born and raised in Italy, Valentina moved to Spain 11 years ago. “I ended up living in Los Caños de Meca, a very small village on the ocean in southwestern Spain. Caños de Meca is best known as the location of the famous Trafalgar Lighthouse, where the battle of Trafalgar took place; Trafalgar Square in London commemorates the fight. This is a region of infinite virgin beaches and wild nature. My house is a small old-style cottage located in the middle of a natural reserve and only 2 km from the beach.”

It is from this locale that Valentina provides multilingual services for clients in diverse industries, including the tourism field, one of her passions. But with two dogs and eight cats, packing up and traveling is easier said than done. Fortunately, Valentina is content to practice yoga and play guitar in her hometown. “I love hiking and swimming in the ocean. I’ve literally found my paradise here.”

Habits of Effective Social Media Managers

If you’re looking for a regular old 9-5 job where you know what you can expect every day, social media management probably isn’t for you. Social media platforms are active 24/7/365. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others are constantly evolving with new features and changes to your news feed. New platforms continue to emerge (remember a few years ago when people were wondering, “What’s Snapchat?”). To meet this ever-changing atmosphere, a social media manager needs to stay on top of their game as one day may not be like the next.

For a role whose responsibilities are constantly evolving, there are a few things every social media manager worth their salt does. These are the core habits that keep a brand healthy and growing on social media and its customers happy.

Plan, Create and Analyze

Social media is all about sharing content your community will appreciate. It’s up to social media managers to figure out what their customers want to see and how to present it in a way that draws attention. A good social media manager starts with the important messages they need to get to your audience and then peppers in additional engaging content, posts that aren’t necessarily tied to a precise business goal but will allow their community to connect with each other and the brand.

Of course, it takes some fine-tuning to figure out exactly what types of posts resonate best with your audience. Morning posts, midday, or evening? Text-only posts, or ones with photos, videos, or links? Captions with emojis or without? Native channel analytics and robust third-party tools offer a lot of information about your audience, what they like, and when they’re online. A good social media manager will also experiment with posting at different times and days, and with different styles of messaging.

Content strategy is all about iteration, so it’s good to get into the habit of analyzing and reporting on what’s working (and what’s not). It’s also good to check in on your competitors regularly to see what content seems to be working for them and drawing inspiration from how they engage their audiences.

Review and Respond

Once you’ve put content out there, it’s time to monitor how your community responds to it and reply to them when appropriate. Depending on the social channels a brand is active on, its social media manager is responsible for checking a variety of ways customers can contact them: posts, comments, tweets, and direct messages, to name the most common. A good social media manager prioritizes questions and support inquiries, ensuring their customers have the information they need. After those have been responded to or escalated, they can then move on to responding to users who don’t necessarily expect a response but whose posts offer an opportunity to build a stronger customer relationship.

Beyond those customers contacting a brand’s social media account directly are those talking about a brand. Those conversations are just as important, and that’s where social listening comes in. Using either native search terms or a third-party tool, social media managers are always monitoring content that uses specific brand or industry hashtags or keywords. For brands with a physical location, geofence monitors on Twitter or location searches on Instagram also offer great opportunities for engaging with customers and addressing concerns that may have otherwise gone unseen.

Stay Current

Algorithm changes, new features, updated functionalities, a new study about the best times to post or how to properly incorporate hashtags… There’s always something new to learn, and it’s essential that social media managers keep up-to-date on the latest industry happenings. A daily check of your favorite social media publications is a good practice to get into, as is following social media professionals on Twitter to get their perspective on what a given update might mean for brands.

Another thing to keep a regular eye on are trending hashtags. Every morning, good social media managers check to see which hashtags and topics are trending, particularly on Twitter. From hashtag holidays like #NationalPizzaDay to breaking news, social media managers can decide whether to engage or determine if the day’s news impacts their content plans.

There’s a lot to pay attention to when you’re managing an always-on brand presence, but a social media pro with the right approach will be able to get it all done.

Why Crisis Management is Essential to Any Business Continuity Plan

Whether their customers and followers realize it or not, any business worth its salt always has a plan for the unthinkable. When things go south, when complaints pile up, or a controversy arises, you need to have anticipated these events and have a strategy set in place.

Business continuity is the overarching term used to describe the planning and preparation for any task that needs to be undertaken in order to ensure a company’s vital functions continue in the event of any serious incident, from power outages to supply-chain disruptions to major disasters. A comprehensive business continuity program includes the larger continuity plan, which ensures the integrity of the company’s infrastructure; a recovery plan, to bring back any failed operational element; a contingency plan; and a crisis management plan.

The art of crisis management (for it is an art) is often confused with business continuity, and while they are similar necessities, crisis management is its own animal. It is the act of using predetermined responses and actions to help your company weather a public-facing storm, whereas the larger business continuity plan focuses on keeping the entire business up and running.

The process is undertaken well in advance of any affecting event, as you identify and determine best practices for handling an issue before it arises. After the necessary prep work, your team will be ready to respond proactively to any volatility. Should an event occur, the team will keep close track of incoming data for real-time feedback on the situation and the effectiveness of the response. Once recovery is underway, the crisis team will be on the lookout for fallout—risks that only appear after the initial upheaval. Finally, your team will use its newfound knowledge to help plan for (or better yet, avoid) the next instance.

Partners like ModSquad are often a wise choice for those unprepared or unable to deal with crisis planning and management. If you don’t have a team on hand to respond right away to the emergence of a crisis, you might be ready to bring in a partner. Having a trusted ally who has worked up your crisis plan and knows the associated risks and requirements gives you a head start on managing any burgeoning problem. Here at ModSquad, we have managed teams of experts ready to assist with a client’s crisis. It’s also worth noting that not every crisis is necessarily apocalyptic. Some of the smaller-scale scenarios that could still greatly affect any company are situations we also help manage, including:

  • Social Media: If a customer complaint goes viral or a hashtag has been co-opted for undesirable reasons, companies can find themselves under attack on social media.
  • Customer Support: Product recall? Insufficient supply of a hot new item? Marketing blitz resulting in a tidal wave of incoming queries? Any of these scenarios can leave you swimming in customer inquiries.
  • Community: Digital communities can be a hotbed of feedback, sometimes including inflammatory comments; contain the situation and ensure a positive experience for all.
  • Product Launch Boom or Bust: Whether your product launch had a meteoric rise or went terribly sideways, it’s vital to address your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Does your business continuity plan contain a comprehensive crisis management plan? If not, procrastination is not your ally. Get started today, or get help doing it. And should your worst-case scenario comes to pass, look for a crisis management specialist to help rectify things. You’ve worked too hard for anything less.

Project Manager of the Quarter – April 2018

Back in October 2012, a young woman saw a post on Reddit about needing help testing a mobile game. An avid gamer herself, she jumped at the opportunity. It was through that opportunity that she discovered ModSquad (at the time, Metaverse Mod Squad) and became a Mod. From there, she joined more projects, honed her skills, and in April 2015 applied and was hired as a Project Manager.

Who was this young woman? None other than our Project Manager of the Quarter, Lauren McClune!

Lauren has managed a number of projects over the years and currently dedicates all her time to one of our longtime clients in the mobile app entertainment space. The project comprises one of our largest teams, which works around the clock to support our client’s customers via phone, email, live chat, and social media. In fact, the project she now manages was the first one she joined as a Mod, so she feels right at home.

Lauren’s dedication to support goes beyond the customers her teams serve and extends to the Mods and clients she works with. As a Project Manager, her mission is to always do all she can to make her clients happy and her teams as strong as they can be.

My most important task is providing a strong support system for my team. This includes being available to help if they ever need it and maintaining a strong set of resources to help them be successful. I can’t stress enough how important support is to ensuring a successful group of Mods and Managers.

Over the years Lauren experienced many moments that made her proud of the work she does. But it’s the work that the Mods on her projects do that make her the happiest. She says she feels proud any time a customer or client calls out one of her Mods for doing amazing work.

In her time as a Project Manager, Lauren has learned a lot about the things that matter most and what makes for an effective PM. Her biggest piece of advice to others: Don’t let stress get to you.

Everyone gets to stressful spots, and you just have to roll with the punches and reach out for help when you need it. I can’t even explain how supportive everyone at ModSquad is! Theresa Galle has been insurmountable in helping me along the way, and I can’t thank her enough for all her advice and pushing me to be the PM I am now.

Those who’ve worked with Lauren can attest to her growth and success as a Project Manager.

“Lauren has proven her abilities across a wide spectrum. She can dive into the details with Mods or be a part of high-level discussions with a client or admin group. She has developed strong rapport with several client contacts in a complex and frequently changing environment. Although things change rapidly on the client’s side, Lauren has proved to be the common denominator and maintains stability for the project.

“Lauren also has a stellar can-do attitude and shows leadership amongst her management peers, even in difficult situations. She has taken strategic initiative on the project and has done a great job helping us make things more efficient. She consistently impresses the client with the work the team is doing under her management.”
—Matt Ramsey, Account Manager

“Lauren has done a great job working with the client contacts and Mods on her project. When called upon, she can easily provide insight into what’s happening on the front lines and is quick to implement change when needed.”
—Josh Smith, Strategic Management Specialist

“Lauren is a valuable member of the team and wonderful to work with. She regularly exhibits a positive, can do attitude and is quick to assist those around her and our clients. Thank you Lauren for all that you do!”
—Steve Henry, VP, Client Services

Mod Hobbies: These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things

We at ModSquad are a diverse crew. Not only do we speak over 50 languages, live in 70 countries, and have unique professional and personal backgrounds, but we also spend our free time in all sorts of ways.

From crochet to cosplay, cooking to coffee roasting, fan fiction and more, our Mods do it all. Below, you’ll hear from a number of us about what we do when we’re not managing communities, supporting customers, or moderating content.

My hobby is horseback riding. I started in college and rode on and off for about seven years, but last year, I finally started riding regularly at a local club. The feeling of freedom while galloping over an endless meadow is the absolute best feeling and cure for stress anybody could ever imagine. This year, I hope I can start competing with my horse in showjumping and dressage. Wish us luck!” — Matea Makek

I have plenty of hobbies, but here I’ll focus on cooking. I started cooking 20 years ago, when I was 14, but the passion really took hold when I was 18. Maybe being Italian helps a lot, but I strongly believe that cooking is an art in which you can put so much effort, emotion, and creativity.

“I have traveled to almost 80 countries, and I always try to learn some local recipes, so I don’t specialize in a specific cuisine; instead, I prepare anything that is delicious and inspires me.” — Marco Scardella

I’ve been knitting and crocheting since I was a teenager (I learned from books, because YouTube wasn’t a thing yet!), but it wasn’t until more recently that I really got into it. Finding friends and community, as well as having access to such a vast amount of patterns (oh, Ravelry) really opened up a whole new world for me.

“My favorite thing to make are blankets, particularly ‘ugly’ ones. The more ridiculous and outlandish the pattern and colors, the better. Who cares if you’re snuggled up under something garish so long as you’re warm?” — M. Leigh Green

“I have always liked art, and have started getting into Zentangle art. It helps to ease anxiety and stress.”  — Teresa Taylor

Fire spinning! I discovered it through mutual friends while I was photographing events in Atlanta back in 2011. My specialty is hoops. I love playing with fire because it’s exciting and delightful to see the looks on the faces of spectators who have never before seen fire performance. It’s also great exercise!” — Christy Conley

I make cosplay materials. I’ve been doing it off and on the last five years and find it extremely relaxing. It’s so nice to sit down with materials and watch something take shape in front of you.” — Ian Guinard

My hobby is live storytelling. In my early twenties, I had a job on a world-traveling cruise ship, and I came home with a bunch of crazy stories. I started to perfect how I told them, like a comedian crafts a joke, figuring out the best places to add a pause and playing around with the structure.

“Eventually I started a live storytelling show in the basement of a bar in downtown Portland. Now I perform occasionally at bigger theaters and festivals. I love being onstage and connecting with a large audience. In a world of mostly digital connections, it’s great to share stories and create real human connections with total strangers.” — Jason Potter

Paranormal Investigating! In 2013, I had an experience that had me curious about the paranormal and it led to me doing a lot of research. Only recently have I picked up actually investigating places for the paranormal. I know not everyone believes in the paranormal, but I truly enjoy it because I love looking into the history of the locations I investigate, and I love the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen or who you’ll find yourself communicating with or capturing on footage, whether it’s voice, video, or photos. Overall, it’s amazing. I always find myself becoming more and more interested in it all.” — Hazel Doss

I love great coffee! When I was 19 years old, I moved to Santa Barbara, California. I walked into a coffee house that roasted its own coffee and I knew right then that I wanted to do that. About eight years ago, I started roasting coffee in a frying pan in my driveway, five of six ounces at a time, just so I could have great fresh coffee for myself. Now I roast 10 to 12 pounds at a time!” — Alisa Frye

I love to write. Right now, I’m trying to write a novel. It’s coming along pretty well. I’m four chapters in and have the first chapter and a half workshopped pretty well. I’ve been working on this particular project actively for about six months, but have wanted to be an author for years upon years.” — Rochelle Harper