[Awesome Startup Employee] Alex Kudientsov of Teabox - pushing the standards for customer experience excellence
India’s e-commerce industry is in a state of frenzy with Flipkart raising $1 billion in funding, Snapdeal raising strategic investment from Ratan Tata to Amazon setting up a $2 billion India specific fund and a lot of big money scrambling to find worthwhile targets.
Apart from the big daddies of the Indian e-commerce space there are quite a few young startups that are looking at focusing on niche products and looking at servicing just one vertical. One such company is Teabox – which is selling Indian tea globally using their online portal and well co-ordinated and optimized production, packaging and delivery channels.
Teabox recently raised $1 million from Accel partners and has been scaling and growing swiftly. They ship freshly packed tea to 65+ countries and over 95% of their revenue comes from tea exports. Their sales have grown about 5 times in the last eight months.
Kaushal Dugar, Founder & CEO of Teabox shares – “Consumer satisfaction is a very crucial aspect of online business and their experience with our company right from – their online website experience to shipment tracking to receiving the well packaged Teaboxes in hand to enjoying the fresh and aromatic tea prepared at their end – each of these phases are very important for us. And we have an amazing bunch of folks as part of the team who are working hard to ensure each of our customer is satisfied with their purchase and experience with Teabox”
One such team member is Alexander Kudientsov, a 25-year old Ukranian who moved 5300 km to join a budding startup team at Teabox in their very early days and has been championing the end-user experience and customer satisfaction within the team.
Born and brought up in Kharkov, Ukraine - Alex completed his bachelors in computer science from the National University of Radio Electronics with a specialization in Computer Networks and Systems. His association with AIESEC, a youth organization that facilitates student exchange programmes, took him to Sao Paulo to work with an NGO for an internship stint before landing in India with Teabox.
Kaushal says – “Alex has pretty much become our brand ambassador. He has almost single handedly managed our entire customer service operations - answered queries of customers from all over the world and is available almost 18 hours a day. He has first hand interaction with customers has given him a unique insights to challenges/issues facing them and has helped us identify many of them which we otherwise would not have known. He brings a unique customer focused perspective in all our discussions - of which he is a key member. Such customer responsiveness for a new startup like Teabox really goes a long way to establish credibility with our customers. And he has managed to do all of this in an environment, region and country which is extremely new to him.”
Alex’s passion for end user satisfaction and his level-headedness are his key strengths. The customers may be upset, they may scream at him and rage against something, but he lets nothing get to him. He genuinely cares about them and doesn't let up until every issue is solved. One can try calling the Teabox support line and you will find him waiting to assist you, very polite and unobtrusive.
Let’s get to know more about this awesome startup employee at Teabox, here’s the interview excerpt with Alex –
What excites you most about your role at Teabox?
I manage customer support and also maintain the Russian version of the site. What excites most is - direct participation in company's fast growth, fulfilling customers’ expectations, building highly effective customer support team. I'm a tea lover so it is my pleasure to help world's freshest premium Indian teas spreading all around the world.”
How were your first few days at Teabox?
The first day I came to office, met the team and quickly introduced myself, asked office staff to make the tea, grab some free cookies and started doing my part of the job. From the very beginning I'm continuously adapting myself and my work timing to increase our customer base.
How is the work culture at Teabox?
We have a very good team who are always supporting each other and pushing each other to excel in what ever we are doing. Our CEO Kaushal Dugar has answers to most questions when nobody has. One thing I’ve learned is that quick solutions and decisions are very important part of the customer service. We have hired professionals who are highly motivated and genuinely involved in building the company. So we have corresponding work culture - everybody shares their experience on effective ways of interaction inside the team. A good dinner and couple of beer on Fridays help us understand each other even better :)
When you look into the future, what aspect of TeaBox excites you most?
The idea to be “parachuted” somewhere to the new lands and creating from the scratch resonates with me as a scientific fiction lover. So I'm looking forward to build teams for distribution and fulfillment centers all around the world replicating Teabox core functionality. Starting from the cities like Moscow, New York, Tokyo.
One important factor of being part of customer relationship team is to be calm, composed and hospitable even when the customer might be angry for various reasons. Kaushal shares one such scenario where one of their customers lost his temper and called Alex all sorts of nasty things - cuss words included.
But Alex was unflappable. He remained polite and respectful, apologized to the customer for the inconvenience, and requested the person to state his problem, so he could resolve it. Even the rest of the team was outraged by how awful this customer was and handled it pleasingly. And next day the same customer returned to the site and placed a pretty big order.“He pretty much represents Teabox to our customers, since he is the person they talk to. So he's developed quite the connection with them and knows all their pain points - where do the customers lose interest and why, what issues irk them, what they find difficult to understand, so on. In turn, he relays this to the team every single day. Every piece of code that goes in, every product that gets listed, every line of copy that is written, Alex reminds the whole team that it is all for the customer.” adds Kaushal.
Alex represents the essence of folks at Teabox and other young emerging startups – for whom the mission is to disrupt the old traditional industries and have an opportunity to work with a very diverse group of smart people makes and have a great work-cum-learning experience.
Kaushal shares Teabox is looking for more such smart folks who want to be part of the team to work on challenging issues. Do check-out their openings here