How We Made our Customer Support Kickass

Mar 7, 2013, by Lauren Buchsbaum, Happiness Officer

A customer-centered company

Here at ToutApp, we’re really dedicated to making our customers happy. My job title as "Happiness Officer" is a fairly excellent example of thisA month or so ago, though, as we amped up our marketing efforts, we started to experience some growing pains - especially in customer service. We’d been having trouble listening to our customers, responding as quickly as we used to, and making necessary improvements within the app - all while staying friendly, accessible, and helpful. It felt like a compromise to some of our ideals. To that effect, we decided to make some important changes to our support structure that I’ll talk about below.

Though none of this is directly sales-related, I hope that at the very least it’ll spark a discussion about how to best communicate with customers, as well as how to structure customer service at a growing company.

Here are some important changes and realizations we made where it comes to support:

1) “Customer service” is NOT a happy term.

Before doing any real restructuring of our support system, we meditated on our methodology and language for working with customers. “Customer service” is reminiscent of being put on hold and transferred, having to answer the same question over and over, or getting a nine digit case number to reference. Not the sort of experience we wanted to provide to ToutApp customers.

Since we’ve never been fans of doing things the old fashioned way, we’re throwing these terms out internally. If you want to get in touch with us, you can contact the happiness team to ask a question, report a problem, or talk to our enterprise sales team. No fuss.

2) Support tools can actually hurt productivity.

One of the biggest challenges I personally have been up against is the juggling of many different platforms in my daily workflow. At one point, I sat down, mapped out what I was using each service for (it looked something like this [right]), and decided things needed to change.

Here's all the tools I was using for support....

Now I’ve got Hipchat, Pivotal Tracker, Salesforce, Google Docs, Salesforce, and our internal database all hooked up to Zendesk and everything is finally in one place. I know when new cases come in through Hipchat, I can log bug reports easily, record user requests in a spreadsheet, and, most importantly, easily reference our customers’ data while chatting with them. Even if it takes some effort to build a custom setup like this, I can guarantee that the final result is worth it. Your customer support, service, or happiness team - whatever you call it - is not one size fits all. And your internal chaos will likely reflect itself when dealing with a customer. Your zen is their zen.

2) Your feedback mechanisms should be customized.

After a ton of research, we decided to migrate from Desk to Zendesk as our help desk platform.

Ask a Question

Zendesk provided some standard forms for submitting tickets. However, after looking over them we realized these were too generic for our business. So we decided to design our own forms.

Our main reason for this was the need for two very different forms: one that allowed customers to get simple questions answered (e.g. What’s included with your free plan?), and another for more in-depth problems with our product (e.g. Why won’t my templates load?). We’re a fairly complex platform that has a lot of different integrations, so we built up a really comprehensive “Report a Problem” form that asks as many questions as it can so that we can minimize back-and-forth exchanges by grabbing a ton of information up front.

Check them out:

3) Showing is telling.

Our new FAQs!

Throughout this support facelift, it had become fairly apparent recently that we’d outgrown our 

homemade help/FAQ pages, so I completely redid these. Our two worst problems with these FAQs were a lack of up-to-date information and too much text. Rather than spend the necessary time updating these FAQs, I typically ended up communicating one-off with customers to show them a feature or walk them through a necessary process.

I’m cringing a bit as I write this, because we all know that’s not a sustainable process. Investing the time to make your help pages great and create good articles and video content goes a huge way in making any support organization successful. After just a week on our new FAQ pages (using Zendesk’s framework - thanks!), I can already notice a lot more customers educating themselves about the product, which makes everyone’s lives happier.

4) Our customers’ priorities are our priorities.

We previously asked customers "How are you feeling?" in our customer forms. This was a suggestion that Wufoo made at Userconf (a conference that was really helpful in us defining our support priorities!).

In the end, though, we made a basic realization: customers who have to fill out a “Report a Problem” form usually tend to be annoyed - who wouldn’t be?

We wanted to have a more meaningful way of humanizing communication with our customers, so we took a tip from Zendesk and added in a “Priority” field instead. Is this a low urgency issue? Or is it highly impactful? Now we can determine if something needs to be solved right away or in the near future.

In conclusion....

We realized we weren’t scaling something well, so we fixed it. It was this realization that allowed us to create an even better experience for our customers. ToutApp customers can now get help more easily and quickly - with a friendlier face.

I’m sure we’ll continue to have challenges as we continue to scale, but now our revamped infrastructure will better scale with them. If your company is experiencing anything similar, I’d love to talk about ideas, techniques, and tools. If you’re a user, I hope you notice the improvements. We’re here for you guys!

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