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 this. A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Any experienced businessperson has attended their fair share of conferences and tradeshows. They’ve networked, they’ve delivered their pitch, and they’ve handed out and received endless swathes of business cards. As our society continues to talk about going paperless, the fact that business cards are still prevalent seems a little outdated.
At Tout, our mission has always been to make emailing simpler and more efficient by providing features like templates, tracking, and easy-to-message groups. Still, our product is flexible and ever-changing; we hear about new use cases from our customers every day. So when we heard about users relying on Tout as a replacement for business cards, we had to share it!
Tout solves a key problem for any salesperson: following up.
Picture South by Southwest in your mind: It’s a time for concerts, panel sessions, parties, and endless, endless amounts of networking. And with networking comes business cards. And with business cards come dead trees. All that aside, though, keeping track of the sheer volume of contacts met during SXSW is a daunting task.
We caught up with Vivek Sharma of Movable Ink who attended South by Southwest this year to get some insight into his use of Tout.
What was life like before Tout?
VS: [Before Tout, I would] carry a stack of business cards and do a card exchange. No one ever follows up on collected business cards. One could spend hours sorting through cards, transcribing data, and following up. Why not skip the steps and go directly to a personalized email? I've saved hours and hours of time with this streamlined process.
My inbox is also searchable so I'll always be able to go back and track older communications with someone I met. I love Tout!
How did you use Tout at SXSW?
VS: I used Tout to send people my contact information, follow up with them, and demo my company's technology. My company, Movable Ink, delivers live and streaming content in emails. Tout's the perfect solution to demo this to people I meet. I send people I meet a personalized email with an example of Movable Ink technology (see below).
It's the perfect tool to get people to experience what we have built on a visceral level.
Have you recommended Tout to anyone? How did you describe it?
VS: I do… in fact I describe Tout to anyone I've met and I'm about to send an email to. I tell them it's like a Mailchimp for personal use.
Bonus: What are your favorite Tout features?
VS: Tout's delayed send is an awesome feature. People are very busy during SXSW so its useful to auto-send the follow-up three days after the event, when they can actually absorb it.
The iPhone app is very easy to use when you're on the go. Finally, being able to track whether your email was opened or clicked on is a big benefit.