Lean & Powerful Customer Support

Recently at Croissant we started using a really awesome tool to promote community, and soon after had an “oh shit! Genius” moment.That tool was Slack. What we realized was that it can not only build our community but it can also serve as our customer support portal — say whaaaat!? What about support emails? We still do support emails but we encourage users to relay issues via Slack. We want to move quickly to automation and that means giving our members direct access to the founders 24/7. The end goal is to stay lean and spend our time working on the business not necessarily in it (remember what you spend your time doing is what your business will become).

The quickest way to do this is to automate as many processes as possible especially customer support. For our users the point of automation is to offer them an efficient way of resolving common problems and issues. Over 90% of customer issues are redundant. The outliers account for 1–2% of the issues submitted. The outliers have to be dealt with on a personal basis and if you try to automate those you’ll just come off as insensitive and a jabronie. Before I get off on a rant about retention and customer support, let me stay focused on what I want to write about: how Slack helped personalize our customer service experience and allowed us to automate quickly. Did I mention it cost us zero money? So, if you have Slack and Excel (or G Docs) sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.


Slack it up

Step one, sign up for Slack. If you’re not already using it for team communication you’re definitely missing out. Slack is like the HQ command center for teams. Step two, create an account that you can invite all your users to. Step three, setup channels that are relevant to your users, for example, if you have an on-demand pastry service then setup channels like #delivery, #requests, #funpastryrecipes, but make sure to create the #helpdesk.

The #helpdesk channel will allow any of your users to to post comments related to an issue or problem they are having. You (or someone on your team) will have the opportunity to respond publicly. It’s like customer service forum meets FAQ. There are two major benefits to this. One, users can browse and search the channel to find the info they need. Two, this is your chance to show off how quick you are to respond to user issues- they’ll love you for it!

#helpdesk vs DMs

The other way you can respond to a #helpdesk ticket is through DM. Slack allows you to message people directly that will not be shown to anyone else.

This method comes in handy when dealing with sensitive customer issues or ones that could potentially turn into a lengthy conversation. After all, the point of #helpdesk is for users to quickly browse and find answer to issues. Clogging the channel with lengthy conversations will frustrate users and dilute the objective of the channel.

Here is a great example of how a #helpdesk issue should be addressed:

We had a login/logout bug in the last version of the app. The bug was fixed and released with an update, but the App Store approval took a little while. One of our users had an issue with logging in and Dave responded right away.

See that?! Quick and easy. Other users having similar issues can simply browse #helpdesk and and stumble across the solution. The reason it’s effective is because it’s short and to the point.

User: Problem

Founder: Solution

User: ty

If it’s anymore complicated than that you are better off with DM.

Moving on….

Excel at Excel

Fast forward a month. You’ve handled about 50–100 issues/questions. Slack has kept a record in a nice concise place. At the end of the month (like every month) you’re updating and keeping a record in an Excel file of the issues that occurred. Here is the best way to do this:

1. Try and spot common core issues early on. Many times users have the same issue but word it differently. It’s important to not get lost in the wordiness and realize the core issue and deal with it.

2. Assign a number t0 core issues and enter them into an excel sheet. For example, at Croissant we have identified 9 core issues. Every time a #helpdesk comes through we assign the correct number and record it; date, email, issue number.

For example, 1 = Login/Logout issue due to bug
2 = Complaint about noise in the workspace
3 = did not check-in/check out of a space
(you get the idea)

3. Look over the numbers every 20–50 issue request. Assigning numbers makes it easier to analyze than to continuously read through user issues.

After a few months you should be thinking about whether to FAQ or to auto email. The more frequent ones FAQ, and the less frequenters auto email.

Ask questions

Ask questions and make educated assumptions, and then prove them wrong. You want to either be improving these issues, meaning they are decreasing on a month-to-month basis, or analyzing whether perhaps there is an opportunity to expand the product or add features. Here are a few questions that we constantly ask:

1. Are we improving the issues?

2. How can we improve it- product implementation or experience adjustment

3. Are any of these issues correlated?

4. What are people asking for — sometimes customer service may just be the answer to your question on what to implement next

That’s all!

That’s about it in a nutshell. I’ll be focused on writing more of these so if you enjoyed it please stay tuned. Lastly, I want to hear from you guys. Are you having issues with customer support? Do you have any success or war stories? Leave them in the comments so people can see and I’ll reply as fast as I can.