How to provide helpful help (with Slack)
Here at Yala we take customer support veryyy seriously. We take pride in answering tickets in minutes and going above-and-beyond to make every Yala user happy.
Some companies have dedicated support teams — for Yala, it’s just us doing support alongside our other roles. I’d like to share our methodology for staying on top of support requests and making sure everyone get the help they need, pronto!
First things first, though. Let’s talk about our support channels.
Website live chat
The majority of our tickets come in via Drift. Drift is this little chat bubble on our site that lets people intiate a live chat with the Yala humans. What I love about Drift is that it pings me on Slack whenever anyone starts a new conversation, and I can continue that conversation right from inside Slack.
I have the Slack app installed on both my laptop and my phone, which means I’m always around to chat. It’s also wired to ping me whenever there’s a new message, which comes in handy.
Some people request support via our Facebook page. To answer those tickets, I use Smooch. Smooch pulls every new Facebook chat to our Slack, and pings our #general channel. I highly recommend it to manage Facebook chat support.
We also use email to provide support. Email is better than live chat because it’s asyncronous, which means that even if you don’t respond super quickly, the user will still get your response. With live chat, if a user doesn’t leave their email, it’s impossible to find them again afterwards.
We have a centralized email address, email@example.com, which forwards to my personal email address, as well as to my colleagues’ email addresses. That way, if I’m not around to respond quickly, one of them can pick up the request.
It’s very important to BCC emails: once to our centralized email inbox, to make sure everybody knows I’ve responded to the ticket; and once more to our Hubspot Hub. More about that later
We use Mailclark to pull all our Twitter mentions into Slack, and enable us to reply to them right from our #notifications channel. You see the trend here: pull everything into Slack. Go Slack!
Our hub: Hubspot CRM
Everyone who’s ever contacted us gets added as a Hubspot contact. We do this to make sure we know where our communications with any one person stand — sometimes support might be happening across two channels simultaneously, for example. It’s good to be on top of things.
Providing great customer support is more art than science. There are a few tips I can share, however.
1 — Pronto!
Support requests need to be answered fast. Like, really friggin fast. This is one of the cornerstones of good customer support, because nobody likes to wait.
I strive to answer simple requests within 15 minutes from reception. It’s difficult, but still manageable at our scale. If the support request is complicated, and you know it’ll take you a while to answer, it’s better to send a note saying “Working on it. Will write back with an answer ASAP” than to just leave your customer hanging.
2 — Compassion
It’s always important to show compassion. People want to feel that we understand their pain. Never blame a user for an error, even if it’s clearly, definitely a human error on their end. If something bad happened because a user did something with your program, your program isn’t built right. It should be human-proof.
Instead of placing blame, say something like:
“I totally understand your frustration, and I’m deeply sorry”
“I hear you, and I apologize.”
“You’re absolutely, 100% right.”
Also, support shouldn’t be all tight-arsed. Be nice. Be funny.
3 — Personalization
When I get a new support request, the first thing I try to do is learn more about the person on the other side. What’s their name? Where do they live? How old are they? Why are they using Yala?
There are three reasons why this is important.
First, it helps me provide more capable support by understanding the circumstances behind the request.
Second, it helps me provide more compassionate support by expressing interest in the person I’m chatting with. What kind of business are they building? What are the challenges they’re facing? Mentioning those things in a conversation helps build a real relationship with people.
Third, it helps me collect valuable feedback for Yala. The more I know about our users, the more personalized the solution we end up building can be.
4 — Gratitude
We’re very grateful for anyone who uses Yala, and we take care to show it. We definitely don’t take anyone for granted. We say things like:
“I’m so grateful to have you as a Yala user”
“Thank you so much for taking the time to write in”
“You’re amazing. I’m so happy to have you onboard”
And we mean it, 100%.
5 — Voice & Video
I try to answer as many support requests as I can with video demonstrations. I don’t use any canned videos — instead, I record a new one every time I want to respond with video to a support request. Voice and video form a connection that just isn’t possible with text, but still preserve the advantages of asynchronous communications (unlike phone support, for example).
To record video, I use Lookback. What’s great about Lookback is that it also auto-uploads my videos to the web, so I can send people a link within minutes.
Watching someone demonstrate how to use the software is by far the easiest way to learn, and hearing their voice also creates a deeper connection. Finally, grabbing clips for people who’ve written in to request support shows that we care about them enough to dedicate 10 minutes of work to make them happy.
How can you tell when you’re providing excellent customer support?
As far as I know, there’s only one surefire way:
Look for thankfulness.
Mad Mimi is known for providing excellent customer service. Whenever one of their support agents gets back an email including the word “I love you”, or “you’re amazing”, or “thank you so much”, they get a $25 bonus.
This is because the number one indicator of successful support is happy customers. And if you answer rapidly, with compassion and personalization your customers will be happy, too.
Make me thankful by taking a nanosecond to recommend this article. ❤