Last month I organized the first Customer Support Night for a new Meetup group called Know Your Customer. I created Customer Support Night so that people of various support and success backgrounds can learn from each other, connect, and grow.
Guests participated in discussions led by top professionals in support and success. It was a pleasure to stand back and observe as attendees covered current topics in support and success. Each discussion was full of synergy as guests found better solutions by bouncing ideas off each other.
The majority of our guests were leads and specialists in support and success. The remainder was a mix of product designers who love Figma.
Support Pros Led Interactive Discussions
We broke teams into groups. Each team leader led an interactive discussion related to Customer Support and Success. Team leaders included:
Nykki Yeager, Head of Customer Success at Figma
Emily VerMeulen, Director of Customer Support at PlanGrid
Bo Liu, VP of Customer Success at Amplitude
Then We Played a Game
I'll show you more GIFs, but first you should learn new skills to pay the bills. Here are lessons we learned at Customer Support Night.
Customer Support Workflow Lessons
Attendees paired into groups and discussed several topics relative to customer support. These included:
• How to scale a support team
• Favorite support tools
• How to increase customer satisfaction
• How to manage customer expectations
You'll learn how to optimize and scale your team for maximum productivity.
#1: How to Scale a Support Team
Growing a support team has plenty of benefits. With a bigger team you can help more customers. You can expand to multiple time zones to make it convenient for customers to access support.
Sometimes support teams have humble beginnings. It can be overwhelming when one or two representatives are in charge of an entire user base. Eventually, a company will hire more support reps, and grow the team. Then you have to think about training new people, and making sure the system runs smoothly.
When formal methods are put into place, more bandwidth evens out the load. Here are guests’ suggestions on how to lessen growing pains.
The Optimal Team Size
Team dynamics can change when you hire new people. Suraj Savalia, Director of Product at Stella Services, says that fifteen people feels like the magic number for his team. The systems are in place and everyone knows how to use the same software. When that number doubles, it’s harder to preserve the team’s tight-knit family aspect.
Keep your Team Happy as you Grow
One guest explained how he preserved team dynamics as they grew. Here are ways he kept employees happy while scaling his team from 100 to 200 employees.
- Recognize individual accomplishments of every team member
- Schedule activities to bring the team together. This includes bonding, eat meals together, happy hours, and group activities.
- Ensure that each teammate actively engages with customers
Recruit New Talent
Hiring new talent can be fun, if you get creative. You can attend meetups and networking events to meet possible candidates.
Block Out Time to Recruit
Setting aside time to concentrate on hiring initiatives can create more bandwidth. One guest shared her strategy of hiring during certain business quarters. By prioritizing recruiting and onboarding efforts instead of OKR goals, she doubled the size of her agent team.
Customer Support and Customer Success
Support and success teams tend to pair well together. If your company has yet to build out its success team, this may be a good thing to consider. Proactive support combined with customer success provides a more holistic customer experience.
#2: Favorite Support Tools
As we continued around the roundtable, attendees chimed in on their favorite support tools to increase productivity and improve communication with customers. Here’s what they recommended.
Claire Beezy from LoungeBuddy uses every feature of Zendesk she can. Support, talk, chat, guide and labeling were the capabilities she listed as most helpful to her.
Claire's team loves Zendesk’s integrations. She recommends Integrate Cloud, an app that links data Zendesk and developer tools like JIRA. With it you can file bugs through Github, create bugs in Zendesk, and link support tickets to each issue.
Airtable, Asana, and Trello
Jimmy Kim, Customer Support Specialist from DocSend, uses Airtable, Asana, and Trello on a regular basis. These tools provide visibility into what product teams are working on. They also keep support teams informed of the product roadmap. Jimmy likes Asana because it helps him triage tasks and set expectations for new product releases.
Text Expander and CloudApp
These two tools help Joshua from PlanGrid save plenty of time. Text Expander lets you create keyboard shortcut to respond to customers with words and phrases that you use frequently. You can reply to customers with the tap of a keystroke.
Joshua also uses CloudApp for its ability to generate quick links to his visual content. He pastes screen recordings and annotations into tickets and emails to get his message across faster.
The tool is ubiquitous and still a crowd favorite. Slack can help with both internal and external communication. One guest loves its live chat capability. It allows to him to constant, consistent feedback. Did you know that CloudApp also has a Slack Integration? It's easy to use and free to get started.
#3: Time Management and Productivity
Time is of the essence in support. Discussions leaders and guests discussed a few different ways to save time and avoid distractions.
A lot of information passes through support and success teams. Nykki Yeager, Head of Customer Success at Figma, says ‘if it’s important enough, it will come up more than once.’ That line helps her determine whether something requires her immediate action, or to just let it go. She feels that an ability to separate signal from noise is vital to staying productive.
While Slack was a favorite communication tool for one group, guests admitted that it's app notifications can sabotage focus. Topher Hammond, Customer Support at Figma, said that he often sends messages through email to avoid Slack disruptions.
Nykki Yeager encourages her Support team at Figma to stay focused on one thing at a time.
One guest has trained himself to continue working each time he notices a newly-bolded channel. “If they really need me, these are the 3 channels I need to follow. I adjusted my notification settings.”
Nykki encouraged guests to develop an attitude that is okay to not respond to everything.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Teams perform better when they view projects through a growth lens. One way to do that is to assign a priority level to a project based on its outcomes.To do this, Nykki suggests creating a list of everything you want to work on. Then you can score it under effort and impact. i.e. project management, resources, etc.
#4: Increase Customer Satisfaction
Ask Customers for New Feature Requests
The customer experience is paramount. Make it a habit to ask customers what features they want to see in your product. It's satisfying for customers to see new features they requested come to life. They feel like they played a part in the development process and that they are actually heard. Also, check out our tips on how to enhance the customer experience.
Use Data to Measure and Forecast Demand
One guest works with the Analytics team to gain insights on demand. More data gives him a window into annual customer volume and the amount of help required. Additionally, his team is installing Workforce software to manage and track how employees spend their time.
Establish the Terms of the Relationship
At the event, Bo Liu from Amplitude led a group discussion about customer success. He suggests to define the terms of the relationship between employees and customers so they know what to expect.
Bo created a thorough process to keep customers in the loop which he calls “The Crucial Touchpoint.” Here are some tips from Bo on how to manage the interaction between the employee and customer.
- Choose which Master Service Level Agreement (MSLA) standards you plan to enforce
- Decide on contact cadence for customers: daily/ weekly/ ad hoc basis
- Designate a specific team member to work with every customer
- Map out the escalation path and hierarchy of the customer support team
Self-Service for Customers
Good support helps customers to become more self-reliant, but what happens when they cannot troubleshoot issues themselves? Different support representatives offered ideas on how to create a system that provides extra support to customers.
One important indicator of success for Figma’s team is if customers can resolve the technical issues they encounter. The support team analyzes case history to determine the ratio of customers who require technical aid over customized support. Another team runs diagnostics tests by working closely with the tech team.
Part 2: Support React Game
The CloudApp team presented examples of situations between support reps and their customers. Teams created a reaction with CloudApp's webcam recording feature.
We had a ton of fun playing the Support React game. Here's how it worked. The CloudApp team presented examples of situations between support reps and their customers. Teams created a reaction with CloudApp's webcam recording feature. The team with the best GIFs won Amazon gift cards, courtesy of CloudApp.
Here were the responses:
The event was a blast and we can't wait to organize another one! We were really impressed with our attendees' creativity. Want to attend an upcoming event? Join Know Your Customer, our new Meetup group at meetup.com/knowyourcustomer.
Want to Speak at an Event or Lead a Team Roundtable Discussion?
We are looking for speakers for our next event in late October / early November. If you or someone you know is interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.