“Do not get too attached to any one thing that is happening because the growth of our company will necessitate a difference.”
— Ali Rayl, head of global customer experience at Slack
If there’s one constant in technology it’s change. Month to month, year to year the features, integrations and announcements bring about enormous transformation at software companies. And nowhere is this more keenly felt than on support teams.
Being able to ride the wave of change is vital to support operations at messaging app Slack where processes are built to last a few quarters—by design.
Secret #1 Spend less time building processes with the intention they’ll change in six to nine months.
Trial and error into
“fair share” management
Slack started out with no true process to manage volume. At first, every ticket lived in one queue, but the team struggled to know what was most important and how quickly they should work. So, they subdivided the queue and assigned team
members by topic like mobile, integrations and sales.
But work wasn’t spread out evenly and efficiency lagged. Some people worked fast and knocked out large amounts of tickets. Others worked on low- volume queues and weren’t busy. Slack iterated again and adopted a “fair share” way of working.
Now, team members see targets based on the day’s number of tickets divided by the number of people working (Fig. 1).
Secret #2 Ditch the quotas. Arbitrary benchmarks don’t work for support at growing companies.
Why quotas don’t work on agile support teams
The targets help, but Slack support still operates without quotas. Why?
It’s in freedom from quotas that the team is able to deliver support for whatever the business needs that day. With high volume events like feature launches or outages, quotas leave team members believing they’ve achieved their goals, while customers go without service.
Rayl shared, “The success criteria for [high volume] days is higher than on a normal day. So, quotas just don’t work for the way we run our team and the way we approach the volume of work to be done.” 2
As your company scales, things in support will break. That includes quotas. With change management practices—instead of numbers—at the heart of the way you work, your team will more easily match the pace of growth.