This is part of our February series on support, which we kicked off by announcing that customer-powered support doesn’t work.
Last week our CEO, Richard White, wrote about how he thinks doing support is incredibly useful and important for any CEO. Of course, he has CEO stuff to do too (I imagine that it involves wearing a suit and a monocle and drinking champagne, but he claims it’s less glamorous than that), so the load is shared. In fact, it’s roughly evenly shared by three of us here at UserVoice, and the rest of the team occasionally does support as well. Why?
We feel that sharing the support load leads to better support and better product.
The biggest issue with support being provided by one employee in the corner is that it’s his/her word against the assumptions of the rest of the team. Sure, your support guy got a ticket from someone saying that it’s hard to figure out where to change payment info. It was probably just one guy, not a problem with your user experience..
But when multiple people see an issue, it starts to sink in. A good support person establishes empathy with the person they’re helping, and that empathy means that customer frustrations become employee frustrations. Suddenly you’ve got 3 members of the team frustrated about a bug or bad user experience. Guess what? It gets fixed a lot faster.
This also helps when doing product planning. Instead of everyone bringing their own assumptions to the table, they bring real customer experiences. That can really only result in a better product.
We compare our support stats on a dashboard. By doing this, providing great support suddenly becomes a competition. Who can answer the most tickets within an hour? Who can get the most customer compliments? We trash talk each other when we do well, and we try harder when we fall behind. It makes things more fun and results in better support than one person working by themselves.
Perhaps this one is a little selfish, but getting non-support employees to do support gives them more respect for support staff and community managers. It tells them that support can be hard. It tells them that there is value in support. It tells them that it’s a big job keeping customers happy. Not only will they stop putting whoopee cushions filled with grape jelly in the support guy’s seat, they’ll respect their opinion a lot more – which means that your product will end up better.
How do you split up (or not split up) support duties? Let us know in the comments.
Closet photo courtesy of TypeFiend