How we implemented all-hands support and tripled our response speed
Growth will impact your startup in hundreds of ways. One of those is customer support.
In the early days, it's an invaluable channel to gather feedback. But then it gets tricky, especially if you have a freemium model and use the support channel to convert sales.
In the three months during Y Combinator, we grew from 600 to 3K active users. The 2 persons sales and marketing team was juggling hundreds of conversations per week. With so many irons in the fire, they couldn't maintain high quality and responsive customer support. While we met Merci Grace, former VP growth of Slack, a well-known solution came up: Get the whole team doing customer support. It's not only become a chance to increase responsiveness, but also a great way to connect the team with the users. So here's how we implemented it for up to 22 remote folks. This isn't rocket science, but a guide on how to make it work. Anyway, time to spill the beans:
Get the team involved
Sell the benefit to the team while remaining honest on what it will take
Making the most of a time when we were all together, we decided to introduce the all-hands idea to our team during a retreat. You can find the presentation here (FR).
"All-hands support helps us to improve responsiveness & quality. But it also offer a dedicated time to everyone in the team with our users. It helps everyone to develop ownership about the customer voice. At least but not last, it speed up the onboarding process of new employees on the product"
Show it will be deadly simple to handle it
To make it work asynchronously and without official ownership, it has to be stupidly simple so people can focus on bringing great support instead of scratching their head on how it works. They have their own missions in parallel, so reducing friction is key.
Keep it simple
Make it a part of onboarding
Every new employee in her or his onboarding has a step
to go through the All-hands handbook to get the guidelines (coming with Loom videos) & to set up their intercom
set a 15min KO call.
Make a clear schedule
1 day a week (with 22 employees).
At least one technical person a day.
Folks receive a reminder in Slack in the support channel.
Give straight-forward responsibilities
* Inbox zero. By end of day to clean the path for the team of the following day. * Reply any messages. The team answers new chat, emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, NPS survey answers & social media message. All of them flows into a dedicated Intercom inbox. * Tag feature requests. Plenty of product feedback flows into the support. The team tags conversations in Intercom so it shows up in the product team inbox in Productboard. It provides insights & a pool of users to interview when the product team needs to run some research. * Report bug & communicate bug fixes.
The team follows the Bug handbook our VP of Product Mike made.
They can use a template to report it in our bug tracking tool, ClickUp.
When a bug is fixed, a Slack notification warns the support team to inform the users (👌)
Use as few tools as possible
This is where you can lose the team quickly. We tried to keep it simple:
Intercom: to manage every new conversations, add teammates in the loop, tag feedback,..
Linear: to log bugs. Yes it happens.
Forest: back office tasks.
Set up Intercom so your grandma could use it
We auto routed new conversations into two inboxes “Support” and “Sales & cs” so the support team of the day could focus on the Support messages only. For each conversation, the user/company info is visible on the right column, so the team can:
easily find user context while investigating the issue and filling its bug report (see screenshot).
prioritize paying customers
Support the all-hands support with Slite!
You saw it coming?
We created a Slite Support channel to let anyone be self-sufficient while doing support. Slite is the source of truth for the team to find and contribute to all support plans, FAQs and how-tos. The team can directly look for specific questions via our Slack integration 🔍 .
Turn on the Radio feedback 📻
It's important to surface all the feedback that users are giving to the wider team in an easy and digestible way. Instead of asking to the product team to jump in each conversation or just share a list of feature requests, we use a Slite doc to surface all the highlights from Sales & CS.
We call it 'Radio Feedback' & we send it every month. The note is introduced with a short introduction video made in Loom. The team find it to be an invaluable connection to our customers.
→ We tripled our responsiveness since bringing the whole team to support. In a world where people make up their mind quickly about a solution, speed is crucial.
→ The whole team is connected to the customer. That's helping the product & dev team to be even closer to customer expectation. It develops stronger customer empathy & stronger ownership across the teams. Instead of being assigned a bug to fix, developers can see the people dealing with the issues directly and feel more helpful in solving it. Designers can see where users are getting confused by their designs and make improvements.
→ The support day helps to connect remote folks who are not likely to work together.
→ Our scalability improved also. We quadrupled our weekly active users while the number of conversations only rose by 20%. Having folks from the product & engineering also helps to identify features that reduce common requests. For instance, we were often asked to change a team's owner, so our developers simply built a settings option for users to do it themselves.
Things to watch out for
Overall pulse With support so fragmented, it can be harder to get the big picture of what's going on over the support. Make sure to keep an on what your customer base as a whole is finding problematic lately.
Support quality It's hard to have everyone delivering the same quality or care. Coaching can help to solve this but it is time consuming when you've no dedicated support person that could provide this coaching.
Focus When you’re early stage, crafting your product for the right market everyone needs deep focus on their individual work. Even a single day of support per week can sound like a distraction, but by making it simple and having clear documentation, we've found that all-hands-support pays off for everyone
And what's next?
It's important to adapt as you grow. Today we realized that 78%of our MRR is coming from teams who used the chat even before paying. Given the importance of these touch-points, we need to make sure we're doing our best to level up.
So we're now looking to build a team of dedicated specialists to focus on improving our relationships and quality of customer interaction.
But all-hands will be still in our veins! We want to maintain this precious moment with customers for the team. We will combine it with a core support team that could also help to coach the rest of the team.
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Brieuc Sebillotte is our Sales & Customer Success lead. Working closely with customer facing teams, his role is to make sure every prospect and customers enjoy the async life. Brieuc lives in Marseille, France. He often rides his Renault Kangoo to discover the best spots on weekends and holidays in Europe! Find him @Brieuc1 on Twitter.
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