A couple of weeks ago, I came across an eBook called “10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service” produced by Help Scout, a help desk software company. I was very moved by the stories, especially by the one about what game developer, Bungie Studios (makers of the Halo video game franchise) did for a little boy who had just received a liver transplant. I’m also a sucker for great inbound marketing content and this is a great piece of content. I definitely wanted to learn more about Help Scout, so I reached out to Greg Ciotti, founder and author of Sparring Mind and marketing strategist at Help Scout. He filled me in about the modern help desk and the relentless quest for outstanding customer service.
Tell me about Help Scout?
Help Scout is help desk software that’s invisible to customers. They send in an email, you see their message in a dashboard that you can easily reply to, tag, assign to another user, add a note, etc. The big advantage is that when you reply, customers just get a personal email from you–no tickets, no creating accounts, just email support with a personal touch. Also, we cost a lot less than Zendesk and Desk.com ;).
Can you describe your typical customer? As a B2B company, our customers are all businesses, many small-medium size, but a few larger (“enterprise”) businesses as well. We actually do a lot of research into our buyers via the Customer Profiling process, and we’ve found that generally, either entrepreneurs themselves sign-up, or leaders of support/community teams do on their behalf.
We are really interested in the way business and work, in general, has changed in the last 5-10 years. What has changed in how you do business and how your employees work in that time?
The biggest change for us, both culturally and how we operate, is our embrace of remote workers. We now have 3 full-time people working remote (including yours truly!), with a few more planned hires in the future that will likely be remote as well. While remote working may not work for a company like Yahoo!, when the team you’re with all want to win as much as the founders, remote work just helps get rid of excessive meetings and interruptions, and allows self-motivated employees to thrive. We do stay in regular contact though, via services like Skype and HipChat.
Has anything changed about your customers’ expectations about doing business with you?
Since we’ve begun regularly writing about providing outstanding customer service on our company blog, our customers tend to have very high expectations when it comes to our service quality. I know this because they’ve told us so! (ie, “We found your blog, hoping to see if you walk the walk!”) Fortunately, our Support Champion, Justin, along with the rest of the team, have managed to meet these expectations, as tough as our critics may be.
Have you faced/overcome any difficulties transitioning into today’s mobile, agile and always-on world?
As an “always on” business that sells software at any time of the day, we haven’t had much of a problem adjusting. We did hire a new support champ to help with the incoming support tickets, but other than that our customers are very considerate and don’t expect a reply in 1 hour if they email us at 11pm.
How does your company use social media, if at all?
We primary focus on creating content on our blog, and social media serves as one of the best ways to get it out to our audience (besides email). We also use platforms like SlideShare to promote our content. As you can see from our account, the slideshows we create there have seen over 125,000+ views, and has been a great source of B2B leads.
Can you tell us about the role of collaboration in your business?
We mostly collaborate on content with other companies and individuals who deeply care about customer service. We worked with Chase Clemons (customer support champ at 37Signals) to create a downloadable guide on sending better emails. We’ve also teamed up with companies like Buffer to do guest posts and syndication of content, in order to ensure our customer loyalty advice reaches as wide of an audience as possible.
How do communications tools play into the way you do business? Has anything changed about that in the last few years?
We are very dependent on HipChat and P2 for internal communication. We like to avoid phone calls (though we have 2 every week) and emails as much as possible, as these shorter updates can be checked anytime and don’t distract the team from working.
What else should people know about Help Scout?
Just that we love to connect with businesses who enjoy taking care of customers! If that sounds like you, be sure to stop by the site, even if you aren’t currently looking for a help desk.