The 7 tools we use for support and customer development
We’ve learned so much from support at Buffer and are extremely lucky to be able to take the knowledge we’ve gained over the years with us to Buffer Reply. In that time, we’ve learned that even with the best support team, it’s hard to offer an amazing user experience without awesome tools both behind and in front of the scenes. Today, we’d love to share the tools helping our team tick!
HelpScout: Docs + Email
Whether it’s a customer replying to one of our newsletter mailings, or reaching out directly from Buffer, we get a lot of emails. In fact, an ongoing effort of ours is to hear even more from customers — it’s where we learn the most. To help manage it all we use HelpScout.
Fast, elegant, and feature-rich, HelpScout has been at the heart of our support system not only for our team, but at Buffer as a whole too. We’ve been using it for years and don’t see ourselves switching gears from it anytime soon. And hey, we’ve been fortunate enough to have our pals at HelpScout using Buffer Reply too — it’s come full circle!
So far, we’ve found having this customer-facing information has really empowered our users, giving them the information they need when they need it. This has really allowed us even more time to focus in on the experience as a whole as well as to dig in deeper on bugs/feature requests with customers.
Buffer Reply: Twitter Support
It’s important to us to empower our customers to reach out where they feel most comfortable, and where they are most often. These days, Twitter has increasingly become that place, with our Buffer team seeing nearly 11,000 conversations through Twitter in the last month alone.
When it comes to listening and talking with customers on Twitter, we (of course!) use Buffer REply. It’s sort of like our Twitter inbox, collecting any Mentions, Direct Messages and Search results in a dashboard where our team can work out of together.
Pro Tip: Use the new “Add a DM link” feature to quickly invite customers to chat with you in a private Direct Message. This allows you and your customer to easily chat more in-depth without the character limit forcing you to leave Twitter.
Intercom: Customer Development
For in-app conversations with users, we use Intercom. This comes into play a lot when we’re exploring how users feel about a particular feature, or when we want to check in with specific user bases. It’s our way of being able to check-in and ensure each user’s getting the most out of Buffer Reply and to really have in-depth conversations on particular subjects.
As an example, we’ve recently been using Intercom a lot to explore user’s thoughts on our Slack Integration and how we’d be able to improve the experience there. For this, we use Intercom to show a message to users when they’ve got it activated — that way we can chat with folks we know are using that feature.
Another example is how we have emails setup in Intercom to automatically go out throughout the trial providing users useful tips along their journey. This helps us initiate dialogue and continue learning from our customers each day.
Zoom: Video Chat
With our team being fully remote, we don’t quite have our meetings in the office (we actually don’t have one). Instead, our team has daily syncs over video chat where we go over the day’s current bugs, issues users have brought to our attention as well as to plan out our days ahead. We love using Zoom for this. It makes joining calls mind blowingly snappy, allows for quick screen sharing, and lets us join from any of our devices, whether it be on the go, or at desktop from anywhere in the world.
Pro Tip: At Buffer, we especially love Zoom for it’s support for so many simultaneous callers. With our team coming close to 100 members, we can still all join in on a single Zoom call for our regular All Hands meetings.
Trello: Bug and Feature Request Organization
Whether it’s bugs or feature requests, we’re super lucky to have customers bring a lot to our attention. To keep all their incredible ideas, requests and bug reports organized, we use Trello.
Our current setup with Trello includes two boards, one for Bug Reports and the other which we track Feature Requests through. Here’s a quick overview of both these processes:
- Bug Tracking: Trello is the home of all the bugs we get single reports of that we can’t reproduce. In a way, it’s our watchlist. Anytime we get double (or triple) reports for a bug, even when we can’t reproduce it, we’ve been able to validate the bug and will move it over to Github (we’ll get to that!).
- Feature Requests: Our users are amazing (actually, more than amazing!), and frequently share ideas with us that we’ve never thought of! For all their ideas we toss ‘em into Trello so we can keep track of the number of requests we get, as well as to serve as a great place to re-visit for follow ups as we turn requests into reality.
Github: Taking Action
Github is our engineers’ to-do list where we have both bugs and enhancements slated for action. Without Github it’s very likely we’d would have a whole lot more bugs 😃
Bug Route: For bugs we’re able to reproduce, or ones that’ve we’ve gotten a few reports of in Trello, we create an ‘Issue’ in Github. This is the last step for bugs before they’re squashed.
- Enhancement Center: Whether it’s a Feature Request in our Trello board, or an idea we’ve gotten from customers through Intercom or HelpScout, we put any enhancements we’re wanting to make to Buffer Reply into Github as well as an ‘Issue’ (using Labels to keep things tidy). Here we can discuss possible solutions for user problems, and propose UI changes/additions to fix them.
Pro Tip: One tool our team at Buffer is using to help manage the more than 350 active issues is Waffle. The best way to describe it is a layer on top of Github that turns Issues into a Trello-style board to help organize and tackle bugs and enhancements.
Slack: Communication Hub
Slack is our main communication channel for our team (and Buffer as a whole!). We chat here throughout the day on all the things, setup syncs, chat through issues/ideas, and so on. If Buffer was the New York subway, Slack would be our Grand Central Station.
Pro Tip: We also use Slack as a notification hub, funneling in new Github issues, HelpScout tickets/replies, as well as have our own Slack notifications to bring in all our Mentions, Direct Messages and Searches so we can quickly jump in and get back to customers.
And that about summarizes it!
Was there a product we might’ve forgotten here, or a tool you and your team use to great success for customer service and development? We’d love to hear about it! Give us a shout on Twitter @GetRespond — we’ll be responding from Buffer 😃