Buffer’s Secret Sauce: How They're Tackling 10,000 Conversations a Month Through Social Customer Care
With more 3 million users and counting Buffer is growing quickly. Nearly 10,000 conversations flow through its Twitter inbox each month.
With a few new processes, great leadership and a small team of 3, Buffer has still managed to offer fast, effective Twitter customer service with a team of just three. In fact, today the average time to first reply is just 1.5 hours!
But how are they doing it?
It turns out there’s a few key factors to their success:
- Simple processes
- Great camaraderie
- A Remote, widespread team
- Awesome tools
A powerful toolset
It’s hard to deliver happiness without a great set of tools backing you up. Buffer’s Twitter Happiness Team has enabled this success by having some of the best of the best at its back.
Buffer Reply: An important factor in Buffer’s Twitter Happiness Team’s success is channeling Twitter customer support through Buffer Reply. Within the tool, the team gathers @buffer mentions, DMs and search results together into one collaborative team inbox.
Better yet, each week our Buffer Reply product team works closely with the Twitter Happiness Heroes to squash any bugs, ensure tip-top performance and develop features to streamline customer support workflows.
Having this direct connection not only increases the effectiveness of the Twitter Happiness Team, but also drastically improves the speed at which the product evolves.
Slack: The second big piece to the puzzle for Buffer’s Twitter Happiness Team is the use of Slack. As teammates come online throughout the day, Slack makes it easy to pass along good-to-knows, chat through any bugs, as well as communicate with the rest of the Buffer team.
The team can even funnel notifications from Buffer Reply right into Slack so that the team can take action on high-stress tickets quickly.
Zoom: Each day the Heroes have a standup video call through Zoom, chatting through trends that may have spotted in the Inbox, changes to workflows, and even just about how the day felt.
Without an office, Zoom is Buffer’s water cooler.
Remote by design
Having ditched its San Francisco office last year, Buffer is an entirely remote company with team members spread across the globe.
Its Twitter Happiness Team consists of Darcy in Colorado, Julia in Pennsylvania and Paul “down under” in Australia.
This allows for far greater coverage of hours than a more traditional office setup, giving the team a significant advantage in supporting customers regardless of their location.
Even as a team of three, the Twitter Happiness Team has streamlined a workflow that ensures the quickest possible response to support-related tweets.
"Some companies don’t think of enacting processes behind their social media support until they are a bit larger," Darcy, Buffer’s Twitter Happiness Lead says. "By adding process, whether you are big or small, you’re creating a more efficient way of taking care of your customers and empowering your team to get more done."
Taking ownership of conversations
As each Hero replies to a customer, they assign the conversation to themselves in Buffer Reply. This allows the customer to keep communicating with a single Hero in a more personal one-to-one style rather than being handed off to another Hero many times throughout the day.
"It’s amazing being able to talk with a customer in such a personal way," Darcy says. "When you get to chat with a customer from first contact all the way through to the resolution, it’s a powerful, personal experience. We strive for that."
When you get to chat with a customer from first contact all the way through to the resolution, it’s a powerful, personal experience. We strive for that.
Sometimes though, a reply to a conversation may take longer than expected. Whether it’s because the Twitter inbox is swamped or it’s due to availability, it’s possible a conversation might go on beyond a hero’s workday.
In these cases, it’s a better experience for the customer to get a reply sooner, rather than wait for the same Hero to come back online the following day.
That’s why when each team member pops in for the day, the first action they take is to clear out their personal inbox and then clear out the inbox of their team members.
Implementing a new #support hashtag
For years, Buffer hasn’t had a specific Twitter support hashtag nor a help-focused Twitter handle. In recent months though this has changed.
Earlier this year, the team noticed that some support Tweets were getting slower response times as they were mixed in with a rather full general inbox. (Note: Buffer also gets a bunch of blog reshares, community chatter, etc. flowing through its inbox). That’s when one of the Heroes tossed #BufferSupport into a tweet.
It caught on.
Turns out you don’t have to advertise a support hashtag for it to take root. It was quite organic, actually.
"One day, we started including the hashtag #BufferSupport when replying to support conversations. Quickly, those customers used it back," said Darcy, recounting the story. "From there, more and more customers caught on, learning it was the fast lane for support. Before we knew it, most customers reaching out for support knew to use that hashtag, and we made it our commitment to honor their effort by offering the quickest replies to #BufferSupport conversations."
With the hashtag having taken root, after the team cleans out their personal inboxes each day, they now use filters to work through just the conversations with their new support hashtag, allowing them to prioritize support-related conversations.
Searching the inbox
The second to last step for the Heroes is to search the inbox in Buffer Reply for tweets with the words "help" or "support" in them. It turns out there’s a fair number of customers reaching out for support who say "support" in the tweet (who would’ve thought?).
Similar to the hashtag, this allows the Buffer team quickly and more efficiently to prioritize these support tweets among the sea of others.
Moving oldest to newest
The final step for Buffer’s Heroes is to sort the inbox from oldest to newest, working their way through tweets backward to cut down response times and to first get back to the conversations that have been sitting the longest.
And that just about sums up Buffer’s Twitter Happiness Team’s current workflows. Was there something we might’ve missed, a question on any of the above, or maybe even an idea to improve these processes?
Let us know on Twitter @GetRespond — We’ll be replying from Buffer 😊