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How We’re Moving from Emails to Conversations: Buffer’s July Happiness Report

Aug 13, 2014 4 min readReports
Photo of Carolyn Kopprasch
Carolyn Kopprasch

Chief of Staff @ Buffer

Happiness Report

July was a month filled with sunshine, life changes, vacations, and yes, Inbox Zeroes, too!

Most of the Heroes took a few days here and there to welcome family, rest and recharge, or travel. Their well-deserved days off did have an impact on the stats, but they scheduled around each other and worked extra hard to hit zero in the inbox every day.

As of this writing, we’ve hit 10 straight weeks of zeroes, at least one per day. I’m super proud of them for achieving this milestone, especially while squeezing in a few days off. :)

So here are our numbers for the month.



Live Chat

We had 616 chats in July, with a goal of 800 next month. Hold us to it! :)

Happiness Hacking

I am constantly blown away by the innovation that comes from our Senior Developer Colin, who spends a big chunk of his time working with our customers and our Happiness Heroes. We affectionately refer to this as “Happiness Hacking.”

Here are 3 of the many things he envisioned and built in July alone:

  • A new “Send Stickers” button inside Help Scout. This asks Nicole, our community champion, to send some swag to the customer. This provides Nicole a constant list of awesome folks to reach out to, and it allows our Heroes to send a customer a smile without spending much additional time.
  • Trend graphs for our support stats so we can monitor changes, celebrate progress and identify opportunities for improvement.
trend graphs for our support stats
  • Instant, “no-click” translation for any emails that we receive in any languages other than English. It’s not perfect, but saves us a bunch of clicks to translate it manually at Google Translate.


We had fun in our community camp this month, growing our fledgling Tweet chat to new and bigger audiences.

This month, we were joined by 4 experts in their fields, including one of our own. :) We’d love to learn about your questions and knowledge on these topics– drop us a tweet at buffer and join us any week you’re free. We’re always chatting on Wednesdays at 9am PST, noon Eastern.

If any of these topics are questions you’ve been asking lately, read along to hear what our customers and friends had to say on the topic:

Checking in on our 2014 mission: Moving from emails to conversations

I thought this might be a good point to reflect on our team goal for 2014, which is to move from emails to conversations.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean moving away from emails. Email is the workhorse of customer support, and we expect it to continue be the majority of our communication for a while. What it does mean is improving the email experience for the customer to feel more like talking to a buddy, as opposed to “submitting a ticket.”

It also means providing great support through alternate channels, so that customers can choose the one most appropriate for their schedules, or for the issue at hand.

We’ve noticed a certain need to move conversations “up the chain.” Sometimes emails or tweets get cumbersome and need to move to live chat. Sometimes live chat conversations get a bit long, and it would make more sense to hop on Skype. That said, of course, it also sometimes makes sense to go to the other direction. When someone needs to get off of Live Chat, sending the follow-up steps via email works perfectly.

Right now, we love email for longer descriptions, or step-by-step instructions, or for non-synchronous communication. (It can be easiest on the schedule to fire off an email and then checking for a reply 5 hours later!) We lean toward Twitter and Live Chat for more “real time” conversation. Hopefully, our ongoing efforts to make our email support faster, lighter, and more predictable will result in this distinction being less about time and more about customer preference.

Here’s how we’re doing

In January, our percentages of emails, tweets and live chat were 62 : 36 : 2.

In July, it was 56 : 41 : 3. Progress!

More importantly, we replied to 41% of emails within 1 hour in January, and 66% in July. More progress!

However, that number was 86% for tweets in July, proving that tweets are getting faster replies than emails right now. We’ll continue to improve the experience of emailing us, and encourage people to tweet with questions that can be answered in a jiffy.

Right now we’re exploring what we can do to provide a channel that’s “up the chain” from our three main communication mediums. Stay tuned next month for an experiment we’re trying in August!

Over to you! We’d love to hear your percentages and philosophies on the split among the tools you use, what’s happening within your community and what you’re hacking together to make customer service at your company better every month!

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