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How We Do Customer Support at Buffer

Aug 6, 2014 4 min readWorkplace of the future
Photo of Courtney Seiter
Courtney Seiter

Former Director of People @ Buffer

“Customer support” is something of a magic phrase at Buffer.

Say it to anyone—from Happiness Heroes to Hackers and beyond—and watch eyes light up.

Simply put, it’s one of our very favorite things to talk about and improve upon every day. Customer support is baked into everything we do—Buffer’s vision is to build a super-useful social media management tool with amazing support for everyone we come into contact with.

So what does Buffer’s Happiness team do, exactly? And how do we keep customer happiness front and center on a day-to-day basis? These are common questions, and ones we’d love to answer as we tell you more about how we approach customer support.

Why we call it “happiness”

We view every interaction that comes our way—every email, tweet, question, review, mention and more—as a true privilege. We know that it means someone took special time out of their day to think about us or get in touch with us. It’s a chance for us to have a conversation, to learn something we didn’t know before, to think about what we could do differently or better.

With that in mind, our goal is to make sure each of these interactions is special, unique and as happy as possible.

Our whole Happiness team (including Happiness Heroes, Weekend Warriors and Community Champion) is focused exclusively on this. While the Heroes and Warriors are mostly reactive, part of every Happiness role is to be proactive and find ways to surprise and delight even beyond the moments when people have already contacted us. Adding our Community Champion really helped us on that front!

Buffer co-founders Joel and Leo shed a little more light on the Happiness team and how they got their name in this Founder Chat video:

How customer support works at Buffer

For the best, most detailed look at customer support at Buffer on a day-to-day basis, check out our most recent Happiness report—you can see all the goals and benchmarks our Happiness Heroes set for themselves each month.

It’s also worth mentioning that every team member at Buffer is at least an occasional “happiness deliverer.” Each of us takes on a day each month and sets aside a few hours to answer emails, reply to tweets or help out in another capacity.

Here’s an email Joel wrote a while back that does a great job of explaining why this is important to us:

Now that the Happiness team is so well established, it becomes less about necessity and more about us all making a choice that we want to have a culture of customer support at Buffer. Here’s why I think that will be great:
  • Customer support has always been half of our overall vision (To be the simplest and most powerful social media tool, and to set the bar for great customer support), and this helps us live up to that and push ourselves to find just how far we can go with customer support.
  • We all benefit from being in touch with customers. For example, as an engineer it can be very powerful to see first-hand a customer struggling with a bug. On the other side of the spectrum, we have so many happy customers and blog readers, and everyone should see the fruits of their work and hear what a difference their efforts make for our community.
  • It will keep us all living up to “doing the right thing,” which I think we all believe is important. When we’re making decisions on product or engineering or growth or marketing, it’ll be easier to think, “how would a customer feel?”

A future vision of Buffer happiness

Our Happiness team has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and each member is innovating new ways to create a better experience for our customers every day.

For a look into what the future of Buffer’s Happiness Heroes might be, here’s a vision that Carolyn, our Chief Happiness Officer, recently shared with the team via email:

Here’s how the story unfolds in my head: It’s 2016. Joel is on stage giving a talk about Transparency and Happiness in the workplace at Tedx San Francisco. He mentions that one of the key parts of his company is the customer service. After a moment’s pause, he says, “Actually, I’d love for you guys to experience it yourself. Everyone, if you feel like participating, please take out your cell phone and fire off an email to”

The audience scrambles to do it. (They already have their phones in their hands from tweeting all of Joel’s wisdom, of course.) Within 2 minutes, we have about 500 emails in the inbox. They test us by asking non-robot questions, telling jokes, and asking for chocolate chip cookie recipes.

The 50 Buffer Happiness Heroes online around the world take a sip of their coffees and teas, stretch out their legs in their homes, local coffee shops or parks, or coworking spaces, and jump on the emails.

On stage, Joel waits. Soon, the hands in the audience start going up as they receive their replies. Within a few minutes, everyone in the audience has their hands up, and smiles on their faces. Some people are laughing to themselves and looking up their Hero on twitter to send a shout out. The guy who wrote in Portuguese thinks to himself how he can’t believe he heard back so quickly, and in his native tongue!

More Buffer Happiness resources

Want a deeper dive into our customer support process and thoughts? Carolyn has written some thoughtful and fascinating articles worth checking out:

More customer support resources

We’ve written lots about creating a great customer experience on the blog, and have heard from a lot of really smart guest writers who are leaders in the field. Here are a few more resources for creating a happier customer experience:

Have you had a happy customer support experience (with Buffer or any other product) that you’d like to share? Do you have any customer support secrets that have made your support process happier? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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