by Josh Janssen, Writer, Photographer, Social Guy.
Envato deals with thousands of support requests every year. When we started out, support was fairly simple, with fewer customers, products and platforms. In fact, social media wasn’t even in the general populations’ vocabulary.
Fast forward seven years and our support strategy has completely changed. Now, our community isn’t just limited to contacting us via our forums or email. Thanks to social media, there are now dozens of ways our community can contact us, and we want to make sure that we are there to provide support.
Two years ago, we started answering support requests via social media channels. Today, we have staff monitoring and responding to our social media pages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As well as providing the resources, we wanted to make sure that we were providing a pleasant experience on social media. Here are five things we did to improve the support experience for our community.
Stop treating social media requests as jumping the queue
Like Envato, your brand may have ticket systems where you keep a track of any support related requests that come in. When you have clear systems like this in place, any other channel—like social media—can feel like extra work.
Sometimes it can feel like people are queue jumping by getting their support requests answered on social media. Rest assured, they’re not. Think of your support channels as separate queues; your ticket system is for complex issues that require in depth information to resolve an issue, where as social media is like the 8 items or less queue at the supermarket. Community members using the 8 items or less queue (social media) aren’t jumping the queue, they’re not cheating the system, they just have simpler needs that can be responded to quickly.
If we can answer it on social, we should!
When we receive support requests on social media, we ask ourselves three simple questions:
- Can we resolve this request in a tweet?
- Can we resolve this by linking the customer to an existing page or article?
- Do we need to do some investigation and/or prepare a more detailed, personalised response?
The aim of the game is to try and get the support request sorted as quickly as possible, so if we can get the inquiry answered on social media, we should. There is the perception by some people that you can’t resolve ‘some’ requests and not others. In turn, they end up asking customers to make a second request through a different channel, to be put through an unnecessary process of data entry. If you can answer, you should! It’s less work for the support team too!
Stop talking ‘tickets’
Your customers deal with email and social media every day, that’s why they have contacted you via social media to sort out their support request. Unless they work at the local cinema, ‘ticket’ isn’t even in their daily vocabulary. Most ticket systems are a hybrid email service, so if you can, avoid the term ticket altogether. Your customers don’t need (or care) about tickets, all they want is their email responded to.
Our support team members aren’t robots, so let them show personality
Hey, It's Steve, I'm sipping on a Flaming Moe whilst answering your support requests. #notabadday http://t.co/gOB8hdKQO5— Envato Support (@envato_support) September 26, 2013
Support teams spend a lot of time dealing with problems. Where there are problems, there are normally angry people. Empathy plays an important part from both parties. The support team should be empathetic to the problems that the community are facing, and the community should be understanding towards a team that is trying the best they can. Mutual respect is important. Mutual respect is also difficult without understanding who you are speaking to. We encourage our team to have a ‘personality’. Have fun with your tweets. Show your face, say your name—be personal. We all much prefer to speak to a human than an automated system. Canned, generic and automated responses are not ideal.
Tweet where you want to be tweeted
We have a lot of twitter accounts at Envato, but only one department that responds to support requests. For this reason, we always respond to support requests from @Envato_Support. Let’s not confuse the situation by responding to support requests from @Envato account. We want to create a clear line of communication for support.
Why you should be doing these things too!
Social media can be a thorn in your support strategy’s backside, or you can embrace it. Providing superior support on social media not only keeps the community happy, it also gives your brand an opportunity to delight people every day on a public forum. Being truly ‘social’ means taking on the bad and the good, and although it can be tempting to just ‘broadcast’ your messages, the real power is in engaging with the community—providing support is a great way to do this.
While implementing these ideas, we have noticed a significant shift in the way our community engage with us on social media. Conversations are more fun, friendly and productive. Most importantly, our support team is also resolving issues quicker, rather than trying to point requests to our ticket system, which isn’t a great experience for the community. Each support team member has their own unique voice, which has created a sense of pride, responsibility and connectedness to our community.