As technology has evolved, so has the way we talk to each other at work. From email groups to ICQ to Skype chats, teams have been trying to find a way to communicate with each other since the earliest days of the internet. With Slack, customer support teams now have an incredibly powerful way to communicate the vast amounts of information we need to do our job. Sure, it’s not as sophisticated or cool as Dr. Strange’s ability to communicate telepathically, but it’s a step in the right direction, dang it!
Support teams have a unique set of needs when it comes to a communication tool. We collect and store knowledge about the customer and the product to help customers. We need to know every new bug update when it happens. We’re the team most likely to work 24/7, so we also need to be able to pass on information to other shifts effectively. Finally, we have a large collection of gifs, so we need a place to share those too – without drowning out all the important stuff, #Priorities.
If you’ve been using Slack as a company, you likely already have a channel set up for your customer support team (#support-team-for-the-win) where they can chat together. But the tips we’ve gathered from the experts below will take you beyond one channel and make your Slack strategy more effective. Learn how to find information faster, document knowledge more efficiently, and work together more collaboratively with our Slack tips for support teams below.
5 Ways to Use Slack with Your Customer Support Team
Use it for Shift Handoffs
If you have more than one shift working in support, sharing information between them is super important. When the new shift comes on, they need to know exactly what work needs to be done, what has already been done, and what’s pending.
If this information is shared in a busy channel, the agents coming on shift will need to read a lot of text to get the updates they need. Not only is this inefficient, but they could also miss important details they need to know. Instead, shift handoffs, like the one Flickr’s customer support manager Abby Armada uses, can help share a lot of information quickly.
“We have a daily update channel that also utilizes Slack’s posting system,” says Abby. They update a post like the one below twice a day (once in the morning, and once in the evening).
Petros Amiridis, the founder of Supportress, uses a slightly different method. They add a specific Slack reacji to important messages, which automatically copies the message to a dedicated channel they call their shift log. “For example, you see something interesting in the incident command channel?” explains Petros, “You react to it and it goes to the shift log.” Petros set this workflow up using the Reacji Channeler app.
Be Mindful with Your Channels
Depending on the size of your customer support team, you’ll need a few different channels to keep on top of everything. If you’re noticing the “noise” of a channel drowning out important messages, it’s time to create a new channel. Here are a few you might consider launching:
- Support Chit Chat – A general channel for the support team to interact in, share stories, or ask questions
- Highlights or Updates – A quiet channel only to be used for important information, with no conversation allowed
- SOS or Incident Channels – Potentially temporary channels used to pull together teams responding to a specific issue or outage
- Integration Channels – Channels that integrate with other tools used for monitoring uptime, updates on bug tickets, or other systems
- Support Team Moral Channel – A morale-boosting channel for sharing success stories, gifs, memes, and pictures of your sweet fur-babies
“Especially if you’re a distributed team, put some time and thought into different channels,” says Nicole Winstone, Head of Product Support at Lingo Live. “We had a general chit-chat style channel but also found it helpful to have one just for handoffs so people could quickly find important updates at the beginning of their shifts.” It’s all part of this revolutionary thought process of actually knowing what work you have to do when you first start—wild, we know!
Emily Kinzig, Member Support Specialist at NerdWallet, uses three different Slack channels to cover their support team: an urgent channel that is strictly for highlights and updates, a #ticket-sos channel for agents to post questions and get answers. Finally, she says, “we have a general work channel for more basic chatter around their flows, processes and needs.” Because they are a small team, they don’t need a shift handoff process, yet. Decide what will work for your team, and create channels as needed. That’s the beauty of Slack, it’s customizable, so you can make it work for you.
Keep it out of the DMs
Even if you have created all the helpful Slack channels in the world, people will still try and ask questions through direct messages. Tisk, tisk, tisk. The human race has an inexplicable OBSESSION with shortcuts . Matt Barry from LearnUpon says that it’s important to make sure all conversation on tickets happens outside of DM, “so the information isn’t lost to just those two people!”
Mike Louth from Ubisoft says that they’ve had to enforce this policy because many agents were using Slack as the first step of their investigation. “We introduced strict templates for posting and re-framed it to ‘knowledge creation’. If a ticket cannot be answered by reviewing our internal KBs, then a request is made in Slack for additional information/article creation.”
The great part about answering questions in public is that everyone has access to the information. Whether you’re relying simply on Slack’s search function, or keeping the information in Slack makes everyone smarter.
As support, we often have a ton of helpful knowledge for other teams. Creating a channel where other teams (whether it’s sales, product, or marketing) can ask for help from support can help facilitate this process. Even the most stubborn employee who refuses to ask for help with the most complicated task, like training a cat, would feel empowered to ask for help.
Zendesk uses this method to make it easy for internal customers to get help. “Various product teams have an #ask-X channel, allowing the support team (or anyone else at the company) who has a question to get an answer relatively quickly, without having to know an individual person to ask,” explains Dave Dyson, Senior Customer Service Evangelist at Zendesk.
Matt Seale at Mobi2Go does something similar: “We had a #support-questions channel for other departments (mostly Sales) to ask Support questions about the product.” But be aware of people abusing the ease of Slack to get answers directly from individuals. “We had to train folks to push back on the DMs they were getting which meant a bit of friction but also it meant that once the answer was in there we could also get people to search before asking. ”
Inversely, there are teams that have already created #ask-channels like Corbin, Lead Engineer for the Site Reliability Engineering Team from Home Depot’s QuoteCenter, who said they “previously, handled requests in a Slack support channel #sre – and that’s a really GREAT way to forget about all the work you need to do.” Woopsies! The team had a hard time managing, tracking, and prioritizing requests.
While the team believes it is super important to utilize an internal conversational tool like Slack, they wanted to be sure all of their conversations, messages and deeply threaded requests are captured, drum roll please, enter Halp.
The Site Reliability Engineering Team went out of their way to find a solution like Halp that checked all of their boxes. The team wanted a tool that would keep their public contract on how to contact and submit request to them in Slack, not a big lift for their end users, no friction or deflection outside of the Slack channel, and a way to react with an Emoji to messages and make a support ticket. Halp offered everything they were looking for! The SRE team also reported that Halp has sped up their process in general, stating that with Halp it only takes them an average of 30 seconds to address each issue and be sure it’s captured.
Connect with Integrations
One of the best parts of Slack is the enormous amount of integrations it offers. The Slack ecosystem has grown so large, there is an app for almost anything you want to do. They haven’t quite mastered an app for making kitties appear in your lap on demand, but sources say it’s in the works .
Nicole’s team uses integrations to bring external information into Slack so everyone can see updates. “With the help of Zapier, we have a bugs channel that updates every time a bug was opened or solved, and a CSAT comments channel to spread the love when customers leave us nice messages! ” says Nicole.
Matt from LearnUpon uses the JIRA integration to post updates on bugs in a specific channel too. And, this may come as a shock to some, the Zendesk team uses the Zendesk Slack integration in a #problem-tickets channel. “New problem tickets are posted using the Zendesk app, and they’re removed once they’re solved,” explains Dave. This helps keep everyone up to date with ongoing issues.
Zendesk has also built an internal app for dealing with service incidents. “It notifies all necessary stakeholders, and creates a unique Slack channel specifically for that service incident, explains Dave. “This allows all internal conversations about the incident to be contained in one place.”
Get Slacking and Start Supporting
Embracing all the powerful features of Slack means that your customer support team can be even more halpful. By being thoughtful with the way you organize conversation, information can be stored and more easily accessed by the entire company.
Have a great tip for using Slack with your support team? Questions? Comments? Share them with us in the Halp Community!