Service enablement exists to create a frictionless product experience for our customers. Our goal is that our customers can intuitively use our products without having to reach out for help. So how do we create this system? Imagine you’re a development team. You ship a product customers love, who spread the word, and your customer base grows. But, when things go awry, your support team gets an influx of customer requests.
In Atlassian’s case, we have 8 support centers all over the world, helping over 60,000 customers. This means our support team gets valuable insight into what customers are struggling with. In the past, our development teams weren’t plugged into these support insights. This created a barrier not just between teams at Atlassian, but between us and our customers.
The barriers were affecting our customers so we put together a service enablement team to bridge that gap and foster a more productive relationship between support and development.
We wanted to understand more about the gap between support and development at other companies, so we commissioned a study by HDI which revealed that 73% of support teams are dissatisfied with their level of involvement with development. Let’s dive into how Atlassian tries to solve this problem.
Bridging the gap with service enablement
Atlassian’s service enablement team has two main focuses: Insights and Readiness. The team reports on customer trends to guide product decisions while preparing support teams for changes being made.
According to the same HDI study, 99% of tech teams report that being unprepared for releases is a major challenge, and only 23% have a process in place to ensure the support team is prepared.
Help! “Only 23% of software teams have a process in place to ensure their support team is prepared.”
Preparing the support team for releases
When it comes to training and preparing support teams for a big release, we make sure there are regular catch-ups between support & engineering, and also keep our release documentation up to date. The catch-ups give the two teams time to review the latest features while allowing support to provide feedback during development, which keeps customers happy. The second piece of the puzzle is accurate release documentation. The development team updates release documentation with the following questions in mind:
- What is it?
- How does it work?
- How do I turn it off?
- Where is the data stored?
- How can this feature be debugged?
- What are the known issues or limitations?
A time when we put this framework to use was with JIRA 7.0 – the largest release in Atlassian history, which split JIRA into three stand-alone products: JIRA Software, JIRA Core, and JIRA Service Desk.
With so many moving parts, we centralized communication by creating an “Information Hub” in Confluence. The Information Hub was the one-stop-shop for all support and customer facing teams to keep track of feedback related to the release. By utilizing the power of Confluence, we were about to manage a 35% increase in ticket volume in style.
Guiding product teams with customer feedback
Bridging the gap between support and development creates a better customer support experience, but how can feedback from support help build better products?
We take two approaches to using data from support to inform product teams:
- Repairing existing pain points. One of the biggest problems we had when we started our service enablement team was understanding customer inquiries and issues. We solved this by using JIRA Service Desk Components to recognize broader trends and JIRA Software to get visibility into product roadmaps.
- Preventing new issues in upcoming features. The service enablement team partners with development during the build phase, providing guidance based on similar features, support requirements, and previous lessons learned. The team then tracks the support impact of new features and feeds that information back to development in the iteration phase. Working with development to solve problems today helps cut down on incidents tomorrow.
By breaking down the silos between Dev, Ops, and Customer Support, we’ve been able to best prepare our teams and our customers for new product releases built with their feedback and concerns in mind. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy being able to make a dent in the volume of their support tickets?
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