Coming together for legendary customer service using HipChat

The key to succeeding as a global customer service team is fast, easy communiation – and lots of emoticons

At Atlassian we strive to provide legendary service every day to the millions of people who use our tools at over 40,000 companies. We work hard – and smart – to make every customer interaction awesome.

Atlassian customer service consists of multiple teams for each product and geographical location. Teams are spread out in several parts of the globe, which means it's not always possible to have a lot of overlap between timezones. Still, this global distribution is how we manage to provide support to our customers 24x7. Logically, it seems like a very smart approach to set up offices around the globe in such a way that you can cover the complete clock cycle, but it comes with its own challenges. Without the right tools, and (most importantly) trust and care for each other, we would clearly be headed toward chaos.

Amongst all the other collaboration tools from Atlassian, HipChat is my personal favourite. (In case you missed it, HipChat is the group chat and video chat tool from Atlassian.) It makes my 9-to-5 radically easier, and I don't know what we ever did without it. So I want to share a bit about how our support teams use HipChat in the hopes that you'll discover a tip that will make your 9-to-5 easier, too.

I believe the key to being a customer service engineer at Atlassian (or pretty much any job) can be summarized in the following 4 topics.

#1: Be on top of the most important stuff

Be it escalations or critical issues, it's extremely important to be always on top of the most critical stuff. However, it's not enough to be on top of escalations if we waste an unreasonable amount of time duplicating efforts. This is where HipChat plays a key role: dedicated rooms for each support group, plus notification alerts, @mentions, group notifications, and group video chats all make it possible to make everything crystal clear to every member of the team.

In case you're not familiar with all those features, let me unpack that for you a bit...

  • Dedicated rooms keep your conversations directed to a common topic. Users can join the rooms that they are interested in.
  • @mentions cut through the normal chatter and get people's attention. They can also pull someone into the room who isn't already there by sending them a pop-up invitation to join the room.
  • Group notifications make sure that you can address a group directly. If a group member is not already in the chat room, then they would receive an email with the message.
  • Automated notifications make sure you never miss any critical issue/information. Most of ours come in from JIRA, but other Atlassian teams set up notifications from Confluence, Bamboo, Bitbucket, etc.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let this screenshot do the rest of the talking:

Kickass customer service teams take advantage of notifications in HipChat

#2: Collaborate, celebrate, and share

Lets face it: the job of an Atlassian customer service engineer is not an easy one. We often end up in situations where we need a fresh pair of eyes, new ideas, or expert help. Sometimes all three. Sharing knowledge is the key here. In all these situations, HipChat is the place where brainstorming happens! We challenge, congratulate, appreciate, and even make fun of each other all the time. And it all happens on HipChat.

Customer service teams share knowledge using HipChat

#3: Practice real-time customer service teamwork

Since we work in customer service and the load of issues may vary based on wide range of factors, it happens (more often than not) that one engineer or team or geography ends up being overloaded. That's when it's time for the teams from the rest of the world to share some love for their colleagues, as well as their customers. Handovers – the time when one office comes online and the other office is about to go offline – are the perfect times to trade information and "pass the baton". This is the time when teams do a health check on each other and exchange ideas that will help other teams get through their day.

Theoretically, handovers could also be done by adding comments directly into the JIRA issues that are tracking each support case and sending emails to our counterparts on the other teams. But we still choose HipChat for this because it lets our teammates fire back with questions and get immediate clarification, which makes a world of difference.

Customer service teams kick more ass when they can share info in real time

#4: Have tons of fun!

Working at Atlassian, you can't do help but have lots and lots of fun. That's just how we roll. And customer service is definitely no exception. Be it someone leaving their computer unlocked, a random gif/emoticons war, or the usual daily banter, HipChat brings everyone together and keeps everyone together. It brings a smile to my face every single day.

Kickass customer service teams have more fun with HipChat

To sum it up, I'm really glad we have HipChat for our team. It's a free tool and available to everyone out there, so you can try it and see for yourself.

Thanks for reading, and happy HipChatting!

Posted by Ruchi Tandon

5 min read