Did you know that people in Tajikistan use Campaign Monitor? Neither did I. In fact, when I look over the list of 187 countries where you guys live, I suddenly feel like a fresh student back in high school geography. Even though we’ve been doing this for six years now, it still boggles my mind that someone in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan rely on us each day to handle their email marketing.
For the first two years of Campaign Monitor’s existence, all our customer support was handled in Sydney. We’d get up early, stay up late and do our best to get helpful answers back to our customers as fast as possible. There were only a few of us then, and during that time we learned some crucial lessons about helping customers. It’s always important, but when you’re a very small, bootstrapped business, giving your customers an awesome experience is just about the most important thing you can do.
I’ve never understood the traditional mentality toward customer support that I still experience when dealing with most big companies. Something to outsource. A cost centre. In those early days, and still today, our customer support team is one of the most important parts of what we do. They are sales, marketing, product research and a support department all rolled into one.
Evolution of a team
As we continued to grow, particularly in the US market, helping customers from Sydney meant an unacceptable wait for some of you. We were lucky enough to find Diana (who leads our overseas support team today), and in the years since have built up a great team across the US, Canada, Norway and Australia to provide 24 hour support all over the globe. Even in Tajikistan.
Here’s a quick chart showing the number of questions we get from you guys over time and when we expanded the team. You’ll notice a few spikes here and there around big releases.
Every member of our support team has a web design background (and many of them still freelance on the side). This means they can help customers with complex email design and coding questions from the get go.
Standing behind our support team is a second level member from our development team. We rotate the second-level support role through our development team on a weekly basis so everybody gets a chance to work with our customers and see the software from their perspective.
Our tools of choice
No doubt most of you have had a chat with our support crew at some stage or another, so I figured it might be interesting to share some of the tools we use behind the scenes to get answers back to you as quickly as possible.
is the most important app in our support toolkit. It’s where all of your questions are pooled and the support team responds. HelpSpot makes it easy to assign questions to any other member of the team and keeps the conversation centralized.
Our customer management tool
Over time we’ve developed a home grown tool our team can use to manage just about anything about your account. From approving your campaigns, paying your markup profits adding help content and everything in between. We’re constantly improving this tool with most releases as we continue to streamline things to give you (and our support team) the best experience possible.
We use a heavily customized version of Jive Software’s Clearspace to keep everyone on the same page internally. This includes sharing upcoming features with the team, what do to for our next Friday Fun and anything else worth discussing. It also includes a real-time snapshot of how we’re performing each day, including number of paid campaigns sent and our support load.
Over time Campfire has become a crucial tool for the entire team at Campaign Monitor. It’s brilliant for a distributed team, and allows our support staff to chat about anything and everything, as well as catch up on previous discussions. It also provides a platform for the conversations that are often missing when you have a team spread all over.
These days we do more and more direct support over Twitter. To make managing the questions from our 8,750 followers a little easier, we use CoTweet. It lets you schedule tweets, assign tweets to other team members who might be better at providing an answer, and it has a gorgeous interface to boot.
The support team catches up on a regular basis for a group video chat using Tokbox, a super simple and free web-based tool that lets you chat to up to 20 people at once.
On top of these there are also the usual suspects like Dreamweaver, Coda and TextMate for helping customers with coding problems, as well as a stack of virtual machines with different browsers and email clients installed so we can replicate any problem a customer might be having.
We’re looking for a new person to join the team
As we continue to grow, the time has come again for somebody new to join our support team in our Sydney office. If this sounds like the sort of gig you’d be interested in, check out the job description and read a little about how we roll at Campaign Monitor.