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A New Buffer FAQ, Tone Syncs and the ‘Happiness Newspaper’

Buffer Happiness Report

August 2016

Key stats:

  • Responses within 1 hour

    47.85% -2.7%

  • Customer satisfaction score

    91 -2.1%

  • Email conversations

    8,478 -11.1%

  • Twitter conversations

    8,508 -11.1%

  • Average Twitter response time

    3.3 hours -19.5%

  • Onboarding webinars


We’d be nowhere without our customers.

Because of this, every team member strives to put customer experience and happiness in the forefront of our efforts. At the front lines of this charge is our Happiness team, who continue to push the envelope for tracking, improving and going above and beyond.

August has been a month of reflecting and auditing in Happiness. It’s been amazing to look back at the first two months of Q3 and all our joint efforts to improve the quality of support at Buffer.

Spurring deeper discussions: Product and tone syncs

Although the Happiness team regularly communicates about our product (updates, fixes, new features, etc.) and more recently, conducts Peer Tone reviews, this is mainly done asynchronously using Paper docs, Trello boards, and Slack conversations.


Image 2016-08-31 at 11.21.55 AM

Image 2016-08-31 at 11.22.39 AM

With many different sources of information, things can often be missed in the large number of updates and notifications.

To keep things top of mind, and also offer an opportunity to chat in more detail around both product changes and specific ticket examples, all three Happiness teams are now separately running one tone sync (Wednesdays) and one product sync (Fridays).

This has opened up great discussions, questions for engineers, brainstorms, best-practice conversations, and more. Though meeting asynchronously is vital for a remote team, certain issues and projects can reach further depths in a live meeting.

Audit: Do Business customers want more follow-up messages?

Since 2015, our Customer Success team (who looks after our Business Customers) has had a slightly unique process for handling support tickets.

Instead of closing a ticket by default after responding, we leave tickets as “pending,” and after 3 business days, we follow up with any customer who hadn’t gotten back to us. The goal is to make sure that the customer feels looked after, has received the support they needed, and has the opportunity to ask more questions.

But then we noticed a few tickets where the customer didn’t appreciate our follow-up email (they perhaps felt burdened by the extra communication) and this caused some concerns for us.

Should we re-think our method of communication here with business customers? We decided to conduct an “audit” on our follow-up emails.

During a two-week period Ross, our Customer Success team lead, went through 150 follow-up tickets and categorized the customer response.

This was the result:

  • 76% no reply
  • 20% positive
  • 4% neutral
  • 0% negative

With a 20% positive response, we felt confident that the process should remain as it was, although there is opportunity to improve it. Even though we’re not reaching 100% of customers, we are delighting a high number of them and offering a hand for continuous support.

To move forward though, we needed to really make sure these emails didn’t upset or disrupt customers. To understand this one deeper, we decided to have a closer look at any negative responses. (We found these through our “Not Good” Customer Satisfaction ratings.)

We learned that the “snippet” replies, bits of pre-prepared text we sometimes utilized, were perhaps not personal enough and customers felt like we were not really listening to them.

We always want to make sure every customer feels heard and that each conversation is personal. We do use snippets in specific circumstances (for example, during downtime when the message is the same). Although we customize these, we can always improve and iterate. (We’re even experimenting with snippet-free days!)

From now onwards, the team will have the option to close tickets in cases where a follow up feels pushy rather than helpful, and most importantly, update all saved replies on a weekly basis to keep them fresh and personal.

We keep learning to always audit and “question” what we’re doing. There is always room to improve.

New and improved FAQ

Since the launch of Buffer, we have always managed our frequently asked questions, or FAQ, document in our website.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.59.00 AM

Recently, we felt that our FAQ was a bit outdated, but and this was confirmed after an internal audit and some market research. With limited resources to improve our existing FAQ and some amazing third-party options out there, we finally settled on using HelpScout docs.

So for the past few months, David S has been working on updating all of our frequently asked questions and also preparing to move over this knowledge resource to its new home at HelpScouts docs.

This change will enable us to:

  • Easily add and update our Knowledge Base
  • Send articles to our customers as we use HelpScout for our emails
  • Look closer at data in the FAQ, which we’re super excited about
  • View failed searches, popular searches, top articles and top categories
  • See total visits and articles viewed per visit during a specified period of time
  • Track user behavior and point of entry (through HelpScout’s integration with Google Analytics)
  • Offer predictive search for our customers
  • Function smoothly on any device
  • Offer our resources in different languages in the future
  • Host different Knowledge Bases in the future
  • Embed customizable forms through Beacon, so customers can search the Knowledge base on any page.

There are some other important improvements that we’d like to make:

  • Continuous additions with a Trello board for our heroes
  • Smoother experience for our customers by integrating the contact form
  • Introducing a support page where our customers have improved flexibility to choose the channel (email, Twitter, etc.)

A “Happiness newspaper” to keep Heroes in the loop

Being a pretty large team (21 total!) and all working closely together, we end sharing a quite impressive number of Papers, Trello boards and more, while also having various syncs.

The goal for all of these points of communication is to stay in the loop around bugs, signals, product changes, new features, best practice tips, customer updates, team updates, the list goes on. Although we try and keep apps and tools to a minimum, we get quite excited about processes, Paper docs and all the things documented.

For the past couple of weeks, we have started sending a weekly Happiness Newspaper to collect recurring information as well as weekly happenings. So far we’re excited about our own internal news sharing and we hope to keep adding to ensure we stay closely connected as a team within a big team.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 11.46.51 AM

Meet the Happiness team’s alter egos :)

In a recent All Hands for Happiness, we talked about what animal we’d most like to be as a fun icebreaker question. Why not share these with everyone?

If you could be any animal, which would you be?

  • AmyWould love to be a sea otter performing underwater gymnastics.
  • Paul– Centipede: I like shoes.
  • JulietDragon – Who would not?!
  • KellyPanda – happiest creatures
  • JuliaDolphin – playful, smart, can own the seas with Åsa
  • DanielOtter – Cuddle party
  • KarinnaSea turtle – chill , in the ocean all day long!
  • DeeCheetah – Fastest!
  • HannahLeopard – leopard print
  • DarcySeagull – flying, playing pranks
  • MickElephant – Gentle, Empathetic, Perceptive
  • DannyBear – food, hibernation, hugs
  • DavePanda – happy, clumsy
  • CaroCheetah – Run like (the) wind!
  • ToddDuck – Walking, Flying, Swimming
  • Adam– Quokka – Just look downright happy all the time.
  • RossOwl – night vision, flying
  • ÅsaDolphin – loving, happy
  • Octa Eagle – Fly endless skies
  • David Badger – Lord of the Rings

Over to you

Is there anything you’d love to learn more about? Anything we could share more of? What animal would you be? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Check out more reports from August 2016:

  • Awesome report! Keep them coming Åsa :) I’m very much interested in the Business customers area. How do you treat them, how do you onboard them, what are the best practices which work for you. That will be super super helpful. We’re in the same situation right now with feedly, so we’re looking on success stories we can learn from as well as experimenting on our own.
    Take care!

    • Asa Nystrom

      Hey Petr! Thanks so much for your super kind words. Would love to connect on this, so much to share and would love to learn from you as well! Great nudge for another blog post as well perhaps :)

      Maybe jumping on a call would be cool? Just shoot me an email!

      • Oh, so sorry about the late reply here Asa, I’m not logged in this account that often (usually into the feedly one all the time), so I’ve missed that! I’m reaching out to you asap via email, thanks!

  • Chang Lemur

    Awesome report (again)! Was hoping to read more on how your chat experiment is going? Noticed you’re switching between Chat and Ticket support on your apps. Some insights on that? Is the switching random or pre planned? Are you working towards switching entirely to chat in the near future? Is the objective to only give a chat like interface to get in touch or will you actually be getting to realtime support? Whats the tools youre using (looks like smooch. Did you dump olark?) and how are you going about syncing customer reachouts across all your channels and tools? You guys use multiple tools like Helpscout, sparkcentral, olark/smooch for different channels. Customer syncing must be a nightmare?

    • Asa Nystrom

      Hey Chang! Wow, thanks SO much for your super kind words and awesome questions. We have unfortunately not quite moved on the chat experiment just yet as we’ve had an increased focus on tone and quality in the email inbox. So right now we’re only using HelpScout and Intercom (only for in-app messaging, not support). The goal is to again open up Olark to offer immediate/ live support! We will then pull in these conversations into HelpScout (as we did before) to make sure we always have all the context. We won’t ever move away completely from email, we’d like to offer the different choices for our customers (FAQ, live chat, Twitter and email). Hope that helps a little bit? Keen to have more chat updates soon!

  • I love the “what animal would you be” answers ? Paul’s made me laugh out loud. And I had to Google “quokka,” but can totally see Adam as that. Thanks for the update!

    • Mary Jantsch

      Haha, Tia, I had the exact same reactions to the list!

      Hugs, all!

      • Asa Nystrom

        Hugs Mary! What animal would you be?

    • Paul from Buffer ?

      Haha! Tia, I’m so glad I popped into the comments! ?

      What better way to justify having hundreds of pairs of shoes than to be a centipede?! I think it’s foolproof ?

    • Asa Nystrom

      So great to hear from you Tia! We’ve been loving some new profile pics as well with our spirit animals!

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