Changing how we work as a Happiness team
On the last day of November, the Happiness team went through a complete structure change that we fondly referred to as the “Happiness Revolution.”
We moved from teams based on customer segments (Mobile, Awesome plan, Business, etc). to time zone-based teams (Pacific, Eastern, Europe, etc). Together with these changes in team structure and inbox/Twitter/live chat coverage, we’re ramping up internal training and mentoring.
With this “revolution,” we hope to achieve a few things:
- Improve customers’ experience with Buffer support: To support Buffer’s vision of giving people a greater voice on social media, we’d love to make some tweaks that enable our team to fully be able to provide the best possible technical support and social media advice. To be able to do this, all of our Happiness team will not only support our target customer (small businesses) in the business inbox but also any prospective customers across all mediums.
- Offer proactive support: After a few weeks getting used to covering different support tools, we’re looking to integrate live chat in January this year. Stay tuned!
- Facilitate team growth: In the last quarter of 2016, we’ve been working with our Happiness Engineer, Colin, and Engineering Manager, Katie, to make changes to better control incoming support volume. This will free up time for the team to work on Happiness projects outside of inboxes (for example Happiness Engineering, product signals, FAQ, product updates for the team, internal training and more.) We’re all excited for how this can lead to more responsibilities, specialization and ownership in the Happiness team.
- Closer-knit and happier Happiness teams: With time zone-based teams, everyone will have the opportunity to work with our customers over Twitter, HelpScout and soon live chat. We hope that this will increase the variety of the workday as well as improve our support skills! When working on a time zone-based team, the team will also have the opportunity to set goals and priorities across mediums, work closer together, and engage in more team self-care.
What will this look like?
- European team: 4 with 1 lead + 1 onboarding specialist
- US East Coast: 5 with 1 lead + 1 tech support role
- US West Coast/Australia: 5 with 1 lead
A few things felt important to pay extra care and attention to as we made this change:
- A few team members changed team leads. We’re keen to nurture close mentoring relationships, and we’ve been very conscious of letting this change take some time for adjustment.
- Learning new support tools. Some teammates are switching it up from using Respond for Twitter support to working in HelpScout for email support and the other way around. This definitely requires some time and training! This can be a little bit scary and we encourage the team to talk openly about any challenges.
- Supporting new customer segments. Team members have been encouraged to learn more about different Buffer subscriptions, and we’ve also held syncs and onboarding calls. It’s always an ongoing learning process!
- Wrapping our heads around live chat again. There’s nothing like the feeling of helping a customer live over chat! Saying that, we’re all aware there could be some anxiety to being able to provide the right answers live. There is a lot of planning to do to make sure we’re all ready to take on this medium again.Ahead of launching, we will provide comprehensive training for Olark, which we’ll be using.
We’re still adjusting as a team to the new setup and it’s going to take some time until we really find our rhythm. So far it feels like the change has brought us closer as a team, with more common goals and achievements to celebrate!
Introducing self-reviews for quality audit
As we work on tone and support quality, we’ve realized one of the best ways for a support professional to truly learn from past conversations and progress is to audit one’s own tickets. We believe that by grading your own work, you are much more likely to internalize the lessons.
So we are encouraging everyone to take time to reflect on past tickets in our new quality self-reviews.
Each team member will share five emails and three tweets with a lead each month by using the GLOBE format Caro put together that focuses on 5 key areas:
G: Greetings and Closings
B: Body of conversation
Possible ratings: Excellent, Fine, Room for Improvement and Poor
This process is not a performance evaluation; it’s only intended for individual and team learning. We encourage team members to embrace ‘room for improvement’ as much as ‘fine’ and ‘excellent’ grades.
By digging a little bit deeper, we grow both as support professionals as well as individual contributors at Buffer. Hopefully we can even share some of these learnings in the team.
We are very aware that there are many reasons why a support tickets may not go as planned: moving too quickly, misunderstanding the customer, or just having an off moment. This new review process is not meant to reflect team members as professionals or people, but to serve as a learning tool.
Carolyn will share even more about the GLOBE format in a future post!
Time off for the holidays
At Buffer, many people take time off around the holidays in December. We want everyone to have the same opportunity to be offline and celebrate with their loved ones.
But often the support team feels a bit of extra pressure to continue to work during these times in order to support our wonderful customers.
This year we decided to reflect on the expectations we set for our customers and also focus on living by our values. ‘Doing the right thing’ felt key.
About a week ahead of the start of the holidays, we began planning what this could look like. We wanted to set the standard that the team was taking time off, and at the same time we also wanted our customers to feel looked after. This was the final plan:
And this is what the pop-up looked like:
Things were a lot calmer with an average of 25% fewer incoming tickets during these specific days as compared to last year.
With a smaller volume in the inbox, we could focus on Twitter support when online. Of course this is also a quieter time for most businesses, and we didn’t see that our holiday message impacted the number of incoming tweets.
All in all, we feel like we learned a lot about setting clear expectations with our customers and finding the right balance being available and team self-care.
Over to you!
Is there anything you’d love to learn more about? Anything we could share more of? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Check out other reports from December: