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Is This Urgent? What Happened When We Let Buffer Customers Prioritize Themselves: June Happiness Report

Happiness ReportJune was a fantastic, fascinating month for customer happiness at Buffer as we made great strides toward meeting goals, expanded our awesome team, and pushed forward in a number of new, exciting areas.


June 2014 is the first month that I know of where we hit “inbox zero” at least once per day in both email and twitter. (We use Help Scout and Sparkcentral, respectively.) It feels great to be getting closer to the point where our customers don’t have to wait for us in order to get their work done. By better managing these two communication tools, we can also continue to devote time to Live Chat.

Our email volume is slightly lower than last month, which, naturally, has made this easier. We’ll continue to hire in the next few months so that we’re ready for autumn volume.

Email: 9,047 responses

June email happiness

Twitter: 6,193 responses 

twitter times happiness


Olark: 625 chats


We have two shiny new faces on the Buffer happiness team this month. :) Please join me in welcoming Octavio and Nicole!

Octavio Nicole SF team

Happiness Hacking

Learning to track resolution times

We have traditionally focused on response time when we measure our support statistics. We intentionally do not look at “replies per conversation” as a metric we want to reduce. If anything, we feel that this number should go up, because it means the exchange is more of a conversation and the customer doesn’t have to write long, include-every-possible-detail emails each time. Additionally, by constantly improving our design and interface, we can hopefully reduce the communication that causes our customers to say “how do I accomplish this simple task” and focus more on the tricky or strategy-based questions. This would cause emails per conversation to increase as well.

So, when we started looking at resolution times for email, it was a big “first” for us! Our Happiness Hacker Colin calculated this by determining how long the conversation went on, from first email to our final reply.

This isn’t flawless logic because conversations can drift among topics. One issue could be “resolved” while the conversation continues, but those outliers are manageable.

We arrived at 77% of conversations being resolved within 6 hours. Having no prior months to compare this to, it seems like a reasonable baseline!

Overall Resolution Times June

Taking it one step further with self-selecting urgency

We also added a field to our online help form that invites people to select how urgent the matter is. Here’s where it gets fun!

It looks like this:

self-selected urgency

Each level of urgency is “tagged” in Help Scout, and the highest urgency tickets send an alert to our HipChat room. Whenever possible, we try to address the “emergency” tickets as fast as we can.

Now, we are tracking resolution time for each category of urgency. The most casual often take the fewest emails back and forth and are the most easily solved (3.5 emails on average). The high-urgency emails take more conversation (5 emails on average). Despite this, our resolution time for the two highest urgency categories is faster than the average for all emails. This feels like a success, and we’ll work to continue to improve this.

If you’re curious, we welcome you to follow along at our (completely public) Happiness Dashboard. (Update Sept 21, 2017: We are no longer using our Happiness Dashboard anymore and are now using reports in tools like Help Scout and Buffer Reply.)


We’ve had some fun opportunities in June to get to know the fabulous people using Buffer.

A Hangout in Paris

Our Happiness Hero Dave and Biz Dev and Product Specialist Rodolphe traveled to Paris to have coffee and croissants with some Buffer users. This is the third time we’ve been able to meet our community in person, and it continues to add a level of intimacy and friendship that can be hard to achieve over digital mediums. Let us know if we can visit your city! :)

Buffer Chats

We also launched a weekly Tweet chat. So far, we’ve dived into productivity, self-improvement, and using visuals in social media.

We’d love for you to join us Wednesdays at noon EST at #bufferchat on Twitter!

Over to you now!

Resolution time, in-person hangouts, and Tweet Chats are all new to us, so we’d love to hear any questions or suggestions you have! :) Leave comments here or get in touch anytime at @buffer on Twitter. :)

  • You should come hang out in Raleigh some time! We have a pretty cool shared workspace, HQ Raleigh, which I’m sure would love to host!

  • Maria Djaleva

    What a fantastic growth hack! I love the transparency of customer messages addressed to you and just reading through the list made me smile – A++ for Happiness! Any chance you can come to London? :)

  • Community is absolutely key, and creating a way to transparently communicate with users, I feel, is the only way to stand out online and in tech, moving into the future. Taking the online community offline as well is an amazing + creative way to really get to know your most involved users. I always love a company that isn’t too big or too important to really cater to and involve their customers in every step of the way. You’re all doing it right!

  • It is really great idea to let customers choose how important the issue for them is, it will definitely be beneficial for you and your customers. Looking forward to resolution of this approach in the upcoming weeks and months.
    Oh and if you are ever coming to Prague or Brno, let me know, I would love to meet you guys :)

  • The Nicole and the BufferChats are an amazing addition! I stumbled upon the both in the past few weeks. There’s so much knowledge being shared in the chats so the Storify recaps are fab. And the level of participation from the entire Happiness team shows your dedication to creating a real connection with the community.

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