The Freshdesk blog
Your daily dose of
peppermints, orange juice and oatmeal cookies...
Freshly squeezed droplets of customer support...
Your daily dose of
peppermints, orange juice and oatmeal cookies...
Freshly squeezed droplets of customer support...
Last month, we updated Freshdesk with a fix in which we removed the confusion about whether agents should keep their notes “Private” within their team, or notify customers by using “Public” notes. We actually got rid of the public notes feature altogether and made all notes private by default.
Now following popular demand, WE ARE BRINGING BACK THE PUBLIC NOTES FEATURE.
Sticky notes on the ticket
When customers shoot your helpdesk a query or complaint, there are a couple of ways your agents can respond. Most often, when they can directly answer the question, they just shoot a reply to the customer. Of course, sometimes it gets a little more complicated, and your agents might need to discuss between themselves. And sometimes, they just need to add a little more details to the conversation to add more context to other support agents in the team. In these situations, you don’t want your customer to see the internal conversations cooking in your support kitchen. Freshdesk allowed agents to add “NOTES” to a ticket for exactly this reason.
The Trouble with Making Notes Public
Till recently, when agents added a note to a ticket, they had an option to either keep it “Private”, showing it just to agents in the team, or “Public” making it visible to customers when they check their ticket status from the support portal. Notes were always private by default, but agents could simply “uncheck” the option and make a note visible to the customer. And that was a problem for more than a handful of businesses using Freshdesk. Agents habitually “unchecked” their notes, making their laundry basket visible to customers.
Plus in most use-cases agents would either need to keep the customers in the loop by sending them a reply, or add information for the support team by adding a private note. Since public notes were just doubling up as a reply, it did not really make sense to have that option floating around.
Public Notes Out, And Back In
Sometime last month, we rolled out an update in Freshdesk where we removed the public note feature altogether. All notes became strictly private, meaning agents could either directly talk to customers through “Replies”, or add internal communication through “Notes”.
And then, we met the third use-case
Some Freshdesk users were actually using public notes to give their customers non-invasive updates on their tickets. Customers could raise a ticket, and receive invasive emails from the support team only when agents needed additional information from them. But customers could check the status and see exactly what agents doing on their tickets anytime, from the company’s support portal.
That was a pretty good use-case, so as of today Public Notes are back in Freshdesk, by popular demand. With public notes, support teams on Freshdesk can be the UPS of customer support, by allowing customers to track what is happening in the tickets they raise any time, without bombarding them with email replies.
How to show customers you care, without spamming them with email, using Public Notes
1. Disable Requestor Email Notifications when agents add a note to a ticket
2. Encourage agents to add public notes, instead of replying to customers when they don’t need additional information, or change the status of a ticket
3. Ensure that the initial Email Notification sent to Requestor when a new ticket is submitted contains the link to the ticket in your support portal
4. Educate customers (in subsequent notifications and replies) about the ability to track status of their tickets from your support portal.
I had ordered a copy of Brian Greene’s book ‘The Fabric of the Cosmos’ from an online bookseller last month. The book was supposed to arrive in three days. I’m guessing the book would have been a pretty awesome read, but I really wouldn’t know. It took the seller eight emails, a few phone calls and twenty six days to tell me that they never had the book in stock. Ever!
System error, apparently. Of course, there were a few other more creative excuses thrown in along the way. At one point, the support rep on the other end of the phone told me about a policy that international editions would take a week longer than others. I could visualize him taking his hat off and pulling a new policy from it!
As the story goes, eventually the bookseller decided to unilaterally cancel my order. Not that the gift coupon or store credit that they DID NOT offer me would have helped at this point. I was far too angry already. This was a customer service breakdown at its worst, and I was never going to go back to the miserable bookseller.
Cooling down in a few hours, I did what any sane enough person with an internet connection would do- scout out other examples of customer service breakdown and figure out what was common between them. That’s when I landed on this discussion in Quora about how service breakdowns have stopped even the most loyal customers of some pretty big brands from coming back. There are the usual suspects of service breakdown- phone companies, service stations and irate grocers topping the charts. But it is interesting that a bad sales experience can get a BMW loyalist to jump to Land Rover.
Of course, every once in a while you are going to have a couple of customers who are not very happy with your service. So what can you do then to turn the story around? How can you turn a dissatisfied user back into a loyal customer?
Short answer – create a service recovery strategy. That’s a fall-back process for your support team when things start going downhill. The basic framework for a service recovery strategy consists of 6 steps:
1. Listen to the customer
3. Own the problem
4. Act to solve
5. Understand the reason
6. Follow up
Listen to the customer
Don’t listen to an end. Just listen. Sometimes customers just need to vent. Let them. It’ll take a bit of patience, but it helps. They’ll get around to telling you what the problem is soon.
Communicate to them that what was their problem is now your problem as well, and that you’ll do everything to help them.
Own the problem
Take complete responsibility for the situation, apologize and in a way that communicates with the customer that you truly are sorry and will do anything you can in order to get things cleared up for them.
Now that the customer has communicated what he wants done, do it. Act. Do whatever it takes and if possible, keep him in the loop. The old adage of service still applies – ‘under promise’ and ‘over deliver’. If you can’t get the problem completely fixed, give him a workaround. The customer should never have to wait.
Ask questions. Get to the root of why the problem arose in the first place. Know the problem, understand it. The customer’s problem is not that he wants a six inch drill. He wants a six inch hole. Internalize this approach.
When the issue has been resolved and the ticket has been closed, remember to go back and ask the customer if everything is fine & if he needs anything else. Customers don’t expect this. It indicates that you care – makes a huge difference in perception.
More often than not, service breakdowns result in businesses losing customers for life. It doesn’t have to be this way. Combining set procedures with a bit of tact and commitment can turn angry customers into your biggest promoters.
I buy a lot of books. The online bookseller I talked about missed a big opportunity to make me a customer for life.
Make sure you don’t.
Wow! As of today, we have over 1000 businesses earning the love of their customers with Freshdesk. That’s a lot of love and smiles up in the air.
Our 1000th customer, Ap Processing is in the business of turning spiraling-out-of-control debts around, so happy card swipers (like me) can finally get a clean credit score. Ap Processing works as the processing house for several companies that help debtors negotiate with credit card companies and reduce their debt by half!
But negotiating between customers already scared with mounting debt, and creditors who want to get the most of every penny, needs more than just legal know-how. Customers need to feel that they are working with a company that genuinely cares for their concerns. And creditors must be shown that the negotiations are in their best interest. A tough game. That’s why it’s great to see companies like Ap Processing lead the way with a focus on making customers happy. After all, there are some things money can’t buy!
Do you know where your hottest support bottlenecks are? When you are running your helpdesk in full steam, it gets kinda difficult to point your finger at the core problem areas. Of course, it would be great if you could pull out a report at the end of the month that shows you exactly what kind of problems choke your support, and on which issues your team gets cracking like a bullet train on steroids.
With Nested Fields (also called Dependent or Cascading Fields) in Freshdesk you can bucket every ticket into a specific category, sub-category and item affected. Industry best practices have been screaming about the importance of categorizing your support tickets for a good reason. Now with nested fields, categorizing tickets with a razor sharp accuracy, making sure it reaches the agent or group with the exact expertise, and identifying the biggest strengths and problem areas in your helpdesk become a breeze.
Razor Sharp Categorization with Nested Fields
Nested fields let you streamline incoming tickets into the right category, sub-category and item. If you were running an IT helpdesk you want your customers to tell you whether their problem is related to ‘hardware’ or ‘software’ issues. Under ‘hardware’ you could have additional sub-categories like printer related issues, desktops, laptops and mouse (especially if you had those old ball mice, you know what we are talking about!)
You can create a nested field as a custom ticket field in Freshdesk and choose whether to show it to customers or hide it from them and have your agents fill it out when they are working on the ticket (or set up genius rules to automate even that using Dispatch’r).
To set up Nested Fields for your helpdesk, read our Solutions article on it here.
And do holler if you need anything..!!
So you just got another absurd $7,000 bill from the telephone company again this month. Of course, you still have nightmares about calling their support lines and being put on hold till your five o’clock stubble becomes a full grown mane.
So this time, you choose to shoot them an email. And pronto, you get a reply that your request is logged. Except you need to attach some ID that proves you are you. And after you do that, you get another reply asking for your previous bill. And by the time the conversation grows to its eighth iteration, you start contemplating if you should just pay the $7,000 and get it over with. Not fun!
On the other side of the field, as a business owner you want to make sure your customers get their problems resolved when they contact your support team. Also making sure your helpdesk is not playing a game of Support Tennis, rallying replies back and forth with your customers. What you need is a Supervisor in your team, who periodically runs through your helpdesk and makes sure everything is hunky-dory.
How cool would it be if you had your own automated supervisor sitting inside your helpdesk? Oh, and by the way – we got that in Freshdesk. And its called…. the Supervisor!
To just give you an example, of how the supervisor can help you prevent customer frustrations, let’s get back to the telephone company story we started with. Industry average says customers are ok with up to 3 iterations with customer support, after which things start turning a little sour. So our telephone company is going to create a Supervisor rule that alerts the Head of Support, Randy, every time a customer has had more than 3 interactions on an issue, and the ticket still unresolved.
This is what their supervisor rule would look like:
Just like the above, you can use the Freshdesk Supervisor in a number of ways to proactively identify customer frustration. Here are some other conditions you can configure for Supervisor Rules
1. Tickets categorized as high priority not being responded to within an hour.
2. Requests via Twitter or Facebook not being responded to within 30 minutes.
3. Any ticket from a high priority customer not being resolved within 3 hours.
Try set these up for your helpdesk, and let us know if you have even smarter uses for the Supervisor. Prizes for letting us know? You never having another frustrated customer.
Once upon a time in a city not that far away, there was a nice little neighbourhood bakery called Sara’s. They enjoyed doing what they did best – baking delicious stuff. Everyone in the neighborhood loved hanging out at Sara’s, catching up with the latest news with a loaf of fresh bakes and a cup of coffee. And Sara, the baker, always knew which customers loved her extra-soft loaves, and which ones would enjoy a dash of cinnamon.
In fact, that knowledge was the secret ingredient in Sara’s breads. She talked to the people she served, knew what they wanted, and made sure that every bread that came out of her oven was just perfect for each customer.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could do that too? We bet you it would be.
Isn’t knowing when customers are falling in love with your service and when they are dissatisfied key to making your customer support awesome?
Freshdesk ‘gets’ that.
Announcing Freshdesk’s Satisfaction Surveys
Freshdesk now lets you collect, measure and report the one metric your support team really needs – Customer Satisfaction.
With Satisfaction Surveys you can now poll customers and get direct feedback at every support touch point.
Hence you have some awesome numbers at your fingertips – how’s the whole helpdesk doing, which agent is earning the most customer love, and so on.
So, are you ready for lots of hugs and kisses from your customers? Make sure you are.
Here’s our solutions article on setting up the surveys.
It’s June 7 today – our first anniversary, an year since our official public launch! And what an year it has been!
In the wee hours of June 7, 2011, Freshdesk was born to the world – our public launch. And instead of keeping this the usual vote of thanks, we thought it would be pretty cool to think about the journey so far, the road ahead, and most importantly pass a round of high fives to you guys for being around and supporting us.
366 Refreshing Days
It’s pretty cool that we got an extra leap day this year. And in less than 8784 hours in total, we’ve grown from being a new born startup to helping a few thousand support agents win the love of their customers. And there is nothing like love reciprocated- special thanks for all the good words, praise and proud Freshdesk users recommending us to their buddies…
Our team has been growing too. More happiness makers, engineers, deep thinkers, poets and even more engineers. Oh, and did we say engineers? Boy have we been chugging our engines! On average we have been adding new features, functionality and refreshing experience elements every 4 days..!
The Road ahead
Features, features and more features. We are racking up features, big and small round the clock so that it becomes even easier for you to earn the love of your customers. It’s great to hear from our users that their support agents are, for the first time ever, having fun supporting customers on Freshdesk. That’s something we obsess about- making customer support addictive, easy and fun for everyone. So you can expect more jazz here in the days to come.
We’ve been getting some love right from startups all the way up to large enterprises, from little one-man support desks to huge teams with complicated work flows. In the next few months, we will have even more power packed capabilities for all of our customers.
We built Freshdesk ground-up to equip every helpdesk with industry best practices through an intuitive interface. In the days to come, expect even more stuff to make earning customer love easier than ever.
High fives, beer and cake
It just feels like yesterday, when we won the 2011 Bizspark startup challenge. Actually, we were there yesterday high-fiving this year’s contestants. Oh, and we’ve been repeatedly on the news too- including TechCrunch, The NextWeb, Business Standard and so on.
Thanks to all our beta users who’ve been around ever since, helping us every day. You guys are special to us.
It’s been a great year. Here’s to lots of such years to come..
Freshdesk is in San Francisco at Atlassian’s user & partner conference – the Atlassian Summit, from May 30 to June 1.
Come see us there. The agenda for the Summit is here.
With some great product demos, training sessions, networking opportunities with hordes of Atlassians, you simply cannot miss this event.
Also, we have one free complimentary pass as well as three 50% discounted passes to giveaway. DM us at @freshdesk, and we’ll let you know how to claim your entry.
See you at the Summit..
Yup, that’s true.
Freshdesk’s $10 million Future Fund makes Freshdesk completely free for startups. That’s one year of an award winning customer support tool, totally free. The startups who qualify under the Freshdesk Future Fund program can have a three agent helpdesk completely free. We had quite some media coverage on the announcement, and in case you missed it, here’s a quick run through.
Freshdesk has teamed up with incubators and early stage investors like YouWeb, Tandem Entrepreneurs, Internet India Fund, 500 Startups, and Proudly Made to address their early-stage support needs. This ensures that startups don’t have to worry about allocating valuable funds to CRM tools at critical early stages of growth.
What is on offer?
Qualifying startups will get up to three full-time customer support agents free for an entire year as part of Freshdesk’s “Garden” plan. Any company that has under $1 million in annual revenues and funding is welcome to apply, the Future Fund is not limited to the accelerators we mentioned earlier. The plan includes multi-channel support, which startups can use to support customer relation management through email, phone, their website, forums, Facebook, and Twitter from one dashboard.
Why the Future Fund?
We want you guys to go on to become support heroes like Zappos and Amazon, and we don’t want that to cost you a dime. We are on a mission to make the best customer support tools available and affordable for every small business and startup out there, something that we at Freshdesk firmly believe in.
What do you have to do to get your free helpdesk?
Go to freshdesk.com/startup to start up your helpdesk and holler at firstname.lastname@example.org when you are ready to get the offer applied to your helpdesk.
Please feel free to ask us anything that you might wanna know. We are pretty quick at answering questions, you know.
In our last post, we talked about the dimensions of customer service and its personal and procedural aspects.
This time we’ll be discussing the most important stakeholders in service execution – the customer support team. In fact, as the ones who have to blend the personal and procedural dimensions, the support team is the most important cog in the wheel.
So what makes a great support team?
In all the pointers and lists written towards better customer support, somehow the importance of the actual people who deliver the support is downplayed.
Your customer support team is a million times more important than the technology and the processes. Getting a great team in place is half the job done.
Here’s what we at Freshdesk think is important.
Three things your Support Team should know
The support team is the face of your company, the people who man the touch points between the customer and the business. And for them to be effective, this is what they should know:
By organization, we mean the broader values the company stands for, the general attitude towards customers and so on.
By knowing the product, we mean knowing every aspect of the product or service, operational or otherwise.
By knowing the customer, we mean maintaining a cordial, healthy and empathetic relationship between customers and support.
Two things your Support Team should have
Empower your support personnel to do what they think is best in situations and back them to the hilt. If they are worried that their decisions will be criticized, they have no incentive to make customers feel good.
Give them that incentive.
Forge for them a direct channel to the people that matter. This would be the ‘procedural’ part of the customer service quadrant. It is these processes that become cumbersome in growing companies. Support Teams should not have an ‘escalation matrix’. They should be able to talk to the person they want to, when they want to. The customer wants something done, and to the point that nothing gets in the way, the information channel should be as clear as ever.
Give them that clarity.
How we do it at Freshdesk
Our support team takes decisions on a lot of stuff. If one of our a customers is upset, our team can offer him/her pretty much anything that Freshdesk can possibly deliver.
And what if there is an escalation, a feature request or a bug that needs to be fixed? Our support team has a direct line to the developers, the technology team and of course our CEO. They have all the information they want, and hence are able to give our customers great support.
All our customers know our head of support personally, because of their interactions with him. In fact, when Freshdesk attended the NASSCOM event last year at Bangalore, a few of our customers turned up just to meet him. We marketing folks were merely waved at and sidelined. True story.
In the end, it is the people who matter. Trust your support team, and your customers will trust you.