Ever wander into the office a little before 9 a.m., looking for a cup of coffee and thinking it’s going to be an easy week? You spent the weekend snowboarding or putting together your latest IKEA purchase. You are feeling rested and ready for what lies ahead…
*Insert screeching car sound!* Your site is down! A shipment is being recalled! The sky is falling! It doesn’t matter what business your company is in. You’re a support rep, and something went wrong. /facepalm
Now this might sound like a beautiful setup for self-destruction, but at Zendesk this is our team’s time to shine. When crisis strikes (and it inevitably does) the real payoff is taking what we know and using that to come up with solutions. What went wrong? What are we doing to fix it? Do we have an ETA?
And how do we do this? With two simple concepts: communication and information.
With communication, c’mon, it’s 2012. There is no shortage of channels at our disposal: there’s Gchat, Skype, IRC, talking out loud, email, snail mail, the Pony Express! But once your company is large enough that the support team is not co-located with Engineering, and everyone is no longer in a single room, the informal communications become harder to maintain unless you take some action.
What works for our team is using an online collaboration tool and inviting select engineers from Dev, Ops, and Product to join us in the same chat room. This way, when things break or outages happen, we are in constant communication with the right people, all in one spot.
Make sure you’re keeping your support team up to date with the latest information from Engineering and not just the official “party line.” Set up an online chat system so that people can collaborate and stay up to date. When support reps have the information they need to do their job correctly and communicate amongst themselves in an efficient manner, problems can immediately be identified and solutions can be recommended to customers faster.
Remember, while whoever-in-your-company-who-fixes-stuff is fixing stuff, your support team is getting beaten up by your customers who are inconvenienced, angry, annoyed (and rightfully so). A little information and communication is all it takes to navigate through an issue with as few errors as possible. And then navigate through a beer. I mean, really. A day like that should always end with a beer.