Picking the right customer support tool

There’s a lot of options out there — what should you be looking for in your customer support toolkit?

It ain’t easy being a start-up: For every little issue you solve, six others crop up. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the earliest phases of spooling up a new venture.

At Triggertrap, our company was sparked into life after an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign which reached 300% funding, back in the early days of Kickstarter. As with most Kickstarter campaigns, I suppose, we had a lot of setbacks in the early days.

We’ve come a long way since then, but one thing we learned early on, is that even — perhaps especially — if everything goes horribly wrong, the communication you have with your customers is absolutely paramount.

Great customer support = great word of mouth marketing

As a small company, we live by word of mouth marketing. Encouraging our customers to shout about us from the rooftops is great, but it’s also risky: You can give your customers a platform and give them a nudge, but you can’t control what they are shouting about you.

One way we can gently guide how people speak about us is to make it as easy as possible to contact us, in case they have any issues. Our philosophy is that if we are able to quickly and privately help customers who run into a problem, they will hopefully say nice things about us in public. So far, it seems to be working.

A key element of getting back to customers quickly is having a good system for receiving, processing, and replying to queries. As many other small companies, we automatically reached for Zendesk, but right from the beginning, there was a nagging feeling that something was just a little bit… wrong… about Zendesk. That was pretty weird, to be honest, because it is an incredibly powerful tool, and it took us around 4,000 support tickets to formulate what the problem was.

Are we machines, or humans?

The first glimmer of an idea was to try to change our support e-mail address from ’support@…’ to ‘hello@…’. “We’re humans, after all, not machines”, we figured. As soon as those words had been uttered, we looked at each other… And we understood what was wrong with Zendesk; It is all a little bit too machine-like.

In our hunt for a replacement, we found Reamaze as a potential alternative; one of the blog posts on the Reamaze blog (“Your Request Has Been Deemed Solved“) struck a particularly harmonious chord with us: That blog post eloquently puts into words what we couldn’t.

I discussed it with our CTO, and we decided that ‘f*ck it, let’s give it a shot’. We’re about a month into our experiment, and we haven’t looked back; With Reamaze, we’ve been able to pick up the pace of our Twitter, Facebook and E-mail communications hugely, whilst keeping it light-hearted, conversational, and human.

Best of all? The customers love it, which means that they’ll hopefully reserve their criticisms for us (so we can do something about them), and their praise for shouting from rooftops.

Scffld is a blog where Haje Jan Kamps covers the great, the terrible, and a sprinkling of best practices of customer service. There’s a bit more background here.