Small business and startup tips: track your own customer service data

It’s been over a year since I last updated the community on our efforts to build a world-class customer service organization. We are committed to providing great support and doing it in a timely, polite, and efficient manner. Since we launched in May of 2008 we have provided customer service via our online Help Center, our help desk software via the Contact Us form available anywhere on the site (word to our friends at Zendesk!), through Private Messaging, and more recently over the phone (albeit in a limited fashion). To date we have received over 47,000 requests through the site along with thousands more PMs, emails, and calls! Sometimes the folks are confused, sometimes friendly, occasionally really pissed, but we’re happy to answer their questions, help solve their problems, (hopefully) assuage their anger, and, certainly, play along with their fun!

Small businesses and startups have much to gain by providing great support and building lasting relationships with their customers. Loyalty, word of mouth, and brand value are all increased when a business gives its customers information, attention, and answers. In order to constantly improve our own responsiveness, we review and analyze our own support data quarterly and consider the implications on staffing, tools, features, page design, support channels, and quality of service. We learn a great deal through these exercises and believe that all businesses should perform similar audits periodically on their own data. So, without further ado, here’s a selected analysis of the customer service data we look at with a focus on the “when,” the “what,” the “how we doin?” and the volume of requests (AKA “OMG, can we handle this much?”)

1. When.

We always look at the requests that come in relative to our own work hours and consider how we allocate staffing to make sure that customers are answered in a reasonable amount of time. The charts below show a breakdown by day of the week and the time of day.

2. What.

We also look hard at exactly what people are contacting us about and consider this data when we make decisions on improvements, new features, community engagement, and site policies. In response to this information, last mOnth we introduced a new Contact Us form/feature which makes it easier to get in touch and also serves up additional Help content and answers critical FAQs inline. At the same time, we realized that, by changing up the categories of questions (via the pulldown on the Contact Us form) we could improve our understanding of our user’s issues and deliver better, stronger, and more convenient content to get their questions answered and their problems solved.

3. How we doin?

Perhaps most importantly we look hard at and judge ourselves on how quickly we respond to a request and the time it takes to solve a ticket. We understand that our users are busy and need fast answers and want their problems solved pronto and we are very proud of the fact that almost 97% of requests are answered within 2 hours and continue to work hard to decrease this. You might notice a small uptick this Spring in both assign and solve times – our beloved French Guy left us late in April and we had to juggle some folks around to compensate. Thank goodness for Kevin stepping up to the plate big-time and pushing those numbers back down where they belong!

4. OMG, can we handle this much?

As we’ve grown, support requests, problems, questions, suggestions, and complaints have grown right along with us. This chart show the increase in ticket volume since we launched our Beta back in March of 2008. Check out the spike last December when re re-launched with crowdSPRING 2.0!