Customer communication platforms based on Slack & Teams are quickly gaining popularity as email replacements. More than a million enterprises are adopting chat-based communication solutions, which is a record-high usage rate. These platforms are currently used by many businesses, from startups to 80% of Fortune 100 corporations, to communicate with their customers.
Why do businesses use Slack and Teams to communicate with their clients, partners, and suppliers?
There are numerous benefits, but the main one is that it fosters a sense of community and a close connection between people that traditional systems like ticketing, email, and phone don’t. Chat has some benefits over more conventional customer support methods, such as:
- connection with key individuals that are open and quick
- being able to involve numerous parties as needed
- the ability to conveniently evaluate all customer communications in one location.
- Simple file sharing and search capabilities within channels
- Easy interaction with corporate applications and processes
- Voice and video conferencing features built-in
Even while there are numerous advantages, there are also disadvantages. Managing numerous clients via chat might get exhausting. There are too many talks going on, and it’s difficult to keep track of the crucial ones. There is an overlap with ticketing systems, and each system’s proper function is unclear.
How do some businesses manage hundreds of users on Teams and Slack? We have been assisting numerous businesses in scaling their chat-based customer service and engagement, and we have noticed certain similar trends in these hyper-scalers. We have compiled these patterns into a playbook in this post to assist you in maintaining client engagement on Slack & Teams as smoothly as possible.
1. Ensure Timely Responses
- Identify the owner: Each customer channel needs an owner, who is frequently also the first responder for the same. Frequently, this is the customer success manager in charge of that particular client (or during onboarding – the Solutions Engineer primarily responsible for onboarding the customer).
- On-Call Assistance: On-call support can be set up to reply to inquiries on client Slack channels as an alternative (or in addition to the above). This is helpful because CSMs are frequently busy and juggling several jobs; having a small team of people solely responsible for handling chat requests from customers, therefore, offers more dependable coverage.
- 24/7 coverage: To be able to respond to inquiries around-the-clock if your users and clients are dispersed across time zones, it is best to set up shifts across these time zones. The simplest way to do this is with an on-call support team, but larger teams can also be appointed with numerous CSM owners in various time zones.
The event that 24/7 coverage is not possible. Sharing such information can be done by pinning it to a Slack channel. Information on the first responder, the typical turnaround time, an escalation matrix, and processes, for instance, will give members and consumers a better understanding of how things operate.
In order to identify fresh or unresolved client inquiries and direct them accordingly, we also advise adding ClearFeed to your customer chat rooms. To guarantee that all client issues are addressed and answered promptly, ClearFeed supports a number of teams and preferred working settings. We use our own software to ensure that we answer customers in a timely manner because we are (of course) great supporters of it.
2. Reduce noise in customer chat rooms
Customers may not be as aware of the protocols surrounding the use of Slack and Teams for customer support as they are still developing. It is rather simple to constantly saturate these channels with trivia, which causes interruptions and distractions to occur frequently. Prioritizing less important concerns is just not scalable in the long run.
How can we just use Teams and Slack for crucial communications?
Establishing a protocol for the proper use of chat channels with clients is a smart idea. Although the protocol’s specifics depend on each use case, we have provided some logical ideas below:
- Establish usage guidelines: Come to an agreement with clients that Slack/Teams should only be used for high-priority communication. Examples include problems with onboarding and integrations, crucial requirements for products and services, or coordination around crucial events like downtimes.
- Submit Tickets: Insist that your customers submit tickets as soon as possible if you have a dedicated ticketing system (such as Zendesk, Salesforce, Freshdesk, etc.). In the customer chat room, pin buttons lead to the Ticketing portal.
- Encourage internal forums in customer organizations by advising clients to create them within their teams so that problems can be initially discussed and fixed.
- Promote administrators as gatekeepers in the client team: Encourage designated customer organization stakeholders to submit significant issues and feature requests on behalf of their users, particularly if the number of such users is significant.
- Maintain a flexible, yet constrained, channel membership: Specify a maximum number of users from your customer company that can join Slack/Team channels permanently. It will be more difficult to restrict communication to only vital topics as a result of the high volume of requests from end users.
Despite our best efforts, however, we have seen that users occasionally continue to place a heavy burden on chat-based help. For these situations, we advise implementing an automatic responding system to divert frequent queries and lighten the workload on your personnel. A built-in question-answering module in ClearFeed can be set up to snoop on customer inquiries, check them against the system’s knowledge bases and documentation, and then recommend answers to end users or responders.
3. Keep track of customer deliverables
Making mental notes of significant deliverables in chat groups is simple, but we often forget about them. Because of this, one of the most crucial best practices is to write down significant requests somewhere for the long term and return to them later to resolve them.
One popular method for keeping track of deliverables is the built-in reminder feature in Slack and Teams. Setting a reminder for a certain message that requires asynchronous work and response during a customer chat works extremely well. When there are few respondents and they can all operate independently, reminders function quite effectively. Sadly, these reminders cannot be distributed throughout the team, and keeping track of individual reminders becomes increasingly difficult as the number of responders rises. The success of the numerous third-party task management applications for teams available on the Slack Marketplace depends on the meticulous creation of tasks for tracking. They don’t address one of the main issues with reminders, which is how simple it is to forget to set up reminders in the first place.
One way chat monitoring tools like ClearFeed might be helpful is by automatically identifying client requests and promises to deliverables in natural language chats and alerting users to the same. Therefore, it is unnecessary to set a reminder on its own. Furthermore, these AI-generated reminders are shared with the entire team, enabling other team members to follow up on them as well.
Even if using reminders is a great beginning, it is insufficient. Tracking customer deliverables with external platforms that other teams use is frequently important. Based on the types of consumer demands and the internal teams engaged, these tools can be divided into at least three categories:
- Support Requests: The Support team or an analogous organization normally handles these. Examples include changing a password or adding a new user, among others.
- The Product and Engineering team often handles feature requests and bug reports. As an illustration, consider a bug in the login system that stops a certain group of users from logging in.
- Duties for CSM teams: The CSM team will normally be responsible for completing these tasks. A reminder to arrange an onboarding meeting with a team from the customer organization can serve as an illustration.
When necessary, those handling customer requests should group them into one of the aforementioned categories and keep track of them in the corresponding internal system. The best strategies to handle each category of such deliverables are covered in the sections that follow.
Connect Chat to Ticketing Systems
Not all customer requests can be answered right away, as was mentioned above. Support requests are one of the main categories of long-term actionable items. Systems like Zendesk, Salesforce (Service Cloud), Freshdesk, and ServiceNow are frequently used to handle support queries. It is painful to repeat the facts of an issue on the Support platform if it has previously been reported and discussed in chat.
Organizations should link client chat rooms with their ticketing software so they can track help requests. However, the native interfaces provided by ticketing vendors are frequently subpar. To enable real-time synchronization between your customer chat rooms and the ticketing system, we strongly advise adopting Slack/Teams native ticketing systems like Clearfeed.
A top-notch integration enables you to:
Create a bidirectional sync between the chat thread and the help ticket. Bring important ticket updates back into the customer chat room. Convert a conversation thread into a ticket.
With the help of ClearFeed, chat and ticketing systems like Zendesk, SalesForce, and FreshDesk may be fully integrated. Emoji reactions can be used to inform clients that their issue has been documented as a ticket and that you are working to find a solution. Customers may access Slack/Teams to view all ticket updates and even close, reopen, or escalate support tickets directly from Slack. We also support turning private conversations into tickets.
Connect Chat rooms to Issue tracking systems
Customers frequently use chat to request features and report bugs. When the required items are finished and dispatched, these must be entered into the engineering and product tracking systems and updates must be given to the client. Among the tools used to track engineering issues are Atlassian Jira, Github, Gitlab, Linear, and ClickUp. To keep track of feature requests, product teams frequently use programs like ProductBoard, Canny, and Trello. The first step is to attempt and adopt these technologies, which all have Slack/Teams interfaces built-in, in order to convert chat requests from customers into issues and feature requests.
One of the difficulties is that these integrations frequently have behavior that is tuned for internal chat rooms and not for client chat channels. They may submit the newly created issue in the chat room, but CSM teams may not want to provide consumers access to internal issue-tracking identifiers and links. Similarly to that, updating the requesting chat rooms back quickly to changes in the filed issues is difficult.
At ClearFeed, we have developed connectors with popular Engineering issue management solutions like Atlassian Jira, and GitHub that consider the specific requirements of customer chat rooms and customer success/support specialists. Long threads can be condensed into Engineering and Product job items using these integrations, and they may also be updated in a variety of ways to chat rooms while taking the privacy requirements of teams who work with customers into mind.
Connect chat rooms to Customer Success systems
While Slack/Teams serve primarily as a platform for customer support, CSMs also frequently utilize it to manage and interact with their clientele. For pertinent customer information, CSMs regularly bounce between chat and a customer success platform.
You may quickly install their native chat room bots if you use customer success tools like Gainsight, Totango, Churnzero, etc. to learn more about your customers. The following tasks are supported by these bots:
- These bots are a wonderful way to pull client records, whether it’s the renewal date, contract value, or information about the CSM.
- You can see who is handling which customer and where that customer is in the sales cycle at the moment.
- Even activities like meetings and customer reports can be added to the timeline.
However, there is a minor drawback: You cannot use these bots to update your customer data. By providing a bidirectional sync between your customer success platforms and Slack/Teams, ClearFeed may assist you in overcoming this.
4. Prioritize Premium Customers
Even though everyone loves getting help through chat, the vendor might not always be able to meet everyone’s expectations. It is ideal to make chat rooms available to paid users. Indeed, a lot of vendors include Slack/Teams-based assistance in their premium customer service. This product has two benefits: it gives the vendor an extra revenue stream, and it gives the consumer access to first-rate customer service.
Additionally, we’ve observed businesses restrict Slack/Teams-based collaboration to particular stages, including onboarding. One channel for important stakeholders and a different one for consumers should be considered for each client if a company wants to be reachable to all users via Slack.
At ClearFeed, we want to create a product that will enable chat-based support for a much broader customer base. Therefore, we’ve got your back even if you want to create a Slack channel for each and every one of your clients and users.
5. Keep channel membership fluid
In our conversations with businesses that adore chat-based client engagement, we regularly heard something along these lines:
When needed, I can bring in engineers, designers, and project managers.
One of the most significant advantages of engaging clients on Slack and Teams is the dismantling of silos between customer and vendor teams. Therefore, one of our suggestions is to maintain a flexible chat room membership. Contrary to most enterprise software, there are no additional monthly costs associated with allowing more personnel to work with clients. Customers also enjoy hearing directly from product managers and developers. Encourage your clients to do the same with their Slack channels, especially for use cases with extensive integration.
But as with everything delicious, moderation is key. Additionally, it’s a good idea to eject guests from the conversation once their contribution is finished. The notion that clients can speak with engineers whenever they want is absurd. Additionally, limiting the number of attendees will make it simpler to calm down the members’ distractions and eliminate noise.
6. Measure what Matters
Teams and Slack are opaque systems. The number of requests that are sent through channels cannot be measured, and it is challenging to determine which requests are still outstanding and how well each member of the support team is performing individually. Customers, requests from customers, and the anticipated response time are all outside the purview of Slack and Teams. The chat platforms do provide some information that can be used to understand general engagement, but they are insufficient to assess the level and scope of the customer service offered through them.
Since customer satisfaction with customer service is a major factor in whether or not clients renew their business, it is crucial to monitor this indicator. With the use of ClearFeed, you can aid your team in managing the avalanche of requests that arrive while maintaining tabs on service metrics to learn more about your customer and support issues.
7. Proactive communication
As Emails increasingly go unread and in-product announcements are only seen by users who regularly log in to the product – chat rooms are a great alternative way of communicating important updates to key stakeholders. Due to the interactive nature of chat – it’s also common for customers to provide feedback and ask clarifying questions immediately in response to announcements on Slack. Chat rooms can be a great way to push important information, such as:
- Release notifications communicating new features and bug fixes
- Maintenance notifications
- Invitations to company and industry events, and so on.
Unfortunately, there are no built-in capabilities for bulk announcement creation in Teams or Slack. Commercial systems like ClearFeed excel in this situation by enabling the mass distribution of announcements to numerous clients at once and gathering the replies in one location for analysis. In order to arrange the announcements according to the time zones of your clients, you can use ClearFeed.
Vendors can provide their top-notch support and service because Slack Connect and Teams enable customer communication simple. They are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to email and conventional web-based live chat applications. Although managing the continuously expanding list of clients can be difficult, starting with the aforementioned advice can help you scale your customer chat rooms.
Check out https://clearfeed.ai if you’re searching for a qualified partner to help you manage and scale customer success and support on Slack & Teams. Our solution fully meets the demands of experts in this field, from AI-generated reminders to customer request monitoring to ticketing and other connectors, to service metrics. We have worked with several customers to help them scale theirs.