/ Startup

5 practical steps to free up more of your time

When you work in Customer Support you can easily spend all day answering tickets, replying to emails and reacting to notifications to check your inbox once more. Just as you’re about to start working on a different task another ticket pops up. It’s easy to get distracted and makes it hard to focus.

I’m lucky to work at elevio where our mission is to reduce support load (with the optimistic “goal” of support zero), so I usually get to spend half a day on other tasks, such as writing blog posts and building collaborations.

There are a few things I’ve found helpful in being more productive, freeing up more of my time, and working efficiently.

1) Have a process

Just as you need processes in place to build a successful business or run operations, it’s also important in Customer Support. It doesn’t matter so much what your unique process looks like, but more so that you follow a process in the first place. One that you can repeat every day. It makes everything easier as you don’t have to think about what’s next all the time, freeing up your brain and decision making capacities, and leaving energy for more important things.

Here’s what my mornings look like: I first check my gmail inbox quickly for anything that’s not support related to get an idea of what my morning will look like. I then open up Helpscout (what we use for support tickets) and go through old tickets already assigned to me. Once I’ve gotten back to people I already have an ongoing conversation with, I move on to any new unassigned tickets. If there are some that I don’t know the answer to I’ll either add a note for Paul, assign it to either him or our CEO Chris.Once I’ve gotten back to everyone, I look at my Trello to do list and start my day outside of support. I’ll still get Slack notifications whenever a new ticket comes in, so I can easily jump back into it.

2) Update your knowledge base regularly

It’s all about self-help. This is what elevio is for. As mentioned above, our goal is to reduce support and reduce the time you spend answering tickets as much as possible. We’ve had great feedback from customers telling us how much elevio freed up their time to spend on other things, helping out with keeping overall business costs down.

It doesn’t matter whether you use elevio or another platform to host your content, just make sure you have great documentation and a varied and extensive host of articles so people can help themselves before needing to get in touch with you.

3) No issue or request is too specific or too small to be added to documentation

When it comes to keeping your knowledge base updated, it can feel like some information is just a minor detail and way too small to even bother adding it to your documentation. You might assume an issue from a previous ticket is so specific that no one else will ever ask about the same thing again. However, at some point it will come up again, and even if not in that exact same way, someone will find it useful or will be able to help themselves by reading up on it.

Don’t automatically dismiss an issue or request – add it to your knowledge base. That’s what it’s there for.

4) Ask for help if you need it

As I explained in my process above, I ask for help whenever I need it. And that’s ok. It’s a way for me to keep learning and to better serve our customers. In my post on collaborating with our CTO I mentioned that you intuitively know when you’ve crafted a good and detailed response and get a feel for when you’re really helping a customer out. Instead of just guessing or using a standard reply, I’d much rather ask for help and therefore be able to put together a detailed and helpful answer for our customer.
Don’t let your ego get in the way either – get out of your comfort zone and ask. If your team members aren’t dickheads they’ll happily help you out. Read more about company culture and the effects on customer support here.

5) Keep an internal knowledge base for yourself

In order to be able to update your knowledge base, remember recurring issues and requests, and reduce the times you need to ask for help, you need to keep track of all the support that comes in. Some tickets will just be basic questions that repeat themselves every now and then, some you will always know the answer to, and then there are others that are more specific, technical, or unique or new in some way.

Being new to elevio I went through a huge learning curve of going from pretty much zero knowledge to being able to answer at least half the tickets on my own. At first I struggled, then realised I needed a way to remember some of the answers I had sent out before and also to stop asking the same questions.
Every time I figure something out or learn about a new feature I add the topic to my own Google Doc that I’ve created for this specific purpose. It’s just for myself and simply a list of previous support questions and answers, and a title for each set. I make sure to put a few keywords in the title to easily be able to search the document and find what I’m looking for. By now it’s quite an extensive internal knowledge base that I go through every time I struggle to find an answer. If I can’t find an answer in there, I then ask for help. And once I know the answer I make sure to add it to my Google Doc. It saves all of us time in the long run and makes the process a lot more smooth. Every now and then I also go through the doc and pick the most common and recurring questions to add the answers to our public knowledge base (see point 2 and 3 above).

I’m curious to hear what your day to day process of running Customer Support looks like, how much time you spend answering tickets, and any tricks you’ve got for working more efficiently – share in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!