November 13, 2019

Technology: My Support Stack

A few years ago, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, recent Help Scout convert, gobbling up the treasure trove of customer support information on their blog. I came across the article, "What's Your Support Stack?" by Emily Triplett Lentz, an argument for a multi-channel, toolbox approach to customer support. The article outlined the support stack used by Help Scout and highlighted a handful stacks used by their customers, including Basecamp and Trello.

For me, it was a transformative read. I was just beginning to understand the power of a positive customer experience and this article offered a unique peek behind the curtain of how some excellent customer support teams practice their craft. It was also the catalyst that got me thinking about my own support stack.

Since I first read the article back in 2016, I have built support stacks at two organizations and have had a hand in or advised in the development of several others. I go back and reread Emily's articles every now and then when I need a bit of customer support pick-me-up and always find it a shame that no one has responded to the question Emily poses at the end of this one, "What’s your support stack?". Today, I'm hoping to give a little back and share the support stack I currently leverage.

First off, let me set the scene. This is the stack used by the technology team I lead to deliver support to our internal customers. That said, the tools in this stack were specifically chosen because they are not IT-centric and can be deployed to our support experts organization-wide to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

My Support Stack: Presented as a poorly done graphic
Help Scout - This is what beautiful customer support looks like. A powerful combination of organization, automation and analytics, all Trojan-horsed (editor's note: please stop verb-ing nouns) into a simple email interface.

Side Note: At my last organization, I implemented Help Scout within the IT team. When folks saw how empowering it was for my support staff and how quickly our customer experience improved, adoption quickly snowballed. By the time I left that organization, I had rolled out Help Scout to many teams including operations, facilities, HR, finance, analytics, employee development, communications and web development.

KnowledgeOwl: The content management system and article editor are both joys to work with. Features like synonym linking, glossary terms and reusable article/code snippets are just icing on the cake.

Side, Side Note: I love Help Scout Docs, but public/private collections don't easily fit our internal company knowledge base need. Help Scout support was wonderful as always and offered a few workarounds to accomplish a pseudo "internal" permission level. But, at the end of the day we didn't want to run our knowledge management on a workaround, so we invested in KnowledgeOwl. Plus, with full control of article JavaScript, HTML and CSS I was able to "borrow" all of the styling I loved from Docs and implement them in KnowledgeOwl.

Redbooth: My entire world runs in Redbooth workspaces. I'm not sure why these folks don't get more attention than they do. One of the most friendly, intuitive project management tools I've used. Simple enough for novices and deep enough to keep seasoned PM veterans satisfied.

Zoom: Zoom has just about replaced all of the random, one-off conference tools used throughout our organization. A beautiful thing when everyone can communicate and collaborate together.

JotForm - Jot is a ridiculously customizable form building tool. We use JotForms to standardize intake for bug tracking and reporting requests, create training modules using the quiz widget and provide employees a way to submit continuous improvement (Kaizen) initiatives.

InsureSign: An extremely customer-friendly e-signature platform. I always find it amusing that they got their start servicing the insurance and finance sectors, which are home to some of the least customer-friendly entities.

Camtasia and Snagit: We heavily utilize both of these TechSmith applications to produce highly effective knowledge base articles and video tutorials.

Zapier: The Meat Paste that holds it all together. My last zap was one that connected Help Scout to Redbooth. When a "bug-confirmed" tag is added to a Help Scout ticket, Zapier creates a Redbooth task with all the ticket detail in our ERP Workspace for long-term tracking.

If you have a support stack you would like to share, please go post it in the comments on Emily's article. I am doing that myself right now.


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