Did you know that people in Tajikistan use Campaign Monitor? Neither did I. In fact, when I look over the list of 187 countries where you guys live, I suddenly feel like a fresh student back in high school geography. Even though we’ve been doing this for six years now, it still boggles my mind that someone in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan rely on us each day to handle their email marketing.

For the first two years of Campaign Monitor’s existence, all our customer support was handled in Sydney. We’d get up early, stay up late and do our best to get helpful answers back to our customers as fast as possible. There were only a few of us then, and during that time we learned some crucial lessons about helping customers. It’s always important, but when you’re a very small, bootstrapped business, giving your customers an awesome experience is just about the most important thing you can do.

I’ve never understood the traditional mentality toward customer support that I still experience when dealing with most big companies. Something to outsource. A cost centre. In those early days, and still today, our customer support team is one of the most important parts of what we do. They are sales, marketing, product research and a support department all rolled into one.

Evolution of a team

As we continued to grow, particularly in the US market, helping customers from Sydney meant an unacceptable wait for some of you. We were lucky enough to find Diana (who leads our overseas support team today), and in the years since have built up a great team across the US, Canada, Norway and Australia to provide 24 hour support all over the globe. Even in Tajikistan.

Here’s a quick chart showing the number of questions we get from you guys over time and when we expanded the team. You’ll notice a few spikes here and there around big releases.

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Every member of our support team has a web design background (and many of them still freelance on the side). This means they can help customers with complex email design and coding questions from the get go.

Standing behind our support team is a second level member from our development team. We rotate the second-level support role through our development team on a weekly basis so everybody gets a chance to work with our customers and see the software from their perspective.

Our tools of choice

No doubt most of you have had a chat with our support crew at some stage or another, so I figured it might be interesting to share some of the tools we use behind the scenes to get answers back to you as quickly as possible.

HelpSpot

HelpSpot

is the most important app in our support toolkit. It’s where all of your questions are pooled and the support team responds. HelpSpot makes it easy to assign questions to any other member of the team and keeps the conversation centralized.

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Our customer management tool

Over time we’ve developed a home grown tool our team can use to manage just about anything about your account. From approving your campaigns, paying your markup profits adding help content and everything in between. We’re constantly improving this tool with most releases as we continue to streamline things to give you (and our support team) the best experience possible.

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Clearspace

We use a heavily customized version of Jive Software’s Clearspace to keep everyone on the same page internally. This includes sharing upcoming features with the team, what do to for our next Friday Fun and anything else worth discussing. It also includes a real-time snapshot of how we’re performing each day, including number of paid campaigns sent and our support load.

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Campfire

Over time Campfire has become a crucial tool for the entire team at Campaign Monitor. It’s brilliant for a distributed team, and allows our support staff to chat about anything and everything, as well as catch up on previous discussions. It also provides a platform for the conversations that are often missing when you have a team spread all over.

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CoTweet

These days we do more and more direct support over Twitter. To make managing the questions from our 8,750 followers a little easier, we use CoTweet. It lets you schedule tweets, assign tweets to other team members who might be better at providing an answer, and it has a gorgeous interface to boot.

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Tokbox

The support team catches up on a regular basis for a group video chat using Tokbox, a super simple and free web-based tool that lets you chat to up to 20 people at once.

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On top of these there are also the usual suspects like Dreamweaver, Coda and TextMate for helping customers with coding problems, as well as a stack of virtual machines with different browsers and email clients installed so we can replicate any problem a customer might be having.

We’re looking for a new person to join the team

As we continue to grow, the time has come again for somebody new to join our support team in our Sydney office. If this sounds like the sort of gig you’d be interested in, check out the job description and read a little about how we roll at Campaign Monitor.

  • Bart

    Too bad I don’t live in Sydney to apply for the UI designer job!

  • David Greiner

    That is a shame Bart, you’ve got a super impressive portfolio right there.

  • Richard

    Have to say, the guys/gals are really good at getting back to me rapidly whatever the method of contacting them has been, whether Twitter or through the support desk. Keep up the good work.

  • bluesix

    “Earth Capital” Good to see you guys using Campfire effectively!

    Great post Dave – love seeing these ‘behind the scenes’ posts, as well as what tools other guys are using.

  • holder10

    Wondered how the Campaign Monitor Admin Area looked like in the past weeks. Great timing, very interesting!
    I would love to see more information/screens of that.

    “From approving your campaigns, paying your markup profits adding help content and everything in between.”
    Does that mean you can add kind of “personalized” help pages/content to my account? Or are you just talking of the general help pages?

  • Diana Potter

    @holder10, we can only add help documents to the entire system, not to 1 specific account.

  • holder10

    Okay, thanks. I misunderstood it then, was already wondering. Would be a nice feature I planned to (and probably will) suggest anyway. ;)

  • michaelfraietta

    David,

    It’s great to hear you using and enjoying Jive’s Clearspace. I’m definitely going to check out Tokbox, looks awesome and I can think of some great uses for it already. Thanks! Hopefully we’ll be offering something similar at Jive.

    Michael Fraietta
    Jive Software Community Manager & Chief Listener
    @MichaelFraietta

  • Ed

    There are only 195 countries in the world!! And you guys have users in 187 of them?!?!?! WOW.

  • Diana Potter

    @Ed, the really shocking thing are those missing 8! ;). We have a new goal.

  • Johnny Hogue

    If a person is a non-resident of Australia can they make applcation also? I know of someone who is French but will not whet his appetite unless the possibility exists.

    Thanks, a great team, keep up the good work :-)

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Johnny, certainly get your friend to drop us a line – realistically we’re looking for a Sydneysider, however we’ll certainly give credit if he/she’s the right person for the job!

  • Andy

    Do you also use helpspot for the help/FAQs and forums or purely for ticket tracking?

  • Mathew Patterson

    Andy, we use Helpspot just for the ticket tracking, we have our own help tools.

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