Every day that I’ve been at Campaign Monitor, our customers have defined my work. When I started nine years ago, I debugged HTML email issues, then transitioned to manning social media and writing blog posts and guides, as well as to speaking at conferences. Today, I manage a team and a variety of projects. At each of these points, my role evolved in step with the needs of our customers.
In my current role as Customer Success Programs Manager, I began to recognize that our customer service infrastructure was one part of our company that hadn’t evolved quite as rapidly.
In this post, I’ll discuss what drove us to update our in-app and public support site, our goals in doing so, how we rallied our team to make change happen and finally, some of the results we’ve seen so far.
Hopefully, this will help other service-oriented companies make a case for investing in their customers, or simply give you a little insight into what’s changed when you next visit “Help” in your Campaign Monitor account.
How it all began
Campaign Monitor was built from scratch about 13 years ago to enable designers and agencies (like our company founders) to send email marketing campaigns. During those early web days, there were few other services like it.
Likewise, there were few dedicated tools for customer self-service at scale, so we cobbled together an in-app and public support portal on the Campaign Monitor platform, albeit with knowledge base articles being served by Yoda, our home-grown CMS.
This worked very well for a long time, but as engineers changed roles or moved on, it became increasingly difficult to find people with both the institutional knowledge and time to make updates. Our Support infrastructure wasn’t just becoming a burden from a reliability perspective, but it also no longer worked seamlessly with our help desk software, didn’t represent our brand and worst of all, wasn’t providing the best possible experience for our customers.
It was time to bring support into the modern age.
Making a case for a better customer experience
Regardless of whether you’re organizing a dinner with friends or building a support site for more than 200,000 paying customers, the key to success is understanding both your contributors and end users, who are often the same people.
Simply saying “we’re going to create a better experience for our customers” or “we’re going to help our Support team” doesn’t cut it. Does a “better experience” mean shorter response times, a higher percentage of successful help article searches, all of these things, or none of these things? How do you justify the investment?
At the end of the day, we had to dig into the main issue we were trying to solve: that our customer base is growing. Back in the day, we didn’t have the processes or infrastructure in place to enable customers to find answers or efficiently handle questions that come through. The result? More cases for our team, higher initial response times (IRT) and case handling times, not to mention, Support team members feeling swamped.
By aligning with the Support team’s priorities, we could make a measurable impact on both our customers’ ability to find the information they needed and the Support team’s workday– all of whom watch our queue of questions fill up each shift. Needless to say, Support and other customer-facing teams were enthusiastic for change. On my end, it was impossible not to get emotionally invested in their plight– I’ve done stints on a technical help desk since a 90s high school internship at AOL– and so my buy-in was complete, I just had to communicate the benefit to the higher ups.
SCI: The metric to rule them all
Long story short, distilling the benefit into an elegant metric was key. Our Head of Customer Success introduced me to a metric they use at Atlassian, which is Support Contact Index (SCI). This metric is calculated as SCI = Number of support cases / Number of monthly active customers
Since we have tracked both case-load and active customers from the beginning of time, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a realistic target, which was a SCI of 0.09. This meant that in the quarters following the launch of our new public and in-app support site, we’d have to make an impact that, during a busy month, was the equivalent of preemptively answering/deflecting roughly 20% of our current case volumes.
Challenge accepted. With SCI in mind, we could converse with Business Operations, Marketing, and other teams about the hours of support person time saved, revenue implications, and more. SCI was the anchor from which we could tether the success metrics which mattered to other teams.
A year in review
How do you summarize close to a year of writing specifications, talking to people, rewriting those specifications, selecting a vendor, and translating requirements into user stories for said vendor?
I’ll give you some of the key requirements we had. They were:
- An on-brand, customer self-service oriented platform to replace both our public and in-app Support sites
- Versions of the sites that reflected both the direct (no clients) and agency (one or more clients) versions of Campaign Monitor, so that customers always get help docs that are relevant to the account they’re using
- Integration with our help desk platform, so we could pass customer data with each new Support case and automatically suggest help articles based on case content
- The ability for our Technical writing team to migrate and manage existing articles, as well as write new ones
In many ways, choosing the underlying platform on which to build our support sites was the easiest part– our Support team (being some of our most passionate users) were already migrating their help desk platform to Salesforce Service Cloud, so it made sense to join their ecosystem and get the integration requirement out of the way. Salesforce is also widely used throughout the company, so we’d also be able to provide transparency across our reporting, as well as ensure the knowledge around how to do any one task wasn’t trapped within a single engineer.
The greater issue was how to bend Salesforce to our will. We found a fabulous Sydney-based vendor (The Customer Experience Company) who are conveniently located within walking distance of Campaign Monitor’s headquarters. This gave our Technical Writing team (who were tasked with handling our most tricky requirements) direct access to the vendor’s project team.
Being based in San Francisco, I had to manage many moving parts from afar, but the benefit of having an almost 24-hour operation was worth it. I’d joke that my “day didn’t begin until 4 pm” (which is when Sydney came online) and that “every day was like Christmas” (when you got to see what had been built overnight). The pace was fast and genuinely exciting.
In all, our vendor completed the majority of the build within four weeks, with an additional five weeks added for refinement, testing, and internal Salesforce configuration. I admit that I didn’t initially schedule enough time for testing– hindsight is 20/20– and so my advice to others is to not just double your timeline estimates to accommodate build time, testing, refinement, launch plans, etc. but even triple it if you can.
Launch and results
Despite adding a few extra days for additional testing and some last-minute jitters, the cutover from our old to new public and in-app support sites went quietly. Unless you count our Support team, who had plenty of great things to say within our internal chat.
As part of our roll out of a new site, knowledge base, and publishing tools, we also rolled out a help desk component in Service Cloud that automatically matches new form-generated customer cases with their account details, so our Support team doesn’t have to hunt around for any given customer’s account:
While it’s still early, the leading indicators are very good. Cases with the above account identifier information are being resolved 10% faster than “anonymous” email cases. That means each person in our Support team can respond to more questions than before. And SCI has been inching closer and closer to our target of 0.09, three months in a row.
Have a question? How to contact our team
This leads me to my next project, which is ensuring that all customer questions to our fabulous Support team receive a timely and helpful response.
To help us get there, we ask that you contact us by logging into your Campaign Monitor account and clicking “Help.” You’ll not only get to see our new and improved customer support site, but if you do have a question or issue, our Support team will be able to use our new-fangled tools to get you the help you need in no time.
A huge thank you to our customer-facing teams, Technical Writing, Biz Ops, Marketing, Operations and of course, our vendor. In all, we had around 15 contributors. Most of all, thank you to our customers for, well, helping me help you. If you have any comments about our support site or suggestions as to how we can improve, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.