Learning how to support users can be a serious crash course. Even if you’ve been doing the same line of work for other companies, learning the nuances of your new company’s software and how to navigate customer questions is no small task.
Having little support experience when I first joined Buffer, I decided to create a system in which I could get up-to-speed more quickly on common questions I wasn’t able to answer.
With one of our values being to take time to reflect, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to create a system where I would reflect on tickets I was not able to answer that week, and track responding to them going forward.
Going through this process not only helped me gather support knowledge more quickly, but it also served as a sort of progress document that my team lead could use to get further insight into my growth.
I updated these columns daily and reflected on the full list once a week. To keep myself accountable, I carved out 15 minutes a week in my calendar dedicated to ‘surfing’ my tickets. When I was ‘surfing,’ I was looking to see how the Customer Advocate who jumped into it next handled it. I then logged those learnings.
Reviewing my tickets consistently gave me ongoing growth momentum.
While working through tickets daily, I’d keep my Ticket Surfing document open in a separate tab. That way, whenever I discovered a relevant ticket I didn’t know how to answer, I could add it here and then revisit it when it came time to reflect and unpack these tickets.
Columns I included in my Surfing Tickets tracker
Here is what my template looks like:
At Buffer we use Zendesk, so whenever there was a ticket I came across that I wasn’t comfortable answering as I ramped up my knowledge of the product, I’d paste it into the ‘Ticket Number’ column and hyperlink it.
If you don’t have access to ticket numbers, this column can be used for any identifying attribute that you can easily use to get to the conversation quickly, no matter which tool you use! I would then go back the next day, jump to that ticket, and update the ‘Description’ column with information on how to solve a similar issue the next time around.
This was a way for me to group tickets together based on themes. For example, if there was a billing ticket that I wasn’t able to answer, I’d add ‘Billing’ under ticket topic. Other categories I used included connection issues and failed updates. These topics helped me compartmentalize topics and learning opportunities in a way that felt clear and efficient.
In this column, I’d add more details about the way this ticket was answered. I would usually do this at the end of the day or weekly as I progressed through topics. Essentially, this was my answer column.
When I came across a ticket in the inbox that I knew was in my Surfing Tickets tracker, I’d often look back at the original answered ticket and use it to inform my response in this new conversation. I’d then add a link to the new conversation to track my progress in answering conversations I wasn’t able to the week before.
Each month, I’d create a new template to track and reference conversations. This is now my sixth year at Buffer and I still periodically resort to managing my technical competencies using this method.
Even now I find value in seeing how other Customer Advocates on my team approach different support issues.
I’d love to learn more from you. What are you doing to increase your personal knowledge base? Tweet us @buffer using #customersupportthoughts so we can continue the conversation!