How we support the Optimal Workshop community


As a Customer Success Manager for Optimal Workshop, I’m always looking for the best way to ensure our customers are successful with the research they’re doing. We provide a suite of user research tools that help improve website navigation and information architecture. Onboarding and retaining user researchers in the most organic way possible, with a mutually beneficial relationship, is the backbone of our customer success strategy.

In my role, I work hard to ensure our customers are getting the maximum value from our tools in order to stick with us for all their user research needs; both now and for years down the line. This involves:

  • defining success for the customer when they use our software,
  • beginning and continuing on the appropriate pathway to success,
  • and maintaining an unobtrusive helping hand throughout their experience.

To do this, we use Intercom.

Supporting our users every step of the way

Support is a very important aspect of any customer success strategy. When someone faces an obstacle, be it a technical issue, a feature they don’t understand, or even domain knowledge they don’t have yet, they won’t be successful in their endeavors. Great communication is key in solving these issues. When circumstances allow, face to face is still the best. Email is ok, but somehow using Intercom has improved the tone. These days I’m having more conversations and less Q&A. These conversations allow me to grasp the real and evolving needs of the people who use what we make.

Being there to speak with people about issues in near real time improves trust, and solving issues quickly keeps people directly on track to success.

In addition to solving what we can as soon as we can do it, we tag conversations in Intercom with themes. This is useful as a repository of feedback and ideas to help shape our software and it is often fed directly into the design process, with quotes pulled out and stuck on the wall or used to annotate and justify design choices.

Measuring support

In June 2016 we moved all of our support from email and other support ticket systems to just Intercom. Previously, we’d averaged around 24 hours for our first response time and honestly we thought this was pretty good.

In the 90 days following this change, our response time dropped to just 2 hours and 8 mins — we’re helping more people than ever, much faster than ever. This data also showed us the days and times that were our busiest, which allows us to make plans to accommodate these peaks. I try to schedule my meetings on the quieter weekdays, for one thing.

Onboarding for life

By working with people to really understand what they’re trying to achieve, we set both parties up for optimal success. Yes, I did just do that on purpose.

I believe the role of customer success is first and foremost about the customer being successful in their endeavors. To the extent that our tools are involved, I love going out of my way to ensure this happens. We learn so much about how people use our tools by working with people through to the point of success. If I give up or even shut up as soon as someone has paid then we’ll probably never see them again, and they probably won’t say nice things to their friends. On the other hand, if I stick around and help out until the project has finished and the objectives have been met, we’ll often learn something important. It could be a small way to improve our documentation, a better word to use on a button, or a missing report that will save people a few hours a week. Genuine helpfulness always reaps rewards.

Without meaning to overstate it by repeating myself, I’ve found Intercom invaluable for facilitating these conversations. I use it all day long.

Many of my conversations begin even before people have signed up for a free account with Optimal Workshop, let alone paid us the compliment of getting their wallet out. In fact my adorable face is likely a familiar sight! I’ve found that automatically starting a conversation with people who have been reading our homepage for 30 seconds is ideal. They’ve read enough to ask great questions, and they’re ready to engage.

Intercom chat window on the Optimal Workshop homepage

Customer success as an industry is still in its infancy, but I believe these attitudes are vital to the mutual success of business and customer. Customer needs first. Business needs follow. Set expectations, then meet them.

I believe it’s quality over quantity when it comes to Software as a Service. People sometimes forget the Service part. Sure, we generally don’t want to be doing things that we can automate, but we also don’t want our customers to feel lost or abandoned when they’re getting started or walking a little off the beaten path. After all, we’ve built our suite of user research tools especially to help others make the online world easier to understand and enjoy, so we should be eating our dogfood too!

If you’re in the business of making life easier for the people who use what you make then please reach out — I’d love to hear all about what you’re working on and see if there’s any way I can help.

If you'd like to try out Intercom for yourself, you can sign up here and get 50% off 3 months if you're a new customer. Use the discount code below — be quick though, it will expire on November 18th!

Discount code: OptimalWorkshop-NCO

Published on Oct 06, 2016
Paddy McShane
  • Paddy McShane
  • Paddy is a customer success manager at Optimal Workshop.

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