How we (Hotjar) communicate with our 17,385 users
With 17,385 users in Hotjar and only a small team to build and support the product, as well as run the company – we quickly realized we have to be smart and efficient in the way we communicate with our users. We're also obsessed about delivering great service.
So how do we deliver top-notch service with limited resources? Here is the setup we use:
We use 6 key tools to manage communication with our users:
1. We use Intercom to communicate with our users right within the Hotjar interface. Intercom is a SaaS tool that shows you who is using your product and makes it easy to personally communicate with them through behavior-driven email and in-app messages. It's made it much easier for the Hotjar team to communicate quickly and efficiently with our users.
2. We use Trello boards to keep track of our users' ideas, issues and requests. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process. Once we complete any item in one of our trello boards we inform any users that requested an item for feedback.
3. We use FreshDesk to receive inbound 'Contact Us' messages and queries in our Support / Community forum. Freshdesk is an online help desk software. (We don't wholeheartedly recommend FreshDesk – the user experience is far from ideal and their support is not responsive or helpful at all – we're looking for alternatives). We also update our Knowledge Base on an ongoing basis. This allows us to quickly link to articles or FAQs on the fly in our communications. FreshDesk also allows us to manage our Twitter account on a team level.
4. We use HipChat to get notified as soon as we receive a new message via Intercom or FreshDesk. HipChat is a Web service for internal/private chat and instant messaging. We also use it for all internal team communication.
5. We use aText (a text expander) to minimize typing time by creating shortcuts for repetitive phrases, answers and links to articles.
6. Obviously we also use the feedback tools within Hotjar to collect feedback from our users. Hotjar is an 'all in one' analytics and feedback tool that helps you improve your site's UX and conversion rates.
We use Feedback polls to quickly get feedback about the content we create. We use surveys to collect profiling information from users as soon as they sign up, feedback from Beta users 2 weeks into using Hotjar or collect details about users that are interested in programs or features that are not yet available.
The People & Process
We don't believe in building up a support team that deals with all the problems and queries from users.
Instead, the whole Hotjar team is involved in speaking with our users. Everyone from business development to engineering is involved in the process. That includes me – the CEO. I personally answer users at planned slots during the day – or when the subject of the messages means it will be assigned to me.
This 'team approach' allows us to make our users' pains our own pains – making it easier to prioritize addressing the issues that create the queries or messages in the first place. It's an ambitious plan, but we firmly believe it will make a big difference, in the long run (i.e. better service delivered and a streamlined product that is easier to use).
Although the entire team is involved we also have a very simple 'chain of command' when it comes to picking up new conversations and assigning them to each other. At each step, we have defined clear areas of responsibility.
We also have response time targets and monitor these over time (via Intercom).
To make it easier to quickly address all types of incoming messages we've also created 5 categories of message types. For each category, we have very simple guidelines of what to say (and how) as well as how that message moves along in our pipeline.
At Hotjar, we have a very simple way of thinking about our users – to us they are gods! Sounds extreme? Perhaps. But when you think about it:
- They have invested their time to use the tool and give us feedback.
- They have risked their money, peace of mind… and possibly their neck or their business!
By treating our users as gods, we want to aim at delivering the ultimate service experience. You might be thinking – "The customer is not always right...". While this might be right we think this is irrelevant. What does being 'right' or 'wrong' have anything to do with delivering a great service?
So how do we go about talking to our 'gods'?
Over the last 6 months, we have put together a list of guidelines and rules that we stand by. They help us to be consistent with our service and tone used.
- Few things feel more gratifying than gratitude – and few services express gratitude as much as they should.
- You cannot thank your users enough. Keep thanking!!
2. Manage expectations
- Be honest. Don’t over promise.
- Never give a hard date unless you are personally accountable. Where in doubt ask your colleagues for an ETA.
- Say P.M. – deliver A.M.
- When things change COMMUNICATE asap. There is no point in waiting.
3. Never say ‘Impossible’.
- No one wants to hear ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’.
- Investigate, discuss with the team and get back to the user.
- If it's complex or rare just be honest about it.
- Show them you are listening and took the time to understand.
4. Do not ridicule.
- Our users need our help. We should NEVER ridicule their sites or their comments in any way.
- We should never joke about our users – this can easily lead to the wrong mindset.
5. We are guilty – until proven innocent.
- Do not be defensive. Always apologize in advance.
- Nothing is worse than a supplier being defensive about their tool. You will instantly lose credibility.
- Make it clear we will investigate their claims / comments. Make it clear that we take all comments seriously.
- NEVER say ‘we’ve never seen this before’ or ‘it never happened before’. These just sound like POOR excuses.
6. It's ALWAYS our fault.
- Since we built it – it's always our fault.
- The best approach is just to avoid using the word FAULT all together... at the end of the day fault has nothing to do with it.
7. Mind your language.
- Always re-read your message at least once before you send it.
- Nothing makes you look more unprofessional than stupid spelling mistakes.
8. Answer quick – update often.
- Don’t wait to find a solution… reply as quickly as possible.
- Once you read a message reply there and then – don’t postpone or assign it to someone else. That's just a waste of time.
- Because of the previous point, plan time slots during the day when you are focused only on replying to users.
- If a user is waiting for us, check in every now and then to update on the status and thank them for their patience.
9. Sweat the small stuff.
- More often than we think, the small things make a big difference.
- In most cases it's not superior knowledge or talent that wins – it's just something tiny like a quick reply or personal advice.
(Read more about the stats behind this).
10. Always be reading – learning.
- Reading helps you improve your language, communication, and personal skills.
- Learn about user psychology and behavior.
- Recommended reading: Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
How do you manage communication with your users? Do you agree or disagree with any of the ideas above? I’d love to hear about it – just comment below.