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Step Into The Queue - Why Every Marketer Should Spend Some Time In Customer Support

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Recently I made the switch from support to social media manager at Trello.  While making the transition I took over the @trello Twitter handle, came up with tips in silly poetic verse, and made some fun (if not entirely useful) videos.  As marketing grew, I leapt at the opportunity to become the full time social media manager.  I had already come to love the community of Trellites during my time in support. In my social role, I am still able to engage with our users, except now I get to flex some of my more creative muscles. How could it get any better?

Of course, as with any new position I was excited, yet still nervous, about making the change. I wondered if my social media skills were up to snuff.  There was one thing, however, that I realized from day one: my time spent in the support queue was invaluable for my new role in marketing.  Support provided me with a knowledge of the product, knowledge of our customers, and allowed me to forge a deep bond with the entire Trello team.  The following are a few reasons why I believe that everyone in marketing should spend some time closing support tickets before they send their first tweet or launch their first campaign.

Know The Product

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Unless you wrote all of the code and pushed every pixel into place in your app, there is probably no one that knows a product better than your support team.  From direct customer interaction, to help documentation and bug reproduction, they get asked about every imaginable use case under the sun and are adept at providing clear and concise answers to users’ questions.

You would be amazed at the things people use your app for that no one on the development team dreamed of and no one on your quality assurance team thought of testing (boards with a zillion cards, animated gif card covers, a scanner attached to your garbage can that adds a new card to a grocery list board whenever you throw something away). Between reproducing and documenting the myriad of bug reports that come in and the feedback on friction points in the user experience, the support team gets to know every nook and cranny between all those ones and zeros.

Having such a deep understanding of Trello allows me to provide faster and more efficient responses through social media and also proves valuable when sharing tips and features with the Trello user community.  I feel good knowing that I can save our busy support team from some of the minor support questions, so that they can dig deeper into more technical questions. I also find that my knowledge of Trello makes me a better marketing team member, since I can provide input from both the product and user experience when we are developing new campaigns and content.

Know The Audience

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Let’s face it, if you’re in marketing you are basically the voice of the product. If you are going to start talking to people, don’t you think it’s a good idea to know who you’re speaking to?  Cultivating a voice for your product starts by talking to the people who are actually using your product, and there is no better way to hear from and engage with your users than in support.

The support queue is where I learned all kinds of things about our amazing users: empower cyclists in NYC, roadmap game development on public boards, and they organize volunteer efforts to better the world. Whether they are a new signup or a power user, they love that new feature or they’re stressed about an issue, you can learn so much about who is using the product, the way they want to engage with the product and the team, and best practices for communicating with a wide variety of individuals.

At Trello we aim to make getting things done fun and we carry this tone in our messaging as well as in our support interactions.  Witnessing the warm response to our voice and friendly engagement when talking to our users one on one has allowed me to develop and pursue that voice with our entire user base.  Feeling confident about who you are talking to is essential for having a positive experience with your community of users. It will improve all avenues of engagement whether it is on social media, email outreach, or your next big holiday campaign.

Know The Team

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Something that I cherished most while working in support was that it gave me the opportunity to get to know every single member of the Trello team.  Whether it was lunchtime chats with our developers, Slack discussions with designers, or conversations with our CEO around the aquarium (yes, we have Nemo in our office), there was always one ticket or another that would create a situation where I could engage with another member of the team. These conversations were invaluable when it came to reporting a bug, sharing user input, or learning more about the Trello roadmap.

Through these interactions I have been able to form lasting bonds that have helped me channel the voice of the entire team into our marketing and engagement efforts.  I have been able to better understand the past decisions that have real time effects on how Trello is currently being used, and where we will be going in the future.  All of this has enabled me to be more honest, direct and transparent with our users. (Yes, we’re working on better offline support, no we will not be working on a Windows Phone app anytime soon. Sorry, just wanted to be honest.)  Also, an added bonus of forging great relationships with all of the people working with and around you is that they are all extremely smart and creative people. Where else do you think I get half of my ideas? (Thanks everyone!)

Now It's Your Turn: Step Up and Step In

Having a role in support was critical for my development as a social media manager.  Support is one of the rare roles that lets you engage with every aspect of the product.  Of course not everyone is going to be in the position of having a support role before they transition into marketing, but there are still many ways that you can get involved with the support team and learn some of their secrets.

Start by asking your support team if you can jump into the email queue every now and then to work on some cases with them.  You will be amazed what you can learn from just a few days in support. Next, grab some lunch or a cup of coffee with members of the support team and talk to them about their customer interactions, what works and what doesn’t, and what can be improved to create a cohesive voice for the company.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for ideas, opinions, and criticism from the support team when launching a new marketing campaign, or looking to better engage with your followers on Twitter. After all, they’re in the know!