Slack

Providing always-human conversations, even at scale

  • Avg Ticket Volume/Month 25,000
  • Active Daily Users 6 million
  • Support Team Members 175
  • Internal response time goal 1 hour
  • Products Used

Choosing the right tools from Day 1 is not something start-ups are always known for. A start-up’s pace is fast and furious, and it takes true vision to build a backend support infrastructure that will serve a company 10 years into its future.

Yet Slack has shown this foresight. Founded as a company in 2009 and launched as a platform in 2014, it envisioned itself growing to serve millions of customers looking to maximise productivity in the workplace. Only four years since its launch, Slack now helps nine million weekly users communicate more effectively.

The flexibility of its platform—connecting workplace conversations with the internal tools a business needs to succeed—means that Slack provides a unique experience to each organisation it serves. In turn, every customer touchpoint, from the product to the company, needs to be an equally seamless, personalised interaction.

“When a person takes the time to contact us, they deserve everything we have in return,” explained Vice President of Global Customer Experience Ali Rayl. “We all have a limited amount of time, and if someone is taking some of that time to write to us about our product, it is incumbent on us to take the time to form that relationship and do our best to get them to where they need to be.”

The customer service team’s guiding philosophy is that all customers deserve a human conversation. That’s why Rayl chose Zendesk Support and Zendesk Guide from the start, back in 2013—she knew that the software would allow her team to build closer customer relationships while the company grew. Slack was only available through private beta at the time, but its use was already expanding exponentially.

“I knew Zendesk Support would work if we reached the scale we were aiming for, and I also knew that the Zendesk API would allow us to build whatever we needed to meet our specific needs,” Rayl said.

Slack utilised the Zendesk API to let users contact support through a feedback command (/feedback) built into the Slack platform, which seamlessly generates a ticket in the background. A sophisticated tagging flow then routes these tickets direct to the right team for handling, significantly reducing response times.

The team also uses the API to automatically alert groups outside customer service about relevant issues, and to add support to Slack’s mobile app. Users can also report bugs through the app, making it easier for engineers, designers and product managers to collect feedback and expedite fixes.

Over time, Slack’s support team has grown to 175 agents located in Melbourne, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and Dublin—now offering a full omnichannel customer experience. In 2017, Slack expanded its Zendesk solution to include Chat and Talk, and joined the early access programme for Zendesk Explore. Together, the team provide 24/7 email support in English and are expanding chat support to 24/5. Agents field up to 25,000 tickets each month, and respond to sometimes thousands of tweets a day.

“We saw our customer base expand and change in the last year or two,” explained Director of Customer Experience Operations Lindsay Schauer. “We’re reaching large, mainstream companies, and some of those customers want to pick up the phone. We want to meet them where they are.”

Though the majority of inquiries still come through the website’s contact form—about 65 per cent—chat is a growing channel, accounting for about 10 per cent of volume. “We’re loving chat,” Schauer said. “More importantly, our customers are loving chat. The response we’re getting has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Agents respond to most email tickets in under an hour, and maintain a CSAT across the board of close to 100 per cent. Pursuant to its mission of delivering a human conversation, Slack never sends automated responses and works instead to anticipate customer issues to maintain its internal response time goals.

As volume climbs and Slack continues its move upmarket, the support team has committed to a unique structure. Rather than tiering agents and generalising across the platform, Slack trains agents to specialize in particular areas. Triage captains monitor the queues and route tickets. It’s been very effective, Schauer said. And although the company provides self-service through its help centre, it does not ask customers to self-diagnose.

“We just ask our customers to tell us what their problem is, and then we’ve learned to interpret that,” Schauer said.

Slack has also partnered with Zendesk’s Customer Success team over the years to help achieve its goals. Schauer said, “I’ve always loved how malleable and simple it is to set up Zendesk. We’ve done all kinds of things with triggers and automations to match the system to the way we organise our team, and to filter what agents see and work on. I so appreciate the flexibility of the system.”

She added: “There’s all this talk about customer delight in the industry. We hopefully provide some of that with our personality and human presence; but we know that customers most want a fast and accurate response.”

“I knew Zendesk Support would work if we reached the scale we were aiming for, and I also knew that the Zendesk API would allow us to build whatever we needed to meet our specific needs.”

– Ali Rayl Vice President of Customer Experience