As we pass four million Trello members I thought it would be a good time to share with other small software development teams the fact that providing high quality support doesn’t have to be expensive or impossible. This includes a one business day initial response window for all newly created cases and making sure to follow through on all open cases until resolution. With just a few tools and some dedicated time, it is possible for even just one person like myself to support our entire member base.
The Trello toolbox contains a few basic items that I will go into in individual detail: help documentation via Desk, email support via FogBugz, in-app support via Trello, SnagIt for screenshots, and Google Analytics.
The first level of support here at Trello is our help documentation at help.trello.com. I use Desk to manage our help content as they provide easily customizable themes and great tools for quickly publishing articles. As with any help documentation the goal is to make sure that the people using Trello are able to quickly find the information they need, whether it is about getting started with Trello and creating their first board or diagnosing browser issues. Desk provides easy ways for members to browse articles by topic and has a robust search engine for finding articles by keywords or article content. Also, Desk offers readers polling at the bottom of each article to critique the article’s helpfulness. This combined with people’s feedback allows me to constantly tweak articles and create more valuable help content.
With Desk I also use two other really simple tools for help.trello.com. The first is SnagIt. This really basic and straightforward application is great for taking screenshots that can be quickly edited, enhanced and dropped in to a support article to provide a visual context to accompany the text. I recently went through our help documentation and did a major overhaul, adding images and captions to as many articles as possible. This provided a visual anchor to help our members zone in on the information they were looking for and improve their experience in the Trello help documentation. How do I know this? Because of…
Google Analytics. Analytics provides useful information as to how people are getting to our help documentation, what they are looking for, and their activity within the Trello help site. With Google Analytics I was able to see that once I had added screenshots to my articles bounce rates were going down and the exit percentage was going up, telling me that people were getting the information they needed from those articles. I also saw that the average time spent on articles relating to a help topic went down while the average time spent on articles related to features was going up. From this information I was able to conclude that people were finding information faster, but also interested in exploring what Trello has to offer. Analytics can also be valuable for detecting holes where information on a subject is scant or isn’t currently covered by looking at the keywords people are searching when entering our site.
If the help documentation doesn’t provide an answer to your question, and there are often times that it can’t, the next step is email support. I use FogBugz, which is a Fog Creek product to track all of the support queries that are emailed in. FogBugz does a tremendous job of creating cases for each email allowing me to manage, filter and prioritize as well as assign and share important cases with the rest of my team. For setting up quick responses to common questions and issues I use a feature called “snippets” that allows me to have prewritten email responses that can be generated with a few keystrokes. This saves me a lot of time which I can then dedicate to other tasks. I figure I get up to 300 cases a week via email, this means I am usually done with the email queue by lunch each day and then I can budget some time to follow-up on replies during the afternoon.
We recently added in-app support for the Trello for iOS app and we will soon roll it out to the Android app as well. The idea behind this was to support Trello within Trello from a Trello board. It seemed silly to force people to close the app and open their browser to search for help documentation when I could provide answers to people’s questions on a board in the app. I set up one list to tackle the really common questions and then another list where Trello members can interact with me directly in the app by asking questions on cards that I can quickly respond to. This also helps to foster a community for our mobile platforms and a knowledge base from previously asked questions.
To check it out in the Trello for iOS app select your avatar from the boards page and then select “Help!”. This opens the Trello iOS App board in the app where you can get answers to common questions, submit help requests, feature requests and bug reports, and see what features and bug fixes will be added to future versions of the app.
Bubble It Up
In the end, good support only goes so far if it stops with me. If there are bugs being reported, unforeseen but obvious pain points for users in the user interface, or persistent feature requests, it is imperative to make sure that the designers, developers and managers on the team know about these issues. We keep track of all of our bugs on (you guessed it) an internal Trello board and I keep weekly statistics of trending support issues. The top issues are then posted in a weekly team wiki so that everyone involved in Trello is aware of what is going on with our members. It becomes much easier to get someone’s attention and get things fixed if they are seeing the same issue posted week after week. With a continuous release cycle in Trello our developers are able to quickly resolve these issues and I get to watch the number of cases regarding them drop off to zero.
That’s basically it! Simple, right?
One last thing, I also check social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to see if Trello users have posted support questions there. This is also a great time to engage with the community and see what people are saying about Trello as well. It’s kind of the icing on the cake at the end of a busy day.
If I’ve had the pleasure of providing support for you in the past, I hope you have found it to be helpful, prompt and generally amazing. If you’ve never had to write support, then I credit the awesome team that I work with for designing a great piece of software that is simple and intuitive and the folks like Ben and Rich at Fog Creek that paved the way for me today.
Of course, if you need support my inbox is always open.
And if you never tried Trello, sign-up – it’s free!