There are hundreds of unread messages in your inbox. Tweets mentioning your company are piling up. Facebook likes are turning in to replies. And it's not even noon yet! What do you do?

Customer support can get overwhelming at times, but I consider it a privilege. As the community guy at Karma, I believe that great support can never be a burden or your customers will suffer for it. You can't lose track of known issues, keep questions in your e-mail unanswered, forget to make shipment changes when a customer asks, or just miss an opportunity to impress someone by helping them effectively and fully. Consumers will not hesitate to let their followers on Twitter know when they're upset with a company, and rightfully so. Here's how we are building the Karma community, with something we call The Two T's.

Tools

By using great tools to help customers, you're already halfway to building a great community. Help Scout is one of those tools that has become essential for us. It allows us to quickly respond by using an email interface that's incredibly fast (especially when you've learned its keyboard shortcuts). Assigning a question to a team member is also incredibly easy, as is putting labels on messages for reference. We use labels like "feature" when a customer has an idea to improve their experience. You can even create feature-specific labels, and send all customers who had this request an update if the feature has been implemented.

Help ScoutHelp Scout

And there's Hootsuite, a great tool for Twitter management. My favorite feature grants team members the ability to see when and who replied to a specific tweet. This helps with organization and response speed. Hootsuite also allows us to track hashtags and keywords. We tell people to tweet us with the hashtag #morekarma on our coverage page if they can't find coverage in their area. Monitoring this tag shows us exactly where we need to expand.

HootsuiteHootsuite

These tools would be useless if we hadn't built a great admin dashboard. Our Karma dashboard acts as the brain behind the company. Admin dashboards are always an afterthought for most companies, but we spend a lot of time in its design, with a little help from Bootstrap. It allows us to keep track of shipments, accounts, hotspots, metrics, and so much more. It also has a global search field that searches all items, so we can search for a customer's name and find all their orders plus their other pages in the dashboard. We sometimes even reach out before a customer can write in, because we've seen some unusual behavior in our admin. That's the best kind of support we can give.

Admin screenshotAdmin screenshot

Tone

Ever talk to a company? You can't. You talk to the people behind the company. Speaking with a certain tone, the tone of just being a human being, is crucial for building a community. I remember a few of my favorites within Karma.

An airline captain was having his Karma shipped to a hotel in Dallas. Since pilots switch cities often, he asked if his hotspot can be sent to San Diego last minute. The issue was, his package was already in transit. After not being able to get it rerouted, we discussed with him how frustrating this must be. We let him know we wouldn't let a simple delivery holdup get in the way of his first Karma experience. We quickly express shipped him a new hotspot. He received his Karma at the new hotel and was extremely grateful. I specifically loved when he described the handling of his issue as, "Brilliant."

Another of my favorites was an international customer who was in California. He came across Karma on his last days in the US and reached out to show his excitement. He asked if he can buy a device to use during the few days left on his trip. Normally, a shipment to California would take a few days to arrive. That was out of the question here. Naturally, being a human being, I simply did what I would want someone else to do for me. We express shipped a hotspot to his hotel immediately. He used Karma for the last days of his stay and even shared his connection a few times, earning some data for his next US trip. He made it known to us that he was beyond happy.

These are the times when my work becomes more than work. It simply becomes one person helping another, and these are exact examples of that.

In closing

Think of your community as a puzzle you need to solve, and it can become a very fun and fulfilling task. As consumers, we have lowered our standards dramatically in recent years. Each day, we accept more impersonal, lackluster service from businesses big and small. It's the norm now, but we deserve better. If companies start implementing smart tools, and answer with the right tone, customer support becomes more human.


About Dave Ford

That guy who knows more about sports than technology