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Entries Tagged “Customer Service”

Chrome notifications make our lives easier.

Hello again! Today we're going to continue our Support Chronicles series, where we pass along tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and other alliterative terms that help us in providing the best service we can to our users. We'll use this installment to show how we've unified our support notifications with the help of Zapier and Google Chrome. In a given day, our team will be drawn to several different applications in order to provide great support for our users:

  • Olark live chat
  • Helpscout email support
  • Campfire chat room for communicating with team members
  • Google Talk for one on one communication with team members
  • Gmail for one on one email

With five different applications open in four different tabs, the probability of missing activity in one while working in another is quite high. How do we fix that? By funneling each of those applications through Chrome's Desktop Notifications. Here's how we make that happen for each application:

Olark, Google Talk, & Gmail

We connect Olark to Google Talk, and sign into GTalk inside a Gmail tab(don't forget to turn on Desktop notifications for chat and email in your Gmail settings). In order to get all the info from Olark you're used to, you may require some further SRV configuration. Once finished, you'll receive notifications of new chat messages regardless of whether you have that tab open, and Gmail provides a nice canvas for monitoring multiple chat conversations. By turning on desktop notifications for email, I'll receive the same notifications for new emails that come into my inbox as well.


We use Helpscout's webhook functionality in conjunction with a Webhook to Google Talk zap. After configuration, you'll get notifications of new/updated conversations in helpscout just as we do for Olark.


To keep an eye on our Campfire room, we'll use a Chrome extension, Kindling for Campfire. You can customize the notifications to fit your needs(even moreso than your Gmail GTalk notifications), and ensure they are coming through in the same screen location as the rest of the desktop notifications.

For a few minutes of setup, we're rewarded with remarkable consistency in how we're notified of new information coming in to our support workflow. I know that if I get a new email, if a new Helpscout conversation comes in, or if I get a new instant message from a team member(individually or in a Campfire room), I'll find it in the lower left hand of my screen, with identical formatting and behavior to match. If I need to be truly focused on a single task at hand instead of multi-tasking support functions, I'm merely two clicks away from muting all notifications. Simply leaving the Campfire room and signing out of Gtalk/Gmail will leave me alone to work in peace if that's my aim.

Now that you've seen how we achieve consistency in notifications, it's your turn to share your own notification workflows. Be sure to let us know in the comments how you stay on top of incoming info from a myriad of different applications. We'll see you next time!

About the Author

Micah Bennett is the Support Lead at Zapier. He loves his wife Trinity, dessert, and the Chicago Cubs. He has never been to Boston in the fall.

Hey friends, today we’re going to kick off a series we like to call Support Chronicles, where we pass along tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and other alliterative terms that help us in providing the best service we can to our users.

Today’s topic is the keyboard, so let’s talk shortcuts.

Many of you know the shortcuts I’m going to list below; they aren’t hidden in the annals of your browser documentation by any means. But how many of you use them religiously, especially when you can do the same tasks with a click of a mouse?

Why You Should Make Use of the Keyboard

  • You will be faster - With just a little bit of practice, you will be working faster than if you did not use these shortcuts. If you’ve ever tried to do live chat support for 4-5 people at once, you’ll know that even small gains count.
  • You will know where to go - I’m sure you know where to click to open a new tab in your browser of choice. But what if circumstances force you to a different program? What if your browser has a visual update that throws you for a loop? The keys on your keyboard aren’t going to change, and many shortcuts are not browser specific. You get consistency through the keyboard.
  • You will be master of your domain - Quite frankly, you feel empowered by bending technology to your whim through the keyboard. You’re not some passive mouse clicker, you’re a force that dictates your own terms! While the advantage here is purely psychological, the increased engagement from feeling in control of your technology is a nice boost on days when the email queue just doesn't seem to ever get smaller.

Common Keyboard Shortcuts to Cut Support Time in Half

  • Alt-Tab/Cmd-Tab - Change between active windows, a must have when multi-tasking.
  • Ctrl-Tab/⌘-Option-Right Arrow - Change between active tabs. The browser's alt-tab solution.
  • Ctrl-L/⌘-L - Highlight the url in the address bar. Great for when you want to type a URL and go.
  • Ctrl-T/⌘-T - Opens a new tab. For when you want to type a URL and go, but need a new tab to do so.
  • Ctrl-F/⌘-F - Opens the Find function on a page. Perfect for hunting down a keyword when searching for an answer.

However, as much as I love shortcuts like the above list, they aren't going to be saving me large swaths of time over the course of my day. Especially if decades of mouse-work have made me a click junkie.

Turning it up a Notch with Custom Search Engines

If you're like me, you're constantly performing different searches throughout the day, and not all of them run through Google. For those spots where you find yourself clicking a bookmark, then going to the search bar to type, you can skip straight to that point with just a couple letters. The steps to set-up are a bit different depending on your browser of choice, so here's some links to help you on your way:

The secret sauce here is assigning a keyword to those shortcuts for quick access(sorry IE lovers, no keywords for you). Let's take a look at a real-life example that I'm faced with a dozen times a day: I have a user's email address, and I need to view their account details.

This involves checking one table to get their username, and another to click through to those account details. I could have bookmarks to those tables that I can easily click to and search from. Using that process, it took me 25 seconds to get to the point I wanted to.

Instead, I added a custom search engine for those two tables since I'm always searching them, assigning a two letter keyword for each. So what happens when I repeat that process? It takes me 14 seconds to get to the page I'm looking for.

I don't know about you, but those 10 seconds can make a huge difference in the level of support I can give, especially if I'm juggling multiple users in live chat or trying to get to get my inbox to zero as fast as possible.

That's all for this installment of Support Chronicles. Have your own keyboard tricks that help you deliver dynamite service? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Micah Bennett is the Support Lead at Zapier. He loves his wife Trinity, dessert, and the Chicago Cubs. He has never been to Boston in the fall.

One of the tricky things about running an integration product is that a users experience with our product is highly dependent on their experience with at least two other products. Because of that we end up providing support for all the apps we support (almost 150 at the time of writing).

Over the course of doing this, we've learned a few things that work well and a few things that don't.

1. Provide an Experience that Doesn't Require Human Support

This requires two things: a good product and good documentation.

In a perfect world, your product is so slick that a user never needs to get in touch with support. They know exactly what to do and how to do it because your product or app makes it glaringly obvious how things should work.

If the product is a bit confusing, have documentation available so that users can read through and support themselves. The key is to make documentation available perfectly at the point of failure.

Wufoo does this really well. Anywhere in the Wufoo interface clicking on help takes you to the support documentation for the specific issues that you as a user are looking at.

Also, make sure your documentation has good search functionality, the site hierarchy makes sense, and makes copious use of tags or categories.

2. Be Responsive

The world isn't perfect and users will have questions. The number one thing a user cares about is a quick answer. Even if the answer is "we're looking into it" a user will feel good knowing that their support request didn't go into a never ending black hole.

Use tools like Zendesk or Desk to help your team stay organized and who has been helped and who still needs help. We've found Help Scout to be a giant Advil for our support load headache.

Consider using a Live Chat tool like Olark too. Live Chat can be a blessing and a curse. It forces you to pay attention to a user right away and can pull your concentration away from important other tasks. But if you can spare a person on your team to man live chat while others on the team are working it can be a huge boom to your bottom line. We've had countless users run into small issues that otherwise would have turned them away from Zapier. With live chat we solved their issue in a matter of minutes and earned a life long customer and many times a fan who spreads the word about how awesome Zapier is.

3. Be Public

The hardest sites and services to get support from are those who aren't public. Ever tried getting support from Google? For most of their products it's impossible and a quick search doesn't help.

Being public with support lets users know that you are there to help them. You do want them to succeed. And that they can ask questions and they are going to get a response.

We do this using a public help desk where many of the questions and answers are shown publicly. We also have live chat monitored almost 100% of the time during normal business hours in the United States. This lets users know that we are around and that they can expect good support from us.

4. Be Honest

Users don't like being duped or being strung along. If you can't solve what they are looking for just say so. It's tempting to try and dig for more and more information, but many times you just end up wasting a persons time who just isn't a good fit for your product so let them know that.

If the user is asking for a big feature. Tell them if the feature is coming. We get requests often for features we'd like to have, but may not get to for years. What we say is: "We'd like to support that, but that is a big feature request and one we likely won't get to in the short term."

5. Help Users Help You

Providing good support is hard.

If you haven't run into support questions like "The websitez dont work. Can you fix it?" consider yourself lucky.

For those of us in the real world, make it easy for users to give you the information you need to solve their problem. Balsamiq does this great. They ask users to upload screencasts which helps the support team see exactly where the user is struggling.

Many other SaaS services ask users to tell support how they feel by clicking on smiley or frowny faces. This gives the support team a chance to dig into the psychology of the user and relate to them. A lot of times users know what to do, they just need an encouraging hand telling them they can do it.

Sidenote: many users are afraid to click buttons and links. They've been burned by other services where clicking a button or link spammed their Facebook feed or took money from them they didn't want to give. Make it easy for users to trust you and feel like they are the ones in the driver seat and not the developers.

6. Prioritize

Some users pay you. Some pay you a lot. It's obvious that those users should get the highest priority support. In fact, I'm surprised help desk software doesn't have more native integrations with payment processors to help support teams figure out which users are paying and which ones aren't.

To help ourselves out with this we made a quick chrome extension that loads plan information from Stripe into the side bar for conversations with users in Help Scout and also auto tags conversations with whether a user is trialing, paying, or free.

Most users understand that support costs time and money. If a user is unhappy with the support they are getting let them know how they can get it or raise your prices so you can afford to give it to them.

7. Tell Users the Official Channels and Monitor Unofficial Ones

Make sure users know how to get the best support. Early on users could email me directly and I would respond right away. As my time spread thin and more people needed to help with support emailing me became a less efficient way to get support.

We had to re-train users on where to go to get the support they needed.

Make sure to man unofficial channels too. Some users gravitate towards social media like Twitter and Facebook to voice their issues. Make sure to help them there or help them get their support issues directed to the right channels.

8. Have a Short Memory

Most users are great. A few are loud and vocal jerks. It's inevitable that you will get someone who expects the world for free. If they don't get they'll go yell on Twitter. Forget those people. They aren't your core audience anyway.

Focus on making the users you want really, really happy and letting the users you don't want graciously help themselves out the door (or the back button in this case).


Support can be a hairy and thankless job, but it can also be deeply rewarding and immensely valuable.

The bar these days is set so low. Simply solving a users problem and helping them get the solution they need can make life long fans.

We often forget that software isn't if/then statements for most users. Software is pure magic. Helping users use your software effectively puts the magic in their hands and makes them feel like real wizards.

About the Author

Wade Foster is a Co-founder and CEO at Zapier. He likes to write about process, productivity, startups and how to do awesome work.

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