This story is part of an ongoing series exploring how organizations are supporting remote work during the Covid-19 crisis. We hope these stories provide actionable tips and inspiration that organizations can use to make this transition a little bit smoother.
If you’ve signed a contract online in the past few years, you’ve likely used DocuSign to make your (digital) mark. Serving more than half a million customers in more than 180 countries, the company provides a digital way to keep business moving forward without physical paperwork.
Behind DocuSign’s seamless user interface is an innovative technical support and customer service team that has helped the company earn a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 66. And behind the support team is Slack.
“We rely heavily on Slack as our primary communication system for mentoring, training and real-time assistance,” says Kevin Alber, a DocuSign tools engineer and former tier-three technical support expert.
DocuSign’s nearly 4,000 employees rarely worked remotely on a regular basis. But when Covid-19 came to the U.S., everything changed.
“All of a sudden, everyone was working from home,” Alber says. “It was a huge shift that almost doubled the number of Slack messages being generated in our workspace. We’ve been using Slack for a while but have never seen this kind of volume before.”
Slack channels are where teams can share messages, files and tools. As more channels came into being at DocuSign, communication in Slack also skyrocketed. Between February and March, the company saw a 60% increase in weekly Slack messages, with 1,891,097 sent in one week.
“Working remotely during Covid-19 amplified how much Slack helps us, and how much we depend on it to get knowledge out in real time.”
Using data to drive organizational efficiency in Slack
DocuSign’s technical support team is organized into three tiers, each tasked with addressing varying levels of customer issues.
Alber wanted to quantify how DocuSign teams worked with tier-three technical support experts and generate key performance indicators (KPIs) to increase efficiencies. So he built an application tool that tracks daily Slack activity to identify trends and productivity patterns.
“For labeling topics it uses a term-frequency algorithm that notes which keywords are associated with, say, a Salesforce question versus a billing question,” says Alber.
The application tool delivers this information to a database connected to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. It shows keyword volume per channel, monthly volume and trends, the number of bugs mentioned, help articles shared and taxonomy labels.
Alber’s team can see what kind of keywords and questions are trending and then take that information to their technical support training teams to identify where to focus their efforts in the future. It’s all shared via a collaborative folder, and Alber adds collaborators as needed.
“In a sense, the data shows where the technical support experts are spending the most time,” says Alber. “We can use the data to recognize where we’re receiving the most volume in terms of customer requests, which informs how we should shift people around to meet those requests.”
As collaboration around technical and customer support continues to grow in Slack—the customer service team alone has seen an 11% increase in weekly active users since the beginning of March—Alber’s tool will continue to meet internal needs with a new level of agility.
“The training and knowledge management team can analyze how often an article’s being sent, and why people aren’t finding it on their own,” Alber says. “Sometimes, making an article more relevant, and being able to solve more issues quicker, is as simple as changing a few keywords.”
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Offering quick technical support and expertise with Slack channels
Up until a year ago, Alber’s team used Atlassian’s HipChat for communication before switching to Slack. Now that DocuSign’s teams are temporarily working remotely, Alber says, “we really push the team to use Slack channels to ensure visibility and collaboration across all tiers, which ultimately helps us deliver to our customers efficiently and quickly.”
Should technical support experts need extra help, they can ping the appropriate public Slack channels, which are organized into topics by product or service, such as
#billing-forum. To avoid overwhelming the team, DocuSign uses Slack user groups to funnel the right technical support questions to the right experts. When an employee mentions @billingsme, a Slack notification goes directly to a list of appropriate technical support experts, and whoever is available jumps in.
“If they can’t find an answer in existing channels, then they’ll go to a channel such as
#cs-gsa-forum-t3 where they can triage an issue to the right place and work cross-functionally as needed,” says Alber.
And when an employee mentions @cst3, a Slack notification goes directly to a list of tier-threes, and whoever is available jumps in.
“A big role of the tier-three technical support expert is to actually just be available on Slack to help out,” explains Alber. “Anytime we can fix something in a few sentences, that’s one less case to escalate. The time savings is invaluable.”
Considered the veterans of the technical support team, DocuSign’s tier-three experts have institutional knowledge that comes with years of direct experience. Alber says Slack has been a great tool for spreading that knowledge to the rest of the company. It’s also fundamentally changed how newly onboarded technical support experts find help.
“People can read through our technical support channels to get context and absorb more,” Alber says. “They’re getting used to finding the answers to their questions using Slack rather than relying on an in-person discussion, which doesn’t disseminate that knowledge nearly as quickly or effectively.”
“Anytime someone mentions a case on Jira, we see a snippet of data right in Slack,” says Alber. “A tier-three can almost immediately identify which case it is if it’s related to a bug and inform customer support for a faster resolution.”
This streamlines problem-solving and reduces the number of back-and-forth messages needed, enabling DocuSign to provide the superior experience customers have come to expect.