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How Slack helps Influx to scale virtual-first support teams across nine countries

‘A big part of our success has been making sure that everyone across the company has a shared understanding of what we do and where we’re going, because we’re in the same Slack workspace.’

Alex HolmesChief Growth Officer, Influx

As your business grows, how do you make sure that no customer support ticket goes unanswered? Since 2013, Influx has offered reliable 24/7 customer support solutions for global e-commerce, SaaS and technology companies such as Sendle, ClassPass, 99designs and Blinkist. Its goal is to quickly clear your support inbox with a dedicated, scalable team – and launch your support service operation in just one week.

With hundreds of support and sales agents distributed across nine countries (including Australia, Jamaica, Indonesia, Kenya and Brazil), Influx chose Slack, the channel-based messaging platform, to fit its ‘follow the sun’ hiring model while building out long-term support solutions for its clients. Need short-term results? Influx agents can also clear out your inbox in two weeks.

‘Most customers today want a human, personalised, helpful solution as quickly as possible,’ says Alex Holmes, Influx’s Chief Growth Officer. Behind the scenes, meanwhile, businesses need help with improving key metrics such as response to resolution time, customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and revenue per customer. That’s where Influx’s agents come in, adapting proactively to the client’s KPIs, vibe and processes.

Slack helps Influx to manage many moving parts of its business – the product roadmap, project management, agent training and client onboarding – with shared channels. ‘A big part of our success has been making sure that everyone across the company has a shared understanding of what we do and where we’re going, because we’re in the same Slack workspace,’ says Holmes. ‘It’s not written on a whiteboard in a physical office somewhere.’

Launching an on-demand multi-region customer support operation in one week with Slack Connect

As the world’s first and largest on-demand support provider, Influx relies on Slack Connect to work with external organisations such as agents and clients.

Training agents quickly to be successful at troubleshooting solutions for a client’s business is essential and a competitive advantage, especially as Influx connects to all major help desks and chat platforms. ‘Our on-deck support team is already onboarded in Slack, available to start within one week’s notice if we need them,’ says Holmes. ‘Already pre-trained, vetted, able in different skills, digitally literate.’

As well as a Slack Connect channel between Influx’s entire staff team and the existing support team of a client’s company, each client can be assigned up to five Slack Connect channels, with corresponding internal channels as needed. These channels can be used to maintain visibility and improve collaborative processes such as the following:

  • Onboarding new agents
  • Product announcements
  • Organising different categories of support tickets
  • Addressing bug fix requests
  • Keeping track of security compliance issues raised in real time
  • Maintaining internal training processes, organised by region
  • Management decision-making (forecasting and setting KPIs)

Slack Connect’s shared workspaces also allow Influx’s internal teams to work faster with partners and vendors. Agents at tier-two or tier-three level can directly communicate in a channel with in-house engineers or product owners to resolve incidents faster, while protecting each party’s data.

‘Slack makes it really easy for someone in our company to come in, figure out what’s going on and help anyone be more successful,’ says Holmes. ‘Slack Connect’s workspaces for us effectively turn into a shared work log or ledger of every instance of communication that’s ever happened between two different companies.’

Legacy customer support processes have relied on a team manager’s over-the-shoulder presence and reactive approval processes. Slack, on the other hand, offers power to frontline workers by removing hierarchy to speed up the time to action.

‘We can directly go through the history of everything and figure out what are the things that made this specific integration really successful,’ says Holmes. And if something goes wrong, the team can review and consult on what happened and how to mitigate future risk. ‘Slack raises the bar of performance across the entire business.’

Influx takes pride in how its operational speed translates directly to its customers’ long-term success. Sendle, for example, has grown 600% in the past two years with Influx by reaching more than 27,000 resolutions across ten agents per month. ‘Slack Connect enables us to work together with clients, problem-solve together, troubleshoot together, make decisions together, all while building a consistently reliable support org,’ says Holmes.

Often, this success can stretch across time zones and languages, as well. For example, online video platform Biteable has maintained a four-minute customer response time, 24/7, with 12 ‘support as a service’ agents (trained by Influx) to handle over 9,000 monthly conversations across three regions.

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‘Slack Connect enables us to work together with clients, problem-solve together, troubleshoot together, make decisions together, all while building a consistently reliable support org.’

Alex HolmesChief Growth Officer, Influx

Empowering agents to turn customer insights into business impact with Slack channels

With shared Slack channels, Influx benefits from more efficient and lower-cost onboarding of team members. Support agents also experience better collaboration across departments and companies, to solve customer incidents faster. ‘What’s great about Slack is you have context for every message,’ says Holmes, ‘and those messages don’t get lost.’

Ultimately, finding the information that you need directly in Slack saves time. Instead of a customised knowledge base, you can rely on searchable messages, files and channels. ‘It’s really easy to run a quick search on a Slack workspace to see if anyone’s dealt with a specific customer question before, all the way back to the initial training phase,’ Holmes says. ‘A lot of shared knowledge can live right inside Slack.’

Holmes’s approach to open team communication? ‘Have almost zero one-to-one messages,’ he says. ‘Even as a direct manager, if I’m asking someone to do or look into something, it’s much better that it goes in a channel where we’re working together with shared expectations.’ This helps in two ways: firstly, everyone is included, no matter where they work; secondly, the quality of decision-making becomes better informed.

‘It’s really easy to run a quick search on a Slack workspace. A lot of shared knowledge can live right inside Slack.’

Alex HolmesChief Growth Officer, Influx

Taking targeted action on coaching opportunities as a team manager, with Slack channels

Managing people in the workplace is a big responsibility – even more so on a globally distributed, fully remote team. Not only do you have your own projects and obligations, but your reports rely on you for coaching, career development, communicating priorities and much more.

‘Slack is like a to-do list for me,’ says Holmes, whose role now focuses on finding and building out new business opportunities for Influx. ‘It reminds me of all the things I should be doing in the next 24 hours and helps make sure my team is working toward end goals within their initiatives, as well as more broadly in the growth org.’

Influx hires and onboards frequently, so feedback needs to get to the right hands, even if an agent is newly hired. ‘Having a workspace that people can jump in and out of as needed makes it easier to help someone become an exceptional employee in a matter of months,’ says Holmes.

Coaching a new hire to get them up to speed is a team effort, and one that Slack simplifies. ‘For a new person to be successful really quickly,’ Holmes says, ‘it also makes it easy for everyone responsible for training that person to have all the knowledge, tools and processes they need to be successful in shared channels.’

From public feeds for team news and milestones to a private team channel for hashing out day-to-day concerns, Slack channels can serve different purposes. ‘Back in the day, you used to get emails with “urgent” in all caps and exclamation marks,’ says Holmes. ‘Now, with Slack, I can set myself reminders in-channel to either respond or escalate issues as needed.’

Holmes also relies on Slack to organise work for his team: ‘We don’t use many third-party tools, because we’ve got initiatives organised in Slack. You can see people doing things, where people are stumbling, if people are helping each other, communicating or not communicating. Those are all indicators for me of whether or not my team is successful.’