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4 lessons from Buffer on Customer Happiness.

4 lessons from Buffer on Customer Happiness.

Buffer customer service

I finally got down to using Buffer to manage my social posts better. In doing so, I had to get in touch with their customer support team to get Buffer to work on my iPhone.

Now the Buffer folks audaciously promise great customer happiness. That they deliver it is only half the surprise. That I am saying it in spite of not getting my problem resolved, is the full surprise.

When I dissected my interactions with them, I figured, to use the cliché, they do a few ordinary things extraordinarily. I summarise them into four lessons.

Respond quickly

Buffer claims they answer 80% of customer emails in less than 6 hours. I got my questions answered in 2-3 hours. This is possible because of their distributed customer support team they call Happiness Heroes and Weekend Warriors.

How they hire that team itself is a fascinating story. You can't recruit top-notch people around the world who genuinely care about customer happiness with the help of recruitment companies. You need to find a way to attract such people to you. In short, you need to flip the funnel.

Buffer does it by putting customer happiness, along with building an amazing product, at the core of their existence. Read their articulation below.

happiness hero buffer

They also make public, insights into their hiring process, open positions, salaries and just about everything else. They take transparency to a crazy new level. See this below.

Buffer Salary Formula
Buffer Salary Formula

The Result - 100s of applications. Cost - Near zero. This in itself could be a great case-study on how startups should hire.

Hiring at Buffer
Hiring at Buffer

Make it personal

Upon signing up, I got this welcome email signed as 'Joel and the Buffer team'.

Email from Joel of Buffer
Email from Joel of Buffer

At the end, he drops in his personal twitter handle if I wanted to connect with him. Most companies don't show this level of warmth and interest. Even at Google where I worked earlier, adding a personal touch was 'encouraged' but not at the cost of the volume of queries one needed to answer. Maybe things are different now.

Every email from Buffer will include phrases like 'Great to hear from you..", 'A million times thanks for reaching out to us...", "I am very happy to help you with that...". And it will end with this.

Customer happiness Buffer
Customer happiness Buffer

The effect of all this is that every time you interact with them, the Buffer folks leave you with a feeling that they are genuinely interested in talking to you.

Solve the problem

Seems so damn obvious, isn't it? But have you ever been on a call with customer support with a telecom or a bank that went round and round in circles, while being polite all the while? Me too. All the politeness and "Your call is important to us, please wait" hammering seem hollow and futile if they don't solve your problem.

Scott Adams makes a beautiful mockery of it in this cartoon.

buffer customer service
buffer customer service

In contrast, when I asked the Buffer team this question,

Best times to tweet Buffer
Best times to tweet Buffer

their response was not only apt but gave me some more useful information as well.

Buffer team response
Buffer team response

But it doesn't mean that the Buffer team doesn't make mistakes. I did tell you that my problem wasn't solved right? When that happens, the Buffer team show how by merely listening, a world-class team can win the day back for the company.

That is the fourth, last, and the most important lesson about customer happiness - Listen.

You can read all about that in the second and last part of this story.

When was the last time you've been delighted as a customer that you could blog about. Please leave a comment.

Is Buffer 'Listening'?

Is Buffer 'Listening'?

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Why I care about the right bra size.