Whereas connecting the crew to our prospects has at all times been a precedence for us at Buffer, how the crew has related with prospects has modified fairly a bit through the years.
After I first joined Buffer in 2015, the crew would have a devoted time when everybody would spend an hour answering buyer assist emails at our annual firm retreat. Throughout these periods, our Buyer Advocates would supply assist for your complete Buffer crew as they answered buyer emails. It was an superior bonding expertise and an effective way to carry everybody throughout the corporate–from the Folks Crew, to Engineers, Designers, and Finance–nearer to prospects. Plus, with our fully-remote crew having gathered in a single location for the retreat, we weren’t in a position to present our normal around-the-clock buyer assist, so having additional fingers to answer to prospects was an enormous assist!
After some reflection, it dawned on us that we shouldn’t restrict full-team connection to annual firm retreats! We thought by means of the way it would possibly look in a distant setting, and we got here up with our first distant iteration in 2019: Advocacy Day.
Iteration #1: A full day for replying to prospects
Our annual Advocacy Day was a whole day blocked out for the crew to interact with our prospects by replying to buyer assist emails. With our crew being totally distant and unfold throughout a number of time zones, we wished to ensure a stable construction was in place to assist all crew members, particularly those that have been new or had by no means replied to a buyer e-mail earlier than.
In the course of Advocacy Day, our Buyer Advocates have been “on name” in Slack and on Zoom to assist our Engineers, Product Managers, and different crew members as they navigated conversations with our prospects. We took shifts in an open Zoom name the place anybody may pop in to ask questions, get assist for tough conversations, or simply have firm as they labored.
To assist new crew members throughout their first Advocacy Day, we additionally held celebrations in Slack when somebody shipped their first reply to a buyer and shared significant learnings and interactions all through the day.
From the shopper perspective, Advocacy Days additionally resulted in lots of fast wins. If an Engineer discovered a couple of bug or a Designer discovered of a small consumer expertise difficulty from a buyer dialog, they may soar proper in to deal with the problem and observe up the identical day with the shopper to allow them to understand it was resolved.
Whereas there have been many nice advantages to connecting your complete crew with our prospects, there have been some challenges and downsides. Some crew members in roles farther from the product expertise discovered it difficult to troubleshoot a difficulty or know if sure behaviors have been anticipated or have been bugs.
We additionally acquired suggestions that replying to prospects was a bit intimidating for some crew members, as a result of they didn’t really feel as if they have been consultants at our model’s voice and tone. Including to this problem, a few of our teammates converse English as a second language.
Taking all of this into consideration, we moved to a brand new mannequin.
Iteration #2: Devoted buyer assist periods
In 2020, Buyer High quality Time turned our second iteration of distant, full-team buyer assist days.
Completely different from Advocacy Days, on this mannequin, we eliminated the full-team side, and as an alternative, we paired every non-support crew member with a Buyer Advocate buddy to work by means of a predetermined customer-facing subject or problem. Every crew member had at the very least one Buyer High quality Time session scheduled throughout the 12 months, however our Design, Engineering, and Product Groups had three to 4.
Not like earlier iterations, Buyer High quality Time didn’t require the non-Advocate crew member to answer on to prospects. As an alternative, the pairs may learn by means of buyer conversations and suggestions to grasp how prospects have been utilizing our merchandise, be aware any challenges or UX confusion, and determine which jobs to be done are being famous by our prospects. This eliminated the intimidation issue and allowed the crew to concentrate on understanding the shopper expertise. As a result of our product-facing groups met extra ceaselessly with Advocates, that they had the chance to take pleasure in a concierge service –courtesy of our Buyer Advocates – every time they went to analysis a brand new a part of the product.
Whereas this chapter had its advantages, it additionally had its challenges. It was led primarily by the Advocacy Crew and there have been challenges with aligning schedules, particularly across the Product crew’s present timelines and sprints, in addition to making certain sufficient protection for our prospects. We additionally weren’t monitoring any learnings or outcomes from every Buyer High quality Time, so it felt tough to see the affect lately had for our prospects or measure their success.
After taking a hiatus in 2021, we went again to the drafting board.
Iteration #3: Pairing Engineers with our prospects
In 2022, we launched Buyer Engineering Days. Drawing on previous suggestions, we wished to be particularly intentional with how lately have been designed. As an alternative of pairing Advocates with people throughout your complete crew, we targeted on pairings with Engineers, and we had the Engineers attain out to the Advocate they have been paired with to schedule a date primarily based on their crew’s work schedule. This fashion, they may make the most of their day to assemble buyer insights primarily based on their present engineering work.
We’re a 12 months and a half into Buyer Engineering Days and have had phenomenal success thus far. We’ve had 13 Buyer Engineering Days thus far throughout eight time zones with six extra scheduled. Engineers have recognized and stuck dozens of bugs, recognized a number of UX enhancements, and gained deeper understanding about how prospects are utilizing our merchandise.
Pairs have additionally shared suggestions alongside the way in which so we are able to proceed to make changes to the Buyer Engineering Days course of. After every pair finishes their Buyer Engineering Day, engineers additionally share learnings and insights with their groups to assist inform the work that they do.
To this point, Buyer Engineering Days have hit the mark, permitting Engineers to find out about areas of the product they wish to dive deeper into, and permitting our Buyer Advocates to grasp extra about which insights our engineers are most fascinated with.
We’re going to stay with this iteration for a bit, and we sit up for experiencing extra Engineer <> Advocate connection, having fun with enhancements to our product consequently!