How We’re Moving from Emails to Conversations: Buffer’s July Happiness Report

July was a month filled with sunshine, life changes, vacations, and yes, Inbox Zeroes, too!

Most of the Heroes took a few days here and there to welcome family, rest and recharge, or travel. Their well-deserved days off did have an impact on the stats, but they scheduled around each other and worked extra hard to hit zero in the inbox every day.

As of this writing, we’ve hit 10 straight weeks of zeroes, at least one per day. I’m super proud …

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Happiness Hacks: The 10 Most Unexpected Ways to Be Happy, Backed By Science

We love happiness at Buffer.

We’ve renamed customer support as customer happiness.

Happiness is baked into our culture and values and the DNA of every person who works on the team.

If there’s a smile to be had or a positive outlook to take, we’ll do our best to find it.

As such, we’re always keen to test out new ways to improve on this value of happiness at work, at play, and at home. We’ve tried science-backed ways to be happier, productive ways to be happier, and lessons from historians, writers, authors, and experts.

Might there even be some unexpected ways to be happy?

I pulled together some research about the many unexpected and counterintuitive ways to find happiness, and I’m happy to share with you what I found. These 10 insights cover a wide range of happy ideas, many of which might seem new and original.

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How We Do Customer Support at Buffer

“Customer support” is something of a magic phrase at Buffer.

Say it to anyone—from Happiness Heroes to Hackers and beyond—and watch eyes light up.

Simply put, it’s one of our very favorite things to talk about and improve upon every day. Customer support is baked into everything we do—Buffer’s vision is to build a super-useful product with amazing support for everyone we come into contact with.

So what does Buffer’s Happiness team do, exactly? And how do we keep customer happiness front and …

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Enjoy All the Moments: How to Find Gratitude in Any Task

When I look back on the times I’ve done the most productive work on my startup, it has always been when I’ve had a great balance of work and rest. It has also been at times when I have genuinely been enjoying the moment.

Steve Jobs suggests that in order to do great work, we should love doing the work:

“Work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do …

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The 100 Happy Days Challenge: A Simple Experiment to Increase Happiness

One night, I got a Facebook message about the 100 Happy Days challenge. So I clicked through and here’s what I read:

“While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in: Every day submit a picture of what made you happy!”

OK, fair point, we don’t take time to appreciate things anymore…

I was about to click away and get on with my life, when I read that next sentence:

“71% of people …

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Is This Urgent? What Happened When We Let Buffer Customers Prioritize Themselves: June Happiness Report

Happiness ReportJune was a fantastic, fascinating month for customer happiness at Buffer as we made great strides toward meeting goals, expanded our awesome team, and pushed forward in a number of new, exciting areas.


June 2014 is the first month that I know of where we hit “inbox zero” at least once per day in both email and twitter. (We use Help Scout and Sparkcentral, respectively.) It feels great to be getting closer to the point where our customers don’t have to wait for us in order to get their work done. By better managing these two communication tools, we can also continue to devote time to Live Chat.

Our email volume is slightly lower than last month, which, naturally, has made this easier. We’ll continue to hire in the next few months so that we’re ready for autumn volume.

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One Daily Team Meeting, Across 5 Time Zones: Buffer’s May Happiness Report

May was a huge month for the Happiness Team at Buffer. We began the month answering 50% of emails within 1 hour and finished it answering 80% of emails within 1 hour. This results in a palpable difference in the happiness of our customers. Huge congratulations to the Happiness Team!

How we keep in touch as a distributed team (meaning: no all-hands meeting)

We each enjoy the luxury of living in the place that makes us the happiest, and we use the geographic distribution to answer our customers’ questions quickly, during our local daylight hours.

There is one hitch to this. When we’re properly distributed, there is no reasonable time for a weekly meeting. It took us a few months to settle into just the right tools to stay in close touch, and it works well for us now. And no one wakes up at 2 a.m. for a meeting, which is a plus. :)

Our daily and weekly schedule

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Why We Don’t Scale Support at Buffer

I recently got an email that asked this question, and it comes up a lot in the support world.

“I see you have a static FAQ, but why have you chosen not to have a searchable knowledge base or robust community forum for support questions?”

I’d love to share why we chose not to scale support, and why we ask customers to email, tweet, or live-chat us each time instead. It’s very simple, and it’s all about how fast we can learn.

Simply, we don’t learn anything if customers find the answers themselves on a forum or knowledge base.

Why we don’t scale support

As an example, let’s say we get the same question 5 times. I’ll use a real-life Buffer example. “How do I change my credit card in your system?”

So, after the fifth time this question is asked, Company ABC might put it on a knowledge base. Then the next 50 people who have the question might find out themselves. They don’t have to wait for your customer service team to get back to them; they can find the answer at any hour. Right?

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When to Teach and When to Fish: 3 Times We Skip the How-Tos in Customer Support

tropical-fish-1437349-mAnne Isabelle Ritchie coined a concept in the 1880s that we still use today.

Modernized, it is:

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The conventional wisdom is that it’s always preferable to teach someone how to fish. However, the Buffer support team has been thinking about this concept a lot lately. We’re learning that often there is a huge market for skipping the lesson completely.

This can be a stretch for tech support folks. After all, we gravitate toward support positions because we love to teach. We feel pain when people don’t love the technology we love. That makes us great at our jobs.

However, we also tend to be the people who like to push every button in order to find out what it does. We would always rather learn the how, and the why, of every process. That’s why people start asking us for help at an early age. That’s how we learn that we love helping. That’s how we end up in these roles.

But I’ve had to try to break this habit a bit in order to take my own customer service skills up a notch. There have been many times when I’ve tried to teach when I should have been serving up a fully prepared meal instead.

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Warm Fuzzies: The Best Kept Secret of Customer Service

Dog lickIn most industries, including the tech world, “support” is a piteous word.

Posts like this one, while written in jest, enforce the stereotype that working in support essentially sucks. We are known for getting abused by ranting, angry customers. We can’t take a day off, because the emails never stop flowing in. We must just be doing this to get trained with the company, right?

Well, I’d like to offer a slightly different view into the world of customer service.

While we do occasionally bear the brunt of unhappy customers and receive unkind words, those experiences are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the patient, smart, grateful and human emails that usually flow in. I recognize that I’m spoiled by my Buffer users, but I’ve experienced this same trend in all previous customer service jobs.

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