When we publish anything, our goal is always to serve up actionable, well-researched content that has something to say and contributes to the conversation.

We’re proud of everything we published this year, but these are the pieces that stood out. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed creating them.

Happy New Year, folks!


The Art of Negotiation

Our VP of Finance, Shawna Fisher, delivered a talk at a company retreat about how negotiation is best understood not as a face-to-face confrontation, but as a side-by-side, problem-solving journey:

“Negotiation is fundamentally about human interaction. It’s not about dollars and cents, deal terms or winning. Negotiations are about creating relationships that get everyone to the best result.”
Shawna Fisher

It was such a good speech we talked her into writing it up for our blog audience. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

How to Recruit Like a Human

Anyone who’s ever received off-base, obviously templated cold outreach from recruiters knows that recruiting is broken. In this piece, Help Scout’s Lead Recruiter, Leah Knobler, shares how she approaches recruiting with empathy — the secret sauce to consistently hiring skilled people who add value.

“Every time I reach out to a potential candidate, I imagine I’m reconnecting with an old friend whom I care about. I also think about how I work at an inspiring company that’s building a meaningful product to help people, alongside many brilliant, kind and humble teammates. Then I imagine the person I’m writing to needs to not only know this but believe it — all within the first few lines of my email. Piece of cake, right?”
Leah Knobler

Sales as a Service

It took us awhile to get over the concept of sales feeling a little icky. Thankfully, we have a Head of Sales — Tim Thyne — who gets it. In this post, he outlines how we developed a sales process that puts customers first:

“We were determined to avoid any sales experience that left customers with a bad taste in their mouth. Our sales process needed to be a value-add not only for our business, but also — and more importantly — for our customers.”
Tim Thyne

As Tim says, it’s not that a more traditional approach to sales doesn’t work — in fact, it probably works more “efficiently” than our sales-as-a-service process does — but we’ve committed to selling in a way everyone can feel good about.

What Is Support-Driven Growth?

Support-Driven Growth is perhaps one of the most exciting experiments we’ve been running this year. In this post, our Support-Driven Growth Lead, Mo McKibbin, explains how rather than a euphemism for customer success, Support-Driven Growth is a business approach aimed at shifting the customer support channel from cost center to critical revenue driver.

“The approach reflects a shift in the market wherein customer-centric companies are leveraging their support teams toward revenue-generating activities.”
Mo McKibbin

Empowering support teams to shift away from reactive support toward efforts that ladder up to company revenue goals is great news for the discipline of customer support and careers within it. We’re looking forward to exploring the concept further in 2019.

How to Hire for Chat and Email Writing Skills

In this post for HelpU, writer Leslie O’Flavahan argues that a great email writer and a great chat writer are as different as an Olympic sprinter and a World Cup goalie:

“These athletes might share the same peak-level fitness, but they use different muscles to win.”
Leslie O'Flavahan

While you’re more likely to hire support professionals who have writing skills suited to either email or chat than you are to find a unicorn skilled in both channels, it’s worth it training your agents to be comfortable in both — that way, everyone on the team understands how to serve a wider range of customers.

Making Content More Inclusive

In this post, Help Scout Blog Editor Emily Triplett Lentz outlines how we audited our content for exclusionary language (like “crazy,” “lame,” “blind” and so on), and what we learned from the process.

“There are almost always neutral synonyms that generally strengthen your communication; practice substituting those words instead. If you run a site, use your backend search to locate language that may be alienating your readers, then correct it. What harm can come of it?”
Emily Triplett Lentz

It’s true this isn’t the most pressing issue, even within the scope of Diversity & Inclusion work — but when we can choose between behavior that upsets some people versus behavior that upsets no one, why wouldn’t we choose to upset no one?

How Mailchimp Bridges the Gap Between Support and Product

For this piece, Help Scout Customer Evangelist Mathew Patterson interviewed Mailchimp Senior Manager of Support Product Analysts Civvy Ornellas about how they created the Support Product Analyst role — their solution to the problem businesses face as they scale and roles become increasingly specialized, complicating efforts to maintain close contact with the customer.

Support Product Analysts serve as a bridge between the people designing and building the products, and the frontline teams who worked directly with customers. And for Mailchimp, it’s working: The team resolved 103% more issues year over year after introducing the new structure.

How to Foster Inclusivity at Your Company

Diversity & Inclusion isn’t just for leadership and HR teams to worry about: As individuals, we can all take a number of thoughtful actions that add up to create a better, more inclusive and inviting culture.

In this post, Help Scout Customer Champion Chanita Simms outlines nine steps everyone in your company can take to affect the kind of positive change that inspires people from different backgrounds to apply to work with you — and to feel included once you’ve hired them.

The Art of Troubleshooting for Customer Support Professionals

In this post for HelpU, Sarah Chambers of Supported Content outlines how support professionals can become great troubleshooters, and how they can pass on this knowledge to their teams:

“Handy people — mechanics, carpenters, your friendly neighborhood MacGyver — all have the same ability to troubleshoot. They can look at a problem, isolate the root issue, and understand what needs to be done to fix the leak, stop the wiggle, or get it running again.”
Sarah Chambers

Being able to fix anything, support-related or not, is a valuable skill. When your team excels at troubleshooting, they know exactly what questions to ask and they don’t waste time collecting information they don’t need.

Interaction Reviews: Quality Assurance for Support Teams

Klaus’s Martin Kõiva presents a familiar scenario: When your company and customer base are growing, you may feel anxious about your lack of insight into the quality of all those interactions.

If that sounds familiar, you’ve probably reached the point where a more formal review process should be established. Interaction reviews — a quality assurance process for customer support — can relieve that anxiety.

Klaus calls it “ticket review,” and in this post Kõiva breaks down what that looks like.

How We Approach Employee Compensation

Talking about what and how people are paid isn’t the most comfortable topic, but Becca Van Nederynen, our fearless head of People Ops, is all about “leaning into discomfort.”

“Handy people — mechanics, carpenters, your friendly neighborhood MacGyver — all have the same ability to troubleshoot. They can look at a problem, isolate the root issue, and understand what needs to be done to fix the leak, stop the wiggle, or get it running again.”
Becca Van Nederynen

In this post, she outlines the approaches we’ve taken and lessons we’ve learned along the way, for anyone else diving into creating (or improving) their compensation strategy.

Come across any particularly compelling reads recently? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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