Picking favorites is a thorny exercise. Since we work hard on every piece we publish, the inclination is to choose all of them.

And whether the editorial team chooses or we allow Google Analytics to determine the “most popular,” the results are still limited by our own bias or an algorithm we didn’t create. Where’s the fun in that?

So we decided to ask the Help Scout team about their favorite posts from 2016. What topics resonated with our customer team? Which posts do our engineers recommend?

Effective writing is lean, clean, and easy to read. Here’s our approach

We hope you enjoy this look back at 2016. Our goal, after all, isn’t just to sell a product; it’s to create content that resonates with you, and to elevate the important work of the people in our community.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for being a part of that. We look forward to continuing this journey together in 2017!

— Your friends at Help Scout

The New Definition of Customer Support

Abigail Phillips

Abigail Phillips, Customers Team

I appreciated how this piece validated the work customer support professionals do, in contrast with the larger umbrella of “customer service.” Customer support is a special, skilled role — not a dumping ground or jumping-off point.

The Evolution of the Help Scout Brand

Emily Triplett Lentz

Emily Triplett Lentz, Growth Team

I adored the visualization and detailed walk-through of all the thought that’s gone into various iterations of our brand over the years. We ran this post the same day we launched our new brand — and while brand relaunches can be touchy, people were overwhelmingly receptive, and I think showing them how much thought and care went into the process was a big part of that.

How to Break Your Worst Work Habits

Becca Van Nederynen

Becca Van Nederynen, People Ops Team

I loved this post, especially the quote from Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: “A lot of the busyness that goes on during workdays gives us a false sense of productivity that’s dishonest to indulge. Doing a lot does not mean you’re doing anything important.” The point about how playing whack-a-mole with your notifications isn’t the best use of your time stuck out to me. I felt like yes, I need to stop playing whack-a-mole.

Illustrations Are More Than Digital Eye Candy

Devin Bramhall

Devin Bramhall, Growth Team

I love the mix of storytelling and tips for approaching visuals in this post. That’s hard to do, because while digital design seems like a creative pursuit, it’s actually quite technical. Yet Stephen shares how he approaches design personally in a way readers of all levels can learn from. As a marketer, I also appreciate how this demonstrates all the work that goes into content. What you see in an ad, blog, or website that you love (or are compelled to act on) takes a lot of work. Pictures aren’t just shapes! Sentences aren’t just words! So much conceptual work and strategy go into it: Will this make sense to our readers? Are there other ways to interpret this? and so on.

9 Unique Holiday Gifts from Independent Sellers We Love

Denny Swindle

Denny Swindle, Co-founder and CTO

This post was my fave because I enjoyed seeing us supporting our customers and their businesses. They’re great customers for us, so to circle back and recognize their great businesses felt like a win-win.

How to Use Storytelling to Connect With Your Customers

Jon Q

Jon Q, Design Team

I have a ton of respect for people who can tell good stories. It’s a skill I’m trying to improve on, and I learned a lot from this post that I can use in the design work I do too.

The Psychological Benefits of Writing

Mathew Patterson

Mathew Patterson, Growth Team

I joined Help Scout right around the publication of this piece. I was starting a new job after nearly a decade, and in a new role that was more directly about writing and communication than any other job I’d held. This article reinforced for me why it was the right choice, and it expressed some of my own feelings about the value of good writing.

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Improve Employee Retention in Customer Support

Mo McKibbin

Mo McKibbin, Customers Team

This was an important piece for changing the perception around a career in support. Support is battling with this negative public perception, but the solution is right there in front of us and this post lays it all out: Enable your team to make progress on meaningful work.

How We Use Video to Build Remote Culture

Nick Francis

Nick Francis, Co-founder and CEO

Video has made such a huge impact on our team and company culture — we wouldn’t be the company we are without our Monday video updates, Friday Fika, and all the other ways we stay connected. Video is an absolute game changer for remote teams.

Release Notes

Shay Cichocki

Shay Cichocki, Engineering Team

Since the engineering team is always looking forward, it’s nice to take a look back at everything we’ve managed to ship over the course of a month. I think our release notes do a good job informing customers about the work we do, continuing to polish the existing product and releasing new features, but I like to see it, too.

The Supportive

Suneet Bhatt

Suneet Bhatt, Growth Team

Working in support is not for the faint of heart. You’re on the front lines, always being squeezed to do more, to be more helpful, to support more customers, and at increasingly high standards. It’s hard to get ahead of things — career development, forward-looking industry trends — and it can feel like your future takes a back seat to a customer question in the here-and-now . That’s why I love what Mat’s done with The Supportive, because (I hope) it makes it easier for support professionals to catch up quickly on important trends while sharpening their points of view. Ideally, this becomes an arrow in our community members’ quivers, something they can rely on and pull from when these topics start gaining momentum internally at their companies.

Support Teams Should Have a Seat at the ‘Adult’ Table

Tim Thyne

Tim Thyne, Growth Team

I just loved this Q&A with Mireille Pilloud, the Community Support Manager at TED. It’s such an important conversation that so few people are having. Support shouldn’t be an afterthought. Hello people, good support = better customer experience. And better customer experience = differentiator for your business.

Which posts stood out to you in 2016? What would you like to more of in 2017? Let us know in the comments below!


The Psychological Benefits of Writing

What, you think we write this stuff for our health?

Emily Triplett Lentz

Emily Triplett Lentz

Emily is a writer, marketing strategist and alum of Help Scout. You can find her on Twitter.