This article was originally posted on the FCR blog on February 22, 2018. Click here to read the original post.
One of my colleagues at FCR recently asked if I recommend any other communication and collaboration tools besides Slack. As I mentioned in a recent article highlighting the ways support teams use Slack, it’s the clear choice for the majority of our clients for communication with their support teams.
A little taken aback by the request, I asked for some of her reasons and quickly learned that, while Slack certainly improves communication, there’s also the fear that as a customer service team scales, leaders won’t be able to keep up with the questions and flow of information. I posed this question to our program managers at FCR and compiled seven tips for keeping Slack organized.
1. Set up specific channels
The first thing you’ll want to do in Slack is to set up multiple channels with each having a specific purpose so they don’t all turn into a free for all. “We have three channels, one for updates, one for escalations, and one for general conversation,” says Rachel Perry. Andrew Farley adds, “Dedicating specific channels for escalation assistance has provided us with a good way to keep things from getting missed.”
We recommend keeping the number of channels to a minimum as it gets more difficult to monitor the more channels you have. “Less is more. Only invite those who need to be in a channel, to a channel,” says Laura Daniel. For example, on one of our programs, the quality assurance (QA) team has a channel to discuss their work and only team members responsible for QA are assigned to it.
2. Make sure someone owns the channel
If Slack is used as an escalation channel, it’s important to take a systematic approach to ensure that all questions and issues are addressed. These questions likely represent real customers waiting for an answer and therefore are time sensitive. As your team scales, “assign support staff to monitor these channels during scheduled times,” recommends Gordon Brannon. “And the person that first answers that inquiry,” adds Dawn Smith, “owns it until it’s completed.”
3. Use threads effectively
In Slack there are two options for responding to a message. You can add a message below the one you’re responding to or you can create a thread which opens a separate window to view the conversation on that topic. Vallorie Petersen prefers “creating a thread that all can see if needed, but doesn’t clutter up the main room.” Dawn Smith adds that this specifically might be a practice you have to work with the team on to make sure they’re consistent.
4. Leverage search ability to store important questions and answers
When support teams use Slack, it becomes a treasure trove of information including many frequently asked questions and answers. Courtney Love has a practice of editing posts where a question is asked to also include the answer once known. She then coaches team members to use Slack’s powerful search feature to search for their question before asking it. This reduces the number of repeat questions. To take advantage of the unlimited search, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version of Slack which was recommended by a number of my colleagues.
5. Pin important items
Do you have an important update that the entire team needs to see? Kenneth Vibert pins items in Slack so it’s the first thing the team sees when they login, giving him confidence that important messages get a high level of visibility.
6. Set up notifications
Perhaps there are specific topics you know get discussed from time to time. Let’s say you want to know any time someone mentions “upset customer.” Leslie Molloy suggests setting up keyword notifications so you’re notified any time a keyword or phrase is mentioned in Slack.
Troy Green adds that he also reviews emails on a daily basis recapping any Slack conversations where he was mentioned so he can read and respond in a timely manner.
7. Be clear and consistent in your purpose
In my previous post I shared some words of caution about the use of direct messaging in Slack which speaks to the importance of having a clear purpose for what the tool is used for. In order to make the most of the above mentioned features while minimizing the clutter, Gordon Brannon stresses the importance of consistency. He’s seen a terrific pay off by laying down and enforcing the ground rules early and often with his team.
These are seven incredible tips for keeping Slack organized from our leaders at FCR who are in there all day, every day, with their support teams. And it’s clear that Slack helps them serve customers better. As I so often conclude my posts, if you have anything to add to this list, please share.