Disqus is a community platform that helps publishers build an active community around their audience. Their service works on any website and is used widely in the blogosphere. Here s an interview with Giannii from Disqus.
Giannii is the Director of Community Development and has dealt with the support directly since day one. The following is an excerpt from our conversation on how even large scale support can be delivered without building huge teams.
N: How old was Disqus when you joined? G: Roughly about 8 or 9 months old. It was still fresh out of the womb.
N: Were you the only one to handle support at that point? G:Yeah, for the most part the first year it was just little old me. And recently over the past couple of months we've been building a small team to support our network.
N: How have you seen the volumes increase. You joined when it was just 4 month old. You have been handling support all by yourself for the last 1.5 years. G: At that time I was manually responding to support via email. For that first year sometimes I would be writing thousands of emails a week. Over time we improved our support service with documentation, and support tools such as Assistly. They are great.
N: That's like massive! G: When I started working at Disqus the website had about 20 million uniques, and today we're just over 400 million uniques. It became a struggle around 180 million uniques for one person to manage and that s when we decided to make some changes.
N: What kind of changes? G: At the time we didn't have enough documentation, actionable ui elements, and automations to help remove a lot of the manual processing. Being a growing startup you learn these things on the way. Right now our support team is three people and will be growing soon. We're hoping to keep a small and effective team but our growth is making that difficult. This is where our support solution Assistly really comes into play.
N: The increase in support queries is not proportionate to the increase in traffic. Is it the documentation that helped? Is there something more? G: The documentation was pretty key as it helped defer any repeat or general questions. Typically if we get asked a question about our system that is relevant we add it to our documentation tactfully. We also really utilize macros with our documentation but keep them very personal tone even though we sometimes work like robots.
N: What prompted you to try out a Support tool? G: As I mentioned before we were trying to avoid a having a large support team and honestly I don't think it s needed for most companies. I think there are tools if used correctly that can help minimize the number of support staff needed.
N: Before we end, I would like to ask if there is anything peculiar or interesting that you can share about your support experience G: About a year ago I got a phone call from an elderly woman around 2am and at this time I was in my super man pajamas in bed. She was from the UK and needed some help setting up her blogger site with our service. She ended the call with a very kind compliment thanking me for my time. A couple of weeks later I received a box from UK that had cup cakes with a note saying thank you. Stuff like that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.