1. Custom fields for all your data needs
Help Scout has a wonderful Custom Field feature that gives you the ability to store information such as reminder dates and conversation-level comments with the relevant conversation. You can reference these custom fields in workflows (automations) and export or import the data from these fields via an API, which means you can use the data with other tools.
2. Conversations over tickets
Another thing we liked about Help Scout is that it takes a refreshingly human approach to support. It’s a philosophy that has percolated throughout the platform, from the design to how features have been implemented. For example, inbound emails are not “tickets”, they’re “conversations”. And the entire program is designed to help you continue these conversations with your customers. A handy sidebar shows previous conversations with the customer and other relevant data. Intuitive controls let you assign conversations, and tag or follow them.
Overall, we found it to be so easy to use that we think new team members will be able to learn the software quickly, which offers the added bonus of reducing onboarding time.
3. Automated actions with workflows
Workflows are Help Scout's automation mechanism. You can use automatic workflows to perform actions on conversations (such as tagging a ticket, assigning a ticket to a team member, or triggering a notification to a manager) based on predefined criteria or you can use manual workflows to perform multiple common actions together.
Administrators will appreciate the step-by-step approach to setting up workflows, and when team members click on a workflow name, they’ll be able to see exactly what it does.
Workflows are the omni-tool for any automation in Help Scout, so once you have a firm grasp of how they work, you’ll be able to use them with custom fields, properties, and other criteria to automate many of your frequent processes.
We found them especially useful for:
- Automatically tagging and routing tickets based on certain keywords.
- Bumping tickets based on reminder dates or if the customer has been waiting a while.
- Organizing conversations in folders.
- Highlighting conversations with satisfaction ratings.
Note, though, that automatic workflows only run once per conversation. Stay posted for our next post on the challenges we experienced with Help Scout, when we touch on this.
For more ideas and examples of how to use workflows, read this article on the Help Scout website.
4. Teams and shared inboxes
Help Scout recommends team members share an Inbox. That’s not to say that you can’t assign conversations to individuals, but to keep the queue flowing, a shared inbox is encouraged.
In a similar fashion, Help Scout offers a Teams feature so you can assign a conversation to a team instead of an individual. For example, instead of assigning a conversation to Angela in accounting, you can assign it to the accounting team. That way, anyone in the team can access the conversation from the team's folder. This is critical when the volume is high, if an agent is on leave, or if an agent is already responding to another conversation (agents can be in more than one team), and the queue must keep “flowing”.
Working through a common queue ensures no conversation goes unattended and any SLA breaches are highlighted. This feature also pairs well with workflows and makes handling skill-based queues a lot smoother.
If you’re looking for a customer support platform that’s easy to use, even for new team members, Help Scout might be the tool for you. We really liked the human-centered design and that it encouraged a collaborative team approach to customer support.