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March 24, 2017
Alex Yumashev is the founder and CEO behind Jitbit, a SaaS software startup, that makes helpdesk software used by thousands of companies. He is a technology writer who specializes in customer support, running a self-funded business and marketing hacks.
We recently asked Alex for his insight on help desk software and the SaaS industry. Here’s what he shared:
Can you tell us about the mission behind Jitbit? How are you hoping to impact the world of helpdesk software?
Both me and my co-founder have some customer support background – being a developer in a corporate environment makes you wear a tech support hat sometimes. And we clearly saw a lack of customer support tools out there. Most of them were either too basic, or too expensive, too complicated, especially for the end-users.
In 2005 I quit my job and started Jitbit to make an extremely easy web-based help desk app – with one “but”. Coming from the enterprise software world I knew what the IT-admins needed on the other side of the help desk fence. All the boring “enterprisey” features that the cool startup kids often leave behind – Active Directory integration, MS Exchange, LDAP-integrated authentication, a “self-hosted” option, etc.
How has customer service evolved since you started your business? What has made the biggest impact on customer service?
Social networks and smartphones have changed the way people talk to each other. And I’m not talking about providing customer support over social networks (we actually ran a survey and most of our customers don’t want any social integration from a help desk app). What I mean is, social networks have severely shortened our attention span. Canadian researchers have actually surveyed about 2,000 people and discovered that the average human attention span has fallen in 2000 (the time the mobile revolution began), to only eight (!) seconds.
That’s not all. Social networks offer what psychologists call “instant gratification”, in a form of “likes”, “retweets” and “follows”. You post a picture – you get your reward within seconds. People are getting used to this.
Obviously, this had a major impact on customer support. People expect you to be fast, they want your response within seconds, not minutes, not hours or (God forbid) days. We write a lot about this – in our books, in our blog, in our guides – you should always choose a “fast response” over “the correct response”. Just tell them you’re “looking into this” before you even start investigating the problem. Throw them a bone right away.
What are the major pain points you’re helping your customers solve?
All the regular help desk pains. Imagine you provide support over a shared mailbox. This quickly becomes a disaster, you can’t tell who’s doing what, “who is this guy again”, “is he a customer or what”, “has anyone already replied to this”, etc.
What do customers expect from help desks today? What do they find frustrating?
In addition to the usual help desk features – email integration among the most important ones – people expect you to provide a mobile client for iOS/Android, with “push notifications” and all. Another requirement is the single-sign-on integration with their existing infrastructure.
One other feature that is quickly becoming a “must have” these days is automation macros. You set up a number of rules (like “if an email comes from XXX domain, assign the ticket to Joe”) and the helpdesk app literally does the work for you.
How can organizations improve their help desks? What help desk functionality do you think businesses overlook too often?
Knowledge-bases! People still underestimate the positive impact of a nice, clean, self-serving FAQ. Every time you’re answering a ticket – ask yourself “should I publish my answer to the KB?” By the way this helps a lot with your marketing, too. The more relevant content you have on your website, the more love you get from the search engines.
What advice do you have for shifting away from more traditional customer service tools to those like Jitbit?
Help desk tools like ours save you time and money, period. Businesses are rational, you just have show them the numbers. For example, a simple feature that detects “agent collision” (when a help desk agent starts responding to a ticket when someone else is already typing a reply) saves up to 15 percent of your time in a team of three-plus support reps.
What best practices can you offer for managing a help desk?
Depends on your company size.
If you’re a small company that doesn’t have a dedicated support team, where tech support is done by developers or even the founders – remember to set aside several hours a day to answer support emails, and don’t let them interrupt when it’s not the time. Like “30 minutes every three hours” or something. This does magic to your productivity.
If you’re a big company with a dedicated support team, always remind yourself how important your support people are! Invite them to business meetings. Involve them into your product management decisions. Just think about it – they talk to your customers every day! They know their pains and frustrations like nobody else. You have a free “customer development” team right there under your nose, use it!
Works the other way around too – founders, managers and even the top executives should spend at least one hour a week answering customer emails. You will discover so many beautiful (and ugly) things you were not aware of. After all, if it’s good enough for Jeff Bezos – it’s good enough for you.
What SaaS innovations or trends are you following today? Why do they interest you?
The cloud, obviously. Services like Amazon and Azure make SaaS vendors’ lives so much easier. The PaaS “infrastructure” providers too – you don’t need to set up your own email server for example, just use Mailgun or AWS SES or whatever.
Another thing to pay attention to is the AI. It is still in the early stages and the primitive chatbots are way too far from passing a Turing test but we have to keep an eye on that, especially in the customer support niche.
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