Joel Gascoigne recently shared an audio post summarizing his discussion with his team about their increasingly overwhelming number of support emails. Here’s my audio reaction:
To state in written words…
A common approach to this problem is to create a detailed knowledge base or FAQ. Although these are useful and valuable for a subset of users, they can severely limit one of your most valuable interactions with your customers - support emails.
Support emails are a great opportunity to:
- Get Feedback - I don’t manage inbound support requests but I read every email that comes into firstname.lastname@example.org. This gives me a pulse of customer issues and requests that’s fed into our product roadmap and company strategy. It’s much harder to tease out these insights digging through knowledge base metrics logs.
- Turn :( Into :D - support emails are the best opportunity to turn frustrated customers into evangelists. In fact, these upset customers are a great qualifier for identifying your most avid fans, after all, they cared enough to contact you with their problem. Knowledge bases are much less effective at turning customers around and may hide your most loyal fans.
- Build a Connection, Personality - for most companies, support is the only direct communication customers experience. As personable as your website copy may be, it’s not a replacement for human-to-human interaction.
 The team at Buffer does an amazing job at customer
 Twitter is another great source to capture a pulse of the market and your customer.
 Mailchimp is my go-to example for well-executed personality design. See Aarron Walter’s article on the topic at A List Apart.