How to Use Slack to Improve Your Customer Service

Slack is great for synchronous communication, but have you considered using Slack to bolster your customer service and support teams?

Billed as a “messaging app for teams”, most businesses use Slack to facilitate real time communication. It’s basically a chat room, but a professional one, depending on your usage. Slack is a popular app for those who work in a virtual office space because it provides that near-instant connection that’s lost with email.

But what if you take the beauty of Slack’s synchronous communication and apply it to your customer service strategy?

The well-known benefits of using Slack are also the reasons why it will improve your customer service. In this post, we’ll look at several ingenious ways you can use Slack to improve your customer service. Let’s get started.

Looking for additional Slack resources? Here’s a starter list of resources to help you incorporate Slack into your customer service.

For Internal Use

Before we dive into using Slack for your direct customer facing interactions, let’s talk about how to use it internally.

Get Notifications

This is one of my favorite uses for Slack. You can get real-time notifications about your customers directly in Slack. For example, if your customer’s credit card on file has declined, you can get a head’s up in Slack immediately. This will allow you to follow up right away with an email or a phone call or even a message on Slack (more on that in the second half of this post).

Stunning integrates with Slack perfectly so that you won’t miss a beat when it comes to collecting payment. The sooner you react, the more successful you’ll be in retaining your customers.

But Stunning isn’t the only app to integrate with Slack. Here’s an exhaustive list of Slack apps which includes everything you can imagine, from animated gifs to social media listening.

Embrace integrations. They make Slack a lot more flexible and useful to your business’ unique needs.

Create a Searchable Knowledgebase

Slack is searchable. Unlike emails that are notoriously difficult to search through, Slack’s search function is swift and pain-free.

You can upload or link to key assets and resources in the relevant Slack channel. Then, your team can search through Slack to find these resources without the mind numbing hassle of sifting through the inbox or trying to search for it within your knowledge base. While some team members may like the latter options, it’s always good to provide multiple ways to access the same information.

Plus, Slack provides a way to stay updated on new procedures that may not yet be canonized in your internal resource center.

For example, let’s say you and the team have just come up with a new, crowdsourced policy that must be enacted immediately. With Slack, your team has immediate and complete access to the new procedure, along with any questions or input from others on the team.

Share Resources

Slack allows teams to share resources directly through the app. If you’d like to send work-in-progress images, PDF files, Google Docs (or more) through Slack, you can. Simply drag and drop or link to the file’s web address. You and your team can use Slack to search for these resources whenever necessary.

Being able to share and then search for resources on Slack improves your customer service because it enables your team members to get the help that they need faster.

Automatically Assign Coverage

Customer support is another leg of customer service. You want your customers to get help as soon as possible. Slack allows you to get customers the help they need right away.

When support tickets come through, set up Slack to automatically ping the right user instead of letting the ticket sit in a general support inbox.

Foster a Sense of Corporation and True Team Work

This excellent post written by Lauren Ulmer describes an ingenious way to use Slack. Borrow this idea for your own business. Before launching a product, create an agent AMA (ask me anything). Here, your agents pretend to be customers and ask any product-related question that they can anticipate a customer will ask.

The brilliant part of this fun scenario is that your entire sales team will learn so much more about your product, including aspects that they may never have considered before.

For Outgoing Efforts

Now that we’ve discussed ways you can use Slack internally with your team, let’s look at customer-facing ideas.

Slack is particularly useful for business to business efforts. If you have one contact for each business, it’s easy to forego email and communicate via a Slack channel. It gets trickier if you operate as business to customer, because that could translate to quite a few Slack channels. The idea here is to improve your customer service for your customer and your team, not to make it more of a headache.

Assign Dedicated Channels

If you do work with business to business, consider creating a dedicated and private Slack channel for each account.

You can then invite that business’ key contact to communicate with you on Slack. But you don’t have to isolate it to just one business contact, you can invite all key stakeholders to communicate with you on Slack. This is especially awesome if you have to coordinate with more than one individual at that business.

Depending on your plan, Slack allows you to create an entire backlog of your conversations, without the clutter of the inbox. Both you and your customer can see what was said, who said it, and when. That’s without having to dig through emails and the trash folder to piece together what may have been discussed months ago.

Communicate Synchronously

Another customer-facing benefit of using Slack is that you can communicate with customers almost instantly (minus slow typing). As discussed in the point above, you can use Slack as a customer chat channel where multiple people can communicate without it feeling noisy.

Customers like getting immediate access to companies, especially if they have a pressing concern. This may not be a service you’ll offer to every customer– only the ones who pay a premium for such access.

Provide Quick Response

Piggybacking off of the last point, if you offer Slack to your customers, the expectation is that you’ll respond almost immediately without them having to submit an email and then wait forever for a response. Make it happen.

Provide real time response to customers. If you can’t answer immediately (which may be unrealistic depending on the number of customers you have on Slack), at least answer within 60 minutes. You can also incorporate a chatbot for certain automated notifications that may not require human input.

It’s also best to assign to one member of your team to each account (or maybe two). This allows you to minimize confusion about who needs to respond whenever a customer leaves a query.

Be sure to post office hours within the Slack channel’s “Add a topic” section. (You’ll find this option at the top of the Slack channel.) Stick to these hours. Consistency is key.

Personalize Your Interactions

It’s so easy to copy and paste responses to common questions, but people can smell canned answers a mile away. Don’t forget to add personality to your Slack interactions. Create personalized answers to customer queries.

Simple tricks like using the customer’s first name or referring to something discussed in a previous conversation can make your communication feel a lot more personal and caring.

Use Slack to Create a Community

Last but not least, use Slack to build your community. Your customers can also provide support to fellow customers. Consider hosting a community channel where customers can ask and answers questions after hours, on weekends, or whenever. Not only will this relieve some of the burden off of your team’s shoulders, it will also create a stronger sense of community for your customers.

Additional Resources

Before you go, be sure to download our starter list of resources below.

Don’t forget to download this starter list of Slack for customer service resources.