Customers love support on Slack - but vendors find this hard to scale. At ClearFeed, our philosophy has been to use AI to bring structure and tracking to customer Slack channels, to help them scale - while not inhibiting free-flowing conversations. But how can one bring structure (like a request status, assignee & private notes) within Slack - without intruding on the customer chat room?
Today, we are introducing a new way of working with customers on Slack - ClearFeed Triage channels - that solves this problem. Triage channels allow our entire team to collaborate with customers without leaving Slack, with rich integrations to other enterprise tools, and with a user experience in Slack optimized for responders. While at the same time, not intruding on customer Slack rooms & facilitating a collaborative support experience (rather than a transactional one).
In the last few months, we have worked closely with many customers to roll out ClearFeed Triage channels. Our own team also relies on them to interact with customers. Triage channels have made a huge impact on all our productivity. As one of our early users, Shravan from CastAI, said eloquently:
In the rest of the post, we cover some highlights of how triage channels work and how customers are using them to scale their customer Slack rooms.
What are ClearFeed Triage channels?
With triage channels, requests and replies on multiple customer channels that are tracked by ClearFeed can be synced to a single internal Slack channel. ie:
- New requests: by a customer on a Slack Connect channel creates a request thread in the triage channel.
- Replies: on the customer channel show up as replies to the request thread in the triage Channel and vice versa. (except private comments)
- Attachments: posted on one channel are also replicated to the other.
Here’s an example of a message from Greg, as originally posted on the customer channel (top) and as seen on the the triage channel (bottom):
A few things worth noting here:
- Multiplexing: The triage channel contains requests from multiple customer Slack rooms.
- Transparent: There are no visible artifacts on the customer Slack room.
- User Emulation: Responder responses on triage channel are posted using their name/image on customer channel.
- Color-Coded: Requests in the triage channel are color-coded to show status. Solved items are automatically collapsed (but can be re-expanded)
- Action Menu: Responders can file/link tickets/issues and perform other actions on requests from the triage channel (without any customer visible impact)
Unlike legacy systems - customers don’t have to create tickets or put emojis to flag a request. Admins control the mapping of customer channels to triage channels. As an example - one can group all enterprise customers into one ClearFeed collection and direct their requests to one triage channel while grouping the rest of the customers into another collection and triage channel.
ClearFeed allows users to configure alert notifications based on a variety of conditions. Those can be sent to the triage channel directly. In the below example, any customer messages that do not get a response within 60 minutes generate an alert in the triage channel.
In the previous screenshot - we also saw a notification for a request from Shiv.
The notification in this case was generated because there was a follow-up message on an old request thread that did not get a response within the specified SLA. Responders can click on the request id in the notification to jump to the request thread in the triage channel and continue the conversation from there, or the customer channel, easily. The original request thread in this case looks like this:
Notification policies can also be set differently for different groups of customers by using ClearFeed collections.
With triage channels - we can now have discussions in private. A common use case is where responders collaborate on customer requesters in private before posting a response back to the customers. In our case - our entire engineering team is on triage channels and collaborates on customer issues frequently via private comments - while only a few of us are present on customer channels directly.
The example below shows private comments marked with 🔒emoji made on the triage channel which are not copied over to the customer channel.
Filing Tickets & Issues
A common workflow in Slack is to convert discussion threads into Tickets (for Support requests that cannot be solved immediately) and Issues (for Engineering work items). ClearFeed integrates with a number of external ticketing and issue management systems like Zendesk, Jira, JSM, Salesforce (Service Cloud), FreshDesk, Hubspot and Github.
Before triage channels, users could create tickets and issues from discussion threads using emojis or from Slack message menus from the customer Slack channels. Now they can do so from within Actions present on the triage Channel as shown below.
Note: Users can respond to customer requests from both the Triage channel, as well as the Support ticketing platform (like Zendesk, Freshdesk, Hubspot, Salesforce) if the request has also been converted into a ticket. Interested readers may find the in-depth review of how ClearFeed integrates Slack and Zendesk useful in this context.
Slash Commands for easy lookup
Once all customer requests are aggregated into one triage channel - one may want to look up customer requests by different criteria - like status, assignee, customer, and so on. To facilitate this - we have built a simple Slack command to retrieve requests based on different filters. This can be run from a triage channel and finds matching requests in it.
Slack is used not just for taking customer requests - but also reaching out to them with updates and queries. ClearFeed automatically identifies any customer messages in response to outbound communication that needs a response and starts tracking them. In the example below:
- Anthony’s response to an outbound communication was tracked as a new request in ClearFeed.
- The original message was identified as the context for the request.
This functionality can be very useful paired with ClearFeed Announcements. Announcements can be sent to 100s of customers in a single shot. As some of them respond - those responses get tracked in ClearFeed - and those conversations can be marked closed once complete.
Unlimited Users at the same Price
It would be remiss not to mention one of the most important aspects of ClearFeed Triage channels. Any number of users can join them and collaborate on customer issues without incurring additional charges.
Unlike legacy software firms - we firmly believe that Support software should enable people from across the firm to collaborate on customer issues. One important aspect of this is using enterprise chat tools like Slack where people are used to collaborating anyway. Another is to avoid a per-user licensing model that inhibits collaboration and leads to silos.
Recap and Conclusion
ClearFeed Triage channels have been a game changer for us and many of our customers in terms of how we respond to customer requests. The ability to see and respond to all customer requests from a single channel, the ability to collaborate easily and privately with the extended team, and the ability to easily take a variety of actions on them have made it dramatically easier to support and engage large numbers of customers over Slack.
If you would like to try ClearFeed Triage channels for yourself - and are looking for a partner in helping you manage and scale customer success and support on Slack & Teams - do write to us at email@example.com, join our Community Slack channel or Book a Demo. We would love to get you started on ClearFeed.