Community discussion and customer support: the missing link

Roan Lavery
CEO, Co-founder

We've been big fans of "Customer Support Community" service Get Satisfaction since we started using it last year. It's been criticised for blurring the boundaries between official customer support and customer discussion, but for companies who do opt-in, it's an excellent opportunity to create a community of users openly and transparently discussing their product.

It's allowed us to have some great discussions on what's right, what's wrong and what people would like to see from FreeAgent in the future.

The Catch

There is one minor catch with Get Satisfaction and that's the amount of, how can I delicately put this, "noise". One of its appealing qualities is the ability for anybody to chip in to a conversation, which often means that another FreeAgent user or partner is able to answer a question or help with a problem. This is brilliant, but there are occasions when the volume of discussion isn't conducive to swift and decisive customer support. Despite our commitment to excellent customer satisfaction there are occasions when topics slip through the cracks or we don't respond as quickly as we should.

Get Satisfaction has released a number of tools that help companies manage outstanding issues and topics, but it still excels as a forum for sharing ideas and thoughts, rather than one-to-one resolution of a specific, possibly sensitive, problem.

The Tao of customer support


To fill that gap, we recently adopted ZenDesk as our official helpdesk, and any emails sent to automatically raise tickets there. This allows us to do a couple of things that weren't possible with just Get Satisfaction:

  • Assign the ticket to a member of the team so the customer has a single official point of contact
  • Deal with potentially private financial details in an appropriate manner away from a public forum
  • Track the status of the ticket through to resolution so the customer knows exactly what's going on
  • Monitor and produce reports on our response time to customer issues

So, we have two excellent systems working in parallel, with one obvious flaw: many problems are initially raised on Get Satisfaction that should really be dealt with privately in ZenDesk.

This hasn't been a major issue for us thus far, but it does create an overhead when we have to tell people to email support where we can deal with their problem better.

The great news is that ZenDesk and Get Satisfaction have been working on an integration that will allow a seamless transfer of Get Satisfaction topics into ZenDesk tickets. It's currently only in Beta but we've been trying it out for the last few days and it works great!

Get Satisfaction Topic

The integration allows us to take a topic raised in Get Satisfaction and escalate this into ZenDesk where it is assigned to a member of the team, who can then respond privately to the user, improving dedicated one-to-one customer service when it's needed.

You can optionally repost all updates back to Get Satisfaction but we've decided against this, although being able to synchronise the status of a problem between the two systems is a nice touch that benefits other users tracking the problem on Get Satisfaction.

We're already seeing the benefit of this, and we think it will improve our customer support a lot so well done to the Get Satisfaction and ZenDesk teams.

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