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Have you ever filled out a “Contact Us” box with a question on a website only to find your email inbox full of responses from multiple people in the same company?

Although logically the support team is just trying to be helpful, many responses to the same question come off looking uncoordinated and sloppy.

So what’s the solution? I spoke to Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout about their unique take on changing how we think about help desk software.

What is Help Scout?

In essence, Help Scout is an 'invisible' help desk software that allows businesses, small and large, to provide fantastic support for their customers without forcing them to create extra accounts or log in to forums.



What was the inspiration?

The team and I have always believed that great support is good for business (we even created a manifesto around it), but the popular offerings for help desk software on the market today weren't very personal and were often quite annoying to use for customers.

Why should a customer have to create an extra account and log in just to contact someone on your team? Why can’t replies be in the form of personal emails instead of "Ticket #9342"?

We answered those questions by creating Help Scout, which focuses on being streamlined and easy-to-use for both your employees and your customers.

How has business been doing since you started?

Business has been going extremely well! The team and I have really focused on inbound and content marketing as our main acquisition strategy, and it has been producing some fantastic results.

We've recently received quite a bit of coverage for it: HubSpot ran a piece about us (and a few other companies) as an example of a company succeeding in a crowded marketplace with very little advertising.

Our blog has been an incredible source of new traffic, leads, and sales, and our off-site efforts (such as guest posts) play a huge role in getting our software in front of new audiences.



What has your biggest failure been with Help Scout?

Our biggest failure was definitely trying to differentiate ourselves too much from existing products.

It is quite hard to create your own product category, and for a while, we didn't want to call ourselves a “help desk software,” but we found people just didn't understand what we were otherwise.

Why try to create a category when you can just be the best in an existing category? Especially if what you provide is different on key levels only, and isn't a radical departure, like the iPod was from CD players.

What has your biggest success been?

We never want to get complacent, so defining a “biggest success” is tough, but in terms of what has had the biggest impact on our business, that answer is definitely content marketing.

We now generate about 2,000 monthly email leads from things like our downloadable resources, and people who have connected with us before through content (and who are on our email list) are much more likely to buy or promote us to others.

Content naturally builds links, and as a result, we now regularly appear at the top of search for important keywords, which has been another great asset for acquiring new customers.

What about your service is unique that your competitors can't offer?

Our email integration is second to none; you can access, reply, tag and assign all tickets from your own inbox or through are sleek dashboard.

Teams can use Help Scout like a ticketing system, but your customers will never see anything but a personal email from you (we do this via email forwarding, which you can set up in three minutes flat).

We also have other features like “Traffic Cop,” which will stop you from replying to a message that someone just replied to, so you'll never have duplicate replies or mix-ups with customers.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs just starting out?

We recently wrote about this in our critique on the Four P's of Marketing, but the gist of it is this -- start with a PAIN before you build the PRODUCT!

Without a really painful thing to solve, you're essentially building a product for yourself. You have to identify what your product will solve and who will benefit from it before you can even think about what to build, features to include, and the lofty impact you want to have.

If the thing you're solving isn't really painful, it's hard to get people to pay for it!



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