Monday, May 2, 2011

Assistly - Customer Service Tool

As our customer service team has grown we came to the realisation that we could no longer manage our customer support from our Google Apps Gmail account. Using different coloured stars for emails that Susie, Carmen or I were working on was getting too difficult to handle.

In January we started exploring different options for customer support tools. We saw this article about Assistly on TechCrunch and when we looked into it, it looked like a fantastic tool.

We switched to using Assistly in February and it's been fantastic. For those who have not used an email support tool like Assistly before, at the most basic level, one of the biggest advantages over a traditional email interface is that it allows emails from one customer support email address to be assigned to different users, and each user has a different view of the interface showing them the emails they've been assigned and giving them access to answer new, unassigned emails. So Susie, Jonaye, Jodie, Mike and I can all be answering emails from our email account and we each don't have to try and spot replies coming into us amongst the replies to everyone else.

That's just the start though. Assistly offers some really powerful features that we've started getting into that allow us to improve the support we offer our customers.

Priority Emails
Assistly allows us to create different rules to prioritise different emails. We have a VIP club for customers who have purchased 5 of more pairs of shoes from us. We've set a rule in Assistly so that all emails from our VIP customers are given a higher priority rating and jump straight to the top of the queue so that VIP customers get their emails answered quickly.

Draft Responses
We have certain questions that we're asked quite regularly. 'How do I work out my shoe size?', 'What happens if my shoes don't fit?', 'How long do your shoes take to make and deliver?'. We like to tailor all our email responses but it helps that we've got draft responses that we can use as a base when answering these questions. By typing 'size' and hitting enter in Assistly's quickcode box I have a draft email I can use as a template to let our customer's know how to work out their shoe size. The draft email even automatically pulls in the name of the customer and can automatically include an attachment.

Pending Cases
Sometimes a customer will email us and we need to follow up with our supplier to answer their question. We can set these cases as 'Pending' in Assistly which reminds us to follow up with our supplier if they're slow to give us a response.

Assistly offers some great reporting tools which among other things allow us to measure our response times to customers. Measuring key metrics like this allows us to set goals and improve the support we offer our customers.

Like most of our favourite software Assistly operates 'in the cloud' so we don't need to install any software on our computers and we can be answering customer questions from any computer with an internet connection and web browser.

There are a few things that could be improved. It would be great to be able to include hyperlinks in emails and an email address book that allowed for auto-completes for our frequently entered email addresses would be helpful too. However often when we've submitted requests for features like these they're implemented by the Assistly team very quickly, the tool is getting even better each week.

The final thing we've loved about Assistly is their customer support. They're incredibly responsive. We get quick, details responses to all our questions and on the few occasions where something has gone wrong with our account the Assistly team are quick to get things up and running again for us. 'Joe G' seems to answer most of our questions and he's up there with one of the most knowledgable, responsive customer support people I've dealt with at any company anywhere - which is great coming from a company that offers customer support tools designed to help other businesses offer great customer support.

I can't recommend Assistly enough as a customer support tool. I'd be interested to hear what other people use.


  1. Michael,

    We're super excited to have Shoes of Prey as a customer of Assistly. We love helping e-commerce companies get a leg up on their competition with great service.

    For readers who have not seen the Assistly blog, there's a great article we wrote on Shoes of Prey. You can find it here:

    Shoes of Prey Turns Customers into Designers - The Assistly Blog

    Matt Trifiro
    SVP, Marketing

  2. We were tossing up between Assistly and Zendesk for our support desk platform. They're both great tools and really do a lot to simplify the support workflow process. In the end we went with Zendesk, but after trialling Assistly I can say they're both worthy options.

  3. Hey Michael,

    Couldn't agree more, Assistly is a fantastic tool. We use it ourselves here at OZHut. We moved from the support suite platform about 5 months ago and just found assistly so much more powerful.

    We use the macros a lot to help automate customer service tasks, and we really like the reporting as well. Reporting on things like average ticket response time really helps in making incremental improvements to our customer service offering.

    I also really like how the platform is built with a social media focus. We haven't utilised the social media functionality as much as we would like but it's definitely something we're going to explore further!

    Great post! Big shout out to Assistly! Keep up the good work

  4. Hi Michael

    Great review of Assistly.

    I was hoping you could cross-post your review, or a summary, to
    Assistly reviews.

    Your advice based on first-hand experience would benefit many of our readers seeking good customer service solutions. You can also give Assistly the props they deserve using our software ratings.