Late Monday afternoon David, Kiran, and I were discussing how we could begin to measure how our customers felt about our customer service. We’re already measuring things like response time, average tickets per day per person, average tickets in a thread, etc. Those stats are helpful for measuring internal efficiency and speed, but they don’t measure quality from a customer’s perspective.

The idea

We talked about it for a bit and came up with this basic goal: Let’s make it really easy for our customers to quickly rate our customer service every time we talk to them. It’s not rocket science, and it’s not a breakthrough idea, but it wasn’t something we were doing. It was time we experimented with the concept. We’d write some software and try it out. We’d call the app Smiley.

The key

The whole feedback process had to be easy, it had to be fast, and it couldn’t be a burden on our customers. We didn’t want to put people in front of some long-winded complicated survey — no one likes filling those out. We just wanted to ask them one quick question and that was it. The whole thing should take about five seconds and it should be entirely optional. We’d start there and see how it went.

Linked from the email signature

We decided we would add a short link to each support person’s email signature. The link would encode the support person’s ID along with the ticket number for the support request. When someone clicked the link they’d go to our site where they’d be asked to answer one question about the customer service experience they just had. That’s all.

Starting on the design

The next morning I went off and started designing some screens. After a few minutes I had the basic structure. There were five screens total: Three customer facing (and two of those were optional), two internally facing.

  1. (Customer facing) One screen which asked a customer a single question with three possible answers.
  2. (Customer facing – optional) One screen with a single text field where someone could choose to elaborate on their answer. This was entirely optional.
  3. (Customer facing – only seen if someone provides freeform text feedback) One thank you screen someone would see after they submitted their feedback.
  4. (Internal) One screen that showed all our customer service people along with their most recent ratings, their overall average rating, and a link to see all their ratings and feedback.
  5. (Internal) One screen that showed all of someone’s ratings along with any feedback a customer left on a particular rating.

About an hour or so later I had the customer facing screens done. We went back and forth on a few iterations, and experimented with two options (“great” and “not great”) vs. three options (“great”, “fine”, and “not very good” – we picked this version), but overall the design was settled in about an hour. Originally I used some stock photo smiley faces for the mockup, but I asked Jamie to design some custom smileys for the design (you’ll see these below).

The screen the customer sees after clicking a link in the email signature.

The optional screen a customer sees if they answer the first question.

Hooking it up

Next David took the UI and began writing the Rails back-end to make it all work. While David was working on this, I started working on the internal facing admin screens. I spent a few hours messing around with some ideas, but eventually settled on the simplest version:

Internal-facing admin screens

The screen that shows all our customer support people and their most recent ratings. Ratings are displayed from left to right with the most recent top left. This way people can watch trends over time. Note: This is sample data.

Clicking on someone’s name brings to your their full feedback screen. This screen shows all their ratings plus any freeform text feedback.

A few hours later, David hooked up these admin screens. Then we started playing with it all a bit. Walking through it, using it. We realized it would be handy if we could hover over any smiley and see any related feedback. David hooked that up. Then we realized it would be really useful if we could click on any smiley and jump directly to the related ticket in Zendesk. David hooked that up.

Deployed yesterday afternoon

We deployed the app yesterday afternoon, about 24 hours after the initial idea. Support is adding the links to their email signatures and data is starting to come in. We’ll watch it closely over the next few days and see how it goes. We’ll likely explore some tweaks and modifications to encourage more people to give us feedback.

Open questions

Smiley is an experiment. We don’t know if it’s going to work. Will the feedback be useful? Will the feedback be accurate? Will the feedback self-select only great experiences and terrible experiences? Will anyone care? We aren’t sure, but that’s the beauty of just 24 hours from idea to execution — if it doesn’t work nothing was lost in trying. Spending a month or more on something to find out it doesn’t work can be frustrating, but spending 24 hours is just plain fun. It’s a great challenge.

Once we have some data in the system we’ll report back if we discover anything interesting.