At Zapier we support integrations between a great number of services, 162 at the time of this writing. We’re very proud of the world of possibilities this unlocks for our users, as the breadth of services combined with multiple options available for each service make the potential uses nearly incalculable.
Our Unique Challenge
However, this nearly limitless functionality comes with it a downside. With 160+ services each having their own nuances and more getting added daily through our developer platform, it’s impossible for any of us to truly know the entire product.
This means that every day we see users who are touching on edge cases of functionality we’ve never seen before, and maybe will never see again. Even more worrisome is that this edge case is often the sole reason those users will need our service, so we have to get it right or lose them as a customer.
We’re essentially asked to find a single square in a Rubik’s cube made of a 160+ Rubik’s cubes, so even if we can satisfy one request, it doesn’t become any easier to answer subsequent requests.
So how do we handle this challenge as a team? How do we satisfy customers who come to us with requests we haven’t seen before, probably won’t see again, and absolutely need to be resolved in order to earn their business?
Head Off Confusion With Design
As a starting point, we do our best to head off confusion with design. Wherever possible we try to adjust help text, error messages, even design elements like buttons in order to keep our users pointed in the right direction, and aware of what exactly we’re able to do for them.
We’re able to keep a handle on this because everyone our team does customer support. Our developers are not divorced from the user experience, and as such they’re clued in to where the pain points are and can make better decisions in what design and functionality they build.
On that note, we also iterate quickly. We’ve streamlined the process of hearing what a user wants to do, finding out if that’s something we can do for them quickly(I’ve become pretty good at reading API docs while live chatting), and then getting it in the hands of our developers.
Our developers, aware of the urgency being so close to the front lines themselves, do a fantastic job of adding features quickly so we can delight those customers with new functionality built just for them.
Become An Efficiency Machine
More personally, we make ourselves into efficiency machines. Because so many issues that come in are one-off problems, we need to be really good at moving through those. We have internal tools that help keep relevant information at our fingertips, and we take advantage of shortcuts where we can to make everything fly behind the scenes.
Find A Way
Lastly, we simply find a way. With so many services at our disposal, we’re often able to find alternative means to meet a user’s needs if the route they propose isn’t possible. A user can’t quite get a Gmail->Dropbox zap working how they want? Turns out switching to our Mailbox->Dropbox zap saves them time and allows them to do more without creating additional zaps to do so.
This is by far the most enjoyable and rewarding part of my job, overcoming an initial obstacle to get a user to his desired use case. That Rubik’s cube made of Rubik’s cubes is just a giant puzzle after all, and solving one piece at a time is how we create satisfied customers.
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