It takes 23 minutes to recover from an interruption.

Smith.ai’s Maddy Martin dropped that little bombshell nugget of data last week, during our webinar, and it’s been playing on my mind ever since.

23 minutes.

Let’s say I get interrupted once every hour on a standard workday. I’d lose just over 3 hours of work to recovery.

🤯

3 hours! It’s no wonder so many people bang on about the importance of time management and structuring your day for more efficiency.

I’ve never been one of those people that has a rigid daily structure. I’ve tried a few times, but it never stuck. More often than not, something crops up that throws the day for a loop and that’s the end of it.

Structure goes bye bye. 👋

I’ve tried a bunch of different techniques. I’ve even tried the Pomodoro, and bought into things like Parkinson’s law—that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. I’ve tried shutting off notifications, and more recently working with to-do lists and the Eisenhower Matrix.

Does it work?

Well, kinda. For a little while. But not long enough to really build a habit. And at the end of it all, I’ve come to realize that even following tomato-based time management techniques, I suck at managing my own time. 🍅

Splat!

A Sideways Jump into Education

Until recently, I thought it was a procrastination thing. It’s not!

I’m not sat around watching Netflix, or wiling away the days on Facebook and Twitter. I’m working the whole time. 😇

It’s just, maybe I’m not always working on things that are actively reducing my to-do list. This has certainly been the case for the past few weeks as I’ve taken a big old sidestep into customer education.

With that sidestep came the conundrum of what should take priority. 🧐

Since our focus switched from marketing to education, I’ve found it harder than ever to stay focused on the job at hand. And the reason is that we—at HelpDocs—are driven by a desire to deliver great customer experiences.

No matter what!

And as any customer service deliverer will tell you there’s a fine line between a happy customer and an unhappy one.

There’s a hair’s breadth between delivering outstanding support and utter failure.

One wrong word.

A small misunderstanding.

Hell, even forgetting to say “bye” can be the difference between delivering great service or a catastrophic failure. 👋

For us, consistent customer-centricity is key here. Doing the right thing for the customer, no matter what that entails for us.

My knowledge and understanding of support, customer happiness, and the nuances of—my newly crowned buzzword of the year—customer-centricity have grown exponentially.

Like many, I thought timing felt like a crucial element in delivering Great vs. Meh support. I’ve seen dozens of support teams bragging about their sub-1 hour turnaround for support tickets.

It’s pretty incredible.

If I'm honest though, it's not for me. Time-led support goals present pretty huge consequences. Namely, a reduction in the amount of time you can dedicate to non-support tasks.

Time as a goal has to make support the priority, doesn’t it?

At least, that’s what I found recently when I became pretty obsessed with resolving tickets as fast as possible.

A single ticket notification meant I dropped what I was doing, no matter how valuable it might have been. And once I’d resolved the ticket, I was left with a 23-minute cooldown. ⏱

It took me a minute to realize our approach to support is not really time-led. In fact, it’s vastly different from any experience I’ve had before. Which is at least in part down to goals and targets.

Don’t get me wrong, I 100% agree that customers should not be left waiting for lengthy amounts of time for a resolution. But beyond delivering great support experiences, we don’t really have any goals and targets.

I mean sure, as a team we have things we want to achieve this year. It would be great hit yet another MRR milestone; keep up with our 10% month-on-month growth; hire more team members, etc. but I wouldn’t call them goals.

Not really.

They’re more like very loose ambitions. And the amount of time it takes to respond to a ticket isn’t really one of them.

Sectioning Support and Avoiding Tickets

I’m still very green when it comes to delivering great support at HelpDocs.

I mean, of course, I know what I’m doing, but I still feel like I’m finding my feet with the workload. What’s more, I think I’ll always struggle with the cool down period.

As a result, it can be tough to balance an ever-expanding schedule of blogging, live sessions, and education resources. All the while trying to keep support as customer-centric an experience as possible.

There’s no doubt in my mind the two areas go hand-in-hand, though. And if I’m honest, it makes sense that I’m now plonked firmly in the cross-section of support and education.

Support very much informs the content of the live sessions and blog posts. But there’s no sense in focusing solely on tackling tickets.

After all, not every customer that struggles is a vocal customer. 🤐

As I define my new role in customer education, this thought will remain at the forefront of my mind as I strive to bring balance to support and education.

Providing support and education to the customers who suffer in silence is as important as supporting vocal customers who end up in our ticket queue.

I feel this approach to a more balanced future for our customer education makes sense. Hell, our software is built to encourage customers not to get in touch with you.

It’s pretty terrifying to think about how hard my job would be without dogfooding HelpDocs. This week alone, we’ve avoided 456 tickets. 😬

As cheesy at it sounds to say it, without HelpDocs I would have burnt out a long, long time ago. 🔥