Slack has become quite a thing in the two years the workplace messaging and collaboration platform has been around. With more than a million users a day and an estimated valuation of $2.8 billion, lots of cool kids are using the somewhat-addictive communication tool instead of email at work. But Slack isn't just for internal teams--you can use it with customers, too. That's according to Aaron Glazer, CEO of mobile marketing and optimization startup Taplytics which has replaced its entire customer support infrastructure with Slack. Here's his advice on how you can use it with customers, too.

1. Set up a private channel for every customer.

Slack is ideal if you're a B2B company and engage with more than one person within your customer's organization. Invite all those people into a private channel where they can instantly see the log of every conversation happening between you and them. "Every conversation becomes a little bit more familiar and a little bit more real like two people talking to each other versus just an email or a support ticket," he says. 

2. Pick a quarterback.

This person on your team is a main point of contact who makes sure there's always someone around to answer a question. "Within a Slack channel you may have ten or fifteen people in there, but it's hard to know exactly who that main point of contact is," he says. "So we use the topic to always make sure that customers know who their main point of contact is within a channel."

3. Set ground rules.

With traditional email support customers are conditioned to wait for confirmation emails letting them know where in your pipeline their support request is situated. In other words, they're accustomed to support being a slow process.

There's a different expectation of immediacy with real-time communication, so it's crucial your employees and your customers understand how quickly you have committed to respond. And then do it. "Unless you're really committing to responding to every channel within a very short period of time, or you're able to set specific ground rules about when people are going to be available on the channel and stick to them, you're not really able to keep that customer's experience high," he says.

4. Use it as a forum.

While Slack is great for communication between two companies, you can also use it with individual consumers, but as a community tool that can replace the forums on your website. "It actually starts to get people answering questions for other people," he says.

5. Only use Slack if fast response time is your priority.

Real-time communication amplifies everything you do so Slack is ideal for companies that can respond quickly. "If you are slow at responding and overloaded with support requests that you can't handle, this will amplify that," he says. "People will just be more annoyed with slower response times and slower service."

6. Watch out for things that aren't made for work.

Slack is heavy into integrations so make sure you turn on filters to weed out things like unprofessional or inappropriate animated GIFs that people like to use online.

7. Don't be stingy with accounts.

Invite as many people as possible from your customer team, and not just key contacts. "It's really about relationship building," he says. "The more people you add, the more people are interacting and the greater relationship you're building between your company and theirs."

Published on: Oct 9, 2015