While it looks different, we continually use research as a method of meeting the needs of our customers at Buffer, as well. Last year, we dove into research of our Agency plan to gain more insight into what we can do to further support our customers’ goals. The intention was to use the information gained to come up with strategies and features that we can lean into to better serve our Agency customers. This month-long research project was a cross-functional effort between Customer Advocacy and Product, and it gave us the opportunity to get personal accounts from our customers.

My research entailed facilitating one-on-one with current and prospective customers to determine whether or not our Onboarding initiatives were effective (i.e. live Q&A calls and the marketing of those live calls). Our customer’s voices are invaluable and are a driving force behind the success of our platform and how we support them within Customer Advocacy. So, while we could’ve focused solely on quantitative metrics for this initiative, we decided to lean both on quantitative metrics and qualitative data by talking with the people who were most affected. Ultimately, these research efforts helped us not only better understand the features our customers need most, but also how to evolve our Onboarding support to help them derive as much value as possible from our platform (such as adding a live demo component to our Q&A calls!).

In both BIT and Buffer, I’ve seen research bolster decision-making, adding clarity regarding the next steps to take to best support our respective communities.

I learned to hone in my resiliency to tackle high-impact situations

In the fast-paced environments of both BIT Chicago and Buffer, adaptability is a cornerstone.

At BIT, I’ve found that pivoting our approach in real-time is essential when facing challenges, whether it’s last-minute registration issues for an event, unexpected changes due to host unavailability, or aligning the schedules of our diverse board members to meet impending deadlines. Throughout each of these, we prioritize open communication and teamwork.

One important way we’ve become more equipped at managing challenges is by setting up clear lines of communication ahead of time. We set up a dedicated Discord server and text processes to ensure that all board members have quick access to other board members. This enables us to brainstorm solutions and streamline decision-making quickly.

In situations where event plans must be adjusted due to unexpected circumstances (such as someone falling ill or a last minute location change), our immediate focus turns to communicating with our community via social media and email updates. This approach not only keeps our members informed but also demonstrates our commitment to their experience.

The intentional, but swift pivots that we’ve found integral to our event success at BIT with communication at our foundation nicely support the necessary pivots we make within the Customer Advocacy team at Buffer. While never ideal, preparing for the unexpected is expected when working in the industry of Software as a Service (SaaS).

Working with integrations (APIs), at times, our customers have experienced more than one feature outage or degraded service. In these situations, our Customer Advocates jump between Slack channels to stay on top of the situation. Meanwhile, we’re also talking with customers in the inbox to keep them informed of the next steps. In these situations, the energy, compassion, and alertness are all on overdrive! Internally, we even have weekly check-ins where each teammate can voluntarily share what they’re working on, things they’re excited about, any challenges they’re facing, and how they’re feeling overall. On a fully remote team, building camaraderie is paramount. Having an understanding of how teammates are feeling while facing these high-impact situations allows each of us to offer support, understanding, and compassion, which ultimately leads to better collaboration when resolving these challenges head-on.

Having experience being faced with both virtual and in-person crises has allowed me to put both situations into perspective. While they appear to be very different challenges on the surface, the skills required to get through them (focus, quick decision-making, communication, and composure) have made it so that the more practice I’ve had with one, the more prepared I feel for the other.

As I continue to traverse the landscapes of both empowerment through my contributions at BIT and my work on the Customer Advocacy team at Buffer, I'm continually amazed by the intricate threads that connect these worlds. From fostering communication to navigating high-impact scenarios, these experiences have helped enrich both of my professional journeys. By weaving the lessons I learn along the way from one realm into another, I hope to craft a tapestry of experience that allows me to contribute to the empowerment, advocacy, and community-building within both organizations.

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