Communication Really is the Key to Success on Remote Teams

January 3, 2018

Communication Really is the Key to Success on Remote Teams

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What’s crack-a-lacking Design Pickle blog readers! I’m Corinn and my job here is to improve the customer experience from a software and technology perspective. 

I’ve been here for about 8 months now and boy has it been a learning experience. I’ve gotten a crash course in product management by working on and in the “Jar” — Design Pickle’s backend software that manages and processes all the requests our customers submit to us. These last few months have taught me everything from how to manage a small development team and prioritize feature development, to how important it is to talk to our awesome clients day in and day out about what they like, dislike, how they use the app, and what they’d like to see in the future.  

As you may know, product management is a whole lot of communication. There’s communication with customers, communication with developers, communication with teammates, communication with partners, and even communication with bots (I guess that’s a thing now). 

So it would make sense that communication within our team is something we’re always looking to improve. 

In this post, I’ll talk about how Design Pickle communicates using technology as well as how we communicate while working on remote teams.

Improving Communication Using Intercom

We use Intercom for a whole lot of our customer communications and interactions. It’s basically what our customer success team runs on day in and day out. Chances are that if you contact us, you’ll somehow be routed through Intercom.

In the background, we use a lot of Intercom tags and events to manage communication. These tags help us sort through loads of data here at Design Pickle and help us ensure that customers are getting the information they need when they need it.

Now, this may not sound super enthralling for most people, but we totally overhauled our Intercom tagging system. We created and applied new tags to thousands of users that will help us better route help requests, improve onboarding, and otherwise help us ensure a more consistent experience. Now, Design Pickle clients will always be routed to the same customer success representative. This will ensure that every user will have a more predictable experience when they contact support.

I don’t know about you, but having one point of contact for support is wayyyyyyy better than being passed around from support representative to support representative until you find the one who can best answer your question. Our Customer Success team is really excited about this change and I think every customer of Design Pickle will be as well.

Speaking of communication (no pun intended)…

If you’re going to work remotely, then you better get used to frequent written communication

This month’s theme was all about transparency and communication. Since I’m remote, a lot of that spur-of-the-moment “watercooler” type of communication is lost. To make up for it, I’ve learned to tune my written communication so that everything is unambiguous and concise. That way, nothing is lost in translation. I find myself using emojis now almost as much as my mom does when she texts me — so that’s a lot of emojis 😎👍🦄.

The lack of watercooler conversation and physical visibility that a remote position brings also taught me to provide regular updates. Every Friday, I send out a weekly report of what I accomplished that week as well as my big things for the coming week to my manager. In addition, I keep a roadmap that is available to the team using the roadmap.space app. This keeps the team in the loop as well as holds me accountable for getting my most important yet not urgent tasks complete.

 

working from the coffee shop

I find myself working out of a lot of places like this when I really need to crank out some work. 

Before having this loop in place, there were some times where duplicate work was going on or where no one knew what I was working on. Working in a vacuum while being remote is bad for the psyche and bad for productivity. It leaves little room to build team cohesiveness and makes it easy for your mind to start equating no one talking to you about your work with no one caring about your work…even if this is the furthest thing from the truth. For those people working remotely – I’d definitely recommend frequent and regular updates. I promise someone will appreciate them even if you feel it is annoying or overkill.

TL;DR: Provide regular updates if you’re working remotely — even if just for yourself!

What’s Coming Down The Pipeline

With all this emphasis on communication and transparency, I’d like to let you know about some really cool new features coming down the pipeline. In the coming months, you can expect some awesome improvements in how we match designers and clients, how clients can submit better requests, as well as new ways to submit requests. All the details are still being worked out, so be sure to subscribe to our social media channels and email newsletter to hear the latest updates coming your way.