There’s nothing worse than being afraid of someone on your team. You know… that guy who’s really intimidating, doesn’t really listen to you because you’re not a developer (maybe you’re QA or support) and you’re not on his “level”.

Yuck. These situations create a toxic environment and quickly deteriorate company culture.

Developers and support

In this post we’re going to talk about how the development team and customer support team should be friends, and how when these relationships are strong, good things happen.

Understanding Boundaries

First, it’s important to understand boundaries. As someone on the customer support team, you don’t want to be throwing bugs to development left and right and distracting them every time you do so. Developers need uninterrupted time. It’s important to respect that. Devise a plan to channel information to them.

Make sure you have a process that works for both sides. If you’re causing a commotion every time a new bug comes in, you’re going to get less people listening to you when those high impact issues surface. By having a clear understanding of these boundaries, your customer support team is sure to get respect from the development team.

Gathering All Of The Right Information

But it doesn’t stop here. When issues arise, support needs to bring fully fleshed out issues to the development team.

“There is a bug”. That’s good to know, but it’s not very helpful. Do some of the leg work and find out as much information as you can. How many users does it affect? Which browsers and systems? Where exactly is the user getting stuck? Are they really upset or just sharing feedback?

After you get all of that information, compile it in a way your development team can quickly understand. Make it easy for them. Be careful with suggesting solutions though – that’s the product team’s job.

Breaking Down The Walls

Understanding boundaries and getting all of the right information to the development team is a great start to building good relationships between support and development. There are also things you can do that aren’t directly business related to get closer with your coworkers.

When is the last time you your development team and support team got lunch together or did happy hour? Bring a little fun into the mix. Take the time to get out of the office and interact without business being the main topic of discussion. Getting to know your team at a personal level can really help build trust and respect.

Advantages Of Strong Relationships Between Support And Development

Lets take a look at some of the advantages you’ll see when support and development have a strong relationship.

Bugs Get Fixed Faster

When there is mutual respect between development and support, the development team is more likely to prioritize issues your support team is reporting and do “favors”. Lets look at this from the support rep’s shoes…

It’s easier to ask someone to do something for you when that person likes you and understands why you’re asking them to do that. It’s much harder to ask a developer to do something when they don’t respect you.

Builds Empathy For The Customer

When the development team makes an effort to understand the work support is doing, they have a better chance of building empathy for the customer. Understanding the customer is important. With the customer at the top of mind when developing new features and fixing bugs, your product will be more user-friendly and solve the problems your customers are actually dealing with.

Some teams even practice “all-hands-support” which allows developers to talk directly with customers around product feedback, issues, and basic product questions.

Internal Tools Get Focus

Building internal tools can really benefit the support team and the development team. Here’s an example…

Perhaps you’re seeing a lot of support requests from customers wanting to increase the amount of team members they’re paying for. This has always been done in the database – a developer would have to go in and change the maximum number of team members aloud on a plan and then let support know the change was made. This takes away time from the development team and also leads to longer resolution times (because support had to wait for the developer to complete the task).

Eventually, support asks the development team to give them the ability to do this so they can stop bothering them and complete these tasks themselves. The result is that by spending a small amount of time on an internal tool, development was no longer bothered by these minor requests and support could complete them on their own. This also lead to faster resolution times and happier customers.

Closing Thoughts

When developers and support work closely together, the whole team and your customers benefits. The quality of your product improves, and your customers are happier with faster bug fixes and shorter resolution times. It’s important to identify any risks that could lead to broken relationships between support and development and work to eliminate them sooner than later. A good culture starts with strong relationships internally.