Ryan D. Sullivan

Productivity, Business, and Being a Dad

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Why Help Scout is Dominating the Customer Service Space

We’ve been using Help Scout since January of 2013. In today’s world, nearly two years with one SaaS provider is more or less a lifetime. We’ve dated. We’ve moved in together. They know about my bad habits and have learned to keep me around in spite of them.

Every single day there’s a new flavor of the month cropping up with one more feature, or one more integration that makes switching to a new service seem like the right move.

I mean, they have a free trial. What could it hurt to at least start talking to another vendor, right?

Since we started using their help desk software there was one week out of ninety where I haven’t been blown away by their software, their commitment to excellence in everything they do, and their laid back feel in a space full of high strung individuals.

Even during our little rough patch it wasn’t as terrible as it could have been. It was a period of slow performance and some rolling outages. It was slowing our team down and hurting our rapport with customers, but even during that rollercoaster period Help Scout assured us that everything would return to normal shortly, and I never doubted them for a minute.

Here’s why…

Help Scout Doesn’t Halfass Anything

Really, they don’t.

From their content creation, to their messaging, to their branding, to their fantastic software, there’s never been any indication that they didn’t pay attention to every detail of what they were building, writing, revising, or improving.

Let me show you some examples.

Their Blog is The Best I’ve Ever Seen

I’m not going to link to it right away because then you’ll be stuck there and won’t be able to come back and finish reading this article.

It’s that good.

25 Lessons from 25 Months of Marketing is one of the most comprehensive articles I’ve ever read about content strategy and what works. Clearly it’s not just hype either, cause the numbers clearly show how effective they’ve been in not only growing organic traffic, but bringing in targeted potential customers through organic channels.

Every single backlink is more money they save on their customer acquisition costs. Is Help Scout doing content marketing right? Yes, yes they are.

Gregory Ciotti man crush engaged.

They Believe in Their Company Mission

Our mission is to help you build a company people love.

That’s the Help Scout mission. They want to empower their own customers to build companies that people love.

Let that settle in for a minute.

When you get into the nitty gritty of what that actually means, and you take into account the fact that they’re building customer support products, it shows that they truly believe that customer service is the way to win over clients and make them love your company.

They’re All Customer Champions!

Take a look at their company about page  Do you have any idea what any of their employees do? Well, other than champion their customers? Nick is one of the co-founders, but still lists “customer champion” right their in his title. All fourteen of the employees on the Help Scout about page list “customer champion” as their title, and based on my experience interacting with them, it isn’t just another marketing game.

I truly get the impression that even when things aren’t exactly as I’d hope they were, their primary concern was either a) making it right, or b) letting me know they wished it was something they had more control over, or would discuss further internally.

When Things Go Wrong, They Own It, and They Make It Better

Back in July they had a short stretch of time where their software was either unstable, or completely unavailable. When that impedes conversations and communications with our customers, that’s definitely not cool. Not cool at all.

While I was swearing and getting entirely worked up about this “horrible software” I got an email from one of the founders. Here’s an excerpt.

We understand that issues with our service not only impact our customers, but they impact your customersas well. Our team has worked extremely hard to achieve 99.99% uptime for the last 12+ months including scheduled maintenance, but today we clearly let you and your customers down.

On behalf of the whole team, I’d like to express my sincere apologies for not providing you with a reliable service today. We have all hands on deck trying to make sure these challenges do not persist, and that tomorrow we can get back to normal.

The email was nice enough, and by the next day everything seemed to return back to the snappy app that we’d come to know and love, but what’s happened since has been even more impressive.

They sent out a full technical explanation of what went wrong, and what they did to remedy that persistent issue.

They’ve also put up a new and improved status page that not only shows whether or not the services are available, but what the response times are and what the overall uptime for the app has been.

Talk is cheap, and sending out a nice email can easily become lip service, but owning a mistake and investing time and money into not only fixing it, but improving that part of your business shows a commitment that’s rare in service and software providers.



WARNING: Proceed with caution. This next section will seem over the top but I promise to bring it all back together.

We have an internal joke that makes us all seem like we’re members of some kind of Help Scout cult. We frequently ask ourselves, and each other, “What Would Help Scout Do?”

I know.


I told you it was over the top.

They’re just doing so many things right that it makes them hard to ignore. I haven’t even addressed their actual software and have given you over 1,000 words about how they’re winning in the customer service space. Their excellent product would make it that much easier to write several more articles like this one.

Every movement they make, at least from a customer’s view, is totally in sync with their core values, and their desire to grow as a business. Never do I recall reading a blog post, an email, homepage sales copy, or even a reply to a support request that felt out of place to me.

Consistency like that takes time. It takes culture. And it takes great people. If any of those three components are missing, chaos ensues.

As we continue to build Flagship and WP Site Care, we’re going to continue to ask ourselves what Help Scout would do, and then we’ll go out on our own and make decisions that reflect our values and what we want to accomplish. We’re a long way from perfect but we know where we want to be, now it’s time to buckle down and execute.

Do you have a company you look up to? What do they do right that you love? We’ll get some conversation rolling in the comments below.

P.S. I know this is a new blog, and I have work to do to, but if you can share out this article, or subscribe to the email list to help get this thing off the ground, I’d seriously appreciate it.

How to Make it in WordPress

One of the nice things about writing my own blog now is that I’m going to have a chance to highlight some of the outstanding reads I find online. “How to Make it in WordPress” is one of the favorite things I’ve read in quite some time. Matt talks about hustle and working harder than everybody else. Those are really the only two things I know about business if I’m being brutally honest, so it really connected with me. Take 8 minutes. Read this article and watch the video clips. You’ll be glad you did.

How to make it in WordPress

How LoopConf Came to Be

I’d like to welcome all of you to my new blog! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, but didn’t want it to end up as a graveyard for my words. Like most of the people who are going to read this, I need another project like Apple needs another U2 album, so I’ve waited quite a while before pulling the trigger on this.

When I considered the time commitment it would take to publish my thoughts here regularly, I realized that by eliminating teeth brushing and bathing I’d be able to write posts here a few times each week. The result is that I get to share with you often, but you may not want to shake my hand at a WordCamp. We all make sacrifices 😉

Anyway, I’m excited to be publishing on this new notepad and am excited to hear from you as well. If there are any particular things you’d like to hear me talk about, I’m definitely open to ideas and you can send them to me here.


For those of you who don’t already know, I’m one of the organizers of a new WordPress developer conference that we lovingly named LoopConf.

I’ve been to a number of WordCamps and as much as I love them (I really really do), I’ve heard a number of presenters say the same types of things.

I wish I had a better idea of who was in the audience.

I hope the everyday users in my session don’t have a conniption when I start talking about my deployment workflow

I’ve thought for a long time that putting together a conference designed 100% for developers would be incredible, but I also knew that zero days of event planning experience on my resume would probably create a few roadblocks. I’d likely be making a whole bunch of promises that I just wouldn’t be able to keep, which is how most people end up in jail, or married.

I’ve also thought there was more room in the WordPress space for more premier conferences like Pressnomics. I went to Pressnomics 2 and it was such a fantastic time. Josh and Sally put on an amazing event around the business of WordPress, and if you have any aspirations for running a WordPress business, I highly recommend that you attend.

I’ve been to a number of conferences in my former life in the corporate world as well, and feel like I have a good feel for what makes up a great event. That said, having no experience actually organizing an event anywhere near this scale, I wouldn’t even know where to start.


Photo Oct 19, 2 46 15 PM


When I was thirteen I lived in the same neighborhood as Joel and Aaron Frost. We did all sorts of things together like Boy Scouting and Camping. We remained friends through high school and even though we went in different connections after high school, we’ve stayed connected and I’ve always considered them great friends.

As time went on, Aaron became a pretty awesome front end developer and works at a great software company here in Utah. Through Javascript, he was able to connect with Joe Eames, a fellow Javascript geek. Together, along with the help of a professional Event Planner, Sunny, they organized the first ever ng-conf, a conference dedicated solely to developers for Angular.

The conference was a huge success. They sold tickets in two separate rounds. The first round of 300 or so tickets sold out in about 15 minutes, and the second round of tickets sold out so fast they thought their ticketing system was broken. In literally one browser refresh the tickets were gone.

Besides rapid ticket sales, the event itself was raved about by everyone who attended. They did things like a hack night with Sphero robots, had live entertainment at their parties, a video gaming lounge, had amazing giveaways, all while learning from the best developers in their industry. Not to mention a free global live stream of the event and posting all of the sessions online for free.

Right Place at the Right Time

All this to say that their experience organizing great conferences, and my involvement in the WordPress community every day, made for a great opportunity to actually pull off something that I had envisioned for a long time. They reached out to me and asked if I was interested and it was a complete no-brainer for me.

The speakers who have committed already have been amazing and I can’t express enough how grateful for their early confidence in the event. We take that seriously and have no intentions of making this conference anything less than stellar.

If you have any questions or suggestions about LoopConf, or are curious about how it’s come together up to this point, don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comments. We have a string of really exciting announcements locked and loaded and I can’t wait to tell you more.

Also, thanks for stopping by. I’m excited to hang out with you more, buy you a chilled beverage, and learn from what you have to share too.

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