One of the most powerful aspects of social media is the way it’s rapidly evolved to become part of the fabric of both society and commerce. And no time has seen more change than the past six months. Between GDPR, social’s growing role in global politics and the importance of privacy, social networks have experienced significant and fundamental change. This makes things very interesting for a company like ours that sits squarely between these changes and the 25,000+ brands around the world that we serve.

The customer experience that Sprout Social delivers is one of the things I’m personally most proud of. In the last six months, the rapid pace of network changes across social has challenged our ability to manage and deliver the caliber of support we’re committed to. While only a small percentage of our customers have felt this, that number should be zero, and we’ve fallen short.

At Sprout, we believe “open communication creates progress.” That extends beyond sharing exciting news and recognition. It means acknowledging the bumps in the road and talking about where we want to improve. It means consistently letting you know that we’re committed to supporting our customers and helping them build exceptional brands.

I’m sharing this recent challenge to open a window into the current state of social media and how we’re evolving to maintain our brand promise within an industry in flux.

A lot of the change that’s happening is due to factors outside of our control. But how we adapt to this phase of social is entirely our charge. So, as a team, we’re taking a hard look at how we can continue to deliver an exceptional customer experience in an environment where the new norm is constant change.

Here’s why this matters

Our brand isn’t our design, our products or our logo—our brand is how we make people feel. And customer support isn’t just a department or a job title, it’s our relationship with the people who allow us to do what we love.

Those people are rightfully counting on us to deliver world-class support when they’re using our products to grow their business and build relationships with their customers. Not because it’s written into fine print somewhere, but because it’s the expectation we’ve set for ourselves and our community through every prior interaction.

We know that reputation is built one interaction and one user experience at a time. Our customer support team and the many others on the front lines of those interactions—our team members on social, on the customer success team, in billing and more—make us proud every day. But with an influx of changes and resulting volume of support tickets, they haven’t been setup to respond to and resolve issues quickly for every customer, every time. That changes now.

Here’s what we’re doing

We’re taking a more proactive approach toward communicating network changes and issues so our customers don’t have to ask. Each network change is unique in its impact, so we’re creating the framework to more readily communicate how and why these changes are happening, and what our plan is going forward.

Even when there’s not an immediately available resolution, we’ll err on the side of communication—considering everything from low impact changes to a crisis-level network change. At the lowest level, this might mean an in-app notification; at the highest, I’ll address concerns to our customer base as a whole in an email—the same way I would for our internal team.

For everything in between, expect emails, social posts and—in some cases—even phone calls to address what may be happening. Communication is better than silence, even when we don’t have the solution.

In addition to this day-to-day process, we’ve made a concerted effort to clear our support backlog and provide additional service to our customers from across the team. A perfect illustration of commitment came this past month, when a group of individuals at Sprout gave up their Saturday to work through our support ticket backlog. From Support, Success and Billing, team members came in and knocked out 377 new tickets—leaving our backlog at zero—and dedicated extra hours in the days that followed to continue and maintain those efforts.

As someone who cares deeply about both our team and our customers, I promise that bringing everyone in on Saturday isn’t our new normal—but I hope it tells you something about our team that we had more volunteers than we could accommodate. No one here takes customer experience lightly, and recent months have presented us with a challenge we’re eager to solve.

After all, our customers are more than a support ticket number: They’re small business owners, agencies, global brands, causes and communities that trust us to help them succeed. We have to remember that their trust is what gives us the opportunity to do what we do at all—and that’s not something we ever take for granted.