How Cliniko does customer support

Cliniko only exists because of our customers, so we always strive to do right by them and provide excellent support. But what does this look like in practice? We’ve put down some thoughts.

Aisling Smith·

An illustration of people working on computers on a table that looks like a globe

If you’re a Cliniko customer, chances are that you’ve chatted to one of our support team before, or “supps” as we call them internally. They’re a rotating group of 22 lovely people spread across five continents, and when you write in, you’ll talk to whoever is online in your time zone. Cliniko customer support officially runs 24 hours a day, five days a week (though we do keep an eye on things over the weekend) and we try to respond as quickly as possible.

As you’ve probably noticed, we tend to do things our own way at Cliniko—and our customer support is no exception! This is what support means to us and why it’s so important.

Why good support matters so much

On the most fundamental level, providing you with helpful support will enable you to get the most out of Cliniko. We want you to be happy you chose us as your practice management system and for you to benefit from every possible feature we offer. After all, if your experience with Cliniko is positive, you’re more likely to keep using it! And we know a big part of this is getting your questions answered quickly and well, and receiving help to troubleshoot any problems.

Our support team also performs the essential role of being a conduit between you and our developers. Part of the support team’s role is to explain the development work we do so that you can apply it in your practice (i.e. showing you how to benefit from a new feature that has been released). But it’s a two way street! Our support crew also convey your concerns, problems, and requests to our development team. Understanding the everyday concerns of the businesses and users we interact with while also comprehending and applying technical language (some might even say jargon!) requires some serious skill.

In a more abstract way, our support team is the public face of the company (though our founder Joel and video queen Rachel probably share the crown for being the most recognisable individuals!). While we also have developers of course, and a team that deals with content and marketing, our support crew is how a customer will most frequently interact with us—and these impressions shape how we’re viewed as a brand. This is another reason why support is so important.

We also know that timely, reliable, and honest support builds goodwill. That’s not the only reason we do it—we try to bring kindness and transparency to our interactions because those are our company values. But us not being jerks does bring the added benefit of people being more understanding when there’s a problem. For example, if something beyond our control disrupts Cliniko, our customers know that we’re not lying about it to cover ourselves (that’s not our style) and there’s goodwill built-up through our history of honest communications. A situation may be frustrating, but customers accept that we’re working as hard as we can to resolve things when any problems arise.

We want you to write in!

At a recent conference we attended, some of our customers who stopped by our stand told us they sometimes feel tentative about reaching out through our chat for fear of bothering us unnecessarily. We never want you to feel like that! You’re never a bother or an inconvenience—we actively want you to use the support service. We have a dedicated team waiting for your questions, so you’re not dragging someone away from another task; our support team is on hand specifically to help you.

And we love getting the chance to talk to you. It’s great when you write in, even if it’s just to share your workflow. People often use Cliniko in interesting ways, and it’s helpful for us to know about these; the way you do something might one day form the basis of a solution that can help another user! Plus, we might have thoughts on some timesaving strategies you could implement.

Please also feel free to write in at any time. If you’ve got a burning question at 10 o’clock on a Sunday night, send it through, and chances are someone in another time zone is already waking up with their morning coffee. We read everything you send or submit to us—whether that’s a message in the chat, an email, or a feature request. Even if you go on leave or cancel your account, we read and reflect on the reasons you give in the survey you fill out.

Our support team consists of skilled folks

We don’t target people with IT backgrounds for support—in fact, we view diversity as a huge strength and our support team comes from all walks of life. We’ve got people who’ve joined us from careers in physiotherapy, myotherapy, pharmacy, prosthetics and orthotics, practice management, fashion modelling, the police force, translation, IT finance, mechanics, equine care, hospitality, and countless other weird and wonderful backgrounds! But the common denominator is that they’re all bright and talented people. Many of us have had unique experiences and careers helping people in all sorts of different fields, and this gives us a wealth of life experience to draw on.

Providing good support is a difficult job and hiring capable people is essential. We’re passionate about wanting to attract the very best, which means a rigorous and competitive hiring process. We aim to find talented team members and then treat them well, so they’ll stick around. If you’re interested to read more about what this means to us, we’ve written a lot about our work culture and Joel has given talks on the topic too.

Empathy is crucial

As well as being skilled, our support team is just an all-around lovely bunch of humans. They’re the highly empathic ones on our team and are therefore able to put themselves in your shoes when you write in. If something hard is going on in your life or you’re facing big transitions, we’ll always try to understand—and part of this is finding ways to support you that exceed what you might expect to encounter from a traditional support team. We always want you to feel the human connection with us, even through a screen. And getting to connect with you is also one of the most meaningful parts of the job for us.

We don’t rely on bots or AI to solve your problems

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite understand. Can you repeat that?”Meanwhile, you’ve repeated yourself three times in a row and you still can’t get an answer to a simple question. . . ah, the joys of AI. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as not being able to access help when you need it.

When it comes to Cliniko support, you won’t get a pre-packaged answer or find yourself cursing at a chatbot. Sure, there’s an automated function that will suggest some help guides related to your question when you first write in, but that’s the only time you’ll interact with AI when you’re seeking support. You’ll get the opportunity to tell us whether the guide answered your question and if you need more help, you’ll still be put through to a human on the other end.

Each member of the support team has their own unique style of communicating—you’ll get a mix of lengthy answers, short and sweet replies, with a healthy dose of GIFs and emojis. Encouraging our support team to speak in their own voice is part of our commitment to workplace authenticity.

There’s no doubt that chatbots are getting more sophisticated. Will they one day outshine what we humans can do? Perhaps, although the jury is still out on that. For now, when it comes to supporting your business, nothing beats our human team for empathy, creative problem solving, and experience with Cliniko as a system.

We don’t offer a support helpline you can call

This one is always controversial! It’s true that lots of folks prefer to chat to someone on the phone; it’s very much a preference that varies from person to person. And we totally get why some people feel that way.

Once upon a time, we used to offer customer service over the phone—anyone who needed help would call and leave a voicemail, and we’d call them back. But we ditched this in favour of written support, which lets us answer more people and quicker! It’s a misconception that a phone call will necessarily be a faster way to resolve a problem (and trust us, we’ve had a lot of practice). It’s rarely the case. Putting answers in writing also keeps our support as visible and transparent as possible, which is a good thing for everyone. Here are a few of the reasons why we think written support is better.

  • Written chat requires less effort from you

A phone call puts the onus on you to articulate the issue you’re having coherently and out loud. This can be a struggle in practice. It’s also easy to go off topic on a phone call, which can add extra minutes to the process. With our written support, however, you don’t even have to fully flesh out a question—you can even just type a topic or a theme into the Cliniko chat, like “online payments”, and we’ll always come back to you with a reply and some questions.

  • You get quicker access to us

When we offered phone support, we could only help one person at a time, so everything took much longer. With a chat service, we can stay across a few queries at once, so you’ll get an answer more speedily. Don’t worry, you’ll always have our full attention, but while you’re replying we can often resolve less complex queries too!

  • Our replies have more context

With written support, we can see all the previous conversations you’ve had with us. This means that we can enter the chat already briefed on your issue and the context around it (if it’s something persistent), and you don’t have to spend time bringing us up to speed yet again. We can also see what we told you the last time you contacted us, which makes it easier for us to give you new advice if something hasn’t worked for you.

  • It’s all immediately documented

Written support gives you instant access to notes that you can refer back to. We’ll outline any steps you need to take, link to any relevant videos, and extract the bits of the help guide that you need to know, so you don’t even have to go through the guides yourself.

None of this was possible when we offered phone calls. Instead, we’d follow each call up by sending the customer an email summary of what we’d spoken about and the advice we’d given. But this wasn’t a quick process and meant that each team member would have to spend a sizeable chunk of time after every phone call writing everything down—essentially repeating the whole support process twice. It wasn’t an efficient use of our time and drastically decreased the number of questions a team member could answer during their day.

  • There’s greater continuity for you

Because we work in a shift pattern, there’s more continuity for you and for us when the communication is written down. If one team member has to log off for the day, someone else can seamlessly continue the conversation. You don’t have to rely on talking to the person who you spoke to last time if you have additional questions—any of the team can jump in and help!

  • We can collaborate to give you better answers

Behind the scenes, written support allows our team to be more cohesive. It lets us collaborate and learn from one another. We can see how each person is approaching a question and chime in with our own suggestions. It’s also much easier for new support staff to learn the ropes when they can watch how more experienced members of the team are replying to written messages. Phone conversations don’t allow this, as they take place in the moment and are mostly private.

  • We can take the time to reflect on your issue

Sometimes the issue you’re having is complex or requires some investigation on our part. This isn’t really possible in a phone call, when we’re talking in live time and you’re on the other end waiting for a reply. When we’re conversing asynchronously via chat, however, we can take the time to think a bit more about your question and make sure we’re giving you an answer that’s clear and comprehensive.

How we try to improve

Learning is a never-ending process. We’re always pushing to find more effective ways to help you and we never want to become complacent, so these are some of the things we’re continually doing to improve.

  • Listening to feedback from customers

Once an issue is resolved and the conversation is closed, you can fill out a mini survey about how we did—this includes an emoji reaction and the chance to leave a comment. This isn’t us being needy, it’s actually a really important improvement opportunity! We always pay attention to what you say. If you give a lower rating, whoever answered the enquiry might go back and analyse how they might’ve provided a better answer, or even reach out to you for more feedback.

  • Listening to feedback from colleagues

We’ll also ask for feedback from colleagues to see what could’ve gone better. We try to conduct these conversations with curiosity rather than blame or defensiveness. Maybe an answer we gave could’ve been more detailed or we should’ve given slightly different advice—we listen, and we take it on board for next time.

  • #the-pool-room

Constructive criticism is helpful, but a bit of positive reinforcement never goes astray either! We have a channel in our Slack called #the-pool-room (and if you don’t get the reference, we’ve got your next movie night sorted). This space is entirely devoted to acknowledging some of the nice things people say about our team members or about Cliniko itself and (along with our #pets channel) is a warm and fuzzy place. The comments we include often come from the feedback surveys you fill out and reading kind words from our customers gives such a boost to the whole team. It’s very meaningful for our support crew to hear that the hard work they put into addressing a tricky question gave some clarity, or for a developer to learn that a new feature that took many months (or even years!) of effort made a difference. It's wonderful when we know that the work we’re doing at Cliniko is making a difference to your practice.

  • Owning our mistakes

Despite our best efforts, sometimes mistakes happen. It’s rare and of course we aim to be as error free as possible, but things occasionally go wrong. If we’ve made a mistake, we’ll always take ownership of it, apologise, and try to rectify the situation as best we can. We value honesty and openness very highly, so we don’t blame-shift or obfuscate. We take accountability and try to be better next time.

  • Making sure our support team is supported too

Support can be a tough job. While it's gratifying to help, it can also be a mentally exhausting job, which anyone who has ever worked in any sort of support role would know! It’s perhaps unsurprising that there’s a customer service version of empathy burnout that can occur. This is where our work culture can be helpful for safeguarding the wellbeing of our team—for example, all Cliniko employees have access to unlimited annual leave (plus bonus leave), and we encourage people to take time off when they need to. We also offer the chance for our team to bring their skillset to work on different projects within the company when they need a break from providing support.

We hope this has shed some light on the ethos behind our customer support at Cliniko. We’re a bunch of humans, trying to make sure you’re having the smoothest possible experience with our software. So, please, keep writing in and talking to us. See you in the chat soon!

Author information

Aisling is a Melbourne-based writer and all around word nerd. When she isn't writing for Cliniko, she likes circus fitness, playing her cello, and eating dessert.

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