helpscout

"The best way to get feedback from everyone."

A Retrium Customer Story with Chris Brookins, VP Engineering @ Help Scout

Help Scout is all about helping organizations create customer happiness. Their product includes both a helpdesk and knowledge base to make the support experience both human and helpful. Their service is trusted by 7,000+ businesses in 140 countries.

nikiBy Niki Kohari, Retrium COO

chris-brookinsAs the VP of Engineering at Help Scout, Chris Brookins needs an easy way to get a feel for how things are going with his fully distributed team of 25 engineers. This is no easy task when everyone is in different places, doing different tasks! For Chris, Retrium is the simplest and best option to get "honest and unfiltered feedback from the team" in a way that makes it clear what's working and what's not.

For the team at Help Scout, Retrium is giving everyone the opportunity to be introspective without distractions creating more engaged and diverse feedback, consistent participation from everyone on the team, and better ideas for how to move forward on tough problems.

Who wouldn't want more of those results from their meetings?

Introspection without Distraction

Chris first heard about Retrium from a blog post after looking around for a better way to conduct retrospectives. Prior to using our product, the team at Help Scout was collecting retrospective feedback on a Trello board, adding cards to columns on the board. Having participated in many retrospectives before, Chris had a feeling that he wasn't getting fully engaged participation and knew that there had to be a better way.

My biggest frustration was that some people would just +1 something or pile on to information already on the board. People would be reading and processing what others wrote, and this was a distraction. It really wasn't creating the environment of introspection that retrospectives really need to be successful.

As you can imagine, this started the conversation down a particular direction before everyone really had a chance to think about it. As Chris mentioned, this created a lot of groupthink because people were too distracted from the incoming information to focus on giving their own feedback and ideas.

The team at Help Scout really needed a tool that would create dedicated time for introspection and reduce the distraction of seeing everyone else's feedback. This is exactly what they found when they used Retrium for the first time.

Retrium takes a staged approach to retrospectives, first having team members enter feedback, then allowing similar items to be grouped. From there, teams can vote on the topics they want to talk about and then discuss them.

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During the feedback-gathering stage, while you can see that information is being entered, you can't read the content, as other people's comments are blurred out. This may seem like a minor thing, but it really gave each person at Help Scout the time and space to creatively contribute issues and ideas. It really started to draw out everyone's voice and this is why the team at HelpScount loves Retrium!

How Help Scout Uses Retrium

Because the team is fully distributed, they use Retrium along with Google Hangouts for video and audio. Interestingly, Chris shared that even if the team wasn't distributed, they would still use Retrium. "It's just so efficient to use because there's no retying and no overhead." (It's even been used by other teams at Help Scout, including marketing and people operations because everyone needs an opportunity to reflect on how things are going.)

For Chris's engineering team, they start with 10 minutes of dedicated quiet time for collection everyone's thoughts, and they typically use the 4Ls format. This part of the process really helps him get a read on the energy of the team, and he loves to "watch the board light up with ideas." He can tell how the meeting is going to go from there because even though he doesn't know the content right away he can see whether there are more notes in the liked, lacked, longed for, or learned columns.

Grouping cards is easy, fast, and efficient from there, and then the team is ready to vote on the ideas. Regardless of votes, the Help Scout team talks about everything mentioned to ensure everyone's voice is heard, though they do talk about it in order of importance from most votes to least.

The most surprising thing for Chris was that Retrium can truly uncover how people feel and amplify one person's comment in a clear and efficient way. Sometimes, at first glance, something might appear to be a minor comment, but when it comes down to voting it gets a lot of attention.

Why Chris Recommends Retrium
Retrium was so easy to adopt, and it's also a fun tool to use. It's the best way to get feedback from everyone, not just those that talk the most. I would recommend it for any team, even if they're co-located because of the clear and unfiltered feedback you receive.

Want to have more efficient and organized retrospectives with your team? Try two free retrospectives in Retrium and see the value for yourself!

Learn about some of our other happy customers!

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