The sound of collaboration: Smartcare and Slack shared channels

How the software company uses shared channels to provide exceptional customer support for audiology clinics

young woman helping older woman sign up for smartcare

When brothers Skylar and Travis Topham started out as health-care specialists in hearing in 2012, they realized that medical and patient data wasn’t digitized, and hearing centers had to navigate confusing paper trails to purchase devices or file insurance claims. So the Tophams founded Smartcare, an audiology platform and billing service offering a more efficient way to serve independent practices and their patients.

Based in St. George, Utah, Smartcare looks to modernize the audiology industry and provide next-level customer care, which is why the Tophams turned to Slack for support. Smartcare communicates with customers exclusively in Slack shared channels, a feature that connects two independent organizations in the same Slack workspace so they can share messages, tools and files in a shared Slack channel.

Here’s how Smartcare uses shared channels to onboard customers, provide technical support, streamline insurance billing, and build strong relationships with its customers.

“When our customers are communicating to us through Slack, they see us as real, genuine people, and it has a totally different feel than email does. We want our customers to feel like we’re on their team.”

Travis Topham
Smartcare co-founder and head of product

Setting up new customers for success using shared channels

For Smartcare, providing a superior service means communicating with customers in Slack from the outset. In fact, Smartcare pays for its customers’ Slack accounts.

“In the beginning, I wanted to stick with email because of cost, but I wasn’t the one onboarding and working with customers,” says Skylar Topham, Smartcare’s co-founder and CEO. “Travis was really the one who said we have to separate ourselves as a premium service. And what premium service looked like to us was changing the narrative away from email into something categorically different.”

Once new customers have signed up with Smartcare, the customer care team introduces them to Slack, or “base camp,” according to Travis, for all future communication and support. Smartcare uses Slack calls and screen sharing to acquaint new customers with the company’s platform and guide them through the data migration process.

smartcare shared channels workspace

“When our customers are communicating to us through Slack, they see us as real, genuine people, and it has a totally different feel than email does,” says Travis Topham, Smartcare’s co-founder and head of product. “We want our customers to feel like we’re on their team.”

Smartcare customer Robert Gardner, an audiologist and the owner of The Hearing Clinic in Colorado, affirms that using Slack accomplishes exactly that. “I’m dealing with people, not an email,” Dr. Gardner says. “Slack shared channels make Smartcare feel like an extension of our staff.”

Quickly resolving issues and answering queries in Slack

After a new customer gets set up on the Smartcare platform, the customer care team creates a support channel for that person in Slack. On the customer side, this channel looks like #sc-support. On the Smartcare side, customers’ channel names are the abbreviated stock ticker symbol of the company followed by the word “support.”

Smartcare uses these support channels to troubleshoot tech issues and bugs and answer general questions about the platform. In a Slack call, the support team uses the screen-sharing feature to see the issue from the customer’s perspective and loop in engineers as needed.

smartcare slack shared channels thread

“I always encourage our team to turn our cameras on,” Skylar says. “That way our customers see that we’re part of their team and available to help at a moment’s notice.”

Building trust and making insurance claims more efficient

In addition to the #sc-support channel, Smartcare sets up an #sc_insurance-billing channel for customers, where it sends updates about billing and answers process-related questions.

Customers often communicate in their insurance channels when they’ve uploaded a new patient insurance card to Smartcare and need to verify benefits. The customer care team will call the insurance company, figure out what the patient’s benefits include, and type out notes in the Smartcare platform. Then Smartcare pings the customer in the shared channel to say that insurance notes are ready to review.

Customers can send Smartcare clarifying questions in their billing channel. “Sometimes customers ask us questions like ‘Hey, I’m not sure what this note means’ or ‘What are the actual benefits regarding a hearing test versus hearing aids?’ These kinds of conversations happen in Slack daily,” Travis says.

Smartcare builds trust through shared channels by quickly answering billing questions and notifying customers about critical updates.

“We’re a lot more involved with these clinics than just providing software. Slack is the connective tissue that keeps us all in sync and keeps all the data coordinated.”

Skylar Topham
Smartcare co-founder and CEO

Providing speedy customer service with Slack app integrations

The Smartcare platform automates 90% of the patient management process. By guiding audiologists away from paper and onto iPads, Smartcare sets up hearing specialists to successfully manage and run their business through data-informed decisions.

“We aren’t only solving complex insurance billing problems,” says Travis. “In addition to scheduling appointments, running clinical tests, and moving patient data securely while maintaining HIPAA (patient data protection) compliance, there’s so much more we want to contribute to our industry.”

To streamline daily communication, Smartcare has integrated several apps with its Slack workspaces, including:

These Slack app integrations reduce context switching and save teammates precious time. By providing a layer of technology to connect Smartcare’s communication with its tech tools, Slack helps simplify administrative tasks, allowing the Smartcare team to devote more bandwidth to supporting their customers.

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