I often have a hard time communicating exactly what I do on a daily basis when someone inevitably asks. It might be that they’re not familiar with WordPress.com (although that’s becoming rarer!), or they’re just not very interested in tech at all. In the beginning, there was also a bigger issue that I hated to admit. The role of customer support also just felt, oh I don’t know, a little embarrassing.
This stems from the common mindset surrounding support. Whenever you’re forced to call Comcast to troubleshoot a problem with your service or an airline agency to fix an issue with a trip, often times, you’re routed to someone sitting by a phone, answering as many questions as possible, with limited ability to help solve your problem. In many cases, this leads to a completely frustrating experience that leaves you wanting to put your fist through a table. If you haven’t heard this phone call with Comcast, just give a quick listen to a few minutes of Ryan Block trying to cancel his service for a taste of what I mean:
So, this is what I predict everyone pictures when I say I work in customer support. I don’t blame them. Unfortunately, it’s the “norm” for larger companies – a lot of individuals focused on making money and not enough people caring about current clients.
I thought of this whole “customer service” conundrum a few weeks back when I was out with a few friends, and I told someone what I did for a living. After I told the individual that I worked in customer support, they went on to ultimately suggest a place I could look for a new job. Now, they definitely weren’t trying to offend me at all (they really didn’t – I just chuckled), and they likely didn’t even realize that this could be taken poorly. But, it still made me stop and wonder, “Is this how everyone thinks?”
Needless to say, I’m not looking for a new job. I have a pretty sweet gig working for an amazing company, and I think we’re part of a larger effort that’s helping to change the mindset surrounding customer support. For anyone that’s wondering why I find gratification in working in customer support in the first place, the answer will require a shift in thinking.
- support staff were valued within a company? What would a company look like where the ideas and viewpoints of support staff were taken seriously and customer support helped to shape new products and services?
- support staff had complete control over delivering the best support experience possible? What if rules and regulations didn’t stand in the way of them giving you a refund or comping you a year of free service?
- support staff weren’t on a time-crunch or evaluated based on the numbers of customers they could help on a daily basis? What if they could spend as much time as necessary with you?
- support staff wasn’t synonymous with “robot that delivers automatic replies”? What if, instead of receiving an automated answer to your question, you received an email with personality and maybe even a joke or two? What if the customer support individual took a few moments to read through your site and comment on how awesome your writing is?
The traditional view of customer support really is embarrassing. Companies should care more about serving the needs of their current customers. That’s why I’m really proud to work for a company that’s helping to shift the mindset of customer service in the right direction.
(If you like the idea of taking customer experience to the next level, we’re hiring.)
- Alx Block for his post “Support is Sexy”, which inspired this one.
- Tim Ferriss for his podcast with Alexis Ohanian, where they discuss customer experience and giving a shit about your customers in general.