Meet Diana “D” Potter. She’s part of the “Customer WOW” team at Desk.com and before that, the remote team lead at Campaign Monitor. She’s a wordsmith, a bug replicator, a customer soother, and a people helper. And on top of all that, she makes a wicked apple pie.
How did you get into customer support?
Oh now that is not an easy question! I’ve been working in the tech industry in some form for around 15 years now. I’ve been a developer, a project manager, a designer, QA, you name it really. When you get right down to it, technical support, at least good support, is all of that rolled into one. We often need to be technical enough to talk code (either with the customer or with the developers), replicate issues, manage customer expectations–I could keep going :).
I also come from a family of professors, and support can be a role where you get to work with a customer and teach them how to use a product and get those light bulb moments where things click. I realized I could combine my whole technical background with that ingrained passion for helping people all into one role; how could I pass that up?
What’s some apps that you couldn’t do without?
Again with the tough questions! If I had to narrow it down:
- Text Expander / Breevy – I use both a Mac and a Windows machine every day (the better to replicate customer issues) so I have the every handy snippets software in multiple flavors.
- Alfred – Alfred speeds up my work day in so many ways!
- Spotify – Music. Enough said.
- Snagit – Screenshots and quick screencast videos.
How do you handle feature requests that you know aren’t going to make it into your product?
Always file the feature request firstly, you never know that the “no” is always going to be a no. There have been many a feature request in my career where it was a solid no and 4 years later the market changed and suddenly it became a must have, tracking the shifting requests over the years was essential to the product team to see how opinion changed or interest built.
Second, I’m always honest with the customer. I’ll let them know, “Hey I’m filing this as a request, but this is something that’s fairly edge case.” I’ll also ask they *why* they’re making this request, what problem are they trying to solve? More often than not there might be another solution for them that doesn’t require a new feature, but might be able to leverage the existing functionality. Sometimes the case is they’re trying to solve a certain problem and I can come up with a solution that comes at it from a different angle and solves the problem in a completely different way that they didn’t think of.
Alternately, sometimes it’s a potential customer who simply needs a different product and I can point them in a different direction. Better to have someone using a different (or complimentary) product than utterly miserable, shoehorned into using a product that doesn’t work in the hopes that maybe someday they’ll get a feature they truly need.
Give us your best piece of advice for people who want to be a customer support pro.
Support is about empathy. It’s about teaching. It’s about being advocate. You’re there to be a champion for the customer within the company, to argue for changes that will make things better for the customer, and to know what they need and want. You’re the face of the company and the best sales person and marketing a company can buy, even though that’s not your job title. If you think of support in that way, it can change your perspective in so many ways. You’re not just there to answer questions, you’re there to prevent them (e.g. change the product if it’s confusing!). Customer support is a huge part of word-of-mouth marketing/sales. Not to mention it’s such an incredible feeling to see someone talking on social media (or in-person, etc) about that amazing support experience they had with your product or with you.
Make sure you have a good sense of humor. Support can be a hard (but rewarding!) job. You should genuinely care about the customer and their problems and about the product(s) you’re supporting. If any of that is missing the job will wear you down! Try and see the positive in any experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most customers would rather you fully understand the problem they’re having or the task they need to accomplish than make assumptions and fire off a quick reply to close the case.
Otherwise, smile. It’s infectious. Also, watch a kitten cam if it’s been one of those days and the smiles are in short supply. Seriously, kittens. Need I say more?
Where can people find you on the Interwebs?
This is part of our new Customer Support Pros series. Know someone who’s a support pro? Drop me a line!