I once worked for a company who didn’t believe in Technical Support employees working from home, despite having all the technology in place to allow that to happen. Their reasoning? Technical Support employees couldn’t be effective if they were not in the office. I’ve always thought that thinking was flawed, and my experiences with the work from home policy that WinMagic has in place reinforces that belief.
Back in November of last year, I was part of a conference call with a European customer who needed some high level reassurance from us. As part of that request, they mentioned that our customer portal could not help them properly manage support tickets. Thus, I hijacked the call and started a GoToMeeting session from my desktop. I gave them the opportunity to walk me through exactly what they found problematic about our customer portal. For the next 20 minutes they did a masterful job of highlighting what areas of the customer portal simply weren’t working for them. And If put myself in their shoes, I could see that they were not only right, but it was likely that other customers felt this way and had never said anything to us.
With this knowledge, I did something radical, which was to hold many meetings over the next two months where I would bring a proof of concept to the table, and have the customer critique it. This helped us to get to where we are today. Which is, to announce the release of Phase One of our enhanced customer portal.
Recently, I was on the phone with a customer who asked me this question: “How can we better help you to help us?” That’s a question that I was not used to getting. But it made me think about what customers could do to get better tech support. I ended up taking a day or two for me to really think about it, but I came up with the following which I decided to share with you:
One of the things that is unusual about me is the fact that I like to take customer support calls. Now you might find that weird as I do run a global support organization, and presumably I have better things to do than to take tech support calls when I have a staff that I have hired to do that for me. However, I feel that in the interest of making my support organization better, I need to be on the phones from time to time, digging into cases that get submitted via our customer portal, or by e-mail. Here’s why:
Recently I was on a call with a customer where one of my Team Leads and the Support Agent did most of the talking. Part way through the call, the customer asked me why I wasn’t saying anything. My response was that both my Team Lead and Support Agent had a plan that made sense and could speak to that plan. On top of that they had the ability to make decisions and adjust the plan without running it by me. Finally, I had complete confidence and faith in their abilities. The fact that I was willing to put that much faith in my people and give them that much latitude was surprising to the customer. And it’s likely surprising to you as well. But I see making the people who report to me as independent as one of the keys to having a world class support organization. To that end, here’s what I do to encourage independence within the Tech Support organization at WinMagic.
To be frank, I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t cross paths with people who believed in me and gave me a chance. Thus I need to send the elevator back down to bring the next generation of talent up to where I am. That’s why I was thrilled to have been invited to represent WinMagic at the Glenforest STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) Conference as a “speed mentor.” That meant that I would be set up in a room, and high school students in groups of three to five will come in and be seated with a mentor. From there, the students will be given five minutes to ask questions pertaining to my career before rotating to another mentor. The logic was that by doing these “speed mentoring” sessions, the students would get an amazing opportunity to learn more about the STEM careers available to them as well as to ask questions in a more personal environment. Thus I agreed to be a “speed mentor” for roughly 1000+ students.
Since I became Senior Manager of Technical Support at WinMagic about seven months ago, my mandate has been to take the support organization here to the point where they were consistently delivering an exceptional customer experience. To do that, I needed to build a solid foundation using the skills and observations that I have acquired from elsewhere. My first step in this was to audit the technical support team and identify areas where improvement was needed or more focus needed to be applied. Through observation, looking at the metrics that were being gathered, and even learning the product so that I could take customer calls in the interest of seeing firsthand what customers experience was, I was able to come up with these key building blocks as part of my foundation for exceptional customer experience. Since February 1st, we’ve been tracking these key items:
Recently, I got the opportunity to be a judge at the Nahani-Glenforest Lego Robotics Competition. This is a competition where groups of grade 1 and 3 students from Nahani Way Public School work with high school students from Glenforest Secondary School to build and program Lego robots to do specific tasks. For yours truly, this was an opportunity to give back to the community and inspire the next generation who will take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This was a high profile event as in attendance was Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie as well as Navdeep Bains who is the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development for the Government of Canada.
Have you ever called a contact center within a company because you had an issue, and felt like you were being “hurried” off the phone? If you’ve had that experience, there’s a reason for you feeling that way. Which is that the contact center that you were calling is actually trying to “hurry” you off the phone. Let me give you the inside scoop as to why you are being “hurried” to hang up from a contact center.
I’m passionate when it comes to coaching and developing a Tech Support team. Because when you make a sincere effort to coach and develop Tech Support agents, it results in a more engaged agent who delivers world class support. One who will go above and beyond not because they feel they have to, but because their efforts are validated by those that they report to and by the customers they assist. This is important because a Tech Support team talks to customers more often than any other part of an organization such as WinMagic which makes what they do very crucial to the success of that organization. I use a number of tools to make sure my coaching is effective as possible.