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:
- I am a big believer in leading from the front – This shows those who report to me that I am not only willing to do the tasks that I ask my people to do, but it illustrates that I “talk the talk and walk the walk.” Both of those can mean a great deal to those who report to me, and often translates to those people doing more to help our customers.
- It gives me a firsthand view of the challenges of our customers, and my staff – That’s important to me because if I experience a support process or a procedure that doesn’t quite work firsthand, I am better equipped to fix it, and fix it right the first time.
- It keeps me sharp from both a product and technology standpoint – One of the dangers of leadership is that you become removed from all the things that got you into that position. Thus, I really believe that I have to keep myself in the loop when it comes to the product that I am charged with supporting, and with technology in general. Taking calls is a great way to do that.
There’s one other thing that I should point out. When I take calls, customers never know that I am the Senior Manager of the support organization. To truly be able to have the sort of experience that my agents have, I play the role of agent, without my manager. Consider it to be a version of what Shakespeare’s Henry V did when he walked among his men in disguise on the eve of battle. In his case, Henry was listening to what they were saying and feeling, and then he positioned himself in their midst to deliver his address which included the famous sentence, “All things are ready if our minds be so.” In my case, I walk amongst both my support team and our customers in disguise so that I have a better understanding of their experiences, without a filter. I can then use that information to make the support experience among other things, better. At the end of the day, being able to do that is a win for all concerned, especially the customer.