Some of the folks reading this post have been in support and in the Support Driven community for a long time. Others might be newer to the community and to support, and more still may be just now discovering support as a potential career choice.
When I worked in support at Automattic, one of the lines from the company creed became a mantra for me:
I’ll remember the days before I knew everything.
This is an amazingly useful mindset. Once we learn something, it’s easy to take that knowledge for granted, or to forget what it was like to be starting out. Embracing beginner’s mind is important in support and in many facets of life; it helps us see things with fresh eyes and reminds us to help others learn and grow.
I’m excited that this year’s Expo will create space for growth across the spectrum of roles in support: directors, managers, front-line agents, and those who are in the beginning stages of their support careers.
But what I’m possibly most excited about is that Expo will include a career fair and sessions for attendees who may be thinking about their very first support job. The beginning days of a new career can be thrilling and full of questions. For those new to support, you are in for a treat in the welcoming arms of the Support Driven community. This is one of the best groups of people I’ve come across to share knowledge, ask for advice, and feel among friends and peers.
See you in Portland June 21-22,
Haven’t gotten your Expo ticket yet? Get it now!
From seasoned veterans to newcomers just checking out support, everyone will have a chance to explore job opportunities at the Expo Career Fair. Top companies will be available to chat about what life is like on some of the best support teams in the world, including:
Expo or Summit?
For folks familiar with the events that Support Driven produces, you may be wondering, “If Expo is for everyone, including support leaders, how do I know whether to attend Expo or the leadership Summit?” Scott wrote more about that here, and the tl;dr is this:
Expo is all about bringing the Support Driven community together – to learn, share, and socialize around common interests. It’s a choose your own adventure where you can dive deep into one or a lot of different topics.
Summit takes a long term perspective and is designed to help you meet and build relationships with leaders who can help you with the challenges you’re facing today and tomorrow.
More Speakers Plz!
Ready for some more awesome sessions? Check out this week’s selection below.
Balancing process and innovation as your support team grows
Support teams are living organisms and each stage in their life-cycle brings new challenges and rewards. We’ll talk about common patterns for team growth, tools for determining where your team is at, and how to keep your team healthy, strong, and productive.
In the Mix: Leveraging technology to build community and culture across remote and co-located teams
Whether your company has a few remote employees scattered across multiple teams, or whole teams that work remotely while others are based in a central office, having a mix of in-house and remote employees can be a challenge when it comes to creating a sense of unity and a company culture that everyone feels engaged in. While one option is to geographically bridge the gap by bringing everyone together periodically for retreats or team-building activities, this solution isn’t realistic for all companies, and doesn’t have the same effect as measures that influence the everyday work lives of all employees.
Enter technology! No, you don’t have to buy a telepresence robot for everyone who works remotely 🙂 In fact, you likely don’t need to buy anything at all! It’s all about analyzing your habits and using what you’ve got — email, messaging apps, project management platforms, webcams — to cultivate a variety of well-defined avenues for interaction that allow both spontaneity and structure to thrive between all members of the community.
Too often on mixed teams, culture is seen as inherently existing in the office. Learn how to leverage technology to open up the key communication channels (remote <-> in-house and remote <-> remote) to ensure that your company culture isn’t just engaged in, but also *created* by the entire community!
Leadership – Fostering Accountability, Adaptability & Resilience
The customer support industry can be in a constant state of flux and can create uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments for the people who work within them. In order to thrive within a changing environment, leaders at all levels must demonstrate accountability, adaptability, and resilience. This competency allows individuals to hold themselves responsible for behaviors and actions, be willing to change as needed, and to acknowledge setbacks and find creative ways to move forward.
Great leaders rise to the occasion under pressure in order to lead people effectively and courageously. Whether the challenge is transitioning your work group from one office to another, moving to make a mark in your industry through pushing a technological advancement, or to inspire your employees to make a personal change in order to better serve your customer, it will require courage. Building authentic relationships is the driving factor to achieve this type of leadership success! Leaders who have more influence than others are considered to be more effective. These leaders invest more “in” others through some form of consistent direct or indirect contribution. Leaders with the greatest amount of influence have authentic connections.
Standardize your Level of Support: Finding your support voice
There are three parts that make up a stellar Support Agent. The Technician, The Artist, and the Therapist. I’d like to talk about these three parts and how they tie into developing a “chat track” to Standardize the level of support delivered, Avoid misdirection, Improve support outcomes, and as importantly, Avoid “chat fatigue”. A sample:
The Technician: We’ve chosen a career that requires quite a bit of intellectual agility to work with different technology, both internal and external. Knowing where and how to find answers is more important than knowing the actual answer. Knowing the ins and outs of the product is a must. Lack of technical know how will impede creativity in developing your Chat Track.
Once you have the technician in your back pocket, only then can you develop the artist. An artist without the technician has zero credibility and will eventually fall by the wayside.
Defect Delusion: How to harness your weakness as strengths
There is a misconception that weaknesses are bad and must be hidden and minimized. The lie behind this belief is that you are broken and need fixed. What if the key to your ultimate contribution is the very thing you continue to run away from? It is time to explore the true underbelly of transformation, your shadows. As you begin to embrace your defects (hidden genius) you unlock avalanches of creativity, innovation, and transformation.
Handling Data for Forecasting in a Startup
Startups work with limited data to try and predict important future needs. It’s rare to have the luxury of a team dedicated to engineering software for your forecasting needs or the budget to buy software that will do this for you. We will work together to learn some simple ideas that will help you understand how to look and work with data correctly in order to make forecasts on a tight budget and limited software.
Does it bring you joy? The life-changing magic of tidying up your knowledge
Successful knowledge management relies on your information being reliable and up to date. Support teams are constantly asking: Is this the most relevant information? How would I know if it’s been updated? How do I get to what I need? Whatever your existing tool is, you can improve the knowledge you have and the processes you employ to create it. A konmari-style decluttering session and tools to keep your knowledge fresh will change the way your team works.