Reflections on SupConf vol. I

The first ever SupConf, a conference by and for career customer support professionals of the Support Driven community, happened this past week in San Fransisco and I was lucky enough to be a part of it. These are my reflections of that event as I try to digest everything that happened over those few days.

Taking Support Seriously

Customer support is not a profession that gets a lot of respect in general. It’s something that is typically seen as a low-skill, entry-level job that anyone can do. It’s seen as a stepping stone to other jobs or as a temporary job to do while working on other things. The only reason that someone would have a career in customer support is because they don’t have the skills to do anything else, right?

However, customer support’s effect on a business is undeniable. Good customer support can help you keep customers longer and improve your product or service by gathering customer feedback. And bad customer service can drive customers away in droves and keep other people from becoming customers. With such an important and direct connection to the success of a business, it’s a wonder that the professional world doesn’t take customer support seriously.

SupConf is an attempt to change those perceptions about customer service and show that there is such a thing as a career in customer support. That there is value in becoming good with customers and employing experienced people in this role and treating those people well.

It’s About Relationships

In many ways, this conference was very similar to ones that I have been to recently. There were great talks of varying degrees of relevance to my situation presented by experienced leaders of the community. There was delicious food and lots of coffee. There was a beautiful venue with lots of character. And there was unofficial evening gatherings at bars and other local social attractions.

However, I would be hard pressed to say that I have been to any conference that felt like this before. This is because instead of being a gathering of relative strangers, these people were already my friends who I talk to every day that I get a chance in the Support Driven community chat. So instead of spending most of my time trying to figure out who did what for which company, I got to skip the initial phase of meeting new people and relish in the experience of meeting people in person for the first time who I’ve only spoken to online. That experience alone made this trip completely worth it.

What was more impressive to me were the interactions that I had with people who I hadn’t met online before. Everyone that I met were so friendly and open, as interested in my story as they are in sharing their experiences. The folks of Digital Ocean even invited me to join in a peer mentorship group after the conference despite being a complete stranger to most of them.

What’s Next?

As sad as I am that this SupConf is over, I am excited to know that the journey doesn’t stop here. There have already been rumors of SupConf vol. II happening this fall on the east coast and other Support Driven projects happening in the meantime such as mastermind groups, workshops, and community brunches. Outside of Support Driven activities, I will continue to build on the relationships that have formed or have gotten stronger at this conference. And for the times in between, I will continue to enjoy the company of the most supportive online community that I’ve ever known.