En route to becoming a software engineer, I co-founded a startup. While my aim was to contribute to the startup as a programmer, I quickly found myself excelling in a role detrimental to the company’s success: Customer Service
After ten years of building and directing the Technical Support department, loving my team and customers, I craved the ability to directly influence and explore solutions to the problems I was managing alongside our customers. Therein came UX.
I quickly discovered that my time in customer service was powerful and invaluable and the lessons I took away remain forever woven in my craft.
So for those of you excelling at Customer Service and hungry for an invigorating and rewarding challenge, here’s why I think you should consider a career in UX.
1. You know the product inside and out
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in meetings where individuals who are suggesting solutions to problems don’t even recognize the product / platform / feature / screen we’re discussing.
I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with Customer Service reps who knew every detail of the application in its current form and on multiple platforms, as well as its evolution over time.
In order to understand customer problems and make informed decisions to help remedy them, it’s imperative to know what the current experience is and where it has come from. You’re already one step ahead of the game.
2. You break down complicated concepts
The art of UX is communicating complicated information in a simple way. You recognize that your customers won’t always be the most technically savvy or understand the nuances of your product — so you break down concepts and instructions into tiny, digestible pieces. You know when too many steps is too much, when they will likely reply with more questions and when you’ve lost them completely.
Whether it’s designing a new feature or presenting a multi-faceted flow to an executive team, you’ll channel your experience with your customers and keep it simple.
3. You adjust when something doesn’t work
When you’re helping a customer, you don’t have time to commit to a single approach and hope for the best. If they’re not understanding what you’re trying to articulate, you’ll quickly and seamlessly adjust your language, instruction or overall approach.
As a UX designer, you’ll need to be dynamic in your design approach. Scope and scale will surface considerable changes you’ll need to address on the fly. Regardless of whether you’re walking through a journey or evolving a design during a usability test, you’ll know how to read a situation and gauge how much you’ll need to adjust to better communicate your story.
4. You talk their language
You are a direct point of contact between the customer and the product. Through trial and error over thousands of communications, you’ve learned what clicks for them or what sets them off. In order to be most effective, you recognize that it requires the right balance of personality, information and direction.
As a UX Designer, you’ll be the voice of the customer, bringing your expertise to the table while advocating for an informative and humanized voice. You’ll also connect with and speak the language of your fellow collaborators. You’ll get technical with the Engineering team, pragmatic with the Brand and Marketing team, procedural with the Design team and concise with your leadership and executive team.
5. You brainstorm solutions
When customers contact you with difficulties, instead of feeling annoyed, your brain drills through solutions you know would delight them. You’re eager to brainstorm and love when you’re challenged to rewire a solution because of a use case you thought of.
Listening to the voice of the customer is the first step in defining the problems UX designers plan to solve. With your expertise, you’ll join the team as they use a toolbox of techniques to research, ideate, execute, test, evolve and build solutions to customer and business facing problems.
6. You stack rank issues in your sleep
Off the top of your head, you could list and rank the top five issues customers are experiencing with the application you’re supporting. You also have a sense for the number of tickets in your queue and rank those appropriately to expedite response time and minimize wait time for customers in need.
UX Designers have a lot of responsibilities that require juggling, shuffling and stack ranking. Whether you’re ranking the importance of elements that make up a feature, the amount of work you can handle in a sprint or even the amount of information you share when presenting your vision, stack ranking is key. This dynamic dance is a powerful skill that will propel your efficiency and sanity on the team.
7. You’re patient
As a CS rep, you can handle anything. When your customer isn’t getting your approach regardless of how many times you’ve adjusted, answers a question in a long-winded and tangential story, has children screaming in the background or is straight up yelling at you — you maintain your cool.
In UX, there are plenty of opportunities where patience prevails. Whether it’s pivots in product strategy, difficult personalities on a team or a chaotic product release, you’ll have what it takes to ground and support the team to success.
8. You don’t judge your customers
If a customer isn’t as savvy as most of your user base or just really isn’t getting it, you don’t chalk it up to stupidity. You recognize that something can always be made simpler or communicated more clearly and you happily assist them through their journey. You figure an irate customer is really just frustrated that the product they’re paying for doesn’t seem to be worth the cost and their time. And sometimes you even agree.
Relinquishing any customer judgement is imperative in UX Design. There’s no time to discount customer feedback in order to promote a design you may personally feel strongly about. If customers aren’t getting it — it’s not them. It’s you.
As a customer ambassador void of ego, you will be well prepared for these moments. Using your expertise and aforementioned patience, when necessary, you’ll bring your partners down to earth and remind them who it is you’re solving these problems for.
9. You’re on the ground
You’re amidst the chatter. You don’t need analysts and statisticians in order to recognize trends. The most valuable information comes directly from our customers and you’re on the receiving end.
Too often, Design and Product teams review “pull-quotes” and filtered feedback from usability tests and surveys, missing out on the intrinsic details. As a CS rep turned UX, you can be the grounding force, always pushing to connect CS and Product — ultimately advocating to be as close to the customer as possible.
10. You like a challenge
Your experience on the frontline with customers is invaluable and your team will cherish your perspective. But the shift to UX will not be easy.
Aside from immersing yourself in a new discipline; learning principles, techniques and tools — you’ll need to adjust to an environment that demands and thrives off of collaboration and critique.
So if you fantasize about resolving issues for your customers and dream of delighting them with the news, you should consider a career in UX. Challenge accepted?
Like what you read? Trying to break out of a role and into Product Design? Have Feedback? I’m here to chat.
Aya is a Sr. UX Design Manager at Audible, an Amazon company.
@ayadamary | ayathetiger.com