Is it Possible to Have Fun With Customer Support? My Experience at AfterShip
Originally published at blog.aftership.com on December 6, 2016.
There is a growing body of research to show that a positive working environment can help keep the team focused and motivated for work. Following from Google’s lead and success, new companies are also striving to create a fun and encouraging culture for their staff.
Unlike in the past, work is now being taken more personally. With such a mentality, a nurturing culture helps make people more engaged and motivated to deliver rewarding results.
Sadly for business’, “fun” isn’t something that can be mandated. (Not sure how effective it would be if your boss had to remind you that you were having a “fun” time.)
In particular for customer support where you spend most of your time dealing with frustrating customer tickets, fun can seem like the furthest concept from your work.
As part of the AfterShip marketing team, we participate in customer support as a way to stay connected with our users.
While it is only a fraction of what the actual customer support team does, this practice proves to be very helpful. Not only does this keep us more in tune with our users, it also gives us insight into the things that take priority. Of course, taking some of the load off of our colleagues is also an added bonus.
How it began…
I don’t think I’m alone when I say starting something fresh can be daunting. Especially when you care about the results, the mind just has a way of wondering about the possible lash-backs no matter however unlikely they may be.
For me, I still remember seeing my first ticket. Trying to take everything in as I navigate around the system. My first ticket was quite simple really, addressed to a customer who wanted to try AfterShip features (Yes! We let our users try AfterShip Premium features when they open a new online store).
Looking back the task was too simple really. But for the me who was new to the company, it was enough to make me stop multiple times just to ask if I was doing the right thing.
Why the unnecessary worry you ask?
Well in our minds (especially to unfamiliar situations) we tend to have this misconception that there is a “right” way to do things. And that was exactly what was stopping me. My belief that there was a specific way of answer. That if I didn’t reply a certain way, I would be misrepresenting the company.
As people, we are so caught in thoughts that stop us before we even start. For more on this, check out our article on overcoming fears!
So how did I go from blanking out at the most straightforward of tickets to writing this article on having fun with customer support? Quite honestly, what solved the problem was being told by my mentor that I should feel free to be myself.
Well, not really. We see it all too often, where a company claims that they value different personalities. But when it comes to the reality of thing, individuality is smothered by the different structures laid heavily in place.
Thankfully, my experience was different. Realizing that I had true flexibility to reply in any manner so long as it was respectful gave me a new perspective of customer support.
It made me realize that customer support was more like being asked for directions in the street than like making an award speech at the Oscars. That I could let of the psychological baggage of being “right” and instead just focus on being helpful to another, being human. Once I understood this I started having fun.
A supportive environment is key to a healthy work culture. This entails a structure that allows for different personalities to shine, a safety foundation for the team to rely on, and a general guideline or goal to help the team progress.
Customer support at AfterShip takes on a similar mentality. With assisting our users being the backbone of what we do, we are encouraged to help them the best way we can without smothering our own character in the process.
A reason it’s hard to instigate fun at the office is because we all see it differently. But if the environment allows everyone to bring their personality into the mix, it makes it easier to have fun at work.
In my case, fun is forming a meaningful connection that otherwise would not have taken place. The idea that my response may help someone else and perhaps even lift their mood up, excites me.
Nowadays, when I receive a ticket, I try to scout out the type of person the user is. Sometimes that would mean checking out their website (occasionally being mesmerized by the different products) and being more than just an answering machine but to engage with them on a more personal level.
It’s not perfect, and sometimes I too get frustrated. But so far, I’ve been enjoying the idea of putting a smile on other people’s faces and am rewarded with the occasional thank you notes.
The idea is, to have fun, people need to believe in themselves and be given the flexibility to let their personalities shine. Yes, at the end of the day a business is aimed at creating revenues. But if that is your only goal when running your company, then that would be a very boring ride.
A great company, is one that works different personalities into the equation and lets each be enhanced to an optimal level. With the world quickly advancing in technology, we do not need more obedient robots. On the contrary, we should strive for a better balance that allows everyone to shine in their own way.
If you enjoyed this article show some support by sharing it over social media. Alternatively, you can leave me a comment below! What were your experiences with customer support? Feel free to share the good, the bad, and the funny.
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