Sam Lee on being successful in customer care

Customer care is one of the main customer facing roles at Formlabs. Not only do they know the product inside and out, they are passionate about building amazing things and helping our customers continue to do that. Meet Sam Lee on our customer care team. He studied math in his undergraduate and graduate degrees, had a stint working in government, and pivoted into 3D printing at Formlabs. Sam also has a side hustle in leathersmithing. We sat down to hear how he combines that passion at Formlabs to delight customers who make things every day.

Sam working on a print at his desk

What convinced you to get into tech?

I got to print with a Form 2 at an engineering consulting firm. I had never seen a 3D printer before. From my hands-on experience making things and doing arts and crafts, I was drawn to Formlabs.

I liked the idea of bringing technology that was only available to big businesses because it was expensive and putting it in the hands of smaller businesses.

We all have a common denominator here at Formlabs: making things, helping people, and being passionate about what we do.

What are some skills to be successful in customer care?

Working with customers, you need to be adaptable, able to work well with people, understand how they’re feeling and where they are coming from — empathy, and not take things too personally. You also have to listen well and go deeper than the question you are being asked. We have to gauge their level of comfort and the level of vocabulary to use.

On the first day of work, we got to take apart a printer and put it back together. I’m used to troubleshooting my motorcycle so taking things apart is not new to me. I actually like being in the middle of nowhere if it breaks down. Even though it is stressful, I get into survival mode. I like being thrown into a situation and having to figure it out spontaneously.

When I started, I quickly learned how the printer worked and all the internal tools you need to use. I was given tickets, and ran with it. Now, we categorize the tickets based on the level of difficulty. I’ve been able to flex my teaching and troubleshooting muscle more as I answer questions my teammates or customers have.

What is a day in the life of Sam Lee?

I normally come in early, work on my prints, and start a new one. I probably print more than anyone else on the team. During the day, I work on tickets from customers. A common problem is a print failure or spilled resin. We send cleaning instructions and reassure them it may not be as bad as it seems. When I go home, I make canvas bags, motorcycle bags, or leather wallets for my side hustle called Primitive Ritual.

A leather journal Sam made for his side hustle, Primitive Ritual

If you could give advice to a candidate or new hire, what would it be?

Take time to meet people who are not on your team in your first few weeks. It is hard to know what is going on in all the parts of the company. I like to see what engineering and marketing are doing.

When I was applying for jobs, I didn’t feel my skills were reflected well on a resume. I showed projects I worked on to market myself beyond the resume. I focused on skills I care about and skills relevant to the job.

How has your career grown at Formlabs?

When I started, there was only one type of role in customer care. Now, we have specialists who do the support side of chat, take transactional tickets, and provide logistical support. We also have customer care experts, who troubleshoot tickets, pro service experts, and senior pro service experts. I was recently promoted to team captain!

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I’m half Chinese, grew up in England and make stuff out of leather.

At my last role, I took an unpaid leave to travel and ride my 40-year-old motorcycle from Boston to California and back without a GPS. I have a flip phone so we used a big atlas and took a little road through the plains most of the way.

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Interested in joining the customer care team? We’re hiring.

Interviewed by Callie Sweigart on our people operations team.