Hi everyone!

When I think back on conferences I’ve been to, I remember good times meeting people. I remember conversations over meals, I remember laughter, I remember the city and the venue. But with rare exception, I don’t remember content. One, three, five years later, I don’t remember anything I actually learned from the conferences.

The exceptions are SUPCONF and SDX, the prior Support Driven events I’ve attended. Two years after the first SUPCONF, I still remember a talk about being more confident in our language. I even remember the color of the slides. My behavior is permanently altered because of that talk: to this day I continue to edit instances of “I think” and “maybe” from my writing.

Immediately on returning from SDX, colleagues created self-care kits to keep at their desks after joining a workshop from Olark’s Sarah Betts about surviving Trolls, Grumps, and Villains — a workshop she’s leading again this year. And one year after SDX Portland, I remain a firm believer in the positive feedback loop I learned in a candor workshop. This feedback loop is a fundamental component of my leadership style that wasn’t there before I participated in that session.

What I love about Support Driven conferences is that they focus on actionable takeaways. The talks and workshops are crafted intentionally, to provide lasting lessons for attendees. The speakers are asking themselves, “What can a support pro do differently with their customers and team as a result of this session?” They’re creating something with practical value. Something that won’t fade away as soon as we leave the conference, but that we’ll carry with us to become better in our work.

I’m elbow deep in getting the schedule published for this year’s event, and soon you’ll be able to see all of your options on the Support Driven Expo site. What are you excited to learn?


Have you registered yet? If not, grab your Support Driven Expo ticket today!

Book an Incident-Response Audit

Has your product ever had a hiccup? A bug? Downtime? And then you had to figure out how to deal with it — how to react, and how communicate with customers about it?

We’re excited so share that Statuspage is bringing a team of folks from support, development, product, and marketing to help. They are staffing an incident response audit booth to chat about all-things-incident-response.

Book a session with their team at the Expo so you’ll have an action plan for keeping your customers in the loop next time something goes wrong.

Helping at the Expo

Would you like to volunteer at the Expo? We would love your help! As a volunteer you’ll have the opportunity to meet lots of people in the community — attendees, speakers, organizers, sponsors — while also attending sessions and helping ensure that the Support Driven Expo is a success. We are looking for people are enthusiastic, organized, and who love to help.

For more details, check out Support Driven Volunteer Stories from previous event volunteers, Brittany Ferg and Chris McCraw. If you decide you’d like to volunteer, sign up on that post.

A sampling of learning opportunities at the Expo

Here’s your weekly dose of speaker sessions to look forward to at the Support Driven Expo on June 21 and 22 🙂.

Maia Olson

How To Automate AND Sound Like a Human
You’re responding to customers left and right, maybe in multiple channels, through multiple apps. But are you being efficient about it? Using your help desk macros? Giving accurate information every time? Is the whole team?

Get through the “work” of talking with customers with a little automation, giving yourself more time to think about the best solution to their problem. Learn how to store up your common and custom responses for more thoughtful support.

Matt Dale
Illuminate Education

How to land a great support job!
What you need to know when you apply—and some real world insight from a guy who does the hiring.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates and reviewed even more applications from people looking to get their next support job—or make a career transition into support. You’ll learn from the mistakes I’ve seen applicants make (no sense you making them, too!), find out what a hiring manager sees in your resume and how to shine during your interview.

In twenty minutes, you’ll be ready to put your best foot forward!

From Inception to IPO: The Art of Scaling your Support Department through Storytelling
Congratulations! Your company is making money and thriving! You have a product or service that people want and need. Your customer base is expanding rapidly. You feel fortunate to have the ability to hire more and more employees, from 10 to 50, 100 to 300 and beyond. Now that you have more people, will it be easier? Is it time to rest on the laurels of your hard work? Did you figure out the formula to pave the road for future success, right?

Nope! Guess, what? How you ran customer service in your small company won’t work as you grow. We have all heard stories and have likely experienced it ourselves: a great young company started out really caring for each of its customers, knowing them by the first name and giving them a fantastic experience with each service interaction. Times goes by, the company becomes “big”, loses touch with its base and customer satisfaction plummets. In a blink of an eye, smaller companies emerge and carve out their piece of the market, using superior customer service as their competitor differentiator. The now big company looks around and cannot understand what went wrong and when they lost touch.

The adage, “the fastest you rise, the harder you fall” holds true. As Customer Service leaders and professionals, it is our job to make our organization ‘grow-ready’ and resilient against the popular traps that companies fall into when scaling. When you do not scale and evolve your people, programs, and processes, you are placing your company and its future at risk, along with your professional career and reputation. Rapid growth without adaptation drives chaos, confusion, loss of productivity, inefficiencies and cash flow leakage. The results can be toxic: drops in customer satisfaction, customer disengagement and ultimately the loss of the customer – impacting corporate earnings. The customer service team which contributed to your initial success now becomes the source of the problem – resulting in reorgs, layoffs and other organization actions which can breed either more chaos and dysfunction.

Meticulously Molding Yourself for Management
Here are three rules that I abided by as I prepared for the move into management.

Rule number one in the move to management: Give a crap. Care about people, their personal lives, and their well-being. Without them and their work, your business and team will fail.

Rule number two – don’t be afraid to fail (generic, right? It’s true). Given you fail at something – reflect on how you did, and imagine what you could have improved on or done differently. Self-feedback and feedback from others is an incredible tool to help yourself improve and seize the next opportunity.

Rule number three – Get involved and practice! Bring valuable discussion and topics to management and be prepared with evidence to back up your points. Come up with ways to better your work or the department. Practice certain management scenarios so it’s second nature for you in the moment.

Takeaways for moving into management:
-Give a crap
-Persistence is key
-Get involved when possible
-Be armed with data to make change

Mark Kofman

Clean Up That Ticket Data: Using OpenRefine to get your help desk export ready for analysis
You are getting ready for the first analysis of your ticket data. Feeling super excited about all the new insights you are about to find out. Until you realize that you ticket data is a big mess making the results of analysis totally obsolete. You are not alone. We all have multiple data issues in our ticket databases. Unorganized tags, unpopulated custom fields, invalid ticket statuses and so on.

In this talk, you will learn how to fix your ticket data. Equipped with the free open source tool OpenRefine and few tricks, you can do magic to your data.

Maureen Carruthers

High Touch, Low Overhead: Tiptoe into a white-glove support offering
If you’d like to offer more personal support to your customers, but can’t imagine how you could possibly add one more thing to your plate, this session is for you.

In this workshop we will discuss:
* how Automattic Inc. started the WordPress.com Business Concierge program with just two Happiness Engineers working in their spare time and grew it over two years to be a major pillar of our customer retention strategy.
* ideas for how to develop and test similar strategies tailored to your customers
* low friction options for bringing the learning from these sessions back to your product teams.
* how to grow a successful pilot into a sustainable part of your regular support offerings.

Grumps, Trolls, and Villains: Surviving the worst of support
It’s been a pleasant day of emails, chats and calls. You’ve helped solve problems, directed people to resources, and you’re feeling great! Then you get one of *those* support interactions. While we wish we could yell back, walk away, or hunker down and cry, there are some strategies for dealing with tough customers.

In this workshop, we’ll learn how to determine what type of customer you are dealing with and how to effectively manage the situation.

Are you getting excited yet? Go ahead and grab your Expo tickets, and we’ll see you in Portland June 21-22!

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