Hi friends,

Only four weeks until Expo! Are you ready?

Would you recognize me? Probably not.

I’m thinking I should probably change my avatar to a photo where someone might be able to actually recognize my face (right now, my face is obscured in my photo by a floppy hat and big sunglasses). This can be a stressor when meeting people in real life after only interacting with each other online for so long: what if I don’t recognize the people I talk to every day on Slack?

I’m here to tell you, that’s totally okay! In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s expected that we won’t recognize each other. I can almost guarantee that everyone else also feels nervous about being able to recognize each other from tiny little static photos we see online. I can assure you, though, that Support Driven and Support Driven Expo are safe and understanding spaces where any one of us can say, “Hi, forgive me if I talk to you every day on Slack and don’t recognize your face — what’s your name?”

Another option is that when you’re interacting with someone, introduce yourself first: “Hi! I’m Andrea.” If you’re comfortable doing that, the person you’re talking with will probably be supremely relieved. It saves them from wondering, “Should I know who this person is? What if I was just talking to them on Slack 5 minutes ago and I don’t even realize it’s the same person?” Introducing yourself also opens the door for the person you’re talking with to introduce themselves back, saving you from having to ask. And after that? Great conversations can follow.

I haven’t decided yet whether to bring my big floppy hat to Portland, but either way, I can’t wait to introduce myself to you at Expo :-).


If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, get it now! And don’t forget to download the app for ios or Android (search for Support Driven once you’ve got the app).

Meet, Greet, and EAT

A great way to get to know each other is to eat together! When you meet someone at Expo (or at the dorm or the hotel), see if they want to join you for breakfast or lunch. We’ve updated the Location page of the website with maps, details about where the venue is located in Portland, how to use public transit to get around town, and most importantly, where to eat!

I reached out to the Portland Support Driven community to ask for lunch recommendations near the venue, and I tell you what, I’ve been drooling all day long. 500 food carts around Portland! Every type of food you can think of! Is it Expo time yet?

Here are some recommendations from the Portland community (#zlocal-portland on the Support Driven Slack):

  • More than 500 food carts all over Portland. They are arranged in pods. Here’s a map of Portland’s Food Cart Pods.
  • Food cart pod at SW 10th and Alder
  • Food cart pod at SW 4th and Hall
  • Coco Donuts and Coffee at 1808 SW Broadway
  • Café Yumm at PSU Rec Center: bowls, wraps, bentos, with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
  • Prasad at 925 NW Davis St, just up the streetcar line: vegan and gluten-free
  • Los Gorditos at 922 NW Davis St (across the street from Prasad): vegetarian, vegan, and meat options
  • Phat Cart at 420 SW College St (cart turned brick and mortar): breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Duck House corner of SW 5th and College Street: close to campus, great for a group meal, some of the best Chinese food in Portland
  • Veggie Grill at 508 SW Taylor St – “sort of hybrid veg ‘junk food’ + interesting healthy stuff” – Alexis
  • Pizza by the slice: Pizza Schmizza at 415 SW Montgomery St
  • Pizza by the slice: HOTLIPS Pizza at SW 6th near Hall
  • Pizza by the slice: Pizzacato at 1708 SW 6th Ave

Keep an eye on the map — I’m sure more options will be added as we get closer to Expo.

Another round of speakers!

Ready for some more awesome sessions?

When the Talking Gets Tough (the Tough Use These Tools)
As a manager, tough conversations are inevitable. Whether it’s talking about poor performance, taking an escalated call, or even terminating someone, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to flex your communication skills. But jumping into a tough conversation doesn’t come naturally for most of us, and we often end up botching them or avoiding them altogether. In this workshop, learn how to prepare for and walk through those dreadful conversations with less stress and a lot more grace.

Anthony Galleran
Illuminate Education

Practicing Empathy without Bias
We all know the situation: a client calls in complaining about a feature your product does or doesn’t have that makes it hard to use. And the worst part? You kind of agree with them. How do you show the client that you understand their frustrations – truly – without throwing your product and development team under the bus? I’ll share with you some tips I’ve learned from previous experience both in customer service and as a college counselor, and we’ll try out some scenarios in a safe, fun environment.

So, are you ready to start a customer success team?
It’s been quite a journey for us at Freshdesk (now Freshworks) – right from when we started the customer success team to where it is today with 50+ people helping over 150,000 customers make the most of our product. When we began, we didn’t know where the boundaries of support ended and where the customer success team could jump in. Over the last 5 years, we’ve learnt a few things about starting a customer success team. We’ve found that most organizations have telling signs on when they’re ready for a customer success team, and we’d love to share them with you in this session.

Aaron Thompson
Portland Customer Success

The Blueprint For Revenue Development
Today’s modern business growth strategies have one fatal flaw. Segmentation. Marketing, Sales & Customer Success aren’t working together to create true customer centricity like we should be. This lack of coordination and strategy creates a friction filled customer experience from lead to evangelist and the result is often customer churn.

The RevDev Blueprint and subsequent 7 Playbooks aim to address this overdue need. The BP empowers businesses to work better together and align their goals and objectives with the customer journey. The resulting outcomes are: increased marketing ROI, decreased sales cycle duration, increased conversion rates, decreased CAC and increased LTV.

In this presentation, I will walk the audience through RevDev’s proprietary growth strategy and outline the Blueprint in full. We’ll assess the impact of each prescriptive playbook with highlights of the positive outcomes achieved every step of the way. Finally, we’ll learn what improvements to the overall customer experience implementing such a program offers.

One weird trick to boost your career: support engineering
Support engineers are the backbone of the company, acting as first-responders for customer issues, a cache for full-stack knowledge, and a trusted touchpoint for engineering. A company culture that recognizes the crucial role of support engineering can leverage that department for continued success.

Companies that invest in their SEs find that they have lower turnover rates as their support team transitions internally to engineering, or product teams, or continue to advance in the SE track. These promotions benefit both the company and the employees themselves.

How do you build a SE org that can foster this type of career growth? Focus on non-ticket traffic with an 80/20 workload split, embed with engineering groups, give autonomy to the SE to build a career path that suits their strengths and interests, and allow them to build social clout within the company, whereby their engineering peers become their sponsors for internal career progression.

Irenka Carney

Finding balance: pursuing a career and prioritizing wellness
We’ve all heard the quote, ‘it isn’t what you do but how you do it.’

I am living that philosophy now that I have learned in order to thrive despite chronic disease it didn’t matter what I did for work as much as the how I worked.

I would like to tell you about my journey from trying to pick a job based on a field to picking a job based on work culture and how that journey led me to working in support. In this presentation I will talk about the challenges I face and how the right work culture can really empower people in situations like mine.

Shervin Talieh

Never ask your customer, “How was the service?” Moving beyond CSAT and NPS
In a quest to align support organizations with key business goals (KPI’s), CSAT and NPS surveys have become the norm, almost mechanically subjecting our customers to a series of questions and behaviors, and providing questionable data in return.

This is utter madness. I will make the case for why it is absolutely inappropriate and misguided to “outsource” our product or service quality assurance function to our customers, share the unintended consequences of this “ritual”, and provide a series of alternative methods that are both more intuitive and more impactful.

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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