This is a guest post from Amanda Vicari, who attended SD Expo in June 2018. 

After a few stints at some awesome SaaS companies, I have been infatuated with providing customer support, success and marketing in an ever more measurable world. I was stoked to attend the Support Driven Expo to learn more about what different organizations were doing in the space.

While sometimes considered a gateway job in technology, machine learning tools combined with a growing pool of experts in the Customer Experience field has turned support into a promising long term career track that isn’t just about resetting passwords and answering emails. It’s complex and evolving. Support-Driven Product Development has the capability to drive inclusivity and bridge the nuanced gap between evolving human and computer interaction. Here are some takeaways and links so you can see for yourself.

Tech is Polarizing Us

Throughout the Expo, distrust was overwhelming mentioned along with fear as driving factors for customers motivations, concerns, and behaviors. Technology, as well as politics and media have had high profile shortcomings that have eroded faith in products, services and public figures. Customer experience agents are in a unique position where they can build trust with customers for their organization. When encouraged internally, support driven product development is better placed to manage rapid change in an increasingly customer-centric future.

Most Companies are Anti-Customer

Have you ever put a hurdle between your customers and their end goal? Never? Still, I am sure you can think of a time you felt like a company was putting hurdles between you and your wants, needs or concerns. This is because support and customer care agents have long been considered a revenue suck, not a revenue generator so teams haven’t always had the budget or the tools they needed. However, great support and product teams exist. Agile, effective and creative support centers are making companies more money.  

Without Data, It’s Just Complaining

If you are hoping to change your organization, you will need to start with data and work from inside your organization on projects you believe in.  Be ready to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Try to get at least 1 higher level advocate on your side. Be humble while staying curious. Define your KPI’s first, then develop process.  Document the shit out of your results. Share it with your organization. Do it again. If you are at a company that discourages you, start looking.

Take Care of Each Other

Building empathy for the customer starts with how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves. The conference offered some refreshing moments of reflection about human needs and caring for the communities we create and live in, and of course how this too can drive revenue.  In an industry sometimes burdened by burn-outs, ghosting and high-turnover it was refreshing to be with colleagues who allowed space for the idea that what customer experience agents do is truly care work. As such, it requires unique elements for long-term retention and employee development.

Many thanks to  the Support Driven Community, Zendesk, Hubspot, HelpScoutFreshdesk, Intercom, Ipsy, Idealist, and DigitalGenius for sharing great people and ideas!

Author bio: Amanda Vicari supports businesses using live support, online articles, audio and video. She’s currently enjoying Seattle, helping her friends sell organic vegetables, while looking for remote opportunities.

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