As a member of the team that hires new Happiness Engineers at Automattic, we see many applications from people who are high in enthusiasm for our main product (WordPress.com) but missing the platform knowledge or prior experience in support that would help them to be successful in a support role on our team. We brainstormed on how we might nurture potential, and consulted with Andrea Badgley here at Support Driven. The result was Support Driven’s partnership with Automattic to deliver an online course in user support.

The goals of the course were to support participants to develop their skills in:

  • developing their philosophy of support
  • learning about troubleshooting strategies
  • managing challenging interactions
  • implementing productivity tools
  • optimizing their approach to applying and interviewing for jobs in support

We set an additional goal of delivering this content efficiently over just six weeks, so that it would be accessible to people already busy with balancing their current work, family, and other daily pursuits.

With Automattic’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, along with our goals to deliver 24/7 support to our users all over the world, we had a particular interest in developing talent among women in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC). We recruited instructors from our female staff in APAC to develop and present the technical content, so that women taking the course could be inspired by seeing women who look like and sound like themselves succeeding in a technical role. The course instructors were Simran Kaur (Mumbai, India), Khyati Gala (Mumbai, India), Sandeep Kaur (Moga, India), and Rose Pajaroja (Malolos City, Philippines).

We promoted the course through SupportDriven’s blog, WordPress.com’s blog, and social media. For our pilot offering of the course we hoped to enroll 25 students. We were very excited to have 24 students who enrolled by our launch date of January 12, 2019. Over the next six weeks, these students worked through the course content and also got involved in Support Driven Slack. The final week’s lesson was released on February 16, 2019. We received great feedback from students who completed the course:

“It was a great learning journey for me. I really liked all the lessons taught here starting from customer support to WordPress and its troubleshooting and user management. It was very helpful especially for a person like me who in no way has a past background in all these fields. I am really looking forward to develop my career in this path and gaining this experience was important. Lastly, I am really thankful to Automattic and Support Driven for bringing out the initiative especially for women.” –Desai


“I just finished the Learn User Support course. It was so nice to interact with all of you. Thank you to all the instructors for this course. It has been extremely helpful in my learning. What an amazing concept to guide and help aspiring candidates in tech support.” –Chandni


“Joining this course has been so much more than I expected. Kudos to the Automattic team for providing excellent and inspiring course materials and for being so helpful in the learning process. Also huge thanks to Support Driven for the graciousness to make this happen. And big hugs to all fellow participants who made this learning experience even more enjoyable.” –Rina


“Thank you for the certification we are going to receive. The course learning curve is strategically designed to give us right and pointed direction. It really helps us to go ahead in our career as customer support.” –Vinny

An important aspect of offering this course was to provide participants with a path for continuing their career development even after completing the course. We provided reading suggestions for continued learning, but we also wanted to encourage the students to engage on a personal level with other people in support careers. Our first step in this direction was to have them join Support Driven’s Slack and introduce themselves to the community there. Next, we offered a scholarship to attend Support Driven Expo Europe, with the conference ticket provided by Support Driven and a travel award provided by Automattic. We were very pleased to award this scholarship to Rina Nazrina of Indonesia, in recognition of her thoughtful engagement with the course materials, and her leadership in initiating discussions about support on our course forum. While we could only fund one travel award, a scholarship for access to the conference videos was awarded to every student who completed the course.

So what’s next? The team at Automattic is working on improving the course content based on feedback from students (and volunteer reviewers from the Support Driven community!). Our goal is to offer the course to a broader audience in a self-paced format, where anyone interested can simply dive in and get going. Make sure to sign up to be notified about future course offerings from Automattic.

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