Support Driven Spring 2017 Writing Challenge

While we do a lot of writing as Customer Support Professionals, we rarely take the chance to write for fun.  

We often say things like: I really should do a post on that or I’d love to have more time to write, but life happens and those great pieces never quite materialize. Writing challenges are your opportunity to change that – for a few weeks, at least.

We first did a writing challenge last Fall, and enjoyed blog posts from all around the community for 6 weeks.  Click here to check out some of the great posts from last year.  

We’re excited to get started again, and in May we will kick off the Spring 2017 writing challenge!

What is it?

The Writing Challenge is designed to be a fun way to encourage us to write more! The goal of the challenge is to write one “Presentable Piece” every 2 weeks – but you are welcome to set your own goals instead/as well.  

Below we have shared some weekly topics, to help get your writing flowing.  You are welcome to write off-topic if you’d rather – these are just helpful if you are stuck!  

Most importantly – there’s no pressure.  If you miss a week, no biggie – just pick up and keep going.  It’s all about writing more than you were before.

How do I share my writing?

We encourage you to write your posts on a blog (WordPress or Medium both have some great free options) but you can also share the post through a public google drive, or other writing link!

We’d love you to  share your pieces in the #challenge room in Support Driven, so we can all enjoy reading each other’s work.  

We will also gather the posts every other Friday to share right here on the Support Driven blog.  

Part of the fun in the challenge is the community – taking the time to read other’s work is highly encouraged.  

Happy Writing!

Bi-Weekly Topics:

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The SDX Unconference is coming!

This Summer we’re having a new event – it’s called SDX and it’s all about leveling up your support career. To help everyone be successful at the event, we’re including three ways to learn – workshops, talks, and an unconference.  

Honesty time – during one of the first calls about SDX we were discussing ‘unconferences’ and I realized I had no idea what an unconference was. I was the person on this video call who was secretly googling a to find out what an unconf consisted of.  

So – I’ll save you the frantic Googling and give you a quick post on what an unconference is all about, with more details to come!

As the name implies, an unconference takes an opposite approach to your typical conference. The goal is to reduce the passivity and engage attendees with sessions that are made on the spot so you can find your affinity group quickly. Attendees learn, share, and exchange ideas dynamically. And best of all, relationships built, and new collaborations emerge.

In an unconference, the topics, speakers, and layout aren’t fully decided ahead of time — this happens first thing in the morning and can evolve throughout the day. Folks show up with ideas and thoughts. Everyone at an unconference session  spends some time discussing and parsing these ideas, and then shares  their topic for open discussion via a gridded board with time slots and locations to meet.

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Excited about unconferences and leveling up your career? Get your tickets through this Kickstarter and join us at SDX to explore a variety of ideas with those who value customer support just like you.  

Have you ever been a part of an unconference? We’d love to hear your experience! Chat it up in #chit-chat!

Support Driven Writing Challenge Coming May 1st!

For most of us – writing is a part of our everyday world. We respond to customers, we write help articles, and we create support documentation.

While we do a lot of writing, we rarely take the chance to write for fun.  We’d like to change that habit – for a few weeks, at least.

We first did a writing challenge last Fall, and got to enjoy blog posts from all around the community for 6 weeks.  You can check out the posts from last year, here!

During the challenge folks got to explore writing about their careers and about their personal thoughts.  Some people even mentioned that the words flowed easier as the weeks went on, and it helped them make writing more of a habit in their daily lives (yes!).

We are excited to invite you to join our second Support Driven Writing Challenge.  We will get started on May 1st.

As we get closer we’ll be sharing the structure of the challenge, as well as some suggested topics.

If you’re interested to join us, head over the the #challenge room in Slack – this is where we’ll be discussing all the details, and sharing posts throughout the challenge!

SUPCONF Spring 2017 – Blog Roundup

This Spring SUPCONF took a trip to Seattle, where we spent two days talking about how important relationships are to our jobs as Customer Support professionals.  

We also spent time forming our own relationships – from dinner meet-ups, lunch connections, and even using wristbands to help it feel safe to “turn off” for a bit.  

Below you can find write-ups about the conference experience, and some fun pictures.

Thinking about what’s next?  We’d love to have you join us at SDX!  Get your tickets through this Kickstarter now!

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You can find more pictures here!

 

@giovanna.allegretti wrote up a blog-version of her talk about boundaries and burnout.  She also wrote up notes to share about her SUPCONF experience.  

@peter shared a blog-version of his lightening talk about AI.  

@chelsea shared a post about being an organizer at SUPCONF.

@lisahhhhh recorded an extra special episode of Support Breakfast while at SUPCONF, and shared her slides from her talk.

@alyssa shared her SUPCONF highlights.

@sarahbetts shared what happens at SUPCONF.

 

Have more thoughts to share?  We’d love to read them!  Feel free to send along your blog posts in Slack and we’ll get them added.

Thinking about what’s next?  We’d love to have you join us at SDX!  Get your tickets through this Kickstarter now!

Support Origin Stories – Meet Dave

The theme for SUPCONF 2017 is all about relationships.  An important relationship is the one between you and your fellow SUPCONF attendees.

To aid in these introductions, we’ve created Support Origin Stories – or stories about how fellow attendees ended up in Customer Support.  Take a moment to meet someone new, and learn about some ways to strike up a conversation with this person while at SUPCONF.

Dave works at MailChimp, and had an exciting venture to support – including a stint working at the DMV! Meet Dave below!


 

Looking forward to joining us?  Learn more about SUPCONF here.

The awkwardness of socializing at events and what we’re doing about it

A few weeks ago I was with my 2 year old nephew.  We had been hanging out with family most of the afternoon, when I found him sitting quietly by himself, playing with his toy car.  I went over and asked him what he was doing, and he said “Time to go home now, too much talking.”  This is when I realized my 2 year old nephew and I are totally alike.   

In new social situations I am often an observer first.  I like to watch others interacting, and get a feel for the topic or room before I dive in.  As I digest conversations and ideas, I often feel the need to take a step back, and spend some quiet time parsing through what was discussed.   

It is easy to feel a pressure to be “always on” – especially when you’re meeting new people, because you don’t want to miss an opportunity to connect. We’d like to do something about this  so we started some conversations with folks in Support Driven.

Enter Wristbands

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After considering several options, we landed on using wristbands as a way to signal that you’re open for a chat, as well as make it safe to say “I’m busy” or “I need a few moments to myself.” We ordered these wristbands in dual color from rapidwristbands.com.

We’d like to give you the control to turn “on” or “off” from conversations – as you see fit or feel ready.  This is sort of like muting the world away in Slack, and taking a few moments to be heads down. By giving you more control over social interactions, we hope you’ll be more comfortable connecting to other folks during the event.

These wristbands have two sides.  You can turn your wristband to yellow for “let’s chat!” When you need a break, you can turn it to black for “I need a few moments to myself, please.”  

You can pick up a wristband when you first arrive at the event.

Feel free to use these wristbands as a tool to help communicate your current status with fellow attendees, to see if they’re also up for a chat, as well as a way to have more control over your interactions during the event.  

Most importantly, make sure you take care of you throughout the event.  

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Support Origin Stories – Meet Chase

The theme for SUPCONF 2017 is all about relationships.  An important relationship is the one between you and your fellow SUPCONF attendees.

To aid in these introductions, we’ve created Support Origin Stories – or stories about how fellow attendees ended up in Customer Support.  Take a moment to meet someone new, and learn about some ways to strike up a conversation with this person while at SUPCONF.

Chase works at Automattic and is on the Support Ops podcast team.  Chase has done support for most of his life.  Listen to learn more below!

Looking forward to joining us?  Learn more about SUPCONF here.

Support Origin Stories – Meet Giovanna

The theme for SUPCONF 2017 is all about relationships.  An important relationship is the one between you and your fellow SUPCONF attendees.

To aid in these introductions, we’ve created Support Origin Stories – or stories about how fellow attendees ended up in Customer Support.  Take a moment to meet someone new, and learn about some ways to strike up a conversation with this person while at SUPCONF.

Giovanna entered the support world through a career in teaching.  Listen to her unique journey below!

Looking forward to joining us?  Learn more about SUPCONF here.

Support Origin Stories – Meet Karl

The theme for SUPCONF 2017 is all about relationships.  An important relationship is the one between you and your fellow SUPCONF attendees.

To aid in these introductions, we’ve created Support Origin Stories – or stories about how fellow attendees ended up in Customer Support.  Take a moment to meet someone new, and learn about some ways to strike up a conversation with this person while at SUPCONF.

Karl – or – the Voice of Olark – is the Head of Communications at Olark.  Karl started his support career in high school, working in the pizza business.  Learn more about Karl’s story below!

Looking forward to joining us?  Learn more about SUPCONF here.

Meet Fellow Community Members

I have decided that meeting new people is perhaps the hardest thing about being an Adult. For me personally, making connections with new people isn’t a skill I seem to have carried over from childhood.  

I am more of this type of person:

New Person: Hi! I am Tom! What is your name?

Me: Uh… (brain totally freezes) I like french fries?

I can’t be the only one here.  

There are so many awesome people in the Support Driven community.  We’d like to help you make these connections easily – from the comfort of Slack.  

Enter: Donut Bot

Donut is a Slackbot which will take the hard work out of meeting fellow community members.  Donut allows you to opt-in to being paired up with another Support Driven member each month.  

This pairing allows you to get to know each other better, and make friends and connections with other Support Driven members.  

We’re excited to see how these connections grow and shape folks in the community!  

How it works

  • If you would like to participate, the only thing you have to do is join the Slack channel #meet-sd.  
  • You are free to join and leave this channel at any time.  If you leave the channel, you aren’t paired up until you join again.  This is handy if you’re going on vacation, or if you know you have a busy few weeks coming up.
  • Donut automatically pairs the folks who are in the channel on Monday, once every 4 weeks.
  • Once paired, it creates a private group chat between Donut, you and another community member.  
  • You all are paired for the month, and can chat in the private channel Donut created for you.   Note – Donut is built for those who work together, so it suggest you get coffee together – obviously this won’t be possible for folks here.
  • You can talk about Customer Support, your current work, your personal hobbies, or anything in between.  We’ll also add some suggested topics to the #meet-sd channel to help you along in your chat.

You can feel free to chat with the person you’re paired with once during the month, or a few times – whatever fits your schedules the best.  If you have an awesome connection, we’d love to hear about it in the #good-news channel!

Once you finish your chat that month, there isn’t anything else you need to do.  Donut will automatically pair everyone in the #meet-sd channel again in 4 weeks.