Announcing SUPCONF Fall 2017 – Atlanta, Nov 6-7

The next SUPCONF will be in Atlanta on November 6-7 and we have a handful of early bird tickets available on the site.

As a member of the Support Driven Slack (join here if you’re not a member), you know how valuable and fun it is to hear how others have faced challenges similar to the ones you encounter.

Having those conversations in person adds a new dimension and depth – as you have the full attention of the people you’re talking to, without the distractions that tend to pop up often at work.

SUPCONF is a fantastic way to meet some of the folks you’ve been talking to online and an opportunity to meet new people in our industry! Don’t take my word for it, here’s a few quotes from community members that have been to SUPCONF:



And if you to want hear from more members of the community, Lisa Hunt (@lisahhhh) went to the last SUPCONF in Seattle and talked to a few people while she was there, you should check out the Support Breakfast SUPCONF Seattle Special. Note, I spoke with Lisa on the podcast and revealed that breakfast was my least favorite meal of the day to her shock and horror.

If you’ve never been to SUPCONF before, here’s a few things you should know about it.

Help with the social parts

Most of us self-identify as introverts according to every survey we’ve run that includes a question to identify as introvert or extrovert.

As a fellow introvert, I know about the awkwardness that comes with meeting people at events and we’ve designed opportunities to socialize that’s introvert friendly. Plus, it seems like things that are introvert friendly also work for extroverts.

Meeting online

It starts with a private channel for SUPCONF where you’ll have a chance to meet other attendees before the event. People have used it to find out the best places to eat and stay as well as coordinating eating and seeing sights together. If you have time, I highly recommend talking to fellow attendees before the event as you’ll have a chance to meet them in person at the event and it will be awesome.

Conversations at SUPCONF

It’s not that introverts don’t like talking to people. It’s just awkward to get started when you don’t know them. That’s why we’ve designed multiple opportunities to help you start open, meaningful conversations at SUPCONF.

And all of the opportunities are optional. You’re not required to socialize, we want to make it easier if you decide to.

We keep it small

We’ve designed SUPCONF to be small enough that you’ll feel comfortable talking to people and you won’t feel like you’re lost in a crowd. That means there’s a limited number of tickets and an even smaller number of early bird tickets.

If you think the Support Driven community is amazing, wait til you meet them in person! I hope to see you in Atlanta in November.

Tickets go on sale today, get your ticket now.

Propose A Talk For SUPCONF Fall 2017

SUPCONF Fall 2017 is coming to Atlanta on November 6-7 and we want to hear your ideas!

We’re looking for talks that fit within the 4 themes we have for SUPCONF Fall 2017 –

Improving Support
Support is what we do and there’s always room for better ways to deliver a great customer experience.

Example topics:

  • Preventing burnout
  • Hiring for support
  • Providing support across multiple channels

Changing The Conversation Around Support
The role of support is changing within companies and across departments and there’s a lot we can learn from what’s working and not working with these changes.

Example topics:

  • Working with other teams
  • Proactive support
  • Taking on non-support responsibilities

Working With Data
Data is everywhere and effectively working with it is a part of what’s expected of us.

Example topics:

  • Making sense of NPS and CSAT
  • Connecting revenue and support
  • Budgeting and forecasting

Building A Career In Support
Learn how your peers in the industry are navigating and advancing their careers and the skills they’re using to do so.

Example topics:

  • Negotiation
  • Effective communication styles
  • Developing career paths within support

About The Talk Development Program

Whether you have prior speaking experience or not, we’re dedicated to working with you to deliver an amazing speech that will help you win friends and influence people. You’ll be speaking in front of some of the best folks in support – who work at companies like Automattic, Basecamp, DigitalOcean, and more.

If you’re invited to participate in the talk development program, we think you have the potential to deliver an amazing talk. To help you realize that potential, we pair you with an editor who works with you to refine and revise your talk for our audience.

What you’ll get as a speaker

  • Editorial assistance in developing your ideas and story through our talk development program
  • A complimentary conference ticket
  • An invitation to a speaker dinner before the event

Your commitments if you get invited to speak

  • You (or your employer) will cover your travel and accommodation costs.
  • You will follow our code of conduct.
  • We may use your name and photo to promote the conference.
  • We may record your talk and slides (audio, video, photography) for use in social media, marketing, sales and distribution.

Milestones

  • July 18 – Proposal Form Opens
  • August 4 – Proposal Form Closed
  • August 18  – You’ll hear from us about your proposal
  • September  – Meet your editor
  • October 10 – Share an audio recording of an early draft of your talk
  • October 24 – Send in your final slides
  • November 6-7 – SUPCONF Fall 2017

 

The proposal process is open to all – proposals will be anonymized and reviewed by our talk editors. Feel free to submit more than one proposal if you have more than one idea for a talk.

Please note that if you work for a company that sells a product related to the topic you submit, your proposal will not be accepted.

Talk proposals will be closed on August 4th and you’ll hear from us by August 18th.

 

 

Apply Now For A Scholarship Ticket To SDX 2017

Thanks to our scholarship sponsors, we’re excited to offer a scholarship ticket program for SDX 2017!

Our scholarship sponsors (in alphabetical order):

Automattic – We are passionate about making the web a better place
FullStory – What do you want to know about your customer experience?
Guru – Be an expert, everywhere you work
Help Scout – Make every customer support interaction more human & more helpful
MailChimp – Send better email. Sell more stuff.
Olark – Your customers want to chat with you
Solvvy – Better answers for your customers. Dramatic gains for your business.

The scholarship program is for folks who want to get better at support and for those looking to get into support. We think a career in support is pretty awesome and we want to encourage and support as many folks to follow it as we can.

If learning from and meeting support professionals can make a difference to you – join us!

Apply for a ticket
Note: You’re responsible for your own transportation and lodging

Fill out the form by June 4th and we’ll get back to you by June 6th.

Register for the Support Driven GIF Battle at SDX

Do you ❤️ GIFs?

8 participants will face off one on one, tournament style at SDX. The person with the best GIF-fu will take home the crown!

Register now to enter the Support Driven GIF battle. You’ll get:

  • A chance to show off your GIF skills
  • A complimentary ticket to SDX in Portland on July 22nd

It will be epic. It will be silly. Fun and fame await you!

Creating A Career Development Experience In Portland – Volunteers Wanted!

On July 22nd, Support professionals from all over the world will come together in Portland to learn from each other and to hone their craft at SDX. We envision SDX as a Portland-based destination event for the Support industry and we need your help!

We’re looking for volunteers from the local Portland Support community who are building a career in Support and want to be a part of creating an amazing career development experience for Support in Portland.

As a volunteer at SDX, you will:

  • Be an essential part of the event.
  • Connect with other members of the local Portland support community.
  • Interact with speakers, presenters, and attendees.
  • Get an exclusive SDX T-shirt
  • Have the opportunity to attend the conference for at least half of the day and volunteer the other part of the day.

Ready to join us? Fill out this form and we’ll be in touch soon!

Announcing The Venue For SDX

SDX will be hosted at Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Student Union on July 22nd. For one weekend we’ll turn Portland into Supportland and we’d love to have you be a part of it!

Here are a few reasons we’re excited for SDX to be at Smith Union:

  • Multiple rooms for workshops and talks. Choose from a variety of workshop and talks that best suit what you want to learn.
  • Quicky and easy transit between rooms. It’s all in one building so there’ll be plenty of time to get to where you want to go.
  • A beautiful large space for sponsors and the GIF Battle. We’ve got ideas for bigger and better ways for sponsors to be a part of SDX and we’ll have the space for it.
  • Located just south of downtown Portland. Whether you’re into food, beer, cycling, weird things – SDX will be the perfect time visit Portland.

Kickstarter Update.002.jpeg

If you’re curious what Portand State University is like, check out this video:

And if you wonder what Portland has to offer, we’ve found a few videos for you to check out:

 

Get your ticket to SDX next week on April 4th when the Kickstarter goes live!

We’ll have a limited number of discounted tickets available through the Kickstarter – join our community newsletter to get the details.

Take Your Career And Job To The Next Level

Introducing Support Driven Exposition (SDX), the event for support professionals who want to learn the necessary skills to take their career and job to the next level.

SDX is:

  • Focused on learning and developing technical and nontechnical skills
  • Sessions are taught from a support perspective, so you can apply them right away
  • A 1 day event with workshops, talks, and more to suit different learning styles
  • Priced under $300 (we’re still working out the final details)
  • July 22nd in Portland, Oregon

We’re launching a Kickstarter for SDX on April 4th early access tickets will be available through the Kickstarter. If you’d like exclusive details on early access tickets and updates, sign up for the Support Driven community newsletter.

How it all began

It all started when we asked the Support Driven community to take part in a learning survey about which skills you wanted to learn this year. We heard from all levels in support – from folks on the frontlines to directors, managers to vice presidents, and more. From people that worked with teams of hundreds to people that worked on teams of one.

We learned that everyone has room to grow, whether they were the head of support at their company or elsewhere in the support organization. Everyone has a skill that could help them take the next step of getting better at their job or making progress in their career or both. For some, that skill could be technical like diving deep into JavaScript to better understand the product and write better bug reports. For others, it could be nontechnical like getting better at public speaking to share the story of the team and the customers within their company.

Here’s a few responses from the survey (Check out the full survey results if you’re curious)

How to better advocate for support (to get the voice of the user out) and for me (to be better seen and heard within the company-to be given the chance to do more than be in the queue)

Public Speaking. I have a slightly more visible role now, and with that comes sharing the story of our team and the impact it has on our customers. I hate public speaking though, primarily because it makes me incredibly nervous.

How to help my team grow—specifically how to help them become leaders, and take more ownership, determine how they want to grow professionally and then facilitate them growing in those areas, and how to step back and let them handle things more.

I would really like to invest in learning JavaScript deeply (at a junior dev level or higher). Right now, it would help me to have a better technical understanding of our product and write better bug reports. In the future, it would help me to advance my career.

Owning my career (without becoming a manager, which I’m not interested in)

Learn skills instead of following tracks

You talked about investing in technical skills that could help you now and in the future. You shared that you wanted to develop skills to help your team grow and develop as leaders. You want to own your career and decide what’s next for you.

We think that’s awesome and we’re putting together a mix of topics to cover a lot of the skills you want to learn this year. In order to accommodate the widest range of topics we can, sessions are offered independently rather than in tracks. This will also be an opportunity to be exposed to new ideas, including a few topics that you may not have expected.

Mix and match the topics that catch your interest.

Learn faster with a support perspective

There are dozens of ways to learn skills. You could learn on your own from reading a book or attending a class at university. You could take an online course or participate in an in person workshop. There are no shortages of learning options, just a shortage of time and money to do so.

The common thing missing in these options is they’re not focused on teaching people like you – people who live and breathe support. We think you can learn and apply these skills faster if sessions were designed for people in support.

Folks leading a session at SDX knows that everyone in the audience is in support and to tailor their stories and content accordingly. Instead of working with random examples that could appeal to anyone, the examples would be focused on challenges commonly found in support.

Tailoring the content of sessions to you will help you learn faster and apply it sooner.

With the community

Bringing SDX to life is a community effort.

The people organizing SDX are the same people that you’ll see in the Support Driven community. We bring ideas and experiences from doing support at wildly different organizations into the process.

We’re recruiting people to lead sessions from the Support Driven community. Chances are good there are folks in the community that have been where you are and with the experience that you’re looking to gain. We’re creating the space for you to learn from these folks with SDX.

We’re bringing the community together to create the best learning experience in the support industry.

Who is SDX for?

SDX is for people who live and breathe support.

For people who are building a career in support or want to build a career in support. People who know what it’s like turn around a customer’s day or to bear the brunt of a customer’s inexplicable anger. People who set the direction for how support builds relationships with customers and helps customers be successful across the entire organization.

We know it’s not always easy to step away from the queue or rearrange all of your meetings. That’s why we chose to design SDX as a 1 day event on Saturday, July 22nd with the hope that this date would minimize the disruption to your work.

We’re keeping the ticket price under $300 so it’ll be accessible to more people. And there will be a scholarship ticket program to encourage even more folks to be a part of it.

We want this event to work for you and we’re keeping things in mind that we can do to make that happen.

If this sounds like the event for you, sign up for the Support Driven community newsletter for updates and exclusive details on early access tickets. Since you’ve read this far, if you’d like to get an insider’s look on how SDX is being organized, join us in #workgroup-events in the Support Driven Slack.

Tell Us What You Want To Learn In 2017

Whether or not you’re the New Year’s Resolution type, now is a good time to think about what you want to learn this year. Will you level up an existing skill or learn a new skill? Maybe both?

Tell us what you want to learn this year in the Support Driven Learning Survey. Get your responses in before January 20th to be a part of the official results!

Curious about what kind of things other folks in the Support Driven community want to learn? Do you want to know what they wished their bosses would learn? Come back in a few weeks when we share our findings from the survey results.

The SUPCONF NYC 2016 Mega Post

There’s a lot happening at SUPCONF NYC and this is the place to keep track of it all. These are the activities that have been confirmed so far, came back before the event to get the latest list. Check out the list below and get ready for SUPCONF!

Do you like to take pictures?
We ❤️ pictures too! Share your pictures on Instagram with the #SUPCONF tag and our SmugMug SUPCONF NYC gallery by uploading them here.

Got more questions? Check out our FAQ

October 21st
The Booklet

November 14th
11:30 – 12:30 pm Lunch Meetup
7 – 8 pm Cupcake Social with Directly

November 15th – SUPCONF DAY 1
9:00 am Registration/Breakfast
9:50 am Opening Remarks With Andrew Spittle
10:00 am Opening Keynote With Elizabeth Tobey – Never A Straight Line: Creating A Career In Tech

Improving Team Performance Talks
10:30 am Karen Arnold – Casting Support Engineers: Auditioning To Create Your Dream Team
11:10 am Lance Conzett – When And How To Break Up With Abusive Customers
11:35 am Laura Marciano – Flip Or Flop: Knowing When To Invest And How To Repair Your Team
12:00 pm Breakout discussions

12:30 pm Lunch
12:50 pm Lightning Talks

Working with Data Talks
2:00 pm Justin Grenier – Predicting Your Team’s Capacity And Preventing Burnout
2:25 pm Beth Halel Trame – Seeing RED: Designing The Agent Experience With Data
3:05 pm Graham Murphy – Connecting Customer Support And Revenue: Bridging The Gap With Data
3:30 pm Breakout discussions

4 – 6 pm Mixer
4:30 pm Support Driven GIF Battle, sponsored by CloudApp, GetGuru, FullStory, and Mevo
6 – 7pm Yoga with Mercer
6:30 pm Dinner & Conversation with Kustomer

November 16th – SUPCONF Day 2
9:00 am Breakfast

Changing The Conversation Around Support Talks
10:00 am Mat Patterson – Growing Pains: Why Support Quality Scales Up.. Or Slides Down
10:25 am Margot da Cunha – Step Away From The Screen: The Value of Meeting Customers In Person
11:05 am Chris Hardie – From Transactions To Partnerships
11:30 am Breakout discussions

12:00 pm Lunch
12:20 pm Support Ops Live Show

Owning Your Career Talks
1:30 pm Emily Triplett Lentz – Clearing The Path: Career Tracks In Customer Support
1:55 pm Camille Acey – Where To Next? Tips For Evaluating Potential Growth Opportunities
2:35 pm Rob Bailey – Rocking Your Seat At The Big Table
3:00 pm Breakout discussions

3:30 pm Closing Keynote With Ben MacAskill – Feeling Smug: Building A Career At One Company
3:55 pm Closing Remarks

7 – 10 pm Karaoke Roulette, Powered by Olark

November 15th and 16th – SUPCONF Both Days
The CloudApp Coffee Bar
Aircall Raffle
Help Scout Humans of Support

The key thing to remember is if you would rather not be in the booklet, let us know through the questions attached to your ticket. We’ll be pulling photos for the booklet from your Slack profile on October 21st, so update it by then if you want to use a different photo. If you’re not in the Slack, you should have an invite. Get in touch with us if that’s not the case.

Monday, November 14th

11:30 – 12:30 pm Lunch Meetup
If you’re coming to the conference early (or you live in NYC), meet other customer support pros for lunch! Seating is limited (this is NYC after all) RSVP here.

7 – 8 pm Cupcake Social
Join us for cupcakes at Digital Ocean HQ from 7-8pm the evening before the conference starts. Meet fellow attendees and get pre-registered for the conference.

Tuesday, November 15th

12:50 pm Lightning Talks
Feed your mind while you feed your appetite! Seven speakers, selected by attendee votes, will deliver rapid-fire talks during lunch on Tuesday. This amazing lineup of support professionals will share their knowledge on a variety of topics in a short and sweet format that will quickly give you plenty of new ideas to grow your expertise in support.

  1. Matt Dale from Illuminate Education — How to troubleshoot anything (and generally be more awesome at life)
  2. Darren Lee from Intercom — NPS doesn’t stop with the survey
  3. Peter Shin from Olark — How to think about service like a product designer
  4. Justin Reist from Shopify — Leading as an Introvert
  5. Karl Pawlewiz from Olark — Surprise! You’re also a salesperson (like it or not)
  6. Kelly O’Brien from Kayako — You have been eaten by a grue: Self-service lessons from a 36-year-old text-based adventure game

4 – 6 pm Mixer
Relax after the first day of talks and enjoy some light snacks and get to know your fellow attendees.

4:30 pm Support Driven GIF Battle
Live by the GIF, die by the GIF. Brought to you by CloudApp, GetGuru, FullStory and Mevo.

8 participants will face off 1v1 in a tournament to determine who has the best GIF-fu and who will take home the crown! There will be a prize for 1st place (it will probably not be a crown).

How will we battle?
2 participants will face off in a 1v1 match where you’ll be presented with a customer support related tweet (https://twitter.com/matt_l/status/793338780161892352 and https://twitter.com/jaan/status/793389309793566725 for example). You’ll have up to 1 minute to respond to the tweet with a tweet length message and a GIF (or just a GIF). The winner is decided by the audience response, and if that’s too close to tell, the quicker response wins.

Participants will register up to 25 GIFs (think of them like a card deck) for battle before SUPCONF using CloudApp. CloudApp accounts will be provided to all participants and you check out how to get set up with CloudApp here – https://www.getcloudapp.com/blog/supconf-gif-battle

Tournament format
The battle will be a single elimination tournament. With 8 participants, that means you’ll start in the quarter finals! The winner of the quarterfinals will be decided in a best of 3 format (whoever gets to 2 wins first).

The semifinals will also be a best of 3 and the finals will be best of 5. There will be prizes (And fame! No fortune though, this is all for fun) for 1st place at the battle.

You have to be attending SUPCONF to participate (the battle will happen during the mixer after the talks are over on Tuesday).

It will be epic. It will be silly. Register now to enter the Support Driven GIF battle. Registrations are confirmed on a first come first serve basis, so don’t wait too long if you want to join. Fun and fame await you!

6 – 7pm Yoga with Mercer
Mercer offered to lead a Yoga class at SUPCONF and we think it will be fun! So we said “Yes Plz!” and we’re excited about getting together with friends for some yoga.

We’ll make some space for yoga mats (there may be extra yoga mats, check with Mercer) after the mixer. Everyone is welcome to join – whether you’re an experienced Yogi or completely new to Yoga.  Let us know if you’re attending here – https://attending.io/events/yoga-with-mercer

6:30 pm Dinner & Conversation with Kustomer

After a busy first day at SUPCONF NYC, we know you will be hungry. Kustomer invites you to a multi-course dinner at Pera Soho, just two blocks from Digital Ocean HQ. Pera serves delicious Eastern Mediterranean fusion, with dishes like Mediterranean Braised Short Ribs, Double Lamb Chops “Izgara”, and Grape Leaf Wrapped Branzino.  

The dinner topic will be ‘How To Build A Career As An Executive in Support’.  We have also arranged a mystery guest speaker, who will be announced at the beginning of the dinner.

This event has limited spots, so it’s first come first served. We are excited to meet you all in person!

The important information:

When: Tuesday, November 15th at 6:30pm

Where: Pera Soho, 54 Thompson St (and Broome St), New York, NY 10012 http://www.pera-soho.com

Cost: Free! Just bring your lovely selves

RSVP: First come first serve, please RSVP using this link https://kkranzlin.typeform.com/to/KgycSj.

Wednesday, November 16th

12:20 pm Support Ops Live Show
For the first time ever, the Support Ops crew (Chase, Carolyn, Jeff and Chase) are recording a show in person!

Have you ever wanted to jump into an episode and ask them a question? Now’s your chance.

What challenges are you facing at work? Have the Support Ops crew chime in on it. What should you eat for breakfast? They don’t know but they’re probably willing to share their favorites. Send in your questions for the crew here and see you in New York!

7 – 10 pm Karaoke Roulette, Powered by Olark

“In New York, Karaoke Jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t sing…”

Once the dust has settled on SUPCONF NYC, let’s warm up our voices, let down our hair, and see if you’ve got what it takes to be Support Driven’s next Karaoke Star!

Wednesday night after the conference we’ll head to Koreatown (32nd Street between 5th Ave and Broadway) for some private karaoke room action. But this isn’t an ordinary Karaoke night – this is Karaoke Roulette.

Everyone who attends MUST. sing. a. song. Everyone will put their name in a hat, and MC KP will be pulling names at random. When your name is pulled, it’s your turn to take the stage, so you better be ready.

The format is as follows:

– 20 minute open mic: pick any song and do what you need to get warmed up. 

– 2 hours of karaoke roulette, or until everyone’s name is called

– any remaining time is open mic, open party

The cost will be approx $10/person for the room rental (depending on how many people we have it will probably be less). Drinks and food will be available for purchase at the venue.

When: Wednesday, November 16th at 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Where: Koreatown (32nd Street between 5th Ave and Broadway)

Cost: The cost will be approx $10/person for the room rental (depending on how many people we have it will probably be less). Drinks and food will be available for purchase at the venue.

RSVP: Use this link – https://attending.io/events/karaoke-roulette-powered-by-olark to RSVP and get your karaoke on!

November 15th and 16th

The CloudApp Coffee Bar
How do you take your coffee? If your answer is “worldly delicious liquid heaven served at 195°F and nearly impossible to find in NYC,” then you’re in luck! CloudApp is proud to pour gallons of San Francisco’s finest, Philz Coffee — served at a high-speed filling station with all the fixings.

Aircall Raffle
Don’t miss your chance to win an Amazon Alexa! Enter Aircall’s AWESOME raffle by answering 3 quick questions. Make sure to stop by the swag table on Tuesday to participate. We will announce the lucky winner on Wednesday.

Help Scout Humans of Support
Inspired by Humans of New York, Humans of Support is a weekly storytelling series featuring support professionals and their experiences of working in customer service.

You can give your story at the Help Scout booth in the executive conference room at SUPCONF on Tuesday or Wednesday. Tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had working in support — it can be with a customer, a colleague, a boss or whomever. What did you learn or discover from this experience?

Your answer doesn’t have to be lengthy or revolutionary. We’re looking to showcase everyday experiences, inspire our community, and spotlight the voices of support pros everywhere. In fact, it will only take a few minutes to contribute. You’ll be filmed and/or photographed, depending on your preference, and we’ll be livestreaming select responses (with your permission).

Nobody knows support like you do, so come share your unique perspective with the world!

Connecting With A Booklet

Building relationships with folks you meet is a huge part of the value for any conference. It’s something we think about all the time with SUPCONF and we’re always looking for new ways to connect attendees.

One of the ways we’ve approached this is by designing conversation into SUPCONF so you’ll meet a lot of other attendees during the event. This worked out really well at the first SUPCONF in SF, but it also introduced a problem. We heard from several SF attendees that it was difficult to keep track of all the people they met and wanted to connect with after the conference.

For SUPCONF NYC, we’re experimenting with a printed booklet to address this challenge.

The booklet features an attendee directory that we hope you’ll use to make note of the people that you meet during the event. After the event, the booklet will be a handy way to remember and reconnect to all the wonderful people you’ve met.

And if you’ve been been active in the Support Driven Slack, SUPCONF brings together a lot of the folks you’ve been talking to. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to find them at the conference and sign each other’s booklet, like a yearbook!

In order to be in the booklet, you’ll need to be registered (we’ll use your name and company name) by October 21st. If you’re not registered yet, you can do so here. If you’re in the Support Driven Slack, we’ll also include your profile picture. And of course, you can choose to not be listed in the attendee book as well.

We’re excited to experiment with adding a booklet to the SUPCONF experience and we’re looking forward to seeing how you’ll use it in November! Until then, check out some early design prototypes for the booklet from @andrewtlove.