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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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!

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!

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!

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!

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.

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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.

Announcing our 2017 Partners!

We’re happy to announce that this year, Support Driven is partnering with Help Scout, FullStory, Olark, and Guru to help the support community grow and thrive.

Partners will provide sponsorship for events like SUPCONF and SDX. They’ll also work closely with us to do other things outside of events, including creating resources like the Help Scout salary survey, while sharing in our mission to continue raising the perception and impact of support professionals.

“Customer support is critical to building an incredible customer experience, and CX is at the heart of everything we do at FullStory. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Support Driven,” said Ben McCormack of FullStory. “Support professionals understand that when we make the web better for customers, everyone benefits.

The landscape of the support industry is changing. It seems that more companies are paying attention to support than ever before and are starting to see what we’ve known for a while – that support is absolutely crucial to business success and that support professionals should be respected for their unique skills. Nicereply even named customer service as a career as one of their “4 Big Customer Service Trends for 2017.” Our partners have been leading the way for this transformation.

“At Help Scout, we’re truly committed to supporting the people who support the customers, and that’s why we’re so excited to partner with Support Driven. As we will learn from and support each other, we will elevate customer service as a department, an attitude, and a career.” said Mat Patterson of Help Scout.

We’ve chosen to partner with these four companies in particular because they’ve demonstrated a strong commitment to championing for customer support. We’ve also chosen them because they’ve been active in the community, know their way around it, and are eager for the opportunity to contribute more.

“At Guru, we continually see that forward-thinking companies have begun to recognize the importance of a good customer experience, and have elevated customer support to first class citizens within their organizations as a result. In combination with Support Driven, we hope to amplify the importance of support and collectively empower support teams everywhere.” – Steve Mayernick, Guru

Our partners know, as we know, that in coming together as a community, sharing our knowledge, and helping one another, we can grow our expertise and influence, move the industry forward, and create better experiences for ourselves and for our customers.

“We believe in making business human, and the Support Driven community shares that belief,” said Rhoda Meek, Director of Customer Service, Olark Live Chat. “Through its events and its online group, Support Driven connects the humans who are the faces and voices of our organizations; enables them to share the highs, the lows, and the best practices of Customer Support; and empowers them to effect change in their own companies, and in their customer’s lives. In short…:Fist Bump: :Thumbs Up: :Party Parrot:”

At Support Driven, we couldn’t be more excited to have these companies on board, and we’re looking forward to joining forces with them to bring even more resources to the community.

 

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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