Degreed prides itself on quality – quality team, quality clients and most importantly, quality product. We have an agile development team and culture. When I started the Customer Support team at Degreed, I had to ask myself, ‘how does lean agile development affect customer support?’

What makes an agile development culture different? Product changes occur at an especially fast rate. These product changes need to be conveyed and understood by the client in order for the client to best utilize and realize the value of our product. For this to happen the changes also need to be fully understood by the customer support team.

At most organizations, the customer support team serves as the “front line” for end users – the main group supporting and delivering product updates and changes to clients. Therefore, the most important attribute I look for in my team members, in addition to someone that is customer focused, is someone who loves to learn. We need to continually learn and grow with the product in order to best support our end-users.

It’s no surprise that there are new things to learn about each product release. As a team, we need to understand what is being added or changed, with a deep knowledge of how everything works. One specific example comes to mind: when we changed the look and feel of our profile page. As a team, we had to understand more than just that the profile was getting a face lift. We had to understand the intricacies, and where popular (or not!) items may have shifted for an improved experience.  And it’s a good thing we took time to dig deep because the most popular questions over the following weeks started with “Where can I find…”

As a customer success team, we have to be ready for any and everything, which is why the desire to learn is such an important trait for us. Just the other day, I received a call from one of our end-users asking about the layout of Degreed pathways and if the style was flexible. In the couple years I have been at Degreed, that question had never been asked. But I’ve learned serving in a customer support function means being willing and eager to ask the tough questions, knowing our product inside and out because we can’t anticipate every question that is going to come our way.

Luckily, my team proves they are up to the task time and time again. We are available for clients daily while also showing dedication to individual skill development via our internal company leaderboard for most active learning teams. Number one every quarter so far, the customer service team at Degreed is proud to show commitment to both our product and our clients.

So what are some tactics the Degreed customer service team uses for helping the members of our team stay informed and continually learning about the product?

  • bi-weekly product review for the entire company
  • weekly Learning Forum held by the client experience team where we discuss learning topics and ask questions, so we can all stay up to date on messaging
  • weekly team meetings (for my team specifically) where we can ask questions or get help from each other
  • product release review meeting (for my team specifically) where we discuss the release in depth and how it could affect both our users and the team

We are also starting to review upcoming release items from the view of the end user so we can brainstorm what consumers might need and to increase our ability to be prepared.

As I go back to my question at the beginning ‘how does lean agile development affect customer support?’ The answer is simple: we have to value learning.

Vernon Howard said, “Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”  I firmly believe, and lead my team with the same mentality, that if we stop learning, we cannot help our users.

What are some things your customer support team does to continuously learn?

 

Every week. Every day. Every few hours. You’re challenged with immediate problems to solve and issues to overcome. In another hour, something is going to come across your inbox or instant message window and you are going to have to react. You will have to respond. You will have to drop what you’re doing. Some burning item will come up and you’ll need to fix it.

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Urgent matters come in all varieties in the Customer Success and services world. Each one is more important than the last and desperately needs attention. The issue might be finalizing a single sign on integration for an upcoming launch or it could be some metrics needed for a client briefing that snuck up on you.

Many of your HR and Learning & Development peers are presented with similar challenges. Their situation might be about a deliverable getting off track on a timeline or a group of people not completing their past-due compliance training.

Meanwhile, your “To Do List” is getting longer and longer on the other side of your desk. The important projects you have been setting aside, the ones that will require planning and work across functional lines are not kicking off. And you’re not strategically advancing the big things that matter most.

What are you going to do? How do you manage what is urgent versus what is most important?

Solving this daily challenge takes planning. It takes finding the right balance on how you allocate your time.  Dedicating time to strategic efforts takes rigor and discipline. Always attending to the most pressing topics (and putting off the important ones) doesn’t let your organization efficiently progress at achieving larger goals.

This is what works for me and how I deal with what is most important.

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I usually go outside with pen and paper for the focus part.  I unplug and change the scenery.  It works every time.

Now it’s your turn to get it done.

Urgent requests are not going to stop. Look…there’s another one that just came in on your phone. Carve out the time to plan ahead before you don’t have time at all. Focus on what will lead to the best results. Strengthen this behavior by making it a habit. You’ll be more successful by committing time to the important things and your customers will be better off for it.

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