No one dreams about working in support. Kids want to become school teachers, lawyers, doctors or maybe even pastry chefs, modelling people and situations the’ve experienced. Your teacher opened up a whole new world to you, just by explaining how letters work to form books. Your best friend’s mother is a lawyer, and that seems to be the reason she can give her daughter her own horse. The doctor helped to fix your arm after you fell down your favourite climbing tree. And Aunt Leona’s pastry is too delicious to not wanting to be like her (and eat pastry every single day).
No one dreams about working in support. It’s not that you don’t know anything about it – you’ve been on the receiving end far too often. It usually sucks, at exactly the moment in your day when you do not have an alternative. Having to reach out to support is like taking a long haul flight. You need to do it to reach your destination (or get something fixed), but you’d prefer to use teletransportation if it was readily available. And then, one day, you unexpectedly get upgraded to a first class flight.
It’s like magic, but with a sense of purpose
Suddenly flying becomes an awe-inspiring adventure. So much space, so much comfort, so much caring for your well-being. You still spend 9-12 hours in flying metal can, but suddenly you don’t mind so much. You’d still prefer the teletransporter, but you can deal with flying if it unfolds the first-class way.
The same happens with customer support. There’s the bored call center agent reading his scripted answers from a computer screen, trying to upsell yet another product even though your current issue isn’t solved yet. And there’s the proactive support agent who makes you feel taken care off and taken seriously while she figures out the best way to help you – even if it looks nothing like what you were asking for in the first place. It’s like magic, but with a sense of purpose.
I ended up doing magic through chance. A mentor and coach of mine asked me to join her in a new venture: a technical support service for non-technical entrepreneurs. Most of our clients were accomplished women in their fields, with a website they didn’t have the time to maintain and “no patience for arrogant programmers who treat me as if I were stupid.” I had found my calling.
The basis of successful support is respect
Working in support means that you’ll probably end up being an expert in your field (or your niche) sooner or later. Being an expert bears an inherent risk: the risk of feeling superior to those that do not have the same insights that you have. Answering the same question over and over again makes it seem so obvious, so easy – even though it might just mean that your documentation sucks.
I have since moved on from working closely with a select number of entrepreneurs to supporting WooCommerce store owners and developers all over the world. This time I don’t have full insight into their business models, and I haven’t seen their five year plan. But I do know that each and every one of them wants is on a mission to make their own online shop thrive, and for that reason alone each and every one of them deserves my respect.
As a WooNinja I probably know more than most about our WooCommerce Extensions – at the same time our customers know much more than I do about vintage cars, wedding planning, dress rental, custom tools, 3D printers and more. Everybody excels at something, and just because we both are not proficient in the very same area, that doesn’t mean that one of us is stupid. Actually – our diversity is the very reason we can work together, joining forces to build something that either of us alone wold not have been able to do. That’s what support means to me.
No one dreams about working in support. But everyone appreciates some magic in their lives. For me, working in support is a means to delivering that magic – the magic of making someone else’s day a little better despite the stress of something not working as expected.