Rethinking Customer Support

image This week I have been spending time at a corporate offsite.  It’s been a pretty amazing experience, and I have seen/learned a ton of things about which I cannot speak.  That’s a bummer, because I was blown away by some of the stuff I have seen, but it’s internal only for now.  However, should you want to see some of this stuff, you might want to consider being at our Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks.

That said, one thing I can share is a story from a partner.  The presenter was awesome, and shared some interesting pivots on things that his company was doing with data.  It wasn’t data, but rather how they approached their customer support that really inspired me.  To make his point, he showed us a video of a storm chaser – the implicit statement was that for anyone who has ever been on a call with a Fortune100 customer when the service offering goes down, it was very much like being a storm chaser.  Just about the scariest thing you can do.  I would argue that it’s not the scariest environment imaginable, but that’s just me.

In order to think through how they were going to tackle customer support on a go-forward basis they decided that they would talk to the experts.  They arranged meetings with firefighters and emergency & disaster site workers.  They wanted to get into the heads of the very people who have to manage the crisis, calm the locals, and solve the problem.  How ingenious!

I don’t want to give away too much of what they shared, but I will share this tid-bit.  The best plan of action for learning how to handle support of irate, and expensive-to-lose customers?  Drill often.  Think about that for a minute.  How often do you drill your customer support team?  This reminds me of the movie Apollo 13, when Jack Swigert is getting a run in the simulator and blows it, and Lovell makes a joke along the lines of “if I had a nickel for every time I was killed in the simulator.”  The point here is that if you drill for it, you can solve the crisis when it arises with calm and focused effort.

What are you doing to train and audit your customer support?