Today’s photo is from a time when it was customary to crowd PowerPoint slides with text, graphics, and photos, and then just read everything off the screen in front of an assembled crowd. I chose it because it reminds me of what I love about my current job, which after almost 15 years with the same company, is important to revisit from time to time. I remember…
The year is 2010. I’m 30 years old.
I had been working at Uplogix for four years before the idea of a full-on customer training workshop was presented. Until then, I’d only interacted with customers over the phone and via email, answering questions and helping them use our products. When I found out that customers would be coming to Austin, I was excited.
Not anxious or nervous; excited.
Throughout my career at Uplogix, whether it was working the front lines of tech support or training new employees to do the same, I’ve never doubted my ability to do my job. And it’s not because I’m particularly smart or clever; it’s because I care. And if that’s too groan-inducing for you, it’s because I give a shit.
Technical support is not about knowing the answer; it’s about taking the customer’s questions and problems onto your shoulders and finding the answer with them. “I don’t know, but let’s find out” is a perfectly acceptable answer. “That’s a Cisco issue, you’ll have to call them” is not. So when I was asked to perform my job in front of people, face-to-face, I wasn’t scared. All I had to do was put myself in their shoes, and treat them the way I would have wanted to be treated.
This multi-day training session was a huge deal for our company. We’d never brought so many customers in at the same time, and we all had to work together to build agendas, create slides, set up equipment, coordinate activities, etc. I remember it feeling like I was part of something big, part of a huge next step in our company’s growth.
Similarly, I felt it was a huge step in my personal growth. There’s a pervasive attitude (both internally and externally) towards technical support people that they’re not helpful or lazy or uncaring–that we’re just reading from scripts until we can get you off the phone. That’s never been true at Uplogix, but every customer we’ve ever gained has had to be convinced of that fact. The people who work on my team have to deal with that stereotype every time, even if it is eventually dispelled.
Part of training up my team is convincing them they are worthy of being seen, both by Uplogix and its customers. The above photo is one of the first times I was ever really seen by a customer. It felt good to show them that my team and I weren’t trolls who lived in dark caves waiting for the phone to ring. We were real people who cared about their problems.
Technical training aside, I think that was one of the greatest benefits of having on-site training at Uplogix: the opportunity to demonstrate in-person how much we, as a company, cared. That capacity to care, to take on the customer’s problems as our own, has set us apart from our competitors for the last decade, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
It has been a while since we’ve done a big customer training event. These days, we mostly send one or two people out to a customer site to train their teams. It works. It’s effective. Everyone gets ramped up…
… but from a company perspective, I miss doing things as a big team, a truly company-wide effort. Those are the memories you take from a tech startup, those moments of everyone working together to accomplish something.
It’s a nice feeling to be a part of something.