Klaus's cofounder Martin Kõiva spent four years building and scaling customer support globally at Pipedrive. Besides understanding the need to build the customer service feedback tool Klaus, it also taught him a lot about how to help his team grow as individuals.
Watch Martin's presentation on enabling ambitious support agents at Support Driven Expo Portland in June 2018.
Here's a recap of why it is important to motivate your ambitious support agents and how to do it. If your company is growing fast, which is usually the case with tech startups, you'll probably face two things:
- You need to find different ways to motivate the old-timers and the newcomers;
- You are hiring driven and ambitious people who want to continue learning.
Here are the four methods that can do wonders with your agents' motivation:
1. The power of “That’s fine, continue”: when giving feedback, don't only seek out the extremes. Assure that the majority of cases are handled OK and that agents can continue doing what you are doing. "You’re fine, continue" is great feedback and goes a long way in motivating people.
2. Mentoring works both ways: mentoring is not just good for the person being mentored. Being able to mentor new agents, gives authority to the seasoned ones. You're telling them that their expert knowledge matters and that they should share it with others.
3. Develop superpowers: try to determine your team members' superpowers beyond answering customers' questions, and let them thrive. Oftentimes, their expertise or interests are related to areas like technical knowledge, customer success, sales, or marketing.
- Assign tickets based on your agents' interests and strengths. For example, you can hand technical tickets to dedicated people. Focus on a topic, not just the number of cases to be solved.
- Let agents manage communication with other teams. For example, make a specific person responsible for exchanging information between support and product management.
4. Let them try your job: handing a specific task to a team member is a perfectly safe thing to do for a manager. Let them take on a responsibility like organizing a meeting or distributing a memo. It's another way of saying that you trust them, you know that they are capable of doing it.
Let your agents know that they are not just backlog killing machines. That’s a good feeling.
Ambitious people can form a strong team and deliver excellent results. It's the managers' duty to provide them with challenging tasks that keep their enthusiasm alive.
Working as a support agent is usually temporary. People can build careers in support in general, but most of them will not be agents forever.
That's the reality. Embrace it.
Support is like college: it’s natural that people do not stay there or at least in the agent role forever. What's important, is how long is the stay and what the stay is like.
Support agents are very attractive candidates for in-house hiring, because they're empathetic, they know the product, and they know the customers. People can transition to other teams and grow their careers, and that’s something to be proud of.