Here at our company, those who serve customers in technical support are the experts themselves. For a long time, we rotated the devs who supported them: every week three different people attended to all called technicians. In my case, the job was to answer the tickets (opened by the customers) quickly: my mission was to solve the problem in a few hours. Otherwise, the call is passed to other experts who would do a more thorough and time-consuming investigation of the problem. Know here how this process works.
I was good at it. I would put the phone on, call my playlist called Ticket Killing, close any window on the computer that was not related to technical support, and focus on killing tickets. At the time, my mentality was this: I will finish quickly with these calls, so the customers are happy.
It worked. Service targets were being beaten and customer satisfaction ratings were positive. However, it was not an attitude that I thought was really Customer First. At the end of the day, the clients had their call resolved, however, I did not resolve them with care. For me, being Customer First goes beyond hitting goals and solving problems. Thinking about the customer first is exercising empathy.
After beginning to study and practice some practices of Buddhism, I was able to apply, at work, some concepts that I read and reflect on every day.
Kindness and Empathy
Kindness is an ability to go beyond one’s identity and to look at other beings from their own perspective.
From Buddhism, I have learned that true goodness goes beyond helping a little lad carry the bags from the market even at home. Genuine kindness includes extracting my individual perception and entering completely into the context of the little lord. Only then I will be able to get closer to understanding the pains he feels in the joints, the fatigue he feels when taking his hard steps from the market to the house.
What does this have to do with technical support? All. It is not enough for me to investigate a problem in the system and solve it and inform the client. I’m a developer, I create new stuff. So it is important that I feel what the customer feels when he has some difficulty. When I say I feel I mean building a real empathy for him. I must work to totally exonerate myself from my perspective and put myself in the user’s shoes to understand how the problem faced impacts on your work, your mind, and your innermost self.
The practice of goodness is an exercise in active transcendence – we go beyond ourselves, a forgetfulness of our usual tendencies arises and there we become able to effectively assist others.
“I am you, and you are me. We are part of a larger self “
My technical support weeks were extremely tiring. I liked it because I knew our customers and their pain better – this allowed me to develop software with more quality. However, every day I was exhausted and tired of solving problems – even more tired of not being able to solve them. With the most active Buddhism in my life, I was able to reverse this tiredness.
When I understood that all of us – living beings – are part of something bigger and unique, I was able to see this also in technical support. I could see that there would always be tickets, there would always be new problems for me to solve. No matter how fast or efficient I was in service, new challenges would always arise. I could also see that there was tension at both ends: I was tense with a problem to solve and the client was also tense with an unresolved problem.
Just like in the comic, the client was a wave and I was another. Once the problem was solved, we would leave the waveform that we had at that moment and we would be a just sea. A developer and a client: both in the same context. In the near future, I would find it in waveform again and we would have a helping relationship again. As I began to understand and absorb this dynamic, I saw no reason to be anxious in resolving the calls, nor tired at the end of the day. I was a wave that would take another form the next day and nothing I did would avoid this happening.
With more calmness and a more focused mind, I was able to attend the tickets more calmly and had more clarity to know the problems and to find the solutions. After all, it is easier to walk on a firm ground than during an earthquake. So it is with our mind as well. 🙂
May you be happy
In the way I explained, it seems like this slowed down my service, but that did not happen. I kept the speed and I had much more quality in the service. I’ve come to have more empathy and peace of mind in resolving technical support calls. It was possible to sense in the customers’ responses that they were satisfied – more than before this change in mentality. In the end, all this is about knowing ourselves better and being happy. I understood my feelings and clients’ feelings better and became happier with these concepts. Besides, I think I made a lot of customers happier as well.
In addition, the playlist I listened to during service changed to Buddhist Mantras.
Today, the support process is a bit different. Each of the teams within the large Product Team responds to calls related to their areas of expertise, and I happen to have done much less in technical support. Still, the learning reported here is still present in my way of developing software – but that is a subject for another time.
When we understand the preciousness of our life and use it to produce benefits for other beings, it is a sign that the teachings produced the transformations we were looking for.