Today’s post comes from Ben MacAskill, Director of Customer Success at SmugMug and one of the awesome speakers joining us at UserConf Portland in June to talk customer support.

Customer Support is the Dream Job.

If you are reading this, you probably know how important support is. Really really important. Here at SmugMug, we feel that customer retention is the best metric for growth. It’s harder to find new customers than keep the existing ones, especially when you have built up more than a decade of loyal customers. At the very core, retention is not a complicated issue. If customers are happy, they keep using your product and paying you money.

Quote: "A support team's role is to make people happy. How cool is that? That's pretty much the best job description you can have. Who doesn't want a business card that simply says "I make people happy?"" -Ben MacAskillIf you look at it like that, then a support team’s role is to make people happy. How cool is that?  That’s pretty much the best job description you can have.  Who doesn’t want a business card that simply says “I make people happy”?!

If that is the case, then why do so many companies have trouble keeping their support staff happy?  Why do so few people view it as a real career? I am going to talk about this at UserConf Portland, and you should come listen, but here’s a preview:

Happy Support Team = Happy Customers

Make your support staff happy, and they will make your customers happy. Happy customers make good business. The great news is that interacting with happy customers makes your support staff even happier. That’s the part I really love about the job, interacting with wonderful customers who love our service.

The moment I realized support is what I want to do forever was when I helped a customer whose apartment was lost in a fire. That’s a somber way to start a conversation. She sent us a photo of the charred remains of her physical belongings. She just wanted to know that her most important possessions were still safe:  her photos.  The memories she can’t replace were still protected on SmugMug.  In spite of her personal tragedy, she still ended up smiling.

She wrote that email around 10 years ago. Much to my chagrin, I can’t remember her name. However, her story will always stick with me. That story, and countless others like it, are a huge part of why I absolutely love this job a decade later.

Give your support staff a genuine opportunity to not just help your customers, but to thrill them!  Every time you can bring a smile to a customer’s face, the job gets easier and more rewarding. There are still days where it’s hard, like any other job. Some days you show up tired and cranky, because you are only human. Then you get an opportunity to really surprise and delight a customer and they send you and your company love letters.  When that happens, the frustrations melt away and you wonder why you would ever consider doing anything else. (Photo courtesy of Ivan Makarov.)