To begin with – I must confess. I did not end up in support by choice. Three years ago I was 10 years into my happy dev career. I wanted to take part in setting up our Amsterdam office and the only role going was in support.
Recently I realized that throughout my dev days I used to support our customers a lot. By spending countless hours on the phone with the end users, the consultants providing professional services, the sales teams – I was actually doing support. Looking back I remember those days being quite stressful, tiring, sometimes painful and yet extremely rewarding. I added many popular features while working with my customers. I heard a lot of good words and bad words but it was always worth listening to my customers.
Today I get to hear wonderful stories from customers that we have helped, this inspires me to do more. At times I hear stories about customers who are not happy with us, this keeps my feet on the ground and makes me want to improve. Sadly, when I get to talk to our customers personally these days, it is normally because we have failed them. This drives me to do better and win their trust back.
Most of all, these three years helped me see that everything a successful software company does should be done in the name of its customers. We do not make products to sit on the shelf. We want them to be used and enjoyed.
Today my product is support. So far it has been a great challenge and a lot of fun. We definitely do everything in the name of our customers. In your name. I get to talk to some of you who feed us great ideas. I also work with some incredibly smart, talented, genuine and caring people. All of these are pieces are part of a recipe for continuous improvement. I get to work on some amazing projects with other support engineers. You may have heard of some of our projects.
We built Hercules and received some amazing feedback. One customer actually left this comment on an issue solved by Hercules:
We built Virgil and then Virgil v2. We built an internal Wallboard that helps us focus on our customers even more intensely. We built a bunch more internal and external facing tools for support that made a ton of difference to the quality of service we provide. It was a lot of fun helping the team work on these projects and watching customers actually get help much faster than they would have otherwise. All the while I work with fantastically interesting people with amazing ideas on some really cool challenges.
The bottom line is that Legendary support is not only about processes, tools and service. To me it is about taking personal responsibility for the product I offer. I have been very fortunate so far to work with a bunch of people who believe passionately in the same goal. I am also lucky to work in an environment where I have the freedom and power to take responsibility. I mentor a bunch of engineers in building better tools and processes. I really enjoy the brainstorming, exchanging ideas, being creative and sometimes coding and losing track of time. All in your name.
Today I am fortunate to be an EMEA Regional Support manager at Atlassian. Support is my product. I take it personally. When it does not work well, I want to fix it. When my customers have experiences elsewhere they wish they had with us – I want to know about it. What should I fix for you?
(You can email me directly at sherali atlassian.com)