Joined in: 2018
Job title: Technical Support Consultant
Benedict joined us in 2018 in our not-for-profit support team, eventually moving into the technical support team. He shares with us the unlikely similarities between his stand up comedy routines and providing a first class customer service.
When I first joined Customer Support, I expected my background in computing to be one of the most useful skills I had. I did not expect that my years of doing stand-up would be just as useful. At first the gig venues of the West Midlands seem to have not much in common with the Advanced Office at the Mailbox, aside from the thick accents and vast amounts of people assuring you Jack Grealish is the best footballer in the country. Here are three lessons I learnt from stand-up and how they apply in giving quality support.
The Customer wants it to work/The Audience wants you to be funny
One of my first major hurdles when doing open mics was the terror that people would heckle me on stage. What I found out though was that, for the most part, people came to comedy to have a good time. They want you to be funny. In the same way, when a customer raises an issue although they may be frustrated, you ultimately both want the same thing – to fix the issue. Keeping this as the key objective, making the audience laugh and fixing the issue (occasionally slipping in an appropriate joke) will keep you on the right track. Also, you may want to make sure you are in the right location/calling the right contact. You do not want to end up doing the Support equivalent trying to do a standup gig when the venue has been double booked for a hen-do.
Be Fearless - get on the stage
Stage fright never really goes away, it is something I still experience even after doing countless gigs. In the same way, I still have a slight fear before difficult calls with a customer. I have had people tell me that they could never do stand up, before I started doing it, I was also one of those people. The only difference was getting on the stage. I was incredibly grateful when I won the Be Fearless Value Award earlier this year. It was awarded for resolving tough customer issues during stressful situations. Whilst I would like to say I am fearless, honestly it is just about pushing through and entering those conversations rather than avoiding them.
Make sure you have a strong finish
The audience will often remember your last joke the most. My strongest bit I will tend to weave in and out of the set until tying it altogether with a strong punchline at the end. It is a technique used by almost every stand up but is always effective. In the same way, a customer’s last impression of you will be the way the call is resolved. After you have fixed the issue, make sure they are happy with it, tell them what the issue was, how you resolved it, and what to do if it happens again. You will find that customers often are appreciative the issue is sorted. This is a great time to develop a connection with the person you have fixed the issue for and develop a professional relationship with.
Well there you have it, three lessons I learnt from stand-up that apply to Support. There were maybe less jokes in this than you expected, but my stand-up audiences would probably tell you the same thing. Support is dealing with people and if you remember that, you will be in good stead. This is a technical job reliant on strong communication skills. Understanding both is crucial to delivering quality support.