College Calculus

“To be clear, the idea is not that there will be a big financial payoff to a liberal arts degree,” Cappelli writes. “It is that there is no guarantee of a payoff from very practical, work-based degrees either, yet that is all those degrees promise. For liberal arts, the claim is different and seems more accurate, that it will enrich your life and provide lessons that extend beyond any individual job. There are centuries of experience providing support for that notion.”

What Is College Worth?

Stop apologising

When there has been a deliberate change though—one that is important for future development and that almost certainly won’t be changing back—then that sort of apology can be counter productive. If you know that a feature has been removed and is gone for good, it’s unhelpful to offer false hope to a customer of “recording your feedback” and “voting for that to be returned”. It will probably never happen.

Stop apologising to customers and start leading them – Mathew Patterson.

Work vs. Progress

On poorly managed teams conflicting and irrelevant work is allowed to go on because leaders don’t notice, care or take the time to guide people’s efforts in more useful directions. Capable people may work away in their private tasks, believing they’re making progress (and earning bonuses), when in reality they’re doing work that will be thrown away or even hurt the project. When someone puts their head down to work, how fast they’re going doesn’t matter if they’re heading in the wrong direction (or towards a cliff). How a talent is directed can be more important than the size of the talent itself.

Work vs. Progress – Scott Berkun.

Customer success

Last week I tweeted about separating customer success/support/service teams. Today I read this comment:

This highlights something that is really important and that is the separation of Customer Success and Customer Support. In most ways, they are not related, they are opposites. Reactive vs. proactive, case-oriented vs. success-oriented, cost-center vs. revenue-driver, etc. It’s one of the reasons that Customer Success won’t (can’t?) work if it’s part of Customer Support.

Opposites? Fuck that.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. At a certain point, though, enough instances of something becomes a trend. And the trend I’m seeing in conversations about the customer experience is deeply frustrating.

Too many people who lead “Success” teams seek to define all the valuable pieces of the customer relationship as Theirs. They draw a line in the sand and say, “This is my fiefdom. Back off.” In doing that they push all of the labor and time-intensive aspects of the customer experience onto someone else.

Replying to support tickets becomes not about the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your customers. It pushes support into a box that’s solely a cost-center, case-oriented, and unconcerned with helping customers successfully use your product. As part of this success-advocates elevate their teams as somehow inherently above and better than those mere peons who handle tickets.

That’s crazy! Even the most reactive, labor-intensive ticket represents an opportunity to earn goodwill with your customers. When you nail that experience you can create a ripple effect across revenue, social media, and the broader marketplace. That is customer support. It’s only an opportunity, though, if you choose to seize it. If you chalk support up as just a cost-center, that’s your loss. Good riddance.

This whole trend of customer success is a tired repetition of customer support as an entry-level-dead-end job that people simply seek to move out of. Customer support, when done well, is a career. Every conversation, whether it’s reactive or proactive, is an opportunity to learn from your customers. That is immensely valuable no matter your departmental definition. Every time you try to isolate certain elements into a single department and declare that proactive support won’t, and cannot, work with customer support you do the broader community harm. Every one of us is in this to help people succeed.

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic