This week, I spent time talking support with Sukhpreet Anand.
Sukhpreet is Director of Global Support at Unifyed, a cloud-native student information system provider serving over seven million students in seven countries. She has been with Unifyed for about a year and a half, and in leadership for about eight years altogether.
Hi Sukhpreet! Thanks so much for taking time to talk to me. Could we talk about your early career first? How did you get into Customer Support?
I started my career as an Instructor at a computer institute, delivering classes on various IT topics. Two years later, after completing my post-graduate studies, I joined a VoIP organization, headquartered in Switzerland. I was hired as a Network Administrator, playing with Cisco Gateways and Routers. I enjoyed every bit of learning and working there for four years.
After that, I moved to a Technical Support Engineer role at Kayako. That’s where I transitioned to leadership, moving from a Product Support Engineer to a Support Team Lead, and then to a Manager at Kayako. I joined Unifyed as a Manager, and then stepped into the Director role here at Unifyed. That’s been my journey so far in Support!
Why did you decide to get into CS, instead of continue building a career as a Network Admin?
Unfortunately, the VoIP organization ran into some issues, and the office was closed. I started searching for new opportunities in my hometown, and found that I really only had two options: either working in Technical Support, or a role as a Bank Executive. My experience seemed a better fit for technical support, and I always appreciated the feedback I received from our clients and team. I knew I would enjoy this role more.
And once you started taking on more leadership responsibilities, how did you find it? Do you remember any particular challenges from those early days?
In the first one or two years I did well on the front line: I picked up things really fast by helping our clients and internal teams. I also started helping my team members to support our clients. On the surface, it was a natural transition from contributor, to team leader, to manager.
However, the transition was not as simple as it seemed. Being in a manager’s role means developing team members, bringing them onboard and utilizing their strengths to overcome others’ weaknesses and build a great team. That’s always been my approach.
The main challenge was, to bring everyone to the same page and help them understand the purpose behind the decisions and team goals. Transparency was key in overcoming this challenge. Discussing about the changes constantly and giving clear reasons on WHY, helped me to have my team walk on the same path.
I really believe two things about leadership: first, it’s about vision and responsibility, not power; and then that it’s not about you – it’s about investing in the growth of others.
The main philosophy I developed over time, which I always tell my team, too is: “Think as an outsider, if you want to improve the process, otherwise you will end up being in a defensive mode.”
Very true! Do you think CS leadership is misunderstood by other parts of the business?
A lot of people think that resolving a ticket is what drives customer satisfaction. Many times we fail to understand that every new interaction with a customer drives their journey.
Customer Satisfaction is not derived from one resolution provided, it’s about the overall customer effort score.
Support Leaders should focus on training their teams in all aspects to support customers, plus ensure that Product is capable enough to provide helpful resources to customers, to reduce their efforts in using the Product.
Is there anything you wish you’d known earlier in your career?
I would go back to basics here, considering what most Support teams follow (including ours) which is not what makes Support a kickass Support team. There are four things I wish I knew earlier!
First, that a resolved ticket count does not showcase team member’s efforts.
Second, that a high CSAT score does not always demonstrate customer’s satisfaction.
Third, that “satisfied” customers are not always converted to loyal customers.
And finally that it’s okay to say NO to the customer, depending on the context.
How do you foster your own personal development?
Reading blogs, writing blogs, attending Support Conferences, and being part of Support Communities like Support Driven and HelloMeets.
And to sign off, what’s your favourite way to sign off an email?
Closing with a hashtag – #happyFriday #Allhandsondeck!
#thanksForYourTimeSukhpreet! – you’re so right, it really is worth going back to basics and evaluating what makes a team successful, before you dive into the same old metrics.
More from another Customer Support Leader next week!