This week, I spent some time with the excellent Lauren Rose Eimers!
Lauren is currently Support Lead at Big Cartel, a company built by artists for artists that helps people make a living doing what they love. Big Cartel makes tools to set up an online shop that are empowering, affordable, and easy-to-use. Lauren has been with Big Cartel for about six years, and in leadership for two of those.
Hey Lauren! Lovely to meet you and thank you so much for spending time with me today! I’m excited to hear your story, because I know it’s a really unusual one! Despite that, I always like to start with Customer Support…. How did you get into it?
I have a serious foundation in customer service as a barista. It was such a great job!
I worked my way through two Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees with earnings from that job and learned how to deal with acute issues on the fly while maintaining a calm exterior. I call that my very first “customer support” role, since I was able to form long-lasting relationships where customers leaned on me for mental health care, advice, and a listening ear that catapulted my way into psychology and counseling. I spent 4 years in the mental health counseling and genetic counseling world as a licensed mental health counselor and genetic counselor, respectively, before my first online customer support role with Big Cartel.
Eventually, I was promoted internally at Big Cartel when new positions were created for our more seasoned support employees. I love Big Cartel, the service they provide and what they stand for, so I was thrilled when offered the job!
How did you find that move into leadership?
It was a really organic progression, as the leads that were promoted into these new roles all had a super-solid foundation of internal knowledge, customer service experience, and teaching/mentoring newer employees. Many of us already spent a large portion of our day answering teammates’ questions, troubleshooting together, and coming up with new internal processes to streamline our days.
The most difficult thing for me was to leave tickets in the queue! I tried for a long while to keep up my previous volume while also attending to my new tasks. Textbook burning the candle at both ends!
Let’s talk more about leadership from a Customer Support perspective, specifically. How do you promote development for both yourself and your team?
I believe that empathy and being able to truly listen are a crucial foundation to build other leadership skills upon.
I think there is such wisdom inside us all, but you may have to get really quiet to hear that voice. Meditation has really helped me in focussing on my own strengths, growth edges, and goals. And I think everyone should have a good listening ear to go to, a therapist (of course I’d say that!), a mentor, or otherwise, to help you process the tougher stuff. I also keep my mental health counseling and genetic counseling licenses active with continuing education, as I have found it has helped me immensely in seeing bigger dynamics at play when presented with an issue and to try and remain curious and open when faced with obstacles. Having this incredibly different background also helps me think outside the box!
Then, quality assurance is an amazing way to really hone CS skills, but I also love pairing on tougher tickets, being able to explore skills and projects outside of the queue, and having the proper amount of time off from work to rest and rejuvenate!
Do you have any favourite resources?
I love InsightTimer for a simple way to start a meditation practice. And we’re all reading anything by Brené Brown in the CS world, aren’t we? Dare to Lead really resonated with my empath spirit! I also have learned so much in the Support Driven community. Seeing how other leaders manage the day-to-day quandaries has been incredibly helpful.
Do you have any noteworthy customer experiences?
There are so many good ones! I think when you let folks know you are a real live person on the other end, real conversations and connections can happen. I can’t say there are any “worsts” though, since the counselor in me knows that everyone is carrying a lot these days and it’s impossible to see their whole story. It’s easy to lash out at someone when they aren’t face-to-face, so customer support can get the brunt of that sometimes. It can be tough to not take that personally on the receiving end, but I have to remember we’re all dealing with so many other things other than that ONE thing a person is getting angry over.
To sign off, how do you sign off?
“Best,” makes me cringe! I like ways to leave the conversation open, like, “Please let me know if you need a hand with anything else!”
Oh, thank goodness! Another #TeamCharlotte recruit! 😂 Thanks so much, Lauren! Please let *me* know if you need a hand with anything!
Watch this space for another awesome CS Leader next week!