25: Moving from Doing to Leading the Work with Jenny Dempsey

25: Moving from Doing to Leading the Work with Jenny Dempsey

Jenny Dempsey knows that whatever you do, the queue will always be there!


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Charlotte Ward  0:13  

Hello, and welcome to Episode 25 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about moving from doing the work to leading the work. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. Today, I’d like to welcome back Jenny Dempsey. This week, the topic is getting out the queue. And really, by that, I mean in the customer support environment that’s kind of shorthand for how we move from doing the work to leading the work, right. Those are two quite different roles and is a place where often there’s conflict in customer support leadership, particularly in those early days, so my question really is How do you do it? Should you do it? And does it ever really happen?

Jenny Dempsey  1:07  

Oh gosh, the queue: our favourite place to be! Well, I, I’m just gonna speak from my own experience, my current company NumberBarn, and we’re a startup, we’re very small. And we are seeing an increase in the volume of emails coming through. And we only do email support right now. So our queue is the tickets right in front of our face. And we have an ongoing dilemma with the agents that you know, we bring on the onto the team, and they share like, oh, we’re just trying to get through the queue. And they’re answering tickets really, really fast, and they’re not always accurate. And then there’s the, you know, the other side of like, well, I’m taking my time to answer this correctly, even if the queue is building up. Where do we find the balance? So we make people wait a little bit longer for an accurate quality response. Or do we just get through it to get through it? And so I think these are one of those things that we ponder with a glass of wine at the end of the night constantly like “what is it, like what’s the answer?” Like, um, and so like, for us, it’s really about quality over quantity. But we set the expectations with our customers. So we, we don’t say, oh, we’ll get back to you in an hour. And then we take a day, just to get a quality response, we literally will say, we’ll get back to you in one business day, we set the SLA with the customer, so they expect it. We get back to them way faster. But we do take a little bit longer on tickets, we encourage our team to make sure they’re being proactive in all the responses. So for us, it made more sense as a business to take that time to not look at it as this crazy long queue that it actually is. It’s going to look crazy sometimes, but how can we change the perspective and realise that? Yeah, it’s crazy, but we’re setting the expectations upfront about when to expect a reply from us, we’re going, you know, we’re usually getting done faster. But in the meantime, some of these things will take a little longer, but they’re within our, you know, set expectations. And so for us, it really came down to, again, setting the expectations and focusing on quality over quantity,

Charlotte Ward  3:22  

That setting appropriate expectations, that’s the role of you as leader, right, is to give your agents that breathing room to provide that quality of support. And still, contractually meet SLAs and everything else, right? So, in that sense, if part of what you’re doing as a leader is creating an environment in which your agents can succeed, do you get in there as well at this point, are you still in the queue? And where do you, where do you find the balance between shaping what support looks like and making those decisions? Around, you know, that breathing room, for instance, and actually getting in there sweeping up some of that queue yourself?

Jenny Dempsey  4:07  

Right? Oh, and that’s such a good question, because that’s something I’m definitely trying to find the balance on now. But yeah, oh, I get my hands in that queue. No doubt I dig into that queue when necessary. I don’t step in. When it’s, you know, the queue may be long. I’m not gonna let it intimidate me, I trust my team. I know they’re going to do what they need to do. But yes, if things are on an excessive level, or in the event that we have a team member out, yes, I will step in. But otherwise, like, I, you know, made the choice with the team as a as a manager as a leader or to just like, you know what, here, look, there might be X amount of tickets in there, that’s okay. If it goes above this amount, you know, X amount, then then you can expect me to hop on or during early or hours when no one’s on or someone’s off. So it’s really communicated and people know. But otherwise, it’s up, it’s up to them. And I love giving people’s …. I love just like, I hate micromanaging. I am not that type of person. I want to trust my agents and be like, you do you you know what to do like you, you do it. And then I checked out maybe here and there and I’m always there, we’re talking or one on ones blah, blah, blah. But it’s like, they just know what to do. And so it’s just nice to be able to have you know, the team that I trust and they do a great job. 

Charlotte Ward  5:34  

Yeah, yeah, trust is important because it allows you to step away. And yeah, you can’t do that without a team you trust. Which is a vicious cycle, because then you end up as you said, micromanaging but you’re constantly in the queue feeling like you have to sweep up in the corners and, and just help them through the day and that doesn’t actually help you think bigger anyway.

Jenny Dempsey  5:58  

Right? Yes. And that was a personal struggle for me because I was like, Oh, I know I love being in the queue. I’m a crazy person, I love being in the front line queue. So it was a perspective shift for me to change. And look at it from like, if I’m out of the queue, I can be working on the bigger picture things. So I had to reframe that. And maybe there’s other managers that have that too. But yeah, I love if I have a chance to be in the queue. Sometimes I kind of like Wow, there’s a lot of tickets today. I want to like answer some questions like, build connections with people. It’s fun.

Charlotte Ward  6:38  

That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/25 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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