Bonus – INBOUND 2020

Bonus – INBOUND 2020

Today I finally get the opportunity to share my session from INBOUND 2020 with you! Thanks to the awesome folks at HubSpot for producing this amazing virtual event. Also, I have a request for you.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:14
Hello, and welcome to the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward.

This week, here’s a chance to listen to my session for inbound 2020 Hello, and welcome to the customer support leaders podcast. In August I should have been in Boston, speaking at inbound 2020. In fact, leading a networking event called empathy is the key to customer service in 2020. Well, 2020 took a bit of a turn for the worse. And I didn’t get to Boston. But the fabulous team at HubSpot pivoted inbound to a virtual event. And they very kindly offered me an opportunity to speak to the same topic for an audio segment. So now the virtual event is over is your chance to listen to that segment recorded about a month ago for inbound 2020. But also to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by people like you. Indeed, you may be a guest already. But if you’re not, would you like to be if you are a customer support leader, if you’re leading a customer support team, a customer service team, a technical support team, then I want to hear from you. Or maybe you’re not a leader in that field. But maybe you’re listening to this because you work alongside customer service and customer support teams. In which case, I want to hear from you too. As we move into the next 100 episodes. I’m looking for new guests. I’m looking also for questions. What have we not covered yet? I’ve had something like 35 guests over the last 95 episodes, but all of the topics have been largely of my choosing. The question is What would you like to hear? What questions do you have? Would you like me to pose a question for you to one of my existing guests? Or would you like to come on and answer someone else’s question? So have a think about that. Get in touch you can find me at customer support leaders calm or you can email me direct at Charlotte customer support leaders calm and in the meantime, as promised, here’s that segment from inbound 2020 Hello, my name is Charlotte Ward. I’m a customer support leader from over here in the UK. And I’m the host of the customer support leaders podcast. I’ve been delivering and leading technical support experiences for 25 years. I’ve worked on the front line in a heated call centre environment and loved it. And I’ve led remote highly technical teams working on deeply bespoke implementations and love that too and over the last couple of years I’ve interviewed support leaders from all sorts of organisations from around the globe. You can find more details of that at customer support right now I’m head of support at snowplough. snowplough is a data delivery platform that collects and operationalizes behavioural data at scale.

So, today I went for a walk. I needed to think a little more about this topic. It’s been eight months since I wrote the title. Empathy is the key to customer support in 2020. And since then, the world has changed. Like everyone, I don’t get much space in an average week right now. Life is full. I needed to get out of the house. I needed fresh air. I needed to breathe. That’s what I want you to do right now.

Take a long, deep breath and fill your lungs fill and your sides swell and pause. fill the space you’ve created in that space is precious at any time. But now in this year in crisis. That space is our rarest commodity in this crisis and everyone is stressed. Everyone is busy. Everyone is distracted. Time is more than valuable. It’s the thing we crave the most Most time and space. We’re all juggling and trying to do things in a different way and everything takes longer and everything is harder and accomplishing simple tasks becomes a sticky mess. Getting through the day is like wading through a bowl of treacle or molasses and separation of work and life is non existent. I’ve seen a CEO give a presentation with a four year old around his neck. And I see in a colleague staunchly sticking to the point while two offspring play with his feet under his desk, and I’ve seen a podcast guest whispering so as not to wake the toddler who’d finally fallen asleep, exhausted on the sofa. Not to mention those battling with impossibly poor home internet, or partner taking a loud work call just when you need to concentrate. Let’s face it, even those precious moments of peace in the bathroom are becoming rare. Working from quarantine, as soon as one zoom call ends, the next one beckons. Take another long, deep breath and think about that space that you create. Five months ago, I had a minor banking issue. I tried to sort it out using the live chat facility offered by the bank. But of course, it seemed I couldn’t do this thing that I needed doing using that chat facility. This had to be done on the phone. I was given the appropriate number and the chat ended. It took me four phone calls over the next three months to get this minor thing resolved. I couldn’t get through, I couldn’t remember my phone banking codes. At one point I was on hold for 45 minutes. The thing is that today in 2020, in the middle of a crisis, I just don’t have that kind of time. I don’t have that kind of space, who does. And then on that walk today I realised that we all have the gift of that space to give. In our teams and customer support, we have the daily chance to minimise the friction in our customers lives. And we can be the enabler in their day, not the blocker and we can minimise wasted time not squander their time and we can deliver solutions rather than deflect questions. Thinking about it systematically, this seems another huge task. But it actually starts in one place. It starts with empathy. And empathy is what allows you to walk for a moment in your customers shoes. Empathy allows you to take a journey with them, and build systems that support your teams in that journey. And give your staff space and permission to take an objective moment to relate to their customers situation. don’t squander your customers time by focusing on your team’s time. Forget metrics that focus on speed as a performance target. Empathy is not a race. However, empathy is a shortcut. Empathy is the shortcut that allows us to read between the lines in our customers lives. In these times, many people are leading a life that is more virtual than ever before. through phone or chat or zoom, we may momentarily be in someone’s house, in their living room in their lives. And our customer facing teams may only see an edited version of those lives. But with empathy, we can understand and even predict our customers needs. It allows us to deliver solutions in their day, or right to their door. Build processes that allow your teams to zigzag across them, rather than sticking rigidly to them. Let your team find their own shortcuts. Don’t stick to scripts and miss the opportunity to connect with your customers. And finally, and most importantly, empathy is space and take another long, deep breath and that space is a gift in this world in this time of crisis. We can hunker down Or we can accept the rapidly changing paradigms in customer support. And take this opportunity as a gift to remind us that we can relate to our teams and to our customers in a real human way.

We can and should pass that gift on to our customers. We should be generous. In demonstrating generosity in giving that space in being the enabler in their day.

We give them a moment to breathe.

That’s it for today. Normal programming resumes next week. I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by

A little disclaimer about the podcast, blog interviews and articles on this site: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text and podcast belong solely to the author or interviewee, and not necessarily to any employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.