Andrei Kamarouski works as a Zendesk consultant on Upwork, and has made a long-term career out of it. From there, he’s using his experience to build Pythia, an organisation creating AI-driven apps for Zendesk.
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 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 123 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about freelancing in customer support. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I would like to welcome to the podcast today Andrei Kamarouski. I hope I’ve pronounced that correctly, Andrei. And thank you for joining me. We’re talking this week about freelancing in customer support. And you’ve First of all, I’d like you to introduce yourself, but but maybe as part of the introduction, you could tell me a little about how long you’ve been freelancing because I know you’ve been doing this for quite some time, haven’t you?
Andrei Kamarouski 0:57
Yeah, exactly. Yes. First of all, thank you for having these podcasts with you. So it’s my first one. So very, yeah. Interesting, too. So I’m, I started small Freelancer track just about eight years ago, or just even more. My initial background is actually academic science. So I’m so so ologists, I have PhD. But I just for being a practical man, I started doing freelancing. It was not customer service. Initially, it was more research, online marketing, reputation management sales. But around 2013, I started more and more projects in customer service. From 2017. I’m working mainly on Avaya Upwork. So I implemented implementing Zendesk as a way to mine My main system I’m focused on and hundreds jobs. So a lot of experience here. And today, I have more than 60 of open jobs are writing jobs spot around 1015 projects in active phase, and mainly due Zendesk implementations or optimizations as well as different workflows, customer service, PR centres, etc. So like outsource admin and manager sometimes,
Charlotte Ward 2:26
huh, wow. That’s, that’s a lot of Zendesk experience in one person. Yeah. So I guess, I guess, there’s two parts to this, I think for me, one is, how are you finding Upwork as a platform and your experience of it, because I know, there’s a lot of mixed feelings about Upwork as a platform for freelancing. But But also, like just your experience having that quantity of work on the go, particularly, when I’m guessing. I mean, I know support across a lot of companies, there are some common threads, there’s definitely some things all companies do the same. But there’s it’s also quite different from organisation to organisation as well. So let’s let’s tackle both sides of that, from my point of view, perhaps one is was like super briefly, what do you think of Upwork?
Unknown Speaker 3:22
I think Upwork is a pretty good some time ago, there are some questions, but today, it’s a good place to remote work for freelancing. And it’s like they have in mind domain, there are more SMB companies and sometimes enterprises. I would say there is more than enough work. There are around 10 people in my domain again, so vendors experts were competing against each other all the time. So but yeah, it’s the quality of of client. There’s pretty high, I would say it’s not just like people who are students or whatever. Yeah, no, it’s a really major businesses. And they really, sometimes I see a lot of companies who spent thousands of dollars on Upwork already. And hard, a lot of different position there. So I think it’s a pretty good place.
Charlotte Ward 4:20
That’s amazing. It’s quite mature as a platform. And yeah,
Andrei Kamarouski 4:23
Charlotte Ward 4:24
Yeah. The meetings on the wall. Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. There’s such a marketplace for such specific skills. Right. And, and so the second part of my question really was just like having that quantity of work. In Progress at once and having that quantity of clients that you talked about, do you find that there’s a lot of a lot of repeat, work that you do, do you been able to make efficiencies? Have you What have you been your major learnings about having that? That quantity of work managing it in this field? Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 4:57
yeah. Yeah, really. More or less, I do three kinds of job there. Again, it’s a Zendesk implementations. So from presh setups when customer or client doesn’t have something or want to buy something but want to start Zendesk or migrate from existing system to Zendesk. Second is about optimizations. So making better, making more transparent structure. And third one is more about like reporting, and different things related to reporting. So pretty often people want to understand the efficiency of how they perform, how teams perform how managers, and what should be the support strategy, they execute. And yeah, pretty, pretty similar jobs from from my perspective, but each company is pretty unique, you have something you see something different, how organisation and culture is, like functioning there, or just different domains. It’s always very interesting to meet new people to new meet new businesses across globe. And I really have just very, I would say, templated, but they’re well structured for Sanders, how I as a consultant work, I usually walk by Google Docs, I have a lot of templates for different use cases, starting from exploration, business analysis, to implementing different different workflows, again, different things inside Zanna that I do, that makes me me personally efficient in being able to work with multiple companies at the same time, but also having less routine and being able to focus more on more productive, unique challenges that those companies have. And as a quick note here, yeah, blog plus, maybe last two years, I was, I have understood that I do almost the same things, and I should automate my own efforts there. So have in mind some ideas of doing these, like zanda scabs for guided setup, automation, but also we, with my partner, we started a company which automates different things inside zanders and we do already some of them. I will tell you more about this later.
Charlotte Ward 7:26
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’d love you to come back another time. And tell me more about that. For sure. I know, we talked very briefly the other day, one thing that you mentioned was, although you’re working with such a variety of companies, and that there is this kind of efficiency that you’re building into your work, we touched on it there, there’s still also this quite quite unique to each organisation as well. But also, you touched on the other day, how you really felt like an employee quite often like, like, you felt kind of you built strong relationships with your clients, right?
Unknown Speaker 8:02
Yeah, yeah, there are some, not not too many, because it’s more or less for lensing. Yeah. But there are some clients I’m working for years. And we have like friendly calls, almost each week, and all the time just slack or different tax communications. And this feels me like I’m pretty part of the company. But again, I’m more doing really remote work in terms of being dentist admin. Only big companies, they may hire the entire body for beings and discard money in most cases. And this is just a function which customer our operations manager do everyday and they will just for doing this perfectly hire somebody like me. So it’s my strategy, not to tie to not to build a strong relationship I would say in the in that matter, because since you are a bank too much attention on specific client interfering to work with multiples. Yeah. Like, I don’t, I’m not so involved in managing support agents directly. Like, like, I can guide the manager or about reporting and seal pay, please look at these these this KPI, this framework, you follow and you can like observe the performance, but training coaching, everyday work. It’s not my my duty there.
Charlotte Ward 9:49
Yeah, not something you want to do. And that that’s a very, very valid point here isn’t it that by by doing what you do, it gives you the the the opportunity to really specialise, but also, it takes the pressure off those companies who hire you because quite often the Support Manager or the head of sport or whatever is, is already doing 14 other things, not least of which is managing those agent agents and doing the coaching and, and the scheduling and the training and the expertise and everything else. And the last thing sometimes and quite often, the thing that’s hurried, as I’m sure you’ll you’ll have come across is, is just the actual attention to the implementation and the attention to the way things are done in Zendesk as a tool. So quite often things are thrown together as they’re needed without a great deal of thought.
Unknown Speaker 10:44
Yeah, exactly. And here, like, I have specific methodology, it’s customer centric. It’s based on customer journey and deer. And having these I’m trying to build out the support environment, like inside Zander, which educates the agents that itself, how to be customer centric in terms in namings, in workflows in the different parts. And it again, it allows me like to build a rocket and letting it fly. Though the system with this approach may scale more or less stable, and up until at some point and yeah, my company receives hundreds of requests daily. But it’s another story of a that thousands or much more than their official it’s organisation are evolving. It’s a role in complexity of workflows. But the initial kickoff I usually give the company its slot lasts for years and how these is scalable in terms of you don’t get into cow take Zendesk cocotique customer support system in a year or two when you add different settings without system. So I’m My duty is to explain this system to the manager to set these initially up in different parts of Zendesk ticketing, knowledge base and reporting, etc. And just observing a little bit more weeks or months, how it goes and if those percenters principles are really executed and are working well. It’s really important to establish a proper culture and customer centric here culture and everyday percenters how people are working. Because once done, it’s it It leaves like, like institutions, its leaves, like its own life. And people just follow the rules. They don’t think of what what the rules was coming from adjust the rule and follow.
Charlotte Ward 12:51
Yeah, that makes sense. Have the system drive people as much as possible, or at least not drive people but simplify things for them. Right. I think that’s the key, isn’t it rather than rather than when they’re having to think of everything else and also have to think about how they, how they kind of battle the tool is not how you want them to be spending their day. That’s all simply Will you come back and talk to me another time about your customer journey idea?
Andrei Kamarouski 13:17
Charlotte Ward 13:18
Awesome, great. Lovely. Thank you so much, Andre. That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/23 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.
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.