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Automattic Customer Success Life

Setting expectations and not rules

In a work environment, particularly in Customer Support, it’s easy to lay down rules and processes for people to follow, to ensure uniformity and that everybody does everything correctly. But my argument is that we should be doing far less of this. In fact, if left to me, I’d tear them all up.

The more we use rules to dictate how people work, the more inflexible and unimaginative people become. And at WordPress VIP, we’ve seen exactly this. Over time, more rules have slipped in and, as a result, new people to the team have expected everything to be laid down in the same way.

The people we employ in a support role we do so because they’re amazing at what they do. We pay well for the best people and put them through a tough trial to make sure of that.

And then we make them abide by sets of rules, which we often leave to become stale and badly out-of-date too. Equally, those rules can easily lead to inconsistency or just, big holes in the process. Instead, they should be using their incredible experience, personalised to them, but also inspiring others around them as well.

I’m reminded of a story I once heard of some countries that have re-written their laws from scratch. With so many amendments and generally over-specific laws it became to easy to find loop-holes. So, they started again with more general, over-arching laws. And for our support team, do they need much more than those general laws? “Keep our customers happy”, for example. “Take personal responsibility for your tickets”. “Document everything”.

We all work differently and rigid workflows don’t account for that. How we do things that work best for us is, by very definition, a deeply personal thing.

Talk to me!

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