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Navigating the surge: A customer support roundtable

When global work moves online overnight, a wave of support tickets follows. Our support leaders share how they've steadied the course.


Around the world, with offices closed and people staying at home, most of life is happening online now. That means brick-and-mortar shops are learning on the fly to take their businesses digital, and folks at home are pushing their utilities and SaaS products to the brink.

It’s the perfect storm that produces a swell of people who need to get in touch with customer support. Some of their problems are easily solved via help content on your site. But others might need more direct answers. In the midst of such a surge, it’s essential to get customers’ issues resolved quickly. We lean on automation to accomplish that, because it does three things well:

  1. Routing questions to the proper place.
  2. Assisting both customers and support staff by offering predictive suggestions.
  3. Solving customer problems by providing answers to less complicated questions – or setting expectations about when they’ll be able to get in touch with a real person.

Most importantly, automation frees up valuable bandwidth for your team to empathetically address the most important issues directly with customers. To learn more about what it takes to balance on the customer support tightrope, we assembled some of our top managers for a remote chat that ranged from why support needs to be supported to the importance of establishing a single source of truth.

In this episode, you’ll hear from:

  • Katilin Pettersen, Global Director of Customer Support: Based in San Francisco.
  • Bobby Stapleton, Senior Manager of Customer Support for North America: Based in Chicago.
  • Ruth O’Brien, Senior Manager of Customer Support for EMEA: Based in Dublin.

Short on time? Here are five quick takeaways.

  1. In this unprecedented work environment, we’re not aiming for perfection. If your kids turn through the background, it’s okay. If you’re not fully there today, talk to your managers so they can give you the space to take care of yourself before jumping in to take care of your customers.
  2. Expectations are the root of all heartache. If you set realistic boundaries with your customers, you can avoid a lot of frustration over things like when you’ll respond and how they can speak with a human support rep.
  3. It’s important to designate a single source of truth for your Support teams, which you’re updating on a daily basis. Be concise; you want the need-to-knows in plain sight for folks when they need them.
  4. Bots are great for dealing with simple questions or qualifying customers so they can get through to the right person. But it’s important to offer a human touch when people are coming to the table with a complex problem. There are some questions that are simply not suitable to be dealt with through automation.
  5. You never know what your colleagues have going on outside their professional lives. If they’re able to at least come to work and have an environment and a tone of positivity, of purpose, of comfort – where they know that they’re cared about, where they know that they have folks in their corner – they’ll rally behind the mission.

If you enjoy the conversation, check out more episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes, stream on Spotify or grab the RSS feed in your player of choice. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.


Dee Reddy: Thanks for joining us today for this remote roundtable on Inside Intercom. Today we’re going to be discussing how customer support teams are responding to the current global situation. Let’s start off by hearing from our panelists about what they do here at Intercom. Kaitlin, seeing as you’re no stranger to the podcast, would you like to kick things off?

Kaitlin Pettersen: So great to be back, Dee. Thank you for having us. I’m so proud to be here today with my amazing team of senior managers. I’m the Global Director of Customer Support. I’m super proud to lead our army of support specialists and support engineers across the world with the help of an amazing management team, which includes Bobby and Ruth. So I’m happy to pass it over to them to share a little bit about themselves as well.

Bobby Stapleton:  I’m the Senior Manager of Customer Support for North America. I oversee our Chicago office as well as our San Francisco office, and I’ve been here for about two years.

Ruth O’Brien: I lead our EMEA Customer Support team. That’s in our Dublin office. And at the time of recording, I’ve been at Intercom just over four years.

How we adapted to remote support work

Dee: It’s safe to say we are currently working in fairly unprecedented times. And believe me: Everyone at Intercom really appreciates the work that you’re doing. How are you adapting to working remotely? What are the day to day changes that the customer support teams in Intercom are making?

Bobby: For us in a customer support team, we have been lucky, because we’ve had a strong culture of working digitally since we have our teams spread across four different offices. But really what’s been different for us is thinking about that day-to-day connection we used to have interoffice and trying to bring that collaboration together digitally. One big change we’ve started is doing daily stand-ups with each of our different managers and their functional teams. These are pretty casual. It’s saying hello and kicking off the day. We go over any important information, as well as have some fun. We were doing jumping jacks the other day, which was a great way to start the morning.

Zooming out, another big change is just letting the team know these are not normal times. And what we’re going for isn’t perfection. If your kids come running in through the background, or if your dog’s going nuts, that’s okay. If you’re not fully there today, talk to your managers so we can give you the space to take care of yourself before jumping in to take care of our customers. Those are the two big ones that stand out for me.

Ruth: We were actually trialing a work from home day once a week anyway. We had built a lot of our processes beforehand, which was actually quite handy for when we had to go into lockdown quickly. Something we really rely on as a team is Slack. We do a lot of our person-to-person and team-to-team interaction in Slack. We have a lot of fun there, as well. So the amount of pet-themed threads that we have going in there at the moment they’re ones that are guaranteed to bring a smile to people’s faces. So we’re just having a bit of fun and remembering that what’s going on in the outside world is so serious and can be quite distressing if you’re tuned into it at all times. Actually making work a space where you can have a bit of fun and, I suppose, forget about it a little bit is really important as well.

Dee: I totally agree, and I must say, compared to some of my friends, I’m definitely noticing that Intercom is brilliant for making sure those social interactions keep going between colleagues even though we’re not all in the same space. Kaitlin, it must be a challenge trying to manage the global team, because all these changes are being implemented in each of the 5 offices across the world.

“It’s really important to write in a clear and concise way and then use that to circulate the right information and get the right amount of feedback”

Kaitlin: Full transparency: We’re doing our best. We’re learning, evolving. There’s a lot happening, but unique to the support team is the nature of these types of teams and roles. They’re excellent communicators. They’re having over 20,000 conversations a month via Intercom with our customers – helping them troubleshoot, helping them understand things they don’t understand, answering questions, making people feel better, addressing high-pressure situations. Communication is just key to everything in life. And I think our team is uniquely suited to manage the communication requirements during this time. We’re really trying to lean into that and over-communicate, but in strategic and effective ways.

I remember someone once said that Intercom is a culture of writers. And I think much of that is rooted in our blog. We have these internal processes called “Intermissions,” which if you’ve got an idea or a change, you write an intermission, you get it all down on a doc in a really structured and clear way, as short and sweet and persuasive as possible. And then you circulate that. I know we are not unique in using centralized docs, but I think it’s really important to write in a clear and concise way and then use that to circulate the right information and get the right amount of feedback. Communication, like all things, is so key, and that’s something we’re really trying to lean into.

Dee: That’s a very good point. It’s a skill that is all the more important when people are physically distant, because you need to get the tone as well as your meaning across. While you’re doing that day to day, then, you guys are the ones who are communicating with our customers. What are you hearing from them on this challenge?

Ruth: We’re generally hearing so many lovely things from them. Most people are wishing us well and hoping we’re safe at either the start or at the end of their conversation with us. There’s just been a real human connection and a lot of solidarity between people working online in the same space. So that’s been really nice. There’s also a lot of positive feedback from companies around how Intercom is allowing them to support their customers at this time when they can’t meet them face to face, and how they’re using our different features to support large inbound volumes. While some customers have seen a big slowdown in customer contacts, many of them are busier. And in some cases this is good news, but in others it’s not. Some of them are struggling. These are really unique and challenging times. So we’re through these on a case by case basis. But we recently made Intercom free for non-profits in the fight against COVID-19, so this has been a wonderful new stream of conversations for us. It’s incredible to see the kind of work that some organizations in that space are doing.

“I think there’s a global sense that we are connected and in all of this together, despite the differences between us, our businesses, our lives, our countries. That just gives me a little bit of hope and warmth”

Bobby: To add on to Ruth’s point, looking internally it’s been so great to get the positive feedback from customers. Whether that’s just the love and care we’re sharing with them or them wishing us well. One thing our team has been trying to do is really share that positive feedback out to the whole company. We’re using Slack at Intercom and just posting that in our general channel. Normally that’s feedback we would celebrate internally just amongst our customer support team, but I think across all companies right now, people want to know that their customers are doing okay. Or they want to know that the work they’re doing during these times really matters. We’ve been just trying to share those fun posts and positive feedback out to the whole company. It’s been awesome to see all teams – engineering, sales, marketing – jump in and really appreciate that.

Dee: As someone who sits outside your team, I would absolutely echo that. It’s wonderful to see and it is really reassuring to see, at a time like this, that customers are being taken care of. Kaitlin, any thoughts?

Kaitlin: There’s a whole lot of well-wishing going on, and that’s happening with our customers as well as within our teams. I think there’s a global sense that we are connected and in all of this together, despite the differences between us, our businesses, our lives, our countries, et cetera. That just gives me a little bit of hope and warmth. When I’m talking to someone on our team over Slack, I find myself wanting to take a moment and just ask them how they’re doing, or if I know something about their lives, to ask them about that. And then similarly when we’re talking to customers, we’re getting these well wishes from them, and we’re certainly returning that. That’s pretty broad and high-level, but really it’s happening across the board, and long may it continue.

How to deal with a support surge

Dee: It’s fair to say that customer service representatives are across the board seeing huge surge in activity and queries. What advice would you give to companies struggling to deal with that increased volume?

Kaitlin: There are few ways to think about this one. Unique times call for unique measures, so step one is to take a step back. Where are you? What is that surge? Can you measure it? Can you understand the different themes within that surge? And then work to come up with the right way to troubleshoot those themes. This is where we talk a lot about automation. We’re big believers in users in Intercom’s automation technology. We say: “Okay, we’re seeing a surge. Here are the three key themes we’re seeing in that surge. Where will automation help us, and where might it hurt us? And how should we implement it here? And we definitely won’t touch it over there.”

I think we have said this on several podcast episodes, but you need empathy and a human touch. Man, that’s needed in some situations here at the moment. Where automation can save your team manual work, let it. Whether that’s using a Custom Bot or a Resolution Bot or creating saved replies or what a lot of teams call “macros”. What types of questions are we getting time and time again, and how can we create a standardized template to respond?

“We want to make sure we’re not being overly dogmatic about what the right approach is, because the right approach is changing”

To summarize, just take that step back and understand the difference in work you’re seeing and how you could chunk it up and then problem solve or troubleshoot based on those chunks. And then the last thing I’ll say is to divide and conquer. We’ve got X group working on Y types of conversations, which is just keeping the train on the tracks and business as usual. And then we’re pulling out a few folks who are highly specialized in a variety of topics, and we’re having them own a new stream of work. We’re doing that at the support frontline level. We’re also doing that at the manager level. This is a rapidly evolving situation in so many ways, so our strategies are also rapidly evolving. I think that’s the right thing to do, even if it’s so busy and at times feels a little chaotic. We want to make sure we’re not being overly dogmatic about what the right approach is, because the right approach is changing.

Dee: That does sound like an interesting approach, though, to give people ownership of particular sectors or types of business, because I’d imagine there are some industries in particular that are being more hard hit than others. For example, in the travel sector, a lot of their customer queries are going to be from people who are very stressed or upset. How have you found those types of customers are dealing?

Kaitlin: There certainly are industries that have been highly impacted quickly. So again, I look to automation: Where can people use an automated reply to set expectations for turnaround time? We’re seeing this all over the internet: “We are experiencing a higher volume than usual. We appreciate your patience.” So you can use things like bots to set the expectations in some cases. You can imagine in the travel industry, if you’re getting a flood of cancellation requests through whatever channel, where can you implement automation to set proper expectations with people?

“I think it’s about determining where a bot should do this for you. And then where do you really want to rely on those great caring, smart people on your team to help?”

As Bobby and Ruth know, I say it all the time: Expectations are the root of all heartaches. Expectation setting is really key. Then you have to ask whether there are certain questions coming in that don’t need that human support. Are there questions coming in where a stock answer or an encouragement to check out a help center article might be helpful? That’s all reactive, but there’s also the proactive piece. There’s so much content swirling in the COVID-19 space, but if you know you’re getting a certain amount of volume related to cancellations, is there something that you can publish on your site that has the information that everyone needs? Can you then maybe proactively email that out? We want to use outbound emails infrequently and wisely these days, but can you also present it on your website?

Intercom has this technology for any of our users, where you’re showcasing content to the right person at the right time. We could have a whole podcast about this, but there’s so much that you can do both reactively and proactively. Then I think it’s about determining where a bot should do this for you. And then where do you really want to rely on those great caring, smart people on your team to help?

“We care so much about these conversations that are coming in with our customers who we want to help, but we’re only human”

Dee: Bobby, any particular industries or types of customers that you’ve noticed are reaching out at the moment?

Bobby: Kaitlin mentioned the travel sector, and obviously we’re also seeing all of the businesses impacted just by the stay-at-home orders as well, whether that’s retail companies or companies that were software companies for brick and mortar stores. It’s definitely a balancing act and my one piece of advice for customer support teams out there is you can’t take on everything right now.

That’s a challenge we’ve gone through. We care so much about these conversations that are coming in with our customers who we want to help, but we’re only human. Our headcount didn’t grow 2x because of COVID-19, so it’s just really important to make those conscious decisions about who you are prioritizing in this process. Thinking about those crisis customers, if you’re changing your first response time for them, you’re going to have to deprioritize something else. Maybe that’s spend, maybe that’s use case, maybe that’s a product type. But if you try to have your team do it all, you’re going to end up doing a not-so-great job for everybody. That’s something that’s definitely been top-of-mind for the three of us, when we’ve been thinking about these like target sectors.

Dee: Ruth, our EMEA customers are possibly a couple of weeks ahead of North American customers. Is there anything that stands out to you there in terms of particular issues customers are having at the moment?

“Hopefully when we come out of this crisis, it will actually be a cool new thing that’s come of this, and we’ll be able to access a lot more healthcare services online as a result”

Ruth: Not so much particular issues, but I think an industry we’re hearing from a lot more than I would have seen before is health care. There are a lot of healthcare providers having to move a lot of their services online now in a way they wouldn’t have before, because so much in the world of healthcare happens face to face. There’s just been an incredible influx of healthcare companies showing interest in moving some of their services online, and I think that’s actually going to change how a lot of business is done with healthcare in the future. Now they’re realizing they have to learn how to automate certain things or figure out ways of having online consultations and things like that. Hopefully when we come out of this crisis, it will actually be a cool new thing that’s come of this, and we’ll be able to access a lot more services online as a result.

Kaitlin: I’d love to jump in and share something that has also become very apparent to me – and I’m sure our entire team – which is just the sheer volume of amazing businesses out there. As we’re jumping into these conversations ourselves or handling escalations from the team, I’ve downloaded a few apps on my own. I’ve made note of websites that I want to share with family and friends. I know I don’t need to go on about the amazingness of the internet age, but it really has become so obvious just how many really interesting and exciting businesses are out there pre-COVID 19 and how those businesses are pivoting their focus or reallocating their resources to get in the fight or to do what they do best through the lens of COVID 19.

How customers are adjusting to a rapid shift online

Dee: That’s a really good point, Kaitlin, because a really fascinating outcome of what’s going on is how companies are adapting. You’re seeing mom-and-pop stores going online. Years before, it’s probably something they wouldn’t have considered in their day-to-day business. Then other companies are tweaking and hacking their tech stacks to use tools they have at their disposal in really innovative ways. Is there anything that you guys have done yourselves or that you’ve heard from a customer that really, really stands out?

Ruth: We’re trying to find a good balance of how we’re using automation like Kaitlin and Bobby had spoken about before. That means understanding where it makes sense to qualify people in certain ways, using something like custom bots and assignment rules, making decisions then about the types of questions we want to answer with Resolution Bot or the ones that we’re routing to our teams for a human interaction. Those are usually if customers are struggling or if they’re upset. But I’ll turn it over to Kaitlin and Bobby to see if they’ve heard anything in particular from our customer base.

“We’re seeing customers leverage their SaaS products and technologies in different ways to solve the problems they have in front of them”

Kaitlin: I have one other story from our team, and then I’ll share a customer example. We have long preached about the importance of a great external knowledge base, and we obviously use Intercom to do that. I think I’ve given them a shout out on a podcast before, but we’re big, big fans of Guru. This is an internal knowledge-based tool our sales and support teams use. We have relied on it now more than ever to be updating our teams on the latest changes to their workflows specific to customer questions on COVID- 19.

We partner closely with our enablement team, and for anyone out there that doesn’t have an enablement team, it’s about just making someone an owner of this internal knowledge base and having one single source of truth, which you are updating on a daily basis with the need-to-knows. Again, you need to be concise. You don’t want to dump everything on there. That’s been something we’ve long stood behind, as many customer support teams do. But now more than ever, having that great source of truth – keeping it updated, giving it a great owner and ensuring that it’s helpful to teams – is huge.

Now looking outside and thinking about how our customers are tweaking and changing their focus, two things come to mind. One is that customers are changing how they’re leveraging Intercom. If they’re needing to do more proactive communication, they’re thinking differently about how they’re emailing and what the right and wrong email strategies are. No one wants to be hitting loads of spam traps or getting archived by their customers. So they’re looking to in-app messages and asking how they can present the right information to the right person at the right time and the variety of technologies within Intercom that allow them to do that.

They’re also using their own technologies; Ruth mentioned the medical industry and how we’re seeing them pivot. There’s an interesting company out there that does sleep lullabies and meditations, and they’re offering this for free. They’ve created a COVID-19 session to really help people sleep well during these times. So that’s just one small example, but one I found great comfort in and was happy to jump on board with. We’re seeing customers leverage their SaaS products and technologies in different ways to solve the problems they have in front of them. We’re also seeing them pivot their business to meet the needs of their customers and the world during this unique and challenging time.

“I think a lot of companies are trying to find this human, authentic way of positioning their product without it being spammy”

Dee: There’s also another sector, which is more B2B products that are now being used by mainstream and consumer customers in ways they were never designed for. Bobby, any observations there on that one?

Bobby: Yeah. Going along with that, our Chicago office is primarily a customer support and sales office. I spent a lot of time connecting with our sales leaders. Businesses, ourselves included, are just thinking about how they can position their product in an authentic way. We want to be cognizant that there’s this pandemic going on, but we believe that we have a really valuable tool that cannot only help customers right now but also help them in the long term.

I think a lot of companies are trying to find this human, authentic way of positioning their product without it being spammy or salesy or crummy, but meeting people where they are and understanding the specific needs they have right now during this crisis. But a lot of those are needs they probably will have even after this, like reaching customers and whatnot. It’s something all companies should be thinking about, and I think customer support has a unique voice and a unique lens to be able to share that with sales and to be able to help be that face of a company together.

A time and place for automation

Dee: You guys have mentioned automation as a potential solution for customers who are being inundated with support needs. We’ve also talked a little bit about those who are dealing with upset or angry customers and the need for human connection. Practically, how can people get that balance right?

Bobby: When I think about automation, it is there for you 24/7, and it’s reliable. Yesterday I had to reach out to my internet company, and after trying the phone lines multiple times of getting a busy signal, I jumped on their website, and it said, “Try calling in before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.” That’s not a great experience when your internet’s not working, and you need to work remotely. But this is the spot a lot of companies are in. So if your phone systems are collapsing, or if you’ve been working out of a single email queue that’s now flooded, automation is going to just be a much better customer experience.

“You can use automation to do the non-personal things: to gather information, to redirect folks over to self-serve materials”

That does two things. One, you can use automation to do the non-personal things: to gather information, to redirect folks over to some self-serve materials, whether that’s a help center or a community forum. That’s going to give you and your team the space to be able to handle those upset customers. If you’re talking about, “Hey, I can’t afford my bill right now,” that’s not something you want to have automated. That’s probably something you want to have a human touch on it to have the empathy to be able to problem-solve together. It’s really important to find that blend of using automation. It’s going to be better than nothing, but also you can use it to clear out that space for your team to really be able to jump into the important stuff.

Ruth: There are some questions that are simply not suitable to be dealt with by a bot or with automation, and we’ve always said that at Intercom we find our automated products to be great for dealing with simple questions or to qualify somebody to get through to the right person. But there are times where it’s simply not appropriate to answer a question with a bot, and a bot doesn’t show the empathy that a human does on the other side. So I would really encourage support teams to consider when they actually don’t do that as well.

“Broadly speaking, I think automation can be good at three things; routing, assisting and in certain cases, solving”

Kaitlin: Broadly speaking, I think automation can be good at three things. One is routing: getting the right conversation to the right team members. If you’ve got this one-size-fits-all support experience, and that’s no longer working for you, divide and conquer and use automated routing to get the right conversation to the right person. That’s going to save you transit time and hopefully help with time-to-resolve, which really matters when people are feeling under pressure.

Two, automation can also be helpful in assisting. It can surface information either to customers or to teammates, depending on the technology you’re using, to try and help them get to their answer much faster. Our Resolution Bot technology is an example. As a customer is typing their question, we auto-prompt a resolution to them and ask, “Is this what your question is?” Then based on that question, it might provide a resolution or answer to them. It can encourage and assist people and point them in the right direction.

Lastly, in some cases – certainly not all, as we’ve discussed – it can help to solve. If a customer jumps into our messenger and asks our team a question, we say: “Hey, it’s going to take us a day to get back to you. In the meantime, check out this article related to your question.” If that answers their question, they give us a thumbs-up emoji. They’re happy, we’re happy. So routing, assisting and solving. And you have to determine where this is going to work for you and where it isn’t, based on the nature of your business and the nature of your customers.

“Care deeply, and mean it. Then assume strength. Support teams are hired and built to get in there and help customers”

Support needs to be supported

Dee: In times like this, the conversation we’re having internally is that support teams need to be supported from within. What advice would you give to other support leaders in terms of achieving this and really bringing the team together?

Kaitlin: I have a few thoughts. The first is a saying and motto I stole from an old boss and mentor, which is, “Care deeply and assume strength.” Hopefully the support leaders out there know their support teams, they know who these people are, they care about their wellbeing, and they connect with them – whether that’s directly or indirectly in a way that really demonstrates that deep care I mentioned earlier. If someone’s got an escalation or question for me, I probably don’t nail it every single time, but I’m trying to take that additional minute or two to ask, “Hey, how’s your family doing?” Or, “I know you were facing this personal circumstance, how’s that going?” Care deeply, and mean it. Then assume strength. Support teams are hired and built to get in there and help customers.

Bobby talks so often about how, at their core, support teams should be selfless. But you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s important that we’re giving teams the resources, the time and space, the breaks, the bit of fun and laughter, the dog threads in Slack they need to stay sane. But it’s okay to assume these teams are strong, to set great expectations with them and to empower them to go do what they do best, which is helping customers. Again, it’s about doing your best. It’s not about pushing people to the limit. We want our team to stay healthy and sane always, but now more than ever.

“Take the opportunity to find connection where you can get it for yourself and for your teams”

Lastly, take the opportunity to find connection where you can get it for yourself and for your teams. Last week, we were rolling out the 10th change in what is now a 20-change process. I was about to write my team another novel-length email that would hit their inboxes and make their eyes hurt. And I said: “You know what? Screw it. Let’s just get on a call.” So we did an all-hands with all 80-plus people. Well, Sydney was asleep, but we recorded it for them. I had no slides. I just talked to the team, because I missed seeing their faces, and I didn’t want to write them another lengthy email. Now full honesty for any of them who are listening: I’m still writing long emails. It’s still happening, but it’s good to jump on a call and connect. Take those opportunities when and how you can. So that’s it for me, but I would love to pass it over to Ruth and then Bobby if they’ve got anything to share that I’ve missed, because I certainly couldn’t do it without them.

Dee: Ruth, let’s go to you first. How long are Kaitlin’s emails, really?

Ruth: She’s on this call, so I don’t know what I should say. Sometimes long, sometimes not so long. There’s a good balance there, I would say. Bobby is regularly quoted as saying we should be selfish as support people, because our jobs are to help others. Something else we’ve heard from some of our senior leaders is that we’re not expecting perfection during these times.
How you behave in the hard times is what really defines you. It’s okay if people are feeling bad, and they’re having bad days here and there. But you want to be able to look back as part of a customer support team that dealt with a huge incoming volume and some really tough situations and know that you actually made a difference in human beings’ lives. That’s something that you can be really proud of, and I hope that support teams around the world are feeling that way at the moment.

Dee: That’s a lovely thought, Ruth. Bobby, any thoughts?

Bobby: Two thoughts. The first is a bit more tactical. We’re in this for the long haul here with this pandemic, and it’s going to be a marathon. One thing I would recommend is that change fatigue is a real thing, and as a leadership team it’s important to try to minimize change where you can and to try to maintain some sense of normalcy. What we’re going through right now is not normal, so if you can look at your normal workflows and keep them normal, now is really not the time to mix that up and change the cadence.

“Maintain normalcy. Try to minimize the unexpected. Give your team the bandwidth and the fuel to deal with the stuff that you can’t control or that has to change”

Our teams are going through probably a lot of change fatigue just with the amount of information we’re throwing out at them and how quickly this pandemic is changing. So it’s important to maintain normalcy. Try to minimize the unexpected. Give your team the bandwidth and the fuel to deal with the stuff that you can’t control or that has to change.

My second thought is that leadership is tough stuff. You have the weight of your team on your shoulders – not just their professional wellbeing, but oftentimes their personal wellbeing. And while that’s a hefty responsibility, it’s also a really empowering moment to be able to set the tone for your team. When I think about times of hardship and times of crises, as the leader, you can create a place of comfort. You can create a place of positivity and a place of purpose that might be the only space where your team is getting those things.

That’s not to say work is the be-all, end-all. But you never know what folks have going on outside their professional lives. If they’re able to at least come to work and have an environment and a tone of positivity, of purpose, of comfort – where they know that they’re cared about, where they know that they have folks in their corner – that can be a really, really powerful thing in a time like this. If you’re a leader, whether it’s five people or 80 people, just take a moment to think about that responsibility and the tone you’re setting for your folks.

Dee: That is really good advice to finish on. Listen guys, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. I think it’s great for everyone to hear how our customers and customer support leaders are getting on at the moment. I know there’s loads of fantastic advice there for people to listen to, so thank you all. It’s been a real pleasure.