Response Time: Vol. 17 blog hero image

Response Time: Vol. 17

You satisfy your customers, but can you satisfy our curiosity?

With John Harte, Senior Director of Customer Support at Contentful.

Please tell us a little bit about your company and what you do there.

Contentful is the leading headless CMS provider. I am the Senior Director of Customer Support and manage teams located across the globe providing world class support to our customers.

Which celebrity would be really great at your job, and why?

Jim Carrey – I think having the ability to make people smile and being a prominent presence in any setting holds great significance. This ability can frequently diffuse tense situations, instill a sense of comfort, and encourage individuals to engage in constructive discussions and problem-solving.

“Delegation allows you to leverage the skills and abilities of your team”

What’s the most valuable thing that working in customer service has taught you?

Empathy – with the added importance of patience, problem-solving, and maintaining a positive attitude, even in challenging situations.

What’s your greatest productivity hack?

Delegation. Delegation allows you to leverage the skills and abilities of your team while freeing up your own time for more strategic and high-impact tasks.

What gif best describes your mental state right now?



Which movie robot would you choose as your AI sidekick, and why?

R2-D2 from Star Wars. Its combination of versatility, resourcefulness, loyalty, and iconic status would make it an excellent choice as an AI sidekick for a wide range of adventures and challenges.

What’s the strangest thing a customer has asked you?

When providing onsite support to a client at his home, he asked if I would like to have dinner with the family and stay in their spare bedroom.

What can you do that a bot will never be able to replicate?

I’ve been told I have great intuition. I think that is something a bot would struggle with.

“One valuable piece of advice is to ’embrace empathy'”

What do you doodle when you’re on video calls?

VW campervans.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to your peers in the customer service industry?

One valuable piece of advice is to “embrace empathy.” I would encourage them to truly understand and connect with customers on a human level.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

What’s the best thing a customer has ever said to you?

How working with the team felt more like a partnership/family and we are truly committed to getting there together. Very humbling.

What words make your skin crawl?

“It’s not my job,” or even worse, “relax.”

How would you explain your job to an alien?

My job is to lead a team of helpers who assist other people. It doesn’t matter where on Earth they are, we’re here to make sure they have a good experience and get the help they need. So, in short, I make sure everyone – no matter where they’re from – gets the support they need. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s also rewarding because I get to connect with people from all walks of life and make their lives a little easier.

Do you identify more with the title “customer support,” customer service,” “customer success,” or “customer experience,” and why?

Lately, I have really seen it move from the “customer support” banner to being more focused on the holistic “customer experience.”

What was your “15 minutes of fame” moment?

Winning a Michael Jackson dance competition when I was six years old.

What do you wish people knew about working in customer service?

It’s highly challenging, and every day has the potential to be different.

Conversation closed… for now 😏

If you’re interested in being featured in our Response Time series, you can share your insights on customer service – and movie robot sidekicks – with us here.