Managing people is hard. A lot of times you have to take decisions that are not based on data or facts but based on your beliefs and values. I have always believed in being a coach and not being a manager. A coach always tries to find the best talent in a player and uses it in a way to benefit both the player and the team. My approach towards people management is simple – there are no bad employees, there are only bad fits (to their role). We have to find the role that matches the employee’s talent. Once that is done you can sit back and watch people take charge of their career and deliver spectacular results.
Every once in a while, things happen that reinforce your belief in your values. This is one such story. This is the story of Annapoorna — a Freshdesk employee since 2012. We hired her fresh out of college (as part of an off-campus drive at SASTRA University) to play a role in Marketing. I still remember her interview. She was smart, had good communication skills and we wanted to hire her. We were not sure where exactly we would fit her in. But I told her when handing over her offer letter that we would let her try her hand at different things to help discover what she really likes doing.
Initially, we had her in the Marcom department and she was learning the product and trying to write marketing content. As it turns out, even though her written communication was pretty good she wasn’t producing good marketing content. Things didn’t work out and eventually we had to give her a team change. This time we moved her to SEO writing and boy, she hated it even more. Obviously her manager wasn’t happy either. Things took a turn to the worse and she was literally in tears when I met her to discuss her career. She was barely 6-8 months in the company and was feeling really bad she wasn’t contributing.
I reminded her of my promise to her to help her discover what she is really good at. I asked her if she would be willing to try her hand at Customer Support. I talked to our Customer Support manager to let her try Support. He reluctantly agreed because those days our small Support team was all men and most of them were working in the night shift to help US customers. Anna started off in the day shift and started helping our customers in India and Europe.
Initially, it was hard for her as she was trying to learn more about the product (to be in tech support, you need to be far more knowledgeable about the product than in marketing) but had to face a flurry of Support tickets every morning and most of her team members were coming in towards the evening. But we discovered something during that process – she was writing great support emails and winning the love of lots of customers.
Customers consistently thanked her for her detailed responses and patient help.
One customer had this to tell her:
She won the love of customers because she owned the customer problem, coordinated with developers to find resolutions to problems and ensured that customers were constantly kept updated on what was happening. She was their representative inside Freshdesk.
We were all seeing her career takeoff from an unsuccessful marketer to a top notch Customer Service Professional. Our own Support leaderboards showed this clearly as well.
Yesterday, we had a Customer Support Team meeting where we were discussing ideas on how to improve our Customer Support even further and take it to the next level. After the meeting, I called Anna and told her that she was doing an awesome job and I was really glad that finally Support was working out for her.
This morning, when I woke up I saw the news on Twitter where Anna had won the Customer Success Hero Award 2014 at CSSummit 2014! I am immensely proud of what she has achieved and I’m glad that she has kept the Freshdesk flag flying high in the world of Customer Support! Congratulations Anna, and a big thank you from all of us at Team Freshdesk!
P.S. As a coach I now feel proud and satisfied at having discovered another star!