What we’re interested in here is to take support conversations and make them useful for other teams. To do that effectively we need tools we can use when we go talk to those other teams. The first thing we will look at is empathy. If you work in a support team empathy probably comes fairly natural for you. And empathy and the ability to listen without judgement are the most important skills for you when talking to the other teams in your company about how support conversations can help them. Since we’re trying to figure out how support conversations can help these other teams we need to truly understand their goals and the reality they operate in.
That also means that you need to forget about tickets for a while. Because as we’re talking to other teams we need to let go of what we’re trying to achieve. At least for a while. We’ll get back to it, but for now, you’re not trying to convince anyone of anything. You’re only trying to learn. So before you go talk to anyone it’s a good idea to do a quick mental check of anything you need to put aside for a while. Like that one billing bug that keeps sending you into the red zone because the product team never seem to understand that it obviously needs to be fixed. That bug is not important right now. What’s important is to have a genuinely open conversation with the people you work with.
And that conversation starts with a simple question: “what is your biggest challenge right now?” That question works very well, whether you’re talking to customers or colleagues. It works so well because you’re trying to understand what’s most important to your colleagues and the most important thing or the thing that’s top of mind is most often the biggest challenge, the thing that keeps people awake at night. And that’s also what people love to talk about.
You may think of a better version of that question. You may want to get more specific, but you can pretty much walk up to anyone in your company right now, ask them this question, and in five minutes you will have some very valuable information to help figure out how you can help.