Programming and Customer Service: A Unique Perspective
Your first thought might be, “He’s a programmer, why is he talking directly with the customers?” While I may not have a definite answer for you, I do have some points to bring up that make the experience helpful for both me and the customer.
1. Ability to communicate your issue directly with someone who interacts with the company’s code on a daily basis.
This creates better communication on some of the more difficult issues that occur. Problem with saving a page? A publish could have been made that did break something, allowing me to look at logs and see differences between what the page used to be and what it now is. Problem with your invoice? I have direct access to every single thing in your account and the ability to edit statuses, amounts, and other account data to be correct. It may feel odd that someone has that much control over your account, but in order to correct issues, you do need someone with that kind of access. When getting information from a customer on the issue, it allows me to diagnose the problem with a much wider range to look into and gives me the ability to fix them. The main things that help me fix things are examples, screenshots if possible, and steps used to initially create the problem. Sometimes I’ll need additional information, and it may be something as simple as asking if the device is plugged in. I apologize if you ever get offended by those types of questions, but honestly I can’t rule something out unless I get that kind of feedback. When you see something in your house that won’t turn on, the first thing you check is the batteries and the plug, but as we’re not in your home, we need to ask those questions instead.
2. I’m a programmer because I like working with code.
Some people get desk jobs or other types of work and after a while they start to lose interest because the job becomes too monotonous. One thing that’s helped me is that I grew up loving puzzles. This is where my geek comes out and I admit to growing up playing Zelda as a kid. I even just went through Skyward Sword and was amazed at how they keep coming up with new things to challenge me with. I started using a Gameshark after a while to cheat on games when I was younger, but not to really get farther or make myself virtually immortal (although that can be very fun), but to edit the code in it. I liked changing the game to things that were fun, sometimes giving myself a better edge or giving it to the enemy to give myself a challenge and in the process it helps me learn new tactics to use to improve myself.
Odd fact: When shooting plasma grenades out of the Assault Rifle on Halo, the grenades bounce until they stick to a person or vehicle. Very fun to shoot into bunkers…
When working with customers my mind thinks the same way. The problem you have is a puzzle and does have a solution. Like some puzzles, some are easier and take a relatively short amount of time, while others are very difficult and could take days or even weeks to finish. During that time I’m digging for clues, asking other people questions, and tinkering with the code until I understand it if it’s something I didn’t write.
3. Working with customers helps me work through personal challenges.
This post will be edited by one of the CSR Managers before it’s put up as I’m sure there are things I didn’t word very well. Writing and speaking have never been my good points when growing up at all and are a constant source of nervousness and stress. Going in front of people, I am extremely nervous to the point where I think going to the ER because an injury might be a better idea (I’ll never go through with it if you just got worried, that’s just how nervous I get) and also have yet to sleep the night before a big presentation or speaking event. Writing this right now is making me uncomfortable knowing that after this goes up, everyone can read it. These people range from my bosses, coworkers, family, friends and lots of people I don’t know and is scaring me to the point I might just delete this and say I won’t be putting anything up. The problem is, I know that’s not something I should be doing, so here I am, writing this out, knowing everyone can read this, and not giving up.
We are a growing company, but we are also a learning company. We like seeing feedback, whether good or bad, to help us see what works and what doesn’t work. Currently I’m focused on things that don’t work and with finding a way to make sure they get corrected. I’m coming up on my 2-year anniversary in May working for Phone.com and I can say being a programmer that is working with customers has benefited my learning experiences in ways I can’t express with words. Just remember to focus on the learning, not the problem.