How 5 Customer Service Pros Got Their Start
When you think of a career in customer service, you might envision spending your day calming angry clients.
But the best of the best in customer service think about their role in a much different way. For them, it’s all about making a client’s experience as amazing as possible—and they’ll be quick to tell you that there’s nothing better than turning an unhappy customer into one who can’t wait to tell everyone they know about the company’s service or product.
The cool thing is, customer service professionals can come from any background: art, technology, communications, and even music and entertainment. And because customer service is a common thread in all of those industries (and more), they get to use their backgrounds on a daily basis. Most importantly, though, they share a passion for people, solving problems, and going the extra mile to take care of their clients.
To learn more, we talked with five customer support gurus about their experience and what eventually brought them to the career they love.
Champion for Customer Bliss, GlobalGiving
“There is nothing that will teach you more about how people like to be treated than working in a restaurant,” KC will tell you—she learned the fundamentals of customer service at 16, when she began working in retail and restaurants.
She went on to study international relations with a focus in art, but after graduation, KC still didn’t know exactly what kind of career she wanted to pursue. After traveling a little and working in marketing, she eventually found herself in another customer service position, helping people plan vacations and trips as a travel concierge. But eventually, her fluency in French came in handy—GlobalGiving was looking for someone to work with French-Canadian clients.
She came on board and became the Champion for Customer Bliss, a role that has her talking with donors, answering questions, and overall, helping her clients “fall blissfully in love” with the organization.
VP, Merchant Services, Groupon
“I actually started out wanting to be an accountant,” says Zach. But as his career moved closer to big accounting firms, he discovered the world of management consulting—and that’s where he spent the better part of the next nine years (taking off just enough time in between to earn his MBA).
But he didn’t lock himself in: Through the years, he kept an eye out for any opportunities that really excited him. “And ultimately,” he shares, “one came up at Groupon that was so compelling, I decided to take it.”
In his role as the VP of Merchant Services, Zach helps get new merchants on board, then works with Account Managers to help them figure out how to best use Groupon’s deals to benefit their businesses. And as he receives feedback from those merchants, he relays it to other departments and helps figure out how to put it into practice and make the platform even better for his clients.
Support Engineer, Twilio
As an economics major in college, Renee saw herself in business, consulting, or banking—but when her career began at Google, she became fascinated with technology, too. She knew the perfect place to combine the two worlds would be at a startup, so she moved to San Francisco and found the perfect opportunity at Twilio. “It was focused on really interesting problems that help other businesses solve their own problems,” she says.
Now, Renee’s job is to answer customer emails, help clients build their own apps, and respond to posts on forums. As she helps clients troubleshoot, she also works closely with the product, engineering, and sales teams, collaborating to provide the best support possible for her clients.
Director of Client Relations and Marketing, CrowdTwist
As a music industry major in college, it was Rosanna’s dream to become an entertainment publicist or talent booker. And for about seven years, she did just that, making it all the way to a major record label, Clear Channel Radio. There, she met the co-founders of CrowdTwist, who asked her to come on board. “I was ready for a new challenge,” she says, “so I took a leap of faith.”
As the Director of Client Relations and Marketing, Rosanna works with the awesome companies that hire CrowdTwist (like the X Factor and the Miami Dolphins), helping them develop loyalty programs and advising them which rewards to include. She also works cross-departmentally with the engineering and product departments, relaying client feedback and helping to develop the CrowdTwist platform.
Best of all, she still gets to use her background in entertainment: “I’m really excited that I can still tie my experience back to the music industry clients we have."
Supporter Experience Manager, charity: water
Kaitlyn wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do with her life, until she realized that by studying communications and public relations, she could make a living out of talking to people. And she did just that: After graduating from Virginia Tech, Kaitlyn was offered an internship with charity: water. Her reaction? “It was a dream come true!”
Now, Kaitlyn works as a Customer Experience Manager, doing just what she dreamed about in college—talking with people. On a daily basis, she communicates with donors, supporters, and fundraisers. But more importantly, she gets to hear their stories, which range from a 6-year old giving up his birthday presents to couples sacrificing their wedding gifts—all for the sake of clean water.
“It’s amazing that they’ll share those stories with us,” Katilyn says. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”