Article | 3 min read

A day in the life of a Zendesk advocate

By Irina Blok

Last updated February 9, 2016

When I joined Zendesk as a new designer, I was looking for the most efficient way to learn about the Zendesk product and business. Since we are a customer support company, I figured that no one would know Zendesk better than our support team. Thankfully, our support team was happy to answer my questions. So, with a friendly welcome from our San Francisco team, I set out to be a Zendesk advocate for a day.

Here are a few things I learned:

There’s nothing like your first ticket
I never realized answering tickets could be so nerve-wracking. While talking to customers, an advocate becomes the voice of the company. It’s a lot of pressure to stay on brand, be helpful, and problem-solve all at the same time. Advocates are brave!

You are human
Our product changes constantly and no single advocate knows all the changes taking place. It helps for advocates to communicate that their advice is a suggestion instead of the magic answer. The best way to support customers is to listen first, then help. And it’s OK if you make a mistake, because we’re all human.

Just do it
There’s nothing like a hands-on experience when you have to figure things out quickly. Passively observing the information won’t make as much of an impact in your memory. If you want to really learn and retain something, you have to actually do it.

Advocates are psychic
Customers often write quick and (somewhat) cryptic messages. It’s understandable—they are in a hurry and don’t use proper support terminology on a daily basis. As a good support agent you need to read between the lines to understand what they’re asking. One approach I practiced was to provide them with all the answers they might be intending, which worked well.

Mind your manners
Brevity is a virtue, but not to the point of being abrupt. Also, never end the interaction without making sure that the customer’s problem has been solved and checking to see if there’s anything else you can help with.

It was fun
I was a ready for some irate customers, but everyone was surprisingly chilled and calm. In fact, most of the customers were very polite. Thanks for being awesome, Zendesk customers!

It was also hard
Before this experience, I thought it would be easy to be an advocate. I thought support was about picking up a ticket, looking up an answer, and voila! But it’s a very hard job. Not only do you have to know the product completely, you have to be a people-person.

After today I feel there’s no better way to appreciate our mission than diving in and seeing things from our advocates’ and customers’ perspectives. Not only did I get to learn about the Zendesk product, I developed hands-on knowledge of what Zendesk is built on: helping customers solve problems.

Special thanks to Haley Varenkamp for spending a few mornings with me and teaching me best practices, also thanks to Rodney Lewis for always being friendly and informative when I was stopping by his desk almost daily. Thanks to the rest of the team as well!