Why firsthand product experience is the best teacher

Why firsthand product experience is the best teacher

Dedication to the job looks something like this: Maria Teresa Carmela Garcia, who goes by “Peachy,” jumped on a call at 6 a.m. in Melbourne, Australia to take this interview, while on vacation. Peachy is a long-time Zendesk employee, having joined Zopim back in September of 2012 on a part-time basis before its acquisition by Zendesk the following year. At that point, she moved into a full-time role and now is a Senior Customer Advocate in Tier 1 for the Zendesk Chat product.

Peachy currently holds the record for most chats served and is a consistent top performer. Based in Manila, she’s known as “the billing queen” for her deep knowledge about chat billing processes. And as for her other cool nickname, it was given to her by a classmate back in college, possibly because she was a fan of the Princess Peach in Super Mario. No matter the reason, the name stuck.


 
Before working in tech, Peachy taught biology and chemistry to high school and college-aged kids and she still teaches high school students Earth Science and Research part-time. This is on top of writing her thesis for a master’s degree in Biology Education. If she has any spare time at all, she spends it with her two labradors, Chelsea and Cheesecake, or by replacing all the slippers and sofa cushions they destroy…


 
Here Peachy shares how she’s brought her teaching experience to work, and how she works to provide fast, efficient live chat support.

How many chats do you typically handle? What’s your secret to efficiency?
On average, I can handle 7-9 chats at a time. To be able to handle that many, you have to know the product really well. You can only move that fast when you know the answer. It’s also important to have all your resources open so that you can easily switch between tabs.

How do you balance moving quickly with reading slowly?
You do have to “listen” to what the customer is trying to say. Then, you probe. Probing is very important, especially if the customer’s question is not clear. As you probe to get closer to the right question, you try to lead the customer toward the answer you believe is correct. Also, I have shortcuts that I use, but most often I take the time to write my own responses so that the conversation feels personal and not robotic.


 
How does teaching inform your work as a customer advocate?
The two experiences work together. When you’re interacting with customers, you’re not only helping them with problem-solving but often you’re also educating them about the product and how it works.

As a teacher, you have to know the subject matter and your lesson plan really well, and for that reason, I read a lot of online blogs and articles for work, and stay on top of our Slack channels. I always make sure that I try any new feature in the product so that I have firsthand experience. I’m also currently working with some other senior advocates, team leads, and managers on a series of training sessions for the Tier 1 and 2 Zendesk Chat teams. We’re working now on a “Do’s and Don’ts” chat etiquette session, and previously we created a training about how to use your emotional intelligence with customers.

For more from Zendesk advocates:

Abel Martin, on building great internal partnerships
Arthur Mori, on what everyone should know about Tier 1 support
Benjamin Towne, on mentoring and offering constructive criticism
Rodney Lewis, on setting up an internal shadowing program
Sarah Kay, on her move from advocate to data analyst
Ramona Lopez, on rolling out an advocate recognition program
Aurash Pourmand, on practicing customer empathy
Anna Lee Ledesma, on the skill every great chat agent needs to have
Mark Fado, on providing dedicated 1:1 client support
Justin Helley, on advocacy training and development
Guillaume Deleeuw, on problem-solving in Tier 2 technical support
DeShawn Witter, on providing support in your community
The Tier 3 team, on bringing a hive mentality to work