I met and an Automattician and one year in support

I met one of my co-workers today for the first time. Richard, who also works for Automattic, will be moving to Aberdeen with his lovely wife and daughter later this year. They have been in Aberdeen scoping out places to live and so they came over for a visit this morning. It’ll be so nice to have someone from the same company living in the same city as me. We were even both wearing matching WordPress socks. I’ll let you guess who is who in this next photo:

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I have been working for Automattic, and by the same token, working in support, for over a year now. I realised recently how much working in support suits my personality. I sometimes get down about all the terrible things in the world and about how I’d like to wave a magic wand and fix it. But since I’m not some benevolent dictator, there’s very little I can do. However working in support gives me the opportunity to fix things. They might seem insignificant compared to world hunger and climate change, but they are important to individuals, to our users. It’s so satisfying to have the power to fix a problem or make something better for someone else and working in support gives me that.

I’ve also realised that the most important skill for working in a support role is not knowledge of the product itself, although this helps, it’s communication, empathy, and an investigative mind. This might sound clichéd but let me elaborate. Since I started with Automattic I’ve supported WordPress.com, the WordPress apps for Android and iOS, Simplenote for Android, iOS, and Mac, and now Akismet – an anti-spam service. Good support transcends the product. Products can be learned. Support is about understanding the problem the user is communicating, viewing the situation from their point of view, troubleshooting and investigating, and then conveying the solution in clear and simple language.

Hopefully my second year in support will be just as challenging and satisfying as the last. I’m looking forward to it.

16 thoughts on “I met and an Automattician and one year in support

  1. As someone you have helped more than once, I am very grateful that you do try to see things from the users point of view and always come up with a solution to our problems. Thank you. 🙂 I hope your second year is as fun.
    And I’m glad you will have a co-worker in the same city – your own kind of support!
    Also – where can I get some cool socks like that?? They are adorable! 🙂

  2. ” it’s communication, empathy, and an investigative mind.” So important and wonderful that you recognize this. I am curious about something and I hope it is okay that I ask you about it here. If it is not, please do not answer the question. Out of curiousity, I have for several posts, posted at the exact time within a minute or two, that the wp stat counter clock turns over. I have been really puzzled by the discordant numbers. For example last night I posted when the stat counter started a new day. This morning wp stats tell me I had 320 views of which 222 were non-wp visitors. This means I should have 98 wp visits, yet I have received 226 wp likes. These numbers do not add up. This seems to happen frequently in my small sample. What do you make of this?

    1. Have you seen the support page on stats? https://en.support.wordpress.com/stats/ It answers your questions nicely 🙂 Remember that when people “like” your page, they could be doing it from an email or the Reader, and it won’t count as a page view unless they actually go to your site. Hope that helps.

    2. I don’t mind you asking questions here at all. Please feel free.

      Regarding stats, what Chrissie said can usually explain the discrepancy between views and likes. When a WordPress.com user likes one of your posts from the Reader it isn’t counted in the stats unless they click through to your site. But I’m just wondering how you know that of your 320 views, 222 are from non-WordPress visitors?The Views and Visitors stats don’t distinguish between WordPress.com and non-WordPress.com users. Views are page loads and refreshes whereas visitors are unique individuals who visit your site. Does that make sense?

  3. Thanks Rachel and Chrissy. This does make sense and I’m pleased to know the stats function is working properly. The wp stat graphs indicate “views” and “visitors,” I assumed visitors meant non-wp visitors. Glad to learn what it refers to, and thank you both for explaining it to me. Oh, and Happy One Year Anniversary! WP needs you two! 🙂

  4. I phone our support system at work fairly often and always impressed with the knowledge and patience they have there. I hope people are appreciative of your efforts, good support makes life nicer for everyone.

    1. I’m glad to hear your support team are patient and knowledgable. People are mostly very nice and appreciative. I have had the occasional unhappy user but this is not very common.

  5. I can’t believe it’s been one year already Rachel! And how lovely to have a co-worker and his family moving near you. Love the WP socks and also what you write about the importance of showing empathy and good communication in support. It’s vital and makes such a difference when a customer is already stressed enough. I am willing to bet that you are very good at your job on all counts 🙂

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