When we decided to can the Customer’s Bill of Rights (I guess you could say it got killed in committee), we wanted to avoid creating zombie values, in part because we already had
a list of stated values, our watchwords
Unlike traditional “corporate value statements” that are too easily forgotten or ignored, our watchwords are meant to be easy to grok so that we can truly put them into practice.
While I had always thought of our watchwords as guiding us internally in a loose way, I started to wonder if they could be “operationalized” in a more concrete fashion. What if, instead of a Bill of Rights, we just used our watchwords? I turned my thinking specifically to the customer support team, which I was leading at the time. Could the work of customer support be boiled down to empathy, clarity, and bionics in a way that moved from words to action?
While the work seems obvious in hindsight, this was uncharted territory at the time. We didn’t have a system for quality assurance (QA) within support, so we had to invent it on our own. And no other team at FullStory was (consciously) operationalizing the watchwords. We had to chart our own path.
What we came up with was a series of questions, particular to support, that we would ask to see if we were being true to our watchwords.
- Empathy: Are we truly listening to the customer?
- Clarity: Does our response exude confidence and competence?
- Bionics: Are we reporting bugs so that the product better supports customers in the future?
We didn’t just put the questions in a document and walk away, returning to them only in reaction to a bad customer email. We baked them into a repeatable process using MaestroQA
. This forced us to return to our watchwords week over week and ask if we were being true to empathy, clarity, and bionics.
If you’ll forgive me running a bit long here, the success of this endeavor wasn’t due to a manager reviewing tickets every week (though that was part of it). The real reason this worked was because of peer review. If I noticed that a team member was falling a bit short with one of the watchwords, I’d ask them if they were caught up on peer review. Most of the time, the answer was no. So as a remedy, I would suggest they get caught up. The work of grading a peer’s work in reference to the watchwords forces you to stop and think. The stopping and thinking is what internalizes the values, far more than reviewing notes from a manager.