A company’s relationship with customers defines its future. A customer’s interaction with a company forever taints how they perceive that company. To put it lightly, Customer Support is a big deal.
For 1.5 years, I worked for Cadoo (an app where you bet on your ability to reach your fitness goals) in Customer Support/Operations. I was placed to manage Customer Support on my own, so my co-worker could focus more on Operations. We regularly helped each other when needed. Start-ups go through a lot of growing pains and Cadoo was no different. Over and over again I found myself dealing with annoyed users. I quickly learned how to read each conversation and understand the proper response to defuse the situation. I found out how to deal with the pressure of high ticket numbers and app malfunctions. I found out how to connect with each user individually. I created close relationships with users.
The Bible repeatedly calls us to be kind to one another. I’ve always found that a great rule to live by. In Customer Support, reaching out with kindness and valuing their current situation has been my mission. It can be difficult to continuously uphold but is always worth the effort.
I remember one user reaching out to me about a feature request. I was able to push my team to take action on this feature. After a couple weeks, I messaged that user to let them know progress was being made. When the feature was launched, I messaged them again. This user expressed their appreciation for my follow-ups. I only remembered this user because I made a note in Intercom and snoozed it every week to help me remember to follow up with the engineers. The engineers also did a great job taking action on my follow-ups regarding the feature. I went above and beyond what this user expected by valuing their request. Valuing that specific user and kindly messaging them regarding their message, transitioned that user to a lifelong commitment to the app.
The more practical lesson I learned was to keep my inbox organized. I created an Intercom SOP to remind myself how to deal with different situations. Intercom has quite a few features that can be utilized in the organization of an inbox. I commonly used Notes and Snoozing to ensure that a ticket was properly resolved. Tags are great for keeping track of a widespread issue. Keeping my inbox organized, allowed me to relax and focus on each ticket.
Another lesson I will note is how to handle stress. Cadoo commonly had bugs and issues that the engineers had to work through. After a big launch, we went from Inbox zero to 100 tickets in Unassigned overnight. I buckled down and tackled them. I gathered information and shared it with the engineers. I kept my tickets organized and didn’t lose my mind in the process.
Customer Support quality can make or break a company. Not only do you want to maintain good customer relations, but you want to upsell the product. Customer Support is the bridge between the company and the customers.
“Thank you so much, Leah! You’re the BEST. Keep up the good work.”
“Leah is always here when I need her. She’s so kind and helpful. Thanks, Leah. You’re wonderful. Keep up the good work.”
“I’m a patient guy. And you look so kind and nice, I could wait for ages!”
Yes, I’ve only been working in Customer Success for two weeks. Yes, these are a couple of things app users have sent to me…. But don’t be fooled. It’s not all butterflies and roses.
I’ve conversed with frustrated users as well. People who blame me for the bug they are dealing with or the inconvenience they are experiencing. When it comes to every user I talk to, my goal is to always “Kill them with kindness”. That saying is often used when you are being treated wrongly. You “kill them with kindness” when you are overly kind to people who aren’t kind to you.
In Customer Success, you need to be over-the-top kind.
Apologize for the inconvenience or confusion this issue might have caused.
Be friendly at every turn. A smiley face can go a long way in connecting with a customer. Showing them they are talking to a real person.
Be real with them. You can be open about the situation at hand. You can tell them why the bug they are dealing with hasn’t been solved yet. If a customer understands the circumstance, they are less likely to be frustrated.
Set the mood. If you are setting an “I’m truly here to help” mood, that can help a customer feel at ease. Make sure they know that no matter what, you will take care of them.
(P.S. These principles don’t just apply to customer success. If you are kind to your co-workers, boss, business partners, it can drastically change those relationships for the better.)
Not all customers will react the way you think they should. They won’t always be friendly or patient in return. I had a customer who acted like I was the one who made an error. I didn’t take it personally, because the person didn’t know me. They don’t know the people I work with. We are humans dealing with complicated tech and trying to create a successful business.
Here is where I “killed with kindness”. I apologized for the confusion. I refunded him. I was honest and told him we are humans that make mistakes. If an issue ever comes up, we do what we can to make it right. The user didn’t show me kindness. I treated the user with the same kindness I’d treat someone who was sending me kissy face emojis. (Yes, I do get those.)
If you are consistently kind, it should provide no reason for the customer to be mad at you personally. You can be the middle ground. You can support, encourage, and assure them that the issue is being addressed. You want the issue to be solved just as badly as they do.
Actions speak louder than words. I believe we all live by this phrase. It’s one thing to say something. Acting on it is what really makes the difference. This applies to all aspects of life.
This past week, I learned how important it is to act. When you say you will do something, do it. It’s amazing how much that says about your reliability and personality. Not only that, but action also applies in the perspective of learning something by doing it. My training this week has been mostly showing me what to do, then guiding me while I’m doing it. Actions speak louder than words can be processed in two different lights. I have learned that both are true this week.
In my first week of work, I have been trained in the Customer Success side of my job. I have asked my team member questions and answered user’s questions. My team member was sick for a while, so I doubled down. I tried to cover as many bases as I could and ask straight forward questions. I have focused on organizing my day and creating a strict schedule. I am working on how to communicate and to whom.
I attended Randy Hill’s Praxis Monday and it was about her career journey. I enjoyed her honesty about how, even with so much experience, she is still “figuring it out” and doesn’t know what she wants to do when she grows up. It’s so easy to think that once you get your goal, it will all work out. Life keeps going and it will never become easy or straight forward. It gives me more confidence that where I’m at right now, is a great place to be. I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone just because I think their life is easier.
Inbox Zero is the last part of this four blog series on “second brains”. What’s Inbox Zero? Inbox Zero is what we call keeping your email inbox at zero emails. This doesn’t mean you delete every email. It just means that you have the important emails archived and the unimportant ones in the trash.
This may seem really intimidating and that is completely understandable! Trust me! Inbox Zero is worth it. I’m going to show you how to get there from wherever you are at!
How many emails do you have in your inbox? Let’s work on that. If you want to dedicate straight hours to clearing it out, go right ahead. If you’re like me and are too intimidated or too busy to knock it all out at once, set out a plan. Set a reminder to check your email three times a day. Whenever you check it, commit to going through 10-20 emails. Do you want to archive it or delete it? Don’t forget to be decisive!
Now you have Inbox Zero! How do you keep on top of emails? A big part of this is checking your inbox frequently. Set a reminder or create a habit of checking and deleting or archiving once a day. When you get an email from a store or a newsletter you don’t care about, unsubscribe! It’s easy to forget that you can do that! As you unsubscribe, less trash mail will come through your inbox.
If you unsubscribe from junk mail and dedicate a couple minutes a day to keeping your inbox at zero, you’ll always stay on top of those important emails and stay organized!
There are people out there who can remember stuff easily. They easily remember tasks that need completed or questions they need to ask. I am not one of those people. I’ll remember a question I need to ask a family member, but I can’t remember what it was when they get home. I think of a task I need to do, but I forget what it was after one of my siblings asks a question. I am one of those people that has to repeat something over and over again out loud in order to remember it.
One thing has had my back ever since I started doing it. What is it?
A task list.
What?! A task list?! Are you serious?
I most certainly am. This isn’t just any other task list. I have an app called Google Tasks on my phone and I have a widget for it on my home page. I almost always have my phone on me and it is so easy to open it up, and type that I need to purchase more shampoo.
Instead of going insane trying to remember what I needed to do, it’s on a list. It is in my “second brain”. Our brains can remember an incredible amount of information. Thoughts, however, are not physical. You can’t go through your brain like a file cabinet and remember word for word the essay you wrote for your history class back in high school.
This is why a “second brain” can be such a life saver. You can keep your thoughts, tasks, and events in a system that won’t forget them. A system where, even if you don’t know where to find specific notes, you can search keywords.
In my task widget, I can type anything! Where I put the keys, what I need to ask my dad, and what a task I need to complete. Whenever I open my phone, I see my list and scroll through it for things I have completed, no longer need to remember, or things I can do now. It is always so satisfying to check a task off the list. I highly recommend giving this a shot!
What are the benefits of taking notes? Note taking can help you remember and process key points from a group of information. It can be a way for you to look back and physically show what you took away from something. A video, podcast, sermon, lesson, book, etc.
I fully believe that notes can help to process and are great to keep to look back on. I take a lot of classes and notes are the best way to stay focused.
Have you ever thought about keeping digital notes? I have notebooks and tried to create a system for them. I learned that digital notes would be best for my classes. Why?
(Quick side note: I use Notion for my digital notes. There are different options out there and most of them have these perks)
Digital notes allow you to not have to worry about bad handwriting. I write so fast, it ends up just being scribbles.
Digital notes allow you to be more portable. I can connect my computer with my phone, so I can add on the go without bringing a specific notebook.
Digital notes allow you to have millions of separate notes, organized by category. You can keep personal and school notes in separate sections.
Digital notes allow you to search keywords. I know I heard a talk on procrastination, but what were the tips he gave? I can search for procrastination in my digital notes! You’d have to flip through pages to find that in a notebook.
Digital notes allow you to never run out of pages! You never have to worry about taking too many notes.
I’m not saying that digital notes are a perfect replacement for notebooks. Something about writing things down can be extremely beneficial. I recommend digital notes for notes you would like to be well organized, easily searchable and portable. A great example of this would be business notes. You can keep information about your business, to-dos, and resources all in one place. I highly recommend digital notes for business owners and students. Note taking in general isn’t for everyone. Digital note taking isn’t for everyone. If you think it might be for you, I encourage you to try it!
I can’t keep track of anything. Well, that’s not necessarily true. I can remember a lot. Our brains are very complex. They operate in so many different ways. Our brains can process and operate at high levels. When we see a ball being thrown, we calculate where it is going to land, move our bodies in response and can catch the ball. All that can happen within seconds. We don’t even put that much effort into it. You could have a conversation with someone while doing all these complicated movements and calculations. It’s amazing.
Yet, I can’t remember what I walked into a room for. I can’t remember what my mom told me to get at the store. Our brains are amazing, but they aren’t perfect. This is where a second brain can be your saving grace.
A second brain is when you don’t entirely rely on your brain to remember important information or ideas. You have something physical to look back on or remind you. It’s like a safety net for your forgetfulness! There have been so many times where I think of something I need to do and forget about it seconds later.There have been times where I said I would do something at a specific time and I completely forget about it. It happens all the time.
This post is part of a series of blog posts talking about different ways you can create a second brain.
There are 3 main ways people keep track of their schedule.
These are a great visual of your schedule. You can see everything!
It is very easy for families to see and add to. It can be placed in one central location.
The days are limited in space. You can only fit so many activities in one square.
It may be a good visual, but you can’t see every hour of your day. It’s not a great tool for planning complicated days.
You can’t add notes. If you would like to add the address of an event or something you need to remember to bring, this isn’t the right calendar for you.
You can’t set reminders. You will only remember when you look at the calendar.
It’s not very portable. You can’t add to it when you don’t have it on hand.
You have to get a new one every year. Not too hard, but worth noting.
Similar pros to the wall calendar. It’s very visual and is easy for families to add to.
There are usually pages where you can plan out your day in detail. You can plan out your day hour by hour if you’d like. Highly recommend this! It really helps with productivity.
You can add notes.
It can be fun to customize! You can use colored pens, stickers and other things to customize your planner.
It’s not the most portable but it is easier to transport than the wall calendar. You can’t add to it unless you have it with you. This can leave room for forgetfulness.
Can’t set reminders.
Can’t add to on the go unless you have it with you. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pain.
Have to get a new one every year.
It is very visual. You can color code and see the hours of the day.
You can add descriptions or special info to your events. Locations, what you need to remember, links, etc.
You have all the room you want to fit a packed, complicated day in.
You can set reminders for your events any period of time in advance.
It’s portable. You can have one like Google Calendar where you can sync up your computer and phone. It’s portable and easy to add to on the go.
Great if you just want a straightforward way to stay on top of your schedule.
There are a ton of different features. (At least on Google Calendar. That’s what I use). You can have multiple calendars and choose which ones you want to see and which ones you don’t at any given time. You can set up a family calendar, so you can all be on the same page. (Again, you can choose when you do or don’t wish to see this calendar). You can add locations, have events automatically repeat weekly, yearly, etc.
If cute stickers and journaling are your thing or you enjoy writing out your day, a schedule planner would be better. You could have both! You could maintain your schedule on a digital calendar and write/journal/decorate a notebook.
No matter what kind of calendar you use, it’s important to keep up with your schedule and always have it up to date. I have tried all three ways I listed above and the digital calendar has been the most beneficial for me. When something is being planned and I’m not home, I just add it to my calendar on the spot. I am trying to work on having a routine every day and I have a separate calendar for that. I hide it until I want to see it, so it doesn’t clog up my events. I can add locations and type what I need to remember to bring in the description. I color code by different areas of my life. Sports, church/youth group, work related, etc. I can set church up to repeat every Sunday forever. I don’t have to re-add it every single month.
There have been so many times where I would’ve forgotten about an event, but my calendar reminded me. I either noticed it when I checked my calendar or got a notification.
Keeping a calendar can be one way a second brain can back you up!
I’ve worked at a local quilt shop called The Quilted Windmill since September 2020. While learning to use their system, I noticed that they don’t have a central location for a lot of their information. They have systems in place that work, but I want to improve them. It would be beneficial to have somewhere to reference and manage systems. If I figure out a system for keeping inventory consistent, it would be helpful to have somewhere a fellow employee could reference when they add in new inventory.
I wanted to find a program that would work best for this project. I chose Notion because of all of its templates, easy searching, and customization. The Quilted Windmill has a lot of moving parts, so I think that Notion would be the best place to manage them. In this SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), I go over why this would be helpful to the company, how the employees could use it, and general Notion functions. In completing this project, I learned how to:
Create a realistically sustainable process
Use an Operations mindset when it comes to improving current systems
You can check out my condensed walkthrough video if you’d like!
How to use The Quilted Windmill’s Notion System
For: The Quilted Windmill Employees
Created: February 2021
How this is a solution: Information is all over the place and not all the employees know how to do things. What if the owner is gone and they can’t ask her how to refund or calculate prices? This could be the solution to that and much more.
Answers to employee questions stored all in one location
Keep up with systems that are put in place and they aren’t forgotten
The owner could leave more because the employees have everything they need.
Easy to manage and update
How to use the system…
To find the answer to your question:
Search the sub-page that would have the answer to your question.
You could also go to Quick Find and search for a keyword to find the answer quickly.
This page could have step-by-step procedures, common questions, ways to solve problems, and other helpful employee information.
To ask a question: There is or can be a sub-page where employees can add a question that isn’t already in the system. The owner or someone who knows the answer can add the answer and place it under the correct category in the system for organization purposes.
To follow a procedure: You can add steps to different processes. For example…
How to add inventory
How to check someone out
How to sign someone up for BOM
How things are organized
Other pages of this system:
Block Of The Month spreadsheet
How to use the Block Of The Month spreadsheet:
This page is for keeping track of customers signed up for Block Of The Month.
When a new customer signs up:
First and Last name in the Name column
Phone number in Phone column if this is their preferred method of contact
Email in Email column if this is their preferred method of contact
Select Pick Up or Ship which is the customer’s decision
Select CC or Account depending if the customer is in the system
When a customer receives or is shipped a block, check off that month
New rows can be added by pushing New at the bottom of the screen or the blue button on the top right.
A new column can be added by selecting New at the right of all the columns. A column can be moved by left-clicking and holding.
A column or row can be deleted by selecting it and pushing delete.
How to use the Employee Hours page:
This page is for employees to enter their work hours.
When an employee needs to enter work hours:
Add first and last name to the Name column
Select the day worked under the Date column
Type start and end time in the Hours column
The owner can select Yes or Not Yet under Paid? Column
The Sort setting allows the newest dates to be at the top to keep the table updated and ease of access.
How to use the Product Requests page:
This page is for when a customer has a product request or requests an incoming product to be held for them.
When a product request needs to be added:
Type first and last name into the Name column
Type phone number or preferred method of contact into Phone column
Select or add a new tag for the category that they are requesting. Kits, Notions, etc.
In the Request column, type in the specific request
General Notion functions
How to add a page: On the left-hand side of Notion, there is a toolbar. Click Add a page to add a new page. From there, you can select a template, view and customize the page.
How to add a sub-page: If on a new page, you can select List under Database. If not, add a dash(/) and select Page. If you scroll down, there are several other options. Including To-do lists, Headings, Bulleted lists, Numbered lists, Toggle lists, Database options, Media options, and so much more.
How to select a template: There are two options.
You can select Templates on the empty page.
In the left-hand toolbar, you can select Templates. There are many to choose from in that window but you can click Browse more templates if you want to see more options.
How to select a different view for a page: There are some templates like Weekly Agenda and Quick Note that don’t allow for a different view. This would most commonly be used in the Database List template. In the top left above the sub-pages, you’ll see a List view or Add a view. If you select that, you can click a different view or add a view. Changing the view can help you see the information you want to see from the list.
How to search: If you are searching for a specific sub-page on the page, you can click Search in the top right above the list next to the blue New button. There, you can search for a page. If you are searching for a keyword, select Quick Find at the top of the toolbar. Type in the keyword and anything in Notion with that keyword will show up in the results.
When you make a new sub-page:
Add a title
Add an icon if you want
Select the date the page was created
Select the Tag(s) or type in a new tag
Add a new property if there is another variable for sorting involved. This example also keeps track of who created what pages. That is why the property is Person.
Hello! My name is Leah Davis. Welcome to my landing page for my business digital brain project. I saw a need in The Quilted Windmill for a digital brain and jumped at the chance to create a system for it. Want to learn about what I created? You’ve come to the right place.
What I Chose To Make And Why
I work for a small quilt shop called The Quilted Windmill. At this small business, everything is institutional knowledge. The owner knows everything and teaches new employees. This puts additional weight on her to remember information, systems, and answer questions.
I work with inventory in the system. If I have a specific way that I want the inventory to be added, fellow employees have to memorize it. This business needs something that will hold procedures, answers to questions, and other systems that are currently on paper.
This month, I’ll be building this system using Notion. I chose Notion because of its template options and ease of use. It can hold different pages, sub-pages, and easily searchable information all in one place.
This week, I created the most complicated page in my digital brain project. I set up what I call an “Employee Base”. This page includes sub-pages for different aspects of the business. Adding new inventory, Guide to the Checkout counter, etc. Each sub-page has toggle-down lists containing procedures, information, and troubleshooting.
This week, I focused on documentation. I created an SOP for the project and this landing page.
After this month-long project, what do I have?
I created the skeleton for a business’s digital brain. I’ve made the foundation of a system for The Quilted Windmill. It was made specifically for their own business. The tools are there for this system to grow with the business. I built a page for procedures, troubleshooting, and information about various elements for product requests, BOM, and employee hours. I created a SOP to go along with the digital brain.
I made a video on my project management system on Trello. I wanted to learn how to use Trello. I’ve learned how to use Notion, but I wanted to expand my exposure to common project management systems.
What I Learned
How to project manage: I know how to plan my week and small projects. This project stretched me to plan every step down to the day it should be completed. It gave me confidence that I could complete my project in the given.
How to pitch my project: In order to pitch a project, you have to know the basics of the project. You can’t bog people down with details and your thought process behind every single one. I learned how to sell my project by doing this for the answer for The Quilted Windmill. I had to tell her what it was, why it’d be helpful, and what she’d have to do all in a limited amount of time. I had to be clear and concise.
How to figure out how to fix a problem: While working for The Quilted Windmill, I noticed inconveniences and issues. They had systems that could be improved and they had to memorize everything. This project taught me how to look at those problems and figure out the best way to solve them. I thought a digital brain would be the most efficient way to solve all these problems while being easy to manage.
How to layout steps and info in a professional way: I created an SOP for this project. SOP’s have to be clear, specific, and thorough. In the project, it requires being thorough with the procedures and information.
How to balance work and life: It was really easy to let a project like this take over my days. It was easy not to work on my project at all when I had other things going on. I spent every week experimenting with the balance.
What I Would Have Done Differently
I would have looked at more programs. I chose Notion because of its ease of use, straight-forward style, features, and I’m familiar with the program. I wanted to be able to clearly and easily explain how to use this system. That being said, I wish I would’ve looked into other programs. I knew Notion would be good for this business, but maybe another system would’ve been better. I wish I would’ve dug into other software.
I would’ve asked more questions. I knew what I needed to make for this project. I had a solid plan and I executed that plan. I thought of the other pages as systems they could use. I wish I would’ve asked what they thought should be on the other pages. Are digital employee hours better than paper? I think so, but it might be more work for The Quilted Windmill. A system I hadn’t thought about could be better on the digital brain. In order to know, I need to ask questions. I can do that now, but I wish I would’ve asked more questions at the beginning of the project.
I would’ve gone into more detail on the digital brain page. I wanted to brainstorm and add more sub-pages about various elements of the business. I have a solid foundation, but I wish I dug deeper into it.
Problems I Had And How I Solved Them
Ease Of Management:
When I came up with the idea of a digital brain, I ran into a lot of questions. One of the questions was: How am I going to make this easy to manage? I wanted to make the owner’s and employee’s lives easier instead of harder. I didn’t want to create another thing they had to manage. My desire with this project was to make management easier. How I overcame this predicament was by structuring the digital brain to be always growing. I created a system that can be added to overtime and adjusted according to how the business changes. This is why a system like Notion was perfect. It can be organized and added to easier than a document. It is easy to find a section and add more. When information is added to this digital brain, it can be searched and easily found.
Ease Of Use:
This leads to my next goal. I needed to make this system easy to use. Employees who don’t excel in understanding technology need to be able to use this digital brain. This is one of the main reasons I chose Notion. The way it is built is easy to understand.
What To Include:
Another problem I ran into was what I should include in the system. What does this business need in a digital brain? What would they actually use? I don’t want to spend time building a page they aren’t going to use. I figured out a couple of systems they had in place. I noticed they had a Longarming schedule on paper. The owner noted how they really liked the paper system they had. I took note of that and didn’t add it to the digital brain. I had to take a good look at how the business ran to find out what they would use.
How To Add Information I Don’t Know:
My business knowledge of steps and information is limited. In The Quilted Windmill, I only cover running their inventory system. I’ve never closed the store, made a kit, or ordered fabric. I don’t have all the information I need to make a solid foundation for this digital brain. I created a skeleton to jump off of and I’m working with a fellow employee to build on the system.
This project has been a huge challenge for me. I created a digital brain for an actual company. I pitched it to them and they are going to use it! I’ve been working with a fellow employee to implement the system and fill out the digital brain with information. This has been my passion project this month. I knew that this was a way I could make teaching new employees easier. I was driven by a desire to help the owner of the business. My confidence in planning a project and achieving my goals has dramatically improved. I have hands-on experience solving a problem for a business. I can’t wait to tackle more and continue to solve problems with real solutions!
This post is part of my month-long project. Check out my first week update here, my second week here, and my third week here! The project I am building is a digital brain for a quilt shop called The Quilted Windmill. I am creating a digital space where they can store information, procedures, and systems. My goal for this project is to:
Help the owner to manage her business and customers
Help current and new employees get information and maintain consistency
How to this digital brain is a solution to the company’s problems
How to use the system and all its pages
General Notion functions
I also created a landing page for this month-long project. It consists of every weekly update and an in-depth overview of my project. Click the link at the bottom of this page if you’d like to see that.
What Did I Do Well?
I organized each task clearly. I laid out outlines of tasks and what I needed to write. This helped me to avoid writer’s block.
I was detailed with my SOP and covered everything an employee would need to know to run the system.
I did well on staying motivated. I pushed to make creativity strike and be able to write with energy.
What Could Be Improved?
One of my main goals in the project was to be ahead of schedule. I wanted to finish this project with a clear understanding of what worked for me and what didn’t. I accomplished this. I never truly felt ahead but I learned what doesn’t work. For example, I tend to bog myself down and not take breaks. I’ve worked to implement breaks into my everyday and it’s greatly improved my workflow. I hope to implement what I have learned throughout the course of this project in the future.
Would you like to see my project overview and closing thoughts?