Support Breakfast Podcast | Episode 7 -The Other Side of the Table

It the best day of the week again – Podcast Day – and this week it’s snowing! Or at least, it was on recording day; we can’t guarantee snow while you listen.

Remember: you can now subscribe via iTunes! Already a fan there? Give us a five-star rating! If you’re not an iTunes user, you can also find us on SoundcloudStitcher, TuneIn and your favourite podcast apps – just search for “Support Breakfast”.

It’s far too early for us all and neither Nomad Sarah nor Conor has eaten yet. Lisa had a cereal bar, which was better than nothing, while Dave is back to enjoying his Huel (no cheesecake in sight!) and Kiwi Sarah is at the porridge again.

We’re all very excited about our new theme music! Isn’t it great? It’s Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Airtone

Also new this week: a number of Twitter followers from Buffer. Welcome, Bufferoos! We hope you enjoy the podcast!

This entire episode is about support experiences so we skip over our weekly wins to get right into the heart of the topic:

The Other Side of the Table

This time we’re talking about ourselves as customers and how we behave when we’re looking for help. What do we learn from these experiences that makes us better at support and does working in support make us nicer as customers?

“You don’t really truly understand how to be a good customer until you’ve worked in customer service yourself” – Kiwi Sarah

We kick things off by talking about our own approaches to asking for help and we’re pretty universally terrible at it. Kiwi Sarah doesn’t want to bother anyone, Lisa has an anxious meltdown and Dave is just frustrated that he can’t solve his problems himself. Conor mentions a blog post from Intercom about knowing when to ask for help and the 15 minute rule. We also reminisce about a shared terrible breakfast experience and go off on a tangent about the pronunciation of ‘tangential’.

We call back to our first episode about emotion and the heightened emotions at play when you need to ask for help and discuss whether it’s just us being bad at it or whether it’s a more universal behaviour than we thought.

Kiwi Sarah asks whether we’ve noticed ways in which our behaviour has changed based on working in support. Lisa talks about learning not to keep trying a declined transaction based on her interactions with customers who have billing issues. Nomad Sarah talks about the experience of offering support to support workers and how it may not be possible for customers to know what is helpful – even if they work in support themselves.

Conor mentions the frustration he feels when something vital to his workflow is unavailable and how he doesn’t have the time to deal with asking for help “properly” because of the extra work needed to work around the problem.

“I’m doing my day-to-day job, something stops working and my blind panic is just… need to get fixed.” – Conor

Kiwi Sarah talks once more about her hatred for phone support and how quickly and easily something was resolved by phone, which made her understand why customers might want it.

Lisa asks how we feel about reaching out to companies via Twitter or rage-tweeting if things have gone wrong. Nomad Sarah talks about how rage-tweeting shouldn’t be a first response but that it does seem to get results. Dave also shares a story about how tweeting received a response when other methods had failed.

“If I need something accomplished, I’m going to keep escalating it to the point of where I get a response.” – Nomad Sarah

Conor asks how we deal with customers who don’t contact us via the regular channels and whether these should be escalated above customers who have been patiently waiting for a reply. How do we prevent encouraging people to make all of their grievances public?

Kiwi Sarah talks about asking for their email address so that they can get in touch if this isn’t already in progress. She also mentions that sometimes messages on social media can help get problems resolved if fixing them has not received traction within the company simply from support tickets.


Nomad Sarah talks about setting expectations around when a customer will receive a response as customers who are expecting a faster response will become frustrated more quickly and may take to other channels to receive help. She recommends reading The Effortless Experience and mentions that customers rarely take the path of least resistance when contacting us for help.

Lisa mentions that it’s sometimes harder for companies to be transparent than we might expect. She also talks about reaching back out to customers who have asked for help via Twitter to acknowledge them and let them know when they’ll receive a response.

“The acknowledgement part is so huge” – Dave

Dave talks about the ire of someone who gets to the bar after you being served first and Lisa talks about the informal queuing system for British pubs as understood by British people and discussed in Watching the English. Kiwi Sarah talks about the very different experience of going out in New Zealand and we discuss the the most efficient queuing system, according to Freakonomics, with skepticism, fear and distrust (but also curiosity about the best ways to make it work for everyone).

Dave asks whether customers expect to receive replies in order. Do we know how many people are in front of us? We talk about phone menus that tell you what position you’re in. Dave talks about his love for his bank First Direct – when he phones, a person answers. No automated queue.

“If they tell me I’m number 17, I’m probably going to hang up” – Lisa

We also talk about how much we hate automated email replies that get our hopes up that we’ve received a response.

Lisa interrupts to let everyone know that it’s snowing outside her window. Nomad Sarah also has snow in Austria, but that’s less unexpected.

We talk about our expectations for receiving support. Lisa has incredibly high expectations while Dave has more empathy for the people helping him out. Nomad Sarah talks about her frustration with knowing there’s a better way for the support people helping her and not being able to help them help her. Kiwi Sarah talks about how happy she is to receive a quick response her help queries, as she expects that it will always take a while.

EXCITING NEWS: We now have swag! If you’d like a Support Breakfast sticker, get in touch by email or Twitter and we’ll send you one! We ordered them from Sticker Mule and had such a great experience – huge thanks to Debbie and everyone else there for such quick and high quality service. If you’re interested in support but not stickers (how is such a thing possible?), you should still check out Sticker Mule’s blog post about their Customer Service Principles, which are full of solid advice for customer support folks.


Your homework for this week:

Join us for breakfast if you find yourself in London – we’re nice, we promise, and you might even get a sticker in-person! Breakfast is every Thursday at 9am and you can find out where it’ll be happening by following us on Twitter.

Conor also has an app to recommend (he knows all the best apps!) – bettersnaptool can be used to snap windows into place on your screen on your Mac and line everything up neatly. Conor was wrong, unfortunately, and it is not free.

Watch Benedict Cumberbatch fail to pronounce the word ‘Penguin’.

Email us – we love emails and cat gifs.

Follow us on Twitter @supportbrekkie or individually at @gentlethorns,  @conorp, @sarahleyh, @davechapman & @sarahleeyoga

2 thoughts on “Support Breakfast Podcast | Episode 7 -The Other Side of the Table

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s