Today, we introduce Ian Maison, customer services manager, Signagelive, Saffron Walden, Essex, U.K. where he is responsible for managing the pre-sales and support teams to ensure the highest level of customer experience.
- Describe your personal work space.
My work space is located in the the U.K. Signagelive office, which is a converted barn situated near Saffron Walden, Essex. My desk consists of my trusty pen and notepad, VOIP phone system, computer and two monitors to help me through the day, managing the support desk. I’ve got a couple of whiteboards behind me for overviewing tasks and a cup of coffee is never usually far away. I’ve also got a series of stationery on my desk that I rarely use but enhances the overall perception of looking professional.
- How do you get to work?
Slowly, depending on the traffic. I first of all take my daughter to nursery and then either drive separately to work or car-share with a colleague. After the initial panic of getting my daughter ready, it’s then a 25 minute journey driving to work and, if with colleague, it’s the best place to have a meeting before getting to the office.
- What is an average day like?
With this role, I am not sure there is such a thing as an average day. With a young 10-month-old daughter, I’m usually up around 5.15am and trying to get her ready for nursery. After dropping her off, I’m usually in the office around 8.45am and ready for another day of supporting Signagelive customers.
The average day consists of deciding what tasks are required to achieve, then waiting to see what the day brings in terms of support calls, issues and requests. No day tends to be same and there’s always someone ready to ask something new. It definitely makes the day more enjoyable this way, and I would not want it to be too average.
What is essential to you being able to work happily?
I would say being able to add humour to my work helps a great deal. I think having a good sense of humour and patience in a customer support role is a huge benefit. Having spent time talking to operators who dictate responses from a script or canned responses, I like to add conversation and humour to a call when a colleague or customer is not expecting it. Would you rather speak to a helpful personality or a person giving scripted responses when seeking support?
I try and get all of my team to use the same manner when delivering support to our customers. Support is such a large aspect of why customers select to use a service, so it’s important in my mind that they are given the best service and care.
I would also add that having goals, lots of work to do and the freedom to explore new tools, resources and to openly discuss these helps. If I feel something could be changed to benefit what we do on a daily basis, then having my suggestion listened to gives a great sense of achievement.
How flexible are your working conditions?
I currently work the standard times of 9am to 5.30pm, but working conditions are very flexible. With new customers signing up every day, all Signagelive employees tend to work outside of standard hours to ensure a high level of service. I’m currently expanding and repositioning members of my team to focus on both pre-sales and support, so with new members being brought in, I will likely soon adjust my hours to give a greater coverage to the overseas customer base.
- What do you think your employer looks for in its staff?
Commitment, dedication and pride in continually moving yourself and the company forward. I’m sure there are many other traits, but what more can be asked of an employee than caring about the work they do and doing it well. Having a good sense of humour also helps.
- What suggestions do you have for your company?
‘Keep doing what we do well.’ I have been working for Signagelive now for nearly six years and the last several months have been the best in terms of focus and progress, in my view. We have a great foundation, product and motivated teams in both the U.K. and U.S., so let’s just keep building on what we do best.
The U.K. office could also do with a better coffee machine.
- Do you have any frustrations you would like to share with us?
Work wise, I don’t have many frustrations, as I like my job. Probably the biggest annoyance is when customers insist on failing to prepare and everything is left to the last minute. We often have customers contacting us with about five minutes before a big customer meeting and asking us to resolve why their content hasn’t deployed or to explain how their hardware works. It’s about then that the customer’s caps lock comes into use on Live Chat.
Questions about how other software works is also a firm favourite. It has got to a stage where we’ve had to create guides on how to install certain remote access software so that our customers can be helped.
What do you like best about your job?
It may seem obvious but helping customers is the best part of the job. It is rewarding to assist a customer who has little knowledge of Signagelive and then watch their experience grow as they become more familiar with the product. Receiving good feedback from our customers is always great and can be very rewarding, as all too often you don’t hear back from the customer after their issue is resolved.
I have worked alongside many of these customers, distributors and partners for several years and so, having built working relationships, it is nice to see new orders won and people progress in their careers.
- How open is your company to new ideas and suggestions?
Very open – and all ideas are welcomed. Any suggestions, regardless of position, are listened to and that’s one of the key reasons why its fun to work here. We, of course, allow our customers to also offers ideas and suggestions via email and our knowledge base and, if approved, they are added to our development sprints as well.
Any idea that can improve on what do already is fundamental to ensuring we deliver the best possible service.
- How much responsibility have you been given?
The level given has grown throughout the years that I have worked here, and now I have a great deal. Managing employees and continually working on how I can improve the pre-sales and support we offer is rewarding but comes with a great deal of responsibility.
We are the team that customers will deal with the most during their entire Signagelive experience, and so we have to ensure our support and time is always available. We treat both trial and paid customers with equal support levels, so to be responsible for ensuring satisfaction is important.
Support is a massive part of why any customer selects a product, so unless I do my job properly, it may be a reason why someone doesn’t opt to buy our services. I’m therefore responsible for all customer interaction, guides and live chats.
- How green are you and your company?
I could probably do more, but at home we are good at recycling and do try to do our best as a family. We ensure that plastics, cardboard and greenery are recycled properly all the time and try to do our bit. I also car share to work with a colleague, so I suppose that is not too bad. We also try to do our bit in the office and are more paperless than ever. All of our work and office material is now in the cloud.
- What inspires you?
Outside of work, my daughter and wife inspire me the most. I work hard to ensure that I can make the most of my family time and look after them and they are a huge part of my life. My daughter is growing up so fast that seeing her learn new things and becoming more active is great.
Inside of work, I’m inspired by having the responsibility to feel I’m making a big difference in terms of the support of Signagelive. Getting positive feedback from colleagues and the customers is also inspiring and can give the feeling that I’ve done a good job.
Receiving praise from someone can go a long way when you work in support, since customers don’t generally contact us to share pleasantries and ask how we are, so feedback is welcomed after solving an issue or question.
- What are your ambitions?
Probably my main ambition is to be able to afford a bigger house for my family so that my daughter has more space to grow up in, and then we’d have more room to put all her toys. It would be nice to have a bigger garden and a maybe add a better car to the ambitions list as well. These are pretty materialistic ambitions, so I guess just ensuring my family are happy is the best goal to go for.
- If you could change only one thing, what would it be?
Apart from the bigger house, better car and substandard coffee machine? I would change how customers plan their installations and ensure that they plan well ahead before trying to upload large files for a meeting that is only a few minutes away.
How much time do you devote to social networking?
Personally, I use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but not very much. Workwise not as much time as I should do, but I hope to do more in terms of supporting our customers. Giving the customers the ability to raise, view and learn about support issues from social media would be a great addition. The use of social media continues to grow and adapting that into the work we do can only be of benefit to our customers.
- What are your most useful tools you use to do your job?
Office keys, open mind, good sense of humour, pen, pad, Signagelive, salesforce, Gmail and Zendesk pretty much covers everything I need on a daily basis. Add some coffee to the mix, and it’s all systems go for another day of support.
- What would be your dream job?
I’d be One Direction’s financial agent. However, being realistic, I like the job I do now. and if I’m given the responsibility to keep structuring the pre-sales and support of Signagelive, then I’ll continue being happy – but perhaps moving the office to somewhere warmer would help.
- What makes you laugh during the work day?
Usually the range of conversations shared with colleagues or the strange requests received from customers. Just when you think you’ve seen it all with customers saying the software makes a clicking noise when they click their mouse button, something new comes along. It is also enjoyable to share live chats with customers when they suddenly realize we are not giving scripted answers. I think they find that a comfort when they are working with us to solve their problems.