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Why Everyone Needs a Turn Manning the Support Queue


"Is there a better way?" "Is there a better way?"

I’ve learned a lot of tough lessons in business over the years, but one stands out as the cornerstone of success.  Through good times and bad, at the end of the day, if you don’t have happy customers, you don’t have a business.  Sure, not every customer will be happy all of the time, but in order to enjoy any measure of success you must always stay tuned in to your clients and understand the experience they have when they choose your products and services.

If customer service is everyone's job, everyone needs the opportunity to service customers

Customer service and sales representatives are naturally close to the customers and usually have no difficulty gauging the collective temperature of clients.  But, what about people in development, marketing and accounting?  If customer service is truly everyone’s job, then everyone needs the opportunity to service customers.  In order to make this happen at ShoreTel’s Cloud Division, I asked our Learning and Support teams to work together to give us all a chance to hear what our customers have to say.

Our support team has a weekly departmental meeting during which they have traditionally asked for volunteers to man the support queue.  Volunteers are great, but this approach didn’t give everyone the opportunity to share in the responsibility and actively help our team while hearing first-hand why our customers call us and what they experience.  So we developed a new approach and now ask everyone to cover the support queue once or twice a year.

Our Learning team has provided training on how to man the phones.  Non-technical personnel are not asked to resolve customer issues.  The job is mostly to listen to our customers and create a case so that the issue can be properly resolved.

There are several benefits for both our company and our individual employees:


  • We learn the reality of the service we provide – good and bad. Every experience is a learning event. As Bill Gates said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

  • When you believe as I do, that "an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of people to create value,” then you know that by applying our people to this initiative we will unlock a ton of new ideas about how we can get better. We believe, that our employees, if challenged with the question,  will discover all sorts of ways we can improve this experience.

  • In the end, knowing how customers view our service, and thus better understanding the part we all play in it, will help us each be better at what we do and thus create a more valuable company as a result of delivering and continuing to improve on a superior customer experience.


Getting everyone on the front lines helps us all remember why we are here. "We make phones systems and applications with an experience businesses love."