The last several weeks have been difficult yet inspiring in many ways. We have been witness to the fragility of health and life, and the resilience and tenacity of our human spirits.
Across broadcast news and social media feeds, it is easy to become overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. Luckily, we are frequently inspired by amazing stories of connection and the power of relationships (i.e. New Yorkers nightly “thank you” to healthcare professionals; Italy’s citizens “serenading” one another; chalk art at local parks; “heart attacks” on neighbors doorways).
Our intrinsic willingness to help and lift each other is amazing to witness and reminds me of a favorite quote:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
I have the privilege of leading a team of Canvas technical support “helpers.” The Global Customer Support Team includes engineers and leaders in the United States, United Kingdom, and Hungary. I’m a relative “newborn” to the Instructure family, having started the last week of January of this year. I am new to Instructure, but not new to the power and love of education, nor the idea of putting customers first and working my hardest to make them happy. Prior to Instructure, I spent nearly 20 years working with and leading the customer support team at JetBlue. Our Canvas team is committed to fully resolving challenges for our education family.
What is Successful Support?
Through countless experiences with customers and educators, I have come to the conclusion that creating meaningful and enduring relationships is the key to building a successful support organization.
Think of the brands and companies you do business with. What makes them stand out or interesting to you? For me, I drive past multiple grocery stores to shop at the location that I like the best (recently it seems grocery shopping is the only time I get out!). Why do I drive past other stores to shop at this exact place? I choose this store because of the people, the relationships, and the helpers. I know what I’m getting from that store’s employees, and they consistently deliver what I am expecting.
Creating this same kind of feeling and experience for our education family is my priority. While we focus on each individual customer and meeting her or his needs and expectations, we also strive to do the same thing with each member of our support team. What are the individual skills and talents of our team members, and how can we put those individuals in the best position to serve educators?
Our Support Philosophy
The values we embrace at Instructure are foundational to our team’s approach and philosophy around customer support:
- Ownership: we hold ourselves and each other accountable to have the answers and to help our customers with whatever challenges they encounter.
- Relationships: we know every conversation provides an opportunity to create an even deeper connection.
- Openness: we are open to feedback and challenge the “status quo.” We embrace the chance to change and improve.
- Simplicity: just as our tools strive to make learning and growth easier, we find ways to enable simple solutions to meet the challenges educators face.
How We’re Supporting Our Customers
Today with the onset of a global pandemic, obstacles we never dreamed of have presented themselves across all areas of society. In our support organization, we were challenged to meet customer expectations (while experiencing unprecedented volume) while moving our team to be completely virtual. In March and April 2020, we saw a more than 200% increase in expected contacts and May is trending similarly. Our team has responded well, although we definitely have room for improvement as we didn’t hit all of the SLAs we set out to hit.
We are using a variety of methods to improve response times for our customers. In addition to bringing on additional new headcount and helping our existing staff, we have done the following:
- Trained more than 45 internal resources whose permanent roles fall outside of Global Customer Support to assist in responding to customer requests as needed.
- Fast-tracked self-service capabilities we were targeting in late 2020 and are working to bring the production deployment forward.
- Leveraged existing automation tools where it makes sense to meet customer needs.
Just as our education family is navigating uncharted territory, our support team is doing the same. We look forward to the new and innovative ways we will partner together in the future. I look forward to continuing my journey at Instructure, and witnessing the incredible future we will chart together. As a support organization, we remain committed to our philosophy of Ownership, Relationships, Openness, and Simplicity, and we look forward to serving you accordingly.