Since his days serving treats at Dairy Queen, to cashiering at Shopko—which, fun fact, is how he met his wife—to supporting Zendesk customers as a Tier 1 support agent, Brett Bowser is a customer-service natural.
After more than three years answering customer queries as a front-line advocate, Brett is now a Community Engagement Specialist in Zendesk’s Madison, Wis. office, where he applies years of hands-on customer-service skills to a different kind of support experience.
The Zendesk Community allows users to get help from their peers—for example, if they’re looking for tips and tricks for specific use cases or implementations. Users in the Zendesk Community create hundreds of new posts and more than a thousand comments every month. With more than 1.5 million monthly pageviews in the Help Center, users are constantly sharing resources and knowledge, providing a rich support experience alongside the Knowledge Base and 1:1 channels of support. Brett and the rest of the community team oversee all Community activity, while 15 external moderators and dozens of Zendesk support agents and product experts provide answers as needed.
Brett’s time solving customer issues over email, chat, phone, and social media made his transition to the Community team a seamless one, allowing him to tap into his deep product knowledge and understanding of customer needs. Today, he says he feels more empowered to follow a piece of customer feedback to completion, something he wasn’t able to do as an agent managing a busy ticket queue. The phrase “I’ll pass this feedback on to our product team,” can be frustrating for customers, but a large part of Brett’s role is getting their comments and suggestions to the right people.
“I think that's a pretty common, standard answer to hear, so customers don’t always believe we pass along feedback,” Brett says.
He recalls one customer in the Community who provided feedback about creating anchor links in knowledge base articles. After Brett shared the feedback internally, a product manager jumped into the product feedback comments to say the feature would be included in the product roadmap. While this victory scenario doesn’t happen for each of the thousands of unique Zendesk feature requests, the Community team aims to address all feedback and is constantly looking for ways to improve the experience for customers.
“We want to create an area where customers can discuss, whether that means providing feedback or sharing their own tips that worked for them,” Brett says.
As the team continues fostering a dialogue-driven community, they’re also pushing to be more proactive rather than reactive. For example, rather than simply answering customer questions as they come in, Brett’s team will cull and post the most useful user tips or work with the Zendesk product or customer success teams to host “Ask Me Anything” sessions.
Brett already dipped his toes into proactivity during his time as an agent, participating in a program that provided customers extra help with their implementations even if they don’t have a dedicated success consultant. The advocates involved in the program worked 1:1 with these customers, via phone or video, to take a closer look at their Zendesk accounts and address everything from excessive use of triggers to auditing ticket views.
During these calls, Brett aimed to make the best use of everyone's time by directly addressing issues without rushing the customer off the phone. “We want to make sure that after these calls, we aren’t pushing the customers into creating a ticket and making them change channels, which obviously provides a better customer experience for them,” Brett explains.
In addition to being proactive and providing resources before customers reach out, empathy has served Brett well during his time in customer support. He says he could count on one hand the number of angry customer interactions he wasn’t able to diffuse during his three years at Zendesk, both now and while working on the support team. If he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll do everything he can to point the customer in the right direction.
“I think just trying to understand that the customer on the other end is just another person, and not somebody that's trying screw up your day,” Brett explains. “It’s simple—help somebody out when they need it.”
Check out more first-hand career tips from Zendesk advocates:
Robin Frerichs explains why support advocates should never fear the banana
Leah Guest used her experience as a front-line advocate to springboard into a whole new team and role.
Carl McDowell approaches every support ticket like a puzzle—learn what drives him to solve them.
Esperanza “Zsa” Trias, on how to grow in your support role
Teresa Rosado-Sanna, takes an international approach to customer support—and real life.
Abel Martin, on building great internal partnerships
Arthur Mori, on what everyone should know about Tier 1 support
Benjamin Towne, on mentoring and offering constructive criticism
Rodney Lewis, on setting up an internal shadowing program
Sarah Kay, on her move from advocate to data analyst
Ramona Lopez, on rolling out an advocate recognition program
Aurash Pourmand, on practicing customer empathy
Anna Lee Ledesma, on the skill every great chat agent needs to have
Mark Fado, on providing dedicated 1:1 client support
Justin Helley, on advocacy training and development
Guillaume Deleeuw, on problem-solving in Tier 2 technical support