Customer Service doesn’t always have to be a dead-end job

Customer service often has a bad rap these days. The title itself makes most of us immediately think of horrible corporate call centers dealing with irate customers. There is a better way–progressive tech companies like Zappos, Automattic, and Buffer live by their core values in how they treat both employees and customers.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has been ranked very high in employee satisfaction, culture, and benefits for several years now. Their customer service reps are titled Happiness Engineers and that is truly what they do in how they resolve issues for customers via forums, email, and chat but also document software issues, resolve billing problems, and guide premium customers through implementing custom site designs. All employees work remotely but a few times a year individual teams will meet somewhere in the world for intense work sessions and once a year there is a week-long company gathering in places like Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Montreal, or Santa Cruz. Those employees earn a great salary and benefits like a new Mac every 16 months, a $2,000 home office furniture stipend, fully covered health insurance, and others.

Zappos, based in Las Vegas, has a legendary reputation for their ability to wow customers with random upgrades to overnight shipping and even helping customers order pizza in an emergency. They also give paid volunteer time off, an onsite fitness center, free food, and a nap room.

Buffer is another tech company with remote Happiness Heroes that handle their customer service. These professionals are paid in the $65-95k range, enjoy a loose vacation policy with a $1,000 bonus per year for a trip, have their health insurance completely covered, and even enjoy unlimited free Kindle books.

These companies offer more than just material benefits–working at them makes you a partner in their missions and a member of the work family. These are the people you hang out with, support each other when you have a bad moment, and spent too much time sending gifs of cats while obsessing about the best burrito.

These companies and many other like them offer a place for someone who excels in customer service to do so in an extremely rewarding environment. Most people who do well in CSR positions do their best to get promoted out those departments quickly since customer service jobs are seen as paying your dues in a starting position to be exited as quickly as possible. This disincentivizes customer service agents to hone their skills to truly world-class levels and instead they knuckle down to get through their job requirements while studying on the side to move up out of the call center.

I very much enjoy finding the solution to someone’s problem, empathizing with them when struggles occur, and getting to exercise my people skills, teaching ability, and my experience and skills in technical fields. It’s quite exciting to see there are rockstar customer service positions out there.

I’m going to spend the next few months documenting my process to become an ideal candidate for a company like those above who are exciting places to work with great benefits and a high work-to-life balance. Wish me well, and I’ll continue to update my progress.