Engineering Happiness in Public Support Channels

Happiness Everywhere

Have you ever desperately looked for support and ended up on a company’s Facebook page? Have you ever tweeted at the brand you really love? What about the one that you can’t stand? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the other side?

My name is Oliwia and I’m one of the Happiness Engineers from a team called Chiron. We take care of the WordPress.com forums and reply to users on our social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I live with several cats and they are all very invested in my work. I don’t always allow them to write my replies but, as you can see in the photo above, Kluska loves to be involved in any way she can.

Let’s get back to Chiron. What’s special about our team is that everything that we do is public. There are no emails or private chat…

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Can you transform customers into happy, loyal, passionate fans?

We’re hiring!

Happiness Everywhere

Do you have what it takes to join Automattic’s world-class customer support team? We get rave reviews like these:

I can see now why everyone raves about your customer service. When fixing my mistake you were fast, courteous, and professional and didn’t make me feel like an idiot, even though the mistake I made was quite idiotic!
I can’t say it enough: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

– Kimberly

YOUR ENTIRE TEAM IS AMAZING!!! I have had wonderful experiences with every single person on your support team. I am not computer savvy in many ways and all of you are so knowledgeable and patient. I greatly appreciate how you have made becoming a blogger a joyful journey.

– WordPress.com Fan on Live Chat

Automattic’s global team of Happiness Engineers love helping people tell their story online with WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, and more.

They turn customers into happy, loyal…

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Sacrificial artifice

We get to where we are because of how hard we work and the skills we cultivate, and not necessarily because of the things we sacrifice.

I’m taking part in a leadership development course at work, and the core exercise is to participate in an inquiry council. Every person brings one problem or challenge to discuss with the group (all leads at Automattic), and through a process of open and honest questioning, the person who brought the topic gains greater understanding of how to move forward productively. I have not yet brought my topic (next week!) but I have already gained a lot of insight, just from seeing how my colleagues approach asking questions, seeing the things that they prioritize, seeing the things they struggle with and how they resolve those struggles.

One thing that has slowly taken shape for me over the last couple of months is the idea of unnecessary sacrifice. I think many of us may be unconsciously superstitious. We have earned a seat at the table through hard work and the impact we’ve had on the organization. In order to effect that impact, we may have put extraordinary stress on ourselves, which we assume is necessary in order to get the effect we want. Like a baseball player never washing their socks, we begin to believe in the stress as a necessary element in success.

Now, that’s not to say that responding appropriately to urgency is a bad thing, or something we should not do. And it’s also not to say that some roles are not inherently higher stakes than others. However, I think it’s worth re-examining where stress is actually coming from, and seeing where you can control the stress. My experience is showing that one effective way to reduce the stress I put on myself is through candid communication. “I don’t know how to do that, can you show me?” “I’m feeling anxious about kid school stuff today.” “Is this something we need to do now, or next week?” “I can help you with that in an hour, but not right now.” When others on my team, or my peers, are aware of my viewpoint, we can more effectively prioritize and support one another. I also think it’s particularly important for leads to model this sort of behavior (managing stress, communicating clearly), and to support the people on our teams who follow suit as they learn how to do the same.

Working at Automattic

We are hiring.

Let’s not bury the lede here: we’re hiring a lot of roles, and would love to see you apply! We’re looking for great communicators, folks with a growth mindset, and of course, relevant experience (which varies depending on the role). We’re working on improving our hiring diversity, trying out different job boards and services in an effort to expand our culture and improve the parts of the web that we build by representing more of the real world.

I work for the Happiness division, as the director of Happiness Experience. I lead the folks who do the hiring for Happiness as well as the folks who are working to improve the entire experience of Happiness Engineers, soup to nuts, from the first day of applying, through the last day with Happiness. That includes growth opportunities, leadership development, and performance expectations that are clear and consistent for everyone. We are hiring Happiness Engineers, so if a strong customer-centric ethos and genuine WordPress curiosity sounds like you, please apply!

In an effort to demystify our hiring process (which is fairly unique), we’ve added some guidance to our site about what to expect during a trial. In Happiness, our process is fairly straightforward: we review applications, and only advance or decline folks after two reviews (neither reviewer sees the other review). For the folks we advance, we offer a pre-interview challenge. It’s a fun little project for candidates to get a feel for the type of work that they might be expected to do, and give them a chance to evaluate their comfort level with that work. The results give us another data point on their overall skillset, and we will either advance to decline at this point as well. Next is an interview. We do all our interviews in Happiness via Slack; we don’t ask people to dress up, clean up their room, find a quiet environment, get a sitter for their kids, or deal with the stress of speaking to someone on the spot. We conduct our interviews as a typed conversation; you can think of it as a text exchange with a friend (though perhaps somewhat more professional, depending on your friend group 🙂). After the interview, we either advance or decline again. For the folks we advance, we ask them to complete some questions in a “take home test” as if they are already a Happiness Engineer. Yet another data point, and gives us another chance to evaluate their written communication (communication is truly a top skill that we screen for; it must be excellent). From that point, folks are advanced to a trial. Happiness trials run for 4-5 weeks, during which time the candidate gets training, a buddy, a trial lead, and a chance to work alongside our full-time Happiness Engineers. They get a true taste of the role, and can determine if the work is something they’re comfortable doing. Our buddies give near-daily feedback, and trial leads give weekly feedback; we keep the feedback loop very tight so everyone is on the same page the entire time. Assuming the trial is successful (most are, because our application process is rigorous), we send the trial to HR to discuss a full-time offer.

Are you an Automattician? Find out.