Dogs may not own businesses or respond to customer emails that explain a tech emergency in all caps, but they are the ultimate tech support experts. For a dog, it’s all customer service.
My dogs are eternal optimists. No matter what happened yesterday or five minutes ago, they wag their tails excitedly when I call their names. They will wait in the kitchen every time we are fixing a meal and … even though it may have been days since any food fell on the floor, they wait because … this could be the time.
Too often in our work with customers we approach a situation with the baggage of the past coloring our view of the current issue. Anticipation based on previous successes or failures can make us less than effective. To a dog, past or future have very little sway in their actions. For them it is all about now.
My dogs are both very different. One is an ultra smart pure bread siberian husky (Bella) and the other is a super strong bulldog/pointer mix we adopted from the shelter (Baylee). Despite their differences, to them it is all about the pack. For a dog, teamwork is a way of life.
In our company cultures, you will find a regular focus on team building and lectures on the importance of embracing a shared mission. Often though, this does not naturally connect us in a way that results in a loyalty to a shared cause. In a dog’s world, it is simply about belonging together. This is one thing I focus on with my student tech support teams. Shared mission and vision are a part of it, but the main thing is that we are all in this together. Our diversity of background and experience enhances the team that believes that they belong together.
The dogs in my house are the happiest when they have something to chew on. When they were puppies, it was often “unofficial” items like the carpet, a pillow or somebody’s shoes. When I head out the door in the morning to go to work, I make sure they each have something to chew. I am pretty sure they both do not know what I do for work even though I have taken them to my office many times, but it doesn’t matter to them. If there is a bone or maybe a tennis ball to chew, they are all set for the day.
For Baylee, it is her beautiful tennis ball. She will play catch with herself and chew on it sometimes destroying it in a short time. Bella, on the other hand, likes softer things like a stuffed animal which she carries around and fiercly protects from her sister. As long as I, the wise dog manager, make sure there are toys of interest for the individual needs of my dogs, there is generally no collataral damage to furniture and personal items.
In customer service, it is important that team members have access to projects or innitiatives that appropriately engage them. There is always a need for research, testing and documentation that supports the work we do with customers. The discerning manager will know the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and give them each “something to chew on” in addition to the interaction with users.
For Bella and Baylee, the active life of chasing things in the yard and wrestling with each other is offset by the beauty of a nap. They can be going a mile a minute and one second later are crashed out in their special place on the rug sound asleep. The amazing amount of energy that they expend can only be sustained with regular naps. Like us all, they would actively work (the dog word for work is “play" which is another blog post all together) longer than their energy can effectively sustain them. Unlike us though, they naturally make times to recharge as there are always cats to chase and neighbor dogs to defend against.
For the tech support teams that I lead, there are for sure crazy busy times. It is important to make allowances for staff to recharge before continuing their focused efforts. Often the work we do in tech support is based on the issue and not on the time clock. It is too easy to stay with a task toward solution, working thru a meal break in pursuit of the fix. It is important to claim what a dog knows naturally and step away regularly to gain a fresh focus. So many times the problem that seemed so difficult was much more easily solved after coming back to it. We may not need to have kindergarten like nap times with mats and special music, but knowing when to take a break is essential in effective problem solving and customer support.
My dogs lives are pretty sweet and simple. If they ran a customer service company, there may be things that would not work out well. Cats and squirrels for example, would not be return customers. But the thing is that unlike the dogs, we often make things too complex. It may be a compliment to have someone say, “your company is going to the dogs.” Hopefully it means you have followed these simple tips from Bella and Baylee.