Learnings and Highlights from SDX Portland 2017


SDX Portland kicked off with a celebration of support and a “Happy Hour”, hosted by Solvvy at the Airbnb office in Downtown Portland. The entire support community comprising of industry leaders, managers and folks working on the frontlines came together to network, learn, share and rejoice. The attendees mingled over Boke Twinkies and Local Craft Beers in a warm and casual setting.

The gracious hosts from Airbnb offered attendees a tour of their office which is modeled on listings from around the world and designed by employees themselves. From classic and contemporary to rugged and rustic, all the workspaces (and even the bathrooms!) were pretty thoughtfully done.

SDX kicked off the next morning on Saturday, July 22 at Portland State University. Support Driven, the conference organizers, drew an impressive line of speakers and workshops for the day-long event. The sessions covered the most pressing support issues, ranging from reducing ticket overload, building a culture of candor, leading with clarity and data, key support metrics to industry best practices, dealing with difficult customers and surviving the worst of support. The workshops were aimed at coaching, training and equipping customer support professionals with the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to effectively carry out their job.

Today, with increasing volume of support requests, rising customer expectations and soaring support costs, support driven organizations are feeling challenged to keep up with the ticket overload. Mahesh Ram, founding CEO of Solvvy, discussed the importance of self-service in reducing ticket overload while highlighting important KPIs and factors affecting the success of self-service.

Max Yoder, CEO of Lessonly, emphasized the importance of candor, vulnerability and appreciation while sharing his personal journey and anecdotes.¬†Emily Triplett Lentz from Help Scout talked about the ROI (Return on Investment) of saying “Thank You” and shared the power of sending handwritten thank-you notes to customers. Valentina Thoerner from WooCommerce division at Automattic highlighted the importance of going over all customer feedback, taking notes, identifying patterns, updating the knowledge base and doing follow-ups. Sukhpreet Anand from Kayako gave some handy tips on reducing churn and nurturing long-lasting relationships with customers.

Over lunch, the attendees got a chance to experience Portland’s Farmers Market. The market featured fresh produce, Oregon grown nuts, flowers, pastries, food carts, local tastings, and live music.

Some of the other conference highlights included a mix of speaker sessions and hands-on workshops around scaling, the need for automation and technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence), and mastering the art of dealing with customers. While most sessions centered around happy customers, Sharon Moorhouse from Intercom spoke about nailing difficult conversations with unhappy customers, and Sarah Betts from Olark, conducted a workshop on surviving the worst of support, referring to problematic customers as “Villains, Trolls and Grumps”. David Klint from Illuminate Education talked about the art of handling stress. From the back of an ambulance to fielding support queries, the former EMT and firefighter saw himself applying the same techniques. He had some handy tips for support professionals like always staying cool and being (or at least pretending to be) in absolute control.

Portland truly turned to “Supportland” with representation from more than 50 companies from 3 continents including Solvvy, Zendesk, Airbnb, WordPress, Intercom, MailChimp, Shinesty, Help Scout, Zapier and several others.

Sign me up for blog updates