Wondering who is at the other end of your @WakeletSupport tweets and emails? We caught up with Wakelet’s customer support lead (and the creative genius behind our robot), Mike Birchall, to find out more
1. How did you become the support lead at Wakelet?
‘I was studying journalism – with a focus on digital – at the University of Salford and I had a week-long internship at Wakelet as part of my course. That week I learned all about Wakelet and the company’s vision and it sounded really exciting! When my internship ended, I kept creating content for Wakelet alongside studying for my degree and then, after graduation, I joined the team full-time. My role has changed a lot since then and now I lead Wakelet support, conduct user testing and design graphics for the company alongside creating content.’
2. What are essential skills for a support representative to have?
‘A large part of my day is spent communicating directly with users and you have to be someone who wants to go the extra mile for people. I try to do everything I can to improve a user’s experience, even when that goes beyond solving their initial problem. You need to be patient and have a thick skin. It’s also important to have good attention to detail when conducting testing to make sure you spot any small changes or issues.’
3. How can support help a start-up?
‘Our users are at the heart of everything we do – we wouldn’t exist without them! One of the best things about working at a start-up is that you can interact with users in a way that big brands can’t and that relationship is really important. We strive to make every user feel special and make sure that they enjoy their Wakelet experience, otherwise it’s very unlikely that they’ll come back or recommend us to their friends. From the moment they land on our site, the user journey has to be seamless.’
4. What’s been your most memorable moment at Wakelet?
‘There have been many memorable moments but one that has stayed with me is when I went back to the University of Salford to speak to students doing the same course that I did. I spoke to them about Wakelet and how it could help them with their course and their future careers in journalism. It felt like I’d come full circle and being able to talk about a platform that I’m passionate about to people that could really benefit from using it was a great feeling.’
5. What challenges have you faced?
‘One of the toughest things about my role – and working in a start-up environment generally – is having to prioritize and make decisions quickly. I need to be able to decide which of my tasks are most important, with helping users always at the top of the list, of course. It can also be challenging working with such a wide array of people, not only our users but also different people within the team. I’m one of the main liaisons between our development team and growth team and it’s essential that information flows properly between those departments. But, even with the challenges, there’s still nothing more rewarding than seeing a user suggestion become a fully-formed feature.’
6. What does your day-to-day role entail?
‘My typical day starts with reviewing our support channels and responding to any requests that have come in overnight – support is my main priority throughout the day. In the afternoon, I usually conduct testing, which could include anything from putting our Android app through its paces to testing out new features. Alongside that, I’ll be designing graphics for the website and social media – I created our robot and I’m always sketching out new situations to put him in!’
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to work in support?
‘Whether you’re working in support – or any other start-up role – my advice is to be open to any opportunities that come your way. My first role at Wakelet was very different to the one I have today and that’s because I took advantage of the opportunities that were offered to me, especially when they played to my strengths. I have good attention to detail, which is good for testing; I’m very patient, which is essential for support; and my design skills have enabled me to create a portfolio of work that I would never have had if I hadn’t taken up offers to get involved in the more creative side of Wakelet.’
8. How do you use Wakelet?
‘Wakelet has become part of my day-to-day life and I use it at least once every day. I use it for everything from saving recipes to gift wish lists and holiday planning. It’s especially useful for saving and organizing shareable information, so I use it a lot with my family and friends.’