Clicking the pink dialog box at the bottom right of any page on the Stitch site connects you to a member of our Support staff – someone who can help you get the most out of Stitch. Since April 2017 Dylan Sprayberry has been manning a keyboard as one of our technical support specialists.
This job was Dylan's first in the tech industry, but he didn't take long to pick up the technical concepts around ETL and data integration. "I've always been a hands-on problem-solver; I'd rather fix my car than take it to the shop," he says. "I'm eager to learn about how things work. That helped me pick up how Stitch works, and the products it interacts with, and the behavior of specific APIs. If you know how to research problems you can figure out how to solve them."
The other key skill he brought to the job was customer service, from past jobs in restaurants, a grocery store, and retail. But unlike those jobs, where "you're not building toward anything, here I see the direct impact I have on customers' usability of our product. I get to discover and help fix bugs. I get to help prevent issues that customers might experience. And, as part of the Product team, I get to help shape product decisions based on how our customers would experience new features we might implement."
And the reward? "This is the first place I've worked that has consistently good coffee."
What exactly does a technical support specialist do? "I'm a direct interface with our customers. On any given day I work on onboarding, troubleshooting, and answering questions about Stitch and how it works. I help resolve user-related issues or internal issues that need to be corrected by engineers. I communicate with customers regarding their issues, and track internal investigation of bugs with our strike team to prioritize issues that impact customers.
"Another part of the job is teaching clients how to work with Stitch so they can become power users. I teach them how to investigate issues as we do, and show them where they can find resources in our documentation and elsewhere."
Stitch provides live support between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time, with overlapping shifts to ensure complete coverage.
Tools of the trade
The Support team relies on a number of resources, including:
- Intercom, a live chat application, which is the most common way we interact with our customers. We've set up assignment rules in Intercom to delegate which support specialist responds to each conversation request.
- Kibana, a data visualization front end for Elasticsearch, where we log events from our internal services. Dylan says, "I use Kibana to look at connections to see if they're posting properly and investigate other issues with Stitch."
- Our documentation, and the documentation for the sources and destinations we connect with.
- Mode, an analytics platform that Dylan says he uses "occasionally, to give customers in-depth usage results." We also use Mode to query our analytics database, so we can see things like how many customers are using a given integration or encountering a given error at a given time.
- Trello, our project tracking software, for prioritizing and tracking investigation into bugs and data discrepancies.
- Slack, our internal messaging platform.
In addition to using those resources, "[fellow tech support specialist] Matt Schultheiss and I talk through issues to make sure our understanding is accurate. We help each other in cases where one of us has encountered an issue before. We collaborate on wording to make sure what we tell customers is accessible and clear. We also collaborate on longer-term support projects that touch on analytics and reporting."
That spirit of collaboration extends to the rest of Stitch. "The entire company is an actual team," Dylan says. "We're all working on the goal of making the product better and putting it into the hands of more people."
When Dylan joined the team last year, in addition to interviewing, he completed a small project related to the job he was interviewing for as part of Stitch's structured hiring process. Dylan says the technical aspect of that project "was a bit of a learning curve, but the hiring process was great.
"Once I began, the training process was really beneficial. Over the course of a week or two I learned about the product and how the teams interact by sitting down with people who work on all of our internal teams.
"Before I started, I thought the job would involve a lot of pointing people at pages that say what they're supposed to do. We do do that kind of 'documentation concierge' to an extent, but I'm actually a lot more hands-on because I understand now how the APIs for our data sources work and how our product functions under the hood. I've learned a lot about programming from that."
Dylan says, "Resolving support issues is more rewarding than I expected it to be, especially if the issue is something that's impacting a customer's business. I get a sense of satisfaction when Engineering corrects a bug for a customer, or when I see features implemented that we've documented customer feedback for. Sometimes customers vent about their frustrations or say, 'Hey, it would be cool if we could do this,' and then we see it built."
Stitch just posted a job opening for two more technical support specialists. To anyone who's considering applying, Dylan says, "Empathizing with customers is a huge part of the job. So much of the rest is researching and learning how other companies' products work so we know how they interact with ours. Since everything's always changing as we add new data sources and destinations and new functionality, it's not a job where you'll ever know everything. There'll always be a new issue coming up. It's not a routine, mundane process of 'this is what you have, this is how you fix it.' But if you're self-motivated and you're willing to put personal effort into solving customer issues, you'd be a good fit."