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Customer service profile: Mitch

meet mitch

If you frequent our subreddit, we can guarantee you’ve seen Mitch around. He’s also most likely to have been the first person to respond to your post. Meet the man behind /u/LiterallyUnlimited and learn a little more about who he is.

How did you end up working for Ting?

For years, I worked for Sprint as a retail sales consultant. But I was working in a very low-traffic store, so there was a lot of downtime. In this downtime, I really enjoyed taking really complex Sprint processes (like how many different SIM cards they have, for example) and breaking it down into plain English so that Sprint customers could go into a store and ask for a very specific or complex thing without getting in over their head, and in a way that the Sprint employee near them could understand. I also did this for Sprint-related subreddits, including /r/Ting, under the username SprintEmployeeAMA.

I did this for several years, amassing lots of karma on Reddit for doing so, even after I switched roles to a repair technician. The posts tapered off a bit after I switched to the repair side of the business, but they were still referred back to by the community as almost a translation guide between what processes need to be done, and what name the Sprint employee might know the processes as.

In early 2017, Sprint sold off the repair portion of its business to Asurion, and their employees were offered the option to work for Asurion instead of Sprint. Just a short while after I had started working for Asurion, I received a Reddit DM from Ross Rader, saying that he had been following my story for a while, including the switch over to Asurion. He mentioned that there had been some discussion in a meeting somewhere at Ting to hire “that Sprint guy who was always in our subreddit”. He asked if I would like to come work for Ting, doing a lot of the same of what I had been doing for Sprint for free for years. I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to get paid to do something I was doing for free, so I happily accepted.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake up about a half hour or so before my shift is to start, feed my cat, shower and dress. I try hard to maintain the facade that despite working from home, I’m going to work, so I’m typically properly showered and dressed even if I’m going to spend the entire day in my office. I know it seems a little strange, as I really could just work from my pajamas all day, but someone once told me that it shows how much you care that you treat working from home as a serious position when you dress like you were going into an office.

Once I’m properly punched in, I’ll tend to work most of the day either from my home office or from my couch, where the big outside window is. I check in with my team and pull up the large list of browser tabs where I start my day. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram come in to a shared feed, so there’s not usually a lot there when others on my team are also working that day. I make a point to check these feeds several times over the course of a day, so that in theory our interactions are instantaneous.

After a quick check of leftover Slack notifications, I flip over to my email to see if anyone reached out, and then I jump into Reddit.

Reddit really is where I spend most of my day. It’s my bread and butter, and it’s what got me this job in the first place. I check to see if anything came in overnight, respond and then get to my DMs. My Reddit DMs probably take up a significant chunk of my day, only because I encourage people to DM me on Reddit on other platforms because I prefer Reddit’s messaging system to any other, as it’s clean and easy to manage.

Once the entire Reddit queue has been cleared, I start looking for proactive interactions, rather than reactive. That is, I go searching for conversations to be a part of. This means other places on Reddit, SlickDeals, HowardForums, NthCircle, prepaidphonenews. I don’t always chime in (especially when I have nothing to add) but I like keeping my ear to the ground on our competitors, and there’s no better place than where their customers are talking.

When there isn’t a lot of conversation to be had, I’ll dive into a few relevant YouTube searches (looking for mentions of the Ting brand, or our sponsored videos, including LTT) or help in our email queue.

On my lunch break, I try hard to get away from the computer screen, and you’ll regularly find me at the secondhand shop in town, hunting down bargain tech.

Once my shift is over, It’s usually time to feed the cat again, hit the gym, come home, eat dinner and start the whole thing over again the next day.

How is working on Reddit a different experience than working on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

Reddit really is the belly of the beast, so to speak. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tend to be a lot of praise, or hyper-focused negativity. Don’t get me wrong, I love praise for the work that Ting does. And I’m happy to address a customer who is frustrated on Facebook. But those conversations tend to be isolated. That is, they stay in one thread (typically underneath the initial comment) and aren’t directly visible when a prospective customer comes by our Facebook page.

But the real nitty-gritty happens in long-form on Reddit. Because our subreddit is a small one (3,246 subscribers as we speak), any post of any kind tends to stick around longer and get more comments the longer it stays around. So threads on Reddit get more exposure-per-subscriber than I think any Facebook post would, as the feed for Reddit is self-selecting. Even now, on the very first page a Reddit Ting customer sees on our page is a complaint about data pricing from over a week ago. This same kind of comment would have eventually died on Facebook, but it’s front-and-center on Reddit.

So, the stakes are higher when talking to Reddit customers. They tend to be a more tech-savvy bunch, generally. They tend to remark, complain or need help with more-technical issues, and are comfortable using industry acronyms (PLBL, APN, VoLTE) and just assuming that anyone reading would be able to pick up on it. This means I can talk more freely, regularly violating the strict “Ting voice” we try to use with other platforms.

So, I do. and not just on our own sub. You can regularly find me in our competitors’ subreddits, in broader subs (/r/Carriers and /r/NoContract) providing help and insight when I can, and not trying to shoehorn Ting into every conversation. Though, I do bring it up as a matter of disclosure if something I say could probably be influenced by who gives me a paycheck.

What’s the most rewarding part about working for Ting?

The trust. I know that sounds corny, but it’s really true. Perhaps it comes from my many years of working for several companies that didn’t trust their employees beyond what their management said they were capable of doing.

For example, I still have conversations with people at Ting where I’m laying out exactly what change I want to make to a friend’s Ting account and why, and am still met with a little puzzlement as to why I’m even asking. Other places I’ve worked had strict policies about what you could do and when. How much of what credit you could apply or what features you could add in what time period and how many people had to sign off on it in addition to all their other duties and at their convenience.

That kind of mindset doesn’t exist at Ting. It’s really empowering to take hold of a situation, see where the disconnect is and emphatically say to a customer, “Don’t worry. I’m going to handle this right now” and actually mean it. — Management at Ting, by and large, trust their employees to be adults and act responsibly. There are limits, but they’re fairly reasonable and the expectations for them are set properly. That’s really refreshing.

What’s the most challenging thing about working here?

I’m based in Chicago and miss a lot of the on-the-ground action happening in Toronto. I don’t have the everyday personal interactions with my coworkers that I’ve had at other jobs, and I didn’t think I would miss it as much as I do. I’m not even sure that regular trips to Toronto could solve this, as when I do travel up it’s for a limited amount of time and for a specific purpose. I don’t have the excuse of asking a coworker to head to lunch with me, and my cat is not as great of a conversationalist when she’s not hungry.

What’s a specific project you’re proud of?

Internally, I use a list of Reddit posts (the same kind of ones that got me this job) collected from the Ting forums and from Reddit that we can refer back to quickly in other posts. It’s really not much to look at, being a basic spreadsheet, but inside it is quick reference for all kinds of niche things that save us time when we can go back and refer to them, rather than have to look up or ask about the answer every single time. I’m really happy with the way it came together and continues to grow as new forums and Reddit posts are being generated all the time.

Less about the job and more about you, what are your hobbies?

I have an unhealthy obsession with GPS-based games. Everyone knows and loves Pokemon Go (and I’m addicted to that, too), but I’ve spent the better part of the past few years playing its predecessor, Ingress. :ingress: There’s a reward badge in Ingress for consecutive number of days played in a row that tops out at 360 days, but keeps going in case you do. Right now, I have an everyday playing streak on this game of 1,420 days. I haven’t missed a single day playing this game in almost 4 years.

Non-phone related, I really love thrift stores. Goodwill, Savers, local shops — there’s almost no end to what you can find and in what condition. This hobby tends to take up a lot of my spare time outside of work, and my office is filled with interesting finds, either usable or not. As with a lot of things, I’ll sometimes find I don’t have any use for whatever I bought, and I’ll return it to the thrift store as a donation, so it can continue its life. But some things are really useful! Recently, I bought a $10 monitor, stripped the outsides off of it and turned it into a wall-mounted digital calendar that syncs with Google Calendar, which both myself and my wife use. It’s way easier than the app.

Which uncovers a third hobby — home automation. If I’m not out playing Ingress or at a thrift store, I’m probably trying to automate my home. Examples of my current automation include the holiday lights coming on 45 minutes before sunset, and if the garage door is opened after sunset, the kitchen lights turn on. Or, the wall calendar turns itself off at midnight, if I forgot to do that before going to bed. It’s kind of a money pit sometimes, but it’s always fun to have your house send you a text message if your water heater leaks, right?

Any last words?

The world’s kind of a crazy place, and you’re not going to agree with everyone on everything. “This, too, shall pass.”

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