Since our first hire, we've had a culture of investing in the talented people that have joined our team. That philosophy doesn't just apply to the professionals on our product & development team, the art & media team, or our leadership, because for us that starts at our entry level in the company: Customer Support.
Customer Support is our core business
As much as we'd love to say our product is perfect and that majoritively operating as a 3rd party to game developers is an easy task or one that just having an amazing product could solve: we still need to help our customers from time to time, and we're still strong believers in humans helping humans. The robotic uprising hasn't yet solved the emotionless or glitchy bots that rarely improve customer support. Instead, we focus on arming our customer support reps with gifs, memes, and a full team that provide backup in case they get zerged by our customers.
But, even the most high-level meme lords can't remain in a customer support role forever. Beyond someone's individual goals, dreams, and self-worth, comes a bigger truth: providing high-quality customer support requires you to give away a part of yourself, and very few can do that for a career. On average many studies report that customer support representatives typically burn out in 12-18 months. That's 12-18 months of learning what our customers want and need, product knowledge that even our product team might not have insight into, and industry knowledge that often can't be taught from an internal knowledgebase or employee training program.
Stomping out the fire and preventing burnout
Our answer doesn't come from merely corporate team-building exercises, after work happy-hour events, or trying to force a company culture on our team. We focus on building the careers our team members want, but lack the experience or have never been given the chance to explore by previous employers. For us, that means building time for Career Development into the Customer Support shift & schedule that all of our representatives are given the chance to participate in, once they've completed their initial onboarding and training.
Making Career Development more than corporate lip service
During our hiring process we always ask our candidates one essential question:
"Okay, you've been working at Nodecraft for 3 years. You've been an amazing employee, you love it here, but it just isn't helping you build the career you wanted. What job would you quit the company for?"
Asking "What job would you quit the company for?" is the first step we take in building a plan for our employee's careers, and it starts before they're even hired. Our CEO, Jonathan Yarbor, has been asking this question since our first hire because we want to make investing in the future of our employees is part of the culture at Nodecraft.
From there, it's about designing and implementing a schedule that empowers Customer Support Representatives with the ability to take a break from the live-chat, memes, and noise of talking to customers, and spend a few hours each week on building, creating, and learning a new skill or project on paid company time. Eventually, that becomes projects, which means they are contributing more than just customer support. These valued team members are building real experiences for our customers or the team; we're giving them the shot no one else has even allowed them to explore. The part that makes it worth the investment, is when the team realizes that an employee is more valuable when they are working on those projects. That's when we remove ("fire") the employee from the Customer Support team and settle them into a new job in the company, based on their career of choice.
Meet Taylor & Ben
These two joined Nodecraft as part of our Customer Support team and were the first to test the new Career Development program we were building. Both employees were facing burn-out before they left the Customer Support team, but have found a healthy work-life balance in their new roles:
Taylor - Social Media Coordinator
Meet Taylor, a self-proclaimed expert of memes, avid fan of JRPGs, and collector of weird Discord servers. Taylor helped our support team better connect with the human part of online chat, while the rest of the team was focused on the tech part of the product. During her Career Development program, Taylor scripted, directed, recorded, edited, and published all the new videos on the official Nodecraft YouTube Channel. Today, Taylor is helping us build a stronger brand voice, establish a more robust social media presence, and continue to build on the success of the video series she created for the company.
Taylor told us she was ecstatic to find a company like Nodecraft, as she felt like it wasn't something she could find in Oklahoma, where our main office is located.
"I was so happy to find something like this here in Oklahoma. I really enjoy being a part of a smaller team. It makes it easier to have your voice heard and your ideas become reality. I'm looking forward to learning even more in the future here."
While Taylor has volunteered to help bridge our Product and Customer Support teams, she no longer has to jump into the bullpen of customer support issues. Instead, she's able to leverage her career goals and interests full time as our Social Media Coordinator.
So, if you've ever wondered where all those weird memes coming out of our Twitter account come from… that's Taylor.
Ben - Junior Software Engineer
Meet Ben, a promising and quirky software engineer. On the support team, Ben was one of our best modpack experts, Java debuggers, and often knew more about the technical specifics than our founders.
Before joining Nodecraft, Ben took programming and network classes at Francis Tuttle, a local technical school in Oklahoma City. Being an avid gamer and aspiring programmer, Ben was eager to join our team nearly 2 years ago. Today, he works directly with several senior developers and DevOps engineers on our team, and he's making code commits to the frontend and backend of our core product NodePanel 2. In fact, around 50% of all changes to the last few NodePanel 2 updates have been committed by him!
"After joining Nodecraft I was able to transition programming from being a hobby to being part of my job, and more recently even transition to doing it full-time."
It's been the better part of a year since Ben left the Customer Support team, but he hasn't let the perspective of the customer and their needs become lost in his work. The majority of the contributions that Ben makes, help to improve and add easier to use settings to the growing catalog of games so that anyone can easily set up their own server, customize it, and share it with friends and family.
We're hiring. You should apply!
If anything in this blog post resonated with you, or you just want to start a career in the gaming industry, you should check out our jobs listing. While our main office is located in Oklahoma City, we've always recruited remote employees and several members of our team aren't local to the area. Don't worry if your resume doesn't include any technical, server, or engineering background, we'd love to hear from you. Join one of Oklahoma's fastest growing startups!