Why and How I Became a Product Coach
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After I finished my master of arts in executive leadership in 2021, I could see so many different paths to take with my career and my business, and that plethora of options actually became overwhelming. I applied for a lot of jobs in different industries with different titles, and where all could use my skill sets as a coach and a small business owner. I will say that I wasn’t extremely excited about many of those jobs that I found, but at the very least, I tried to target the companies that I liked the most in terms of their corporate culture and corporate responsibility.
Why did I choose to become a remote customer service agent with LiveOps?
Initially I wanted a remote customer service job simply because of the flexibility and freedom of doing my own business from home and getting paid by a major corporation. During and after the actual training for the job it became more about helping people, and less about the money, even though that financial piece is still high on my list of priorities.
Because I’m already very familiar with their product, I felt very confident that I would be able to learn well during the training and use what I learned to help their customers with excellence. Also, prior to choosing to work for this client, I had an opportunity to preview their training and knew the quality of the training was on par with what I needed and expected. I did my own due diligence before choosing this path because this was not my first time choosing a remote customer service position. I was with a previous remote customer service company, and the training was not as good as this training, so I felt like I wasted my time with the other company and didn’t want that to happen again.
Please note that the training for this type of position is not paid, but it is lengthy, detailed, and rigorous, so if you’re not confident that this is the work you want to do, that training period could be very frustrating.
After actually getting on the phones with the customers, I can see how my skills as a coach are coming into play. I am very happy that this particular client is very focused on soft skills, which is an area of strength for me. It feels good to be valued for my strengths. Similar positions I’ve sought in the past were very focused on the products and the technology, and not as much towards helping people as towards selling. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see that it is different here.
“I love that I’m being rewarded for focusing on people and helping them, and not just for trying to get them to purchase more products.”~ Donna Marie Johnson, Product Coach / Customer Service Agent
When I’ve interviewed for lots of different jobs and applied for lots of different jobs, it always felt like I was just tweaking my resume to fit into whatever container they wanted me to fit into, instead of me just highlighting what I’m already strong in that would align well with the position being offered.
I would say that I also came to respect their training process and trust that they care about me as a person enough to give me the support I need for improving over time. I feel like they have realistic expectations that I can fulfill now and can improve for going forward. So this also speaks to my own mental health journey, which I’ve shared about in my blog, podcast, and interviews. It’s important for me to stay away from toxic perfectionism, so having work that aligns well with this part of my priorities is super important to me.
The care that this corporate culture shows towards the customers is extended to the agents and I appreciate that. And this culture is very balanced with a rigorous environment that expects us to set high standards for our own performance, while at the same time, we are provided with the training and metrics reporting we need to continue improving our performance over time.
Furthermore, they are super committed to also keep improving the training process and the way that they run this program. Seeing their devotion to an iterative (or continuous improvement) process gave me confidence to know that this is the right kind of company with a good culture that cares about the people and about excellence, but not at the expense of the people.
The process of training and doing this work is very rigorous, and in the midst of it all they show they care by making sure that I and fellow agents have what we need to do our best and I appreciate that. Even so, the handholding here is limited and so anyone who is not able to stay self-motivated and to continue improving their own performance will not do well here. The other agents are often very supportive, and so we come together in groups to chat and help each other and give each other advice and encouragement, but these groups are comprised of individuals who have their own businesses that literally have to compete for some of this work. So, if you happen to find a good group with people that are good-hearted and willing to help you, you need to reciprocate and be willing to help in that group, as well. It’s not good to just get in these types of groups to get support and never offer support, it needs to be reciprocal.
Again the training is very rigorous and not everyone responds well to this type of rigor. Also this client is very popular and so agents have to compete to get the work. Not everyone is up for this type of competitive situation.
So I would never set you up to think that this is a perfect situation for everyone, however I am sure it’s a great situation for a lot of people because I am only one of many happy new agents, and that doesn’t even include those agents who have been doing this work for over 20 years. I have been so blessed to get to know some of the more senior agents.
I am a person who is well known for keeping personal and proprietary information confidential. I have worked in the mental health arena, in corporate executive headquarters, and of course in my own business for clients. Therefore I cannot talk details about my work, but I am sharing transparently on the things I can speak on without breaking confidence.
I am, as always, going to share the authentic truth and reality with you, without disclosing proprietary or confidential information. So, to be honest, even though the hot season for the client was lucrative for me, things quickly cooled. As a result, despite my performance and being praised by management, I was removed from serving that client due to lack of hours which is a breach of contract. CAVEAT: No work was available to me for at least two months (not my fault). Despite this, I continued to check in and check for hours, but nothing was there (absolutely nothing … and they know that and they warned us of that). I held onto the position thinking that things would be picking up in the fall, but now that seems to be out of reach due to the removal. I feel that removing me is short-sighted and unfair because the lack of hours was not within my control, but, alas, it’s all about that contract. This is a business, after all, so I get that. However, I am a human being and would love to know that other human beings have their eyes on the situation and will give me some consideration. So, I await a response to my email. I will update this if I hear back.
Just be forewarned that if you decide to work with a client, be careful about attaining the required hours as listed in the contract, even if there are little to no hours available. And if there are none available, you may want to move on to another client, instead of sticking around to wait for another peak season, as I have done.
Regarding moving on to other clients…
I did try to get in with many other clients, and, unfortunately, they just did not have enough spaces for all of the applicants (the CEO told us this himself). So, then I had to move on to other things, like getting back in school to finish my MBA in Executive Coaching. I also had to make a shift in my schedule due to a shift in my family’s schedule. So, after the first several tries, I was no longer able to commit to a new client due to the rigorous unpaid training requirements conflicting with my new schedule. So, again, I was waiting to due another bout of seasonal work for the same client, but now this looks unlikely.
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For the most current updates, connect with me on Instagram and check my stories/reels. Here is a live I did recently about what’s been going on:
Now that my summer semester is finished and my family’s schedule seems to be more predictable, my next steps will be to start applying for new clients (and re-apply for the old one). I will be able to fit a two-week unpaid training into my schedule now, so I am optimistic about this. Also, they recently announced that they’re expecting a lot more work to become available this Fall. If you’re interested, use my referral link below… and stay tuned for my updates.
(*Note: This is a 1099 contract job.)