Kari Johnson is a member of the Rosetta Stone team based in Arlington, Virginia. She’s enjoying getting to know the other employees—not just in Arlington, but in our other locations too. Kari will be introducing her new colleagues to you in this and future RVoice posts.
Have you ever wanted to know more about the person on the other end of your support call? Rosetta Stone routes many of our English-speaking service calls through our offices in Hyderabad, India, or Harrisonburg, Virginia. We also have customer-facing call centers in the UK, Germany, Japan, Korea, France, and the Netherlands. If you’ve called for technical support within the past six years, you may have spoken with Apryl Donovan, one of our product support specialists. She also assists with online support, so you may have chatted with her live through our support portal or on Facebook.
As part of my new-employee orientation, I got to spend a day with Apryl in the Harrisonburg office. She works in a cubicle, surrounded by a cluster of other product support specialists. With the help of a muted headset, I listened in on some of her conversations for a first-hand experience. While sitting with Apryl, I was given the opportunity to be immersed in the experience of being a product support specialist, surrounded by agents working to support the learners of Rosetta Stone.
The office atmosphere is familial, especially since some of the employees have had seats next to each other for years. Apryl is on a first-name basis with most of the support staff in India, as well, and she instant messages with them every day.
Being a product support specialist, I learned quickly, requires a special kind of temperament. Since many of the calls come from people who are experiencing problems, the callers can be a little on edge. Apryl and her colleagues have to soothe them, as well as solve their problems. Patience is often called a virtue, and it’s one that Apryl and her colleagues have in abundance. She explained that taking calls involved a lot of waiting, “waiting for the computer to reset, or waiting for them to find the address bar.” She adjusted her headset and smiled, adding, “Some people might think it’s monotonous, but everyone has a different story. That keeps it interesting.”
Every day brings fascinating conversations with learners. Sometimes Apryl uses a program called Bomgar to get remote access to a computer screen—with the learner’s permission, of course. Once, while she and a customer in Thailand waited for an update to download on his computer, she was able to see his desktop background—a beautiful image of the view from his window. As Apryl admired the scene, “he was talking about how inexpensive it was to live there,” she said. With another customer, a father with seven homeschooled daughters, Apryl asked him a few questions about teaching all of these girls in one household. She described the call, saying, “I remember thinking . . . wow . . . seven daughters.” Another learner that stands out in Apryl’s mind is a 73-year-old woman learning Spanish before becoming a Peace Corps volunteer.
Although most of her callers are in the United States, Apryl said she’s fielded calls “from New Zealand, the UK, Chad, Trinidad and Tobago—anywhere they speak English.” Rosetta Stone directs support calls based on language, rather than geography, so it’s no surprise that Apryl has spoken with a diverse group. During my visit, I was surprised to find the very elderly and very young among the customers calling in with questions. One man didn’t know how to enter a URL, and another caller sounded like he might grow up to be a computer engineer.
Apryl explained that the key to her job is speaking with people as though they’re old friends. Watching her work, I noticed that Apryl has a knack for bringing out the best in people. She views each person as much more than just a task to be completed. When I asked her about the notes she was taking on each case, she explained, “I always try to put something in the ticket that’s personal, so if they call back I can say, ‘Oh, that’s right, you’re the one who collects dogs.’” Notes must help, since I’d imagine that it can be hard to remember the details of over six years worth of conversations. But Apryl manages to make people feel better by the end of a phone call, with the right combination of technical expertise, a sharp memory, and a bit of Virginia flair.