GP Santa Clara Tournament Report – Customer Service

Editor’s note: While the report doesn’t talk about actual floor judging, it has a lot of important advice and suggestions on how to maintain a positive attitude throughout your day and help others have a great time while having a great time yourself. Enjoy!

Sam Lewis, Level 2, Irvine, California, United States

Sam Lewis, Level 2, Irvine, California, United States

Event: GP Santa Clara
Date: 4 January 2018 – 7 January 2018
Role: Customer Service (mostly Registration)

The essence of this tournament report can, I think be summarized in a single phrase:

“Soft skills” are often hard work, but we can all learn.

This was my second GP working with CFBE doing customer service, and I’ve been much more conscious of some of the things that I think are essential to good customer service. This is, I think, especially beneficial to L1s trying to work GPs, as Ops will likely be their way to get on a GP staff (and, to any L1s reading this, let me stress that there is nothing wrong with this–every member of the GP staff is of vital importance, and you should not feel as though you are somehow less for not working a judge role). I think that there are a few general tips that are beneficial and some specific things that arose I’d like to mention.

Tip 1: You can’t take care of customers if you don’t take care of yourself.

Have you ever tried to smile through a day while you have a splitting headache from dehydration and a grumbling stomach from not eating breakfast or lunch? If you have, regardless of whether you succeeded or not, you probably didn’t enjoy the experience. In general, it’s a lot easier to be the smiling, helpful person that you want to be if you are able to be present with customers rather than thinking about how much you want to leave so you can drink some water. If you make sure to stay hydrated, fed, well-rested, and on top of taking care of yourself, you might find that a lot of other important aspects fall into place.

A big part of this is communication with your lead. Do you need to get water or take cold medicine? Let your lead know so that they can make sure there’s coverage where it’s necessary, and they’ll help facilitate you doing what you need to do. This generally shouldn’t be something like, “Oh hey, I wasn’t able to get food while I was on my lunch, can I hide out in the back in for 20 minutes to eat this?” So don’t try to pull something like that, but also don’t hesitate to ask if you can run to the restroom or grab some water.

Tip 2: Match moods with the person you’re helping, then help them match with you.

This one is a little bit weird, but at least anecdotally, is very effective. The first part of it seems pretty clear–you don’t want to have the same extremely chipper tone while you help someone who believes that they had their deck stolen as you do with the person who came in enthused and just looking for the artist area. If someone has a serious issue that is important to them, we need to react to it in such a way as to show them that it being important to them also makes it important to us. Walk them to lost and found, run through their schedule with them, spend some time with them so that they can see that we care and are doing our best to help (and, obviously, please also do your best to help). If they’re looking for their deck, maybe ask them what deck it is, talk about how they went about building it, learn about the significance it has to them, mention how much you like the archetype, and so on and so forth.

Once you’ve established a rapport by doing this, you might notice that they start opening up a little bit more. At this point, a story or situation-appropriate joke can help shift the mood and help make someone who was previously just angry calm down a bit. This can take many forms, from telling them how we’ve found other decks to our own experiences with the community to any number of other things.

Tip 3: The previous tip doesn’t only apply to customers.

If you’re having trouble staying awake and keeping a smile on your face, but you’re working next to someone who is enthusiastically engaging with customers, when there’s a lull, talk to them! You will likely find some of that energy infectious and be able to match your mood to the more positive one near you. Chat with them about their favorite interactions over the weekend, ask which cosplays they’ve seen, and see if you can’t build off of their energy. I know that for me personally, this has been enormously helpful with keeping my energy levels up throughout the day and bringing my best for each and every customer with whom I interact.

Tip 4: These tips don’t just apply to roles that are solely customer service.

I’m writing this with those in mind, but think about how you approach a Regular REL match where the players are laughing at a silly interaction or how they botched something versus how you approach a Comp REL match in which one player is pretty sure the other is trying to cheat. In my experience, these are just good things to have in the back of your mind any time you’re interacting with people.

Now for a couple of particular notes that I think might be helpful for people working similar events.

1) Be proactive in making sure your break happens when it should. If you’re scheduled for a break at noon and it’s 12:15, find your team lead and check in to see if you should be on break. They have a lot of important things to do, and they typically don’t want to add hunting you down to this list. (This is a mistake that I have made far too many times and one that I am working to rectify.)

2) Use the people around you as resources. Especially for L1s looking to get to L2, events like this are a treasure trove. Once you have lunch, hang in the judge room and hop in on a conversation about rulings so you can hear others’ thoughts. Maybe ask for one of the rules puzzles that people are throwing around! There’s a lot you can do to grow, get to know other people in the program, and have a great time all the while.

I recognize that this isn’t exactly like other tournament reports, but I think that it is beneficial (especially for L1s) to have some that talk about aspects of the tournament that might be the main thing that some people are doing. If this isn’t really the best place for this, please let me know and I’ll move it somewhere more fitting. If this is a good place, I’d love to see some other tips for customer service and I’d be happy to share more of my experiences and thoughts if anyone finds them helpful.

(Editor’s note: Please leave your feedback and comments on the JudgeApps forums too!)

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