Customer service is my forte and I am excited to meet someone who is as passionate as me in serving and taking care of our customers! Let’s welcome Georgina from Nairobi to share with her experiences of what it is like working with customers remotely at a California-based retailer with more than 30,000 natural products from over 1,200 trusted brands.
Please introduce yourself, and where are you from?
Hello, world! My name is Georgina, and I am from Nairobi, Kenya. I studied electronic and computer engineering in university, but after graduating, I got my first job in customer support for a market research startup based in the UK.
From that time, I realised that my passion was not in robots and machines but in people. This is how I began my career in customer support. The tech part of me, however, did not die off completely. I am perfecting my CSS and HTML, to begin with, so that I can switch over to offering technical support.
What is your job as a customer support executive at iHerb.com entails?
As a customer support executive, my job entails keeping the community of users happy and satisfied with us. I keep them satisfied by resolving inquiries and issues that our customers may have while interacting with our company as they make their purchases.
Perhaps you can give a brief introduction to your company iHerb.com and what it does?
iHerb.com is one of the leading health and wellness companies in the United States. The company stocks over 30,000 products from renowned, reputable and authentic brands and ships to over 150 countries globally. The products include supplements, sports nutrition, bath & beauty, groceries, baby and pet care.
How did you get into iHerb.com? How was the interview like?
I got into iHerb.com through Upwork. I received an invite from a recruiter to apply to a customer support role posted on the platform. There was an initial written test, after which around one interview with the recruiter was arranged.
After passing the first interview, there was a second and last interview with the head of customer support at iHerb. The interview was relatively easy to go through.
Apart from the standard interview questions, the other questions were relevant and specific to the customer support domain, of which I am knowledgeable and experienced. The process was also quick, and I did not stay long before hearing back after every stage.
How important is your role in iHerb.com?
My role at iHerb is significant as a customer support executive, the first contact that a customer makes with the company when they reach out.
This means that this role determines the first impression that a customer gets of the company, their satisfaction and happiness, and to a great extent whether they would want to interact with us again later (customer retention).
Do you find your job challenging? How so?
The job is both enjoyable and challenging.
The challenging part is that every customer’s situation and needs are unique, and many times one is required to think quickly on their feet to resolve the issue at hand in the best way possible.
This includes balancing between making the customer happy and, at the same time, being in adherence with the company’s SOPs and policies.
I understand your role is remote. How different is it for you to work remotely versus in a workplace? Why?
I would say that working remotely is different and better for me than working in a workplace. Working remotely opens me up to the world more, and I get to be exposed to people and cultures that I would not have otherwise if I worked locally.
It is also different in that I have the freedom to work from anywhere as long as I have power and internet, and it saves me much time that I would use commuting daily if I were working from a workplace.
What have you done to ensure that your teamwork well remotely with you?
I have made sure that I have a dedicated office set up at home. This means that I have a clean and quiet place to work and hold meetings with other team members virtually. This helps a lot in minimising distractions to myself and others and increasing my efficiency at work.
I have also cultivated discipline to make sure that I attend all the meetings and my work schedules on time. This means that I am available when and where I am needed, without inconveniencing others.
How do you motivate yourself working remotely?
Remote working needs a lot of self-control and discipline to adhere to work when there is no immediate in-person supervision. I motivate myself to stay on track by setting personal performance goals and reviewing them at the end of every week.
I have also developed a daily routine for myself so that it is easier for me to separate work and home life.
An unexpected one is that I dress up for work as I would if I were going to a workplace!
This puts me into the working mindset, and I change back in the evening after I am done with my shift for the day.
How did your manager ensure that everyone on the remote team felt inclusive?
iHerb is a very inclusive employer. In my team, we come from different countries, continents and ethnicities. The management treats us equally and gives every person equal amounts of attention and opportunities.
Being a black/African myself, which is considered a disadvantaged group, I do not feel discriminated against or disadvantaged in any way.
What are the biggest challenges you faced while working remotely? And how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge working remotely would be the occasional power blackouts that occur due to bad weather or construction activities along/around the power lines. Although most employers are understanding, I believe it sends a message of unreliability when it happens frequently, and one always has to excuse themselves.
I have two laptops to deal with this issue, one of which is the HP Spectre with a battery life of 6-8 hours. The other one, a Lenovo, has a battery life of about 5-6 hours. Extended power blackouts don’t typically last for more than 5 hours at a time.
This way, I can continue working even when power is down, and I do not have to excuse myself every time there is an outage.
What is the career prospect of this job? And what do you see yourself doing five years down the path?
There are massive growth opportunities in this role in the company. Lower and middle management in the support department was once in the position I am in. New higher positions are filled from within, and there is the opportunity to grow into other teams.
Five years down the path, I see myself being a customer support manager or a support team leader.
What does passion mean to you? Are you pursuing your passion aggressively?
Passion means something that one enjoys doing with enthusiasm, such that it does not feel like ‘work’ to them, even when it could be work indeed. My passion is helping people and solving problems, and I am pursuing it by widening my knowledge and skills by taking online courses and getting certified to offer support in more domains.
Any last words for someone who aspires to work in iHerb.com?
iHerb has a very inclusive and accommodating working environment and has many growth opportunities. The work is meaningful and impactful. Take the chance and give it a shot.
I am a passionate customer support executive specialising in email and chat support, with five years of experience under my belt. When I am not working, I love engaging myself in self-improvement activities such as learning new skills, indoor cycling and reading. I also enjoy cooking and socialising.