A Manager of User Operations on the importance of making connections

How Jamie became a Manager of User Operations.

Jamie and her sons.

Before I jump into her path to become a Manager of User Operations at The Predictive Index, I want to share a story. It's from Jamie’s waitressing days because it captures her perfectly.

While pregnant with her first son, she took a job at a local restaurant. Every day, an older gentleman came in, ordered the same thing, and ate alone. His name was Thomas, and after some time, Jamie and the rest of the staff learned that he was a retired widower.

Her team surrounded him with friendship:

“He would come and eat out on a regular basis — on Wednesdays — and was just looking for conversation. He always ordered the same thing, so at one point, I knew he’d come at this time and order this, and he’d always sit at a specific table. So we started to anticipate and have things ready for him.”

They heard stories about his kids, prepared special meals on holidays, and made Thomas’ experience with them memorable.

Sure, that’s a nice story. But what struck me was the energy that Jamie radiated while telling it. Time has passed, but when she talks about Thomas, it seems like they met yesterday — even though it happened in her early twenties. The key is that Jamie’s interactions with people form genuine connections, and they impact her as profoundly as she impacts others.

Building a strong foundation

The day she turned fourteen, Jamie started her first job at a fast-food restaurant down the street. She’d learned her strong work ethic from her parents: her dad served in the Air Force for twenty years, and her mother left her career to raise the family. After her children were grown, Jamie’s incredible mother went back to school and earned a degree in psychology.

Her parents didn’t push her to work at that age. They always provided everything she needed. Jamie started working early because she felt strongly that if she wanted something extra, she should earn the money herself. What she hadn’t expected was that this job would set the stage for her entire career:

“I learned that I love talking to people. And then seeing the same people sometimes and creating that relationship and forming that bond and saying, ‘Oh, I know you like this meal. You don’t even have to order. I know exactly what you’re going to get!’ Just creating that environment where people have a consistent experience, and then you can elevate their experience by going above and beyond when they don’t expect it.”

College and a first job: missteps?

Like so many of us who find ourselves working in CX, Jamie went to college without knowing what she wanted to do with her life. She just knew she didn’t want to focus on math. The major with the least amount of math was English, so that’s what she pursued.

After the end of her junior year, she was gifted with her first son (the one she was pregnant with when she met Thomas). Even though she left school before graduation, she didn’t slow down. Jamie only took five weeks off, and then she was back at work.

First, she took a job that wasn’t fulfilling:

“I had never tried the corporate world, so I found a job at a mortgage company. It was corporate, and I thought that was where I was supposed to go. I’m a young 24-year old, and it’s my first corporate job. I was so bored.”

The age-old “supposed to be doing” path never seems to be as good as it’s made out to be, does it?
Thankfully, Jamie quickly figured that out.

Discovering her passion

As a working mom, Jamie didn’t want to stop, but she was seeking more balance in her life. A position at her local UPS store was the perfect next step. She was close to home and her now two sons, close to her grandmother who had recently gone into hospice, and close to the customers she enjoyed meeting each day.

This is where she had the chance to develop connections with people again. From building custom crates for a local sculptor to greeting the daily P.O. box customers, she always had the opportunity to bring positivity and exceptional service to someone’s day. That led to her next job:

“There was a gentleman, his name was Chad Ruff, he is still one of my favorite people and one of the biggest influences and mentors in my life. He would come in, and he’s an introvert. But me being me, I’m like, ‘I’m going to get you to talk to me!’ So, I got to know him, and I remember learning he had just started a business. He approached me one day and said, ‘Do you want a job?’”

Chad needed someone to lead his customer service team, and he saw Jamie’s innate ability to create relationships. After considering it and weighing the risks, she decided to take the position. Jamie was the company’s third hire, and she had the opportunity to build everything from scratch.

Building a CX team from scratch

“The experience of joining a company that small and literally being able to whiteboard everything and fail fast and fail often, then learn and recover. I was able to build out not just the customer service team, but as we continued to grow, we expanded to customer success and being more proactive. And then I was also able to build out our client education and began working on client experience.”

As the company was on track to be sold, she also found herself newly divorced and moving from Colorado to Georgia with two young sons. Being a very “when one door shuts another opens” type of person, Jamie found her next job totally by accident. At her son’s football game, she began talking to one of the coaches who owned a promotional products and branded apparel company. He expressed that the company wanted to bring on a contractor to make customer support their competitive differentiator.

Of course, Jamie was up for the challenge.

Switching from reactive to proactive

Jamie has a keen sense for what people need, and by anticipating that, she can turn a casual customer into a loyal fan. That’s just what she did at the promotional products company. Jamie helped make their support team stand out by creating relationships. Sometimes she’d be presenting, and the computer’s background image would be her kids, sometimes she’d mention her favorite sports team (the Steelers just like me), but she’d always be looking for a way to connect.

“Finding that moment of connection, so that when technology fails, when people err, because they do, you have that relationship to fall back on. And that has been the thing I consistently carry to each company that I’ve worked for.”

After eleven months at the company, it was time for her to move on.

Focus & determination led Jamie to buy her first home!

Going back to Corporate

Motivated by financial stability and her dream of buying her own house, she took on another corporate role as Director of Client Experience for a large company. Jamie was able to flourish under the guidance of her exceptional manager, Samantha Dawkins. In fact, Jamie made such an impact that another member of the company, Kurtis Richards, recruited her to become Senior Director of Business Process Improvement.

Even though the role brought her new and interesting tasks, Jamie found herself missing the human element. She knew she needed to start looking for ways to get back to people-focused work. Around that time, she got laid off:

“I was let go for the first time in my life. It took a toll. I had to step back, and I was questioning my value. I was questioning if I’d made the right decisions in life. All of these jobs — what did they mean?”

The time was also chaotic personally as she’d just gotten married the week before and was combining two households.

Jamie and her husband tackle challenges together.

Turning challenges into opportunities

While things weren’t working out as she’d hoped, Jamie kept trying. First, she took a job that wasn’t a great fit. Next, she landed in a role she enjoyed, but COVID-19 hit, and she wanted to be home more to help her kids adjust and manage their remote schooling. A networker at heart, Jamie found her next (and current) position by joining the Customer Support Driven Slack community and checking out their #jobs channel. The Predictive Index had a role open, and her application landed her an offer she couldn’t turn down.

She is now a Manager of User Operations where she’s managing a team of six direct reports and helping with an additional eight while her boss is on maternity leave:

“Knowing she was pregnant and going out any minute was exciting and scary at the same time. But she was ever-present. Every single day she cleared her calendar any time I needed it.”

While she recently gave birth, Jamie’s boss is still proactively reaching out to make sure she’s fully supported in this new role.

Being a Manager of User Operations at The Predictive Index

In her position, Jamie teaches her team to turn challenges into opportunities every chance they get. Rather than seeing complicated interactions as a negative, she flips it:

“There are some people that get sucked into what I call the cave of negativity where they let one person ruin their day. I look to those as challenges. I want those people who are going to be rude or are going to get angry with me. Because at that moment where you can turn that relationship around, and then have them engaging with you in a completely different way than it started off is a huge win in my book.”

While so many of us hold on to negative feedback and let it drain us, Jamie lets it drive her. She’s motivated by the opportunities she finds in life to transform things that might seem less than ideal into truly positive experiences.

Focusing on her passions

Since her fourteenth birthday, Jamie hasn’t stopped working. The shift has been that she’s learned to go for the jobs she enjoys instead of the ones she thinks she’s supposed to want. It’s a lesson we all have to learn. So often, we give up too much of ourselves to align with these phantom expectations. Jamie’s story should remind us all that we don’t have to stay on the wrong path just because it sounds good or is what everyone else does.

Family study time!

Remember how she’d left university to have her first son? Well, Jamie did return. She juggled being a single mom, a full-time employee, and switched her major from English to Business Management. But she still graduated Cum Laude. More than that, she took up the mantle from her parents and set an outstanding example for her sons, “I’ll always remember doing homework with my boys — all of us doing our own. It set the precedent that you can accomplish anything no matter the circumstances if you put your mind to it.”

Interested in asking Jamie how to turn negative feedback into positive customer experiences? Or did we miss something you wanted to know about her path to become a Manager of User Operations?
Comment below or reach out to her here.

If you’d like to have your CX story told, we’d love to hear it!

About Tymeshift:

We’re Tymeshift, an effortless WFM solution made exclusively for Zendesk to make workforce managers’ lives easier. Our workforce management tools include shift scheduling, forecasting and analytics. A perfectly intuitive Zendesk integration makes your CX agents’ lives easier. Learn all there is about us and our product on tymeshift.com

🚨 By the way, we’re hiring! 🚨
So if you loved the article and would dig the chance of working alongside a diverse the with a great company culture:
check out openings for Tymeshift jobs and apply here.