Back in October I decided to try my hand at helping people out with questions, issues, and problems relating to Gmail and more specifically Inbox By Gmail. I did this by heading over to the Gmail Product Forum. This is the place where the 450+ Million people that use the free versions of Gmail go to get help.
I started out as a newbie, had no levels, no best answers, but I dove right in, quickly moving up in levels. Sometime in November I was contacted by one of the Community Managers at Google and was asked if I wanted to participate in the Top Contributor Program. This is a program that Google put together, the get regular, every day users of their products to become the front line support. It’s really a genius move, if you ask me. At virtually no cost to Google, they get a small Army of support/customer service people.
So, back to me. I was elated by the offer, and quickly replied with a resounding Yes. When you start out in the Top Contributor program, you are referred to as a Rising Star. As a Rising Star in the program I answered any and all questions I could and really played with (and tried to break) Inbox by Gmail so I can become an expert in the program. As a result, I quickly became one of the goto people on the forum for Inbox by Gmail. Many of you that read my posts and my blog know that I am a huge fan of this program. And just last week, the work paid off and I was promoted to Top Contributor - which comes with additional benefits such as an invitation to the Top Contributor Summit held every few years.
Participation in the program has been nothing less than stellar. The people that post questions are inquisitive, ambitious, and sometimes upset. But that is what makes it a fascinating place. The Rising Stars and Top Contributors are the most helpful, nicest people you will come across in the world of software assistance. We come from all over the world, and quickly develop into a nice, tight knit family. New members of the team are welcomed with open arms and we work together to solve users problems. If we get stumped, we know there is always the rest of the team to reach out to.
Working in the Gmail Product forums led me to create this blog, so I can provide tips and help to a wider audience that may not post in the forums to get their help. I see and help lots of people on various communities in G+ and I am a moderator of one of the largest Gmail related Communities
What prompted me to write this up today? A few posts on the Gmail Product Forum got me thinking how invested and involved many of the Gmail users are with the product. The questions were so far removed from how I use the programs, but clearly showed these people have thought hard about how to get the product to work for them. One person wanted some information on how to deal with over 400 filters. I mean, wow, that takes a lot of thought and organization and foresight. I was thoroughly impressed.
Every day we encounter challenging questions that sometimes make us dig deep into our own knowledgebase, and that challenge I thoroughly enjoy. But what is the most rewarding part of being in this program for me has been what I am calling the Turn Around. This is when a user is angry, usually very angry at whatever happened. During the back and forths of determining what is going on, the user often becomes angrier, usually questioning our questions. But then it happens, they mention one thing or another that turns on the light bulb, and BAM we have solved their issue. They quickly turn from angry user to thankful user.
That, my friends, is why we do this. It’s not for the fame, it’s not for the perks, and it certainly isn’t for the pay (there is none). We do it because we want to help people.
Simple as that!
I encourage each and everyone of you to find a Google product you are passionate about and look into joining the Top Contributor Program.