When Tech Helpline began 20 years ago as a service for Florida Realtors® members, it quickly earned a reputation for providing “Friendly Tech Support.” Tech Helpline’s approach was unique, offering no-nonsense technical advice and warm, friendly customer service. It became the No. 1 tech service in real estate during a time when calling tech support was the last resort because a positive experience was rare and hardly ever “friendly.”
Unless, of course, you were contacting Apple. The Apple Genius Bar – its tech support center – was legendary for having well-trained, helpful, and remarkably friendly tech services staff. It’s why Tech Helpline has been called the “Genius Bar for Real Estate.”
“Friendly” is not only one of Tech Helpline’s most significant differentiators; it is also highly valued by the members it serves. Today, Tech Helpline supports more than 667,000 Realtor members throughout the U.S. and Canada. In all, 17 state Realtor Associations, and 60 local associations, MLSs, and real estate brokerage firms rely on Tech Helpline as an essential benefit for their members and agents – one that is often rated at or near the top of all the benefits provided.
Knowledge is power, but kindness is King
Tech Helpline’s call center is in the U.S. – based in Orlando, Florida, at the Florida Realtors headquarters. Comprehensive support, available in English and Spanish, is provided by a staff of professional tech analysts with 300+ years of combined IT experience by phone, chat, and email.
While nearly every tech support service has a technically knowledgeable staff, few tech support services are known for being both helpful and incredibly friendly. Robert Calderon, the Director of Tech Helpline for more than 15 years, offers some insight as to why Tech Helpline is different.
Calderon looks to hire people who not only have technical experience – or the applicable schooling – but also look for folks who are naturally customer service oriented. For more than a decade, he has helped assemble a team of technical analysts who are, well, not just intelligent and experienced; they are genuinely “supportive.”
“Everyone (on the team) knows that they have to answer a question or assist in finding an answer,” Calderon explains. His team also knows to support one another. The approach they take, he says, is “Let us find the answer together.”
Phrases that you will never hear in the Tech Helpline call center: “That’s not my job” or “I don’t do that.”
You can’t teach friendly
Key to the ongoing success of Tech Helpline is the chemistry that the team shares. The environment reflects the same culture and chemistry as the Florida Realtors, which owns and operates Tech Helpline. These characteristics include, according to Calderon, “Ownership, responsibility, teamwork, calm under pressure, and a desire to learn.”
Like Florida Realtors, it all begins with an acute focus on giving members what they need for everything they do. And the analyst cares about each member who calls in to ask for help, no matter the request. “You got it, you own it,” is the approach of the team.
Calderon notes his team of analysts is encouraged to share their stories, especially when a technician “saves the day” for a member. This practice not only “allows those stories to be shared but also reinforces this behavior in others,” he said.
Whatever it takes
Jessica Smith, who heads up sales for Tech Helpline, recently explained in a Podcast with the Ohio Realtors that the tech support staff doesn’t give cookie-cutter responses.
“If you were to call up and ask, ‘What technology is out there that might make my life a little bit easier?’, a Tech Helpline analyst will legitimately talk with you to understand what it is you do, what your days are like, to help get to know you before giving you recommendations on what’s out there that you might not even know about.”
Tech Helpline tech analyst Alex Barnett, also on the podcast, added, “I kid you not, I have spent many hours in someone’s Amazon shopping cart when they ask, ‘What should I get?’, and I tell them, ‘Let’s go shop together.’”
It’s that “can do” attitude that permeates through the Tech Helpline staff and is core to its culture. For example, Barnett feels bad when an agent or broker wastes a couple of hours trying to fix a tech problem on their own – such as trying to set up a new webcam. “Call us first,” he recommends.
Longevity speaks volumes
For 17 years, Linda King has flourished as part of the team at Tech Helpline. She is the embodiment of kindness and friendliness, having come to the Florida Realtors from Disney.
She went from working for the creators of the happiest place on earth to the home of the friendliest tech support in real estate and has never looked back.
Starting at Florida Realtors as a receptionist, King moved to communications and Tech Helpline. Labeling herself a “non-techie” – but noting she has picked up things over time – she is primarily responsible for resolving membership issues, such as signing on to access online services that Tech Helpline supports.
Her golden rule: “We never want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” King said. She notes that everyone at Tech Helpline has a deep understanding of what an agent does every day, and that helps resolve member problems. “This is their livelihood. They don’t make any money if they are not selling,” so even if she can’t help someone directly, she will find someone who will.
You can find King’s enthusiasm and helpful disposition the minute you call into Tech Helpline. She is literally the voice of Tech Helpline, having recorded the prompts you hear when you call.
King and Calderon are not the only team veterans who have spent a decade or more with Tech Helpline, a testament to providing a great work environment and culture.
“I’ve met some wonderful people and learned a lot,” King said, adding. “A person is defined by their job, and I think it’s been good for me to keep busy like this and to learn new skills. To me, that’s been the best thing.”
Calderon, too, reinforces Tech Helpline’s friendly culture by the way he leads his team. He has the “friendly” gene as well as an open-door policy. You most often can find him spending time on the call center floor, speaking with tech analysts in between calls. Along with Javian Melendez, a 14-year veteran of Tech Helpline and a Manager, they are known for sharing the positive emails individual analysts receive with the entire team.
Calderon summarizes the success of Tech Helpline with this straightforward observation: “When people are caring, it shows they are vested in the work they do.”
To learn more about Tech Helpline, go to techhelpline.com.