An Interview with: Christian Bullock (Envato)

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I recently chatted with Christian Bullock to ask him a few questions about his work at Envato as the Help Team Leader. Envato Market is part of the Envato network, supporting over 4,000,000 digital creatives worldwide with sites including ThemeForest, Tuts+ and Envato Studio. So, let’s get started!


– Hey Christian! Who are you, and what do you do?

Hey Sam! My name’s Christian, I’m a 23 year old guy based in the UK, and I’m one of two Help Team Leaders here at Envato.

Along with Briany (Help Team Manager) and Cliff (other Help Team Leader), I help to oversee Envato Support Operations and a Team of 23 Help Officers/2 Senior Help Officers. A typical day for me would include: ticket escalations, coaching/feedback sessions, analysing performance stats and addressing any emergent team issues.

In addition to these daily tasks, the Support Leadership Team are actively involved in change projects. This could be anything from: improving existing support processes, Working on ‘ticket deflection’ opportunities (reducing the amount of Help Tickets being created, leading to lower wait times), to assessing the support impact on upcoming feature releases and ensuring the Help Team have the tools, resources and knowledge to address those new ticket types :)

– What is it like working remotely for Envato, which is so far away in Australia?

The truth is, working remotely for Envato definitely has its positives and its challenges.

One thing I love about working remotely is being able to work in an environment that works for me. For me that’s: peace and quiet, my own home office and equipment set up exactly how I like it, my own choice of music as loud or quiet as I like, and no distractions. The very nature of not working in an office with over 100 other people means I can be left to work through my backlog without being pulled away to help with something else. Working from home also means that if I’m having a rough day I can lie on my bed and zone-out for 10 minutes, or stop what I’m doing completely and come back later. That’s not always possible in a professional office environment.

home-office

Another great thing about working remotely is the flexibility. For example, I can start work at a time that suits me, go for lunch when I want, and move work around my personal life to cater for appointments or other commitments. In the summer I can take my work outside, or even to another part of the world completely. One of our Help Officers travelled to France for 3 months and was able to take their work with them, which is an excellent example of the flexibility Envato has to offer. I also like that my morning commute takes 5 seconds, and I never have to expose myself to the wet & windy British weather (which actually looks pretty nice in the photo below)!

Chirk Viaduct Chirk North Aerial Rail Transport

Arguably one of the greatest challenges of working remotely is catering for timezones. With Melbourne being anywhere from 9-11 hours ahead of the UK, I’ve had my fair share of early morning and midnight meetings. The same can be said for arranging meetings and coaching sessions with individual Help Officers. With 25 Help Staff spread across the globe, finding meeting times that work for everyone’s individual working pattern can be tricky, and this often leads to compromises and sacrifices being made.

– What did you do before joining Envato, and how did you get your job there? Have you always been a Community Member?

That’s a great question! To be honest my career path from day #1 at my very first job to becoming Team Leader at Envato is really a combination of hard work and fortunate circumstances.

At 18 (2009) you could say I begin my first real ‘job’ with one of the UK’s largest high street retailers, initially employed to work in the stockroom and process inbound store deliveries. Front of house staff shortages during busy holiday periods and the occasional day covering leave gave me exposure to the customer-facing side of the business. It became apparent quite quickly both to myself and my managers that front line Customer Service was something I enjoyed and was pretty good at, and eventually was able to make the move to Customer Service permanently.

Following several successful years at the company, a significant change in working circumstances meant it wasn’t financially sustainable to keep working there, so I reluctantly left to seek other opportunities. With the UK being in the height of an economic recession, retail Customer Service wasn’t something I could sustainably get back into. Ultimately with the clock ticking important decisions need to be made, so I turned to my next favourite thing: freelancing.

Since around 2007 I’ve held a keen interest in front-end Web Design, specialising specifically in the open-source phpBB forum software (where I was also actively involved as a Support Volunteer for many years). My Envato journey began in 2009. I’d actually discovered ThemeForest in 2007, although it wasn’t until July 2009 when I committed to creating an account (MhW) and making my first purchases. It was in November 2012, during a cold and miserable evening looking at WordPress Theme live demos for inspiration, when I first saw the “Recruiting: Envato Support Officer” job advert in a Freelance Switch widget (subtly placed in the footer of the theme). Initially I skipped straight past it, but Customer Service has always been an underlying passion of mine, and freelancing (whilst paying the bills), wasn’t my idea of a permanent occupation. As I read through the position description, it began to tick all the boxes and I applied later that evening. Unfortunately following a nervy first-round interview, my application to Envato wasn’t successful and I gracefully returned to freelancing.

At the start of 2013, I made the unexpected step of obtaining my SIA (Security) license. Private Security isn’t something I’d ever planned on getting into, but inconsistent freelance earnings and declining personal interest meant that freelancing also wasn’t going to be sustainable long term, and the Security industry could offer me the financial security I’d been looking for. Between February and July 2013 I worked as a Security Guard initially securing an empty leisure centre unit, before becoming a CCTV Operator/Security Guard for the UK’s largest supermarket chain. Upon coming home from work one evening after a late shift, to my surprise I found an email from Envato stating that they’d be recruiting again for the Support Officer position, and would I be interested in re-applying for the role? That night I updated my CV, re-submitted my application, was re-interviewed and became a Support Officer on 5th August 2013 ahead of progressing Team Leader in September 2014.

– Explain what happens when a support ticket comes in. Which ones are answered first, and which type of tickets take the longest?

Sure! Simply speaking as a user when you submit a Help Ticket to Envato, it’s added to the back of our main queue. Every day our Team of 25 Help Officers work through the main queue on an ‘oldest tickets first’ basis. Historically when a ticket was submitted it would fall into one of six different queues: Marketplaces, Account Issues, File Issues, Payment Issues, Copyright or Licensing, although this format was abandoned when we moved over to Zendesk, our new Support system.

We’re going to be experimenting a new method of triaging, separating and prioritising tickets soon which we’re confident will reduce waiting times and offer a much better experience for everyone involved.

In terms of the tickets that take the longest, that’s a really good question. I tend to think that refund requests, specifically for faulty item reports probably take longer to solve than other ticket types. We also find that copyright tickets (especially DMCA complaints submitted by Authors) take some considerable time to solve given their serious nature and the processes involved.

– What do you enjoy outside of work?

I like tinkering with things! Whether it’s adding aftermarket components to my car, home improvements, or getting elbow-deep in my gaming rig, I find it really satisfying taking something and doing something to it to make it better.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself ‘a gamer’, but have been known to clock up many hours between the gaming rig and Xbox One. Forza 5, FIFA 15 and GTA V are particular favourites.

– Anything else you’d like to add?

They say if you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I feel extremely privileged to work for Envato, and genuinely look forward to waking up and logging on each morning. Whilst I suspect the majority of people reading this will be Authors or Freelancers, I’d thoroughly recommend Envato as a company to work for, and would encourage everyone to keep an eye out for any opportunities with Envato that cater for their skills.

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We’d like to thanks Christian once again for his great answers! If you have any more questions you’d like to ask Christian, leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to pass them on to him. For more info about Envato Market, click here.

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CEO, Administrator and Designer at wpContent. He likes making films, designing websites, and writing about the latest WordPress news!

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