As a customer support specialist for a systems engineering company, you have to have a special mix of skills—technical aptitude, a strong people side, and, critically, persistence—an ability to persevere and stay with a problem until you reach a solution. Laszlo Kecskes appears to have all three in spades. His life experience has contributed to his expertise in each area.
In college at Sam Houston University, Laszlo took a business calculus class. “We learned about game theory and John Nash and how game theory intersected with business,” he says. He loved it. “I have a knack for math—I like it a lot.” Laszlo found he was one of the top students in the class.
He also got into programming at about that time, because, he says, “I was interested in game development.” Laszlo wrote a game for kids on the Android—Gassy Magee. While it never became hugely popular, he learned a lot from doing it, and found its creation to be immensely satisfying. Here is where the perseverance comes in: Laszlo created the game over three years, spending several hours on it most evenings—sometimes staying up until 2:00 in the morning. “Game development is not for the faint of heart,” Laszlo says.
Laszlo is an extrovert by nature, but he still had lots to learn about dealing with people. One job gave him ample experience: working as a collections agent for Comcast/Time Warner. “I actually went door to door collecting past due bills,” he says. One time, he was run out of a house by a woman’s husband. “You have to be able to think on your feet. And you have to stay calm and have a sense of humor.”
This equanimity stands him in good stead as a customer service representative. Most people are reluctant to contact a customer service representative and only seek one out when experiencing great discomfort. So, Laszlo says, “You have to make them not hate coming to you in the first place.” A friendly tone of voice, a genuine interest in getting to know the person, and a willingness to listen are key.
Also, Laszlo says, you have to guide the customer to be able to express their problem. Oftentimes, people don’t know what’s causing their difficulty, and their frustration compounds their ability to describe it. So you have to be a bit of a detective and you have to be able to draw the story out of them. Laszlo sees it as a creative endeavor. “I love being in a creative capacity with people.”
He honed this sense of creative engagement with others in a college theater class, where, incidentally, he met his wife! The acting class contributed to Laszlo’s ability to maintain poise and to communicate effectively. “It also taught me humility,” he says.
Beyond connecting with the customer, Laszlo sees two things as critical. Number one is getting to the root of the customer’s problem. And number two is wowing the customer. “I love it when I can resolve their problem and know that they’re going away happy.”
In his downtime, Laszlo likes to ride his bike on the miles and miles of trails that run through The Woodlands—the neighborhood where he lives in Houston. You may also find him playing a space shooter game with his 5-year-old son or video games with his wife.
Living in Houston, how did Laszlo and his family fare in the recent cold weather event? They survived. The power went off for 13 hours, and he, his wife, and their son huddled in bed, playing games on the iPad. They had no heat and no power, and temperatures inside the house fell to the low 40s.
Luckily, Laszlo says, “I’m pretty resilient by nature.” We can be grateful for that, and that his family is, too.
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