Customer Support Manager

    Published • Application due

    Tofugu is seeking an experienced candidate to manage, own, develop, (and do) our customer support across our Japanese language learning properties (especially WaniKani and Tofugu). An ideal candidate should be able to consistently make good decisions on their own, have some Japanese knowledge (see “Requirements”), be a strong writer, and be interested in Japan and the Japanese language. You will need to manage your time efficiently, work well with the other members of the Tofugu team, and always be improving yourself and the customer support process.

    Tofugu’s customer support philosophy can be summed up in a few points:

    • Learning and Discovery: We believe humans innately love to learn, despite most schools sucking that out of them. Helping our customers, users, members, and readers to rediscover the affects of learning and dopamine is, perhaps, one of our prime directives. Customer support is positioned on the front lines of this war, and you will be tasked with helping people to rediscover the joy of learning.
    • Joy and Humanity: We’re all humans, at least most of us are. Customer support is expected to think creatively and make like Marie Kondo by creating sparks of joy for both the customer and oneself. Sometimes that’s going above and beyond answering a difficult question. Other times that’s sending the customer stickers, or a tenugui, for very little reason at all. Maybe you throw in a custom gif. You will be tasked with consistently creating long-term customers who think “I love that company too much, and it makes me uncomfortable” every time they think of us.
    • Respect for the customer. Respect for yourself: Sometimes we’re wrong. In those cases, you have to be ready to take responsibility for getting that thing fixed, without getting defensive. The customer’s doing something awesome for us, after all. In other cases, the customer is totally wrong. When that happens, you have to be able to explain why using truth, logic, and reason, while at the same time not being condescending. It may not be the explanation they want to hear, but you can and should always show respect to yourself and the customer while you do it.
    • Independence: You have independence to make decisions using your own good judgement. Refunds that go beyond the refund policy? If you believe it’s reasonable, you can make that choice by yourself.

    If you think like we do, then read on.

    The Work

    This customer support role goes beyond just doing customer support, though that’s a large part of it. In this position you will also be responsible for managing others and developing / bettering our customer support program as we grow. Here’s what we’re expecting from the candidate:

    • Answer and clear the inbox every (work) day. This includes Twitter, the WaniKani Forums, as well as any other minor support channels. There will even be handwritten letters to write! Some days that could be around fifty emails. It’s not just replying to emails, though. In some cases, that means hunting down the right people to respond to a certain email, as well as making sure they follow through in an acceptable timeframe. Other times it means processing bugs, errors, etc to the right to-do list, including enough information for someone to actually fix it.
    • Work with other members of the team to build new products/features/processes that will improve life for the customer and customer support at the same time. Take repeating problems then pitch solutions for them.
    • Manage the support schedule. We have a very small support staff and you’ll be responsible for setting and maintaining a regular schedule. Non-support staff are also required to help with support, to a (much) lesser degree. You will be responsible for scheduling their support days. Across both of these groups, you’ll be expected to me communicate with and mentor everybody, improving the quality of their responses.
    • Within six months, develop (from a processes perspective, not an engineering or programming one), test, and evaluate live chat support for WaniKani. That includes:
      • Determining how we interact with customers on live chat.
      • Managing the schedule for who’s on duty.
      • Judging whether or not we should continue the program, based off customer interactions as well as data showing the results of the program.
    • Maintain a 98% Customer Rating: When we respond to emails, customers have the opportunity to rate our responses. Currently that sits at around 98%.
    • Improve the Response and Resolution Time: Right now we are at a response time of about 16 hours. Resolution time is about 20 hours. By the end of the first year, you should reduce average response time to 4 hours and average resolution time to 8 hours.
    • By the end of the first year, grow our support team and put together a schedule to have at least 18 hours of daily coverage. To do this, you will be responsible for hiring and training part-time hourly support staff.
    • Learn the ins and outs of Tofugu, WaniKani, and future products. You will need to know more than anyone. Then, you should:
    • Share your knowledge in the form of writing and editing knowledge base articles and internal work processes. You will be responsible for maintaining and developing our documentation. If a question comes up more than once, you should write it up for the future.


    • You love writing and you’re good at it. You can explain and simplify difficult concepts with concise, friendly wording. You can write easy-to-understand documentation. You can write a lot of it, too. Communication at Tofugu is done primarily through writing, and you’ll be expected to write and participate in internal discourse via the written word.
    • You’re honest and empathetic to our readership and customers. You can see things from their perspective and give them satisfying responses, even if it’s not the response they want to hear.
    • You’re never condescending, even when you’re super-right and they’re super-wrong. People make mistakes–sometimes really obvious and dumb ones–and your job is to make them feel good about it, not stupid.
    • You take responsibility, even when something is not your fault. That’s just who you are. It’s not merely about blaming yourself for what others have done. You know that if you take responsibility, you then gain the power to fix things yourself. Then you figure out how to make that happen.
    • You love solving problems and you’re thorough about it. You’ll figure out what’s causing a bug before passing it off to dev. You’ll get to the bottom of a user’s mystery by figuring out what obscure web browser they’re not telling you about. You’ll also come up with ways to solve repeating problems and write pitches for them for long-term fixes.
    • You can wear many hats: Tofugu is a startup, and there will be opportunities to work on things unrelated to customer support. You should be flexible and interested in learning new skills to help out whenever you have extra time or will.
    • You have excellent organizational skills and are detail-oriented: You don’t let little things slip by you and you follow up when customers (or even coworkers) don’t.
    • You can make decisions and take action by yourself. You use your good judgement to do what you think is right, without asking for permission. You know when to ask for help and when not to.
    • You can work full-time in the West Coast US time zone, plus or minus three hours. That’s anywhere between Hawaii to New York.
    • You have a strong (native, or functionally-native) command of the English language.
    • You have a JLPT N5 or higher Japanese level (or equivalent). You have a strong interest in Japan and the Japanese language.


    Job Type: Full-Time
    Work Location: Remote, or from our Portland, Oregon, USA office
    Salary: $48,000-$60,000 annually
    Benefits: Here are a smattering of some of the better benefits you will receive in this position.

    • Health, Dental, and Vision insurance for employees in the USA. Monetary compensation for those outside the USA.
    • 30 paid vacation days per year. 7 holiday days per year (you choose your own). This isn’t some fake suggestion. You’re expected to use your vacation and even go beyond it.
    • Free lunch, snacks, and drinks for those working from our Portland, Oregon office.
    • Reimbursement for coffees/teas/etc for remote employees working from coffee or other shops.
    • Simple IRA contributions of up to 3% if you’re inside the US.
    • Reimbursement up to $200/month for remote work space rentals.
    • Reimbursement for books.
    • Reimbursement for approved educational materials, programs, seminars, etc.
    • Company retreat to Japan every 1.5 years.
    • Travel to Portland, Oregon once or twice per year (for remote employees).
    • As the support team grows, opportunity for vertical growth within the company.

    To apply, send a cover letter (in PDF format) letting us know why you are the one to do The Work. Include a resumé (also PDF) and send it all to