Customer Support Specialist

    Published • Application due

    Tofugu is seeking a remote part-time Customer Support Specialist to provide customer support for its Japanese language learning properties - Tofugu and Wanikani. In this role, you will be responsible for helping people to learn how to learn Japanese, whether that's helping them learn how to use WaniKani, suggesting a Tofugu article that solves their problem, or even just giving some of your own advice. When we can't solve their problem directly, you'll be responsible for sharing insight from the customer: what can we do and what can we fix so the customer can make progress in their Japanese studies?

    Our customer support team is very small and works independently in different timezones. For this role, there will be a fixed schedule which may include a shift over the weekend. The ideal candidate should be able to consistently make good decisions on their own, have some Japanese knowledge (see “Requirements”), be able to write clearly and succinctly (while still keeping a friendly tone), and be interested in Japan and the Japanese language. You will need to be able to handle high volume of user inquiries with a tenacity that gets you to inbox zero, every time you complete a shift. You should be the type that's always on the lookout for ways to improve the team's processes.

    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, and helping us to get better. 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

    • Answer emails and clear inbox each day. This includes Twitter, the WaniKani forum, and any other minor support channels. 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. Sometimes it's about finding the right solution for them (even if it's outside of the Tofugu family of products).
    • Become an expert of our products Tofugu, WaniKani, and any future products. You will need to guide WaniKani users through their issues, provide as much information as possible to the developer, and explain any technical issues to users in an easy-to-understand manner.
    • Update internal team documentation and the WaniKani User Guide when you see something is missing, incorrect, or could use improvement.
    • Track common user issues and work with other members of the team and let the product team know about the ones you deem to be most important.
    • Moderate the WaniKani Community Forums and engage with users to understand the current pain points of the product. Also, to make sure they aren't doing anything naughty.
    • Maintain a 98% Customer Rating: When we respond to emails, customers have the opportunity to rate our responses. Currently that sits at around 98%. Don't worry, we expect you to make some mistakes at first! Just be sure to learn from them :)


    • 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 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 can wear many hats: Tofugu is a startup, and there may be opportunities to work on things unrelated to customer support. You should be flexible and interested in learning new skills.
    • 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. Tofugu lets you make decisions worth up to $200 by yourself! So, good judgement is pretty important.
    • You can work 20-25 hours a week in any North American timezone. During onboarding, you will work closely with the team lead on the west coast.
    • 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.

    • Nice-to-haves:
      • Experience using WaniKani
      • Experience using customer service software
      • Higher than JLPT N5 certification.


    We expect this person to work approximately 20 - 25 hours per week, which makes them eligible for part time benefits. Those are:


    • Competitive pay.
    • A “13th month” bonus structure (not guaranteed and dependent on previous year’s profit).
    • Simple IRA matching of up to 3% (US staff).
    • 15 days of vacation per year (part time).
    • 7 holidays per year of your own choosing.
    • Join company retreats (previous locations: Izu, Japan, Hokkaido, Japan) as well as in-person work-togethers (previous locations: Portland, Oregon).
    • Employee's medical, dental, and vision insurance is 100% paid for (US staff) or monetarily reimbursed (international).
    • Educational books are reimbursable. We want you to read, learn, and apply that knowledge!
    • Reimbursements for taking approved classes, courses, etc.
    • $500 annually in fitness-related reimbursements.
    • $200/month reimbursements for office space, desk rentals, or coffee/tea when you work out of a coffee shop (remote staff).
    • Parking, mass transit (Portland, OR).
    • Take your shoes off, wear slippers (Portland, OR).

    For more information on benefits and what it's like to work at Tofugu, please see our jobs page and about page.

    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 with the subject line "Customer Support Specialist". We will be accepting applications until Sunday, September 8, 2019. After which we'll begin our hiring process (see jobs page for hiring process details).