Strategies to manage difficult situations with key customers
When: 5th May, 9 AM-10 AM PST
Where: LinkedIn Live
Panelists – Rachael McBrearty, Alex, Ravi
Kay - Is to connect more than ever before. But how do we Define our key customers? Is it simply someone who's bringing in the share of Revenue? Is it someone who is making us more profitable? Is it the customer lifetime value? The level of partnership? We are having the product feedback. We are getting the referrals. They are making. Maybe all of the above at some point, every company leader looks at their best. And then they'd see, okay, how bad it would be to lose one of these accounts. And how do we protect these relationships with these customers with that, that we have experts and we have experts from lean data Is to connect and more than ever before? But how do we Define our key customers? Is it simply someone who's bringing in the share of revenue? Is it someone who is making us more profitable? Is it the customer lifetime value? The level of partnership? We are having the product feedback. We are getting the referrals. They are making. Maybe all of the above at some point, every company leader looks at their best. And then they'd see, okay, how bad it would be to lose one of these accounts. And how do we protect these relationships with these customers with that, that we have experts and we have experts from lean data today? And what struck me first is the diversity of experience from this team here. We have Alex who directs the lean Data customer support team and he runs the daily operations. And he has scaled the team from One person to multiple people and is still the scaling and he runs the technical support organization and US escalation. So it's wonderful to have you here today, Alex. Thank you for being excited to be here.
Next is Ravi, Ravi is running the CX and the customer success and the technical support teams and Robyn comes in from a very strong operations background. It has 25 years of experience from nineteen years of typical and growing the customer base there and looking into Revenue as part of the support. So have revealed, here. Thank you. Glad to be here.
Rachel is the chief customer support, its Chief, customer officer of lean data. She is very passionate to lead customer and employee experience and substantiate. That with big data and data at the edge. What fascinates me? Talking to Rachel, was her experience with clients? All across B2B, B2C staple Goods, retail, Tech, fashion, and Finance. So that was pretty interesting. Rachel and her measures have extreme success in how they deliver. Great customer experiences. And importantly, net revenue retention. Like, any other SAAS company? Rachel. It's Careful to have you today.
Rachel Thanks for having me. Great to be here. Okay?
Kay so it would be great to find out here from all three of you, why are we here? And how you say and your experience and how it matters to these strategic customers and having the most difficult scenarios are handling these most difficult scenarios with strategic customers. Rachel. Let's start. You.
Rachel - Sure. No, I think just so the audience knows my role in perspective. I do lead the entire post-sale team at lean data which includes our support and services organizations. And I think, as we think about how we set up to manage these difficult situations, we try to anticipate what are going to be the challenges. You might see key customers. I think we have to Set up and work to back off. What kind of experience? We're going to need to deliver. And what are going to be the areas, in which we anticipate that they're going to, you know, come to us? Did we lose you? Okay. Sorry. Oh, there you are.
Kay - I was told that I have to stop my camera to start live streaming. So I'm trying to figure out what it is. So please continue. Okay.
Rachel: No, sorry about that. I thought maybe we dropped. , yeah, so I think just from I see it's you know, how do Set up and sort of anticipate ahead of time. What we're gonna need in terms of those situations. And I think just from a CCO perspective. There are two things that we think about sort of fundamentally. One is when we think of the customers, we think about them in a multifaceted way. As you said in your introduction it is, of course, the a, you know, the amount of Revenue to bring in for the cup company we want to protect that Revenue, but there's also the potential Revenue that they have. So, what's the overall customer lifetime value potential? Those customers? So there's always the business side of it. But I think we also think about those key customers from a market segment perspective.
And that might be more Behavioral, or more of our, we serve. A, can we meet their needs, right? Are we, how do we think about them, their business or their business model, and do they best represent? You know, the best-fit customer, so I think it's not just dollars, but we're also thinking about how we make sure we're set up to serve the sort of the key Market or ICP that we go after. And you had design experience. And we know from lean data that our software is very flexible in terms of your ability to set it up to meet your business needs. So it's very configurable. We align with the customer's business process and help them set up their business rules. So we have to have a support team that can go in and understands that customer. On text. So I think it's super important to think about, you know, what are you going to do? Who are you serving? And how do you set up your support team to work back from to serve those individuals in our cases Operations Professionals for setting up Automation in their sales force and that Alex and team have to be able to go in and understand what they are trying to do? So, I think as you think about key customers you are also thinking about how we break down and understand how we serve them. So as I'd like to think about the more behavioral and business needs, we meet not just the AR are dollars, that makes sense. K. So
Kay, Absolutely it does and I love that you touched upon the market segments because early on and Lily data is also a smaller company. You tend to not have the market segments, very clearly defined, and you end up having people who are on the fringes who join in. They become key. They become key customers, even though they don't fit into some of those. So I think, as we move through this conversation, it will be great to know how the people are the customers, who are on the fringes of the market segments, and how to deal with them. Keep them happy. Even though the core product is growing deeper into a segment. I think that would be wonderful for our SAS audience.
Rachel Also is here and I think that's a good point. And I do want to raise, you have to identify, are they Fringe or are they your next step in your Market evolution? Shannon, because it might be, hey, you always attract those early adopters, those innovators. Are you starting to see more of that late majority, who needs a different kind of help? They're not, just that. Hey, I'm a DIY. I just need a little bit of help from the support team, not just technical issues, but just support and questions, right? To. Hey, are we starting to see more of them with me? Do it for me, kind of audience. And is that an indicator that we're starting to grow the company? So I think that's a really good point. Okay, but it can be an indicator, not a fringe, but maybe e of a new market opportunity opening up as we start to,
Kay Yeah. So, how rubbish, in this particular case, concerning bringing in these market segments are going deeper into a few market segments. How do you manage the product feedback that comes in from the Cs team and the customer success team?
Ravi- So, what we do is we are closely tied with our engineering team. We have to work. I mean, let me take a step back. B2B software support has evolved over the last course of years. Right? So you have to be very closely working with your Product and Engineering teams as well as within the support. I mean those days are gone where you have cured support where you have level 1, level 2 level 3. mean you have to respond very quickly and make sure that we're listening to customers and taking their feedback and pushing it into our product team so that they can prioritize. In terms of how they do road maps, which is what we do. So when a customer logs a ticket, if it happens to be, we hear that there are new features. New enhancements. We're constantly working with our product team, meeting with them regularly, feeding them information, from what we're hearing from customers to how to make that into the product roadmap. We're constantly working on that. So it's a tight connection between product support and Engineering. It's not you know, we have to kind of move away from the fact that support is labeled as a help desk.
We are closely tied with the products that book the product team. And that's how we make sure that the feedback from customers is hurt back into the product and, you know, hopefully, we can influence it to make it into the roadmap. I mean, the product is always challenged by what to put on a road map. So I just want to recognize that that's always a challenge. But at the same time, you know, they look at us at this point as being the voice of customers. So that's basically how we use it.
Kay, It's the voice of the customer. Angle too, this is very interesting and I want to tie this into escalations here, Alex. So for most SAAS companies, the product is evolving so fast and in a growing SAS fast, company. The product is evolving so what you're touching upon is one of the things we do very, very well. As those bring out the voice of the customer to be able to interface with the product team. But like you said, there are times you find you do everything you even though, Becomes one of the most, you know, you look at the top two or three and you look into what is the next evolution of the product and how it fits in and do it. So there are going to be escalations that there is a customer. Who's going to icky customers who may want, who may want a particular feature or particular thing within the product and it gets escalated and you know that we cannot satisfy it. How would you deal with this situation?
Alex: Well, I think it's a few things first. You have to take some time to understand the business use case, for why the customer is requesting that feature in that functionality. Once you can best understand what exactly they're trying to accomplish. Even if you can't accommodate it in the immediate future, you can at least get an understanding of what they want to do. And then start to think. Okay. What workarounds do we have available in our product today that we could get the same results? Maybe not through the same medium. So it's a few things. It's understanding the business use case. And then one, if you can accommodate it right away ensuring that the customer has a short-term workaround to get them what they need in the short term, right? And then from there, it becomes communicating internally. As Robbie said, the support team at lean data is very close-knit, with our Dev team in our product team. So depending on what we hear from the customer, if we're not able to Accommodate a certain use case, we file a product feature request. And then we sync up with our Devon product team to discuss the request and get a timeline on if it can be built out or not. And if it can how soon can the customer expect that that's all a multifaceted process that we carry out on a daily, but it all feeds back into our product and Dev team and the importance to make sure that
the customer. stands the steps that you're taking to address their request in the short term and the long term. So it's okay if it gets escalated as long as you follow those patterns and keep those thoughts in mind to convey the steps that you're taking and the actions that are going to be done to address
Kay - Be honest. Right. Be honest with what they are saying here. This is the timeline. This is what it is here is the reason why we are doing what we are doing, but we want to work with you to give you a short-term, short-term workaround. And So you can continue doing the business while we prioritize this and get this going. It brings a pair. I think it would be great to hear a story from a large Customer because these things escalated so fast, Rachel, can you give us a story and um of how things get escalated so fast, and how that can be dealt with very um um seamlessly,
Rachel - so, I have to shout out to our product team and our team overall. I do not. With a lot of escalations, I did not spend a lot of time dealing with great customers. It does not get to me very often. So that's a shout-out to this team here.
KAy And actually um I have to face every experience which we discussed. Before um this life. We did discuss the experiences that you're sharing. Does not have to come in for just Lindy Dykstra coming from any of your previous experiences. To preface, uh with that yeah, please continue.
Rachel - Yeah, no uh fair. Enough. I think, uh um you know, think that one of them, there's two, two things that we focus on here, which is, let's figure out the speed. Let's get to a speed of response. So really, if we, if a customer expresses an issue, let's uh let's get to them right away with, you know, let them know that we hear them, let them know that we're on it. The second is what is that type of response or accuracy and think Alex and team. Ravi does a great job when we have a customer where we can see that the issue is going to Mentally impact their business, uh making sure that to escalate it more from the perspective to me. So that the client knows that this is getting the top attention of our organization because it's critical to them. As Alex said, he's very good at listening. Is this something that is going to impact their ability to run their go-to-market process, right? We help our clients with one of our use cases is lead management. If your leads aren't getting to the sales team, the sales team isn't selling. That's pretty significant. We don't have the luxury. And let that sit for days. So letting the customer know we're on it, letting them know that it's been escalated to senior leadership is super important for them knowing that we're on it and that we care like, that's, you know, one of the things that I learned Kay, When I worked at Cisco we analyzed our support process and we learned that getting the, you know, the quick response and getting to the right people. So that the customer knows that getting taken care of was more critical to Tension, than the time it took to solve the problem. So that's so critical. So, an example where I will give one from the beginning of covid. When there were certain of our customers that saw a huge influx of leads into their business as a result of covid, right? We had the other extreme work, companies just halted entirely. They came to us saying we have a crisis that we need your help to manage. You know this. This manager is in crisis in the business and can help people get through this and navigate through it. I thought that was a great example of our team needing to Rally as a company and data, it's a team sport support is a team sport. Escalated to me to our senior leadership team to say how do we help evolve and address the needs of this cohort of customers that need us to help manage their business and that was, you know, bringing together. Both the engineering teams and the support team CSM to say how do we understand this new business needs? How do we help them? And then we rallied to make those changes for that cohort of customers within weeks. So that's where you can make it. If it gets escalated to me and the leadership team, we can make some strategic decisions to invest to solve those problems in the short term with those big clients because they're super critical to us. And if we can help them pivot quickly, that might be kind of an outlying use case, but I think that the point has to be taken if you're fundamental, if you're fundamental to that customer and their success, and they need you to address an issue. To move forward. You will gain long-term brand loyalty, if you rally and fix that problem, and ensure you're there with them like that. Trust that transparency, that partnership. And I think we have one of those customers for life because they knew we were there when they needed us.
Kay - Yeah. It's not so much of an outlier so to speak, right? It's covid and made things very interesting for a lot of people. So we had a lot of interesting Lee to see. People are spending more time in homes. So we had, we ended up with quite a bit of b2c customers because people who had their support tickets, overflowing they came to us and they were like, I'm desperate. I can't manage our backlog. We are at a point where we can't even respond to them in a timely fashion. So you are right. You bring out the trust in you, bring out the partnership and you put that up front. There is a question that came up on a social media channel regarding this topic. So instead of bringing it to the end. I'm going to bring it in. Bring It Now, how do you identify a broader customer requirement? requirement. Any one of you,
Ravi - I can take that. So I think when you do so just to make sure that I'm understanding the correct question correctly. When Bunch, when a lot of customers are reporting the same type of issues. I'm just putting it practically. What do you say? Hey, there's a bigger problem going on. I think that's the intent or the context of this question. And I think it has to do with, you know, we it's just basically monitoring the tickets and kind of, not tickets. It's not wrong, but If we're getting the same kind of request from each customer, right, then there's a broader issue where you know, it's having. So for example, I'll go back to what Rachel was saying. During the covid time. We had a few customers that came back and said, hey, we have a large influx of leads that are coming through. We need your help. She just mentioned that, right? And we had some, boom, customers that came back. What that showed is a basic product enhancement that we needed to make in the product. And so what we did is our CTO went back and adjusted the system so that we can, you know, open up the pipe if you will, and improve the overall throughput. So it allowed us to look at it because there was not only one customer. There were a few boom customers that were coming to us and saying, we need the larger scale. We need to scale our products. We need to make sure that we're able to meet our SLAs. And so we were brought up so kind of coming back to that if we see things like that. It's an again partnering with our product team and making sure our product team is aware that saying, hey, we're hearing all this stuff coming from that all hands on deck and looking at it from a product standpoint and looking at it and saying, okay, we have a broader problem that we can solve by fixing this. That's how we address it. I think it's again. It comes back to a collaboration of engineering and making sure that your engineering team. It's not 10. I think one of the things that we are getting Alex and I are working towards is having a regular meeting with engineers to show them the trends of what we're seeing and supporting. What kind of tickets was I getting? What types of tickets were getting. Why are we getting those tickets? I think proactively doing that will bring up some of these things and we'll help, you know, will help make your products better. I hope I answered that question for you.
Kay - Yeah, it definitely will be in a lot of the times that LinkedIn and some of these questions. you don't know the full context behind us, Justin, but it ties back into the voice of the customer and things that we talked about before, right? So, having a continuous dialogue and one of the things that we see our customers do is since we automatically populate, here are the top trends of issues that are happening, pop root causes of issues happening. You substantiate this with data. That's the one that we were talking about Rachel in how you're leading with data. Say you have this many interactions across like an email. And what's happened about everything that is bubbling up to bring out. There are the topics that we need to focus on from a product perspective and here are the root causes which it's happening. Some of it will become bugs. Some of it would enhance some of it. So it goes back to having that pulse of the voice of the customer.
Ravi - And I think with B2B if I can just add one more thing. He's with SAS software. We're, it's a boon for us rather than a curse because as a software vendor, we basically can, you know, add more metrics and more logging and things like that. We have a lot more insight into what the customers are doing. Then. You know, I've been on the on-prem side where customers would install and you have zero ideas of what they're doing and no idea at all with SAAS. You're able to put metrics for your point, wood products, like yourselves, and things like that. You can add additional metrics to be able to show if you're seeing commonality and common Trends. So, to your point.
Kay - I think now is a good time, you know, to shift from the product to the metric side. So Rachel, if re, you know, for any CCO who wants to lead their entire sales and support revenue operations and support operations teams Based on data. What are the top metrics, you know, we can stop with three tops, but when we can Drill Deep dive down and I'm sure that answer is going to be different at different stages? So, Ravi and Alex, we would love to get that input from you. But Rachel, let's start with you.
Rachel - Think at the top. There are three things to look at when we always sort of look at, we do a CSAT survey for our support, and how our customers feel about the experience is super important. We can also look at our g 2 review. Oohs and the fact that we get highlighted for support being a differentiator at lean data. So on, as you know, how does the customer feel about the experience, they feel they're being supported. Then the other is the Practical side of the business. Are we seeing a, you know, can we see a relationship between support issues and retention? So we do, look at churn, we do say it is a result of not dealing with issues or they're other, you know, or is it feature gaps or we wanted or that? Because we want to make sure that these issues aren't resulting. The customer leaving that, we know we're going to have issues. Right? Our software stuff's going to happen. We integrate with a bunch of different platforms. The customer does stuff that's going to happen. But you know, we hope we will throw that as a partnership, so it's really important. I think to make sure that you look at, you know, the key metrics of retention and then the third piece is the employees mean Alex and team. Amazing. There was a point where they had such. We kind of went through a sort of great state of resignation. I think somebody called it the great reshuffling, you know, you'd go up and down in terms of your Staffing or people decide to completely change careers or they moved so poor, you know, Alex was down a couple of headcounts at some point. It's super important. I think to say, hey, can your team have a decent workload, you know, because Alex ends up working around the clock too, you know, so yeah, I think you also just have to look at the metrics. Of making sure that you're taking care of your employees. So just to recap, you sat think you want to tie it and make sure that it's not resulting in ensuing or down cell or you know because that is an indicator of your success. And then looking at the team and their capacity.
Kay - Yeah, the CX metrics are all three are evolving, right? So the CX metrics that you talked about CSAT the G2 reviews. Now, people are starting to bring out the Overall sentiment of the customer's customer effort score. How long does it take for them to reach out and get the answers for what they need to get, whether it supports, or our customers' success? Right? So that portion of it, there is plenty of discussion around it. So I would love to focus on the next thing that you talk about, which is the retention part and focusing on the retention and the churn. And, then the employee experience part. So, Ravi, I would love to get your opinion on the retention part, especially around what the preacher talked about. Concerning. If we are measuring churn. I think that's the words. You used Rachel. It's gonna happen, right? So, how, what is the best way to measure churn? And to, you can take it to any level concerning, whether it is going goals that you Our customer's Sexes are training that you used for customer success. Are in terms of measurement, would just like to get your brain DB blonde in
Ravi - absolutely sojourn is a very important part, you know, and turn is not always attributed to lack of support necessary. So you have to beat down deep in terms of what's causing your charm, right? There are several things that we turn now is its ease of use the customers don't and are not using it, you know, not using the product are not able to use the product or are experiencing too many difficulties, whether it's installation, customization, whatever it might be, it's just the ease of use the bottom line, right? So there's a lever and several things that you have to look at into the churn to figure out why customers are turning. If you're trying to level too high. It could be. What customers are not adopting. So your onboarding process itself is broken, meaning, you know, from a lean data side. What we're doing is we're making sure that the customer is opening up the box. So to speak and make sure that they are using the product, right? We need to get them to use the product first. And then, basically, it's up to my team with the help of other people. It takes a village. I can tell you that it is to make sure that the customers can achieve the output that they are signed up for, right? So you have to look at the onboarding to say, okay, onboarding is the first part. You look at the saying is the customer using the That's number one metric. The next question is, are they using it? Successfully? Are they able to use them successfully? Meaning? Are they able to achieve what they're doing without? You know, what's the total cost of ownership? If I may use that word, right? mean, in terms of how much time they have to spend on a lean day? One of the feedback we get from lean data is they set it up and forget it. Now, there is another side of it about the problem, we have with that, but that's a different story. Right? But the point is, they don't have to maintain. system too much. It runs. It's easy to maintain a dozen requires heavy lifting from IPS and things like that. So, you know again effort and ease of use are the next pieces, right? And then there are other organizational challenges that people might have that might result in churn, which we have no control over. So I think one of the things that Rachel has looked at, is saying how much is an avoidable and unavoidable chart. So avoidable is what we focus on because that is something we can control. Unavoidable is our organization, things that are beyond our control that are going to cause turns. And this we have no control over. So that's how we measure churn sojourn is a, there's no one metric. I think you have to look at it. You have to slice and dice it in different ways to figure out what's causing that t n to address the problem. If you will
Kay - In one of the interesting, you know, so of the three things you mentioned, I have follow on and on all three. So let's wrap that up. So, one of the interesting parts that you mentioned is the And the outcome during the onboarding process, right? So it's freemium. I don't know if it has it, but you're familiar. You've been in the industry longer. There's people who make freemium models and then build on top of the freemi models. So it would be wonderful to understand how the outcome is measured even in a freemium model, right? So is it like, hey, kindly AKA you signed up for the product. What is it that You want to achieve with the product and that's docented and that's followed through or something else.
Ravi - Yeah, so we don't have an official premi model necessarily, but you know, just just based on what I have seen. The freemi model is basically making sure that you're in front of the customers, right? Because you can't be a model. So you have to invest a lot of money in it, to make sure that the end goal of the premi model is to convert, right? You want to convert those to a paying customer and Question is, how do we guide the customer? So once the customer downloads the product or starts using the products, what level of help can we give this customer to make sure that they're able to basically use it? And then, you know, you have to kind of nurture them to say. Hey, are you using the product? Look at it, the backend, send them, you know, information about, hey, you're not using this product. This is something we can do. You can potentially do like to wear one too many webinars as well, to kind of onboard, the customer makes sure that they're successful. With it and kind of convert that freemium model. So, that's the extent of what I know about premi model, but it's a very different model because you could have thousands of customers. And so you have to have a onetomany motion to make sure that you are nurturing those customers to get this. I mean, that's the other thing with the freemium model. It's really hard to gauge what they got. Then, why did they start using it? The product is very difficult to do?
Kay - Yeah. I'm I'm, I think I should have made it. It's not Outside of Premi, do you how do you measure outcome?
Ravi - Yeah, the outcome is basically, you know, they are implemented in production and you know, are they using their licenses? You know, they bought a certain number of licenses, right? And basically out of the gate as soon as they Implement how many licenses are they using already? And what is their plan? And you basically speak with them and kind of say what's your plan? You know, how are you doing this? And are you, are you the right trajectory? So we have adoption metrics that we look at, right? So there's a certain number of adoptions that we look for, like the first year, we want our customers to be at 80% of their licenses, for example, right? Or we want that to be the metric. So, that's how we measure it saying, you know, how are they doing in terms of what they bought from a utilization product usage standpoint? And then you basically have a conversation with the customer and say, okay, are we? Here's where you are, are you rejecting in the right way? So it's just measuring that and
Kay - That poison back into the total cost of ownership. So so Rachel, if you could give a scenarios for the avoidable and the unavoidable example, so even in an unavoidable, I can, you know, think about an example where, you know, maybe it was a smaller customer, but the management completely changed and they don't know what the product is about. It's completely unavoidable and so the need wasn't there. Anymore, whatever it may be is because of the growth. So how many strategies on mitigating avoidable was and the unavoidable in
Rachel - A great question. And I think we didn't discuss this ahead of time. But you're hitting on something that again as we see this a great reshuffle and going on, that loss of that point of contact has definitely been something that's been on the rise that we have to get, you know, ahead of and, you know, recognizing if somebody new comes in through the Or team. We're going to need to jp on that. Right. We need to get them educated. We need to make sure they understand the why behind their company purchasing and Ravi's actually been working on up leveling our Playbook around, you know, that shift when we get a new stakeholder in. So I think that is absolutely critical and I think something that all SAAS companies kind of struggle with, and we consider that your right to be an unavoidable. We consider there might be product feature gaps that we put into the product category that we say. We should have been on top of this if we did lose customers and I tend to kind of look at it over a course of time, not quarter quarter, but let's look at it over the course of a year. We had a couple of customers leave because we didn't have a certain feature. We would consider that to be maybe something that was unavoidable because we didn't sense the need for that. Yeah, or you know, we hate to lose the competition. We feel like that should be unavoidable quite honestly K like no. No, that's not, that's not great for whatever reason. But You know, I'm sorry. Hmm, me a sec.
Kay - So we're doing this. First of all, you're just getting out of covid. I appreciate you so much.
Rachel - Yeah, sorry about that. Audience and pretty as I sometimes. I'm still testing positive, but I feel great. I don't know. It's probably going to test positive for another week, but they had. Thanks, you know, I think it's just, it's super important to, you know, to be tracking and figuring out what that looks like for your organization because You know, again, I think it's over time or I kind of look at those patterns and and see what we might call is as unavoidable. I'm pretty harsh actually, in the way that I assess it. I pretty much only consider a merger and acquisition or they're not using Salesforce anymore. He's nodding his head because he knows I'm super harsh like everything else. I expect we're going to be able to keep these customers. But yeah, working back from that, you know, super important. I think, you know, I want to bring up a point. About some of the support. I really think we're at a very interesting time when everything is so digital right. People are remote. Support is really becoming a much more strategic organization. Like I think Alex is feeling it. It's becoming so much of the Hub because when customers that I have a problem, I need help. They come to support the team. It's not just a crisis of technical issues. It's hey, I just, you know, I need help and it's really Only thinking about how you, you know, set up the team to be able to respond whether that's okay. I can see this person needs help. You know what, they're not certified data users. I really need to make sure that we flag them and get them certified because we need to be able to get them up skilled. So I think we're thinking more strategically about how we get customers into the training, the certification, make awareness of the health center and really bring the community together. Or hey, we see you're trying to move to this new go to market model. We have another customer doing it. That's already done, you want to talk to them. So I think really having that strategic mindset and you know, that's I think as we move forward, being able to put that front and center to the support team is something we need to think about because it requires a lot of data and analytics. And I know there's new capabilities out there that can help us to empower the team to put them on, you know, more of like, hey, let me help be. Savannah recommends versus, just troubleshooting and salt.
Kay - Yeah. Support has definitely become the center. It was interesting. I was talking to a CFO of a customer and he was saying how gone from the days that it was a cost center. Now. It's like especially in covid. Everybody recognized, we are all doing remote, but the people who are talking to the customers are the support beam for. Yes, so it does really become and there is a lot of interest in harvesting the data and bringing out the patterns and helping with the employee experience. Ravi. I think you have a thought to axonal,
Ravi - Just wanted to double back on what Rachel was saying. And I wanted to see if this has been a trend going on. For some time. We're a custom. A company is measured about how much Self Service you have. Right? So, you know when a customer is evaluating your products, they also see how much knowledge is out there. So the first thing you would do is when you're evaluating the customer, this is a customer way back. When telling me this, The first thing I did is I went to Google and I typed an error and saw if I was able to find that information on my own. And so, to Rachel's Point, support is available. I think the self, the whole area of knowledge based on self help and making sure the customer is able to self help customers don't want to talk to support when they're having issues, and I'm saying that in a good way, if they're able to find it on their own. They're more than happy to find it. So the challenge for us is to be able to identify. What is the type of information that we need to provide to our customers more in a more proactive manner, whether it's to our knowledge Center or whether we are basically approaching them saying, hey, do you know you're having an issue? So that's where the most supported model is evolving. And I know that's where you guys are as well. And so that's why I'm trying to bring this
Kay - It's interesting. That's why we call it an interaction, right? A and, , customer. Going in and looking on a website for a training or a help video or even getting an answer for a question. That's still an interaction, even though they are not talking to a hand and what can we learn from? Even that interaction to say, hey did we surface them? The right type of knowledge, if they do it the first time and when they want that information, can we give it to them? The first time? Can that new piece of knowledge? Should that piece of knowledge? Be improved? How many more customers as it served or has it not served it all goes. To that knowledge, intelligence aspect. And I really wanted to touch on the employee experience Alex, but the topic is moving towards the data aspects of, maybe we do the data aspect and then we come into the employee experience aspect. It brings back to how do you know there's a lot of discussions around understanding all of these interactions and understanding the customer sentiment. And bubbling that up. Could you Rachel, could you tie that into, how many of those can be utilized to us as business impact or severity?
Rachel - not sure, I understand that
Kay - you can use all of these interactions and use of the data to bring out escalations you touched on it right in bring it out. So if you can relate a couple of scenarios in which it can be utilized to bring out. They severity that, you know, they are an escalation that's going to happen and being proactive about it, right?
Rachel - Yeah. I think we when we do start to see a product issue. We do have a, you know, a process that we can follow to flag it and to maybe identify other customers that might have that issue and Alice can speak specifically to that process to where we can monitor. There's a couple of fronts that can Happen. It. Usually I think as we think about as we roll out, a lot of features, we have a lot of releases and we do that in waves, if we see an issue, starting to happen to be able to get in front of that, if it's something, that's not new that starts to impact certain customers who have certain setups. So that's one way. We kind of get, get ahead of it. Yeah, in terms of that escalation. I don't know. Alex, if you want to talk little bit about what you have in place with the dev team,
Kay - The advice back into the You know, the on premise was assessed to write, sort of time to Market so fast that brings out. So Alex, if you could tie that in what Rachel said and type that into the employee experience? That would be great. I'm just being mindful of the time even though we are trying to introduce all the social media links in the topics, please. Yeah,
Alex - no problem. Well as Ravi said in SAS, it's much easier to remotely monitor what the customer is doing. Is leveraging your solutions for right and from a support perspective in terms of monitoring escalations. It's keeping a pulse on what sort of issues were seeing how frequently they're occurring and what types of subject matter those tickets that are coming in from these. Customers are concerned if we see a trend where a certain question is being asked more than once will surface that to our CSM because this might be an indicator that this customer was not properly in a Old or is having trouble getting the hang of our system. And we don't want that. Of course. We want to escalate that and make sure they get what they need from a wider product operation perspective. It's also keeping an eye out for critical operations that are ongoing and may be affected by issues that come up. So like, for example, our Dev team, we have monitoring alerts configured that will let us know remotely in a customer org, whenever a critical piece of functionality in our product Suite is not working as optimized or as intended and what we'll do actually to bring out an escalation. So to speak, before the customers are They are deaf. He monitors that and creates an action item for our team. The support team follows up and reaches out to the customer proactively so we can get in front of them and say, hey look, are you aware that you have this issue going on? No worries because here's how you resolve it and we'll walk them and guide them through it to a happy resolution. So I think it's a few things that tie back together, but the greater visibility and SAS is definitely a big boost in these interactions including
Rachel - They just just to add a comment too. I think you know, we do have all that visibility. We also have you know, we track and look at customer health. And one of the dimensions of customer health is when they do not upgrade in SAS where they start lagging behind analysis, like, oh boy. This customer is like a couple releases behind so That's also an indicator. You want to get proactive Robbie and team working to make sure that all those do not upgrade or laggards who are hesitant or just you're too busy to, you know, kind of do that up. Grade path. I think it's another one that we kind of look at and it's a flag. I mean obviously they get too far behind in terms of all of the improvements. We made it. We know we're going to see issues. So it's one that's another use case, but
Ravi - Ellis is also adding one more thing that you know as software vendors. You have to look at it from a customer's point of view. You customers are dealing with all three million vendors and I'm just saying that. And so they are getting alerts from Linda. They're getting alerts from Salesforce. They're getting me, you know, they're, you know, the themes there who are supporting all these systems and business systems, you know, they have to prioritize as well.
So I think sometimes how we work with our customers, how we alert them, make sure that they're not overwhelmed, you know, we have to keep that in mind that we are not the only vendor they're dealing with and so therefore I think keeping that in mind. I always keep that in mind because you have to look at it from that perspective because I was getting bombarded by all these vendors. I'm going to prioritize, right? So something that is something that we have to keep in mind in terms of how we communicate with customers when we communicate, you know, we're just not bothering them every single time, you know, and when there's a fire, there's a fire. It's not like, oh my God, there's a fire. There's no fire at all from their perspective. It's not a fire for us. It's a fire, right? So you have to kind of be
Kay - absolute. Play. Alex, what brought you know, what you mentioned is we call it the three, right? So within a customer environment, they are having a problem mr. Customer. It looks like you're having this issue. Let me help you solve the issue even before they reach out to us, right? So that's the scenario. You talked about it. It's fascinating, it brings up an interesting story. We call that forest what we were talking about, looking at the month, all the customer trees and looking At the scenario as a whole, we call that before. That's the forest and this is the trees in the tree scenario as the support leader. The other, they mentioned to me, we do the three scenarios. So well, our customers don't even know that. We are solving all these problems for them. They think we don't know, but they were charging a preemie support and they didn't know what they are getting for the Premi support selfie started, selling and sending the newsletters on what all we did behind that back. So when they were really sleeping, if you could elude, you know, actually add anything to it, it would be great to hear.
Alex - Yeah. So basically the question is like what do we do Beyond those proactive measures that we discussed? I think we talked about the proactive measures from a tree perspective. Is there anything from a forest perspective? Well, I think it's kind of taking a look at each individual tree as It kind of grows and Sprouts, you know, you have to analyze what exactly the subject matter is of that. Are you seeing a lot of trees centered around product knowledge gaps? Like, is it around training? Or are you seeing a lot of trees around user areas and misconfigurations in the product? Something that maybe the customer is not fully comfortable yet. It's taking all of those, I guess, individual trees and grouping them together to really see what Composition of your Forest is to get a better understanding of how to approach. It had a garden, and it maintained it. You have to really understand the specific requests and the type of request coming up. So you can best formulate a strategy to address those concisely and precisely for our customers. It makes a customer support role itself, you know, a role where you're carrying the ball. All and you're going above EQ and beyond, and there is lot of along with IQ skills, and it's, you know, it's one of the reasons we're actually seeing some teachers moving into serious roles and they are extremely successful
Because of that, what kind of training do you offer for people to deal with very difficult conversations and difficult scenarios?
Alex - Yeah, so It's a few things first and foremost, the training that we offer to our support agents to get comfortable with that. Is D, escalation tactics, right? Like Rachel said, earlier, its software things are going to happen. Things are going to blow up eventually, right, but you have to be ready for when that does happen. And when a customer is upset and frustrated with an issue that they gauge is severe and critical, even if that's not the actual understanding from the support team in terms of product knowledge, Maybe it's not that severe in terms of how to fix it. But it feels like a major issue to the customer. You have to be ready to empathize with their needs, understand their needs, but also be able to address them in a way where you understand their concern but still move them forward. Saudi escalation tactics are really important to us. If there's a customer that's frustrated inventing to you, you have to be able to have the Savvy to say listen. I understand your frustration and I'm here to help. Here's what we're going to do, too. You resolved, right? Saudi escalation tactics first and foremost. Secondly, it's triage skills, right? So you have to make sure that your employees for troubleshooting are fully well versed on how to troubleshoot the product, and how to look into specific pieces of features. At the same time. They have to also be aware of when the threshold is to escalate an issue to the dev team or the product team to get further assistance on it. So training towards the escalation tactics and triage skills and you know in tandem critical thinking skills to determine when it's time to move it to the next level are our three most important things. One other thing that I will say is important in training is getting the motion down where a support agent can gather as much information about the issue as possible. Prior to jumping on a call with a customer. Right? You never want to jump on a call with a customer half-cocked or half prepared. That is not going to be a good customer experience and they will see that you know, they're going to see that you're not ready for this, right? You have to be sure that your agents know how to collect the necessary data to at least initially triage or understand the issue context, prior to engaging with a further conversation with the customer. So those really those four things are the Most important things we train on,
Kay - makes a lot of sense that the data can help with respect to Bringing out the right or, You know, technology can help with bringing in the right set of data. Nber one, nber two is we focus a lot about the root cause category because like you said, if I assign our triage it in a wrong place than a wrong person at the wrong skill, set is working on the problem and until they identify, it's not their area, and then you're moving. on to the next person and the next person so that level of looking into where is the core root cause category, we actually go to the subgroup cost to but root cause category is very critical and then so if the technology can help with that, then the support agent can actually work in empathizing with the customer bringing out the critical thinking and the problem solving ability that is required is . Robbie do You think the same thing is true with a see if it's a serious organization where they are balancing the answering the question, along with net revenue.
Ravi - First of all, I totally believe in transparent communication with customers. You have to let the customers know what the truth is, right? That's not hiding behind the trees. If I may call it that way, you have to kind of go out. If it's bad news. Tell them the bad news, if it's good. Obviously, you want to call them, but if it's, you know, transparency is very key. So, going back to what Alex was saying, it applies Cs and general customer communication. When you're talking about, I mean, CS is more of a proactive support site, if you will. And, you know, Alex, unfortunately, sometimes is more reactive than proactive just because of the nature of the issue, right?
But at the end of the day, customers need to know. We have to be transparent with the customers. The other thing that is very critical is it's a white box approach. Which means the customer needs to know customers. Sometimes they are not worried about or don't get annoyed by the ladle resolution, but they get annoyed because they don't know how you're resolving the issue. Now, the typical answer is I'm working on it. This is typical support of the people in the audience who have been in support. You will know what I'm saying. When I say I'm working on it and the customer gets very annoyed, right? Because like what are you working on? Because I have no idea what you're doing, right? And so coming out and telling them exactly. Atlee how we're going to approach the issue, but the investigation is they want to know the root cause now and sometimes you're not able to find the root cause,
right? I'll give you an example from way back when in my previous experience. It was a Black Friday. There was a retailer called me at 5 p.m. On a Thursday Thanksgiving. And basically, I got on a call, there were 30 people on the call and they basically said, hey, we can do Black Friday sales tomorrow. If you can't solve this issue. It was their issue and we left after a couple of hours. I had to basically tell him I said, look, here's the work around. If you want to go operational tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. 5:00 a.m. In the morning. This is the work around. We're not going to be able to solve the root cause because the root cause is actually very, very deep and you're not going to be able to solve it. So, let's pick our battle here, right? And fortunately, they heard me. And, you know, we were able to move forward. So the point I'm trying to make is that level of transparency. And once I feel like,
once they know how we're going to solve the issue. They will partner with you because now they are part of the solution, right? They'll work with us. But if you just keep asking them, one question after another then like, okay, where are you leading to this? Right? What are you doing? Right? So that's the key. So going back to answer your question. Yes, it's
applies to CS as well and specifically when you're having at risk customers, you're handling at risk. Customers or your, you know, customers are not happy about a certain feature that they expected things like that. This happens in CS v as well, and it happens as well, but the key thing is just transparency. I think honest and transparent communication always works.
Kay - I love it because what I'm seeing is the Synergy between customer support and customer success just in the two answers. So Alex brought up needing to have the problem solving
skills and you're bringing up the need to even explain the problem solving skills. Instead of just saying it's and being transparent about it, love that. We are. I just got a note from the teams. We are six minutes in and there is a question that keeps bubbling up in social media. I wanted to bring that up and start to wind down. Rachel. This is for you. How do I ensure my organization is adequately recognized as bad? Brandon the case that I didn't hear and Advocates Advocates, how do you recognize the poor? Advocacy, attractors, brand Advocates? Maybe this poor detractors, or maybe it is positive. I tried to attract. Sighs. I don't know. Maybe take in both.
Rachel - Yeah, so I from a lean data perspective. Well first, I will start off by I think that as we get more digital as we get smarter than able to serve up answers digitally and believe me. No one wants to have to get on and make a phone call or talk to a support person if they don't have to. I think we have a huge opportunity to actually create raving fans with our support. actions because the Han by the time they get to a han these days, it's rarer and rarer. So if you do have the opportunity to work with somebody, even if that is a huge escalation, it's an opportunity to build a relationship to be there for them. And to nurture those raving fans. I think where we get the tractors is where we miss when we really should be in there, when it is a huge problem for the client and that from their perspective, right? As Robbie said, really thinking about And really coming in and rallying. As you were talking earlier, it reminded me. I worked at Cisco for many years and we had some of the top companies in the world that, you know, their whole business, relied on Cisco. Like Robbie was saying in his example, we had a Black Ops Team in support who would fly in within hours to get to that customer site to Rally to fix problems, and they were called the network. And they would descend on that customer there. Be like 25 people to fix the problem for the likes of these big, you know, Fortune, 50 companies, but those are opportunities. Yes. We had a crisis. I mean, you know, imagine the New York Stock Exchange ran on Cisco, you know, like the gravity of the situation, if it were, if the network
goes down but that kind of rally of support and being there, just creates an advocacy and a sort of, you know, the customer. Up, that is far beyond anything, you can deliver elsewhere. So I say think about your support team. It's an opportunity to create raving fans and Advocates by being there with them when they need you most.
Kay - Yeah, thank you. Thank you. I always loved three minutes. We have to stop the conversation, but I'm thinking, oh my gosh, we have so much more to cover in this conversation is really amazing. That's a wonderful way to do an event like this. It's awesome. Thank you. Thanks, Alex. Thanks, Ravi. Thanks Rachel for your insight into it. I know us in those hiring and I know Linda is hiring. So, post your links for customer support, customer success leadership, roles, and I think it will be wonderful. When we talk about difficult scenarios and difficult conversations. This happened 25 years ago. So I can actually say that we had the largest data center from my son. Microsystems was right in Palo Alto and it was running everything from Marilyn Salomon Smith, Barney, a lot of those companies. Yeah. So a lot of that data and the data center guy walks in, I was actually in the data center for whatever reason, the data center guy got oxen and there is this red thing that says it's closed. Do not open. He opened it and he switched off the entire data center. And I still remember he sat down right there. He realized the mistake and he was sobbing and crying. We came out of that beautifully because the big rally behind just like how you are rallying behind, that's covid and everything. So we do get into some avoidable, some unavoidable scenarios with customers. It's a matter of how well we manage and as a matter of how we will come out of it and still keep the relationship strong? , so thank you guys for your input. Thank you for your Insight. Anything last minute before we switch off the light, but stay on the skull. Anything else.
Thank you guys.
Thank you for having us today. K a good discussion. Thank you for having us. Absolutely absolutely can.
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