By Sandeep Jain

This podcast will have Q&A with Customer Support Leaders in both B2B and B2C companies. It is meant for CEOs, support leaders, support engineers and vendors who sell into support to better understand challenges, opportunities and best-practices of world-class support organizations.

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57 mins
Episode 9: (B2B/B2C) Rick Gianvecchio, VP Customer Support, Okta

Jun 4, 2019

Key Insights

  • "Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking that they will call Support".
  • Why email is not a great channel for support (a consistent message that I hear from all my guests).
  • Okta is a unique B2B company in that they are actively looking at social media for understanding and resolving issues reported by customers.
  • 70% tickets get closed by Level-1 support, 15% by Level-2 and rest by Level-3 (most sophisticated).
  • Best way to make a case go away is to push information upstream (towards customer) so that the case would not need to ne filed. Requires combing and understanding patterns in data. This "personalization of support" is what will be the bedrock for next-gen customer support. 
  • Related themes around case tagging/categorization and case routing (Rick mentioned that if a customer had a great experience with an agent before, it might make sense to direct the customer to the same agent even if the agent may not be the person to solve the case; at least they will take it to completion). 
  • Encourage agents to document solutions through Knowledge Creation Program.
  • Technology stack optimized around Salesforce.
  • Frequency of customer engagements is so high that Support needs to be seen as  extension of the product team.

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57 mins
Episode 8: (B2B) Eran Ashkenazi, SVP Global Customer Support, SentinelOne

May 24, 2019

Key Insights

o SentinelOne has ~2500 customers (globally) which includes both Fortune 100 customers and small businesses. SentinelOne is also part-SaaS, part-hardware. All this puts a unique challenge on customer support different language support, 24x7 phone service, customers coming through channel (distributors/MSPs) etc.

o Technology stack standardized on Zendesk. Call center is TalkDesk. Search is Zendesk but could be better. Salesforce is the system of truth (CRM) and there is a desire to standardize around that.

o A good part of our conversation was dedicated to challenges in getting the tools to work with each other specifically Zendesk to Salesforce and how customer success requires yet another bolt-on. Queries coming through channel has unique challenges as well (understanding full customer context, making sure that issue context is transferred from partner to vendor etc.)

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57 mins
Episode 7: (B2B) Marlene Summers, VP Customer Support & Community, Zuora

May 3, 2019

 Key Insights

o Team follows the operation principle of PADRE - Pipeline, Acquire, Deploy, Run, Expand. Covered here in detail. 

o Technology Stack

Ticketing, Voice, Portal - Zendesk

Knowledge Management - Mindtouch

Online community - Lithium

Search - Solvvy, SearchUInify

Agent Training - Skilljar

o Marlene is currently focusing on following initiatives:

- optimizing Agent training and on-boarding

- understanding the persona of the person calling

- auto case routing (speed + accuracy = customer experience)

o Favorite business books:

Subscribed, Tien Tzuo

Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech, Pratima Rao Gluckman

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34 mins
Episode 6: (B2B) David Rubinstein, VP Customer Success & Strategy, Reps.AI

Apr 26, 2019

Key Insights

o David introduced terminology Rep-first and Rep-experience i.e., Focus on hiring and creating the best experience for agents in terms of giving them full knowledge about your product (especially the bad stuff).

o Dont mix commercial aspects (renewal, upsell) into customer success. Just let them focus on on-boarding, adoption and value add. 

o Tools Completely on Zendesk stack. For data insights, use Zendesk Insights and Google Data Studio.

o Chatbots not ready yet for primetime even for B2C.

o Metrics David said something very interesting here. I tell my agents that dont think about the queue, its my problem. You focus on quality and answering right and answering good. In summary, David measures himself on request-to-wait and his agents on CSAT, and one-touch resolution.  

o NPS hit or a miss because customer is not necessarily rating just the support. David uses NPS, CSAT and monthly interviews with customers to get a pulse of his customer base.

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50 mins
Episode 5: (B2B) Nir Galpaz, VP Technical Services & Support, Blue Jeans Network

Apr 2, 2019

Key Insights

o Hardware vs SaaS support Risk is shifted to the vendor in SaaS world. This is both good and bad. Good because support is now being seen as part of the overall product offering and consequently support organizations now have a stronger voice internally. Bad thing is that if you lose a customer, its on you :)

o Future of Support Exception Center and not a Contact Center.

o No email support they are 2x/3x more inefficient in terms of solving the case as compared to web/chat-based cases. Why inefficient? 1/ Emails usually do not contain full context to solve the case. 2/ Email dont offer real-time communication (like chat)

o Roughly 20% cases come over phone and rest over chat and web. 

o First B2B organization (that at least I heard of) that is moving from inbound calls to outbound call i.e., customers request online to be called back at a certain time. Nir brought up that the biggest advantage in this approach is that when they make the call they already know about who the customer is and their entire context which helps them solve problems faster.

o Tool stack Consolidating around Salesforce (CRM, KnowledgeBase,Search). RingCentral for Contact Center. They also plan to launch chatbots by end of this year. 

o Favorite Business Book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People / The 7 Habits for Mangers By Stephen R. Covey

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44 mins
Episode 4: (B2B) Caeli Collins, VP Customer Success & Support Panzura

Mar 19, 2019

Key Insights

o First, no relation to our previous guest :)

o Their attrition is super low ~2% (TSIA says average is about 15%). They have built a collaborative culture in support e.g., Level 3 people do not own cases, they just help other folks close theirs.

o Panzura NPS is 82! Average for tech industry is around 21. One of th

o One interesting metric that Caeli does NOT keep track of is time-to-close. She explains why in the podcast. Caeli also keeps track of this unique metric (which I havent heard before but it actually makes lot of sense) number of tickets escalated to engg.

o Support Tools Salesforce for everything. 

o Caeli mentioned that search continues to be broken. Google search appliance (now EoL) was cheap and easy to setup and it worked. Current solutions are opposite.

o They build lot of tools/scripts internally around product health specially data warehouse that stores all the logs pertaining to a given case.

o Favorite business book In search of Excellence by Tom Peters, and, Grit by Angela Duckworth. 

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40 mins
Episode 3: (B2B) Greg Collins, Ex-Chief Customer Officer Salesloft, Ex-VP Support Zendesk

Mar 12, 2019

Key Insights

o Greg introduced the concept of "People-first Revenue Generation"  i.e., put People above Process and Technology.

o 5 Metrics that Support leaders should keep track of:

CSAT - Customer Satisfaction

FRT - First Reply Time

Requestor wait time 

Agent Turnover 

Agent satisfaction (Not EPS Employee Promoter Score).

o Option Bots vs Answer Bots

o Support Challenge --   Companies continue to look at support as a cog which doesn't make sense in a recurring revenue/empowered consumer market. 

o Focus on empowering both customers and agents vs ticket deflection different intent and will likely have different results. 

o Tiered support  will tend to create culture of competition. You need to watch out for that. Instead create culture of collaboration serve the person in front of you i.e., Level 3 coaches Level 2 and so on.

o Customer Experience vs Support Experience 

o Favorite Business Book The Service Culture Handbook by Jeff Toister.

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48 mins
Episode 2: (B2B) James Sung, VP Global Support, Netskope

Mar 7, 2019

Key Insights

o Hiring tips from James that I found to be really unique:

1. Good balance between senior/junior engineers (preferred ratio 2:1). Junior engineers usually turn out better than experienced folks.2

2. Dont just look for EE/CS majors. James has successfully hired even bio/physics/maths majors who are also interested in technology 

3. Focus on hiring folks from outside the area (such folks will invest heavily in building a culture of assimilation)

o One thing that got my attention is that their attrition is 3%. TSIA says attrition in support is usually around 15% . James shared that they have taken following steps (specifically in their India support team) to control attrition: 1/ Invest in growing support engineers technically 2/ Hiring strong managers 3/ Offer slightly better than market rate.

o Split Customer Success team based on Customer ACV and their ability/interest in being advocates (this seemed a unique segmentation choice). Top bracket customers enjoy 1:10 or 1:20 (CSM/Customer) ratio. For other brackets, ratio is higher. Earlier they started with 1:50 ratio for everyone and that didn't scale.

o Tool stack: Zendesk (CRM/Knowledge Management), Ring Central (Contact Center)

o James says that NPS is the most important customer metric you can measure

o Favorite business book for James: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

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35 mins
Episode 1: (B2B) Parag Kulkarni, VP SaaS Engineering, Nutanix

Feb 22, 2019

Key Insights:

o Nutanix NPS is ~90. For B2B Technology companies, average hovers around 30. Clearly, Nutanix is doing something unique.

o The team that provides technology tools for Support sits within Engineering rather than in IT/Support. I thought this was super clever -- that way head count of the team will come from Engg budget rather than IT budget (Engg budget > IT budget). Also, that way support tools team is sitting closely with engineering allowing them to better align with the product.

o They have built on top of existing support tools (e.g, Salesforce ServiceCloud) to provide unique experiences for their customers e.g., with more than 50% of their machines sending data back to them, they can generate "cross-customer" insights  to do proactive support.

o Parag's favorite book: Measure What Matters, John Doerr,