Q&A with Customer Support Leaders from both B2B and B2C companies. Hear their perspective on challenges, opportunities and best-practices in setting up a world-class support organization.
The podcast is meant for CEOs, Chief Customer Officers, Support Leaders, Support Engineers and even vendors who sell into support.
Your host is Sandeep Jain.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. More info: https://CustomerSupportPodcast.com
Episode 24: (B2B) Abhay Solapurkar, VP Global Success & Support, SkyHigh Networks (McAfee)
SkyHigh Networks (Acquired by McAfee) is a CASB vendor serving roughly 600 customers (Fortune 1000 and enterprises)
Tierless support organization
Roughly 70 engineers worldwide organized in pods of technology excellence. Overall McAfee has 800+ Tech Support professionals
Support team sits with engineering and cloud ops
Customer Success Managers do consultative work (not comped on renewal)
Big shift in Support has come due to “Cloudification”
Important to focus on overall customer experience rather than on an individual metric like first response time etc.
Robust certification process for new employees
Technology stack - Consolidated with Salesforce, Financial force (professional services), tight integration with JIRA, Inquira (Knowledge Management), Exploring Chatbots (Aisera - doing pilot on consumer side for how-to cases).
Support app for customers
Incoming cases - 98% (email and web), 2% (phone)
How-to/Break-Fix Split - For on-prem (30/70), cloud (10/90)
Recommended Read - Good to Great by Jim Collins
Episode 23: (B2B) Joshua Lory, Sr. Dir. Product Marketing, Global Services, VMware
Josh is Sr Director Product Marketing, Global Services, VMware
VMware has ~500K customers & partners around the globe.
Support is seen as competitive differentiator and growth engine for VMware and that's how they decided to run Support like product team
Org structure -- Roughly 2500 folks reporting into Chief Customer Officer (Scott). 3 teams — Support (Global Support Services), Digital Services (Product + Engg + Marketing), Customer Advocacy.
Technology Stack -- Salesforce (Ticketing, Knowledge Base), IBM Watson for Machine Learning/AI, Coveo for Search
Two internally built products -- Skyline and SupportHub
Skyline -- uses telemetry information coming out of VMware products to alert customers /partners about known issues in KB, security vulnerabilities, configuration best practices etc.
Roughly 7500 customers on the service, adding roughly 1000 customers every month. Average # of tickets being filed are going down
Skyline is included in support subscription and not priced separately
SupportHub — Integrated with ticketing system. Simplifies filing experience and reduces customer effort.
AI-powered support experience e.g., routing to best engineer.
Announced at VM World 2019 in partnership with IBM Watson.
Beta with top customers.
Releasing to more customers throughout 2020.
Vast majority of tickets come from web (myvmware) / Twitter support as well (integrated with Salesforce)
Metrics: NPS (51 for Vmware, Average is around 21), CSAT, Customer Effort
Recommend listen - Delta CEO Ed Bestian keynote at CES on how they used fit bits to understand customer journey
Resources — The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Crucial Conversations
Episode 22: (B2B) Ekaterina Syromyatnikova, Director Support, Wrike
Wrike provides a SaaS platform work management — project management and collaboration
Customers are small business to enterprise level. 20K+ across 130 countries. Freemium model
60+ people in support team across Eastern Europe. Two tiered support. Majority in Tier-1. Support Ops and Documentation team part of overall support team as well
Several thousand tickets per month across email, web, live chat (paid customers only) and phone
Incoming cases — 10-15% product issues. Rest how-to cases
Support tool stack: Zendesk, Guru (internal knowledge), Wrike (task management)
Friction points in Support: Integration of different customer facing systems e.g., last conversation with CSM, sales conversations etc.,
Priority for coming year - Premium support for enterprise customers / Self-service to all (agent chat is available to certain customers only today
Metrics — First Response Time (FRT), Time to Resolution, Quality of response (Customer Effort Score). Used to measure CSAT earlier — response rate was good but lacked in meaningful insights
Things to note — Support is not outsourced, opportunities for horizontal growth for support engineers
Books — Effortless Experience (Matthew Dickson, Nick Toman), Radical Candor (Kim Scott), Why its so hard to be fair (HBR).
Episode 21: (B2B) Adam Rypinski, Sr. Dir. Digital Experience & Automation, Juniper Networks
"Single pane of glass for simplistic support is missing"
Adam’s team is responsible for support operations
Customers — Traditionally sold products to Service Providers but now sell to a lot of enterprises globally
Support Organization— Primary JTAC (Juniper Technical Assistance Center) — outsourced Level-1 support , Advanced TAC (Level-2/3 Support), Advanced Services, Resident Engineers, Named Engineer(s), Customer Care for administrative support, Customer Success (just starting). Teams are primarily global. Roughly 1200 people. Tier-1 /outsourced is roughly ~500.
Support Tech stack — Moving over to Salesforce ServiceCloud (ticketing, community). Search is Coveo. Believe in Buy (vs build). Mobile App is desired by missing
Incoming tickets — 75%+ over web, no email
Case deflection — Roughly 80% cases closed by Tier-1
Self-service — current channels requires effort and time on part of customer. Single pane of glass for support is missing
Chatbots — Trying out Salesforce bot for transactional support (update on case, re-send welcome email letter for subscriptions etc.)
AI/ML — lot of technologies (including open source) out there. Planning to use chatbot for transactional queries.
Metrics — MTTR is #1 target. Efficiency for internal Support as well
Support has changed dramatically over years — people want answers and solutions lot faster. Support channel is now mobile
Resources — Customer Success by Nick Mehta, Start with Why by Simon Sinek, Look at More by Andy Stefanovich
Episode 20: (B2B) Patty Hatter, SVP Global Customer Services, Palo Alto Networks
Key metric for Services organization (from a SaaS perspective) is Renewal
Patty leads Global Services Organization — Support, Professional Services and Success
Palo Alto is going through a huge transformation from a hardware company to more of a SaaS company. Partners going through transformation as well
Huge focus on direct education to customers and even educating partners
SaaS changes entire customer journey from pre-sales to post-sales — handoff is even more critical
Clear customer journey map is needed to do this handoff properly
Self-service and machine learning are big themes in services
We need to take “outside-in” view of our customers
Need to stitch together experience across all teams (support, success and professional services) in a seamless way
Key Metrics — renewal
Suggested resources — Everything Reid Hoffman :)
Episode 19: (B2B) David Tirazona, Vice President Global Support Operations, Netskope
“When a customer files a ticket, there is a fault in your product or training”
Netskope customers are across different verticals — government, financial services, healthcare, retail, tech
All support is provided directly by the company; no channel support
Global support with 3 centers - Bangalore, Santa Clara, London
Support team has two main components — Support and Small tools/infrastructure ops team
(roughly 60 people). Customer success is a different team.
Case volume — 1500/1600 (includes support pre-sales as well). 90%+ is over email/web. Phone is very less.
Cases are split following way — 55% How-tos, 45% Break-fix
Tool stack - centered around Zendesk (customer portal, knowledge)
Priority for 2020 — contact center (five9 etc.), messaging/chat, mobile app. Essentially any tech that elevates customer experience
Focus on simplicity, usability and supportability
What would you do differently if you were to rewind the clock — invest more in self-service and mobile experience
Knowledge — Support team writes articles but goes for review through technical documents. Right now knowledge is text-based, some micro-videos
Metrics — Northstar metrics are First Response Time, Resolution Time, Break-fix issue containment (vs going to Engg), agent productivity
Agent Productivity — measure # of issues closed per week/month along with CSAT
Netskope has Product Experience Engineering Team — very small team that focuses on this aspect
Zendesk categories (products/class of issues) etc. are currently selected by a drop-down menu; would be good to have that automated
Differentiating factor in SaaS is not the product but the kind of support you provide to your customers
Resources — Radical Candor, Good to Great, Leadership Pipeline, Can’t Hurt Me. Podcasts — a16z, masters of scale
Love this podcast, has great insights. One thing that would be great is to have Twitter info for this podcast and their guests. Is there somewhere this is posted?
Great insights about Customer Support!
Insightful conversations with industry leaders managing and scaling customer support teams. The interviews flow really well, and each episode explores meaningful topics of interest to CEOs, Chief Customer Officers, support leaders or engineers - anyone looking for tips, best practices, or new perspectives on setting up a support organization. You’ll also like this if you’re a vendor selling into support!
Love that the episodes touch on tech stack, org structures, and the relationship between customer support and customer success. And good job with the show notes in the episode description, that’s super helpful.
Keep it up, Sandeep!