Today I am going to interview an exceptional person that is going to teach me about customer service success. He currently works remotely for Syndigo, a tech company based in Chicago, but he has more than ten years of experience working in this role for other companies. He is passionate about his work, and he is one of the kindest and most responsible persons I have ever met. He is Steven Rose, my husband.
Eliana: Steve, thank you very much for this time. Please, tell me more about your job. What does Syndigo do, what is your position in the company, and what are your daily responsibilities?
Steve: It's my pleasure, amor! We are a company that helps other companies sell, manage, and collect data for products online. When a company has thousands of products, it becomes overwhelming to try and track all of them, and that's where we come in.
Eliana: Why is this particular role important to the overall health and success of the business?
Steve: You can think of me as a first responder paramedic in tech. In technology, things are going to go wrong at some point, and the client needs immediate first aid to stabilize the situation, accurately assess the damage, and determine the resources needed to address the problem. Sometimes fixes are simple, and I can do right away with my own skills. Sometimes situations require an intensive and time-consuming deep-dive from a team of engineers. Regardless the client knows they can reliably have me as a guide to lean on walking them through every step of high tension moments.
My number one responsibility is to be as responsive as possible. If someone calls an ambulance, they don't want to wait for 48 hours for it to show up. In my role, I deal with high paying clients that depend on our services, and they want to feel like if they reach out for help, I am there within moments. You would be amazed at how much responsiveness and the ability to confidently guide will turn high tension moments into high trusting long term relationships.
Eliana: When you are working at home, I notice that sometimes you have Zoom meetings with co-workers. How often do you have to check on a new worker's performance, and how frequently do you receive instructions from your supervisors?
Steve: We have a weekly meeting that is not mandatory, but suggested and everything else is ad hoc. I have been part of "meeting" culture companies and I can say without a doubt that I get 25% more work remote than in the office, and 2x more work done scheduling as few meetings as possible. Meetings should be used more for building relationships; for us, that can mean venting, clearing the air if we have any issues with anyone, sharing what we are excited for (even if it's not work-related) etc. I, for sure think that there is a time to do that, and having a meeting with a loose agenda is that time and should be prioritized. Any other meeting is when for some reason, Slack, emails, screenshots, videos, etc just aren't communicating what I am trying to say. It's not bad when that happens, but I always try to keep things in writing since it's easier to reference.
Along with that, once I started working with people who don't speak the same language, live talking actually make me walk of meetings more confused than before.
Eliana: What kind of hard skills are necessary or useful for this role?
Steve: Writing simply with all the information needed.
Eliana: What is the hardest part of your job?
Steve: The hardest times are when we commit to a time to deliver and have to tell the client we were wrong or the fix didn't work as intended. Expectation setting is very important, so the client is aware of what we can and cannot do upfront. They might not like our realistic timelines but will respect that we were upfront and appreciate the information so that they can do what they need to do on their end as a workaround. This is technology, and sometimes life happens, and an unforeseen circumstance throws everything off. In those times, we need to have the hard conversations about what happened, why, and when they can expect to hear from us again with an update. If I don't have an update, I literally tell them, "I don't have an update at this time" as an update and let them know the next update. Thankfully these are very rare, but it does happen in tech, and it's important to be reachable, responsive, and proactive in those times.
Eliana: Everything you have told me is awe-inspiring to me. Mainly because of the professional growth that now I know customer success managers have to go through gradually, as new challenges present to them. The last question that I would like to ask you is: why do you think I should develop excellent customer service skills, even if I get a different position in a company?
Steve: Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, wants all Amazon employees to go through the crucible of customer service. I believe it's to internalize an empathy for the client and see problems from their eyes. Remember, without the client willing to trade their hard-earned dollars for your services; your company doesn't exist. To take that a step further, many people work on the basis of trading hours for dollars, so in essence, when a person is giving you money, they are really giving you something that represents a segment of their life. When they are giving me that money, they are hoping they can trade that money to be something even more valuable than it was. If we work in B2B, that compounds and the dollars now represent more than one person. The bottom line is Customer Success brings a very human element and philosophy into the business. If at the end of the day, we aren't creating more value for others, then I would argue the business has no soul, no hope, and no future.
Eliana: I can definitely see that. I will make sure to keep learning more about customer service during this week, and as I keep moving forward in my career. Thank you again for your time. I love you!
After this interview, I have a better understanding of the importance of customer success. It should reflect not only the quality of services and products of companies but the responsibility of their work teams and their commitment to offering the best experience possible.