We catchup with Typeform’s Head of Customer Engagement Angela Guedes about training customer reps and delivering a brilliant customer experience.
What have been the main challenges you’ve faced during the COVID-19 lockdown and what has helped you overcome them?
Making sure everyone felt connected with their teammates and supported. At a team level, we started having virtual coffees’ love room and over-communicating over Slack. We also created Slack channels specific for working parents and managers, to support and help each other with ideas and best practices.
The main challenge for CSM is that last year our team went through some big changes. We’re trying to find ways to add more value to the business and the customers. We’re currently working on improving our testing methods to start projects in order to have valid data beforehand.
How have you been communicating COVID-based directions/procedures to make the change easier for your teams?
We have a single point of contact from each department that meets with the Leadership team on a daily basis to escalate questions, doubts, and technical issues. During the first week, our HR team would send a daily update to all managers, that is now done on a weekly basis.
How do you onboard and train your reps? How do you ensure reps have all the knowledge they need?
All employees complete a 2-day training course. It’s generally about how the office works, how reps go about customer requests, and specifically for CS, the team will have one month of training that only applies to the CSM.
The first 2 weeks include in-depth training on support and product as well as on all product features, integrations that we can do. We then show them the live queue of tickets so they can work with the support team for a bit. This way, CSMs can see the flow of how to deal with customers.
We use Asana as the project management tool as well, for onboarding. When reps start on the first day, they have a layout of the onboarding process. Some of the cards are self-served and people can have access to resources. They know that they have to read ‘X’ presentation and would have access to resources to help them do this. They have to read specific presentations and other modules are in-classroom, taught by senior managers.
How do they share best practices with each other?
At the moment it’s pretty ad-hoc. We have weekly meetings where we all share metrics, accounts that are due to renew, accounts in on-boarding. It’s usually a 1-hour long meeting and there’s a section about if there’s anything we can improve as a team or in general, in our processes.
It’s quite an ad-hoc process at the moment but we are working on it. Reps would share their solutions for certain challenges that were faced, and the meeting notes are shared afterward. It was said by one of our new starters last month that one thing lacking from our processes was how to deal with accounts when you are on your holidays for example. We didn’t have anything in place yet. So someone shared how they did it at their old company, we documented it and stored it in our knowledge base.
Promoting a learning culture is important – what has contributed to maintaining yours during this period?
Nothing major changed. We are used to having internal training sessions that, because we have three offices, we’re always via Zoom and recorded. We kept them, with the exception that now they are remote sessions for everyone. We also have access to an L&D budget.It’s part of our culture to actively encourage our teams to acquire new skills, being soft of technical ones. We have regular check-ins and the mentioned L&D budget that all managers make sure it’s used.
If you were asked to curate a ‘customer success’ playlist, where would you include?
I read lots of books. For companies across all stages of growth, I recommend ‘The startup guide for CS’. It’s very easy to read and a good size, especially for companies that are still maturing their models. I have a couple of to-do readings but I haven’t met them just yet. Two podcasts that I listen to regularly are Creating Customer Success, the one you’re featured in.
- Creating customer success
- Strikedeck Radio
- The customer success podcast by Gainsight
- Churn it up: the CS podcast
- Gain, Grow, Retain
- Customer Strategy podcast
‘The customer is not always right, but the pain is real.’
What is one customer guiding principle you and your teams try to live by?
I read an article once and this sentence stayed with me and it was: ‘The customer is not always right, but the pain is real.’ Being in a customer-facing team, we need to come with that empathy regardless of the outcome we can provide. We need to understand and advocate in the sense that if we’re asked to create a feature and we can’t do it for you, we need to explain why we don’t foresee that to fall in alignment with the product roadmap.
How do you make sure the customer’s voice is heard through your entire organisation?
I created a deck. We compile the information from all the sources: tickets, NPS, churn forms, causes, and insights for sales – this on a quarterly basis. The idea is sharing support tickets – that we offer to everyone. If only 25 customers are asking for a feature, we might not do it. Yes, it’s true. However, if put in parallel with people with low NPS scores, we find it to be aligned because of this feature, we’ll have to do something about it.
How do you measure and improve the performance of a CS team?
We started tracking the interaction. Noterra has a functionality where if you are BCC’d, it adds it to Noterra. It also records calls so we can use this for training purposes. It shows and helps us understand where we spend most of our time, whether it’s onboarding, renewals, specific accounts or project headcount leads.
Which stage of the customer lifecycle do you spend most of your time in?
Onboarding for sure! Because of the nature of our product, it’s mainly self-served for customers and it doesn’t require implementation or expert knowledge for people to use it, but whenever you need to integrate our product with your existing tools, or are using the most specific features, it’s not as intuitive. That’s where we add the value, so we train the customers and we show them the benefits of certain features, how they’re going to save time, streamline the process of the integrations. After the onboarding phase, the customers are pretty self-served and we contact them when they need to expand.
How do CSMs build authority and become a trusted adviser as well as leaders amongst their teams?
We’re not exactly where I’d like our team to be just yet. At the moment, we are Typeform experts so we can educate them and share best practices with them on how to best use our product.
We start with the company goals, from there, we explain how we can create programs that support that goal. So like I mentioned earlier, this year was webinars. We also tried to build feedback forms, so now we can invite speakers to our webinars to create partners for integrations.
How do you build success plans with clients? What are the best engagement strategies?
We are still learning. We know that the majority of our time goes towards onboarding. This is where we add the value and they are more engaged. We also implemented our dashboard to see where the CSMs are spending most of their time, on which accounts — [we want] to have that picture. Then we can see how we can increase the sign-ups and we know by customer segments.
How do you teach yourself and your team to deal with failure?
It’s the part of the company values that we strongly advocate — not to be afraid of putting yourself in experiments and trying new things. The way we frame it is that any project is valuable as long as you do your research: What is the data, what are you trying to solve. Understand the customer segment, the problem faced, then, have clear goals. As long as the teams are clear on these key areas (problems to solve and goals), if it fails, we’ll know why, and we’ll be able to learn from our failures. We’ll have the numbers that hold us up.