Today’s interview is with David Politis, who is founder and CEO of BetterCloud, which provides critical insights, automated management, and intelligent data security for cloud office platforms. David joins me today to talk about proactive customer service, putting it into practice, how they make it work for their company and how it is allowing to differentiate themselves from their competition.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Innovation, customer experience and co-design partnerships with your customers – Interview with Gary Miles of Amdocs – and is number 156 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Highlights of my interview with David:
- The implementation of and delivery of proactive customer service is not normal.
- Customer and technical support is usually an after-thought in the IT realm.
- Most companies follow the route that says ‘what is the minimum that we have to do to keep our customers’.
- From day one, BetterCloud decided to do things differently and provide an excellent customer experience.
- Proactive customer service is one of the new areas that they are innovating in and is one of the areas that has been most impactful on the business.
- One of the ways that they do this is by monitoring their use logs so that they can spot when their customers are having problems and when they are seeing error messages.
- As a result, as soon as they spot a customer having a problem it prompts the start of a chat session where one of their team reaches out to the customer right inside their application and says something like ‘Hey, we see that you are having a problem….if you do this and this then that should solve it….’.
- This is not just a technology fix, it is the culture and the people that drives this.
- It was Michael Stone that heads up BetterCloud’s support team that came up with the idea. He is continuously innovating around better ways that they can help their clients and has built a great support team at BetterCloud.
- You can have all of the technology in the world but you can’t automate this.
- You need people that are driven to create that kind of customer experience and who get enjoyment out of it.
- However, that takes time and it has taken Michael 4 years to assemble the right team.
- Michael is fascinated by the idea that this is not normal behaviour for a company.
- Michael also does a counter-intuitive thing where he wants to get more tickets opened so he can help more customers. This is exactly the opposite approach of what a traditional support team would do where they would aim to minimise the number of ‘open’ tickets.
- In fact, they go further and will ‘open’ tickets for customers proactively when they spot that they are having a problem. When their system does spot a problem it automatically sends a support request/ticket to their Zendesk system and then their dedicated proactive support team proactively start an in-application chat session with the customer.
- In the cases when the customer is no longer in the application they go ahead and create a ticket for the customer and send it to them, letting them know what they problem is, how and when it will be solved and that the ticket will be automatically closed when the problem is resolved.
- This strategy may only be six months old but already they are seeing significant benefits for their business:
- A quote from one of their customers as a result of this strategy: “Chris was super proactive and reached out to me before I even realised I had an issue. Super bad-ass customer service. Keep it up guys”;
- Renewal rates are almost 100% and customer satisfaction scores are 99%; and
- Their proactive customer service strategy is becoming a competitive differentiator and advantage and is attracting new customers.
- Most firms want to deflect customer support calls to lower cost channels but BetterCloud are doing things differently are are willing to embrace customers contacting them on higher cost channels, i.e. via the phone, as they believe that if they can get in front of the issue and deal with the issue before the customer gets frustrated then whilst it might cost more in the short run they reap the benefit in terms of customer satisfaction and engagement in the longer term.
- To deliver this type of strategy, here’s David’s advice:
- 1. Put together the right team but start with finding the right first person who is really and truly excited about delivering this type of experience;
- 2. Build the systems, processes and team and put it all together before you can start.
- It took four years for BetterCloud to get to the point that they were ready to offer this type of support.
- Chris Fadell, another member of BetterCloud’s support team has recently come up with a new idea that they have implemented and this is now really helping drive their support forward.
- What they have done is put in place a Peer Review system where every week tickets get chosen at random and these tickets get reviewed anonymously by two other team members where they look for what is bad, what is good and what can be improved. That feedback then gets sent back to the original agent responsible for that ticket.
- That has been going on for 3 months now and David is amazed to see how a system like that is helping them improve and develop both their performance and their culture.
About David (taken from his BetterCloud bio)
David Politis is the founder and CEO of BetterCloud where he oversees the day to day activities of the company and is responsible for the overall product vision and business strategy. As a pioneer in the cloud services industry, David has vast experience launching and building high growth technology companies and an immense passion for enterprise cloud technology.
Before founding BetterCloud, David was an early employee of Cloud Sherpas, the preeminent global provider of cloud services for Google Apps. As the VP of SMB Solutions, David led Cloud Sherpas to become the leading Google Apps services provider and reseller to small and medium sized businesses worldwide. He also managed product development for SherpaTools, which became the #1 ranked admin tool in the Google Apps Marketplace. During his tenure at Cloud Sherpas, David forged a close relationship with Google’s enterprise team.
Prior to Cloud Sherpas, David was the founding employee and General Manager of Vocalocity (acquired by Vonage [NYSE: VG]), which he grew into one of the top providers of cloud PBX technology. As General Manager, David ran day to day operations and led the company’s product strategy.
David is a native of New York City and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Emory University. He has contributed to Mashable, VentureBeat, Forbes, The New York Times, BetaBeat and others and has a monthly column in TechRepublic’s Google in the Enterprise blog.