Tom Uebel Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and experience podcast from cloud app, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey everyone. I am thrilled to have Tom. You will, with me the co founder and CEO of command E uh, we are huge users of command D over at cloud app. Uh, and I was one of the windows users that wasn’t able to use the full product, like all my friends, uh, on Mac, but recently this week, Tom and his company released, uh, Mac or sorry, windows and expanded some of the features set of command D also at a nice fundraise. So I’m really excited to see the company growing and a really great product that can help you quickly search for anything that you want to find and increase your productivity. So we’re excited to have Tom today, uh, especially during this week when it’s been wild and he carved out some time for us. So thanks for joining Tom.

Tom: (01:07)
Yeah, thanks for having us. Um, it’s been great. Uh, caught up was really one of the companies that I was a user of before commanded was a thing I think, and then a thought up it’s one of the first companies that community really started spreading within. So become good friends over email over the past few months. Um, so we were with you this morning.

Joe: (01:28)
Awesome. So give me a little bit of background on Command. Kind of where the idea started. Um, tell me a little bit about yourself and what kind of led to this.

Tom: (01:37)
Yeah, definitely. So you have to go back probably a four years or so ago. My co founder, Ben and I were on the engineering team at an early stage VC fund. And we kind of saw two things and this was really kind of been putting the pieces together. One thing was we are engineers kind of flying around our hundreds of files and our code editors with no problem. And then some of our closest friends were spending their days between Salesforce and Gmail and just kind of tearing their hair out at the friction of moving between some of these systems. And these were some of our best friends, really, really smart people. So you kind of knew like the problem isn’t the people, the tooling glued together super nicely. Um, and so that kind of got Ben’s head spinning as to, you know, how could we make their day look a little more like ours for all these touch points in the day where you kind of know exactly what you want to do next it’s Hey, I want to go to this Salesforce record.

Tom: (02:33)
I want to go to this email thread, you know, instantly what you need to do next. Right. And so what we really want to do is just take that from the moment where, you know, what you want to do to you’re actually there and executing on that task. Just take that, um, reduce the friction down, look to as little as possible. And the other things we saw on the team of 12, that we were a part of, we counted them up one day and there were 20 different cloud systems being used on that team. She just have data everywhere. And I think that’s pretty common. You can survey most teams. I think they’ll tell you, yeah. You know, the stuff I need to get my job done, let’s across so many different systems. And so we’ve realized that you kind of needed this layer to pull them all together. And some of the technology underlying community advanced in the past few years to make it possible in a way that really wasn’t available before now.

Joe: (03:28)
That’s really cool. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s pretty common kind of backstory, right? You like find a problem and you kind of hustle a little bit on the side to figure out how you can fix that problem, find the product market fit, and then you’re off to the races. That’s really cool. Yeah.

Tom: (03:47)
We definitely kind of took a lot of time in the garage to get it right. I think with productivity tools, especially there’s a pretty high bar these days and you want to make sure that when you kind of let something loose that you’re giving people something really polished, really quality that kind of instantly they get it and it just makes life easier.

Joe: (04:06)
Awesome. Um, yeah, we’re, we’re kind of living in the age of like productivity apps and making things smoother, reducing friction, like you said, how do you kind of cut through the noise of that space as a brand and as a product, um, and really find a way to connect with customers and, um, lead with kind of that in mind.

Tom: (04:32)
Yeah. I think both caught up and command. You really were somewhat fortunate that it’s very easy to describe what we do, right? It’s Hey, all these touch points in the day where you feel like it takes too long to get to your next thing, you just hit command you type what you want and you’re there, um, and caught up it’s Hey, I need to record this like piece of content and I want it to be just really good. How do I do this as kind of a lay man? And so I think you need just like a very clear explanation of what it is. Um, my cofounder Ben has talked about it as like being very atomized bubble. Like you can just very clearly say what something is. Somebody gets it right away and they can very easily say, Oh yeah, I would love to use something like Mandy to get to my Salesforce contact records, just the use cases really apparent. And then I think the other piece is just the out of the box experience has to be really good. People have so much going on right now that, you know, if they can’t figure out how to pull this tool into their kind of workflow and we try to keep it under five minutes, um, if you can get up and running in under 15, um, I think it’s going to be a really hard slog.

Joe: (05:46)
Yeah, I would agree. Especially, you know, you mentioned during these, these kinds of current times, um, there’s, there’s even more noise where, uh, you have to break not only the noise of other companies competing for, for time of, uh, products competing for time of a company, but also budget. So, you know, you have to immediately sneak in and show immediate value and become a, you know, a core piece of that group. Have you been able to kind of spread, you know, like a land and expand type deal? Is it, are you kind of seeing typical like organic word of mouth growth or what else have you guys been able to do?

Tom: (06:29)
Yeah, so we’re still pretty early on and we kind of just started with a wait list that we built up while we were in private beta. Um, and since we kind of took the covers off earlier this week, we’ve seen that kind of land and expand continue. It is the kind of thing where we see in a lot of, you know, people are on zooms all day long now, and you’re sharing your screen, you use command D to get to something, and it just has this immediately, this immediate effect of Whoa, how did you get to that thing in less than a second that, you know, I know it takes me 30 seconds to track down. Um, and so once you kind of see it in action, it’s kind of thing you just kind of immediately want.

Joe: (07:08)
So you, you mentioned a few times, you know, you’re a big user of cloud app and its screen recorder. Um, and we, we have a great connection because cause we both love each other’s products, which is great. How, how have you found that visuals and video, um, from cloud app has been helpful, uh, you know, communicating asynchronously, uh, making, making your emails less big, how those really helped create an experience both within your company and to customers?

Tom: (07:39)
Yes.So I’ve had a couple of different use cases. One is we kind of first started sharing what we were doing. I think it was back in early October and we put out a post called, you know, meet command that kind of said, Hey, here’s this problem that we saw and how we’re thinking about it. And like I said, a second ago, the easiest way to explain it this, to just show somebody, right. Here’s 20 seconds of me getting to five different things that I need to accomplish this task. And I was able to very easily make that video, um, in cloud app and distributed, I am an engineer, I have very little design sense or a visual sense myself. Um, and it’s just, it’s one of those products that just works right away and lets you produce something that makes you give the impression that you know, what you’re doing when I actually have no idea in that realm. Um, so yeah, that’s the biggest thing I think for us. And then also just, I spend a lot of my day in email, uh, very little in the code anymore and a lot of it is kind of showing users, Hey, here’s how you do this thing in our product. Um, and it is just so much nicer to send a quick Jeff or something like that rather than, you know, typing out three paragraphs.

Joe: (08:49)
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I, I found, you know, we’re, we’re getting on the app soap box here, but I found something similar, you know, as at Adobe, I’m leading a global team and it was just a way to communicate and not have to be on, you know, an early morning or late night call that nobody really wants to be a part of. Uh, you can just communicate asynchronously and it’s really helpful. Um, you guys are just coming out of beta, you know, you’re getting a lot of feedback. You’re doing probably a lot of user tests and really understanding how people are using it, developing, building out the use case profile. What is the way that you have kind of collected feedback, um, to really try and create a customer experience as you’re really kind of just launching?

Tom: (09:35)
Yeah. I mean, so we did a couple of things. I think the first thing is you just have to show people that you care and that you actually do want the feedback. So, you know, if you go into our app, we kind of have three main calls to action. The upper right. One is you can invite coworkers. Another is send us feedback. Um, then the last is just providing some customization so that you can make mandate. If it doesn’t quite work out of the box, exactly how you want it, you can kind of make it, do what you want. Um, and so just asking for feedback, I think in the first place, and then second, I try to have a very quick SLA with our users. If you send us feedback, we try to get back to you really quickly. Um, just to again, reinforce that we care and we’re going to incorporate what you, uh, tell us. Um, and then the best is just circling back after the fact. So once somebody tells you, Hey, I’d love this thing, closing the loop when you actually ship it, hopefully as quickly as possible.

Joe: (10:33)
I think that’s, you know, one of the, the last thing you said is probably the, maybe one of the most important and maybe the one that doesn’t always happen is like, you gotta close that loop so that you build that trust. And people are like, Hey, you know, I made this suggestion like six months ago and they actually did it like, that’s pretty cool. You know, you create some loyalty that way.

Tom: (10:59)
Definitely. And we’ve, we’ve been lucky. I think there’s all these companies that kind of survey the landscape and you come to admire the way some of them, um, just conduct their business both in terms of how they build product, but also how they communicate with their users. And superhuman is a company that’s really been an inspiration to us in that regard. They, you know, it is that kind of thing where it can be six months ago where you might’ve even forgotten that you asked them for something and they always close the loop and say, Hey, here’s that thing you were looking for.

Joe: (11:31)
Yeah, that’s really cool. It’s really helpful. I’m sure to, to kind of build a community and loyalty, um, you know, it’s a definitely unique time going on right now. Um, what are some things that you’ve been able to do, uh, as a leader, um, to really stay connected with your team? You know, you went through a fundraise, you launched a major product. How did you, I kind of just want to dig in and understand how you kind of made that happen. Uh, you know, under the circumstances.

Tom: (12:05)
Yeah. It’s been a fun few months. Um, yeah, it’s interesting. We, I think honestly, a lot of it is just making sure you have the right people around the table. I’m fortunate to have had to, I’ve worked with my cofounder for a few years before this. So, you know, we been through, you know, major life events before, um, and the team we built, um, we made sure we got people that care about what we’re doing. So that under tough times, you’re still kind of still committed to that core mission. Uh, but also just making sure that you take care of your people in this time. I think like we were pretty early, I think, well, before people started closing offices and people realized this was all going to be a thing, um, we’d kind of been monitoring it and told people like, Hey, here’s something we did was very early. We said, here’s a hundred dollars. Like please stockpile a couple of weeks of groceries. It might get a little gnarly, um, making sure that people, we have to be pushing pretty hard obviously, but making sure that they take care of themselves also. And that will kind of go too hard at this point.

Joe: (13:14)
Yeah. Let’s see. I think that’s a big key piece, you know, at cloud app we’ve been kind of monitoring usage mainly because like I come from a data analyst background, so I’m like just super interested by consumer behavior and like understanding what’s been going on and as like a key work tool, uh, we’ve seen usage go up close to three X, like during the early morning commute time, what it used to be. And then also after hours and my kind of hypothesis with that is like, um, I mean, I, I have three kids, so like I’m trying to help home school and my wife has stuff she has to get done. And so I’m like taking breaks to like go play with the kids or like help with school. And so my work is like eight to nine and then I have to take a break and then it’s like 11 to three and then I have to take another break. And then it’s like, you know, eight to nine at night versus like nine to five and then, you know, a little bit at night. So it’s been pretty interesting to see, uh, how people have broken up kind of this day, uh, their Workday, uh, you know, an actual data, which is really cool.

Tom: (14:28)
Yeah. It’s going to be really interesting. I think, I feel like most people have kind of adjusted to this new normal, um, might not be ideal obviously, but have kind of settled in to a certain extent. I think as we kind of get to this next phase where probably things don’t look the same as they did before this, but, um, what exactly it will look like? What kind of remains from this period? Well, it looks different. I’m still not sure and interest to see how it all shakes out. If you know, six months down the line, how people work,

Joe: (15:04)
You mentioned, you know, you mentioned a kind of talking about experience and kind of building experiences with feedback. Um, I want to hear you Tom, as a consumer, uh, you mentioned superhuman, but let’s, let’s, uh, you know, maybe get another example as well. What’s a recent experience you had, uh, as a customer that really made you more loyal and maybe some ideas that you pulled from that experience to help build command,

Tom: (15:33)
Trying to think, honestly,

Joe: (15:35)
It could be retail, it could be travel, could be SAS, whatever.

Tom: (15:40)
Yeah. I think a lot of it, that’s a very good question. I think when stands out, one thing I’ve noticed is, you know, there are some brands that you’re starting to see this kind of like COVID messaging creep into everything. And at some point it almost becomes a little much. And I think just the way I think different brands have handled it in different ways and some brands, like I know there was one email that stood out. I think it was from, uh, somebody at HubSpot and they just framed everything the right way, which like right off the bat was like, Hey, totally understand. This might not be top priority right now if that’s the case, let’s connect in a few months. Um, so I think just like retaining that human element and kind of really handling things the right way right now is kind of the main thing I’m looking for as a consumer. Awesome. Yeah. I, I was

Joe: (16:39)
Yeah, fascinated for the first couple of weeks at just like how quickly things mobilized and innovated on, on more of the outside the digital realm. So like gross, my local grocery store was, you know, putting up massive guards and like had tape for like the six feet within like the first week. And then, you know, local restaurants are like figuring out how to do curbside and like try and make it a good experience for people, even though that’s not their core business. And it was just, it’s been pretty cool to kind of see a different innovation come from all of this.

Tom: (17:16)
Yeah. There is just the amount of ingenuity around it is really impressive. It does give you a lot of faith that, you know, we’re going to get through this definitely going to be all right.

Joe: (17:30)
So I think this has been a fun conversation, Tom. I’m really glad I could get you on today, especially, you know, during this week of craziness for you, which is really exciting. Uh, I want you to look inside the crystal ball and kind of help me understand what you think the modern workplace looks like and the future of experienced business.

Tom: (17:52)
Yeah, I think it’s just very highly personalized is kind of the main thing. Um, it’s one thing I am interested to see as you’re starting to see more and more companies announced that, you know, Hey, you can work from home the rest of your career here, if you want. Um, it’s going to be interesting to see, you know, obviously people are going to have a little more customization of their workspace, but you know, what else, you know, how much more demanding does the average consumer get when they kind of like are in more control of their day, if you think of how much time you spend at work, um, as more of that, I think becomes more to your own, uh, your left more to your own devices and able to take a little more control. It’ll be interesting to see how that all shakes out.

Joe: (18:40)
Yeah, it’s kind of like, um, I was reading something this morning about, uh, schools having like hybrid models and maybe more, uh, you might have like more year round type school systems where they have to spread it out to have smaller class sizes. And I mean, work could certainly be that way as well. Um, you know, I, I think I said this kind of when Twitter made their announcement, um, I think that’s great that they’re saying, Hey, work from home, probably, you know, the stipulations are probably current employees, uh, not necessarily hiring remotely. And then also I think the next thing to drop is kind of building on your thought is, um, hiring remote senior leaders. So I think once you see the Googles Facebooks, uh, Adobe is one as well, Microsoft hiring EVP, or even a C level that is not at headquarters. Uh, I think that’s when it’s like, okay, now we’ve reached an actual remote work versus like, yeah, we’ll hire, you know, middle managers and they can be in Florida and we’re in the Bay area. That’s fine, whatever, but you know, I need to have my direct reports now I need to have them here in HQ. So I think that’ll be interesting to see if that, if that starts to develop as well.

Tom: (20:06)
Yeah. That’s a really good point. We’ll be very interesting to follow over the next year or so.

Joe: (20:11)
Awesome. Well, thanks, Tom. This has been really fun. I appreciate your time. And uh, everyone go check out command E it’s such a great product. Um, I had a lot of community envy, uh, and I’m excited to get it the full app on windows. Uh, so thanks again, Tom. And I look forward to talking again soon.

Tom: (20:46)

Definitely. Thanks Joe.

Joe: (20:55)

Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app. The instant business communication tool used to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect for both internal and external communication get started for free at www dot [inaudible] dot com. Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Emilie Schario Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey everyone. I am really excited to have Emily Schario with me from get lab. I’m a very big fan of get lab and everything that they do with content and just their products in general. And also during this time being a real leader in remote work, since they’re a completely remote company and have been since the beginning, uh, Emily is the internal strategy consultant over there. Um, she’s a fellow data nerd like I am. Um, my background from Adobe was in as a data analyst. So similar starts for Emily and myself, and I’m excited to dig in a little bit more on the modern workplace. Uh, Emily, if you wouldn’t mind giving us a little background on yourself and get lab and kind of how you’ve been, uh, living through quarantine.

Emilie: (01:05)
Thanks so much, Joe, for having me, I’m really excited to be here today. Uh, my name like you said is Emily Schario . I live on the East coast of the U S with my husband, uh, in Savannah, Georgia, and I joined Git Lab two years ago tomorrow, actually, uh, which time flies when you’re having fun. I never would’ve guessed. It’s it’s feels both like forever and yesterday, which is awesome. Um, I joined as our first data analyst and really focused on building out our data stack and creating an analytics and reporting system. We were a data team of three for a long, long time, um, until we were about 800 team members. And then we grew a little bit, uh, and then after serving in that role for a bit, I moved into a data engineering role and then the role that I’m in now, internal strategy consultant popped up and I kind of jumped at the opportunity. What I do is kind of, uh, my team is the primary cross functional group in the business, and we solve the problems kind of as they come up, you can think of us, um, almost as a proactive firefighters. So solving things before they turn into urgent and important issues, um, and kind of helping make sure we’re building cross-functional efficiencies. So, uh, that’s the short version. It’s, it’s really incredible. Uh, when I joined Philip, we were 290 people two years ago. Uh, today we’re like you said, over 1200 team members in over 65 countries around the world, and it is so exciting to see more people buy into what remote work can do to them, for them.

Joe: (02:47)
That’s really great. And definitely being close to any data role. You’re a very wanted person, uh, both for your ability and also every, every team needs data or insights. So I’m sure you’re very popular with, with your teammates.

Emilie: (03:01)
Absolutely. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t have just like that one quick, real fast, by the way, can you do this data thing for them?

Joe: (03:08)
Yeah, it’s always like, Hey, can you just push that magic button and refresh that report for me? Um, well, I’d love to, you know, dig in a little bit more on the modern workplace and what your thoughts are on kind of what that looks like. Um, you know, get labs certainly has a modern feel, uh, with going away from, we need a centralized HQ and rolling in a hire people within a 20 mile radius of that and really limiting your, um, abilities to, to grow. So what does that look like to you and how do you feel that get lab fits into that?

Emilie: (03:44)
I, I think one of the big things that we’re going to see is increased individual efficiency. Like when you’re not in an office distracted by the cool lights or the gong, or, you know, all the someone walking into the coffee machine and someone complaining that someone didn’t empty out the coffee machine or whatever it might be when you remove all those distractions, people can be more effective and when they can be more effective, they can do so much more in their work. It’s not that you’re asking people to work more hours or it’s that you can get more focused work done. And I think there are a couple things that we’re seeing, like people have this epiphany, they see that this effectiveness can be tapped into. And now it’s about how do you continue to make it easier to tap into that effectiveness and asynchronous work?

Emilie: (04:37)
Asynchronous collaboration is probably one of the biggest things that I think unlocks that for people is moving from a, Hey, let’s hop on a meeting to discuss this thing too. I’m going to put my thoughts in writing and spend some time making sure they’re organized, communicate them to you. You can ruminate on them and get back to me. And now we both organize our thoughts. We’re in a much more productive place and we didn’t use the same 30 minutes of each other’s time. Uh, and that’s, I think the next phase, I would hope that in office, not an office, this is something that more workplaces across the, the business span can, can adopt because it’s not something that only benefits remote companies. It’s something that benefits people who are working period. Um, and I, I mean, cloud app is a great example of this, where you see a bug and a product, and you want to use the screen recorder to record a quick, like, this is what I’m seeing.

Emilie: (05:35)
Is this the expected behavior? And you send it over to someone, um, or you screenshot at an arrow, like, is this button labeled correctly? These are the things that really tap into, Hey, we don’t have to hop on a call and share a screen. We can do this kind of separately, um, and still make more progress. And this lets people work, uh, things outside the standard nine to five, right? So that’s really powerful when people are working across time zones, but it’s also great when people are, uh, like I like to go to the beach really early in the morning. Sure. But I know some people who live closer to the beach who liked to go in the middle of the day. So they work a couple hours, they go to the beach and then they go back to work for a couple hours. And if that’s how you want to live your life great. Or if that’s, when you want to go grocery shopping, or if that’s where you, whatever your thing is, you want to stop it into your kid’s school for a noon performance like there. Why do we need to be changed for desks for certain hours? If we tap into working asynchronously, we create this new way that really empowers people to work when and where they’re at their best. I think that’s kind of the key that’s going to unlock the next level for most people and most workplaces.

Joe: (06:50)
Yeah, it’s really a good point. And we, we put out this report, I, we found this, um, data during actual quarantine. Now we’re kind of out of quarantine now, but, um, cloud app had massive spikes during the morning commute time. And then also after normal working hours. So like after nine to five, and we put that data, you know, out in the public, it was like three X increase on both sides. Also executives were the most, uh, largest increase in terms of like a user base using it more. And that like applied to my own life, which you mentioned similar is like suddenly I had my kids that I was helping homeschool with my wife. And so I was like eating breakfast. And then I was working a little bit and I didn’t have to drive, you know, 20 minutes to the office anymore. So I was working during that time and then I would stop and I would take like a productivity break on the trampoline with my kids. And then I would go work for two more hours on I’d eat lunch with them. And then, uh, you know, some, my two year old would come and ask me to play with them for 30 minutes and then go do that. And then I’d have to work a little bit more at night cause I had taken no breaks during the day. So I think it’s like fitting into that, finding the meshing of the balancing of work and home life. And they’re kind of forced into it, uh, to figuring that out. Yeah.

Emilie: (08:15)
I think we’ve talked about this before you and I like the experience of working remotely during quarantine where you might not have childcare is not the same thing, hopefully normally. And so it’s important to differentiate those things where, you know, in more normal circumstances, normal and air quotes there, but more normal circumstances, you know, people who are working from home in their remote environment will still have kids in school and they’re not trying to balance childcare with their work responsibilities, but even in those cases, they still can take advantage and from asynchronous collaboration.

Joe: (08:58)
Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really good point. Um, and I think, yeah, I, I think one of the highest engaged social posts I had over the last three months was, uh, let’s just remind ourselves, this is not remote work. This is working at home during a pandemic. Um, so, you know, with, with, uh, we did a survey last fall about, um, office workers and showing that younger generations more than 50% were already working remotely. And the majority of the time anyway, uh, with how expensive the Bay area is and other cities that have a lot of, um, people working there. Uh, what do you think this situation, uh, has done for both companies that are been forced to produce remote playbooks, to people kind of learning skills of working at home? How has that accelerated kind of the modern workplace and the remote work shifts that you’re mentioning?

Emilie: (09:56)
I think it’s both accelerated and creating some very strong, uh, anti fans, you know, remote work. Isn’t something where you flip a switch and it’s like, okay, I’m just going to work from home. Now I do this full time. So I have a desk, I have a, it has a thing. He goes up and down. I have a chair, I have a monitor, I have a keyboard I’m set up to work remotely. And that’s different from someone who lives in a city, in a small studio apartment, where they are used to leaving the house every day, because they don’t have any space in their apartment to do anything else or someone who, uh, has childcare has childcare normally. And now they go and suddenly they’re trying to balance those responsibilities or even someone who works remotely full time, but it’s used to going into a coworking space every day. So for those people, I worry that what they’ve done is gotten a sour taste about remote work in their mouth and they are off put by it. And really that’s disappointing to me because I do think remote is the future. And what this has done is possibly sour them on remote entirely. On the other hand, I’m hearing these stories from people who were very adamantly opposed to remote prior, and now they’ve bought in that drank the Koolaid and they are here. Uh, I was talking to someone yesterday who he’s got a background as like a early stage employee at a couple of different startups, like single digit. And his thing was when you’re under 20 people, you have to be in the office because you’re building your culture. You’re creating team cohesion. You, he laid out all these reasons for me that you have to be in the office. And then as our conversation went on, he said, but we’re seeing the increased productivity with increased happiness. People don’t have to commute an hour into the city anymore. Their team members are saying, we want to keep doing this remote thing. And the business is seeing positive effects from it. So his mind has completely changed even for all those things that he laid out as must haves. What they’re seeing is you never did it before. So you couldn’t picture how to solve these problems remotely. Now that you’ve had to, you’re figuring it out. So you might, before March, you may have never have onboarded an employee or a team member remote. You may never have hired someone only overview, but today, like you see something totally different because you’ve got this different experience and that’s kind of, I think, challenging some people’s existing paradigms.

Joe: (12:39)
Yeah. That’s a really good point. Like I onboarding is a good example. You mentioned, um, I’m onboarding like a couple of interns right now and that’s something I’ve never experienced. Uh, interns are very heavy touch. Like you need to help and make sure they know exactly what they’re doing, what you expect. And so it’s, it’s forcing me to really like, do a lot more documentation, um, and have like a real setup plan versus before it was kind of could be a little bit more wild West if they were like right next to you and you could, uh, you know, jump in and have them do something. Uh, so I have to figure out how to combine like zoom with like cloud app and documentation on, uh, you know, like confluence and having them know what they have to do. And it is, it is definitely, um, it’s not hard, but it forces you to do something you’re not necessarily comfortable with.

Emilie: (13:42)
Absolutely. And think about, you know, I’m almost a little jealous of those interns because all these feelings that are really hard, they’re going to eat, they’re going to learn the hardest way possible. That’s like lower stakes situation where while they’re interns, as opposed to when they’re in their first job or bits crowd, and there’s a global pandemic and they can’t work from the office anymore. Right. They’re going to learn now and they’re going, their whole careers are going to be better off for it.

Joe: (14:15)
I’d love to get in on a get labs culture, just a teeny bit. Um, how do you guys, you know, you’ve talked a lot about async and, um, you know, tools like cloud app, how do you combine like the async with, with like a zoom call or blue jeans or whatever, you know, Google meet or whatever you’re using. And then also like virtual meetups. And I know you guys do an actual annual meetup in real life as well. How have you kind of figured out how to mesh the digital with the real, uh, to kind of form, you know, an effective company?

Emilie: (14:56)
Yeah. So, um, let’s start with, what are the things we do in person that kind of, I would say almost form a bottom layer of the pyramid. So we do get together every nine months, we host an event called get lab contribute. Um, and it’s always in a different place of a different part of the world. Uh, it was supposed to be in Prague this spring, but we lost it to the reality of the time, fortunately. Um, but you know, we’ll, we’ll have one hopefully again soon and that’ll be great. Uh, and that’s a great time for everyone to come together, the whole company, and it’s not death by PowerPoint. So we don’t like present you with a bunch of information. It’s not a work trip. Uh, it is about building relationships with your team members. So we have an opening and closing keynote, but otherwise it’s really casual. There’s an unconference, there’s just team member, organized things. There’s like a soccer game and Dungeons and dragons game. It’s really just about building relationships. Cool. So that’s kind of the primary in person thing. And then there are these where there are regional concentrations of team members. A lot of them do monthly coworking space here in the U S there’s a large concentration in Austin. Um, in the Netherlands, there’s a large concentration in Utrecht in, uh, um, Sydney, Australia. There’s a large concentration. So those team members will do monthly coworking. Uh, and it’s a great way for them to get together. We do like a, we have a budget for Christmas parties or holiday parties, so that’s great. Um, and then there’s all that time in between, because if we’re go only getting together over nine months, like how do you build those relationships along the way? And we, what we do is we have these things called coffee chats where no agenda just send someone a calendar invite includes 30 minutes or 25 minutes. Cause we do speedy meetings. And it’s just like, you talk about whatever you want. It might be like the latest episode of something you watched on TV, or it might be, uh, what kind of coffee you’re drinking. So we have those things for building one on one relationships. We also have these take a break calls. They’re a little bit more organized. They happen three different times of the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And they’re organized by topic. So there’s one, that’s just about coffee. There’s one that’s for sports. There’s five or six of them. All of these have like a different, uh, a different group of people who regularly show up. So the general idea is here’s a place you can hop in for 25 minutes on a Tuesday, just like stumble upon new team members. And it’s a great way to find other people who have similar interests to you and have discussions around it. Those I think are the big things. And then you do build relationships just from interacting with people and writing. Um, you know, it’s, it’s from the minute you got your welcome email for the onboarding, through every interaction with every team member along the way, like you are cultivating and building relationships.

Joe: (18:19)
Yeah. It’s really good point. I mean, I love those like virtual meetups that you guys have scheduled. I think that’s really smart to have some structure there. Um, one thing, you know, cloud app is more than 50% remote. Uh, we, we, our biggest office is pretty small. Like we have like 15 of us in the biggest office in Utah. Um, but to your point about conversations, creating those relationships and just working together, like we had this offsite in February before, uh, you know, everything started to shut down and we brought everyone into Utah. Um, we flew people from Europe and Mexico and the Bay area Midwest into Utah. And that first night like me and some of the leadership, you know, we kind of didn’t know what to expect. And I’m kind of the hosting leader, even though, you know, our other executive leaders were there and I felt like this anxiety of like how it was going to go and we didn’t have anything scheduled. We just had board games like sitting on this table and these condos that we rented and people just like started playing the games and talking, and it was like really organic. It wasn’t like, Hey, we have this team building activity for the first night that you guys are here. Like everyone just was like, Hey, it’s good to finally meet you and see you. And then people were talking about, you know, their families and playing board games. And it’s really cool to kind of see that, you know, we’re humans, we like connecting, uh, sure. When this virtual environment, but you know, we are going to be able to build that into a real relationship when we actually get to meet up.

Emilie: (20:04)
Absolutely. And I will say the biggest shocker when you do get in person is like, Oh, you are taller or shorter because when you’re on a call, especially if you’ve got your office set up, well, you might not have any idea how tall then on the other side of the call is, and then you meet them in person. You’re like, Oh wait, you are much taller than I thought you were. And it’s just like that moment where you’re like, Oh, we’ve never interacted in person before. And I remember I have a colleague who I was on weekly calls with him working through this intense project. And then I met him in January and I was like, wait, this must be the first time I meet you because you are way, way taller than I am. It’s just one of those things that, um, I don’t know. It’s, it’s just a funny thing about it.

Joe: (20:54)
It’s very, very good point. Very good point. Uh, you know, as we’re, as we’re kind of closing up on our conversation, uh, just a couple of other things I want to ask you, what are some things, I mean, you guys were already remote, but what are some things that you’ve learned from either your own leadership or leading yourself during these, this crazy year, um, of how to, you know, effectively come together, collaborate, communicate, you know, understanding people are in different levels of stress, um, with outside forces or some things you’ve learned both about yourself, your company that has really been helpful.

Emilie: (21:33)
So I see this in my colleagues and I also experienced this a little bit in myself where there’s like this low level of stress that people are experiencing from being quarantined. But there’s this, uh, we have a, don’t ask, just tell policy, vacation policy. We want team members to take the time they need, but it almost feels a little bit wasteful to take time off to what ghosted on your account. I was in a position where I had a, my husband and I had a vacation planned back in February that got canceled and I had the two weeks booked off work and we’re going to have a 10 day vacation. We really planned on this for awhile. And I remember looking at my calendar and feeling like, what am I going to do with two weeks at home? And I talked to people and it’s not just me. They’re also feeling this. Like, why would I want to take things in? And I think the best, you know, we as a business have GitLab has implemented this friends and family day where a couple of times we had the first one May 1st, we’ll do another one on June 12th. And those are about, um, you know, ensuring like people are saying, Hey, I don’t want to take time off, but I need time off when we’re solving that problem for them by pretty much shutting the business down, um, with a couple exceptions, like support and on-call roles we’ll be working, but those folks will take a different day to compensate for it. We want to make sure that we’re communicating and actually walking the walk and talking the talk around building a sustainable work culture. We know that this low level of stress is real and it has a longterm effect. And we want people to take time off. I think that it would be really easy for us just to talk about it and remind people. And what we’re seeing now is an actual action by the business. I’m hearing more and more companies doing that. It’s really great to see them putting their team members wellbeing.

Joe: (23:39)
It’s a really good point. Yeah. I liked that. I think, yeah, there, there is a real, like weirdness in that. Um, I like the adjustment of being, having my home and work life blended, uh, which we talked about a little bit, um, where it’s like, you need a break, but there’s no break to be had because your, your kids, my kids have needs. And like, my work has needs and they’re kind of meshing together and my wife and I are taking breaks to help each other work and that type of thing. Um, yeah, that’s really cool that to make sure there’s a focus on taking those breaks and making sure that they’re, you know, recognized.

Emilie: (24:22)
Yeah. I think it’s a great example of what it’s certainly not the only thing that can be done, but it’s a great example of one step that can be taken.

Joe: (24:31)
Normally, normally at this point, I ask you to look into your crystal ball and kind of tell the future, but, um, with, with, with your kind of background knowledge in remote work and the remote work being kind of, part of the, part of the definitely the modern workplace, what are some tips and tricks that have helped you, uh, to really, you know, be productive, not get distracted while at home, um, have an effective Workday and look back, you know, while you never left your house, um, and feel like you had a productive day.

Emilie: (25:07)
Yeah. So, um, what I’d like to preface these sorts of advice with is what works for me might not work for you. Totally. Yep. I know people who were like get dressed every day. I do not get dressed and wear shorts to work. I am one of those people get stressed from the waist up, cause that’s all you can see. And it doesn’t matter what works for me, we’re going to work for everyone. And so I, the advice is like, try something for a month, see if it helps, if it doesn’t try something else, if it does great, like, I don’t want to stress about whether I’m, you know, dressed enough for work. Uh, I keep my office door open most days. Cause my only coworker is my dog. But if I had, you know, children, I may have a different approach there. I do have a daily routine that helps me transition from like waking up, working out breakfast. Okay. Now I’m going to work. Um, and that makes it nice for me to be like, okay, now I’m in my work mindset. I got my bowl here because like I bring my breakfast to my desk and I spend my first 20 minutes like catching up on everything that happened. And that’s like the way for okay. By the time I’m done with my breakfast, I’m ready to dive in.

Joe: (26:34)
Yeah. Yeah. Cool. That’s really great. Uh, Emily, this has been a fantastic conversation. I appreciate your time. I’m glad that we could be connected and that I could have you on the podcast today. Um, thanks for your time. And everyone check out, get lab, their legendary, uh, for their handbooks and great content and also a lot of great products that can help a lot of different teams. So check out, get lab and definitely find Emily on Twitter and LinkedIn as well.

Emilie: (27:00)

Thanks Joe. Thanks for having me. Thank you. See ya.

Joe: (27:34)

Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learn something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting CloudApp, the instant business communication tool use to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect for both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Ram Jambunathan Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey everyone. I am so excited today to have Ram with me, Ram is an SVP and a managing director, SAP IO, a SAP IO invested in cloud app last summer and, uh, has been great to work with a really fun group and really helpful, and also does a lot of investing in, uh, an accelerating and startups. So I’m excited to dig in a little bit with Ram on the modern workplace and how he’s been kind of leading a team during all of this craziness. And I would love to start off Ram if you could just kind of give us a little background on yourself, how you kind of, uh, got rolling at SAP and what you’ve been doing with SAP IO.

Ram: (01:20)
Yeah, sure. So first of all, thank you, Joe, for, for having me, it’s exciting to be here today and to share a few perspectives on, you know, as we think about the modern workplace, your remote work, and some of the interesting tools like cloud app screen recorder and screehshot tool that are enabling the, kind of the, the future of work to happen now. Right? So agile, as you mentioned, um, I’m managing director of SAP IO, that’s SAP strategic business unit focused on accelerating innovation and exploring new business models. On behalf of, uh, of SAP. I’ve been in this role now for a few years, uh, where we both make investments into early stage startups through the SAP IO fund, as we did with cloud app, really looking at companies who are, we think are more path finding, um, or maybe, you know, one of a kind or we’ve got to invest, uh, in as a signal to the ecosystem that we think there’s significant value creation that can happen in this area. And we’d like to see more activity there as well as the SAP IO foundries, which are our global network of top tier programs for startups, uh, such as accelerator programs that are now active in eight locations and are really focused on building a micro app ecosystem around SAP core apps, whether they’re in ERP or supply chain or HR or customer experience or, or spend management and procurement. Um, so I’ve been at SAP now for about 10 years and had a variety of roles even prior to SAP or with SAP IO. I’ve had various roles in, in maybe a little bit more field facing customer facing where I worked with SAP. So as fees more, um, uh, it was strategic customers to help them identify quantify areas and prioritize areas of opportunity where an investment in SAP solution could yield them tremendous value. And then from there took on different roles from a strategic point of view, leading say, go to market initiatives in different areas or go to market strategy for regions or for global organizations had other roles like bleeding cloud and platform strategy. And then you, and then overall leading corporate strategy for the company. So I’ve kind of a varied career. And then before that, you know, how I came to SAP is I started my career as an entrepreneur, but in a different area in semiconductors were co-founded backed by like, uh, some VCs like Greylock and Sequoia focused on building, um, high speed transmitters receivers, um, for a future for the future generation of optical transport in early two thousands. You know, we talk about how companies rent scale. Now at that time you went to Vince build scale, you know, um, we had to build our own semiconductor fab, right, to actually make our own devices that would then be deployed in systems. So it’s a really, really purely a soup to nuts design manufacturing, you know, productized package, sell type of thing end to end on your one roof. And then from thereafter, we required, the company is now part of Broadcom. Um, and we, uh, said, I should learn something about how business works at a different scale. And, um, uh, I w I ended up going to McKinsey for a few years where I was part of her led a number of initiatives or engagements with companies in different areas in tech and telco primarily. Um, but even in other areas like specialty chemicals to kind of got a rounding of business entrepreneurs side from the big business side, but really got deeper understanding of software there as well. Um, in areas like virtualization, um, in, in services and so on, um, and data center, uh, uh, operations, and then move that, and then joined SAP, who was the leader in enterprise software applications to be able to start putting that all together and applied manner. So, and that’s, um, you know, kind of a backwards forward, backwards and forwards approach chip, why I’m talking to you today, you know, because as in, in 2015, you know, when the company was thinking about how, um, we need to, you know, re keep our eye consistently, or our finger on the pulse of innovation, we look at different trends that were happening. The, you know, for emergence of the, the growth of the API economy, the, you know, the, um, the, kind of the rise of open source software, the platformization of development, of course, the, the, the introduction of, you know, the, the barriers to innovation being reduced through the being able to rent scale, or, you know, with the rise of AWS or Google cloud. And then finally the rise of machine learning, being able to really take data to the next level, all of these kinds of came together. And, you know, as SAP, we said, you know, we really need a different way to engage where the, this type of innovation be able to tap into it for the benefit of our customers, given that all of this, the leading edge of this area is that happening in the world of startups, we decided we needed a different way to engage, you know, really leading players in different areas, whether it came to technology or whether it came to applications, whether it came to, you know, new business models and we set up SAP IO, did you just that, which is how we ended up to meeting you, so

Joe: (06:47)
Super fascinating. Yeah. Your, your background is really interesting. Um, you know, starting where you started and then, uh, yeah, I think, you know, I, I felt a similar, like, uh, move from Adobe to, to cloud app and like learning how to scale and, you know, having less resources, less, less brand awareness. Um, it’s definitely different challenges. Uh, I love the, the move that SAP made, you know, back in 2015, they’re kind of, it’s really like keeping investing where you guys see the future going and making sure that those companies are directed and, uh, you know, that ends up benefiting you in multiple ways, um, for, uh, learning and being on the pulse, like you said, of innovation and, uh, having acquisition targets and just kind of understanding where things are moving.

Ram: (07:42)
Yeah. I mean, we set up everything really at the end of the day with our eye on the customer and what would benefit the customer long term and really IO being kind of a bridge to that most relevant innovation for our customers, especially as we think about their needs in the context of what SAP offers and what their customers need. Um, and being able to provide that in a curated fashion, uh, I think has served, I would say both the, um, has provided the level of simplicity and that our customers can now tap into the most relevant ag, uh, innovation in a more in a, in a, in a more straightforward way in, and helps the ecosystem that we engage with connect to customers in a more straightforward way, and on both sides, being able to reduce that complexity has provided value more quickly, and that’s what we’re trying to provide. Right. And at the same time, being able to get insights and learn about that innovation and bring those insights back into the business. So we call it kind of the win, win, win, but SAP IO, how we deliver value to customers, benefit to startups and then strategic impact to SAP. Yeah,

Joe: (08:56)
That makes a lot of sense. You know, we we’ve touched on the modern workplace and how SAP is IO is really kind of investing in that, uh, the trend was already moving to remote. Anyway, we did a survey of a thousand office workers last fall for a cloud app, and we found that 57% of gen Z was already working remotely. The majority of the time, more than 50% of millennials were working remotely, uh, you know, San Francisco’s expensive, uh, new York’s expensive people are having to live further away. Um, so how do you, uh, see the kind of current conditions that we’re under right now? Um, helping accelerate that, um, the latest I saw was Qualtrics, which is a part of SAP now, uh, Ryan announced yesterday, I believe that they’re going to let people work from home the rest of the year. So how do you think, you know, all of this since March has really accelerated that remote movement?

Ram: (09:53)
Well, I mean, I think generally, you know, I think companies, if they can, are letting people work from home, um, to the, you know, um, or how they prefer, if they can manage to work from home, if they need to work from home, they can work from home. Right. And I think SAP is, um, in some cases been at the forefront of that, as you know, I’ve heard Ryan’s, uh, announcement, definitely other parts of SAP have taken a similar approach, right. We, first of all, want to make sure our employees are safe, um, and can continue to deliver value to our customers, um, in both in an efficient and effective manner. And employee safety is, is a key consideration in both of those right, and health and wellness. I think when it comes to, of course then the longer term considerations, I think it’s both, depending on the nature of the work, um, as well as the, um, say the organizational function or the line of business that work is done within, right. So if you think there, there are some, some, um, areas of, of work, for example, that perhaps you’re more decoupled or can be more decoupled, what can be done in a transactional fashion. And we’re, you know, if familiar here with some of those today, perhaps there’s some analysis that can be done on an individual basis, code is often developed in a decoupled fashion, right. Um, customer service is, uh, is, you know, many, you know, hundreds of thousands of customer service agents now probably millions who are all working from home, right. And the web over, over time, right. Many, you know, customer services shifted to remote or to compartmentalize work overtime as well. So, um, or call centers, for example. So it depends on the nature of the work, as you know, so you can think about the, so what has to be done in maybe the finance arena is maybe different than supply chain are different, different areas of customer service or customer experience, whether it’s sales or marketing or customer service, um, um, or even transaction or, or commerce, and then even procurement.

Joe: (12:05)
Right. So all of those different functions have different, different aspects of which can be metered out or, you know, or part parceled out based on the nature of work. And that can be done in a more consistent manner. And then sometimes the nature of work requires more collaboration. Right. And, um, and, and so I think the, look, the TA the, the, the, I would say the, when we were at a hundred percent remote work today, for example, or nearly that, of course, it depends on the industry as well, software, you know, you know, or, or high tech is one extreme course alive, a lot of front facing customer facing. We have a lot of essential workers, you know, whether you’re in hospitals or retail who have to be on site, at least for now the, you know, when we think about long terms, if we think about kind of office work, for example, let’s zero in on that, it depends on, I think how much of that of each individual’s work is done in, in kind of those modes of whether it’s transactional versus collaborative and how productively or effectively those types of work can be done in a remote manner versus coming into an office primarily to meet with other people or in a sales role, um, um, or a service role to, to meet with your customer.

Ram: (13:33)
Right. Um, that’s kind of a, and, and what are the conditions that are required? One can imagine, you know, still there might be seven figure deals, which a customer wants to be able to see you in person or the one step. Some in person means to really dive down because insights come out from that, right. At this same time, there may be, um, you know, there are other pieces of work which are, um, you know, just, you know, are, can be always done independent. And so it depends on, it depends on that, and we shouldn’t lose sight as well. And so there’s, you know, roughly speaking, there’s those different categories at the same time, how do we, you know, often the Genesis of insights that you will have stemmed from a water cooler conversation that you ran into somebody in the hallway, you know, like say three months prior, and you wouldn’t, that was kind of the, the, the spark or the missing piece that filled in a hole that of a puzzle that eventually came together over a period of time.

Joe: (14:39)
And you remember that conversation that plugged in, and now you have the complete picture. Right. And so how do you keep those kind of those classic instances that can actually lead to know breakthroughs would that in a manner where if you’re working in a primarily distributed or remote world, so those are kind of the questions that you think about, right. And so, you know, we see obviously many tools today that have been deployed, of course, zoom being the one that has on top of everybody’s mind, which is, you know, enabling some feeling of face to face, um, or personal communication, but, and which is of course in a very, um, real time manner. Right. But often work as you’re, you know, we like to think is done asynchronously as well. And are there ways to enable that? Or how do you enable some of these by chance collaborations that can, or conversations that happen?

Ram: (15:40)
I’ve heard of people just keeping zoom windows open on a separate screen, just in case people want to drop, you know, drop by and chat for a few minutes or something, you know, but then there’s probably some sense of a loss of privacy there as well. Right. So, um, so I think it spans, um, abroad as a spectrum or continuum of what type of work you’re doing, what role in the organization it is and what the industry is. Right. But, you know, we think, they think, for example, you and I are both in a world of high tech of software, you know, I think there’s, and that’s something that we think about all the time. What is, you know, what is the nature of work look like? How much can be, and what we’re hearing, right. PE companies like Facebook have announced by 2030, they expect almost half of their work, or is to be, to be working, you know, in a remote fashion full time. But that also means that half of the workforce isn’t right. One reason or another,

Joe: (16:46)
There’s still very much a, uh, reason for an HQ. Um, Sean Nuna, Ryan at CEO at Adobe always called it serendipitous interactions. They always have these big open spaces and all the HQ places where people could just meet up. And I know, you know, I being at such a big company, I would frequently take VPs or directors to lunch if they were open to it and just ask them questions and just be really active, um, in networking with people. And, you know, that was something that I feel like would be a little harder that we need to figure out a, to do in this environment. But I think what it has done to your, a lot of your points is really created, um, confidence that, Hey, we like completely developed this policy in like a week. We don’t, we didn’t need six months of HR review and legal review and all this other stuff like SAP, uh, company employs a massive amount of people came together and was like, Hey, we’re closing our offices. People are gonna work from home. We’re gonna figure this out. And you figured it out now. So I think for big companies, especially, it’s like, Hey, we can, like, we can be nimble, uh, when we need to be. Um, so I think there’s some interesting confidence that we’ll we’ll we built, um, during this time.

Ram: (18:15)
Yeah. Certainly when you’re, you know, when you, when you realize, Hey, we, we, uh, the number one thing is we need to keep our employees safe. Let’s do that. Let’s keep them at home and then start to empower them with the, with the tools they need. Um, the things become, obviously this is a very, this is a, um, one of those more easier things to rally around as a, as a, or how you affect it’s, but how you effectively move forward then after you’ve made the decision, okay, we’re all gonna work from home. That’s obviously where and how are you going to work productively? Right. So we even talk about, you know, there’s a lot of processes that need to be adapted into, uh, when you think about the virtual environment, right? And, and it’s not just in, in tech, for example, it’s also in areas like education, your curriculum has really been all for in-person environments in person interaction. Now you’re trying to provide that, um, an online and a distributed, perhaps in an asynchronous manner. You know, there are certain, there are changes that need to be made. So similarly in the, in the business environment as well, it gives you a chance to rethink through your processes of how you, how you create and how you manage and how you distribute information. And, and, and, but, and, but then that leads to subsequent opportunities to say, to reprioritize, and may perhaps say we actually, that 20% of work we don’t need to do it’s that important, um, and allows you to probably, um, free up time and thinking for new, um, for new opportunities, right. I, I certainly in the Bay area and in other parts of the world, I think we see people finding that their, their overall output at the end of the day, or at the end of the week has not actually dropped because now they’ve gotten free. They’ve free being able to free up time that was perhaps used in commute, right. Houston and other activities that are now can be put forward to work, uh, in, in, or, or the effort is this, or the time has been redistributed to other perhaps more value creating activities. Yeah.

Joe: (20:37)
Yeah. We, we did this analysis of CloudApp usage. Um, my, my past life was an analyst at Adobe, so I love digging into the data coming up with insights. Um, so we looked at cloud app usage and we found that usage during the morning commute time was up about three X, uh, and after hours also was up almost three X, um, and executive usage was up over three X. So you have people communicating more frequently creating videos, hopefully skipping the meeting and sending a cloud video instead. Um, and then it’s like, for me, I wake up, I do a little bit of work and then I help my kids with school. And then I, you know, do some more work and then I eat lunch with them. And then, so it’s this, it’s not this nine to five anymore. It’s like this, um, you know, weird ma weird different schedule that fits in with what you said, still getting the same productivity done. Cause you don’t have those other, um, things taken away.

Ram: (21:40)
And what I’m hearing as well from, from companies, including many startups that we work with is that they actually have an opportunity now, more opportunities to engage with decision makers than they did before things that would have required a plane flight before, or some kind of travel to some decision makers, time is now all of a sudden, you know, they have more time because they’re not traveling. Um, and there’s more flexibility on both sides since it’s a, since it’s just a, a video call or a phone call versus having to meet in person and lot less coordination. So the opportunities to, and so to actually be able to engage stakeholders have gone up. Right. And, and so I’m not surprised that, you know, you’re seeing three X more activity during these, the, these times of to say commute because you’re not commuting. Right. And I’m, I’m certain during the day as well, even outside of commute, there’s probably usage has gone up also. Right. So, yup.

Joe: (22:52)
Yeah. Cause there’s, uh, even just like, if I think of my Adobe behavior or even like your SAP behavior, I don’t know, like walking between meetings, you know, it was like 10 minutes. Like I’d have to leave my desk. And if I was in San Jose, I’d have to like go up the elevator, I’d have to go across the bridge. I’d have to go down the other elevator and get to my room. And now even that, that little bit of time walking between meetings or whatever is freed up. So with, with all of this, uh, kind of going on, um, you know, cloud app has to, to your point, like has seen a big spike in EDU. Uh, we provide our pro product free to EDU students and, and teachers, and have seen a lot of people embrace that. We provide it to a lot of, uh, accelerators, um, for a free trial as well. Um, where do you see the future of work leading, uh, with kind of this all accelerating that, uh, how’s cloud app fit into that and, you know, the async and sync communication, um, is a piece of that modern workplace.

Ram: (24:04)
Yeah. So as we, it’s a great question. And so, as we were saying before, right, the, I think there’s a piece around having the right tools and then there’s a piece around having the right processes that best enable folks to leverage those tools. Right. So if we think about what the now with the future of say sales engagement looks like given that the process may look a little different in how you given your stakeholder of availability, what that will look like as well as different decision making is going to look like as well, because obviously we’re in a different business environment than we were in three or six months ago. That’s going to then, um, perhaps de change how you manage your stakeholders or your sponsors within a business, right? And so, uh, and that might require the need for a higher level of interaction, greater transparency, but then that also drives the need for a tool like cloud app, where you can do things you can present and share information in a cleaner, more informative way than you could before and in a manner which has becomes more easy to consume in a, at a time when I, as the receiver can consume it or, and ask questions and interact asynchronously as well.

Joe: (25:32)
So we will see, we will see processing, you know, right now we, first thing is okay, let’s, let’s get everybody a whole bunch of tools and then people will kind of figure it out. Now you think over time, they’ll figure out, okay, how am I going to work and what the optimal way to manage this, whether it’s a sales process or procurement process or development process. And then this is how I leverage tools best to be able to, to drive that, to drive that type of outcome. Right. And so the one thing that I think is clear as we think about remote work, independent of kind of where you sit in an organization or how you operate across organization or across companies, um, is the need for higher levels of proactive communication, right? So if you’re a manager managing a distributed and now distributed team, you know, you kind of re you really set aside more time to communicate individually with team members.

Ram: (26:34)
And as a group, similarly, I’m seeing people now begin to not overinvest, but invest appropriately given the current environment, um, managing external stakeholders like your buyers or your sponsors or your vendors to make sure that they have what they need, or you get what you need. And so, um, and to be able to, um, we talked about zoom, they need, of course, again, they’re there for synchronous communications, but when you have, um, a solution like cloud app, which enables community information sharing, but in an asynchronous manner, but yet allows this almost like a virtual synchronicity. Um, it’s incredibly valuable

Joe: (27:21)
When I, when I think about it from a big company perspective, you know, I was a big user of cloud app at Adobe. And, um, I had this VP who would want, um, like a weekly update, right? Uh, we didn’t necessarily meet weekly because that was insane to try and do that many one-on-ones for a VP, but I would send her a cloud app video, um, because she got a million emails and sometimes would probably not even read my update, uh, not because of lack of want to read it, but I started seeing her those videos. And I was like, Hey, let me know if this medium is easier for you. And she would listen to it. She wouldn’t watch it, but listen to it on the way walking into the office. Um, and that was a way where she didn’t have to like, consume, consume it, reading. It was auditory and it was significantly easier for communication. So that was like an aha moment for me of like, Hey, I can like cut out these massively long emails and just send this, you know, one line with the video. Um, so I think we’ll definitely see a lot more of that as people develop those skills.

Ram: (28:26)
You know, I have not myself tried that as a, as an update approach, but I think I might suggest it to my team to say, Hey, let’s start using, you know, if it’s easier for you to be able to hear the information and just like, um, you know, via, via a cloud app video, let’s do that. Right. Versus just sending me an email to a link, to an Excel sheet, we through it and then probably even better. Right?

Joe: (28:55)
Yeah. Yeah. It’s a nice way to consume. And then hopefully everyone is getting less scared of recording video. Um, all of our videos that you see like publicly are like one take Oz, like all of our marketing is ums and AHS and like normalizing video, uh, because, you know, we want people to know that it’s okay, like we’re human, it doesn’t have to look professional. Uh, it’s most important about the content so Ram it was a really great having you a lot of fun to finally connect and have you on, I’m excited about SAP IO and all the, um, you know, help that you guys provided with us. And we, we love working with you. So thanks for, thanks for joining us today. And I’m looking forward to, you know, uh, seeing how cloud app can help, you know, our, you know, the, the, the teams we work with internally and externally, um, uh, take, you know, really drive engagement across all functions to the next level, because I think this is not only pertinent in today’s environment, but going forward. So thank you Ram, have a great weekend.

Ram: (30:10)
Yep. Thank you so much.

Joe: (30:15)
Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tool used to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect. For both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

David Hunt Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey everyone. I am excited to have David Hunt with me today. David is the head of customer support at HubSpot, um, we’re users of HubSpot over at CloudApp, and I’ve also just been a big fan of their top of funnel content, lead management, um, and just kind of how they do marketing. So I’m excited to have David on with me today, and we’re going to talk a little bit about customer experience and kind of the modern workplace and other things that David sees on, on the front lines of customer support. So, David, if you wouldn’t mind, uh, tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got to HubSpot. Uh, tell me, tell us a little bit about, um, you know, what you’re doing there and, uh, we can go from there.

David: (01:01)
Awesome. Thank you for having me, Joe. Um, so I been at HubSpot for many years now. Um, I actually started as a temp, um, so I kind of stumbled into HubSpot. It wasn’t really something I was planning on pursuing. I was working for a temp agency and I got, got a chance to work on the support team and, and help with some, some integration upgrades. Um, and ultimately I think what I, probably, the reason why I’ve stayed over all these years is I’ve gotten to see like the impact that we can have on small and medium sized businesses. And like from a very early stage, I was able to take some of my at the time, pretty limited tech skills and, you know, really help people, right. Be able to, to get their website up and running right. And help them with their marketing. And so I found a lot of satisfaction from that contribution. And then over time I’ve been able to, you know, work across pretty much every job in customer support, uh, to a point where I now lead the department. And, um, a lot of that, that sort of passion for contribution has shifted to how do I help people, you know, grow their careers and have, you know, uh, have remarkable opportunities like the ones that I’ve had. Um, and so that’s kind of where I’m a bit of a bit of how I have approached my career over the past couple of years, um, outside of work, um, I’m a father, uh, and so working through this period of remote working and parenting has been a challenge, especially when running a large global support team. Um, and so there’s, there’s been that and, um, you know, but that’s, that’s, it’s also been, there’s been a lot of really amazing moments over the past couple of months of getting to see things that I would have, I might have missed otherwise. Um, and so that’s been, I’m very grateful for that. Um, in that I work at the kind of company that’s been able to sort of be flexible and, um, and, and just kind of make it work, we’re all kind of making it work together. Um, so that’s a little bit about me and, um, yeah, so I am looking forward to just sort of talking about whatever, um, aspects of customer support, what insights I have and anything else I can offer.

Joe: (03:07)
Awesome. Yeah, it’s been pretty wild, definitely like have blending those two lives of, uh, being a parent and, um, you know, taking on leadership roles and I’m sure that’s, uh, you’ve, you’ve experienced similar things to me.

David: (03:22)
Yeah. My daughter is pretty much running the department now, so, you know,

Joe: (03:28)
Um, I love, I love it. I’m sure it’s, you know, I’m excited to dig in on a few things about customer support. Um, a lot of, a lot of things I’ve been thinking about leading up to this conversation, uh, you know, as, as kind of the front lines of, um, customer support, you know, in a digital space, chances are pretty high that people have probably Googled how to do something. They’ve probably gone through your, uh, help docs. They’ve probably, uh, reached out to your support team and they probably complained about you on social, um, how, when they get to an agent, you know, what is really the DNA of a good customer experience? How do you kind of manage that someone when they finally get to your team is probably pretty fired up about fixing something. Um, obviously there’s people that are just, you know, cordial, but, uh, how do you kind of make that a good experience? How do you help them come away feeling good that they were able to connect with someone on your team?

David: (04:30)
Yeah, I think that, you know, one of the things that’s really important in a customer experience, or, you know, are if you’re in a customer facing role, right. Is to always have that empathy and recognize that like you’re dealing with a person like we’re, we’re B to B, or we’re dealing with people who are running in their businesses. It’s obviously a stressful time, um, to, to, to be navigating that for many people. Um, and you’re helping them with their livelihood. You’re helping them with their day to day to get through their week. Right. I think that that’s really critical. And with that, I think comes to the recognition of just like how valuable customer time is, or just time for any of us, right? Like time is one of those things where it’s like, you’re, um, we, we have more, we have, we’re doing more than we probably ever have, right. In terms of our commitments, both personal and professional. So, so I think that one of the things that’s really important that DNA is like that the speed at which we can help somebody. Right. And that doesn’t just mean the speed at which an agent can solve a problem, but also like all, you, you, you referenced all those other stages along the way, right. Getting help from, by Googling something, finding something on your knowledge base, you know, finding a video that walks you through something very quickly, right. Time is such an important commodity in the customer experience. Right. But I also think like part of it is, is that human connection right. Is recognizing that like you’re helping somebody. Right. And you’re able to actually hopefully contribute something to their day, contribute something to their, their, their livelihood in the case of, of B2B. Um, and that’s, that’s, I think really important as part of that, that DNA makes a

Joe: (05:58)
Lot of sense. Yeah. I liked how you pointed out time. Um, you know, it can be frustrating when you’re so reliant on a tool and it’s especially like automation, you know, with HubSpot and if something breaks and you have either emails that aren’t going sent out or, you know, things that aren’t able to happen as a part of your marketing system, it can be really frustrating. I think it’s important that you mentioned, you know, acknowledging that and, and the time that people are having to take to reach out to you and also fix the problem.

David: (06:31)
Yeah. And I think too, like, you know, if you’re because you are taking that time, right. It’s like, how can you add value? Right. How can you move from beyond, from just being about fixing a problem to really contributing something in that interaction. Right. Um, so I think like that’s a lot of times what we’re trying to instill across, you know, our team around the world is like, how do we move away from just being this sort of like, you know, having these transactional interactions to where we’re really provide providing value. Um, and so somebody is walking away with maybe more than they, they, they initially came into that interaction expecting.

Joe: (07:03)
I really liked that. So, you know, as, um, customer support is really so important and you’re kind of going in on this a little bit, but how can you really try and stand out when someone reaches out to you and you mentioned, um, you know, adding in elements that maybe they didn’t know about before, uh, take us through that a little bit more and, and maybe share some experiences there.

David: (07:26)
Yeah, I think, um, I mean, I think part of it is like recognizing, like what, like what makes your team special, right. Not every customer support team is set up the same way and not every business is going to make sense, but I think like understanding what are those strengths? Like, what are those things that, that maybe set your team apart or set your experience apart, right. It’s not all just about the, your, your, your human support, but also everything around your, you know, helping, helping your customers. Um, and I think really going after those strengths in doing even when that might be contrary to, um, some of, some of the kind of business metrics or business constraints. So, like for example, we, we, we make sure that, like we see support as central to our customer experience. And it’s been a big point of investment, not just financially, but also in terms of like resources, innovation, making sure that we’re, we’re really growing the team in terms of their, um, the skills that they’re developing. And I think like that’s all a recognition of, like, we see this as like there’s a world where we could be trying to do less for customers and we’re trying to do more. Right. We’re trying to, how do we like challenging ourselves that even within constraint, how can we reach more customers? How can we get, you know, drive more impact? Um, and so I think like that’s kind of how I think about that problem is like, what are ways that we can once again, provide that incremental value versus just trying to be like, how do we stop, stop the tickets? Right. Um, we’ve seen even that, like, how are, um, how support interactions, impact retention, right. So customers who, um, you know, they, they buy HubSpot for a number of, one of the reasons they stay with HubSpot is because of the support. And so like, that’s, once again, it’s like really trying to, to lean into what we’re good at versus trying to say like, well, we, we, we need to save on costs. We need to drive down our tickets. Like we want to work with customers. We want to work as many customers as possible, but we want those interactions to be valuable and not something that they’re, you know, they’re, they’re frustrated, or they’re forced to have to work with us on.

Joe: (09:17)
That makes a lot of sense. Do you, do you guys, um, you know, obviously tickets is hoping to get to ticket zero, you know, as, as frequently as possible, what are the, what are the things do you try and guys try and focus on? Is it like a NPS customer satisfaction scores? Uh, what are, what are some metrics that you try and lead your team with?

David: (09:36)
Yeah, I think on the ticket zero one, like, we’re, we’re really trying to make sure that like, we’re like, like once again though that like, we, we want to be mindful of what our incident rate is, right. That like customers are, you know, interacting with us because they want to be interacting with us versus because they have to. Um, but then we’re also tracking things like customer support, MPS, we’re tracking things around resolution time, a number of other kinds of like industry standard metrics. Um, but I think a lot of it too is making sure that like, we’re then using those metrics as like an objective starting point of a conversation to make our experience better. Right. It’s not just about, you know, MPS on, in an, in a vacuum is interesting directionally, but it’s, it’s more about, okay, what are we learning from those insights and those friction points in the experience and what are we doing to sort of eliminate them upstream. Um, and that’s a lot of, a lot of where we spend our time kind of operationally is trying to refine the things that will, will help all customers and drive more value.

Joe: (10:37)
Um, it makes a lot of sense. You know, I, I think, uh, HubSpot is really excellent with, um, onboarding videos, how to tutorials, uh, product videos and other things. And we have a lot of people that use the cloud app screen recorder and screenshot tool on customer support teams, um, to kind of, you know, close tickets, faster, uh, use videos and visuals. I’m not sure if you guys are doing that now, but how do you think visuals and videos and not just kind of pushing someone to like an FAQ page or whatever can be helpful to, um,

David: (11:09)
Yeah, I think they’re like from a, one of the things I think that’s really important about, um, creating a good customer experience is, is being contextual right. And understanding how do I like, yes, the customer has a question, but that cost, that question is very much, you know, not going to always be able to be answered by the generic or, or the sort of high level doc. Um, they have specific use cases. They’re trying to get you to help them design solutions and video can really speed up that communication. Um, text-based communication is misunderstood like 50% of the time, right. So we spend a lot of time trying to write these long emails and then, you know, the answer is an email, but it just gets missed. Right. Um, and so that’s so much of that I think comes down to like, how can you very quickly and visually communicate some of these concepts? How can you, it, um, I think that that’s one of the great things about, you know, capture, screen capture software, like, like cloud app, where you can create this video that can be personalized and somebody, you know, in their app and their instance, right. With their information. And they can really see then, okay. Like that’s how I do the thing versus maybe having to explain that over the course of five or six emails.

Joe: (12:14)
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I think there is a connection that can happen, like you said, and that, that personality, um, especially, you know, automation is awesome and we all believe in it, but it also can sometimes feel like it’s automated. So finding ways to create that, like one-to-one connection is really important.

David: (12:36)
Yeah. And like, I think it’s also, uh, I mean, it could be a bit of like a creative expression too. Right. It allows you to communicate in a different way. Um, and I think that, that, that it’ll be exciting to see how that evolves over time, right. To, to be able to, you know, we’re all communicating through, through different, um, teleconference software right now. And we’re all communicating like there, there’s going to be, I think a lot of evolution of how we communicate in this sort of digital video world. So I think it’s a really cool space to kind of explore and think about, you know, how do we continue to, to push the envelope there

Joe: (13:11)
For sure. What are some of the, you know, you talked a lot about, uh, people coming into HubSpot and, you know, trying to add value and other things, um, what are some strategies as a whole, at HubSpot looking at the entire customer journey where you really try and create a loyal customer, someone who is going to go out there and gonna stick with you and really push for you when they move companies and, you know, be a, be a real champion for HubSpot.

David: (13:41)
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think a big part of that right. Is, is that they’re sort of one of the things I like about, you know, where we’re positioned in terms of the market who we’re trying to sell it to and how we’re, you know, we’re really trying to equip marketers and salespeople and service people with a ton of power, but make it easy. Right. And, and that’s sort of fundamental to trying to help everybody be successful. Right. You don’t need to be a, an admin with a ton of technical experience to get your marketing campaign off the ground. Right. Um, so I think about it is sort of, you know, someone said recently, you know, we’re in the business of selling careers, right. Not just software. Um, and I think like that’s kind of part of how we think about it, right? How do we help that marketer look good, good look good for their, to their boss, with I, you know, proving the value of this campaign or how do we help, you know, a sales person who’s starting out become more productive? How do we level the playing field? And so I think about that a little bit. It’s like, that’s part of how you create promoters is like, you’re actually, you’re impacting the people at the end of the day. Um, and that’s, I think a big part of kind of like what we set out to do is like, you should, like, everyone should be able to do some of this stuff and like yes, where there’s still a ton of complexity and it’s, you know, it’s dense software, that’s powerful, but at the same time, there’s a lot of things that like, it shouldn’t require, you know, a web developer to be able to get your work off the ground. And that, that’s kind of like where we’re, what we’re pushing towards.

Joe: (15:03)
That’s a, yeah, that’s really insightful. Uh, and I want to kind of dig in on that a teeny bit with, with you guys, you know, being spread across, uh, you mentioned kind of like someone being able to just really set something up pretty easily. Maybe that’s like a small business or something. Um, certainly, you know, we’re a small tech company that’s using HubSpot and getting value out of it, but you also have, you know, many medium and, and uh, enterprise companies. Um, how do you kind of segment, you know, how to help different, uh, users and personas, um, at different size companies and, and, uh, do you see much differences there? Yeah,

David: (15:43)
I think like, you know, we, we’ve, we’ve experimented with a bunch of different strategies in the past, on, in that space. Right. And I think that, like, we’ve seen sort of like less, um, less differences than you might expect. Right. And part of that is because, I mean, if you’re, if you’re a more complex company, if you’re, you know, an enterprise customer, if you’re using more of a software, like you’re going to have, you know, more complex needs, but even then I’d say that like, you know, in the startup space, you have some people who are, you know, using very basic products and really pushing the envelope. So some of it is less about like the subs, your subscription level and what you’re paying, but also is about like your, your business context. So I think that, like for us, we, we try to add these first and foremost, get really clear on like, w like what’s a really high base level of service we want to provide versus trying to be like, well, you know, with some exceptions, like we, you know, for our free CRM, we provide a community. We don’t provide access to human support. Right. But for pretty much any other product, right. We’re giving you, uh, you know, a really high level of service. And so that’s sort of been our, our place to make sure that we’re like we first and foremost have a really high baseline. And then we’re sort of layering on additional, um, you know, behind the scenes offerings. Right. Cause it’s not, I think one of the other challenges with when you’re running a support team, as it comes really like, well, if you pay for this additional service, you get X and Y and like, and one of the things that I think we’re trying to be as like fairly transparent, but also simple, right? Like if, if you need to layer on this whole additional services packages and all this other stuff, right. I think it just gets that much more, that’s much more complex. So, um, it’s always this balancing act of trying to make sure we’re tailoring to meet the needs of different customer segments and recognizing that like, you know, a customer who’s paying $50 probably, you know, from just an economic standpoint, we’ll need to have a different level of service than somebody who’s paying, you know, thousands of dollars every month. But like, we, we don’t want it to feel like we won’t, like, we’re fundamentally committed to everybody having that sort of opportunity to grow and that access access to help when they need it.

Joe: (17:43)
Cool. Yeah. I think, uh, having elements, like you said, culturally, that are like, we’re just going to provide good service regardless of if you’re a free user or, you know, our top paying customer. Um, I think that really helps when it’s integrated and then, um, you know, just providing, uh, a tailored customer service to someone who comes in, but the strategies are kind of the same. Yeah.

David: (18:08)
I think like, you know, on the sort of like in the free space, right. We spend a lot of time in our product and engineering, Oregon investing in like, how do we still create a remarkable experience, but that could be totally touchless, right? Like, ideally you’re able to come in and do everything that you want to do within sort of a free suite or even a starter suite without having to talk to, you know, a support person, a bunch over the course of a month. Um, and so I think like that’s another thing is like making sure you’re, you’re making investments in that freemium space to really create that, um, you know, that ease, that ease of use experience from, from day one.

Joe: (18:42)
Awesome. I like to ask, um, you know, what a recent experience that you’ve had as a consumer is, um, could be retail. It could be tech, could be, you know, really whatever. Um, what’s, what’s a brand that’s really stood out to you, uh, recently with, with you as the customer.

David: (19:01)
Yeah. I mean, um, I think like a lot of my, like were more, my head goes on that question is probably things with response, like, like different companies responding to the current coronavirus crisis and how they, you know, and there’s like one end of the spectrum where people are taking like a very non, um, human approach. And on the other end, it’s like, people are very empathetic. And, um, and I think that’s been kind of our approach is trying to help customers, weather the storm and make it work, whether it’s through, you know, discounting or some other means to just try to like help them, you know, with cashflow issues and get through it. Um, the, um, like for me, like, like on a more personal note, like even something like our rec reentry into daycare, right. The they’ve been very flexible about, Hey, we, we know that you, like, it’s a weird time, right. We’ll hold your spot for X until X date, that type of thing. And so like really giving that consumer, the, the flexibility there. And it’s like, that’s a kind of a more personal example where I feel much more like, you know, when we will definitely continue to, to work with that, that daycare provider. Um, I also think about like experiences that, you know, on more of a consumer level where it’s just like, it’s, it’s very personalized and it’s, um, where it’s kind of like, you, I’m always amazed when, like you can, you know, if you do have to contact support, they have all the contexts. So like, and it’s, it’s, it’s it’s then like that whole interaction it’s like, they’ve got, they basically know what you’re calling about and they’re able to solve it like super fast. So, um, you know, brands that you’re working with where it’s like, you’re, you’re, you’re going in expecting to have like your traditional customer support experience. And then it’s like, um, you, you, you go in there and you’re just blown away. Right. Because they have so much information, they have access, they have really smart, talented people. Um, and, uh, like I think those are, those are the kinds of interactions where you’re like, wow, like that’s, that’s how you get a promoter from a support experience.

Joe: (20:54)
That’s really good point. I think it’s just focusing on little things, not just giving the baseline experience. Um, I love that example of the daycare, you know, it’s, it’s been pretty cool, obviously small business and local businesses have been hit pretty hard everywhere. It’s been cool to kind of see innovation, um, with like curbside pickup for food and, uh, you know, people like we have this like local bookstore that we love to go to. And they were like, um, they were wrapping up books and then writing like the plot on it. So it was like wrapped in this, um, paper bag type style, and then the plot was written. So it was like they were selling a mystery basically, like you were, you didn’t know what you were buying, but it was like recommended by the editors or the people that worked there. Yeah. I thought that was kind of cool and just all kinds of innovation, um, with trying to connect with people and really, uh, that’s been, you know, one good thing to come out of this, which has been kind of cool to see. Yeah.

David: (21:54)
I like transparency too, is another thing, like, I think that, like, it’s, I’m always impressed when companies are willing to sort of say like, Hey, we’re, um, we, we know like, we’re like we have a backlog we’ve, we’ve had supply chain issues. We’ve had some of these things and like just like kind of leveling with, with customers and, and, and hopefully customers are understanding and those situations where it’s like, you know, there’s been an influx in demand in this new world and we’re, and we’re um, so I think also just kind of like transparency and communication, something I’ve been really impressed with various businesses around as they sort of like their, you know, the other end of the spectrum where they’re getting totally hammered with demand. Um, and so it’s always cool to see sort of how do people navigate that and be transparent and hopefully, um, you know, speak to sort of customers, um, you know, empathy of what they’re going through.

Joe: (22:42)
One thing, one thing I got to got to know before we get to kind of our last question, this has been a great conversation. Really appreciate it, David. Um, what is onboarding been like? I’m sure, you know, customer support is one of those that may have higher churn, uh, kind of like sales and customer success. And, you know, marketing can have churn as well. As far as employee retention goes, what is it like onboarding remotely? And I’m sure you do this a lot already, but what are some tips and tricks for like, um, people that are hiring still right now, um, to make sure people are brought into the company, they feel comfortable, they feel ready and they’re, they’re moving day one without necessarily, uh, uh, you know, face to face.

David: (23:24)
Yeah. So like we started at least in support a couple of years ago, we started like hiring remote, which like we were the law, the company, most of the roles were in office roles and we started to at least build out kind of that remote team. And I think we probably missed a lot of opportunities early on or where we just kind of thought things would just transfer one-to-one it’s like, okay, this structure of this thing that works in the office, right. Like we don’t really need to be really mindful about that experience the same way, because it just happens. People just, you know, you come in with a new hire class and you get to know each other and you have like the coffee chats or whatever. Right. And I think, so I think part of it is like, you have to really look at it as like, what are those touch points that you lose along the way and how can you kind of recreate them in some way that’s, that’s fairly inclusive and engaging, um, because like there’s a lot there where I think, yes, we can probably get up to speed and do a job. Um, but some of what you may be missing along the way is, is that connection or is the, um, you know, the, the, the feeling like you, you have access to other people for help. Right. Some of those things that maybe you take for granted, so it’s important to look at like, well, how do you sort of recreate some of that in the remote context? Right. Little things, even like, you know, daily standups or, you know, you’re using some kind of Slack or some other software to communicate throughout the day. Um, and that, I think also you’re, you’re really thinking about how do you make sure that people are getting the opportunity to, I think, get into the work as soon as possible, but then sort of apply and apply what they’re learning. Right. Because I think it becomes that much even harder to be like here’s three weeks of like video content to go through and now you’re, then you’re going to apply to a job it’s like really adults learn through doing, and you need to make sure that like, you know, as, as, as quickly as possible, right. So we actually like redid our whole onboarding program to make it work for remote. And now that’s kind of become the standard of for everybody. Um, so, and, and we found two people actually in that onboarding program were ramping up faster and they were becoming more productive, but it took a lot of like growing pains and iteration to make some of those changes. But I definitely would say like trying to give people the opportunity to apply what they’re learning as quickly as possible, um, you know, is really, is really key there because otherwise I think it’s like, you, you kind of lose people in terms of that engagement. And, um, yeah. And I think also just making sure you, you have, like I said, access to, to individuals, access to leaders, making sure you’re creating that inclusive environment.

Joe: (25:50)
Yeah. That’s great. That’s nice that you guys had already kind of been moving that way, so you could have some, you know, iterations of playbooks and see what was good and what was bad and, um, make some, make some choices there. Yeah.

David: (26:03)
It’s been nice to it kind of leveled the playing field though, too, or is that everyone’s remote, every manager has to manage remote. Right. So it’s, it’s just, it’s actually, I think been in, in many ways it’s been a challenge, but it’s also kind of catalyzed probably the direction that we were going to head as a world in many, many situations. So I think that that’s, um, that’s definitely been a positive cause we’re all trying to get better and to think more about like that experience of each person, you know, who’s sitting all across the world.

Joe: (26:31)
Awesome. David, I just got one last question for you as we kind of close things up today. Um, what advice do you have for customer support leads out there? Um, you know, you, you, you said worked your way up from being attempt to lead, um, you know, the, of the, uh, one of the larger departments I’m sure at HubSpot, um, what, what are some tips and tricks? Um, some advice just kind of give your parting words of wisdom out there.

David: (26:59)
All right. I’ll give it a shot. Um, so I think like for me, I never thought I would be running a customer support team. It wasn’t really like what I aspire to or anything like that. Um, I think what, what it was always about is, you know, stepping outside my comfort zone for the sake of growth and where could I have impact. Right. So a lot of that was like, you know, that starts out when you’re getting started. It’s like taking the scary case, right. Or taking the thing. You, you have no idea what the, what the customer is talking about. Right. But you’re going to get through it. And on the other side of that, you’ve learned something on the other side of that you’ve, you’ve helped somebody. Um, and I think about that kind of like is a consistent theme where it’s like, I, when I got into managing people, right. That was really scary. And I probably had other opportunities. I could, could’ve gone a different route and taken a, um, you know, Ben maybe better from day one, but that was gonna challenge me. And the opportunity for impact was greater. So I think like that’s kind of how I’ve approached it. It’s like, I’ve never done most of the things that I’ve done in my career. And so then it’s like always coming through, getting to the other side of that and to do that, you also need to surround yourself with people who are gonna kind of help you, right. Who are going to challenge you to be better, whether they’re they’re people who are working for you or that you’re working for, or your peers. Um, I think like getting to work with really smart, interesting people who are pushing you to do your best work is, is critical. Um, and then I think like also just, um, the, I’m trying to think of other, other parting words of wisdom. Um, yeah, I think like, like for me too, it’s about like, how do you always, you know, like how are you leaving things better than you found it? How are you helping others and giving others a voice? How are you being inclusive in your, like in your day to day? You know, um, I think that that’s, this is like really important. It’s like, if you want to work at the kind of organization where people can bring them their best selves and be authentic, right. Every single person I think plays a role in that. And you know, and it’s even that much harder, I think, in the remote context and some of those things, but always, I think thinking about like, like who am I being for my team and how am I in inf for and for customers. Um, and, and how am I, how am I facilitating that kind of environment where people can do their best work.

Joe: (29:11)
Awesome. David. Yeah. We’re, we’re all making it up along the way. So it’s always good to hear other leaders say that. So yeah. I appreciate your time today. I’m big fans of HubSpot and keep up the good work and look forward to talking again soon. Yeah. Thank you, Joe. I appreciate it. Thanks David. Bye bye. Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tool use to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect. For both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Chris Vaughn Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hello everyone. I am so excited today to have Vaughn with me from Chris Vaughn is the head of marketing and, uh, has a pretty great story. And also crisp is, uh, a tool that I love to use and has definitely, I’m sure seen a lot of growth during this time. Uh, Chris is a great product that fits seamlessly into Chrome and also has some desktop app capabilities to, uh, help limit all the background noise that all of us might be dealing with while working from home or remotely. Uh, so I want to go ahead and let Vahana talk a little bit about himself and how he ended up at crisp and, uh, we’ll go into some, some questions.

Chris: (01:05)
Hey Joe, thank you so much for having me here. It’s a pleasure. I’m a big fan of your podcast and it feels great to be here as a guest. So, uh, my name is wagon stark, Sianna, as you mentioned, I am working as the marketing director of crisp for a year now, and I’m working as a merit marketer since 2008, right before Chris buy was working in a snap group, which is the first a unicorn startup in Iran. It’s initiated, initiated by a German rocket internet back in 2014. So, and about my education, I got my master’s degree and a business. Then I decided to continue my education in the online extension of UC Berkeley university called Berkeley X. And I started to study marketing analytics there. So yeah, that’s a brief introduction.

Joe: (01:58)
That’s great. Yeah, I’m such a big fan of crisp and what you and the team are doing over there. Uh, you know, we’re kind of, we’ve, we’ve forced seven years of digital transformation talk into seven weeks. Um, we’re kind of all embracing the modern workplace. Uh, what do you think that looks like to you?

Chris: (02:22)
So, uh, when I think of the modern workplace, the two main characteristics that are coming to my mind are, uh, connectivity and flexibility. So, uh, we are living in a highly connected world and is not just limited to humans. Um, I’m an, the recent IOT advances, for example, I also enabling the constant machine to machine connection and this aura level of connectivity in the world is increasing every day and if not every hour. So, uh, this highly connected regime is also applied in workplaces every week. We see tons of new tools and softwares coming to the word that they main purpose is to get people connected with their colleagues in the best possible way. And, um, on the other hand, we have flexibility where employees are allowed to choose the way they want to stay connected. And when we combine these two together, I mean, connectivity and flexibility, the modern workplace will be a place where people are highly connected, but they’re also allowed to choose when and how to do that.

Joe: (03:28)
I love that thought that you put into that. I think it’s so important to recognize that, you know, maybe a nine to five, isn’t exactly what people want, uh, or, you know, in crisps case you have offices in Armenia and in the States. And so nine to five probably doesn’t work so well for you. Uh, you know, if the, if you’re trying to communicate with, uh, your colleagues in Armenia, then you’re gonna always be 12 hours off of each other. Um, so you got to have that flexibility, but also find ways to really connect, which I really enjoy that you added there. Exactly. You know, this, this trend was kind of moving towards remote. Anyway, we did this re cloud app last summer that showed over 50% of millennial and gen Z generations were working remotely. The majority of the time, uh, that can be due to, you know, San Francisco is just really expensive. Uh, so people have to live further away. Um, big cities in general are expensive and may, you know, people have debt coming out of school and may not have that money to be able to pay live close by. So what do you think the kind of current conditions the last really two months have helped accelerate that kind of move to remote and how businesses are seeing that?

Chris: (05:00)
So, uh, I’m sure you have heard the resemblance was from Twitter’s CEO objectors. So in us that their workforce is allowed to stay removed even after dependent against, and they are not the only ones doing this. I mean, there are lots of, so as researchers we’ve been going on in big corporates, and last week I was reading something from Gardner, it was a survey, uh, in top executives and us, and the results are suggesting that maybe remote working is a better option. I mean, for lots of companies, it was a discovery. They have not experienced this before, but now most of them, I realized that indeed it’s possible to work from home. And it’s still a product team and very much work with a strong option to consider for the future. So, um, it was also a new experience for employees to people realize that it is possible to work from home and still stay productive and accomplish goals. Um, but there’s also one another perspective I want to talk about. Uh, so some afternoon with working evangelists and influencers are worried that people may become disappointed with remote working because, uh, they may confuse this kind of forced working from home experience with the real remote working experience as it was before the abandoned week. So, uh, it’s, it’s really important for us to distinguish between the real room with work experience and it’s kind of forced working from home regime, um, and that’s something companies need to consider. So

Joe: (06:36)
That’s, that’s a really good point. Yeah. I know I’ve, I’ve said, and I’ve seen lots of other people say this, that this is far from the remote experience. You know, this is people having to work from home during a pandemic and, uh, you know, I’ve, I have three kids and so like we’re trying to homeschool them and, uh, you know, balancing things that I have to get done each day with what my wife has to get done each day. Um, and that’s, you know, far from a normal remote experience, uh, where you have kind of that flexibility and maybe not that mental strain that has kind of come with all of this.

Chris: (07:11)
Exactly. So there’s in a normal working from situations, you have the right to go to gym after the work, you have time to relax and that’s something that is not happening now. And you need to consider this.

Joe: (07:25)
Yeah, I think a big piece of it too, is just that a connection. Like I know a lot of my friends who, um, work remote would like meet up with colleagues at like a coffee shop in for breakfast. And then, you know, they’d go out with people for lunch and then the rest of the time they’re kind of working from home. And like you said, yeah, they would take a break and go to the gym. And so there’s like, there’s no entertainment, there’s no like peer to peer interaction. And so it’s definitely a much different

Chris: (07:58)
Yeah, exactly.

Joe: (08:00)
How do you think, you know, zoom has obviously exploded, blue jeans was acquired by Verizon kind of, uh, acquisition pending, um, Google video, uh, Google meet came out as free and has really expanded things. Facebook has added video into messenger app. How do you think, uh, tools like, like a cloud app that provides kind of a sync video, um, and, and visuals can really help a distributed workforce or remote team during this time?

Chris: (08:36)
So, uh, that’s a good question. When I look at a bigger picture, we, the collaboration is not something brand new, so it takes us for a few decades and what zoom and other video conferencing companies are doing now is basically, uh, presenting a more beautiful, uh, easy and pleasant solution for that. So, uh, and we see that these big companies are also adding new, smart and AI features to we do collaboration everyday, and that is changing the videoconferencing as we knew it a few years ago. And as you mentioned, for example, Virginia’s is, um, adding that smart meetings that, uh, is awesome. And it’s really, uh, an, a level up in the videoconferencing experience, I would say, uh, for apps like cloud app. Uh, I believe that right now, the main thing that is making the cloud app screen recorder and screenshot tool a unique and great product is the fact that a cloud was a package of solutions for some problems that we all face during the day. And that’s the beauty of it. So, um, I mean, on the other hand, when we compare it to crisp, uh, grease results are trying to enhance the quality of communication and it has that to experience, uh, Y working cross platform and between all conferencing gaps. So, um, I think the smarter and faster love with the communication, like what zoom blue jeans are doing and mixing that with easy and flexible sharing and collaboration options that cloud app or offering will be the future reality of, uh, videoconferencing at collaboration. I mean, these two should work together is to come hand to hand offline that live video conferencing things.

Joe: (10:26)
Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think there’s, there’s definitely a space for, you know, meetings are not going away. Uh, you can’t eliminate all meetings. Um, you can certainly eliminate a lot of them. Um, I’ve found going from a massive company in Adobe to cloud app, I probably freed up three hours of my day, at least that was in meetings. Um, and I’m sure, you know, you probably had a similar experience. Um, but yeah, it’s, it’s so nice to kind of find a middle ground where you can kind of combine those, the synchronous and asynchronous.

Chris: (11:03)
Exactly. Yeah.

Joe: (11:05)
During this time, you know, it’s been pretty crazy. Um, I know, like everything moved pretty fast on our side and I’m sure it has a lot of other companies as well. Um, as a leader, how have you tried to, um, support kind of the company’s goals, uh, kind of keep morale high, um, you know, really engage the team and keep things rolling during, uh, difficult times. And also, I, I, you know, assuming crisp is, is doing really well right now, uh, during kind of remote, uh, playbook needs. How have you guys kind of jumped in on that wave?

Chris: (11:51)
Yeah, that’s a good word. Good question. So actually, as a young leader, I learned a lot during this past month. And, uh, in fact it was the first time that I was managing a team in a global crisis situation. So, um, as you mentioned as a managers and execute, if you have to go this issue, you need to keep the morals of the team. And also you have three KPIs. So I don’t want to sound like a religious preacher here, but, uh, the most important thing that I learned as a manager is that, uh, offering kindness is a great solution to all the product problems that you face during situations like this. So, um, I took into consideration that during the crisis like this, everyone is worried everyone is anxious. So some people may struggle with chronic disorders or they may be locked down abroad from their families. So, um, I decided to be as kind as possible and offer maximum empathy, empathy to the team members. So this is one side of story. The other one is that, uh, you have strict KPIs and goals to achieve. I realized that, uh, kindness is serving both. And in fact, um, this is backed by science too. I mean, there are lots of papers researchers out there suggesting that happier teams are more to, uh, tend to achieve more goals are, tend to accomplish more tasks. Uh, they are more creative with ideas and that’s a completely a win, win situation for everyone, I would say. So, um, to wrap it up, I would say the lesson I learned is that kindness is a strong solution to lots of problems that may occur in a chaotic situation like this.

Joe: (13:37)
I love that. Yeah. I mean, you’re really trying to, you’re, you’re really preaching back to what you talked about with modern workplace being, uh, flexible and connected. Uh, you know, you can’t be connected unless you see the human element of all of this and kind of recognize, like I have people on my team who have kids. And so I know, you know, sometimes it’ll probably be a couple hours during the day where I may not hear from them, um, when I’m trying to get ahold of them. Cause they they’ve got, you know, similar challenges to me. Um, and really just kind of like recognizing the human element of all of this is really important.

Chris: (14:16)
Yeah. That’s completely true that human element, that the emotions is important, but for managing a team also as a marketer, that’s important to how you’ll be able to customers are you, uh, communicate with the customers that you want to limit is something that is helping always

Joe: (14:35)
Vaughn, this has been a really fun conversation. It’s been great to kind of hear how you’re leading things at, in marketing, at crisp and how you guys are kind of embracing the modern workplace. I want to understand, you know, with, with all of this on, um, companies are building remote playbooks, uh, they’re being forced to, right? So the Googles and Microsofts and apples and Facebooks of the world are having to come up with policies to support remote work. Uh, you know, Twitter came out the other day and said that they were going to support working from home policies in the future. Uh, how do you see, you know, with remote playbooks in hand, what is the new normal kind of look like?

Chris: (15:25)
So yeah, everything is changing. I mean the new normal will be a remote first workforce, definitely at least for the it sector. And so it may not happen right away after this pandemic is it may not happen in the next six or 12 months, but it will definitely happen for the next few years. And you are going toward a remote first or workforce. So as an example, I would say maybe a tick like budget for setting up a home office will be a solid part of all compensation packages of employees and things like that. So, um, and I think that will be a good word because athletic crease and cloud app will be running and, uh, millions of devices because that would be a necessity for everyone that is planning to, um, be a productive remote worker. So, uh, nobody knows what will exactly happen, but I definitely remote very much first word for is something that we are heading into.

Joe: (16:27)
Yeah. I agree. I’d love to just kind of get some closing thoughts with you. Um, are, are you, I can’t remember, are you primarily based in Armenia, are you in the States? So right. I’m in Armenia. Okay. Do you, what is, what is a kind of a way that you guys, um, work to communicate with being, uh, you know, in such different time zones, if you have, you know, people in the States working kind of while, while the Armenian people are sleeping, how, how have you guys kind of balanced that?

Chris: (17:03)
Yeah, so, uh, we are using lots of tools. Uh, we have Slack that are, we are using for day to day communication. Uh, we have our daily, weekly sync ups, uh, with zoom and we are also using emails for more longterm project. I don’t think that’s my day to day communication. So I think that’s something that you get used to when you work in a company that is active in different times on different situations. And it has two parts. One is the culture and things that you learn when you, when you work in companies, such as this. And the other aspect is tools that you use that kind of enhanced your experience are working in different times on and, uh, in different countries. So I would say, uh, still we are not a perfect, a remote first company, I would say, but, uh, we are heading to that and we are trying to learn that. So writing lots of, uh, blog posts in our website and our blog about what company is remote management in which work, and they also have to, we are reading that post to, to learn how to the remote work. Yeah. I hope that very soon.

Joe: (18:19)
Yeah. I feel like I’m kind of similar. It’s, it’s just, it’s fascinating to me to hear. I mean, a lot of startups, you know, startup remote, uh, cloud app was very remote in the beginning and now we’re still like 60% remote, but we have a central office, um, in Utah where we have, you know, kind of go to market stuff going on. Um, but yeah, like the global distributed team is just really interesting to learn. So thanks for diving in on that a little bit.

Chris: (18:49)
Yeah, sure.

Joe: (18:51)
It was a pleasure having you. I really appreciate you taking out some time today to go through a crisp and how things are going over, over there during the remote movement. Uh, everyone did go go, definitely go ahead and check out crisp. It’s a really slick add on two tools that I’m sure you’re all using and it’s really a great way to, um, clean up any audio that you’re working with. So thanks for again for your time today, Bajan, and look forward to talking again soon.

Chris: (19:22)
So thank you so much, Joe. It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Joe: (19:29)
Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tool use to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect for both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Anya Jamar Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey everyone. I am excited to be at my house this morning in my bedroom podcasting with Anya Jamar, Isaac Otto. Uh, Anya has a PhD in cognitive science. She’s a researcher at heart has been doing research for a very long time, uh, for lots of different tech and B2B companies, um, and was connected me through Finn, uh, our head of product over here at cloud app. And I’m excited to connect with Anya on a few different things as a researcher background myself on customer experience. And then probably also just talked about this craziness that we’re going through. Um, Anya, if you wouldn’t mind giving us a little background on yourself and kind of where you got to where you are now,
Anya: (01:02)
For sure. So yeah, I’m happy to join you from my living room slash office. Uh, so yeah, so I’m a researcher. I have a PhD in cognitive psychology ended a postdoc in cognitive neuroscience. Um, so most of my kind of academic research was around how people think, how they, reason how memory works, all of these kind of nitty gritty of thought. Um, but at the same time, I was always interested in design. So I was reading design blogs and like thinking about decorating and all of these, uh, more aesthetic interests, I guess. Uh, and so I wanted to find a way to combine these two loves of mine. So now I work on research, uh, related to the built environment mostly, and, um, the way that the digital and physical environment interact. So connecting all of this great research that we have from psychology, from cognitive science, building science and improving, uh, experience in environments, given this, uh, big background, as well as conducting new research to answer specific questions.

Joe: (02:04)
That’s, that’s so cool. You know, one of the things I loved about that kind of brought me into marketing was more because I was so fascinated by consumer behavior and like why things happened. And I kind of took my, you know, finance data background into marketing with that in mind. And at Adobe, you know, we actually, as I was leaving, we were hiring a whole bunch of PhDs in basically the exact background you just said. Um, and they were, you know, leading surveys and consumer research and really understanding, uh, customer behavior and the journey and like how we can kind of make changes along the way with a world full of distraction and so many things going on. How have you found ways to kind of cut through the noise and, um, understand what a customer is really thinking?

Anya: (02:57)
I would say, um, really having empathy, uh, and trying to take the perspective of a customer is really important. So, uh, I think oftentimes if you just ask what people want, they don’t know, and the best products that get created, people don’t know they need. So I think really taking into consideration, um, how people’s lives could be improved, uh, any pain points that they’re experiencing, that they might not be aware of and then trying to build a product to that and understanding really how to message as well so that people can recognize that they need this thing that they didn’t know, they, they needed.

Joe: (03:41)
When you’re designing, is something kind of digging in on that a little deeper when you’re designing either a, you know, a survey or something to get to understanding the behavior or designing the experience itself. Uh, what, what is kind of a, a secret sauce that you like to go to?

Anya: (04:02)
Uh, so for surveys, I think one thing that we can use is the kind of metaphors that people use a lot. So people tend to, for example, uh, visualize things going up towards the right and upgoing, uh, or more going up. And so I’ve seen a lot of bad surveys out there where, for example, good is on the left hand side of the scale. And that is on the right hand side of the scale. That’s completely against what we know from cognitive science. So kind of going back to first principles of like, what would, how do people interpret space? How do people interpret, um, questions and then trying to design around that? So like understanding how people work and then designing, for example, survey questions, or the way that you’re wording, uh, certain scenarios, understanding how people would interpret that rather than kind of going from what you would like to see, or maybe how you would interpret a question.

Joe: (05:00)
Yeah, it’s funny. Like, I feel like I’m a little jaded with any type of research having done it for so long, and I’m sure you’re the same. Like, I I’ll look at like first, the sample size, you know, and some people will put out data that has like a hundred survey respondents and I’m like, well, that’s, that’s, you know, debatable if that’s worth putting out. And, uh, then I, then I secondly, think exactly what you said, like, well, how did they structure the survey? Like was their garbage responses in there? Um, yeah, that’s really, really, yeah. And I think it really depends on the methodology. So let’s say do have a hundred people, but they’re representative of the population. I think often you can get a really strong signal. And then obviously if you have more people, you can get more. Um, and then when you’re testing people’s experience, I think sometimes you need very small sample sizes. So for example, I worked at this, uh, lab called the well living lab where we, um, examined the impact of the environment on people and people would be in this space and we would change different environmental configurations and see how they reacted. We would only need a sample size of, let’s say 10 people, because we were making these changes and seeing how people reacted. And if everyone reacted the same way, let’s say when it got cold, we could infer that in general, that’s a kind of a phenomenon that happens. So I think it depends on the question. It depends on the methodology. Um, so I think there’s a lot of variables there.

Joe: (06:25)
So with the DNA of what is the DNA of a customer experience to you, let’s say that you get these survey results and you’re kind of presenting them to a marketing or strategy team and kind of helping them come up with a design for an experience. What other things kind of come up with a survey result?

Anya: (06:48)
Uh, I think understanding people’s personality. So people tend to prefer products and objects that fit their personality. So understanding who you’re building this for. So you’re not building this for yourself, you’re building this for someone and understanding who that is. Um, as well as the importance of human connection. So people like feeling that someone’s making something for them. So I don’t know if you feel like this, but to me a sandwich that I don’t make tastes a lot better than a sandwich that I bake, if it’s the same sandwich. Uh, so just knowing that someone made something for you and kind of leaving that human touch is important as well.

Joe: (07:27)
That’s a really good point. Yeah. I like the, um, you know, we, we always talked about a customer feedback loop and that’s a key piece of, you know, any good product is doing a lot of customer interviews and understanding the pain points and trying to make those, you know, less of a pain. Um, so that’s, that’s empathy, like you said before, and also just putting yourself in the shoes of other people is really important And understanding how maybe their life experience is different. So, you know, the way that a parent would see a product versus a non parent in a home, or, you know, different life stages or different jobs or different lifestyles that all really matters.
So you mentioned design earlier and how that’s kind of been a, been a piece of your journey, how can video or visuals, imagery really enhance that experience?

Anya: (08:23)
So I think one way that we mentioned a little bit is human connection. So obviously people feel a lot closer when they can see another person’s face and how they’re reacting all those non visual cues or non verbal cues. Um, I think another way is that people adapt more to other people when I’m speaking versus writing. So we know that, for example, if you’re talking to someone who’s a non native English speaker, you’re going to adjust more in your speech than if you were writing. So I think that’s a great way to either maybe get to customers who aren’t native or even to teammates who are not from the same culture as you. Um, I think another way is that, uh, the way that people see the world, they are kind of imagining themselves in the world. So let’s say that your trying to show people what a space would look like or what a product would look like. Obviously having video and having some sort of, um, information about how a person might interact with that product would give them a lot better of a sense of whether they would like it or whether they need it. Then if you just see an image or, um, you know, maybe a description that would be the worst of all worlds, because if you’re imagining something else.

Joe: (09:31)
Sure. And is there really good? Like, um, is there anything that you know about the top of your head of like being able to have, uh, more resonance with, if an image is stuck in someone’s head, like kind of like a jingle, uh, draws you back, is there something that you can do as a business to, um, you know, create imagery or videos that really have good remembering factor with people?

Anya: (10:01)
So I think this is a finding, I’m not quite sure, but I think that people remember things better when they’re from a first person perspective. So I think if you can, for example, do a video where you would be interacting with that object. I think that would, might have more engagement at the time, but also be easier to remember for people. Um, another finding is that when things are slowed down, people kind of imagine themselves more in that situation. So I don’t know if you’ve seen, like if someone’s doing a high jump or something and it’s really slowed down and you can almost feel yourself in them, even though you might not know how to do that. So perhaps using some of these techniques that, um, get people’s attention and get them to feel more like they’re, they’re in there.

Joe: (10:44)
This is, this is a little obscure op topic. But like, as you’re saying that I’m thinking about like a DVR and how people skip commercials now, but I noticed like commercials have a lot more brand pops, um, like the big text and things that can like catch your eye, like at a fast speed. Um, yeah. I’m kind of wondering your thoughts on like how maybe advertising on television has kind of evolved with like DVR speed.

Anya: (11:17)
Um, I actually, haven’t watched a real TV in a while, but maybe, uh, with like YouTube, I can talk about that or, uh, I guess more story-driven it seems like people care more about narrative these days. I don’t know. It seems like things are more narrative is not just like, Oh, here’s the thing. It’s more like, Oh, here’s the story around that thing that you’re, you’re trying to sell or that,

Joe: (11:43)
And like trying to drive you to a different device. I know, like when I was at Adobe, we did this one, um, we did this Superbowl advertising, commercial, commercial kind of analysis. And, um, it was like the second device. So we analyzed both, um, TV Watchers, and then also people that were using their phone at the same time. And a lot of brands this one year is probably like 2014 or something we’re driving, trying to drive traffic to their website. So we saw like a, I don’t know, 50% spike in Superbowl advertisers versus non Superbowl advertisers, um, to their w like core website. Um, cause it was like BMW for some reason, I think BMW did like a James Bond commercial and they’re like, they showed like 10 seconds of it. And they’re like finished the movie on, you know, bmw.com or something.

Anya: (12:45)
Yeah. And it’s interesting because if you’re a multi-device user, you’re splitting your attention between what you’re watching and what you’re holding in your hand. So you almost have to, if you’re trying to capture those people’s attention, you have to work a little bit differently than if you’re trying to have a really engrossing, uh, thing on the primary device, because those people are more like getting into it and super focused versus like, Oh, I’m here. What are you telling me to do? I’m going to go do that. It’s almost like designing for different people,

Joe: (13:14)
Right? Yeah. Good point. So as kind of in a consulting role right now, you’re working with a lot of different people. Um, take me through kind of like the process that you would take a business through. So where does it kind of start? What’s the end goal and I’m sure it differs by company, but maybe just broadly. Um, what do you go in and do as a researcher and what, what are you seeing businesses really trying to understand more about their customers?

Anya: (13:46)
Uh, so typically I would either apply existing research, um, to a problem that someone has or conduct new research for to answer their specific questions. Um, so, um, understanding what the question is that they have what the mystery is that has to be solved. Uh, and then, um, building specific research around that. So whether that’s survey or whether that’s observation or whether that’s an analysis of their data that they have already, um, I think what I’m seeing is that a lot of businesses are trying to develop new business lines because obviously the world is changing really fast right now. So, um, I think in that way, sorry, I have a cold, um, I think there’s a lot of research to be done to understand, uh, you know, like if you’re launching something new, you don’t want to go in into it blind. And the worst thing you can do now is throw a bunch of resources at something without having a guess of whether or not it will work. So I do think this is actually a good time to do research, to understand whether these new ideas that you’re having, um, that are probably from what you’ve done before and that you might not have expertise in whether they’ll work and, um, who the target audience is, whether they think that they need this thing, um, and all of these, um, pieces of information that can help you come up with a better strategy, cause we’re going into a kind of unknown, uh, time right now.

Joe: (15:12)
Sure. Yeah. And I think, you know, most businesses really are believers of data. Um, maybe too much sometimes that they try and decision makers try and get too much data. Um, sometimes you have to, you know, shoot from the hip a little bit. Um, yeah. It’s interesting to kind of see how that’s evolved.

Anya: (15:32)
Yeah. And I think a lot of science is making good predictions sometimes from not a lot of data. So integrating a lot of different sources of, um, evidence. So prior studies or, you know, what has worked for other companies, what do our customers say integrating all of these pieces and coming up with a strategy. So not having, not being able to necessarily to point to, okay, this survey says that this is exactly what we should do, but rather like combining all of these pieces of information, here’s what we would predict and some way to test that or prototype it and test it,

Joe: (16:10)
Love that what’s a, you know, let’s put you in the customer seat or the consumer seat what’s a brand or a company you’ve recently had a good experience with and what really stood apart for you.

Anya: (16:24)
Uh, so I would say the New York times, uh, so, uh, I live in Montreal, uh, I’m an American, but, uh, and my husband is also an American. So we’ve been getting the Sunday, New York times delivered as a kind of connection to our home, um, as a way not to use screens during the weekend as much to kind of like get engrossed in reading. And I have to say in the past few weeks it has become so much more meaningful. First of all, we don’t have interactions with friends the way that we would. And so our weekend kind of starts becoming like our week and that it’s hard to distinguish the days and having that to look forward to like, okay, it’s going to be Sunday. We’re going to get the paper. We’re going to kind of like structure our experience around it. Um, and also supporting, I think a lot of people feel like the supporting the businesses that, um, the value right now is really important. So both supporting local businesses, but also like your times, it’s something that I value a lot. I’m afraid that they might have less money that they’re going to do layoffs and it’s such an important service. So feeling like I’m supporting something that I value as well as having this experience that connects me to my home when borders to the U S are closed. And so it feels like family’s far away and are kind of like cultures further away. So having that connection.

Joe: (17:41)
Yeah. That’s, that’s really cool. I, I, I love the paper newspaper still. Um, I don’t know I got into it kind of in, in and grad school, like, you know, the newspapers were free all over campus and so I just read them, uh, grabbed them and kind of got stuck to it. That paper of choice, uh, wall street journal probably. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think that’s, that’s the only one that I’ve subscribed to for a long,

Anya: (18:10)
Yeah. It’s interesting to see how many people feel that connection. And I think, you know, we would think that with all of these digital tools that may be everyone would be reading things online, but even now university students are still preferring to get, for example, textbooks on paper because you can then really focus and you’re not going to click on anything. You’re not going to get distracted. You have that kind of,

Joe: (18:32)
Yeah, there, there was this interesting finding, um, that we had, so Adobe had this product called the digital publishing suite and it was basically like the iPad version of, um, wired and New York times. And like pretty much every major publication you could imagine use this Adobe product for their iPad, uh, publication. And we found this trend. And again, this is all old data, like five years ago, maybe it’s switched, but there was this trend in people were doing more one-to-one sharing versus a social sharing. So it was more, I message was growing faster than Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. Um, so there was this like contraction in that we reached like critical mass in all of these social networks. People were like, Oh, I don’t want to like share it with 10 million people. I just want to send it to my mom or friend that I think would inter would be interested in this. So it’s kinda been cool to see, like that type of stuff happened with critical mass of technology as well, where people are like, uh, you know, Screentime maybe isn’t the best. I need to think of ways that I can get away from my screen. And Apple started the, you know, weekly screen report and stuff. And I, it’s been kind of, it’s really interesting that that stuff type stuff fascinates me.

Anya: (20:01)
Yeah. I still get paper clippings from my, uh, in-laws who are really great at clipping anything that they see that’s relevant to us. Sometimes it’s like Montreal circles. Um, but I do think, I feel have that same experience, you know, like on, we have a family text thread, um, or like an SMS thread that we send in articles on. I do feel like that there’s this kind of desire to share, but like with people that you think will actually appreciate a versus like here world, like here or something.

Joe: (20:35)
Sure. Yup. So it’s an interesting trend. Well, as we, as we close out, there’s been a great conversation on you. I appreciate your time today. What’s look into your crystal ball. Where do you think a consumer behaviors going? Where do you think, um, brands are doing well? And where do you think? Um, there could be some improvement.

Anya: (20:57)
So I think in a time of crisis, people are, um, relying on habits a lot more. So I’ve noticed here in my neighborhood, there’s a bunch of grocery stores yet the ones that people tend to go to have huge lines and the ones that people don’t tend to go to normally have no lines. So people are relying on habitual behavior. And we see that also with, you know, like how Campbell soup has become really popular because people have these, um, habits or things that they can recall. Um, so I think any brands that can call upon, you know, you used to do this, you like to do this, uh, I think people are looking for some comfort in that, um, relying on habit. People also don’t have a lot of mental resources to make difficult choices. So I think any thing that you can do to simplify people’s lives right now and simplify decisions, um, would be helpful because again, people are not going to be doing some exhaustive search of like, what is the best? I don’t know the best of anything really. It’s like, what can I get right now what’s available and how can you make this easy for me? Uh, and then this is kind of my own personal interest. I think people will become more interested in the physical environment that they’re in right now. We’re all trapped in our homes. And so I think people start to do things to make their homes better because you kind of realize all the inadequacies and the unfinished projects and so on. Um, as well as the relationship between health and in our environment. So obviously, you know, like the way that disease spreads as well as other recent events, like, um, you know, poor air quality due to fires or, um, uh, due to pollution and so on. So I hope that people will take this time to kind of, uh, retool our environments, think about how to make them healthy, productive, and good places to be.

Joe: (22:43)
Yeah. I saw something on, um, Apple news or something maybe. Uh, but it was, it showed a picture of LA skyline like now versus what it normally is. Yeah. And it was like LA clearest skies it’s had in a decade or something. So that was, yeah, that was pretty funny.

Anya: (23:03)
Yeah. So I hope we take all this energy and try to learn from what we have to try to make the world a little bit better. Definitely. Yeah.

Joe: (23:11)
Thank you. Anya. Always love talking about consumer behavior, cognitive science, super fascinating. Um, best of luck with the projects you’re working on, uh, stay well and we’ll talk soon.

Anya: (23:23)
All right. Sounds good. Take care.

Joe: (23:28)
Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learn something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication and screen recorder tool used to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect. For both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Luke Williams Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.


Hey everyone. I am excited to have Luke Williams with me today. Luke is the head of customer experience at Qualtrics. Uh, Qualtrics was acquired by SAP in the fall and is a business that I consider a leader in kind of the customer experience narrative. Uh, they provide a lot of great products and just provide a good customer experience in general. Um, I’ve been using Qualtrics since I was in grad school and, you know, 2008, like a lot of students out there and also used it quite a bit in my corporate career. So I’m excited to have Luke today with me. Uh, we’ve been CA connected forever, and finally got together on this, uh, chat. So, Luke, I want to give you a minute to tell me a little bit about yourself and then we’ll kind of go into some questions.

Luke: (01:07)
Yep. Okay. Thanks, Joe. Thanks for, thanks for having me on, it’s always fun to do these types of things, and I feel like now more than ever, people need some connection to the world. So this is just, you know, an easy way for people to feel that on a Friday. Um, yeah, the background on me is really straightforward, right? I don’t count anything in my professional life before the age of 27. Uh, when I got out of grad school, if people ever found out what it is I used to do before grad school, I usually, um, find a way to pay them off. So come out of grad school, this is two thousand two thousand, let’s see, 2006 ish, 2007, somewhere in there. Um, I had a master’s degree in research methods and statistics from, uh, one of the top schools in the UK. And I came back to the U S wanting to find a job, um, really wanted to at the time, uh, work at the UN, um, you know, working for like the UN DP or something like that, but it was 2007. Nobody was hiring for that type of role. So I did the next best thing. I went to work at one of the world’s largest market research companies to help credit cards, uh, credit card companies make more money. So I did that, did that for awhile. Um, you know, rose up through the ranks over there, uh, in the financial services practice, eventually moved over to analytics consulting and methods group, uh, took over as the head of research methods and the head of the consulting practice there. Um, so the first eight or nine years of my real career, um, at, at, uh, at that company it’s so switch is a, a great company, uh, decided to go client side after that, did you know, you know, going from advising companies on how to do it, to see if I could build a CX program from the ground up the way that I advise, uh, and learn so much in the first week about how customer experience works really in companies, there’s simply no substitute. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how many, how many repetitions you get on projects. So that was a really rewarding experience to work at a fortune one 60, um, to build a, you know, a client listening and customer and client care practice there. And then, um, came over to Qualtrics. Like you I’ve been a user of Qualtrics long before I got there. Um, probably I’ve used it about 10 or 11 years now. I started using it in 2010. Um, and then first, uh, was approached by, by Qualtrics, uh, based on some things that they had heard that I was doing with the platform, uh, from analytics and predictive activity and came over, decided to make the leap, you know, build, build a house in Utah, um, was the, probably the biggest gamble. I think I’ve taken in my career, but totally worth it. It turns out everyone in the building is absolutely smarter than me. So whenever I get on the internet and start talking, everyone starts to cringe a little bit. Um, but, but my background really, it was a transition from expertise in research methods, then into analytics and then into, into strategy. And what I, what I love is just, you know, I love fixing problems. Like I like finding the hardest problems we can solve, uh, and then working with teams to fix them. I’m a big, I’m a big team person. I don’t like victory laps. I don’t like individual awards and metals. Um, people may hand them to me, but I’m always squirmish and weird about it. I’m much rather, um, you know, focus on creating value for customers. That to me is a, is a better, uh, epilogue to my story, but that’s just, that’s the quick background on me.

Joe: (04:19)
Awesome. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s why we get along so well is I kind of grew up in research and analytics at Adobe. Um, and you know, that’s definitely a core piece of, of what I, what I live off of now, what what’s, uh, you know, we live in a world full of distraction. Uh, a great example is like, um, remote, remote work content went like nuts over the last instilled it, uh, for the last two months or a month and a half. Um, how, how can a brand like a Qualtrics or anyone else really cut through the noise and provide a good experience, um, to really keep a customer loyal?

Luke: (05:00)
That, so this question, if you had asked me five weeks ago would have been a lot easier to answer, um, a lot more straightforward. So now I’ll cheap out and I’ll give you both answers. The first one for me is, you know, brands tend to compete, uh, oftentimes on two axes, right? One of which is, um, the degree to which they can deliver frictionless experiences. And then the opposite axis is the degree to which they can deliver something that’s memorable. Um, and typically that that memory, uh, is attached to something that people find valuable. Um, I think, I think how that’s transformed over the past 50 days and everyone’s inbox has been flooded right with these like, Hey, we’re CA we care. We listen. It’s like, you know, most of that stuff, doesn’t, doesn’t really resonate because the, the sectors from which those emails are coming are not considered mission critical to people’s everyday lives. Um, the sector engagement is lower. I think what we’re really looking for now is for the places where we’re fully engaged that accompany reconfigures itself, to figure out a way to provide value, right. And redefining what that, what we mean by, by value. Because when you think about, you know, look over the changes in the past, like, let’s say two years, right? The idea that pharmaceutical companies are getting away from the idea of the number of pills that they can sell as a measure of value and focused on patient based outcomes, which is a completely different philosophy when you think about how they actuate it. So it’s things like, you know, coming up with like prescriptions for digital, uh, digital apps that help you modify your behavior, instead of you a pill for quitting smoking, we’re going to give you a behavioral modification app that was built by MDs, right? That’s a pretty significant change. When you look at the auto industry, It’s changed Easy to access is the focus on the central point of how much value can you create right now? Um, because people are prepared to capture that value on your behalf, which I think is what makes companies, um, meaningful from an, either an investment standpoint, uh, or is just part of the fabric of how we work.

Joe: (07:19)
Yeah. That’s a really good point. I think I like how you said outcomes. Cause I know like the last couple, probably three years at Adobe, I heard, I heard that shift a lot, um, where the narrative was like, what are the outcomes we’re trying to hope for? It’s not like we want to grow, you know, visits to the site by 10% or signups by 20%. It’s like, what are the outcomes that we hope to achieve from that? And I think that’s, that’s definitely been a key narrative shift or the last few years.

Luke: (07:49)
Yeah. We see the same thing in like in the experience management world, take customer experience, for example, where you would traditionally measure transactional experiences. Post-talk, you’ve already left one or two questions survey. How did we do, I think the future, you know, maybe seven years out now, uh, maybe possibly less, uh, moving towards systems with like bioinformatics and kinematic systems that just says, Hey, we’ve detected Standing in a place we wouldn’t expect them to for too long, you know, ping goes to the text message, right to the guy’s pocket and says, problem denial seven does go for more, we’re more focused on, on, on fixing the experience than just measuring it for the sake of measurement. Jared Smith is very fond of like that idea of like, Hey, you can measure things all the way into the ground, right. You’re probably better off doing something about it. So perfect measurement systems used to be how we would inform strategy and decision-making uh, and now I think we’re moving, we’ve moved off of that towards a, a system of action all up. And if, and for creating things that don’t dovetail to action it’s again, it creates a lot of value without capturing any of it.

Joe: (09:05)
So Yeah. I agree with that. What would you, what would you say is at the kind of the core or the DNA of a really good experience?


Luke: (09:10)
Uh, so this is always, this is always a tough question, right? So I always start when people ask that question, like, I immediately get this image in my mind. Do you know what a Johari window is? Uh, yeah. It’s one of these great little, yeah, it’s all of these great little, like all consultant, all management consultants worth their salt have like these 20 or 30, like little tricks, right. That they charge you lots of money to have access to. But for me, that one is like the idea of what we know about ourselves and what others know about us and for the DNA of experience. Like I visually get this idea right. Of the double helix. So I focus on like, when I think about customer experience, I think about it breaking down into two fundamental components, the first is experienced design, right? So it’s like human centered design thinking, how do we create something that’s valuable? That is intuitive. That is being like all those like emotion triggers. And then the second component is experienced delivery. Like how, how do we operationalize the delivery mechanism for that value? And I think when we, we focus on customer experience today, oftentimes it’s really focused on the delivery aspect of like somebody somewhere designed this process, somebody somewhere designed this product, is it being delivered as designed, right? We have parameters for how well context centers should run or how digital experiences should run or how we want to architect relationships and what portion of that should be our product or people. Um, so I think, you know, we’re, we’re probably gonna have to focus more because people have gotten really good at that. Those systems are not readily available. If you don’t have those systems, you gotta get them. Right. Cause they provide competitive advantage, but brands are still differentiating everyday on the experience design. And when we, whenever we think about us like, Oh, who’s the best customer experience in the world. Some of it is operational, but a lot of it goes back to how they design the operation as being differentiated. So like their thought leadership in a better way of approaching how to anticipate customer needs and services needs, um, it’s changing. So there’s no real automated mechanism for that. Like there, there are of course like this, you know, if you went to the Stanford D school and things like that, like that’s how you learn that stuff, but there’s no scale technology yet that replaces that skillful. So when we think about like, what is the, what is the DNA of those things? I think whatever a customer says is valuable is what we’re aiming for. Whether, you know, so like I always like give the example right? Of like, which of these experiences better Viking cruises, like cruising up the Danube, like go, you know, going to Budapest on this like $15,000 cruise or the all you can eat buffet on the side of [inaudible] like, they’re both good experiences, but they’re different in ways. So for me, it’s like, what is the DNA of that? It’s like, well, no, your customers, this is like just Drucker, right? One-on-one is like, no, no, you know, your know your customers so well that you create products and services that they require or that they’re willing to pay a premium for. So for me, the, it goes back to the experience design aspect requires you to really know who the person is that you’re targeting and how you would target them. The experience delivery side is about translating the, the value and emotion of that design into something that is receivable. Um, and I think that they’re equivalently important.

Joe: (12:33)
Yeah. The, the experience design and design thinking classes were some of the favorite, my favorites that I took at Stanford, uh, like four or five years ago, uh, really cool to really understand that it doesn’t just happen. Right? Like what you said, um, it, it’s something that you have to think about and multiple people, depending on the size of your company, uh, you know, lots of teams are going to be involved. Um, and it starts with kind of knowing your customer, like you said, but also getting alignment in how, you know, Adobe was big on the customer journey and same at cloud app. It’s like really understanding where people are and how we can serve them in different spots of where that, where they are with different pieces of content or different experiences. We, there was a guy, um, in the world that, that, so all the Stanford D school with people that I’ve ever met have just been wildly energetic, super smart, like intimidatingly smart people. And they just bring such a different lens when you have design thinking as a background. And when I managed consulting teams, like I tried to force them to expand their horizon of like, how do you want to approach a problem? Um, and it’s, it’s a very different feeling, uh, and it taps into a different side of the brain and frankly not, everybody’s good at it, but you have to have those people on your teams. You cannot just, it’s not ops all day. Like it’s just not right. I mean, a vending machine vending machines are the perfect operational delivery mechanism for a Snickers bar. Right. And no one can name me one vending machine, company name, like, you know, maybe if you went to Stanford, Stanford, GSB, maybe. But, um, but the majority of people, right, it’s just, it’s a function and that’s not attractive. Right. It’s not, it’s not an attractive business to enter one of invest in because it creates very short term value. And I think if people are thinking longterm about like, how do we create customer lifetime value in the long haul? It’s like, how do we get them to come back? Like that, that to me is, um, the unique challenge.

Luke: (14:39)
Yeah. That’s, that’s such a core piece of what’s going on right now. Like, uh, first thing you do in crisis or recession time is cut acquisition costs, right? Like CFO whoever’s in charge of finances is like, Hey, marketing, uh, I know you enjoyed spending money, but uh, we’re not going to do that anymore. Um, so, you know, hopefully you’ve built some loyalty or hopefully you’ve built some like foundational pillars for success so that people are still gonna come in if you’re not necessarily paying for them to come in. Yeah. That’s a, um, the challenge that we have right now is like, I think one of the things that Qualtrics has really been focused on is like this idea of back to work, right? It’s like, how do we go from this transitional stage where everyone’s playing defense? Very few players are out there actually playing offense right now and thinking about longterm customer acquisition strategies, but there’s a couple, and they’re, they’re thinking about, they’re thinking about the game five and six steps ahead, which I think is, is how thoughtful everyone’s defending right now. So I think on the other side of this in a year and a half, we’re going to look back and have some great stories about how people used customer loyalty, that they built over years as a defensible premise to allow them to extend in the markets, even while others were defending. Because like, when you look at like regular versus considered purchase cycles, in terms of consumer behavior and psychology, most people don’t think about most of the decisions that they have a repeating, like you go to that grocery store because that’s where you get your groceries, but all of a sudden, like it disrupts everything that you think about even super sticky products, like your financial products, like everything is up for consideration right now, everyone listening, um, because everyone is kind of tuned in right now. So when you think about like, from the branding side of like, how do we deal with, with, with, with awareness and sales and differentiation, um, the awareness level right now through the roof.

Joe: (16:37)
Just in time. Yeah. Um, so, you know, I, I asked this next question, uh, and Qualtrics is actually a big customer of cloud app and its screen recorder and screenshot tool products. The whole, almost the whole company is, is on the platform now using video and visuals to kind of, you know, be a sync, uh, communication, uh, specifically that sport team. Um, how do you think, especially now, like the face to face has gone right now, the handshake has gone, how can video like zoom or blue jeans or, you know, whatever you’re on Google meet is now free for everyone. Apparently how can those synchronous tools and then tools like a cloud app for async, uh, really help you connect with the customer when you may not be able to be in the same room as them. So I’m a big proponent of like harvesting value of the thing you’re doing and then thinking future scope all the time. Um, I think, I think any leader in an organization has to be focused on that. So for me, when I think about experience that experience delivery aspect, communication’s a huge part of that. And, you know, everyone’s heard like right, a picture’s worth a thousand words. If that’s, if that’s true, then a video is worth a billion, right? Like the ability to describe a service problem, uh, in the chat window is one of the reasons is one of the big barriers to, to chat based agents like chat only agents, um, is that it takes me longer to write this thing down. Like not everybody types, 120 words per minute. It takes me longer to communicate that way. Right. As opposed to just being on the phone, like showing, showing, showing you my problem also has an amazing amount of context, right?

Luke: (18:22)
So when you’re looking as a service agent, right. A Qualtrics, my ability to see what you’re looking at, I know exactly where you are in the product, right? Like I can just like, there’s all these cues that you’re not communicating to me. They’re meaningful to me to contextualize that the way that we measure that, right. Quantitatively is like, is like, is speed resolution, how fast was able to resolve your issue. Video helps you do that because you don’t have to take 10 minutes to explain to me that issue. I can see right away what it is. I’m fat, it’s faster for me to fix it. And as a result, like it’s a better experience for the customer as well. But for us, like if you, you know, if your average cost for handling your calls is 10 bucks and you aggregate that over X number of service calls over, over a two year period, that’s what pays for itself in like less than a month. And for me, right, when you think about like how it is that people traditionally communicate, right. Video is a predominant form of communication. Now it’s just is right. I am, I am curious as to why FaceTime in a contact center is not something that anybody’s really done yet. Like why can’t I see the face of the person, I have the sense that you’re not working on my problem when you’re on hold. There’s all, there’s all kinds of visual cues that we get from looking and talking to people that are critical to how we interpret the words that are coming out of their mouth. Sure. Right. Um, and I think, uh, when you take a look back, it’s like, if every, if every form of communication is, is, is written, spoken or shown like single picture or moving picture, like the earliest forms of written communication were logographic right. Hieroglyphs, all that kind of stuff, making some area, but it’s like, it it’s still we’ve chosen to evolve it. Um, because we had to be able to communicate over longer distances. Right. But the concept of distance now is fungible, right? What is distance you’re in? You come in New Jersey right now. Like we’re, we’re talking instantaneously. Like what, what, you know, why is it that we can’t think faster is not better in terms of communicating? Right. Um, and, and the same, I think the same is gonna be true for the service channels in the future, as well as from our side experience management of like, how do we induct feedback? And the way that I described this is like, you just have to fish where the fish are, how they want to be fished. And if the average 21 year old won’t take, you know, uh, won’t respond to it. One question surfing, but we’ll talk for 10 minutes on ticked off, like, okay, let’s go to tick tock. Like, let’s get, let’s get video in that, in that feedback, same way. Right. For me, video and voice to text are the two real emerging technologies that we’re going to want to rely on from, from a service mentality. But also because it is, um, it’s much more scalable, I think, in the longterm, because it’s such a, it’s more, it’s a much more rich video. It’s like, it’s a much more rich content factor.

Joe: (21:05)
Yeah. I really liked your analogy of me or comparison to the pictographs. I hadn’t thought about it before. Um, you know, before really written language, uh, you know, it was all kind of done in pictures, but I, I think, yeah, there’s a real, real power in, uh, so I kind of discovered this, uh, probably two years ago, um, I was sending like a weekly update to one of my VPs at Adobe and, you know, a VP or a C level. And even, even at your size of company is just getting blown up on email. Right. Like all day. Um, and so she’s like would, would basically never read it, um, or, you know, it’d be like four days later and then she’d have comments. And then I started using, uh, you know, I used was using cloud app to kind of record a video and sent, just sent her the video. And she’s like, Oh, that was so great. I had my AirPods in already and I was listening to music and I just listened to what you said, and didn’t even watch the video, but just isn’t the audio, like walking into the office. And that was like such a great experience to have that. So it’s just kinda like, yeah. Finding where people want to be communicated to. And then also, and it’s, it’s so much easier to not have to, like, I’m like emailing a designer and trying to think of how to tell them, uh, to, you know, make this button this way and move this image here and do this landing page completely different. And instead of sending them this marked up PDF or whatever, that’s just looks like crazy. Uh, I just send them a little video and I don’t have to like write all that stuff down and take the time and they don’t have to like, interpret what I’m saying. And so it’s been really a great way to communicate. Um, Who’s ever had to come up with a doc that explains, explains the process. It’s exactly the same issue. Right. I had this issue two days ago of designing, like sample verification procedures, and I made it as short as possible and the doc was four pages. I was like, nobody’s going to read this. If I had just done it in a, in like in like a 32nd video, they would have gotten all that information immediately.

Luke: (23:24)
Yeah. So you like, you have your Wiki and then you also just have a nice little video at the top that people can watch if they don’t want to read anything.

Joe: (23:31)
Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about irritation. I love, you know, you’re, you’re leading CX at Qualtrics. I’d love to hear, like what’s an experience you’ve had with a recently, A retail travel, a local grocery store, whatever what’s a good experience you’ve recently had. And, um, why was it kind of different?

Luke: (24:00)
So right before I jumped into this answer, I should mention that I’ve moved over now to join the XM Institute, um, at Qualtrics. Yeah. Also it’s a going from being sort of like practitioner focused, um, kind of figuring out how to scale, um, you know, the thought leadership that we, that we develop is where I’m focused, but it, it, it, it synchronizes with the fact that I’m constantly evaluating extreme. Like almost to the point that my wife hates me when we go out to dinner, I’m like, I’m, I’m just, I’m measuring stuff in my head. So I’m off. I can’t, I just, you know, um, the truth is, is that like most experiences now, I’m so critical of that. When I find an experience that I really enjoy, Um, I behave very abnormally in terms of allocating, share a wallet and, and recommending those brands to friends and family. Um, but when people get recommendations from me, they know it’s like it’s coming from a deep emotional place. Um, so one of those, so of course trader Joe’s is high on my list. Um, but the one I just had literally this morning, uh, is the one I’ll mention Warby Parker. So I have a one I have a one year old son, his name is Duncan. He’s up on this calendar right there. Um, and he’s great, except that he’s one now, which means he’s got opinions and he enjoys, uh, smacking Papa in the face and breaking, pop his glasses. So I had a serious interaction through a Warby. I was like, Hey, uh, my kid is like, just crushing every pair of glasses that I’ve got. And I am now down to my last, very much, like, I need more glasses and I ordered all my glasses from them. So I said, Hey, can you help me out? Like, I don’t have an active prescription. Um, can you look into this for me? Like, I can’t, you know, I’m in New Jersey, things are hot here right now. I don’t want to go out to an eye doctor. Um, so they respond within 24 hours. So like, listen, unfortunately, unfortunately there’s actually nothing we can do for you that, for this instance, because like, it’s a, it’s a medical issue. It requires a prescription, but right. So I was treated fairly and quickly. I understood their position. They were very courteous about it and they were prompt and they said, but if you want to, you can download this app and use it with your computer. And it walks you through this 15 minute process of like, how do we check your site remotely now?

Joe: (26:19)
Right. It’s like, it doesn’t replace a health exam for your eyes. For the purpose of writing a prescription. This will be viewed by a, whatever, an eye doctor’s called. I always get the two confused between an ophthalmologist and optometrist, but the, um, they’re like, and they’ll review it. And then they’ll like, if there’s no major issue, like they’ll, they’ll, they’ll sign off on what your prescription was and then we can make new glasses for you. Is it okay? Well, you’ve created a process me that is considered in the fact that like, I’m not going outside no matter what, if, if my son breaks my last pair of glasses, I’m just going to start using PTO, right. Just call it, just take a couple of weeks off. Um, they, they, they anticipated that this was going to be an issue long in advance. They created an app, right.

Luke: (27:02)
To do that right after prescription check or something like that. And, and there may create an, a very, uh, UX friendly workflow process to deal with a very highly, you know, highly in, like you could easily anticipate this issue. One of the biggest, uh, nuisances that people getting glasses, having to go to an eye doctor and get a prescription. So they’ve taken the friction out of that experience and done it in a way that was designed around what works for me. This isn’t like, we make an appointment, just do it whenever you want. Right. And we’ll, you know, we’ll let you know when it’s done. Like, that’s the, that’s the kind of thing that I’m looking for from an experience that was designed with an understanding of what my need was versus what they were capable of providing and working through a partner to do it. That that to me, uh, was a pretty great experience. And I am looking forward to having more than one pair of eyeglasses.

Joe: (27:50)
That’s really cool. That’s I mean, that’s, that’s part of a brainstorm, right? Someone is at Warby Parker is in there in a group setting and they’re thinking, okay, what are, what are scenarios where people need glasses? And, you know, obviously breaking them comes up as a part of that. And they, you know, the outcome is we want to be able to help everyone who needs glasses, no matter, you know, the person who’s well-prepared. And then the person who, you know, has a one year old who just keeps snapping them. So that’s, that’s cool to, you know, they’re, they’re focused on the outcome, definitely with that type of thing. And it’s, but this is again, it’s like, when, how do we measure experiences? When I, if I called them, was I treated with respect and courtesy? Were they knowledgeable? It’s like, yes, that’s all good. So in terms of the agent’s performance that matched the performance I required, but it didn’t solve the problem. So somebody taking a step back and saying like, you know what, maybe we need to measure differently. And I think right now, brands more than ever, like, they need to measure a little bit differently because there’s a lot of things going on with, with customers. They have no visibility to like, if you’re, if I’m your bank, like I can see your paycheck coming in, but I don’t know if somebody in your family is under financial duress, right? Like there’s ways for me to service you laterally, that’s outside of just the SISEP metric and NPS metric. Like, we need to get a little bit more thoughtful about, about why we’re measuring to begin with. And I think that that’s the, the root, the root, you know, fountain of inspiration for these types of longterm strategic fixes to highly anticipated with problems.

Joe: (29:21)
Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. I, this has been a great conversation. I I’ve learned a lot myself just talking from you about it. I’d love to hear, you know, if we look into Luke’s crystal ball, uh, what is kind of the future of experience, business experience design, uh, where do you think we’re kind of headed?

Luke: (29:41)
Yeah. And I’ll keep this one short, because this could be a whole book. Um, the, I think we’ve gotten extraordinarily good at measuring and managing experiences. I think where experiences need to be better engineered is in the actioning process and in the innovation process of how we create products and services for customers. And I, and I say that because I, I think performance management cultures to a certain extent restrict experience innovation because there’s a belief that the metrics are emblematic of the thing that we care about. And I think that that is a little bit askew. I think most of the performance management culture came as a translation from a history of manufacturing and understanding how to do six Sigma. Right. And I think we focused on that precision level forever. And you still hear it in context sentence right now, or in how products are done. It’s like, it’s like, well, producing variability, maybe making something more predictable is making it better as like, is it, or is it just making it a more effective version of the thing that you already designed to me? I think we need to focus more primarily, um, on action innovation and it, a thousand percent takes measurement to do that, to have telemetry in this decision making process. Um, but I think we need to push forward on the boundaries of delivering experiences that don’t necessarily cost more. Right. That just the overall quality of the experience is higher. And I think if you look back like 10, 15 years, like demonstrably, the experiences you get today on average are way better. Right. And we kind of go to this hedonic cycle, right. Where it’s like, Oh, this is, this is better than it used to be. And I’m super happy about it. And then my expectations, like they kind of fade and now it’s like, well, that’s table stakes. Now. I w my Amazon one day delivery is like, table stakes. Now, can you get it to me? Same day. It’s like, well, do you honestly need this book that you’re probably never going to read it now, but you need it today. Like, to me, if the question is like, okay, well, let’s rethink that scenario. Like, come back to the earlier example, like, what is value in these circumstances? And I think, um, I think these, these systems of action, which are born off of systems of measurement and management will foster eventually what the systems of innovation will be, um, from a scalability standpoint in the tech world. Right. That’s what we’re worried about. Um, but I don’t think that that future is that far away. Like, I think, I think it’s like, I think it’s less than probably less than five years out.

Joe: (32:18)
Yeah. Uh, I agree. I think you’ve made some really good points there, Luke. You’re a legend. I appreciate your time. Uh, glad we could finally make it happen and spill anything on myself. Stay well, stay safe, uh, and get back to Utah soon.


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Podcast Transcript with Luke Alley

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey, I am excited today to have Luke with avalanche media with me today. Luke is a VP of marketing over there. Uh, we’ve been connected to a long time on, Uh, I stole someone from avalanche that Luke worked with, uh, and she’s on my team now also based in Utah. Um, and I think is the first Utah guest I’ve had, which is a lot of fun, uh, hopefully of many more in the future, but Luke has some greats, uh, Background in marketing and working with lots of different companies And consulting and also leading an avalanche. So I thought he’d be a good guest to have on today. Luke, if you wouldn’t mind kind of telling us a little bit about yourself, uh, going through some of your background and then we can kind of roll into a customer experience.

Luke: (01:09)
Sure. Yeah. Well, it’s good to be on Joe and, uh, and, uh, it’s a small world in the youth agency and digital space. So even though you wanted to stole someone, it happens. Um, well Maile’s there. Hi Maile. Hopefully we miss her. She was awesome. It was awesome, but no, yeah, my background, so I’m vice president of strategy here at avalanche. Um, I was the first employee here back in 2012. Um, I came from a small little agency up in Idaho. Uh, that’s where I went to school and, um, came down here to Utah to the, to the big city and kind of took a, a chance here with, uh, Babylon. We were dreamed systems media at the time. And, uh, I just, I knew the guys here gave me Matt sill, Tila, Andy Milky, or, um, Jason Kallen. Those were the, the, uh, founders and owners. And, uh, just took a shot at a, what I thought would be a right move. And it’s panned out we’re, we’re about 50 strong right now and, um, just a steady, steady growth here. Uh, we’re a full service digital agency, um, and we help actually more clients outside of Utah than, than in Utah. We kind of worked with more medium, large, large sized businesses. Um, so yeah, that’s what I’m doing now. Went to school at BYU, Idaho for my undergrad. Um, I got my masters at university of Utah. Um, I’m kind of a busy body. I it’s hard for me to sit still. So I’m like always doing something on the side. I just taught at BYU for a year and their, their digital marketing department. Um, I I’ve, I’ve taught some other online places, spoke at a lot of places. Um, just kind of like being out there and like, like helping as much as I can, um, got four kids that keep me busy teaching at BYU to try to try to get some more in my life and spend some time with my family and wife. And, um, it’s been a nice, nice couple months actually. I was working out this morning. I haven’t been able to work out the morning reliable and start to show a little bit and I’m kind of getting a little bit more balanced, but, um, yeah, that’s a, that’s a little about me.

Joe: (03:19)
Awesome. I, I, yeah, I’ve resisted teaching to this point. Uh, I’ve had some opportunities at Utah and BYU and yeah, I’ve been actually a couple of them were like, I’m going to be out of town once when I was at Adobe, it’s like, I’m going to be gone to San Jose like three of the eight weeks. Is that right?

Luke: (03:39)
That’s probably not going to work. It’s the feeling. And that’s a big shout out to the avalanche that they allow me to do stuff like that and arrange my schedule for that. But, uh, you know, it’s a good change of pace from, you know, the, the corporate life and kind of, uh, agency in particular you’re busy and all to do. And, and, uh, it’s, it’s fulfilling in a lot of ways, but kind of teaching students kind of passing stuff on is it’s fulfilling in different ways too. And that was, it was hard, but, uh, yeah, Joe, you’re, you’re gonna love it once you do it. You’ll love it.

Joe: (04:14)
Yeah. I, uh, definitely I go speak quite a bit and mentor a lot of MBAs and other people. Um, so that’s, that’s, I can only imagine. I think it’ll be fun

Luke: (04:24)
Exactly.

Joe: (04:26)
You know, we live in a world full of distractions, you’re in agency life, which there’s a, you know, Adobe used like hundreds of agencies, maybe even thousands. Um, how have you been able to kind of set yourself apart? How can you stand out with providing a good customer experience and other things that avalanche?

Luke: (04:47)
Yeah. Yeah. So we’ve, uh, the, the, the best way I’d describe it is we’ve tried to focus on relationships. Um, I’ve done that in my own life and personally, and then, uh, it’s kind of a philosophy of that avalanche follows too. Um, there’s a, there’s a book actually that I just read. I have it right here. It’s I don’t think it’s even published. You can’t find this on Amazon. It’s called brand orbits. Like this I’m not getting paid for this or anything, but, uh, I had mentioned this in the, in the last year and brand orbit stands for, um, relationships or orbit stand for ongoing relationships beyond individual transactions. Okay. Ongoing relationships beyond individual transactions, the idea being, you kind of shift your mentality from, Hey, what’s in it for me as a business. Um, how am I making money? Um, what, like, yes, I’ll provide you something, but you need to provide me something first. That’s kind of the, like, you know, I don’t know, typical, I guess, corporate like, um, idea, but there’s a lot of brands that are shifting to that, that philosophy of, of you just try to try to create a relationship. Um, and there’s, there’s a, is there, there’s kind of a framework of doing that and, and different principles that, that he talks about, but the main idea is just that relationship and, um, that can show in the type of marketing that you do. It goes from like a push strategy to a pole, right. Rather than try to get out in front of them, which is expensive. Um, you kind of pull them in and people start talking about you, right. Um, you, you, you go from transactions to relationships. Like I talked about, um, you go from creating an audience, which we hear about all the time in marketing to creating more of a community.
Um, and so we try to, we’ve tried to do that here, here, and my agency, again, like I said, personally, I tried to do that too. We’re actually doing an event next week. It’s a free event. It’s, um, we partner with Google because of our relationship there and we do it twice a year. Um, and we’ll go skiing. We take our clients and kind of friends skiing, um, on Thursday. And then on Friday we put on a full blown conference and we’ve got some fantastic speakers. We’ve got Adam Durfee from BYU. Um, we have, Oh, shoot. I probably shouldn’t have started going down the list.

Joe: (07:06)
No, you’re not going to forget your had someone or whatever

Luke: (07:11)
He does a lot of customer experience, uh, um, consulting too. Um, we have the CEO of freshly picked. Um, she just spoke at Silicon Silicon slopes. Um, uh, we have, uh, Adam Reeder who is professor of rock. So anyway, point being, it’s a free conference and we invite our clients here, we invite, uh, the community, our friends, um, and it’s just something we try to kind of give back. Um, and in the end it benefits avalanche too, because because of that framework that I talked about, the brand orbits. And so we do that in different ways too. We do it internally with our own people, try to build them up, try to, uh, educate. We do a lot of learning opportunities and networking opportunities. Um, we’re involved in Utah DMC. Um, our director of, uh, PPC just spoke there. Um, and that’s something that, uh, our, our company encourages. It’s just like, let’s get out. Let’s if you want to speak somewhere, like we’ll support, you, we’ll help pay for it. Um, we’ll give you design resources to create a nice slideshow. Um, and so, so yeah, there’s a lot of, uh, learning opportunities that we try to do within and without avalanche to just build that relationship.

Joe: (08:22)
That’s really cool with, with the kind of building relationships from a, let’s say from like acquisition through customers you’ve had for a decade. What do you feel is kind of the DNA of, of a good customer ?And relationships and kind of building that up, uh, what are kind of like additional things that you try and focus on, um, to make sure that they stay as a customer for a long time?

Luke: (08:50)
Yeah. Yeah. Um, it starts with the people here at, again, going back to the relationships, we try to hire a certain type of person and kind of preach a certain, certain, uh, um, relationship type. Uh, and I would say like the core of that is just caring. Um, it sounds like really funny. Um, it sounds simple, like it’s a principle, like there should be something more profound about it, but when you care about the people on the other side, um, it, it really changes the type of work that you do. And it goes from like, okay, I have to check these boxes to, I get to check these boxes. Right. And we still, um, process is a really important part of, uh, of that customer relationship. You have to have that type of framework, but people can sense on the other end, how you’re feeling and if you’re truly invested in it and if you care, um, and so that, it’s like a, it’s a soft skill, but it’s a, it’s an important skill to, to help the team create that relationship, to have that good, a good customer experience. And so, yeah, that’s probably, that’s probably how I describe it. It’s just, uh, it’s caring. It’s, it’s the human side of it. It’s, you know, it’s more than that. Uh, on the other end, it’s not just a business, but it’s people, right. And these people have, have jobs they want to do, they have goals, they need to meet, they have stresses, they lose sleep at night. Um, just like we lose sleep at night. And so how do we support them? How do we, how do we kind of see past just the, Hey, this is a, like a paid relationship to no, let’s like help each other out. How do we, how do we go above and beyond and so on? Yeah. That’s one thing we’ve done actually is, is rather than call our clients and say, Hey, this is X company, but it’s like, no, this is Karen. Um, and, and she is a person and she is, you know, there’s more to it than just like a name there of a company and a little thing. It’s one of many things that we do, but it kind of helps see past that, Hey, this is just another client that we’re working on, but no, it’s actually a person on the other end. That’s awesome. Yeah. So it’s, it’s really brought up kind of like a top down, no cultural thing where avalanche is really trying to preach at the top customer experience and that funnels down into the design team and the PPC team, the social team and whoever other resources you’re providing to customers.

Joe: (11:09)
Cool. How do you think, you know, we live in a world Of zoom and, uh, social media and, uh, tools like cloud app that can help you? How do those things help enhance the experience of just like a text face interaction?

Luke: (11:20)
Yeah, we use it so much. And I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of weeks is as we’ve been prepping the talk and noticing how much we try to go from text, or even just a phone call to something visual I’m. One of, one thing we’ll do frequently is actually just do a screen recording of a, of a tool or, um, you know, maybe going through a Google ads account or going through Google analytics or something else, but we just basically walk through and we say, Hey, we need to show what we’re talking about and let us walk you through it rather than maybe do a screenshot, which we do screenshots too, but even just a screen recording can take some principle you’re talking about. And, um, that can be hard to explain. And maybe you’re like doing multiple phone calls and just say, Hey, let us just grab this for you real quick. Um, so we do that very, very frequently. I mentioned screenshots, we’re taking screenshots constantly. Um, I had to add another shortcut to my, uh, to my Mac where I, uh, I have, uh, not, not rabid screenshot and save it, but just grab a screenshot so I can paste it because I just do that so much. Um, and so, so yeah, it enhances that because you, you can take paragraphs to try to explain something or jump on multiple phone calls, but if you can just, uh, show them what you’re talking about, it, it takes it to another level. Um, another thing that’s probably worth mentioning is a video for us is really important. Like we’re talking about re like we’re talking right now. I can see your face. I can see your, you know, your, your reactions, you’re nodding. You’re kind of like saying, Hey, yeah, I’m listening to you, right. We, we make a big emphasis to do that with our clients also. Um, and so we use zoom right now, a man. And when we do our record, when we do our calls with them, it’s always a zoom recording, and we try to have our camera on as much as possible. It’s been a shift actually for the team. I think sometimes you feel a little uncomfortable in front of the screen, but, um, it’s very different than a phone call where you can’t see their face and you can’t kind of see that nonverbal communication. Um, and it’s one of those things to help create a relationship that’s stronger. Right. It, uh, it just, it’s something like, I can see Joe here and like, you know, I see wearing, I see like his hair, like, he’s looking good. It’s like to like, Hey, I’m trying to present themselves professionally. And so kind of, it goes both ways, but it’s a, it seems like a little thing maybe to some people, but the being able to see each other face to face, even when you’re not faced, I shouldn’t say face to face, see each other, like on a screen when you’re not face to face. It really makes a difference in how, how that interaction happens.

Joe: (14:16)
Yeah. There’s such a value with, with like the real time, like at Adobe, I was part of, kind of the shift, uh, to, um, those odd audio phone calls where everyone kind of logs in, and it’s just on the phone to like the 50 using blue jeans, uh, as kind of like video was the standard. And then, you know, I obviously I loved screen recording so much to connect with like my global distributed team that I was working with a screen recorder and screenshot tool that cloud app provided that I decided to join the company. Um, so, you know, there’s so much value in like the async and synchronous communication and kind of finding ways to combine those two, um,

Luke: (14:59)
Exactly your point. Totally. Yep. Totally agree.

Joe: (15:03)
Um, I kind of want to shift a teeny bit for more personal for you. What is kind of a recent experience you had with a company that It made you more loyal or made you want to communicate something on a podcast about them?

Luke: (15:22)
Yeah. I, I would say this, this company is at the top of a lot of people’s customer experience. If you’re listening in, they do fast food. Um, and everyone talks about them for the experience that you get there. I shipped Fila, um, and I, I have kids at the beginning. And so the kids love the food there. It’s just, it’s good food, you know, it’s, it’s a comfort course. I need to eat a little bit less of it, but yeah, we were there on Saturday. Actually, we went up to the off-road expo up in, uh, in Sandy at the, the, uh, the event center there came back, grabbed some food. I went through the drive there. I was with my family and it was kind of chaos. It’s like, who wants what? And like what Apple juice, or do you want chocolate milk? Or, you know, we don’t mention the French fries to the kids are like, French fries is an option. Right. You only get brewed. And, um, you know, they have Apple sauce, they have like macaroni, some better sites. Um, and they asked my name at the drive through when they were, can I get a name for the order? I kind of forgot about it. And like the chaos that they’d asked for that, but I pulled up to the, to the window and they said, Hey, Luke, is this your right order? Or like, they kind of confirmed it. And I was like I said, my name, it was a little thing. Um, but it really caught guard probably because I compared it to other experiences at restaurants. And I can’t think of any other, even like a fancy sit down restaurant or where I’m paying, like we’re paying way more. Um, but especially not like McDonald’s or other places, it’s just not that experience there. And I was like, wow, like a person cares about me, but I mean, it really, like, it was part of a process. The person that asked I acted in the computer, I’m sure they do it to every person coming down the window, but it really felt different. Um, it felt like they cared. Um, I think back to like one of my first, uh, like business books was a, um, seven habits of highly effective, I think the seven habits, how to think and in it, how maybe it’s not that one it’s it’s by Dale Carnegie, um, or how to win friends and influence people. He talks about everybody’s favorite word in the world. Everyone has a favorite world. It’s the same favorite word. It’s the same thing. And it’s our name when someone can say, Hey, Joe, like awesome to see you. Like, thank you for your order, dah, dah, dah. And just hearing your own name. It like kind of gives you a shot of, uh, of endorphins and just makes you feel good. And so, um, yeah, Chick-fil-A is onto something. There is a really small thing, but, but it just, you know, as I was thinking about it, I was like, yeah, that’s like, it was, it was small, but it actually made a difference. It stuck out in my mind.

Joe: (18:16)
Yeah. It’s kind of like that personalization in a, in the analog world versus digital world that kind of breaks up the noise. Like you said, it’s like, you know, I had a chance to stay at some like nice hotels on Adobe’s dime a couple of times, um, that I probably wouldn’t be able to just on my own. And I remember, I can’t remember which one, so I’m not going to call it out, but I, you know, pulled up in my rental car and I had my luggage and they said, you know, checking in what, what’s your name? And I gave him my name. And then I walked into the lobby and the person that front desk was, was saying, mr. Martin, like, as I was walking up, you know, so they like did some MacGyver, like CIA move. We’re like talking to their microphone, like mr. Martins coming in the lobby right now, You know? So there’s like, just that little, little touch was really cool. Cool. And, um, you know, is, is something that you, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, but provides a lot of value.

Luke: (19:23)
And that’s what I was just going to say. It feels like those things don’t require a significant amount of, of work support to happen. Right. We kind of know how they did it, right. You, the person at the front, like Ashley’s name and then they radioed in or whatever. But, but it’s, it’s funny that more companies almost don’t take advantage of it because it is it’s, it’s like the cherry on top, but that cherry on top really, um, it takes it from here to here with, with not a proportionate amount of effort.

Joe: (19:53)
Luke has been a great conversation today. I wanted to ask you one kind of final parting thing, look into your crystal ball at you’re in your office there in avalanche. What do you think is the future of experienced business? Where do you think we’re kind of moving with customer experience? Uh, you know, what, what is your bold prediction?

Luke: (20:14)
Um, I see there being a lot more, um, maybe software or ways to enable these experiences that we talked about. Right? So hotels, for example, I’ll just take that example. I could need more hotels having something like that, right. Where from the beginning you asked your name and there’s some sort of way to enable this type of experience that people don’t really, I would say the average consumer doesn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but it happens like magic to them. And maybe it’s the house cleaners are writing note. That’s mr. Martin, thank you for your, your run of the mill type hotels. We’ll start doing that. And I could see that going from like the top tier of businesses, starting to trickle down to more and more businesses as it becomes facilitated a more easily through these types of technologies. Um, and, and I just see it starting to permeate business more, uh, just because I think it’s a, it’s a distinguishing factor. Um, where, where, yeah, more, I think more businesses have to adopt it there. They’re going to realize it’s not just the product. It’s not just what we deliver itself, but it’s the experience that goes along with it. I, it seems like there’s kind of a trend just going towards it. More people are talking about customer experience and how important that is. And so, you know, those companies that are, that are adapting it sooner will have an advantage. And I think more and more companies will see that is one of those distinguishing factors, ongoing Beyond individual transactions. Good?

Joe: (21:51)
Thank you, Luke for your thoughts on customer experience, and cool stuff going on over to avalanche. Thanks for your time today.

Luke: (22:02)
And let’s do it again . All right. Sounds good. Thank you, Joe.

Joe: (22:09)
Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tool use to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect for both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Daniel Debow Podcast Transcript

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA of an Experience Podcast from CloudApp where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.

Joe: (00:18)
Good afternoon everyone. I’m really excited to have Daniel Debow with me today. Uh, Daniel has done some really great things in the tech space. He, is currently a VP at Shopify, but most recently before that had built some really cool products that are helpful. And we were talking a little bit before about a video and how things have really moved towards more of a visual space. Um, and we’ll kind of go in on that and a little bit of modern workplace conversation today. Uh, Daniel, if you don’t mind giving us a little bit of background on yourself, um, and how you kinda got to where you are now and then maybe talk a little bit about Shopify. You know, you had some really nice things to say before we went live. I’d love to dig in on that.

Daniel: (01:02)
Okay, sure. Uh, first of all, Joe, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. Um, and hi everybody who’s listening in. Um, I’m an entrepreneur from Toronto. Um, I was lucky enough to get recruited to join a startup right out of business school and law school and that was the first startup experience I had at company grew, went public in the 2004. I had marketing Corp dev there after that started another company called Ripple with one of my co founders at the first one. Uh, and we grew that and sold it to Salesforce and I worked at Salesforce for a few years after that. Uh, and then started another company called helpful with a far hand thrower and about a year and a bit ago, year and a half ago, we sold that company to Shopify. And both of us are now happy to be here at Shopify. Um, along the way have also done a lot of early stage angel investing. I, uh, I teach a class at the university of Toronto law school and I’m a pretty avid musician, so it’s a, it’s a side hustle for me. You asked, you asked about Shopify. Shopify is a eCommerce platform. It’s like a retail operating system has over 1 million merchants worldwide, uh, from some of the biggest online direct to consumer, uh, merchants out there to probably someone in your neighborhood who has a small business that they want to get started. Uh, Shopify is all about empowering entrepreneurs and making commerce better for everybody. Uh, and the kinds of things I said. I mean, other than it’s incredible, amazing business performance and great products. It’s a really, really great place to work. Um, incredible leadership, really great culture. Um, and uh, you know, as an entrepreneur it is definitely the most entrepreneurial big, big company you’d find. It doesn’t really feel like a big company now. Um, and it’s truly mission oriented. I mean, the mission is to help merchants, help them and empower people to go become entrepreneurs, uh, which the world sorely needs. So that’s a bit about me and that’s a bit about the place I’m lucky enough to work at.

Joe: (03:00)
Yeah. I’m a big fan of Shopify. Love. Exactly what you said is really empowering entrepreneurs and providing a great platform that, uh, you know, out of the box can do everything you need it to, uh, versus having to, to build something and kind of worry about that side of the business. Just kind of worry about what you’re good at. Building something and, you know, Shopify can kind of help the end to end stuff. Um, I’d love to kind of dig in on, on modern workplace. So Daniel and I connected on Twitter, his, uh, co founder of helpful, what was his name again? Farhand that’s right. I couldn’t remember, but he tagged a couple of different brands and one of those was CloudApp that Daniel had mentioned to him. And uh, so I reached out and wanted to have him on. But what is, you know, the modern workplace, what does that look like for you? Uh, both a tool set. Also just communication, uh, how people are kind of culturally, culturally integrated into a company. Uh, where do you kind of see, things moving?

Daniel: (04:08)
Okay, cool. Big question. I mean, first caveat is what do I know? I mean, who knows? Everybody has their own opinion. Second caveat is even if you know something, you don’t know something about everywhere. And I think that’s always been one of my cautions describing either the one right way to build a business. Well clearly there’s lots of ways and the run one right way to build a culture, you know, clearly lots of ways and the one, you know, right future of work. So I think there’s going to be lots of different futures of work and it’ll change very dramatically. So I just think with that caveat, it’s important to say that like, um, you know, this is going to be my view is sort of like a subset of some types of companies. Daniel danger. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I, you know, it’s funny if, I think if you want to understand the future of work, one of the best things you can do is just look at what the kids are doing. And, uh, uh, I, you know, mentioned we had, we had started this company called ripple. Um, and the insight for ripple was that we saw this generation of millennials, this is around 2007 coming to work. Uh, and they use different tools and different modes and methods of communicating, uh, when they were, as they were growing up. And so specifically that was things like Twitter and Facebook, which kids liked at the time. Um, and so that was our impetus to thinking about ripple, which was like how could we design these new UX patterns, these new communication patterns and then build them into a work tool. And so, you know, for example, like literally the insight ripples started off as a feedback tool. We saw that people on Facebook were putting this app on their page is when you had a profile page and it was called honesty box and, and it was like, you can ask and give, get people to give you anonymous feedback at work. And I looked at that and I was insane. I was like, that’s not, or sorry, just give you that anonymous feedback, not at work. And it seemed like that doesn’t seem like people would want that. And yet it was one of the most popular apps out there so that, you know, always get to look at these counter-intuitive things happening from that was the insight to understand that like the way people were doing kind of HR at work was, was kind of old school and it didn’t really match what the next generation wanted. So we went out with this idea and promise about understanding that and started building features and iterating on that. And you know, it resonated and not surprisingly with workplaces that had progressive, young, new, uh, workforces. And so our like flagship customers for ripple where Facebook, when they had, you know, four or 500 employees and, and LinkedIn and living social and Gilt group and HubSpot, uh, and on and on Eventbrite and when they were small companies because they did not like the traditional paradigm, the employees that they were dealing with because they had grown up with something different. Okay. So why am I mentioning that? Because I think if you want to understand how we’ll communicate at work and how we’ll collaborate, I think you just have to look at what the kids who are going to be in the workplace are doing today. That led us to helpful. One of the theses around helpful was that we would, um, build, uh, video asynchronous video messaging into a work tool. And you know why? Because I was constantly watching my 14 year old and 15 year old niece and nephew at the time send images to each other and pictures to each other, uh, in place of text or as an adjunct to text. And when you started to really unpack it, um, the question was like, why? Why are you doing that? And it was because if you ask them, I mean, they would say it’s faster and in what they really meant is, uh, well this is something we all know. A picture tells a thousand words, right? That’s like sending a simple image of yourself, you could convey a lot of emotion. And so that was the sweet spot was like, Hey, people want to convey humanity and emotion. Not just dry text and that video is a really powerful way to do that. So that was what we did. Now I’ll sort of stop there because I don’t have necessarily that much more perfect insight. I have some thoughts, but I definitely think that the future of work is going to involve both live video and asynchronous video. Um, and in a way that we’ve never sort of thought about it before. I think that’s going to be part of how people work.

Joe: (08:31)
Yeah. I think there’s a definitely a vision where async can quickly become synchronous as well. Like, uh, you know, you’re on, I was on a chat with Apple today cause uh, something they sent was, was missing. And so I was just asking, you know, what’s the status on this? And it was all text, text base. Um, but certainly it’d be easy to, like, if you can’t fix someone’s problem, there’s a little link that says, would you like to, you know, go live with an agent and it goes to video. Um, and you, you, if you can’t close it with a scene video or an ACO screenshot or something, you can, you know, go, go real time. Uh, I think, you know, that’s definitely a piece of it. And also like within the workplace, we’ve, we’ve seen, you know, trends with people working remote. Obviously, uh, remote playbooks are being developed right now. Uh, we did a survey at CloudApp, uh, last fall that showed that over 50% of both millennial and gen Z generations were working remotely anyway. Uh, as far as office workers go or wanting to work remote, um, you know, the Bay area is crazy expensive. People have to live further away from their headquarters. Uh, now people may get a flavor for what remote work is like, either good or bad. So it’ll be interesting to see what comes from all of this. But how do you think, you know, coronavirus all this kind of work from home stuff has really accelerated or, uh, led to, you know, a future of remote work?

Daniel: (10:13)
Yeah. Um, look, I mean there’s a few things that are happening simultaneously. One is like, uh, you know, one common at Shopify. We’ve, we’ve used as that sort of our 20, 30 plans are now happening in 2020 and I think that’s probably a fair understanding. We’ve had a giant forced transition to a new model and uh, yeah, you’re going to find some friction. But I think what you’re finding is you kind of basically the, you know, if you’re familiar with this technology lifecycle adoption curve, um, you got people living in the future right now and you got people living in the past and usually it takes a long time for that lagger group, which is like half the population, late majority to come over. That entire population has been forced to move very quickly. Um, they might not like it, but, um, what I think will be revealed is we can do a lot more remote work and that the tools that exist today are actually pretty good. And so what you’re getting then find is follow on decisions. So I, I I heard this morning a major Canadian bank was planning to basically get rid of a 40% of their, uh, real estate footprint because they realized through this experience that they could save those costs and have people work either on different shifts on more remote work. Um, and that, you know, people liked it. I mean, I won’t lie, even though I can walk to work, it’s about 45 minute walk. I like that I can substitute that 45 minutes on either side of the day with hanging out with my kids or you know, getting some exercise that’s, that’s a major change in the amount of addressable time in the day to do things I want to do. Well, that’s going to happen a lot of places. So I think real estate definitely a place that’s going to shift and people are going to be aware that they can do more distributed work than they used to do. Uh, and then they can use, you know, in person time selectively. I think another effect that we’re going to see is going to happen over the next, say six to 18 months, is there’s going to be a ton of capital put into really making these tools really good. So I, I think as much as we’ve been living with Skype for 20 years and things like that, cloud app screen recorder and screenshot tool , helpful, whatever you want to call it, they’re still very early on figuring out how to build an environment where people work. Um, uh, let me give you an example. Like the, the laptop that you’re using or I’m using, the main goal of it is not video conferencing. So the camera’s okay, but not great. The microphone’s okay, but not great. Um, even zoom, right? Which everyone loves because it’s easier and faster, you know, it’s still a lot of steps to get going relative to, um, you know, I pick up the phone and say hello or I dial a number and I’m talking to you. And, and, and we, we still haven’t gotten to that place. Now. I think we’re seeing glimpses of it. Uh, I put a portal downstairs in my, in my house and you know, instantly I’m tweeting that like, boy, I would pay to have another portal sitting on my desk because a purposeful design device that’s really like a screen optimized for video. The cameras use in, it’s got like tracking. So I can walk around, it’s got a audio tracking, you’re going to see money poured into these systems that make it way, way better over the next little while. So we’re going to see like that this investment area, it makes a lot of sense. Um, and, and I, I, I can’t help but imagine that people will adopt them. Um, you know, you can just go through the chain of areas where we can make things so much better and I think money will pour in and then you’re going to see great solutions on the other side of those things, uh, for allowing us to work in a more distributed way. I think the third one I probably should say is also AR VR. Uh, I’m an investor in a company called spatial. Uh, there are many others. I’m also an investor in company called North. And you know, spatial is really working, um, to take a vision where, you know, you put an Oculus on and you’re, you’re teleported into the room and you can work with documents, you can work with kind of, I call it like office in the office in AR or VR. And it’s amazing what was a concept. But what’s interesting, and I, you know, I haven’t talked to them directly, but I got to imagine all the phone calls of like, let’s do a pilot or maybe we’re interested, have now turned into like, we want to buy this and we want to roll out for a thousand people. Um, and so I think that’s probably happening all over the landscape and that means that in about a year, I think we’re just going to have much better tooling for this model of work.
Uh, last thing I’d say, by the way we talk about future of work, it’s also like future of geography. Urban geographies are gonna change as people, you know, just don’t need to spend as much time moving their, you know, basically their brain has to move from one spot to another. We can keep the brains in one spot and save a lot of energy by moving the brains around. That’s, that’s really good point. I wrote a few months ago, uh, before even all of this happened about how, you know, is the giant Google Flex a thing of the past. You know, the big HQ, that was like a big selling point for, uh, recruiting and getting people on board. And you know, a thing of the late nineties, early two thousands where you had your, a cafe and your dry cleaners and everything all in the office.

Joe: (15:17)
Now people are working from home. Uh, you know, is that, is it more the, like what you were talking about more people, this general NEC next generation of work is focused more on like balance and having that extra time at home if you have kids and really not having a traditional nine to five but more of a kind of broken up day. Well, that’s a separate question I think. I think we’re already living through that. Like I, I, I, um, yeah, I’ve always found that, you know, that line is, is a very blurry line to draw it. I, but I just caution anybody thinking about this as like, Oh, this is what it’s going to be. I am pretty sure there’s going to be very, very long time to come work. That’s traditional work. You go nine to five, you show up at an office, you do your job.

Daniel: (16:05)
Um, we’re talking about a subset of the population, but it will happen. I mean, I, um, I can see, uh, the, the changes in telemedicine in, in Toronto where I am Ontario where I, you just, you know, people are using, um, services where you can, you know, talk to a doctor right away, uh, that they would never have otherwise done. So I do think, no doubt this is going to have implications for us. Uh, but I also probably one last thing I’d say is be careful of people like me who prognosticate and be aware of like, unsafe, you know, an unanticipated things. Yep. Right. Let me, you know, when, when Steve jobs held up the first iPhone, it was about 14 years ago, I guess, and said to the world, this is, you know, Hey, check it out. It’s a internet communicator. It’s a mobile phone and it’s an iPod altogether, you know, precisely zero people in the world at that time said, that’s it for the taxi industry. Right. No one saw that. No one saw that. Putting a GPS in this thing and then having people hack apps onto it would allow this. And I think what’s going to happen over the next coming years, we’re going to see AR glasses coming vastly improved screens or purposeful devices for this. You know, we talked about screen, another thing that that’s coming right is transparent screen. So the camera’s not at the top, but the camera’s right in the screen so you can look through it and you can like look right at people so that you get all that visual nuance, which we kind of lose through this thing. In fact makes it even more confusing. I think it’s an, it’s unclear what’s going to change. Uh, what combination of technology and platforms that enable people to change is going to, um, unleash a different workforce. But I, but I think it’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty fair to say it’s going to be very different I think.

Joe: (17:51)
Yeah, I think so too. It’s just kind of, it opens things up a little bit. Uh, you may not have as much of like, uh, I’m sure you’ll have more remote leadership. I mean, I know like an Adobe always wanted to have all the executive layer like right there in San Jose. Um, and a lot of tech companies were kind of that way, but you may have now a EVP or a C level who isn’t necessarily in headquarters. Uh, maybe they’re, they’re probably, they’re 90% of the time, but maybe they’re based somewhere else. Um, you’re able to hire outside of your footprint, a 20, 30 mile radius of HQ cause you have a playbook now of how to like actually onboard and work with remote work. I think it’s just building a skill set and going to open things up. Like you said. Well you mentioned leadership, that’s a really good area where I do think leaders today are going to adopt tools much faster.

Daniel: (18:47)
So one of the pharynx that we built for helpful was a product called Leadercast and it was essentially a tool that allowed, uh, senior executives to quickly record in a sort of easy way, kind of created a teleprompter on your phone, um, and manage the whole process for you with sending short video messages to their teams. And I’ll be honest, like as we were talking to executives about this, it was just not in their mindset right for them. And this is sort of maybe a good, the friction around doing these things is going to go away. So today if you go to most fortune, let’s call it 10,000, I don’t even know if that’s a thing. Fortune 10,000 companies and CEOs and you say like go record a video message. Say two years ago that was a multi-week process. It was like, let’s get the script down and who are we going to bring in for video and let’s get them makeup and camera right. And then they would sit in their office and it’d be very scripted. There were some that were starting to become progressive on it, but now, I mean we’re going to shift to CEO walks out of the meeting and says, Hey team, I just want to share this conversation I just had with the customer and boom, broadcast it out. I think the, um, the idea that video is like this formal scripted sit down thing is going to go away too. It’s like a much more authentic human thing. I mean it’s really quite funny, right? Nobody prepares for two weeks to stand in front of another person and talk to them. That’s all you’re doing with the video. You’re just talking to somebody else. But somehow that, that sort of, you know, distribution of it changes people’s perception. And so I think that is going to be the harbinger where executives use video to communicate on mass much more frequently. I’ve already seen this insurer internally at Shopify, a lot more video executives, both synchronous and asynchronous and they’re going to be using these as ways to stay connected. And it’s about emotional connection, you know, like making sure that as a leader you’re seeing literally seeing, um, and, and sending a short message is very different from um, sending a text. And so I think that’s going to happen. I think once that starts to happen, it will signal to the rest of people and organizations. It’s socially acceptable. It’s professional and acceptable to give a short authentic video and you know, look like, um, my friend Mike Litt at video has been trying for a while too and, and succeeding at getting at P salespeople to use that and using video in a marketing context. And so I just think we’re going to see, um, telepresence expand. Um, I think I’ve probably beaten that horse enough. Maybe the second part about it is with that and what I’m unpacking for you I think is an even further continuation of authentic human communication, less formality, less barriers to the leadership and more here’s what’s really happening in real time. Uh, and let’s react. I think, you know, everyone talks about, Oh, what happened now was a shift to remote work. What probably isn’t told enough is what happened now is a shift to, you have to make a decision fast. Like we didn’t have time for weeks of committees on whether we’re going home. I mean every major company was just forced and in governments that some did it better than others. But what’s impressive to me is how many companies are going to come out of this. And say, you know what, we can actually make decisions faster and we can get shit done. Like we can do this. Look what we just did. We moved our entire 20,000 person, you know, back home. Why is it going to take us so long to make another decision like this? Um, and to me that’s probably one of the most powerful things. It’s not like new style of work. It’s not new video conferencing. It’s new decisioners agency that allows companies to make decisions faster because they realize that they can, and it also perhaps raises their expectations of dealing with big institutions and governments where, you know, it used to just be like, it’s going to take forever. Um, and now the answer can be, well, like it didn’t take you forever. You can do things fast if you want to. It’s lack of will.

Joe: (22:39)
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Um, and you know, you’re speaking my language with the video, like at, at CloudApp. I mean, we definitely have lots of sales, uh, organizations using our product for that. And then also like my marketing team, uh, we do this like 60 second vlog about the blog, a video before every single blog post. And it just gives kind of a high level. And I tell my team or myself like one take ums and AHS, people walking in the background. Like my biggest, one of my biggest things that CloudApp is like demystifying video. Right? And how it’s, it’s fine. Like people, you know, I’ve had like, you know, my, my kids are joining me on zoom calls and it’s like it’s authentic.

Daniel: (23:28)
I appreciate that. So maybe another thing about the history of future of work that I think also will happen, we use the authentic but it’s also like it’s less duality. And what I mean by that is there was very strong, like that’s your work life, this is your home life. You know, this is persona of who you are at home and your persona of who you are at work. And I think that’s kind of like psychically difficult and has been for decades for people to be like who you really are and then who you are at work. And how you can say things and what you do and what this experience is doing for people is reminding us of our humanity. Now, you mentioned the kids coming on the zoom call. Not only do the kids come on the zoom call, I kind of like when my kids come on a zoom call and, well, the reason is it changes the tenor of the conversation.
Yeah. If you think about a business conversation, you don’t necessarily know people and in certain cultures, North American culture, others maybe not, but what do we all do? We have like chit-chat at the beginning and what are we trying to do? We’re trying to connect how the weather or what do you like this sports team? Do you like that concert? Did you see this show on Netflix? We’re trying to find some commonality because it helps make it possible to have a conversation to build a little trust. That’s good. Well, when you have a kid pop onto a call with a bunch of like bankers, I had a call the other day with like a big financial institution. Then my little kid comes on and what was amazing was the smiles, you know, one guy who was a CEO of a major financial institution was started smiling and he said, Oh, I got my grandkids here.
And it reminds us that we’re all just people in the world as human beings and all of us are here doing this pantomime that we call work to try and help our families and get through what we have to do. Yup. And so I think that’s maybe part of the future of work too, is um, it’s an overworked, it’s not, it’s, it’s removing the duality, right? You said work life balance. It’s, it’s more like finding, finding unity both in your humanity of who you really are and also in the way that you interact and find balance for the things that you have to do at work.

Joe: (25:29)
I really liked that. I think that’s great. Kind of segue to move into kind of the last question as we wrap things up. This has been a really fun conversation, Daniel. Uh, lots of good stuff, um, that I have learned and just fun talking with you. Uh, what do you kind of see? Um, well actually let’s, let’s ask what is, what have you learned as a leader about yourself, uh, during this time? Uh, you know, there were some things that I did and haven’t done that I wish I would have done and, and need to do as a leader. What are some things that you’ve done well, maybe haven’t done well and learned about yourself during this time?

Daniel (26:10)
Look, I always have places to improve my leadership and interpersonal skills. Everybody does. I think the one thing that stands out for me is taking the time, uh, in a meeting, in a conversation, in a team, to really check in with people and make sure that they know that you care about them as people is enormously powerful. Uh, I would say in my prior lives, I’ve been impatient, you know, startup, entrepreneur and you know, you get on and you want to just get into it. Um, and certainly if you work in a big company where you’re interacting, you know, it was like this at Salesforce, you get on a call, you don’t even know these folks. You just like, let’s get into it in what the coven situation has done is it makes it not only, uh, you don’t just do the perfunctory, how you doing? You actually ask the question, right? I was with one of my colleagues yesterday who is a single person living in a small apartment in Manhattan, hasn’t gone out in six weeks. Like that’s gotta be crazy making and, and you know, I only had half an hour. I had to get some stuff done. But candidly, I spent most of the time talking to her about what she needed. We could schedule another call. You know what, that could be fine. We’ll do that another time. Being more patient to make people feel comfortable and learn about them allows you to go faster later on because you know, that allows, uh, like my own rough spots when I’m maybe inpatient later to be forgiven because people understand where you’re really coming from. So I think as a leader, that part has been really great and to be honest with you, I’ve loved it. You know, we have this thing at Shopify where you get a ping every week and it connects you with another random employee. Oh, of course. It’s like, Hey, go have a coffee with this person. And for my first year at Shopify, I did it a few times, but you know, probably bad on me. I’m like, what am I doing? Like what is this about? And now I love, I actually want to request more of them because I learn about the company and I learned about my college career and about the people I work with just by hopping on for half an hour with no, like, I don’t have an agenda with you. You’re, you’re working in a different team in the department. But I’m like, how did you get here? What’s your story? What have you done? Um, and every single time I’ve come away thinking, I learned something about another great person, I learned something about this company. Um, and usually I think, damn, why wasn’t I doing more of this sooner? Because it’s really powerful. Um, so yeah. Anyways, like I said, I think that that, that, that learning about like taking care of people and taking a little bit more time, uh, to know their story, really make sure they’re doing okay before you get into the work stuff is, is invaluable and, uh, a good lesson for me.

Joe: (28:28)
Definitely. Awesome. Well thanks Daniel for your parting words of wisdom. Uh, great talking with you. Good luck with the kids. Good luck with managing during this craziness and, uh, I hope to talk again soon.

Daniel: (28:45)

Thanks. Take care, Joe. Same to you. Good luck.

Joe: (29:07)
Thanks for joining the DNA of an Experience Podcast. We hope you learn something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting CloudApp. The instant business communication tool used to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect for both internal and external communication. Get started for [email protected] Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Ed Yealu – Support Lead at Hubspot

CloudApp text in black with speech bubble/cloud in various shades of blue

Speaker 1: 0:00Welcome to the DNA of and experience podcast from cloud app where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.Speaker 2: 0:20

Okay. Welcome this morning everyone. I’m excited to have ed with me from HubSpot. Ed is a customer support lead at a HubSpot and has been leading a remote customer support team. I thought it’d be really interesting to bring it in first of all, cause I love HubSpot. Um, we use it over here at cloud app and I’m a big fan of, of what they do with content and uh, you know, love the HubSpot blog and all this stuff going on, uh, as, as and them as a company and ed has some really interesting, um, background based off of, uh, you know, I got connected with him from a blog post that I did with a customer suppor

t blog at HubSpot and I thought it’d be great to bring him on and talk about customer support and onboarding. So ed, if you wouldn’t mind just giving us a little bit of background on yourself. Um, and then we’ll kind of go into a couple of questions and, and see how you’re doing.

Speaker 3: 1:21

Yeah, sure. I think, thanks for, thanks for having me. Obviously. Um, so yeah, I’ve been at HubSpot for a little bit over two years now. Um, so I started in March of 2018 and I’ve been working in frontline technical support for about, I’d say about six years now, which is kind of hard to believe, Campbell, it’s gone by really fast. So I started in a customer support at a company called live stream, which is actually now owned by Vimeo. I started there in a frontline support role, um, and then I eventually was promoted to team lead and then I eventually became the frontline support manager for that team. Um, we had about, I wanna say about 15 and office workers and maybe about six or seven, um, remote workers, uh, maybe one that was located domestically in the States and then the rest of the room at were actually located in the Ukraine and India.

Speaker 3: 2:06

Um, so that was a really, really cool experience. And then, um, after being in that management role for about three years, um, you know, I was looking for the next step in my career and the opportunity came up that HubSpot, I was looking to hire a book, actually looking to hire their first, uh, fully remote support manager to manage their first fully remote support team. Um, and I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity. You know, HubSpot support is, is pretty legendary in the tech support world. Uh, if you work in tech, you’ve heard of HubSpot support and obviously the company in general is just incredibly forward thinking and then just has this incredible culture, not just internally to our own employees, but also to the way that we engage with our customers as well. So, um, I couldn’t really pass it the opportunity to, to apply for the role. And then obviously, thankfully I was hired and it’s been two years. It’s been crazy. Um, you know, we started with about eight folks in the team. We’ve had as many as 27, uh, within our team. And, and about now I think we have around five across 23 different States, three different times zones, 22 cities. Um, so it’s just been amazing to see how much it seems has grown in the past few years.

Speaker 2: 3:08

Yeah, that’s, that’s crazy. It’s definitely hard to one, manage that many people and to, especially when there’s time zone issues. I know when I, I had a global team so it was even sometimes a little harder, um, at Adobe and we, I had people in a lot of people in India and like Singapore and it was like no one was ever really happy on the phone call. Right. It’s always like, or like late at night when you could actually like connect and be together as a group. Um, yeah. So I’d love to kind of hear though, you’ve been in support for such a long time and, and I’m sure have a lot of good battle stories. Um, what is kind of like the, the core or like the DNA of a good experience? Uh, what do you guys try and do at HubSpot when you know, someone comes in and maybe is like a zero on a NPS and you wanna, you know, turn them from a detractor to a really loyal customer. What are some steps that you really try and do there?

Speaker 3: 4:09

Yeah. One of the things that I, I try to, I definitely try to live by when I engage with customers and definitely think I try to manage and coach the teams that I’m lucky enough to work with. It’s, you know, you want to be a culture, you want to have a culture in your team where every frontline specialist is committed to understanding and relaying solutions, not just copying and pasting answers. Right. And I think that that’s like the biggest mistake that I oftentimes get in frontline support. And obviously whenever I’m a customer and I have what I consider to be a poor support experience, I’m like, okay, this person isn’t really taking the time to understand what my goal is, what my intent is, why I’m stuck, where my confusion point is like identifying like, Hey, maybe I’m super technical with this product or maybe this is my first day using it.

Speaker 3: 4:51

Like are they actually asking the quantifiable questions to really understand where I’m coming from and deliver a solution to me that’s actually relevant to you know, where I’m stuck. And I think that’s definitely, to me, that’s always been the key to having good support experiences. Like actually understanding the product that you’re working with, understanding the customers that you’re working with and making sure that those two things merged together to deliver a solution that’s actually applicable to that specific customer. Because again, like not every, you know, they say one size doesn’t fit all or sometimes they say one size fits all. Sometimes they say it’s, you know, different shoes for every person. And I think that understanding that difference as a frontline expense was, is key. Um, and so I think that when I look at the best support reps that I’ve worked with and the best support reps that I see, you know here at HubSpot that’s a consistent DNA with all of them is consistency and they all have is like, it’s not enough to just say you’re asking me the question, I’m just going to find the answer and send it to you.

Speaker 3: 5:43

But it’s to understand why this answer is relevant to the question you’re asking. And then taking that extra step to not only give you that answer but to set you up for success moving forward so you don’t have to call back again with the same question. So yeah, I would say understanding solutions and not just relaying answers.

Speaker 2: 6:00

That’s, that’s a really good point. Cause you, you know we live in a digital age and I don’t remember the exact stat, like most people don’t remember the exact stats right? But like it was something like 70 or 80% of people have already looked for an answer before they like reached out to you. Right. It’s like they’ve already had some friction. They’re already obviously frustrated cause they can’t, your help docs are not kind of answering their question. It probably took them, you know, some time to get to an actual rep. So definitely like, uh, it helps to like, I, I think customer success and customer support are like the biggest knowledge base of the products. Right. Which is something you touched on. What, what is something that you guys try and do with like, uh, training and like, um, you know, making sure that that the people who are answering the questions are really well versed in the products.

Speaker 3: 6:57

Yeah, totally. So we always, uh, one of the things that I talked about a lot, um, with my team is really, it’s, it’s like always putting yourself in the position of the customer. Right? And so it’s one of the things that you said that was actually really interesting, it was like, you know, most customers have actually done their due diligence. And I think what’s really interesting about working in support is that most customers don’t want to have to call into tech support, right. Because it’s like if they’re happy with your product, they don’t want to have to call in. Like calling into support and sending an email is usually when they feel like they can’t find the answer. And I think sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that as a frontline team. And so like they’re not calling in to support for you to take the same journey with them. They’re calling you in support for you to provide the destination that they’re looking for. Um, and so like, I definitely think with training we actually start like on a fundamental level of like,

Speaker 3: 7:47

it’s not like you need to understand even, so one of the things that I say all the time, like in sort of with our team, it’s like HubSpot is designed to be user-friendly, right? So the idea is that anyone, regardless of your background, you don’t need to be a, you don’t have to have a marketing degree or to be a web designer to be able to create a website instead of an inbound marketing campaign. The whole appeal of our product is that anyone can get a HubSpot account, set up, a more inbound marketing campaign, set up their website, um, and you know, for whatever the size of their businesses. And so our job as frontline support is not, you know, the challenge of what we do isn’t so much supporting and providing solutions to all of the features and tools that are proprietary to hubs, but it’s how do we support customers and all the variables that they don’t understand.

Speaker 3: 8:32

Right. And I think that that oftentimes gets missed out. So like training on things like CSS and design and HTML and understanding tricky concepts like API APIs. Right. And how does that interact with customers and how do you actually integrate Google analytics with HubSpot analytics and what are you supposed to use those two analytics platforms for? And being able to pinpoint to customers like, well, you know, you’re using Google analytics for this and you’re using HubSpot for this and they’re not supposed to be using conflict, but they’re supposed to be used together. But together, you know, to tell a very specific story. And so I think we definitely put a lot of emphasis on what I like to call tertiary support, right? The things that you wouldn’t feel like if you don’t think about it. So if you’re, if you’re a HubSpot employee is working in support and you don’t think that these are things you have to support, well then the customer definitely isn’t thinking that these are things that they need to understand. And so I feel like making sure that we’re well versed in not only our proprietary product, but also we’re well versed in all of the things that HubSpot interacts with because the product is so vast and expensive. I think that’s really the core to making sure that we’re going above and beyond for our customers and making sure that our teams are technically adept enough to deal with the same blockers that our customers have. So yeah.

Speaker 2: 9:39

Yeah, that’s a good point. Cause I mean, HubSpot definitely covers the full gamut of, you know, mom and pop shop to like enterprise companies. So you gotta have like re recognize that you’re not always going to have the person who has, you know, 12 years technical experience. You’re in sometimes have a founder, owner of a, I dunno, online shoe store that has been employees and 2 million in revenue or something and it doesn’t have that knowledge. So it’s really interesting that you kind of build off of that. Um, you know, w before we kind of jumped in and started recording, you were talking about, uh, how your team is fully remote. Uh, let’s dig on that a little bit. How, how has that maybe helped, I mean this, first of all, the first thing I say about this experience right now is this is not remote work. Like this is Derek pandemic. Like it’s totally different, but how do you feel like working remotely or managing remotely has, uh, kind of helped you build some experience leading up to this that you’ve been able to maybe draw from during all of this?

Speaker 3: 10:49

Yeah, totally. Um, I mean, obviously the, the, the flexibility of remote workers is obviously massively important too to times like this, right? The ability to be able to find a way to work autonomously, right? And to work within your own environment and still be able to deliver solutions to our customers. So obviously that’s the core principle that we try to hire on, right. Are people who are able to do this job like fully autonomously. Um, one of the things that I talk about a lot, like when we’re doing recruiting and hiring is the biggest challenge of being a remote worker, especially in a role like frontline support is that you kind of have the absence of us, Moses and proximity. Right? And I think that we take for granted how much being around people that are doing the same job propels you in your career.

Speaker 3: 11:31

Um, one of the analogy I use with my team all the time is that, you know, learning technology is like learning a new language. You know, like you can get flashcards, you can get textbooks, you can watch movies, you can listen to TV shows, right? Like listen to music. But the only thing that’s going to make you fluent as being immersed in it, right. And I think this applies to when you’re learning a completely new job. Um, and so I think that’s the biggest challenge is like how do we find ways to simulate immersion and remote, but also to making sure that we’re hiring folks who were able to be proactive about seeking out that immersion in ways that it’s not maybe necessarily handed to the way it is when you’re working in office. Um, so I think that’s really the biggest thing that’s prepared us for that is that we have a group of people who have found ways to seek out knowledge and, and to really put an emphasis on the resource management and utilizing documentation and finding ways to say, read something on an sort of Wiki or read something on the knowledge base and make sense of it based on their own style of learning.

Speaker 3: 12:23

Right. And I think that the situation that a lot of folks have been maybe forced to write to be put in, uh, during this confinement. And I think that that’s probably why maybe some folks are actually struggling right now is they’re realizing, wow, I really took for granted how much of my day is dictated by, you know, asking a colleague a question or even like, you know, my time management is based on every day, you know, John or Jane, we go to lunch together at a very specific time and that breaks up the monotony of my day. You know, it gives me a sense of, of, you know, mental health and physical health that maybe I just didn’t think about working remotely and how much that separation and commuting gives me a time to actually detach from work, right. To be prepared when I come in or when I end my day.

Speaker 3: 13:03

So obviously having your group that’s been used to that is, uh, is, it’s been great and I think that’s probably the biggest upside that we have. But you pointed out something that’s very relevant, which I always want to point out to everyone who is looking at where people who are working remotely pretty pandemic is. Um, again, working remotely is definitely drastically different than having a government mandated cartoon. And so many of our folks who are on our team now I think are actually going through very similar challenges of realizing like, Oh, you know, my son or my daughter was in kindergarten all day, you know, now they’re home. You know, my, you know, my husband or wife was away at a job and I thought I had kind of the freedom of the house. So right now I’m kind of cordoned off to a certain section of the house. That’s the work. So there’s an adjustment made for everyone, but I definitely just think the ability to seek out information, process it and retain it completely autonomously is something that I think most remote workers were used to. Pretty quarantine. Sorry, I know that was along with Dan. Sorry.

Speaker 2: 13:58

No, that was great. That was great. Yeah, I, I, I’ve felt kind of, I’ve had similar answers from people who I talk to who are remote. It’s like, yeah, I’ve got, I’ve got three little kids, you know, so they’re all, they’re home and two of them are my wife and are trying to homeschool and, and yeah, I’m like my first day in quarantine, I posted this on Twitter, like, you know, six weeks ago I had this like Ikea little kid table chair. I don’t know if you know, like the just crappy like what off the ground chair that I was sitting on for like the first couple of days. And then I like found, you know, I went and grabbed the desk from my, from my office a couple of weeks after that and finally just decided to bring it home and, and you know, got a place in my bedroom.

Speaker 2: 14:44

But uh, yeah, it’s, it’s totally bizarre circumstances. It was thanks for kind of sharing how you’ve able to navigate that. Of course. Mmm. I think, you know, another unique, unique thing I’ve been thinking a lot about, um, my team is, isn’t really looking to hire anyone currently and wasn’t pre pandemic, but I’ve been thinking about like onboarding a new hire. I mean HubSpot’s probably still hiring maybe slower but, or maybe like, you know, on hold for a little bit, but probably going to be hiring soon. Um, lots of companies are still hiring. Um, what is, you’ve had some experience onboarding remote people or you know, this is re onboarding quarantine people. Uh, what are some tips you might have on onboarding or even interviewing when you don’t necessarily have that handshake, that energy in the same room? Um, but kind of osmosis that you mentioned earlier. Uh, what are some things that you’re able to do there?

Speaker 3: 15:49

Yeah, absolutely. Um, I would definitely say there’s like a bunch of things. I guess I could, could speak on to that, but I would, I would say like starting with maybe the big ones, that would be definitely getting your new hires involved in what their day to day is actually going to look like as soon as possible. Right. You know, and not spending as much time on like say processes and logistics and more about like, Hey, this is what your daily workload is going to look like. And I think it really, it implores your newer hires who are fully remote to find what their workflow is going to be as early as possible and like getting settled into what doing a job completely remotely is actually going to look like. So I think getting so excited and frontline support, getting them involved in casework, um, as soon as possible has always been a big issue for us.

Speaker 3: 16:31

And a big push for us is to make sure that they’re getting involved as early as possible. They’re doing cases as early as possible and finding out ways and, and, and I think it gives you as a manager insight into what the strengths and weaknesses are going to be of your new hires. Um, I’d say the next thing I’d definitely say is utilizing documentation maybe, which I think is super beneficial. That’s something that we emphasize a lot. Um, I think utilizing documents and manager tools, it’s been a great way for me to like streamline, not just my bandwidth, um, but also the bandwidth of our new hires. Um, I think the biggest challenge when you’re fully remote and people are in different times zones is how do you make yourself as a manager, as available to the team as they need to be, especially when you’re getting all of these different individual questions over the course of the day.

Speaker 3: 17:15

And you don’t have like an in office ecosystem to kind of support that. Right? So it’s kind of, you’re doing a lot of things on a one to one basis. Um, so I definitely think that utilizing documentation is a great way to make communication with your new hires a lot more organized. Um, definitely. The next thing again is kind of what I just spoke to before about like that ecosystem being missing and remote is finding a way to create that ecosystem, you know, with, with your new hires. And I think definitely maybe using Slack channels that are just for your new hire class. Um, I always encourage you to hire class that makes a support channel that’s unique to their cohort. Um, I think it’s a great way for them to build confidence, um, since they kind of have like this judgment free zone to do sanity checks and build relationships and develop solid resource management skills.

Speaker 3: 18:01

Um, and it’s, it’s, I think this is also really beneficial for me because obviously with every new remote hire, not everyone learns the exact same way, right? Live. Some people can learn just by reading a book. Some people need to be taught, some people need to make the mistake. And I learn from that, right? So everyone has a different approach. And I think that when you create that new hire ecosystem where they have their own support channel or their own like, you know, just I guess channel of communication where it’s just them as new hires, I think it’s really beneficial and it helps give you a lot of insight into a manager about what you could be doing better in training or like, you know, is this something that only one person is getting stuck on? Is this something that’s confusing to the whole group?

Speaker 3: 18:37

Um, so I think anything that you can do to make your communication more group based and less individual basis is super helpful. Um, then I would definitely say like if you’re a manager who prefers to do individual one on one trainings, finding ways to transition one on one coaching into group coaching, you know, it’s, I think it’s a great way to get collective feedback. So I mean if you’re realizing the theme here, it’s like finding ways to get what could be 15 individual points of feedback. It’s a one group point of feedback is a lot easier way to manage it when you’re doing it remotely. Um, and then I would say the last thing I, and I think I mentioned this briefly, was that the importance of stressing to your new hires, how important resource management is, right? And like how, using documentation and knowing where to go to get specific answers and knowing who to escalate to and making sure that they fully understand processes.

Speaker 3: 19:27

Because again, what they don’t have is that ability to be like, Hey, I’ve never done this before. I’ll look to my left and look to my right. Just ask a coworker, right? Like you don’t have that benefit when you’re working remotely. You know, an example that I use all the time within my team is like, you know, we have a couple of different channels for resources. We have like our public facing KB articles, we have internal wikis, we have our community and then we have jurors and actually laying out for your new hires. Like what each of those resources are for and at what point in your troubleshooting steps or your ticket life cycle do you want to actually access those points? Um, like an example being like, if you want to know how something is supposed to work, you use the knowledge base. If you want to know why it’s not working, you use the internal Wiki.

Speaker 3: 20:05

If you want to know if it’s ever happy before you can use the community. And if you don’t find the answer in any of those, you escalate to our product team. You know, like making sure you lay out, uh, like you really do streamline a productive workflow for your new hires. And make sure they know exactly what resources are used for what types of questions and how to relevant and how to make those, you know, relevant to the specific customers that they’re speaking with. Um, so, and then the last thing, I think I said that already, so sorry. The, the actual last thing is definitely, you know, just making it, I mean this seems super obvious to anyone who manages remote, but obviously just maximizing FaceTime with your new hires, right? You know, making yourself as a manager, as available to them as possible and really trying your best to align yourself with the work that they’re doing on a to day basis.

Speaker 3: 20:47

I think it’s such a huge deal when you’re working remotely because again, the challenge of working remotely is the absence of osmosis and proximity. And then I think your job as a remote manager, as a remote team lead is to find a way to simulate that osmosis. Right? So it’s created dynamic where even though they’re physically by themselves in their own house, they don’t feel like that every single day when they come to work, they never feel stuck. They know what the, they know, what the resources, whether it’s a static resource, like a Wiki or a physical resource like their fellow team member and making sure that you’ve created a dynamic where they always know who they can go to for questions and answers. So yeah, those are some ideas there.

Speaker 2: 21:23

No, that’s great. I think a couple of things that I liked that you mentioned was, um, being available. Uh, I think that’s, that’s key to, uh, I, I’ve had talked to a few people who said they have, so they can kind of like manage their calendar. It’s not just full of one-on-ones and group one-on-one or group, you know, group meetings. They have like office hours or something and people can just jump in there, zoom, um, and talk if they need to. Uh, I thought that was pretty interesting. And then the other thing is the kind of term we’ll call it like terms of engagement. You know, you, you mentioned like a very clear, like route to, for people to solve their own questions. Um, and then also like how, how to use different mediums to connect. Um, I think those are all really great examples.

Speaker 2: 22:17

Um, let’s, I mean this has been a really fun convo. Uh, and I really appreciate your time today. Um, I’d love to get kind of parting thoughts on where you think the future of like customer experience might go. Might be going as, as a piece of, you know, support is a piece of that. Um, there’s been surveys that like experience is more important than the product itself, uh, to a lot of customers and people are willing to pay more for a good customer experience, um, if, if it’s included in the product. So I’d love to hear kind of where you, you know, looking into Ed’s crystal ball. Where do you think we’re heading out?

Speaker 3: 22:57

Yeah, totally. I think we’re heading in a direction where the way technology works from a corporate standpoint and the way that we create solutions, whether it’s software as a service like hardware, I think we’re just going to have complete and total transparency with customers and customers are going to get just complete insight into the entire life cycle of where it goes from an idea to an actual deliberate product that they can use on their day to day. Um, you know, the example I used to use all the time was that it wasn’t that long ago where a beta version was completely internal, right? Like betas were for the internal developers to test and then the full version was released to customers. I think where you see now, it’s like customers are now using betas, right? Like we deliver beta to the customers, they test it and then we approve it based on that.

Speaker 3: 23:39

I think that’s a really interesting way to look at it. And so, you know, I, I, I’m a huge film fan. I that the film industry is another great example of this where it’s like, you know, everything about a movie from the day they start casting people. So when it’s finally released in theaters, it’s like full transparency into how movies are made. Um, and I think in your views it can be a little tragic cause maybe sometimes the magic of making movies has kind of been taken away from us. But I think when it comes to, you know, providing solutions to our customers to things that are actually, you know, directly impacting their ability to pay their bills and when their businesses and feel successful in their respective careers. I think transparency is key, right? And so I think being fully transparent with our customers, it’s definitely a direction that I think customer experience is going. And I would love to, I, you know, as I say, that’s a directive. It’s going, a part of me feels like it’s already there, you know, and, and maybe I just feel like that’s, I work at a company like HubSpot, which is constantly in communication with his customers and we’re constantly trying to be as transparent as possible. But I definitely think full transparency into the way technology works for respective company and how we deliver those solutions to our customers is definitely the direction that I think we’re headed.

Speaker 2: 24:45

Yeah, well I mean, you know, we, the thought thought leadership has been going on digital transformation for the last probably five years. Like pretty heavy on like companies needs to embrace digital transformation and you know, get on board with digital and we’ve gone from five weeks, five years of talking about it to like five weeks of cramming it and like, okay, you know, we’ve been to, everyone’s been telling you and now you’re forced to make it happen when your entire company’s remote now. Um, so that’s, that’s really interesting. Yeah, I agree. I think we’re kind of, um, in the middle of the future right now and maybe hard to kind of see what the next step is. Um, and awesome conversation. Thanks for some time. Uh, stay, stay well, stay safe in New York and I appreciate, um, your time today.

Speaker 3: 25:39

Oh, my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me. Really appreciate it.

Speaker 2: 25:42

Cool.

Speaker 1: 25:43

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