Helping Others Be Successful

Customer Success:CS

Customer Success: When your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.
Lincoln Murphy

Customer Success: Helping other people be successful at their job.

I love my job (Customer Success @ Workpop).

A huge part of why I love my job is because I’m able to do what makes me happiest, helping other people be successful at their job.

I get to do this on two fronts, interacting with customers and with my team.  Ultimately, this is what keeps me motivated at work.  There’s always something I can do to make someone’s job easier.

Working in Customer Success, which is more proactive post sale and implementation services (at Workpop), I have the luxury of working with the customer.  We view ourselves as a trusted partner that is helping the customer’s business run more effectively.  We work collaboratively with our customer to understand their business needs and then address those needs.   From the start, we’re able to really understand what a difference our product is making in their work life.  Hearing, seeing, and really understanding this difference makes it easier and more compelling to continually work on making sure they are successful.

At Workpop, the Customer Success Team also manages customer support issues.  While Customer Success is innately proactive, customer support is usually more reactive.  When managing customer support requests, we are usually interacting with customers who are having problems. Something is not working as expected and often times users are frustrated or upset. Instead of internalizing these negative emotions of users, we try and focus on the issue itself.  The user has a problem and it’s our job to solve it.  We become problem solvers who are able to offer solutions.  Instead of viewing customer issues as a barrage of negativity, we approach them as problems to solve.  Then at the end of the day, we don’t feel emotionally drained, we feel accomplished.  We helped all those users do the job they set out to do.

As the CS Lead at Workpop, I also need to ensure that our team is successful.  I’ve helped train our newest reps and have enjoyed working towards making their jobs easier.  Creating tools and resources, like macros, documentation, and processes, to make their transition into the role go smoothly so they feel knowledgeable and empowered.  Ultimately, you hope (and I know) that you’ve hired intelligent and driven people.  With that being said, I enjoy laying the groundwork for them.  I want to set the team up for success by making sure that they aren’t just “pushed off the deep end” with no guidance, advice, or expectations. With a strong foundation, they’ll be able to grow and contribute to the team.  Knowing you helped someone along towards feeling confident in suggesting growth ideas for the company, customer, and team is an amazing feeling.

Ultimately, what keeps me most motivated in my job is that I truly enjoy all aspects of it.  Work doesn’t seem like a chore or a task when you’re doing things that encourage and excite you.



My Space

It’s week 6 of the Support Driven writing challenge and the prompt suggested we write about our space and where we work.  While I enjoy my current workspace, the prompt really got me thinking about how I miss my cubicle.  Something, you don’t often hear…so I thought I’d write about that instead.

In tech, you’ll often hear an open concept office being used as a recruiting tool or selling point.  However, when you talk to employees that sit in an open office they don’t always love it.

The allure of the open office totally makes sense.  No one wants to work in an office space type place where it’s all cubes and you’re a cog.  The standard corporate hierarchy is erased, everyone has the same desk.  Smart people tend to have their best ideas when collaborating with others.  Businesses want their employees to be empowered to make the best decisions possible.

That allure is fading a little bit.  Startups aren’t so small anymore and funding isn’t quite as easy.  I’ve heard from all types of employees that noise-cancelling headphones are their greatest assets at work.  The constant chatter and conversations are distracting.  It’s hard to focus on the task at hand when a million other things are happening around you.

The solution that I hear most often proposed is a quiet room, so you can focus on your work without distraction.

I love this idea, because personally, I’m not as productive in a quiet space.  I like to have a little noise to tune out, but I understand sometimes you need to focus.

It’s this balance that makes me miss my cube.

Being in Customer Service, there’s always someone on a phone call or discussing an interaction within earshot.  When I sat in a cube it was great.  I had enough of a partition, that I could focus in on my calls as needed and still be involved on things going on around me…if I wanted to be.

I also liked that it was my cube and I could decorate it.  It was my little space.

I think that’s what I miss most about my cube…a little place at the bustling office that was my own.


A Day In The Life…

This week’s writing challenge is to write about a day in the life.  I struggled a little bit with what to write.  It’s currently the slow season at work and I’m working on updating our help center, so there isn’t much exciting going on.  So here it is:

7:50-8:10  Attempt to wake up.  I’m not a morning person.  It takes a bit of time to acknowledge that I need to wake up.

8:10-8:35 Get ready for work.

8:35-8:45 Think Oh shit, I’m going to be late to work.

8:45-9:00 Drive to work

9:00-10:00 Start working.  This means checking my email, slack, and zendesk.

10:00 -11:00 Update and Manage HR product and payroll

11:00-12:00 Check Zendesk again, Start on writing a new help center article

12:00-1:00 Lunch!  I like to go get out of the office and do a quick walk

1:00-6:00 Periodic Zendesk checking, live chats, and writing articles.

6:00-6:30 Drive to the gym

6:30-7:15 Spin

7:15-8:00 Chat with my boyfriend and shower

8:00-9:00 Dinner

9:00-11:00 Internet, research, hang out and tv time.

Then bed…sometimes it’s a little later.

And that’s my day!





The Multi-Tasking Mentee

Meeting with your mentor regularly is a requirement of the mentor everywhere program.

Due to…life, Chris & I had to push back our most recent meeting 2x. I decided against rescheduling for a third time and instead decided to become the multi-tasking mentee.

What that really means, is we decided to meet this month via a phone call.  The multi-tasking part comes from the fact that I was driving during our call!

I have bluetooth and was driving on the very straight and traffic free 5, so it was perfectly safe and legal 🙂

Another added fun fact to this call was that my boyfriend was in the car too.  So he got to hear our conversation and learn a little more about what’s going on in the mentorship.

To begin our call we did a quick catch up about how things had been going for me at my new job; which was a great way to easily/organically cover topics that we both wanted to discuss.

I updated him on how happy I’ve been with the team.  Everyone has been very open to my feedback, ideas, and opinions and is willing to “discuss the why” when I have questions.

One of the most interesting challenges, although I’m not sure challenge is the best word, for me has been understanding the company’s relationship with the customer.   What I’m talking about, is more of the intricacies rather than the overarching relationship/attitude.  Chris was able to grasp that and offer some great advice and insights on how to gain clarification.

I also mentioned how I feel like much of my role is preparing the team to grow.  I love helping to make future people’s job easier, so it’s something I’m excited about.  My biggest takeaway from this part of the conversations was to document what I do and how it helps the company.

I instantly knew it was great advice.

I’m horrible about keeping track of what I actually do.  I tend to do my best/work hard and find satisfaction in qualitatively “feeling” the impact of my work.  Which makes me less inclined to actually track, or even recall, the things that I’ve done/accomplished at work.

It was a well-timed reminder as I’m finally to the point where I’m not in training mode at work.

My last question was about other people participating in the program.  I’m curious to see if we can read each other’s posts about the experience.

We’re meeting again next month and I’m hoping to have even more of an update.



Choosing Intercom

This week’s writing challenge encouraged us to write about our Support Stack.  The tools we use to do our jobs and why we use them.  In my previous role, I was tasked with creating a CS department from the ground up.  While I was researching tools I tried to find articles others had written about why they made the choices they did.  I had a hard time finding anything.  I found marketing materials and comparisons, but almost nothing about what works/didn’t for other companies.

So here’s my thoughts on what does and doesn’t work for me and a little bit about how I decided to use intercom.

How are my customers most likely to communicate with me?
I had the luxury of only having one product – a mobile app.

Phone calls were out – You can’t ask questions about something you can’t see very easily.

Emails were sporadic – It’s annoying to open up a separate application and submit a question.

In-app chat – This was most convenient and we saw most of our inquiries were sent in via chat.

Is there anything besides support related communications that my team needs?
Our team also needed something capable of drip email marketing campaigns.

Prioritize Features to create a baseline for evaluation.
This is like creating a game plan.  Just like when you buy anything, you want a reminder of what it is that you actually need vs what the salesperson wants you to think you need.  For us it looked like:

Must Haves:

  • Awesome in-app chat
  • Email support ticketing
  • Email marketing capabilities
  • Event tracking

Nice to Haves:

  • Knowledgebase / Help Center
  • Web chat
  • In-app notifications
  • Salesforce integration
  • Phone integration
  • Reporting

Get googling
I started researching by googling in-app chat, mobile chat, and help desk reviews.  The major results were


All of these solutions are great (so I read) for various organizations.  However armed with my goals of needing awesome in-app chat I was left with Zendesk and Intercom.

We were already using zendesk chat.  I was not a fan.  The mobile app for agents often lagged/had issues with being logged in/out.  Notifications were sporadic and it wasn’t as “pretty” as Olark, which I had used before.

Making a choice
Intercom was the front runner for us.  The only thing that it was really missing was a knowledgebase and reporting.

What we got with Intercom:

  • In-app chat – With an option to add web when we needed it
  • In app alerts & notifications – To make product feedback easier
  • Email Ticketing System
  • Event Tracking
  • Ability to do drip campaigns
  • Salesforce integration

What we missed with Intercom:

  • Knowledge Base
  • Reporting
  • Phone system integration

Now that we had chosen Intercom, we had to remove Zendesk and add Intercom to our app.

There were some struggles with this part of the project.  While the features of intercom are great, it does require engineering resources to get started.

Our engineers reviewed intercom’s docs before we agreed to move forward with the system.  However, when they got down to really having to integrate they hit a few snags.

  • While there is event tracking and metadata you can’t use that info in emails. So while we could send emails based on events, we couldn’t put any user specific data in the emails.   They did tell us they are working on updating this.
  • Adding the code was a pain. They had to remove our other systems and it wasn’t quite as easy as the engineers had hoped.  I don’t think that’s too unusual though.
  • There really isn’t much reporting.  That’s something they’re working on too.

Using Intercom!
The interface was easy and intuitive.  Having only used Zendesk before it wasn’ t too hard to make the switch.  I enjoyed using the app on my phone to respond to chats and tickets.


I’m currently at a different company and back to using Zendesk.  It’s a great reminder of how there is no one size fits all solution for creating a great CS team.





My Non-Thinking Space

Week 3 of the Support Driven Challenge is supposed to be about our thinking space.

After thinking about where my thinking space was I realized I don’t have a thinking space.  My brain kinda just goes…

With that being said, it’s not unusual to find me zoned out or seemingly daydreaming at any point in the day. What I really struggle with is not thinking.

I tend to overanalyze and contemplate things way too much.  What really helps me is turning off.  It’s kind of like when you reset a computer and what ever wasn’t working magically starts working.

My non-thinking place is… spin class.

I usually go 2-3 times a week.  It’s 45 min where instead of thinking about life, I forget and just enjoy the class.  My favorite instructors have the best music and it’s a time to just have fun, pay attention to the beat, and focus on challenging myself physically.

Whenever I start thinking about life (as opposed to focusing on the ride) I tend to lose the beat and get annoyed.  It’s like a literal jolt to remember class is for spinning and none of the stuff going on in the world outside.

Sometimes, the best approach to solving problems is taking a step back and that’s exactly what spin lets me do.


Support Driven LA Meetup #2!


slack_for_ios_uploadFor week 2 of the support driven writing challenge, we’re supposed to write about the tools we use to keep on track.  Since I don’t use many I’m going to write about our second LA Meetup at Pitfire Pizza in Venice instead!

We almost doubled in size for this meeting!

Which really means we had 2 new faces.  It was great to see our little group grow.  Fingers crossed it continues to do so.

Personally, it was great reconnecting with Matt and Josef.  They remembered how I was having a tough time at my last job and were excited to hear about my new job.  I really appreciated going back to a group that cared enough to remember that I started a new job and were excited to hear about how it was going.

After ordering our pizzas and without skipping a beat Keenan and Daniel joined in the conversation and we quickly got to know each other and what we all did.  After the quick intros the conversation flowed very naturally and easily.

Full disclosure: I have a habit of running late and was the last one to join the group…so I may have missed the first round of intros.

We were able to discuss things like:

  • Helpdesks – Most of use Zendesk
  • Live Chat – I’m the only one on a team that uses it.  For the others, it’s something for the future because it’s hard to ensure a great experience.
  • Chargebacks – Why or why not it was worth it for the company
  • Retention – We’re mostly Saas, but all have various term lengths and payment models
  • Voice and Tone – How support, marketing, and sales can work together for branding
  • Taking initiative- How having an idea and executing really helps make you a valuable member of the team
  • Planning our next meetup – Look for something mid week in January!

And those are just the few things I remember off the top of my head!

It was great to chat with a group of people that “get” what you do.  We all share a common background in support, but our companies are all very different.  Our discussion felt so well rounded because we all brought different perspectives to the table.

I’m really thankful to have this in person version of the support driven slack and excited to see it grow.


Customer Success and How I Got Here


When I was little and when people asked what I wanted to be, the answer was President (or rather Prisident, I was a horrible speller).  As I got older, I shifted towards wanting to do something related to science.  I wasn’t particularly gifted in science, but I thought it was more interesting than the other subjects.  My senior year of high school I took AP Environmental Science and was hooked.  It was such a tangible science.  I was learning about things I interacted with daily and I loved it.

I ended up switching my major and diving into Environmental Science (I got accepted as a biological sciences major).  It turned out there were 2 paths in Environmental Sciences…Social or Sciences.  My advisor suggested I take Sciences because it’s what everyone does.  So that’s what  I did.

While I enjoyed what I was learning, I never really connected.  My classes were interesting, but I struggled sometimes.  I worked in an entomology lab, did a great job of taking care of my colony, but ended up getting fired (because of transportation issues, but I wasn’t too disappointed).

I realized that the path I was on, just wasn’t for me.  My classes and job were more about science and less about the interactions, the thing that really excited me about Environmental Science.

Unfortunately, this realization came when I was a little over 3/4 of the way through college. I went to my advisor and her suggestion was to just stick it out.  So I did and I got my BS in Environmental Sciences.

During that stick it out period, I needed a job.  My ex-boyfriend’s mom had opened a clothing boutique and I began helping out.  Helping out turned into part-time work.  Part-time work turned into full-time work.  Full-time work turned into the opportunity to own a store.

The boutique was in a small town and without a great reputation we wouldn’t survive.  We treated every interaction as the opportunity to create a genuine and memorable experience.  My job was to interact with people, all the while being friendly and helpful.  I truly enjoyed it.

It turned out working in retail was so much more fulfilling than getting a college degree.

After helping run the store for a few years, I wanted to move to LA and open a store near UCLA.  The plan was for me to co-own and run the store while my ex-boyfriend’s mom would finance it.

We looked at a few locations, but after running the numbers my plans for opening a store in LA were over.  Rent was way more expensive and the financial gamble was too much.

That left me with a tough decision to make.

Open a store somewhere besides LA or leave the store completely.

I decided to leave the store completely.  I wanted to grow in my career and while owning a small business is a great goal, there wasn’t much difference between what I was already doing and what I’d be doing as an owner.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do.  I knew that it wasn’t environmental science and that I loved interacting with people.

I started searching for a customer service or admin job.

I got hired as a Payroll Specialist at Paychex.

I learned a lot, but it was a little too corporate for me.  The conversations I had were transactional and I didn’t really get to connect with the customers that I was helping.

Since I wasn’t entirely happy in my job and I was still living at home, not in LA where I wanted to be, I decided to apply to 1 job in LA.  If I got it I’d move.

Surprise, surprise…I got it.

I was officially a Customer Service Rep. (and eventually a Customer Success Rep)

I was constantly interacting with people. I was helping customers solve their problems.  I was interacting with my team, collaborating, learning, and teaching.

I found a job that satisfied my need for meaningful interactions and has plenty of career growth.  I’m happy and can’t imagine doing anything else.









Mentor Everywhere

I’m officially a mentee for the first time.

I found out about the mentor everywhere program on the support driven slack (an amazing network/resource for anyone in a customer support/success/service role).

I submitted an application to be in the first cohort and crossed my fingers.  I’m pretty confident in my CS skills (and have support driven for help), but I really didn’t have any resources for helping grow in other areas.

I got an email notification that I was selected to be in the first cohort and was so excited!

I’ve never had a mentor, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it’d be good stuff.

First, Chris reached out and we did a quick e-meeting/introduction.

I did a bit of poking around and found this on his company’s website:


His previous experience was great, but really the last sentence is what convinced me the automattic team did a great job in matching me with a mentor.

Tacos.  Enough said.

In all seriousness though, support, operations, and leadership are things I want in my career and Chris’ experience falls directly in line with that.

In our intro emails we also set up today to be our first official meeting.

We used zoom and of course my camera decided that it really wanted to be a camera from 2002 and I was super fuzzy during the conversation.  We worked through it though and my tacos conclusion turned out to be true…our conversation flowed pretty easily.

We talked about our history and what we hope will happen during the mentorship.

Here’s a quick summary:

My overall goal for the 6-month program

To be on a path that leads directly to management/leadership.

In order to achieve that goal we’re going to focus on

Learning and nurturing management and leadership skills.

To make sure we stay on track

We’re meeting every other week and I’m blogging about the experience here 🙂

Chris had some great advice on leadership.  My favorite was:

You’re going to make mistakes as a manager, but as long as you learn from them, you’re good.

I’m pretty sure I’m paraphrasing, but that was the sentiment.

Other great tips were:

  • When giving feedback, it’s good to remember that you respect your employees.  Part of respecting them means giving honest feedback.
  • Make sure you’re serving your team.  As a leader, it’s your job to make sure they feel supported.
  • Leadership books are great, but there’s no substitute for life experience.
  • Step up and do the things that need to be done – this was an answer about the transition from support to CEO.  Helping out and staying interested, it counts.


So, as you can tell, we’ve already got some great plans.  I’m looking forward to developing this relationship as time goes on and seeing the impact it has.

I’ll post more as it happens 🙂