This interview with Noah Eckhous, Senior Customer Success Manager (USA) at NavVis is the fourth in the LiDAR News Insider Report for NavVis.
1. Can you tell us about your experience managing a high-tech customer service team?
I must say that it has been management in practice, but not always in the name! “Managing” the US Customer Success team has gone through various phases as I have cycled through being the sole Customer Success Manager, “CSM”, to managing our Demo Experience across the LSP side of NavVis. What this has looked like from a management perspective is largely tied to interviewing, onboarding, and training my now colleagues. My focus has been primarily on helping us vet the best candidates culturally and intellectually and then training them in the ways of the CSM for our region and market. This involves training on NavVis offerings, the industry in general, and how to interface with stakeholders internally and beyond.
2. How do you stay current on the latest technology and industry trends in order to provide the best customer service?
My most common source of information on new tech and trends comes from LinkedIn. Being connected to industry leaders, manufacturers, researchers, and even more nascent firms has given me a broad scope of sources to reference and keep an eye on. Reading about the latest tech, seeing it in action, and then getting to discuss it face-to-face is the most impactful cycle that I’ve encountered in my role. Trade shows are deeply important in the sense that kick-starting conversations with participants at events can be spontaneous, catalyzing a series of discussions and new angles that can lead you to a much deeper level of knowledge.
3. Can you give an example of a time when you had to implement a new customer service process or system and how you did so successfully?
What came to mind immediately was when I implemented a demo processing tracking spreadsheet to ensure in-person demos were getting processed correctly and in a timely fashion. When I first came to this team, there was no procedure for this and the team had recently grown by 3 new AEs, bringing the total I supported to 5. After each demo, I would get a slurry of emails, Teams messages, Dropbox links, etc., and needed a way to track all the necessary info in a single location. To manage these, I created a spreadsheet which evolved as the team grew on both sides (AEs and CSMs) and needs became more complex. This system worked well for over a year before we started the transition to a ticket-based system in Jira which I am implementing with other CSMs here in the US.
4. How do you handle and manage customer complaints and escalations?
The first step is to talk to the customer and make sure you understand the complaint as deeply as possible before trying to resolve or escalate. The customer, at this stage, might be losing patience so it is vital that we avoid missteps that delay a response. Ideally, this means someone can take ownership of the case and can shepherd it through the necessary channels. Depending on the case, we may need to bring it to developers, product managers, or even executives to get the most accurate information. Sometimes a customer will get out of hand and introducing a new face can be useful for bringing them back to the table in a constructive manner. In any case, bringing these situations to the attention of leadership across multiple teams who may interact with the customer is an important follow-up. This is to ensure the customer is satisfied going forward.
5. Can you tell us about a particularly challenging customer service situation you faced and how you overcame it?
I acquired a customer who was known for being difficult to work with, they had gone through a few of my predecessors without reaching a satisfactory outcome for their situation. The customer had decided that my colleagues were not well-suited to solving their problems, assuming that their problems were quite complex. So, to say I was handed a volatile situation would be a bit of an understatement. My path was to take a metered approach with lots of listening, repeating, and teaching. With repetition and the specificity of the material I was teaching, we were able to build their understanding up with a modular approach. Rather than teaching them a workflow, I taught them why each step needed to be done and the options for accomplishing each. Over time, our software received upgrades that simplified the workflow, and I was able to update them, helping them to understand which steps were now made obsolete.
6. How do you train and mentor your customer service team members to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to provide excellent service?
There is a lot of 1:1 guidance through our training material, processes, and responsibilities where I find out what that individual’s knowledge level is in various topics and begin to tailor the approach to their unique skills. After they run through the onboarding material, I bring them into various types of customer calls, first as an observer. Over time I distribute more and more responsibilities to the team members and become the observer myself in these calls until we both feel comfortable with their skill level on a topic or with a specific task. I make myself available to answer questions or provide advice on how I would approach a problem or situation.
7. How do you measure and track customer satisfaction and use that data to improve service quality?
We created a Customer Health Dashboard that takes into account a wide variety of metrics that we believe to be an adequate proxy for customer health and satisfaction as the two are intrinsically linked. In addition to periodic checks of this dashboard, I reach out to customers proactively to see how things are going. I also use the AEs’ relationships as additional touchpoints to make sure they feel taken care of while also providing our AEs with additional sales levers/tactics like offering custom training to convince a customer to purchase an additional device with us.
8. Can you tell us about a time when you had to work with other departments, such as IT or product development, to resolve a customer issue?
Recently I have been able to work with product development to provide input from my customer base and to enhance and position future products. This is a broad approach that relies upon an aggregated sense of our customers’ needs. In more specific terms, I think back to an issue we had with image exposure where sets of demo data and input I provided helped to influence a change to the way we handled exposure. This in turn, increased the quality of images across datasets that spanned interior and exterior scenes. Here I worked with a colleague from the Support Engineering team to get the information into the right hands.
9. How do you ensure that your team is providing consistent and accurate information to customers?
Communication, both directly with my team members and also with other colleagues who work with them. Aside from a heavy emphasis during onboarding on the importance of being as precise and correct as possible, I am always listening for information or positioning that is outdated or in need of further finesse/clarity. I do my best listening in on presentations, meetings, webinars, etc. to get a sense of where someone is at with their understanding of a given topic and their presentation skills overall. This is something that should be instilled early on for the best effect as there is no replacement for an individual taking pride in being consistently helpful and correct. If they take on this task themselves, they will seek out the knowledge necessary to deliver.
10. How do you approach and resolve complex technical issues that customers may have?
The most important step in resolving complex technical issues is to never make assumptions. Break everything down into individual components, like a checklist, and go through methodically to make sure nothing has been missed. This approach serves the dual purpose of helping you find the source (or sources) of a problem and serves as a concrete reminder of the material and troubleshooting options they can deploy their own, next time an issue occurs.
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