Another Cloud Podcast

A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.

It’s all about the culture! with Melissa Henley

with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom

Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.

Alex 00:00
Hello, and welcome to Another Cloud Podcast, a podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in it, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience. All right, well, Melissa Henley is so good to have you on this podcast. I've been looking forward to this since our first call that we had together. But first off, good to have you already. Good to see you, buddy. How's everyone doing? 
Aarde 00:26
I'm doing really good. Melissa, thank you for joining us. We were just talking a little bit about Southern California and Long Beach and, and El Segundo and the beautiful weather that we're having right now in April, but happy to have you on the podcast. Looking forward to the conversation. And you know, welcome. Thanks, Alex, for the warm intro.
Melissa 00:49
Yeah, thanks for having me. It's good to be here. 
Alex 00:51
Absolutely. Well, we all get to rebel and you know, getting creative with our workspaces. Because we're in Southern California, homes are smaller, it's more expensive. So we're all making do with workout rooms in the garage and the guest spaces. So we're here to win out here in Southern California. But 
Melissa 01:09 
Lissa, you don't know I have my camera very carefully framed the treadmill over here and my weights on the floor. So this is the 
Alex 01:18 
office slash gym, I just love the sign that says Keep Calm and knit, you know, it's a good way to sue during the those, those busy zoom calls, where you just click the camera off, and you just start knitting something, right? 
Melissa 01:31
Put the camera off, have your camera up high enough, so you can't see your hands. You know, whatever ways 
Alex 01:35 
you can get creative. 
Aarde 01:37 
I love how we all have stuff in our backgrounds now. Because we're all in this like post pandemic zoom meeting ms teams meetings environment where you have to put a little bit of personality there. It's like what do you do for a hobby? What do you do for a living? you kind of see when people's backgrounds like what they do and what they like, Alex, I love your surfboard there. I know, we've seen skis up their surfboard, I don't think we see Oh, there's a piano I believe back there that's hiding. But yeah, just all the little hobbies that we do. And we cram into our little offices as well, I love it. 
Alex 02:10 
It's good. It's good to have some personality to it. So it's all fun. But let's uh, let's, let's put the focus on us as you are distinguished guests on this podcast. What I'd like to for the audience to understand is just your journey to how you got to laser fish and how 
you got into this customer experience world, because it wasn't around 1510 years ago. And it's morphed as morphing faster and faster, it seems. So give us a little bit of background about yourself how you got to where you're at, and then a little bit about laser fish as well. 
Melissa 02:41 
Sure, absolutely. Well, I was gonna say it is new, because at laserfiche we you know, the customer experience team, we it's only about three years old. So it's pretty exciting to leave customer experience, but for me, actually have been at laser fish, it'll be 15 years coming up pretty soon. So I have it's been exciting that you know, you get to see the company grow and build a lot of relationships over that time. But I joined laser fish from the financial services world. So definitely, when you think of a stellar customer experience, maybe not always the first that you think of. And when I joined laser fish actually joined as a writer in our marketing department. And so really worked a bunch of different roles in the marketing department, and then got the opportunity to start our customer experience team. And so it was exciting for someone who had been at laserfiche for a really long time, almost like running a startup, really got the opportunity to build the processes and procedures and at laserfiche was actually really exciting because we have such a big commitment to customer success and a really customer focused culture. But none of that was really systematize there weren't really any processes, it was just something that was sort of a need. So to bring in things like hey, we need a customer onboarding process. We need NPS scores, we need a customer health metric. I mean, these were all things we sort of internalized, but nothing was really written down. So that's it's been exciting to build that to build that culture. And laserfiche what do we do? We provide primarily SAS based enterprise content management. So what I like to say is like Think of all the stuff you hate to do at work, and we get rid of it all for you. So you know, the things like trying to find information, filling out forms, you know, walking up well not that we're walking so much information for one one desperate next now but all of those things, you know, making sure processes get done and it brings a lot of value. And that's what's exciting is seeing what our customers do with it. 
Aarde 04:51
That's, that's amazing. If there was an easy button for everything that I did not like to do at my job. I would hit that button repeatedly. I'd pay so much money for That button. So sounds like you got a great, a great market, a great market, we've interviewed a couple people in the customer experience space, customer success space. And every time we ask them about their origin story, it's a little bit different, everyone's kind of coming from different areas. And what we have found is this type of role is really, it can't be siloed into a department, it's not like you know, someone who's in the customer service department, or someone who's in the, you know, sales department, they really have to work collaboratively across almost every department almost horizontally instead of vertically. So how do you guys? How do you work with the rest of your departments? How do you guys operate? Can you just jump into a conversation with sales and marketing and say, Hey, this is what we're hearing our MPs and our surveys, this is what we recommend. So how do you work? How do you how do you operate? 
Melissa 05:55
Well, it's, it's interesting, because a lot of other people I work with, we've worked together for for 15 years. So in a way I you know, you can't i can't walk over to them and be like, Hey, you know, I don't like what, you know, this, customers aren't gonna like this, can we change it, but we do work really collaboratively? What am I not that anyone really loves meetings, but there is one meeting we have that I particularly love, and we call it the team customer meeting. So it's the heads of all our customer facing teams. So sales, customer success, me from customer experience, our support team, our head of learning and development and our pre sales teams. So all the people that work with customers, and we get together. And we just talk for about an hour every other week. And we talk about like, what are the things we're working on that are likely to impact our other teams? What are the issues we're facing? Because we can't we realize that we'd all you know, it's kind of like a blind man eating an elephant, we were all eating different parts of the elephant. But we didn't realize we were all eating an elephant at the same time, we'd all be working on different aspects of the same problem. But we'd only find out about it after we'd been working on it for a while. So we decided, actually our head of support had this great idea that, why don't we get together and talk about what we're working on. And so we've been it's really built a much more collaborative environment. And I, it's interesting, when I talk to my colleagues and really go, Well, I have such a difficult time of sales. They don't, they don't, you know, they don't really want to hear from me or development or whatever. But I'd say my close to the person I work with probably most closely as my counterpart in customer success on our sales team. Because we do, we have to work closely together, because I may come up with a plan from the marketing side. But if our customer success managers are on board to, you know, to really fulfill them from the sales side, then they're not gonna work. So yes, that it is very collaborative. And that's what I actually enjoy about it. 
Alex 07:51 
Yeah, what we've seen is the companies or the people that we talked to, that have someone with, like a title of customer experience, director, VP, is that their company was 
very siloed, before with all the different departments, and then they realized they needed this customer experience to be able to, you know, get the support better, make sure the customers are happy. And then they eventually bring somebody in or take someone from a different spot of the organization that you oversee it, but you're overseeing it over all these different departments. And it's really, really evolved and how that works. But one thing you mentioned at the very beginning was just how your company's always been customer very customer focus. Talk a little bit about the the founder, the CEO, that's, that's since passed, how's she helped craft this just amazing vision for the company and the culture? 
Melissa 08:38
Sure, so our founder kneeling lacquer. nailing was an incredible woman. And I was very, very fortunate to get to work with her pretty closely, even from when I first started. And nailing her idea when she started laserfiche was that she wanted to create software that people love to use. And when she came to people and said, This is what I want to do, they were like, That's stupid. No one loves software they use at work, they use it because they have to and she she said that made her even more determined that she was going to create software that people love us and she did it. And I think it's because she always had this philosophy and it was something that really I heard over and over and over again from even my first days at the company was that you make the decision with the customer in mind. You don't make the decision because of money. If you make the decision with the customer in mind, the money will come but if you make decision with money with money in mind, you're never making the right decision. And so that was something that's really been like drilled into my head from you know, my first days at laserfiche. And I think it really has sort of permeated our culture. And you get you know, when I first when I first joined laserfiche I just especially coming from the financial world, I was just bowled over Basically, these people love this software so much like our our conference, we were talking about this a little bit before we started so we have an annual conference. Every Every year and it's kind of like half family reunion half like religious tent revival, like people are crazy about our software and you think about like, the software we use on a daily basis like are you like, woohoo, I get to use Microsoft Word. You know, it's hard to find software that you use in a business context that you really love that much. But our customers, they love our product, they will email me and tell me about like, Hey, I built this workflow, and I just want to share with you, it's so cool, they paint their nails, laserfiche orange, and they dress their kids up and laserfiche, one Z's. And I think that really all goes back to kneeling. Because kneeling was really, you know, she was really good at talking to customers, and like paying attention to them and remembering them. So she'd run into someone at the, at the conference one year and be like, you know, what are you going to do with laserfiche? And they'd say, Oh, well, we're looking at automating this process. And she'd be like, Okay, I'm going to check in with you next year, and make sure you did it. And the next year would roll around, and the, you know, she'd find this customer out of like, 1000s of people and be like, did you automate that process? 
Alex 11:07 
Wow, yeah. 
Melissa 11:08 
And, you know, it's like, and they would be like, I can't believe the CEO of this company, the founder of this company, remembered me and my process. And so just making our customers really feel heard and important, and giving them an opportunity to influence the direction of our product, that was something she was really passionate about. 
Aarde 11:27 
And customer experiences is a tough space to fill. You know, it's a hard job. It's uphill battle. But specifically in the software as a service industry, it's, it's even harder. You talked a little bit about the conference, where you're, you know, meeting with your customers engaging with them, bringing it to a personal level, what are the other ways that you're doing it? I think before the podcast, you talked a little bit about doing webinars, describe to us how you're engaging with your, your customers and turning them into those, you know, raving fans and promoters. 
Melissa 12:01 
So we actually have a number of ways we engage with our customers. We have regular webinars that are in there, not just on like how to use a product we have, like I'm presenting one next month on how to be a leader in a digital world. So we tend to do a variety of different topics on like how to use a product, how to be more productive at work, thought leadership type topics that really help our our users be just better, in general better, better, you know better at their jobs, whatever that part of their job happens to be. We also run regular user groups. And I think that's something that has been extremely successful for us, is giving our customers an opportunity to network with each other. That's, that's one reason our conference is so popular. I mean, yes, the content is great, but it's seeing those people make the connections. And these are like friendships that that, you know, they've gone over years and years and years. And that's, that is something that really builds and deepens the community, when you will show up in an event, it's like, oh, well, I know all these people that are going to be here. And I'm going to, of course, want to bring other people because this is a group of people I want to be around. We also want run regular trainings right now they're virtual. We have our annual conference in power, which is in February. And then in the middle of the year, we have something we call laserfiche Spark, which is like a mini conference a day, you know, a couple hours, where we focus on thought leadership, talking about the product to really keep the keep the community engaged. So we focused a lot on pushing, obviously, everything virtual this past year, which has been really popular with our customers. 
Alex 13:47 
Yeah, and with I mean, virtual, everything's virtual now, right? Like, normally, we could sit down in one of our offices, we're all local, and like, record a podcast, how has that been the moving to virtual just for the employees at the company, and then also just working these events that are now virtual? Has that have you seen any big hiccups or things that like, we're like, shoot, like, I wish we could go back as soon as possible type things? 
Melissa 14:11 
Well, I don't know if they, you know, I traveled a lot in, you know, before, before, in the before times. So I don't know that shifting to virtual made that much of a difference for me, except I don't, you know, I don't have to go to LA x anymore. But what I think has been really interesting in our virtual events, especially with our conference, which was just in February is, you know, our conference is just it's such a big event, and people are just so excited to see all the connections name. And you know, as hard as we worked on it, I was just I was concerned, like, will obviously nothing's gonna replace in person, but what will people be able to form those connections and one thing I thought was really neat was actually filling the virtual deepening engagement with the content a little bit more than in person. So the platform we use have the opportunity Maybe to chat during the sessions. And so we had pre recorded our sessions, and I did live q&a at the end. And so the speakers were actually able to answer questions and participate in the chat while the content was running. So if someone was like, oh, what was that resource? You mentioned? You could like type? Oh, it was, you know, XYZ. Yeah. But to see the engagement in the content was really excited, because I want to be like, Oh, well, you know, Melissa was talking about XYZ for change management, you know, what I tried was this, and this really worked well. And someone else would say, you know what, I tried that. But have you also tried this. And so that extra, you know, it's something that I didn't expect. And in fact, our, our vendor actually said, we had the most engaged audience they had ever seen in terms of the number of the you know, the engagement in the chat and the number of comments posted. And we actually in the survey, got a lot of people saying, like, even when we go back to in person, I really hope we keep that chat component because it did, it allowed those connections to build that wouldn't have happened in an in person environment. So I was really excited to see that our customers and attendees were embracing the virtual environment, rather than being like, Oh, well, I really miss you know, having lunch with a random person, like, we all miss that. But if you know, there are possibilities in, you know, in the in the virtual world that don't exist in an in person event? 
Alex 16:24 
Well, yeah, it's not really, it's not surprising, but such a cult following with your product that everyone loves what you guys do that you guys had the best turnout and the best engagement during your virtual events. But that's great. And it's I think it speaks a lot to the culture that was built internally and externally with your customers. Yeah, 
Melissa 16:44
I was just gonna say, as a speaker, it's really rewarding to because I don't know if you guys present a lot. But you always wonder when you're speaking like, you look at it all the faces and like, do they enjoy this? Is anyone? Are they absorbing? it? is everyone's sleeping with their eyes open? Are they all checking Twitter, you know, and waiting for it to end. But you can actually see the light bulbs going off, and people being reacting to the content. So that's exciting. Sorry, already, give me that interrupt you, 
Aarde 17:09 
yo, you this is a good Todd talk track, I didn't want to interrupt you guys. Um, I agree with you guys. 100%. I think the in person and Alex and I go to conferences pretty regularly, I usually I speak at conferences, and you'll see people dig their phones, they're like looking down. They're like, basically just listening to the sort of conversation but not really engaging. And I see that even even more with these virtual conferences, where people they're watching, but they're also multitasking. And they're also there's three or four screens going on. And they get the alerts that are like, you know, teams, or slack or whatever it is. So it's really hard to continue to engage with your customers. So speaking about that customer engagement? How do you guys? Do you guys measure customer engagement? Or maybe some other KPIs that are different things like customer effort? Or obviously, there's cset? Or m, member satisfaction? And NPS? What are the KPIs or metrics that you guys measure to try to put into this customer health score? 
Melissa 18:17 
Well, I mean, we, you know, one of our products is analytics. So obviously, we're very analytic space. That's one of the things when I look back on like, my past choices, I think, maybe not Women's Studies, like maybe I should have focused Had I known I was gonna end up here, I maybe would have focused on something a little more data driven. I, if someone had told me so much of marketing was would involve me, you know, building pivot tables, I would have been like, no, I like, you know, what are you even talking about? And that's what I always tell people now, like, if you're going to get into marketing, make sure you brush up on your Excel skills and your statistics. So that being said, we do look at a lot of different analytics, obviously, we look at product engagement, we look at, you know, NPS, customer health, customer satisfaction, customer lifetime value. And one thing I think has been interesting, especially when we're looking at the organization, because again, as I mentioned, that, you know, we're relatively new team, is we have to sort of look at the forest, not the trees. So we get a lot of, well, this customer gave us you know, and you know, give us a 10 on our NPS, and we're doing great. It's like, well, let's that's only that's only one moment, one person at one moment in time. Let's step back and look at all the other metrics that have to do with this count. You know, are they coming to events? How are they using the product? Are they using the product? Or you know, how much how are their renewal, the there's just all these other things that we have to look at. And so that's been a big that's been a big shift, especially as we have, you know, become more have become more subscription driven, that there's there's all these other things metrics that we that we need to look at. It's not just one and done, you know, we put the system in, and then we you know, and then we get support. And then that's all we really have to worry about. It's it's a whole, it's a whole new world is a subscription based business. 
Aarde 20:15 
Yeah. And are you guys leveraging a lot of different technologies to help with that? Or do you try to consolidate and use one, one tool to pull in all of your your survey results, and also the data analytics about how they're engaging with you? And your product? 
Melissa 20:33 
So I would say yes, and no, we, we are actually looking at our tech stack right now, especially as we, as I mentioned, there were a lot of things brought in when we were a newer team and maybe had less experience. So we're looking at Do you know, and especially as we approach this more collaboratively, so it might be like, my team has one thing, customer success has one thing, our learning and development team has one thing? Does it make sense for us all to bring in one vendor where we can work together? So we so yes, we have multiple systems. But yes, we're also looking at how we can better centralize our tech stack to give better visibility across the organization. Yeah, and I think there's a growing pain that's not that's not unique to us. 
Alex 21:19
No, and we could definitely double click on that, because it's for sure, it's, it's definitely an evolved is evolving. And with technology growing so fast and changing so quickly, it's always gonna be evolving the tech stack and how some new things are coming out with, you know, customer sentiment and AI and how to measure that. And you talked about analytics with using your own product, and being a, you know, analytics type company, is that there's so much data out there, what we're seeing a lot of is bi is becoming very important. People are hiring data analysts to go in there and really understand the data behind that, that 10 on the survey, looking at the whole forest, like you're saying, so how do you see that kind of playing out yet? Do you guys have a bi team? Do you? Is that something that you're looking to towards the future? Like how does that work, just finding the data and mining that data, 
Melissa 22:09
We do have a bi team and our bi team is actually pretty great. I love working with them with our conference, actually, that they built me so many different reports that I can use, where they're, they're taking all the data that's fed into our data warehouse, and then spitting it out in a way that I can, you know, have the reports, pull it out and Excel, run my own data, or, you know, run my own analytics on it. And so it's great. It's been great to work with to work with their team, you know, that team and leverage their expertise, especially in building Power BI reports, which I'll admit is not my not my first skill set, nor my desire to do. 
Aarde 22:50
What about automation? To get 70 automation in place today, whether it's like Self Service Automation, or bots, or maybe it's on the back end with some Process Automation? Or are you leaning more towards keeping everything more the manual human touch, because you are in such a hands on type environment from a support standpoint, with your software as a service tools? 
Melissa 23:15 
Well, if you saw me get excited, it's because we do a lot of automation, because we have a pretty comprehensive workflow and forms automation product, we like to say we drink our own champagne. And I'm actually really fortunate that one of the members of my team is she, she has spent so much time interviewing customers and Bill, you're writing up customer use cases, she has such a deep knowledge of our product that pretty much anything, I'm like, can you build this and she's like, absolutely. So I take a lot of advantage of her her knowledge and skills, but we do. It's kind of a combination, we do a lot we do like a lot of the personal touch. And I think it's very meaningful to our customers things like sending out, you know, sending out coffee or swag, you know, to recognize, you know, work anniversaries or birthdays or things, you know, things like that. But we do a lot of automation as well. We've automated a lot of our processes, where just the things that don't require a human necessarily, but but are very time consuming. And the more we can automate, the better. And it's just been exciting to improve a lot of those processes. And I will say it gives me a lot more empathy towards our customers because it's hard. It's hard to change. It's hard to automate a lot of these processes. And in particular, one of the processes we automated was for our awards, our annual awards. And we actually beta tested the first version of our forms, actually alpha wasn't even a beta yet. And I of course, they were like well, how do you want the form to be and I'm like, well just copy what we did with the performance, that'll be fine. Which is the number one thing we tell our customers not to do, right. And I don't know why I thought in my case, obviously, will, will work for me. And of course, it was a failure, we went back to the old way, you know, within like a couple of weeks. And it wasn't because of the product, it was because of my bad process design. And so I always tell our customers this story to be like, don't feel defeated if you're struggling with process automation, because it happens to everyone. So we and that's another case for collaboration, like, you really got to work with every department when you're automating a process, especially some things that involve customer experience customer success, because they touch so many parts of the organization. And making sure people have the right information at the right time, that it's visible to the people that need it. And those are, those are the things where Process Automation can really help as long as you're not like me, and you're just like, just copy what we did with the paper, it'll be fine. What could go wrong? 
Alex 26:00 
We all learn to those little mistakes, right? But I think it's a good point, though. And like process improvement is not an easy undertaking. And I think what's nice is that you can you can empathize with your clients, because that's what they're doing with your product. And so it's very, this probably why the conference has worked so well, because there's so much to consider when you're doing process change, change, leadership, change management, all of that. Right. Talk a little bit about you mentioned before, when we were on our phone call about a book that you read, like I think it was tech humanists, and how do you? How do you kind of see like what that has, you know, translate it into your day to day or how you kind of view technology and the human experience as well. 
Melissa 26:41  
Yeah, tech humanists by Kate O'Neill, Kate actually spoke at our conference in February and her keynote was extremely popular with our customers. And it's interesting, because we've seen kind of a similar evolution with our conference where we would talk a lot about the technology. And as our conference has gotten bigger, and we've increased our audiences, we've started to talk more about the thought leadership and the soft skills because this, you know, when it comes to technology, it is the changing the people is probably harder than changing the technology. You know, you can put in any system you want, but convincing the people to change, designing a system that people will use, being able to present your case to get approval. And that's what I mean when I say empathize with our customers, because with all this technology that I'm having to build a business case for convince people to buy, convince people to use, like, I'm having to go through all these steps myself. And you know, I'm like, Well, at least everything I learned, I can now share with our customers to help them. But so we had Kate speak at our conference. And one of the things I really like about what Kate talks about is she talks about the human impacts of Process automation, and that we often you know, design a process and we fail to consider the human impacts of that process automation. And that really ring a middle it hit a big nerve with our, with our audience, because especially those who were in it, and we're like, wow, this is I never thought of that. And it's, it's really easy for us to focus on this new technology, this is how it will improve things and to forget the people that it's going to impact whether those people, our customers, or our colleagues. And so bringing, you know, having that viewpoint that technology should help not hinder is extremely, extremely important. 
Aarde 28:46 
Yeah, that's a great call out I was working with a with a company who has a pretty large offshore team, and they have a back office team basically handles all the things that are hard that you have to manually so it's the stuff that like the frontline team members can't do that. They have to like log into this weird unique back end system, do three things and then done, but it's very easy process to potentially automate. And after the automation was in place, there was very little change management around what what are the people who used to do that process? I think there was like seven or eight people on that team. What do they do now. And these people have been doing it for decades, like literally have built their whole career outerwear, around those processes. And now that it's automated, there's really not much for them to do from a manual standpoint. So what this company did was actually just elevate them. So they're in charge of the automation itself and making sure that funds on a proper time. So they're running reports and doing more of more of the management and monitoring of it happening but there's an interesting culture shift and something that the the company He had not thought about when they're going through that, that process. So yeah, technology affects people, it also affects process. So it's it's good, and it's bad, but it's always good to repurpose those those people for something else. Have you guys seen that with some of your customers? Where have you guys seen something like that internally at your company? And have you? If so, what's the example? Have you repurpose that headcount for something else? Or have you seen people repurpose that for something else? 
Melissa 30:31 
For sure, I think, you know, one of the most popular topics I speak on with our with our community is change management. And one of the things I think rings really true for them, is that resistance. It's not because people don't like you, it's usually out of fear, fear of Will I be able to learn this? What will I do now? Where will my place be? How will my work change, and a lot of that resistance comes from just fear. nailing always used to say it's the paper security blanket, that's our biggest competitor. It's not another company, it's people's fear of the unknown. They are comfortable with the way it's always been, they're comfortable with their file folders, they're comfortable with walking it down the hall to a colleague, they're comfortable with knowing how things work. And taking that away, and putting them into the unknown is very scary. So what I've seen a lot of our customers do that has been very successful for them is actually exactly what you said, you know, when you take away the manual task work, you're able to let your staff work on the things that are more valuable, you know, customer service, those projects you never have time to get to. And one of my favorite stories is from one of our customers out in New York, and they used to store all their records in their old library. And, hey, the floor was caving in, because they had so many file cabinets, right? So they were like, well, I guess we're going to have to build a new record center to hold all these file cabinets, and it's going to cost us like $2.5 million. And someone said, Wait a minute, what if we got digitized all the records, we would save $2.5 million. And we could take the old, the old library, fix the floors, and they turn it into housing for low income seniors. And then all the all the people who used to work in the file center, they now work in other jobs in in the county providing services to the citizen. So I think that's a prime example of what we see with our customers where it's like someone comes in is like, we wait a minute, just because like we always have done it this way. It doesn't mean we need to keep doing this way. And let's really think think strategically about why and what are the benefits like look at in one in one fell swoop, they save their county $2.5 billion, provided housing to a vulnerable population, and gave them more satisfying job to their staff that ultimately benefited their citizens. So it's a win win win win. Can't argue with that. 
Aarde 33:20 
I love that story. There was a company called then you guys probably have heard of them send us actually have the third canister but they wave their ticketing system and they actually have tickets and inbound cases for their customer. So whenever a Zendesk customer has a problem, they go through Zendesk and, you know submit their case and get resolved by the vendor, Zendesk support staff. And they, they had this interesting story where they had this ability to automate very simple process, which is a password resets. So in Zendesk if your password needs to be reset, you click a button and you get the two factor authentication, yada, yada, yada, you can completely automate that. But what they had found is that even automating that for everyone would be a cost savings. But in reality, you still don't want to automate that process for kind of your higher touch customers, people who have very high lifetime value, you want to give a little bit of a more personal touch. Something like someone clicks the password reset button, and then you'll get a text message that's more customized directly to to you. It's not just a macro or some sort of link. And they realized since of automating that, what they can do is supply people the they're based out of San Francisco, homeless people a job literally giving them a cell phone so they can use a cell phone for their own personal use. They could clock in whenever they want into the Zendesk app and respond to these tickets in the way that you know they they should to respond to these customers. These customers are giving raving reviews these, these people who are less fortunate in San Francisco, were getting cell phones with data plans paid for Plus, you know, some benefits and hourly wages. So it was a win win for everyone. And that's just a great example of taking something that you could automate completely. And then still keeping it slightly slightly manual. So amazing to hear, hear that lots of different companies are doing different things to automate, but also not forgetting about the human element of it on the agent and on the customer side. Absolutely, that's a great, that's a great example, when stolen straight from Zendesk from their website, I can't take any credit for it. 
Alex 35:43 
It's on their sales, their sales board. But I saw on the sales side, I think that's a big piece too, because you can focus on all the great features or benefits that the product or any product can do. But really, if you help your customers understand and manage that change, that's where you're gonna move the needle more, right? I think that's why the clients and the customers like the conferences, because they can talk to peers on Okay, like, this seems like a really big forklift, do all these things, how did you do it? Well, first I did this, then this, this, you know, you put a structure around that, and a process around the change management, then I think you see a lot more buy in from, from potential customers on just on the sales side too 
Melissa 36:27  
absolutely one of the most successful initiatives we've created. It's called the solution exchange. And it's a website where customers will basically they share their solutions with us, we write them up. And it's things like, you know, in a typical case study, it would be like maybe one or two lines that we like, and then they automated, you know, their marriage license process. And then you move on to the next thing, well, this is actually an in depth, we're going to tell you exactly how they did it. And we're going to go step by step. And we're going to show you screenshots, and you're going to have it that you can look at and see exactly what they did. And we always say, you know, we don't think it's going to get you 100% of the way there No, no one can ever copy, you know, things, your your situation is different than someone else's. But it will get you maybe 75% of the way there. You don't have to necessarily think like, what am I going to do? And it's almost like a menu, where you can sit down at the website, if you're, if you're in it with one of your business counterparts and say, Okay, look, here are some of the options, let's go through it. Would you like to do this, this or this, and it takes some of the guesswork out of it, in terms of you don't have to start from scratch. And we also have a lot of those processes built into our software. So then they just are like, Oh, I want to you know, I want to automate this process. Well, I'm going to go into the software, and here it is, boom. And we can just start and start configuring it. So it, we really do try and make it as easy as possible. And that I think that just goes back to a lot of our community spirit where customers will still they'll say to us, like, I was inspired by someone on the solution exchange, I read it, I you know, this helped me and now I want to give back to the next person. So someone else can be inspired by me. And so that that's, you know, again, I don't, you know, it's it seems so unique to our customer base that they are so willing and open, like I could call up any customer, whether I know them or not and say hey, you know, I your your solution on the solution exchange? I have a customer who's looking for something like that, can I share your contact information? Would you be willing to talk to them? Like absolutely, my way? I mean, just in the past few weeks I've made, I've connected people with jobs, and with, you know, with potential with potential solutions, and it's just and it's all because our community is so willing to just put their hand up and be like, absolutely, I'll help a fellow community member because, you know, in the past someone helped me. 
Alex 39:00 
Yeah, so it's so rare, but I love it. And that's why your your developers are the rock stars at the event, because they're getting like high fives and like, fist bumps for all the people they've helped. 
Melissa 39:12
They are and you know, our customers, like we do have developers that are that are like rockstars, they, our customers will come up to them and be like, Oh my god, you built the group fields feature. This feature changed my life. And it's you know, and for our developers, this may be a you know, this, they sit and work on developing this feature and wonder does anyone care, and to have customers come up and be like, I love this. And then to hear the feedback, you know, these are things that will make our you know, our our experience better. And then our developers will actually build them and then the next year the customers come back and say oh my gosh, you listened to me. And then they they feel this ownership that like I can actually influence the direction of the product because they care about me. It's not just Melissa standing up on stage and being like, we can care about you, it's that I do feel, you know, someone picks up a call on the weekend to help me, you know, I need something and I can email someone and they'll make sure it gets done. I can talk to a developer and give my feedback on a feature. And guess what it, you know, ends up in the product, I will show up at the conference, and I'll sit next to our CTO, and he'll talk to me about what I think about my experience with the product, and he will care. So it's just it's it really, it runs from the top down from our CEO, Chris center, President and CTO, Carl all the way down to you know, to the to anyone else in our company, they really understand we put people first. 
Aarde 40:37 
Yeah, I think you hit it right on the head. And if you were to have a customer experience secret sauce, would it really be putting your customers first or thinking in a customer first mindset? Like what how would you label it for someone who's probably listening, who doesn't have a customer experience, team or mindset today? What's your What's your secret sauce, 
Melissa 40:59 
I think I'd go right back to what nailing told me all those years ago, which is make decisions with your customers in mind. And that really goes through what we say today and our values, which is put people first. And it you know, we're very, we've remained very true that because when you, when you make decisions with your customers in mind, everything else flows from that. And customers know, when they are the center of your company. Customers can feel it. And they, they, your customers know when they're the most important thing to you. And you can't fake that. So if I had to say what a secret sauce is, is make sure customers know that they're the most important thing to you. 
Aarde 41:42
Totally. And when I was a when I was working at a previous company, we were preparing to go public. And the CEO brought all the senior leadership into a room and he drew two diagrams on the wall and one diagram, it's like a gobstopper. And he said at the core, the 
middle, that's your customers, and then you've got your employees, and then you've got your, you know, community around you. And then you've got your investors. And that's that's how it was framed out. And he said, My biggest fear about going public, there's so many benefits and good things about going public. There's also some pretty bad things as well. His fear was that the gobstopper would be inversed. And it would be you know, shareholders would be at the middle, then it would be maybe customers or employees, then, you know, customers, employees and then community. And we would always forget about or not have enough time because we'd be focused too much on shareholders and profit and EBITDA on all these terms that come across that we want to really care about the people who we're selling to or supporting, or the employees, or the community around us in our ecosystem. So it's really important to make sure that you diagram that out, and then you keep everyone's focus towards that thunder. 
Melissa 43:02
Yeah, I was on a webinar last week with Fred reichheld, who was the creator of NPS. And he actually said something very, very similar. That is, you know, it's all about the customers. And it needs to start with the CEOs. And they need to make it clear that if it's about love, love your customer, everything needs to support that your internal systems, your governance, and that CEOs need to be extremely committed to customer experience and to know their customers. And that our job and customer experience is to make customers say wow, and to make them really have that smile and to make them feel like they're you know that they have these moments of delight. And I took a lot away from that webinar, especially his he had, he had a real big emphasis on smiles and frowns, like you want your customers to smile, not to frown. But that you need, you know, you need to impact everyone in your business to empower them to make decisions on behalf of the customer. And I think that's the that I think that just ties right back into what you were saying, like, you need to make decisions on behalf of the customer, not on behalf of your shareholders, not on behalf of anyone else. And when you look at your customer, I think you need to look at all of your customers because your employees are customers to you work for us. We also have a chat. We have partners, our channel partners, they're our customers. And so we have so many different types of customers that we need to be we can't forget all you know, forget our spectrum of customers, we have to make sure they're all smiling and not frowning. 
Alex 44:42
Thank, you know, to sum it up, I think maylene was nailing has really left a great legacy. And the way that the company is structured the way that culture is, and it permeates everything the departments employees all you know, to the customer and ultimately that's probably where that's where all the success come from and you see the growth and, and how the team continues to grow and how like looking to automation and looking into customer sentiment and, you know, voice of the customer, all those things just to continually ask, you know, is this going to be good for the customer at the end of the day for all these decisions that you guys make? So one of the things that already I like to do at the end of a podcast because we are bumping up against our time here is ask our guests like what's a great customer experience that you've had with a particular brand and we like to focus on the good because you don't want to knock brands on on air, but it's harder to find the good ones and remember the good ones. So do you have any story or brand that you can like think of where you're like they really wowed me and did things right? 
Melissa 45:45
I do actually. So mm Loeffler, they're a clothing brand in New York. In fact, I'm wearing my muffler right now they are my favorite clothing brand. But they are I would say obsessive Li devoted to customer experience. And they have a really unique model where they have a stylist that helps you select your clothes, it's very much there. Their market is very clear. It's women who need to look good, but don't have a ton of time or desire to shop. But what mm. Leffler I think has done really well is built a community around any move, like how can you even build a community around clothes, but they created a Slack channel. And especially during the pandemic, this Slack channel has been like, my biggest outlet social outlet. And I've made so many friends on the Slack channel and it kind of you know, when it's so easy to like, devolve into, I'm gonna wear sweat pants, and every day, it's like now I'm gonna wear my pretty clothes, because I'm going to put a picture on the slack on the Slack channel, so everyone can see what I'm wearing today. But they are they I even despite, you know, all the struggles of the pandemic, they have done so many things to keep the community together, doing launch web, you know, doing launch events, to show off the new collections, even just something as simple as just a couple of weeks ago, I was having difficulties with shipping and I reached out to their, their channel manager on slack and she fixed it for me in like three seconds. And so that's why I talk about them all the time as the example of a brand I really love. I you know, I buy from them. I've been buying from them this past year, like I am personally committed to making sure they make it through. 
Alex 47:30 
Some are right, this is great. So... 
Melissa 47:33
I think they have done a really good job of living up to their brand promise and just delight, you know, providing those moments. Wow. Even when I know that they are, you know, they are really trying to minimize their operational expenses to keep going during a difficult time. 
Alex 47:54
Yeah, no, that's an absolute I love those stories. Because, one, it's like you can being in the customer experience, you know, you're already looking at it with a critical eye because like I do for a living, you better do it right, you know, and like to have a company like that, that can really create those wow moments, right? And be able to do that during the pandemic. And they're, you know, maybe struggling maybe not, but like the fact that there's so much brand loyalty, right? Like, I want them to survive I want them to, to make it through this so that I can keep buying and be part of this community is speaks speaks volumes. Yeah, they're great. 
Aarde 48:30
Well, absolutely, I love I love that story. I love the supply, surprise and delight that they're doing and they're doing it in a very low touch way but also makes you feel like you're part of something reminds me of Zappos and how they used to do handwritten notes instead 
of like, how did I you know, like a survey like an email survey like how to please support you today. It would be an agent literally writing a note like thank you so much for your call today. Hopefully you enjoyed your you know, shoes that we just sent out. If you ever have any issues, feel free to contact us back or email me and then they wrote the email address. And just sending that to the person or the customer is goes so much further than just email or just like a brush off to a Contact Us page if you have an issue. 
Melissa 49:21 
With their pet portraits. I feel like one of the team she continues to buy in hopes that one day she'll get one of their pets for pet tours. 
Aarde 49:31  
I got to look that up if I have a dog I would love the pay. I'm gonna look that up. 
Melissa 49:36 
Oh my gosh, if you haven't they have in like I don't have any pets. So I can't I can't speak to it myself. But they do incredible customer experience was sending handwritten notes. I know when when customers report that their pet has passed away. They'll send flowers and handwritten notes. It's just they're they're very, very committed to the customer experience in the same way. The examples is 
Alex 50:05 
Well, Melissa, it was an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast. And it goes so fast because I know like this this industry in this topic can just we can talk about ad nauseum. There's so many nuances to it. And we barely scratched the surface. But it was wonderful having you on. Thank you for sharing your time with us and just your experience your stories. It's been it's been fun. 
Melissa 50:26 
Yeah, thanks for having me. This was like the fastest 40 minutes ever. Going. 
Aarde 50:32 
Absolutely. Thank you, Melissa, so much for joining. And Alex, thank you for hosting or co hosting with me and we'll look forward to everyone else catching us on our next episode. 
Alex 50:43 
Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at Adler,, LinkedIn, or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on Another Cloud Podcast.