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.

Leadership, Teamwork and Technology with Mike Sasaki

with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom

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



Aarde, Mike, Alex


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, welcome to another cloud Podcast . I am excited today to have Mike Sasaki from my tech systems. He's the Global Head of Customer Success and Support. Mike, welcome to the show. Glad to have you on.


Mike 00:31

Thank you, Alex. And Aarde. Thank you for having me very excited to have this conversation. One of the best topics in 2021.


Alex 00:39

It absolutely is. And Aarde of course, my co pilot, always here with me talking about Customer Success and Support. How are you doing today already back fresh from Vegas?


Aarde 00:49

Doing well? Yeah, I just came back from CCW in Vegas contact center week. And it was the first conference held in the contact center world, since the pandemic, very small teams, small group of 400, total attendees, lots of different rooms, separated tables. In one kind of main stage. That was very, very social distance. So it's very interesting to see us kind of get back to the norm, which I know will be most likely a common theme on this podcast asked him a little bit about how other companies do it and asking Mike about how he did it. But you know, Mike, welcome to the podcast. Alex, thanks for having me on. Again. As you know, as always, I'll kick it off with the first question. So we always like to start Mike with a little bit of a background of who you are, what you do, and a little bit more about your company. So tell us tell us a little bit about your company and what you do there and what your day to day is? Yeah, sure. So



my tech is a San Diego based software company. And we're kind of a 30 year startup, we were founded in the 80s. And we did a lot of defense work within the gene and things like that. And then the iPhone was invented. And when the iPhone was invented, we looked at the screen, I wasn't there at the time that might take but those that were there looked at the camera and said was great camera, we could probably take pictures of checks. And we could probably deposit these checks. And so the whole business was built off of that. And if you've used mobile check deposit with any of your banks, you've used my tech, we partner with almost 100% of the banks. So that's one side of the business. And then we looked at the the image capture capability and said, what else can we do with this, and identity verification came to mind, we can take a picture of a driver's license, verify that it's not authentic driver's license. And now we can actually take a picture of your face a selfie, and compare that to the driver's license and say yes, not only is this an authentic driver's license, that's the person that's on the driver's license. So imagine Airbnb want to stay at an Airbnb, you might be asked to verify your identity. If you want to be a shopper at instacart, you may be asked to identify and identify your verify your identity via their app. And so that's where my tech comes into play. And my role at my tech is to lead our global Customer Success and Support Team. So the customer facing teams, right, those that are engaging with customers, through their journey throughout their journey, in many different ways. Many different channels.


Alex 03:29

Yeah, I think that's super interesting. Just the image capture verification and how many uses there are for it. And just the fact that my tech saw that right saw the ability, the future worlds all going and now who goes to the bank anymore to deposit checks, you know, except maybe my grandma or something like that. But you know, how much I learned how to use the pandemic is very true. Yeah, yeah. Makes it and actually it makes us more contactless, right for those that are worried and want to, you know, remain distance and whatnot. And, and I definitely like the aspect around the security side, because you know, you hear about all the scams with Airbnb, and these other type of solutions where if you have an ID, was it really the person showing up that has that same ID? I think it's great to see where it's all going. As far as the you know, Customer Success and Support go, let's dive a little bit more into that. And just how long have you been working in that field? And how did you get started in the customer successful? And how is that evolved over the last few years for you?



Yeah, it's it's interesting. I was just having this conversation with someone on my team yesterday. And my message to her was, whatever you're doing early in your career, it all leads to where you end up, right. So my point is that there's no job that wasn't worth it, if that makes sense, because you learned something from it. So I actually started out in biotech, writing contracts because I thought I was going to go to law school. I did that for eight years. But I learned how to service my customers. Right? That's internal And how to manage things, set expectations and all of that, right. So I did that for eight years. And then I decided I'm not going to go to law school. So I wanted to get into technology. So I transitioned over to the startup 10 person startup called lead formics. We're in marketing automation. And my job was to ensure customers stayed, and they paid. And it was I didn't know it was called customer success. I knew it was customer service. That was that what I was doing. And so I was there, we were acquired by calidus. Cloud. I was there as director for three years. And then I moved on to Oracle, in customer success. And I took all of that experience, which is startup midsize large enterprise, and came to my tech to to start up their customer success team and refresh of the support team.


Aarde 05:49

And I, I love your service. I mean, I to Alex's point, I don't think I've been into a physical bank, other than to like, maybe do a wire transfer, like the the higher dollar value wire transfers to like, buy a house or something like that. But I love the ability to do everything from your mobile app. And I remember the technology coming out a long time ago. And that's like, you can only deposit like up to $200 on a check. And now it's like, it's so secure. And the banks love it so much that it's like I think I get deposit like a $7,000 checker, or more, which is pretty, pretty eye opening and interesting. Question for you about your team. So it seems like the technology is widely used. It's extremely secure and trusted, especially since it's around identity and also around the finance world. What are the types of conversations that come in to your support team? Is it more technical things on the back end? Like what what are the average conversations? Like are the intent types? For your customer service team?



Yeah, they're pretty typical, you know, some technical questions, right? some training? I'm trying to do this, how do I do that? Right. And that's where you can use certain tools like knowledgebase articles and self service and things like that. And we'll probably get into into those. But it's it's a little bit of tactical, a little bit of training, sometimes there's some best practices that they're looking for. Right? Which is interesting. So support teams get all kinds of questions, and I don't I don't think everyone at the company understands the breadth of questions and questions they have to build. And the expectations from the customer. Right? And and what they expected in response time. And and also in a quality of response, it's a lot worse for teams to, to manage.


Alex 07:47

What does the customer look like? Right? Is it? Are they end users? Or are they more of like the banks and the different business like b2b type customers calling in about the platform and certain aspects of that technical? Or is it more consumer side?


Mike 08:04

It's b2b, so it's the businesses but we even go a little bit deeper, right? You have to understand the persona. So the persona of the individual, Are they an engineer? Are they a salesperson? Are they a business person that's reaching out to you? Because that determines how do they want to be communicated to? How do they learn? Right? And where do they need to go? So understanding that is really important, but it's all b2b. Gotcha.


Aarde 08:32

And what in the future of your business? Are you guys because I've seen an app where you can download an app and you can take a picture of your your house plant. And they'll use AI to tell you if your plant needs more water based off of a photo and, you know, see if the leaves are dehydrated, and things like that, basically, Image Capture to process it through AI and give us some sort of other outcome. Are you guys exploring that? Are you guys exploring? Like, what's the future state of your business? Or are you guys sticking to just the, you know, IT security, identity capture? financial world? what's what's the future of the business? If you could speak to?



Yeah, the future is, there's a lot of opportunity in the future of identity verification, and a lot of that is going to come down to not necessarily what's the most secure, but it's what is the best consumer experience. So if you think about the new to the iPhone game, and so I don't even know what it's called, we're use your fingerprint, Touch ID. That's what it's called. Right? Yeah. So you think about Touch ID, you know, you don't realize, Oh, this is more secure. I think what most consumers think about is this is easy, right? Or my face? This is easy. It happens to be more secure. Right? So when security and convenience are are built together, that thing is going to get adopted right. So then we think about the future of identity verification. What do you need to verify your ID In your handprint, perhaps your face, do you need a driver's license, maybe not right in the future, both foods is now you're able to check out with your fingerprint. And they can look at the veins, the vein pattern. So you go into Whole Foods, get all your food, go to the checkout, you put your hand on the scanner, and it looks for your handprint. And it looks at your vein pattern. And that's your identity. I mean that it's more secure. But it's also super easy, right? So the future is really going to be about consumer experience. And I would say that's not a new thing, I would think that experience is is everything. And that really drives adoption. And that really drives who's going to win in any game of trying to come up with a solution, right, who's adopted? And it does come around, does come all come back to experience.


Alex 10:48

Yeah, you know, it's interesting, when we talk about it, bringing security also comes with, you know, these other side, the other side, which is risk and fraud and things like that. And when we bring on it executives on the podcast, as well, we talked about security seems to be the number one target topic that everyone's talking about. Because it's constantly evolving and changing. How do you balance, you know, gathering all that information or, you know, being able to capture all the information with threats that are coming in from the outside that want to get that same information?



Yeah, so is your question around? How do we, so there's two things that are top top of mind with our visits? How do I fight fraud, but also provide a great experience to the customer? Because it's like, they go like this, right? And so that's, that's the challenge, really. And so, you know, it's not necessarily about stopping all fraud. It's about making it harder, right. And so you really have to look at your use case as well. So if you take a bank, for example, and this is where you really have to understand your customer and your use case, if you pick a bank, for example, if I'm going to allow a consumer to sign up for a checking account where they're going to be giving me money as a bank. How much friction Do I need to put in place? How much fraud? Am I really trying to stop? What is the fraud in that case, where they're opening a checking account and giving the bank money. Now, if they want a credit card from me, there's probably an expectation, even from a good consumer, I'll probably have to do more, right? To prove who I am who I say I am. So the expectation of friction is there in the onboarding journey, and for the bank, or they're thinking, I need to stop fraud, if I'm giving money away, I'm less concerned about the customer experience. And so that's how you balance it. It's not one, you know, you choose one one way as a bank, and you apply to all these cases, you really got to look at that use case first. And then you apply your fraud techniques.


Alex 12:49

Yeah, that really is a that balancing act, right. Because as we try to improve the customer experience, and they make it a frictionless process for everything they do, you can't go too far down. Otherwise, you sort of lose some of those security aspects that you need to protect. And there's obviously there's, you know, all the compliance, compliance, things that are in place for banks and credit card organizations and government and things like that. So absolutely makes sense.



One more thought on top of that, is that we had one customer, this is super interesting what they did. They said we do a document verification, right guards licensee scan it, we verify it, they had an A survey at the end of that, asking about that process. And the feedback that they got was super interesting, you would think that most or sound would be really frustrated with it, they said they felt more secure. They felt like they're taking their protection of their identity more seriously. And they got really high scores that that surprised me, to be honest. But that kind of goes to you have to get the data right before you assume something is going to be one way or the other. I know a customer is going to react one way or the other. You put it out there the solution. You survey them, you get the data, you analyze it, you iterate.


Aarde 14:04

Yeah, I mean, I just came back from Vegas. And for those who haven't really been on casino floor gambling, you literally have to show your ID to like 15 people, if you want to, it's the front desk person, you have to show your ID to other like rewards person, you've got to every time you go to a table, when you're in the cashier line, you have to cash your chips back out to $2. It's It's frustrating. And they try to make it better with creating these like rewards cards that have your ID, you know, associated to it. And that way, if you leave your ID up in the room, you should be good to go. But there's still those kind of requirements. I'm hoping at some point in time, maybe the casinos or maybe some of these more. Not banks per se, but areas where you have money changing hands can get better at attracting that maybe using technology and tools like you guys have where you could upload everything into an app and then just geo location that knows that you know you That person next to the phone. That's You know what Aarde...



It's funny, you mentioned that we work with a partner that works with hotels, some of them in Vegas. And you can check in now via their app. So you scan your driver's license, you check in via their app, and then your E is on your phone. Now you go to your room straight to your room, and you unlock your door, right? You don't ever have to go to a desk. Now the great thing for the hotel is your app is now on the phone, the guest phone and they can track you and they can serve you at the pool. If you'd like a burger. You know, you're I think you're at the tables. Hey, there's a there's a blackjack tournament right now. Right? So it's great for the hotel as well. So that is the future less risk or less friction rather, one thing you mentioned that you're talking about the future of identity, the idea that if you go to a bar, you need to hand over your driver's license and give them your name, your address, your your driver's license number is ridiculous, right? Why do they need a database of that? All they need to know is are you 21? It's binary? Yes or no? So that's the future is over 21 Okay, come in. Right. They don't need all that extra information.


Alex 16:13

Yeah, that's interesting. And, and especially going back to the hotel and the airlines, I think hit it off first, right where you can do all this contactless everything over the mobile app, get your boarding pass the night before, you don't even have to go to the desk. The worst thing is, when you're going on vacation, or going to Vegas, and there's a line 20 people deep checking into the hotel room, all you want to do is just get up to the room and enjoy your vacation. But you have to sit, sit in line for 30 minutes to an hour waiting to check in when it can be frictionless and can be completely just mobile. So I hope that they all go that way. And they continue to, you know, get better. In that sense.


Mike 16:50

I think consumers are driving it right. They're demanding better experiences, you know that the the idea of waiting in a taxi line at Vegas for an hour, you know, when you can get into, right, so consumers will drive what the future looks like, in a lot of ways.


Alex 17:05

How do you just go into more on the business side? And we're kind of talking like just technology and what's coming and things like that. But just as far as like, on your end and your day to day like managing your team? Like how does that look? when hiring? What do you hire for? What do you how do you team build? What's your approach to all that?


Mike 17:23

Great question. So I've thought a lot about this. And I happen to have probably every leader says this, but I haven't have a great team, you know, 100% retention in North America over four years now. Nobody's left my team, which is, you know, that me saying it's a great team. And then having that numbers have to lie, right? I had very little to do with me. But I wanted to reflect on what I happened to do. By coincidence, right by luck. And so what I did was I hired not the same person. So I think one mistake leaders do is they they hire someone, and it works out great. So they try and replicate that person. Right? Then you have a team of one person, the same type of person. So what I did was I tried to hire diversity in all ways, right? So I have someone strong and process as someone with great instincts, terrible process, and everything in between, right. I also don't fall in love with experience. And that's a mistake I've made in the past where like, Oh, this person has 10 years Customer Success experience, they can hit the ground running, I won't have to manage them, right. And then they're they're set in their ways. And they do things a certain way. And you know, how you want to lead and how you want customer service to come across can vary by industry and by company. And so you want the opportunity to kind of mold that person, right. So now I look for a couple things. I look for someone that is curious. Some of that has a work ethic, right? And someone that really see this as a career and wants to grow and is looking for a place to grow somewhere to land and not have a job anymore, and have a career. Right, and I look for those. And I take risks. And as you build your team and it gets bigger, you're allowed to take more risks, because you have this foundation in place. And that person can come up and culturally speaking teamhealth trumps everything. And so I really look for that if you don't have teamhealth, you're going to be reading, you know backfilling over and over again. And so that's a real waste of time. So those are things that I look for. I don't I don't need experience, experiences nice. But those are things that I look for.


Aarde 19:39

First of all, kudos. I don't think I've ever heard of a zero churn, 0% churn, especially. So yeah, toddle, tough is a little bit about, I'm gonna drill into that a little bit more and talk a little bit about your employees, obviously no churn in the last four years. What about cricket growth and career pathing? How does that work? Do you frame that up? Do you have different levels on your team where they could become like a level two or a senior? Or is it more that they become more specialized in a certain area, or they get these kind of like mentorship badges in certain categories or areas, like they get better with process, for example,


Mike 20:23

it's more traditional, we have levels. And I don't put time periods on them, you know, I have a, someone on my team that came in as an associate two and a half years ago, and now she's leading North America for that group. And so, you know, putting time periods on things that used to be really fresh, I basically thought about what frustrated me when I was younger, and try to just get rid of all of that, right? Things like that frustrated me. I don't I really focus on two things, the individuals growth, right, all of the individuals growth in the team coming together in the team health. You know, I don't really focus on other metrics, like revenue, or other, you know, other KPIs. I think those take care of themselves if you do these two things, right. And so, you know, that's not kind of how I run the team. I give opportunity, I play to strengths, too. I don't work on weaknesses. Yeah. And maybe there's a bunch of management books that say you should work on your team's weaknesses, I don't I forget the weaknesses, let's work on your strengths. How can we use your strengths and what you're naturally good at, and put you in a position where you can succeed. And a lot of my team members, they have side projects they're working on at my tech, that'll give them visibility. But you know, it's also a lot of work, you know, if you have to run, we did a customer spotlight, if you have to run a customer spotlight for the entire team, or the entire company, rather, and you got to produce it, post it, get all the decks ready and invest a lot for one person to do but you know, I found someone that was interested in doing it. she happened to have a broadcast journalism background. So it was a natural fit for her. But again, that's playing to strengths, right? So that's kind of how I look at careers. And there's nothing better than seeing someone on your team advance, right? That feels better than me advancing myself. So it's really good to see.


Aarde 22:16

Yeah, I love that whole playing to their strengths. We had a podcast A long time ago, actually, with someone who used to work for me in a previous role. His name was Graham, and we asked him, you know, his leadership style and things like that, because he was a, he progressed from a frontline tech support, team lead, and then to a manager. And I realized in him very, very early on that he's great. He could be you can do tech support, you can answer calls, so you can help support customers. But I always found him in the break room talking to his co workers. And at first I thought that was a weakness. And then I leaned into it and found that it was actually a strength. It was basically just doing one on ones. He was doing mentorship, he was talking to his peers, and, you know, promoted him into the team leader role, which essentially, that's all a team leader does, at least at that company, which is pulling people aside talking about the business talking about mentorship and growth and, and reviewing of past conversations and calls. So I love that mentality. That's, that's a really good one. You mentioned a little bit about books and sounds like you, you've led a lot. You've read a lot in this area. Are there any other kind of books or ideas that you've leaned into or learned from books that you've implemented in your on your team?



Yeah, I mean, servant leadership. I think that's, that's the number one thing for me in reading that book was really insightful. Customer Success books, customer support customer service. Zappos book was really great, right? I mean, I think everyone's prep that it was, it was really good. I've read that one again. There's another book lendkey only, I think is the author. And it was about teamhealth, trumps everything that was kind of the message. Right. And so I really liked that one as well. Yeah, so those are the books that I like reading. I like biographies to like business biographies, Bob Iger, it's was really good. It kind of the lesson there. I think a lot of them are, they all fail. At some point. They take risks, they all fail, and how you respond is everything. They also have had advocates. That helped, right? They didn't do it themselves. They had advocates. And so being an advocate versus being a mentor, those are two different things. The mentors there if you need coaching, right, you need you go to mentor and advocate says, Hey, we need this role, and this person should be in this role. Right? And that's an advocate. And so I think that I've learned the difference between those two and help It is to do that. The other thing is, I didn't necessarily Well, maybe I did learn this from a book, but I don't present any of my team's ideas, or any of their accomplishments, they presented themselves, right, whether it's in front of the CEO or anyone I, you know, they need to learn how to do that. And then I think it's a great opportunity for them. And I always I just liked it when my managers would take whatever I did, and present it to the management team. There was no bad intentions, but I think that's a missed opportunity.


Alex 25:30

Yeah, this opportunity to to highlight, right, and like you said, advocate, and they shine, shine a spotlight on a great employee that could have potential higher up or in a different department that could be used for the organization.


Mike 25:43

You mentioned nervous they get to right before Yeah, that's, that's grow. I mean, they're still nervous, you know, not all of them. And they do they grow, they get used to it, but I was nervous going in front of the CEO, and trying to present something that I did great wasn't even bad news. But that's all part of it. Right? You got to have that experience.


Alex 26:02

Yeah, really get your toes wet. Get out there.


Aarde 26:06

I speak at a lot of conferences in front of 1000s of people at the mainstage. And before I learned this from Simon Sinek, in one of his TED Talks, or one of his, his talks, before I learned this, I would go up on stage, and I 10 minutes before I'd be shaking, like I'd be nervous. But then I watched the Simon Sinek talk about, about public speaking. And he said, when you get nervous, you get sweaty palms, your heart rate goes faster, your brain gets a little fuzzy, but kind of fight or flight kind of decision mode. It's the same thing as when you're excited. So you know, when a major life event that's positive happens, you get excited, you get that, you know, sweaty palms, fuzzy head kind of heartbeat, right. And he said, it's actually the same, same feeling. It's just we Conaty and one has a negative anxiety, and one has a positive excitement. So every time you get anxious, just think that this is your body's natural reaction to how excited you are. And then when you're done with it, you're gonna be excited that it's completed. So it gets you through, or at least for me, it gets me through that anxiety into excitement. And now I'm excited to go on stage. And it puts me in a different mindset and frame, it's easier to have my talk so loved love the that that example of anxiety is just miss purpose excitement.


Mike 27:39

So really great lesson, I'm going to take that one that's really good. I think it's some people when they present, they hope they're if they've done it enough. They're like, gosh, I hope I'm a little nervous, right? Because they know that they can they know it's excitement, but they've done it so many times that they can tie those two together. Yeah, that's a great lesson. Like I said,


Aarde 28:00

Alex, you had a question


Alex 28:01

I was just gonna mention. So we talked beforehand, and you know, as your employees are presented to the CEO, and it's like about teamwork. And you talked about the health of your team is so important. I know, you mentioned your CEO kind of mentioned the same thing that held that the company is like the fundamental to everything as far as growth goes talk a little bit about, because he's a newer CEO about what he's doing and where he's taking the company and how it what changes. He's made good, good changes that he's made that you've seen compared to other things you've seen in the past.


Mike 28:32

Yeah, so he's been at my take a neat two and a half years now, at this point. And when he came in, he did a couple, he did a lot of great things, a couple things that stood out. I mean, this one was interesting. So he just been introduced to the whole company. And so he got up and he, you know, said his name. And he said, If you want to learn about where I've been what I've done, go to LinkedIn. I'm not going to talk about that here. And he started talking about who he is, you know, I'm from New Jersey, I have a family of two dogs and two kids, my wife. And it was really interesting. I've never seen that easily. someone gets up and rattles off the resume, right? He didn't take that approach. So he was he was human, he was one of us. And then right away is one of his main goals was really to get us working better together in our lot. And, you know, one thing that sticks in my into my mind that he says these six words is reasonable people equally informed, seldom disagree, and he would say that over and over. And there's a lot in there, right? reasonable people equally informed, seldom disagreeing one, do your homework, get informed. The other is listening. Right? So those two things are really important and that's been a game changer for us. And he also is funny he said he would be involved in a lot of things and I was thinking no okay CEO comes in Of course, they're gonna say that I'll probably never see him. He's involved in I don't know how he does it. But he's involved in so many things. And he does this thing of meetings where he's just dialed in the whole meeting just focused. And I don't know how he does it. And I've tried to do it. I'm trying to mimic that. But I mean, that that's really, really something else that he's able to do. And, you know, those are those are things that can just cultures and changes trajectories for companies.


Alex 30:29

Yeah, once I can really get in there and light a fire, right, positive one to rally the troops and get them going in a new direction. It can be hard. I think you mentioned before about how I let some people that aren't on board, it will get off the train kind of thing, right? Or this is where we're going. And so talk a little bit about that. I


Mike 30:49

Yeah! he said, Listen, you have three, there are three types of people at any company. There are cynics? Well, let me start with the positive. They're believers, or non believers in their cynics. Your job is to exit the cynics, and turn the non believers into believers, right? If you don't, you know, you have a time period, you got to get that done. And if you don't, then you know you. He also says make it happen. Don't let it happen. And so that's his version of, you're letting it happen. You're letting the state and you're expecting you know, better, better outcomes, right? I'm giving you the cover to actually take action. And you know, his belief is that and I believe that to the cynics aren't going to be believers. But then all believers can be believers. Right? So it's nice, simple way to think about it.


Aarde 31:39

Yeah, I like those kind of three, the believers, non believers and the cynics. And sometimes you want, you want to hire a cynic, almost like a secret shopper come in and tell us what we're not doing right. So you can learn from them. But you don't want them poisoning the well you don't want them. Now in the operations, making the changes, you want to make sure that you learn from them and learn that their viewpoint. But oftentimes, you want to make sure that you do right, I'm gonna change gears just a little bit here. Tell us a little bit about how the pandemic either changed or did not change the way that your team does business, whether that's agents working from home, or maybe a business process that changed just talk to us a little bit about the pandemic and how it changed.


Mike 32:22

Yeah, I would say, you know, of course, the pandemic was, was as negative as things come, right. But as far as my team goes, I, I started to see communication improved. I started to see the usage of tools improve. And efficiency have improved, and, and happiness with the employees. Right, working from home. And I've worked from home before I actually left Oracle because I wanted to work from an office. And so I got to work for no losses for a couple years. And now I'm back at home. So but it's if you have more time, you know, think about how much time you spend commuting and getting dressed and all of that, right? It's probably a couple hours. Now you can go to the gym, go for a walk with your family, whatever you want to do. So it's it's nice in that way. But the biggest thing that would caught me off guard was the communication. I thought it would get worse, because you can't go face to face with someone. But it actually got better. We started to use our systems, right or tools or chat, zoom, things like that. You can probably have quicker meetings. So I saw a lot more 30 minute meetings, even 15 minute meetings. Right. And so that's been great. I think there's certainly exude fatigue. And so we've we've tried to manage that we have Fridays, no meetings. And so we try to have that. And actually tomorrow. I don't have meetings last Friday, right? Yeah, yes, I don't have me. But it's a nice way to take a break from zoom, catch up on some work and emails and things like that. So yeah, those are some changes and some surprises that I've seen with the team.


Aarde 34:03

I've seen seen happy hours are not happy hour sorry, office hours. Like every Thursday at three to five. He's blocker schedule. That means people can't book your book you but they can ad hoc, almost like dropping into an office at office hours with the professor ad hoc just ping you really quick and say okay, five minutes of your time. And your times open. I've seen that be very, very successful.


Mike 34:30

I have seen that. Yeah, I've been thinking about implementing that. I don't know where I heard it. I know a lot of people are probably doing it but someone I was talking to mention that they do that. I thought that was a really good idea. I do block my calendar. So do that part, right. Every day for my calendar is blocked but don't tell anyone and they think they can't find time on your calendar. I just need that block to get get work done right.


Alex 34:53

Sometimes Sometimes we do right? How do you when it comes to like, you know, managing the team and teamwork like what do you do for teams? Building when everyone's separate and disparate, you know?


Mike 35:03

Yeah, that's, that's an interesting one, right? Because we tried to do happy hours, I didn't really like those, they're a bit awkward. We have a chat group. And so we have a chat chat group, and that keeps us connected in, okay, you know, I would say it's 50%, fun 50% work. And so we really use that and probably under, under play, or underestimate how important that was, in keeping us together. And of course, now, we're able, like, yesterday, I went out to a happy hour with some of the teammates, and so that that was really nice, we actually like being around each other. So that helps. Because if you're trying to force team building, and you actually don't like each other, it's not gonna work, you know, so the first thing is, they have to actually like each other for that stuff to work.


Alex 35:53

That's great. I mean, it's nice, especially in California, certainly open up, right, and people are able to get out there. And, you know, come into the office, if they want, I see a lot of, you know, more hybrid options where people are at home and, and the office big article with Apple, they want their people back three days a week, you know, in Cupertino, and the other two days, they can work. So some people got really used to not having to commute in, and they never want to come back in the office. And other people like you, like leave, like going to Oracle, you know, or, you know, to be able to, you know, work from not work from home and things like that. So, it'll be interesting to see, as people have the option to come back, like where, where things land and and how it all works. And Aarde, I know you're kind of dealing with the same thing right now.


Aarde 36:37

Yeah, it's a to two days at home three days in office, are companies actually requiring that you'd be there three days in office? Of course, we're going to kind of pilot that in September, and then figure out how that how that goes. But yeah, there's, there's been a lot of people and a lot of exceptions, where people have moved out of the city or state. And they, you know, they don't necessarily have a remote job. So we're gonna have to figure out what we're gonna do try to even backfill that role, or allow that person to work remote, and maybe have even more of a remote structure where they come in once a month, instead of, you know, like coming for a week, once a month instead. But it's good to have a healthy balance, it's good to have that in personnel also give the ability for people to work from home and become Pro with that.


Mike 37:27

I know we are open today as bover virtual first we made that change, you can come into the office, but every meeting needs to be virtual first, meaning they are the priority. Whoever's coming in virtually. And then we'll see how that works. But that's Yeah,


Aarde 37:45

Yeah. And this, there's this shift now. So before the pandemic, it's kind of one of those in every company does this differently, but come into the office. And if you don't feel well go home. And most people before, they would just not come in the beginning and call out sick, which is ideal. But now it's a very clear message. If you feel anything close to sick do not come in, like stay home. So there's going to be this weird. You know, Monday on Friday, you're already you're going to be working from home, but maybe Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, if you start to feel sick on Tuesday, just take that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and work from home. And or just take the time off as sick days. So it's gonna be it's gonna be interesting. There'll be times where you may not see your, your employees in person for a couple of weeks at a time. And instead, they'll be working virtually stuff. There'll be something to adjust. Remember, when we used to go into the office with colds?


Alex 38:41

I don't I don't think Yeah. Right. Well, we stay back. You just kind of sit in your cubicle. Now it's like everyone's just on edge, obviously. But is it? Yeah. Already, when you're mentioning that I thought about the younger, the 20 year olds on staff and how like they're going out partying on Thursday night, and well, they're not gonna feel well on Friday. There's gonna be right at home working remotely, nursing a hangover.


Aarde 39:09

I mean, we talked someone on the podcast where they said that their office spaces is going to turn into a communal common go if you want no assigned desks, just use an open dust that's been clean, clean up after yourself with wipes. And then it's really just going to be conference rooms are going to be set up so that people can come in and celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries and have that social aspect, but also retreat back to their desks to continue their day to day work as if they are working from home. So it's gonna be a different world. I'm excited for it. I don't know, Alex, you've always been remote. I believe so then pretty much. Yeah. Well, well, you'll probably never get the the office life. But you can always come to our office Say hi. That's right.


Alex 39:54

That's right. Absolutely. You know, I know we're bumped up a little bit against our time here. A lot. Want to go into one little caveat and just just about this technology? Right? We talked a lot about your business technology. But how do you leverage technology for just the Customer Success and Support on your team? Like, how do you view it? How do you, you know, what do you Where do you see it going to improve efficiencies and productivity for your team?


Mike 40:20

Yeah, I'll just start talking. And if I go the wrong direction, bring me back here. If you have some people want to challenge me on something, you know, tools and technology, they're not, I've made the mistake of thinking I can, that's going to be my strategy, right? I just bring it in, and everything's gonna be great. Now I realize that, you know, you have to really have a strategy in place first, and the tools are going to scale it, scale it. But the things I think about when it comes to technology is really going back to those individuals, right that are on the frontlines. What's going to make their lives easier, their job satisfaction better. And when it comes to technology and choosing that and implementing it, it's certainly not top down, I want to get their input. They're going to own it and design it. I'll be there to you know, advise, but they know best. And I learned this in the context center. Right? When I was at Oracle, my favorite thing to do was to shadow that the agents, right? I go in there, see how they're using our software? Like, Oh, are you using it that way? Well, that's interesting. I like that. That's, that's a better best practice than I thought, right? And they asked like, what, what would you do to and they had all these ideas, what would you do to improve it? Oh, this this is great ideas. The manager is not so much the VP? No idea, right? Yeah. So it's, it really taught me a big lesson that the best ideas are going to come from those that are actually doing the work. And those that need to be involved in choosing the tools and technology need to be the ones that are actually going to be using it. Right. For many reasons. One is too practical. The other is they feel like they had some decisions, decision, you know, points, and they own it. Right. So they're going to make it work. So yeah, those are that really, that sounds simple, but not a lot of people do those things. Now you see a lot of top


Alex 42:14

Right, and we're we're working with a client right now he's like, we're doing this for agents like we're there, we're gonna be like the decision makers, essentially, as long as it fits the requirements, they're letting them really take the lead on choosing what platform that they want to use for the contact center. And I think it's great, because they're the ones in there using it on a day to day basis, just like you said, and like with any career that people dislike, when marketing does stuff without talking to the sales people or finance changes all these pricing metrics without talking to sales or, you know, whatever it is, it could be, you know, military or police, police force, you know, like, you got to get the boots on the ground and figure out what they're doing and what's working, what's not working to really get a pulse. I think, again, it comes back to leadership as well. Right, not just


Mike 42:59

Leadership is also misinterpreted as just being confident or being a loud voice. And leadership's listening, right, leadership is not having an ego. Those are all big leadership qualities. And you're starting to see more and more of that. The realization that listening is a leadership quality, being able to partner being able to check your ego at the door, right? Is the leadership quality? And realizing I don't I don't know anything. Let's start from from there. And when we're picking technology, right, then you start to do your work in the room. your research.


Alex 43:33

Yep, exactly.


Aarde 43:36

Well, Mike, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast, we're running out of time. So we got to cap it off there, I learned a bunch, not only about technology, and what you guys do, but also some leadership skills, and also some really cool things. I'm gonna have to pick up a couple of those books. I already have the Zappos one, but I'm gonna have to pick up some others. We all do absolute pleasure having you on the podcast. Alex, thank you so much for co hosting, and for everyone who's listening. Thank you so much, and for listening, and we'll see you on the next one. Right. Thank you.


Alex 44:07

Thank you, Mike. Bye, guys. 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, for your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on another cloud podcast.