The New Wave of Customer Service #2: Julia Dold from Pleo

Customer service is evolving at a rapid pace, so having a conversation about the field’s major trends and topics has become particularly important. 

Zowie’s New Wave is a series of interviews with trailblazing experts from the customer service industry. They’ll be offering insights and laying out their vision for the future. 

Today, we meet Julia Dold, Customer Success Manager at Pleo.

About Our Guest

Julia Dold is a Customer Success Manager at Pleo. She works on different tasks every day, so she always starts her day with a daily morning routine: a healthy breakfast and a walk in the park. She’s passionate about CS and CX and loves the challenge of listening to her customers and helping them maximize the value of SaaS solutions. She strives to do this as quickly and smoothly as possible.

With more than 10 years’ experience in Sales, CS, and SaaS, she’s grateful for the opportunity to work with so many interesting customers and get insights into their day-to-day jobs. Her personal principle is: “always challenge the status quo.”

What does excellent CS mean to you?

To me, excellence means that CS first needs an environment where it can start to evolve.

You can’t just have a department and call it CS. CS requires a certain commitment from the company and must be deeply integrated into the company’s growth and business strategy. This is a precondition for CS to become excellent.

What do you spend the most time on as a Customer Success Manager and what would you like to spend more time on?

As a Customer Success Manager, no two days are the same. Over the years, I’d say that I’ve spent too much time being reactive, putting out fires, and starting the hiring process too late. This made everything really time-consuming.

I’d definitely like to spend more time with my customers. Since this isn’t only a question of my own schedule, but also that of the customers, this is and will probably always remain improvable. I’m particularly interested in the onboarding phase from the client’s point of view and what this looks like in their ideal vision. Identifying a customer’s real needs (they’re often something different than what’s described) is like entering a treasure room.

What are your biggest challenges in CS/CX?

Since this always depends on where you are within the organization, I would name the following three challenges:

  1. Finding the right people and starting to hire early.
  2. Measuring the KPIs that matter for your customer and provide valuable insights to build and improve your processes. Forget about KPIs that measure your customer success from your own point of view.
  3. Being known as your company’s growth engine instead of a reactive problem solver. Most revenue comes from your existing business, but most companies are still focusing on sales and, therefore, also on bad-fit customers.

In your opinion, what will change in CS/CX within the next 5 years? What are the main trends?

With the steady growth of SaaS solutions and subscriptions, the need for CS is growing as CS Managers are taking care of the maintenance and expansion of these existing customers.

The trend to offer products and services that directly engage the customer necessarily brings two others with it:

  1. Demand for CS Managers will continue to increase. The job profile will be sharpened even more.
  2. Customer experience is the most important instrument to bind customers and create small, repeated buying experiences. Delivering an outstanding, more personalized customer experience is the way to go. In the end, customer experience will overtake price and product (features) as the most important brand differentiator.

The way teams are working now will definitely change a lot within the next 5 years. Building cross-functional teams will reduce or prevent working in silos. For example, it’s necessary for CS and Sales to work together more closely to drive long-term relations and, as a result, revenue goals.

There’s already a more data-driven approach, but this will also definitely grow in the next couple of years. Using multiple channels to connect with customers means more data about customer behavior and, in turn, valuable insights about the market and your target group.

How could CS and CX teams work together better?

Cross-functional teams are the first step in the right direction. They ought to be aligned on one and the same mission and perform data-driven work.

Promoting best practices in CS goes hand in hand with tracking performance. It’s necessary to collect data from all your CX communication channels. This will lead you to the bigger picture. You’ll understand the customers’ needs and behaviors.

When dealing with data and feedback, using the right tools shouldn’t be underestimated. Using the most expensive software or collecting a huge data set isn’t what’s most important. Less is definitely more! This will offer the team more flexibility and more time for adopting your processes. Moreover, it avoids overhead in administration, saving valuable time.

Collecting the right data is one thing, but being able to evaluate and analyze it is another. Data analysts and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) also link CS and CX.

In short, I’d take the following steps:

  1. Build cross-functional teams
  2. Define and measure the data that matters to both teams
  3. Focus on the right tools (less is sometimes more 😉 )

What are the challenges around automation in CS/CX?

More automation opportunities bring increased risks.

To automate your communication and workflows, it’s crucial to know your customer journey and touchpoints. Challenge the status quo again and again, and go back one step if you need to. This is especially true when your product is changing over time.

One of the biggest challenges I see in using automation is personalizing your communication while scaling. Your data needs to be accurate, but certain issues might be hidden in the details.

Another challenge is client dynamics. A customer doesn’t always behave the way you expect. Processes and automations must also be taken into account. How do I get a customer back to where I “want them to be,” or what do I do when a customer breaks out of the process?

As a CS or CX Manager, it’s essential to always take a step back and map out, define, improve, build, or rebuild a process from the customer’s point of view.

We want to thank Julia for her valuable insights.

For more pioneering perspectives on customer service, check out our other New Wave interviews.