Rebuilding an organization after experiencing a headcount loss can be a daunting task. In June 2015, I lost both of my regional support first line managers located in the Beijing and Foster City offices and inherited 22 direct reports. I took on the task to reconstruct the support organization by hiring a new US Director of Support, promoting two existing experienced support agents into managers for the Beijing and London offices, and strategically investing in an online community platform for subscription economy companies (community.zuora.com). The team entered 2016 with three support centers and by the end of 2016, we were a four function organization: Support, Community, Documentation, Customer Advocacy. Getting to this stage wasn’t easy and the secret is in the special sauce…
Before 2016, the Technical Documentation team previously existed under the Engineering organization, and under the encouragement of executive leadership, I took over the Technical Documentation team and incorporated it within Customer Success. That merger empowered Zuora to pivot our documentation by transforming it into a customer-friendly destination that’s easy to follow - increasing the adoption and understanding of our application. I also hired a new senior documentation team manager and launched a company-wide initiative project to bring the modern-style REST API coverage and documentation with code samples - closing a gap which previously dampened our ability to sell to developer-centric companies. By reallocating agents to complete the the developer document translation work, I saved the the support organization the costs had I hired a contractor.
A couple of months later, I saw another opportunity to drive adoption and customer success through the launch of a new program called Customer Advocacy Program (CAP). This program transformed several experienced support agents into proactive client account managers with deep product expertise who serve in a solution-focused consultant role for our live customers.
CAP was funded by reallocating two of our support agents instead of new headcount, saving us the costs associated with a three month full time contractor. The Customer Advocacy Program provides proactive client management and guidance to foster use and adoption of the Zuora solution and enable growth and success of our customers’ subscription businesses. In the three months since the program launched, the team of five achieved several key customer success stories and now has the eye of the CEO and support from executive leadership to expand into the EMEA market.
Community partnership and how customer success is the heart and soul of Zuora. Strong leadership facilitates cross-functional collaboration which maximizes our ability to execute and deliver results. The future looks bright for the Customer Support Services and Community organization. Our goal is to maximize this synergistic effect, thereby producing a combined result greater than the sum of the individual functions’ achievements and give all of our customers just-in-time solutions to empower them to operate and grow their subscriptions business.
Marlene Summers is an insightful technical leader with twenty years of experience in enterprise software and application development. Marlene joined Zuora in 2010 as the first Customer Success Manager before transitioning to build out the customer support organization, which provides 24x7 support through three service centers, delivered by over 30 experienced support professionals, achieving a 95% Customer Satisfaction rating. In 2016, Marlene expanded the scope of her team with customer advocacy services, technical documentation and community. Her Customer Support Services and Community organization focuses on delivering the best customer service possible, aggregating content by bringing together sources of knowledge and information, deflecting support tickets to save costs and giving customers value-add services to enhance operational efficiency and drive revenue
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