Podcast #1

How to get to a 95 NPS
score in customer service

Mike Grace
Customer Success – Cohesity

About this podcast

We interviewed Mike Grace, Customer Success Manager at Cohesity and talked about going from a behemoth company like Cisco to a newer and smaller company like Cohesity.

We discussed agility in customer service, how they get over 95 NPS score, and the future of customer support.


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Interview Transcript

Welcome to the Future of Customer Service Podcast. I’m Andrea Palten, from Inbenta and I will be interviewing customer support and service professionals to see what is currently working well, what issues they’re trying to overcome, and the future success of customer service.

Andrea Palten
Hello! Today, we have Mike Grace from Cohesity with us. Mike, thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do for Cohesity?

Mike Grace
Sure. At Cohesity, I am one of four Customer Success Managers, which is a new function at Cohesity. Cohesity is based in Northern California, specifically San Jose. Focuses on data management and how big enterprise companies look at data management, how they manage their data, how they back up their data, how they archive their data. And then the customer success function we’re really focused on driving and completing the business outcomes that the customers expressed regarding data management. 

So, it’s been quite a journey to join a, I don’t want to say startup because Cohesity has been around for five or six years, but still a privately held company. Previous to Cohesity, and it’s been about six months for me I spent 20 years at Cisco, and I ran a service delivery function at Cisco for the Americas, which comprised of roughly 150 people and we supported over 500 accounts. So, going from running a pretty big organization to being an individual contributor has been really, really eye-opening, and doing it at a smaller company that’s trying to be enterprise-class data management has been a fantastic learning experience.

Andrea Palten
That’s really awesome. Let me ask you. Seeing the difference between a big company like that and a smaller company like that are you guys a lot more agile because you’re smaller? Is that awesome to do or is that really hard to do because it’s kind of a startup?

Mike Grace
It’s a little mixed bag. So, there’s an example I’ll give you. When we started this, I had a salesperson asked me, do you have something of your responsibilities I could give my customers? I’m like, you know, I don’t think we do. We didn’t have a branded information sheet and so I reached out and I made a sort of a PowerPoint mock-up and I gave it to somebody in marketing. They turned it around in a day and then we worked with marketing some more and got posted on our Cohesity site and the support function. I think it took like four days. Now, at Cisco, we’d all been drive, drive, drive, go get it. But it would’ve had to go through approvals and all this stuff. So, from getting smaller things done, yes. I think the challenge with the smaller company is recognizing maybe what you don’t know today and how it’s going to impact you 20 years down the road. That’s been the biggest opportunity let’s say.

Andrea Palten
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So, Mike, we have five questions for all of our podcast guests. So, I’m going to get started with question number one. What have you done to promote great customer service in your organization? This is especially important because you’re fairly new there.

Mike Grace
Yeah. So,  the thing with the customer service function is that, like I said, we’re trying to drive the bigger discussions, the higher-level discussions. What are your business outcomes? How does Cohesity contribute to those outcomes? What we find though is startups, perhaps not the right term, but as we’re a newer company with newer technology, we’re really focused on releases that provide more capabilities. What we find is customers want to make sure that the current stuff works, and we have. We’ve got an amazing support organization with very, very skilled technical engineers. I think a big focus of the customers right now is ensuring that cases and closure and tying up the loose ends of those cases related to future releases and patches is paramount to them right now. 

So, this focus on the larger discussions, and where else can Cohesity help you, they get it, but they’re, they’re more focused on the here and now. I’ve got to make sure that my stuff works and that my data is good. So, counter to what our mission statement is as an organization for customer success, there’s a little more tactical focus on ensuring response and case management and customers are really satisfied with the support they get. That I think elevates and creates some sort of political capital, emotional bank account deposits where customers will be willing to have that conversation going forward. Does that make sense?

Andrea Palten
Yeah, that totally makes sense. So, every company has limited resources. It doesn’t matter if you’re big like Cisco or you’re smaller like Cohesity. How are you guys managing with either lack of time or lack of resources when it comes to customer support?

Mike Grace
So, there are a couple of examples. So, the obvious answer is to hire more support engineers and we’ve been doing that and it’s important for a couple of reasons. As we release more capabilities, the connection between product management, when they put capabilities in to release and conveying that to support, so support is ready to answer those questions when they come in and be able to either test it in a lab or provide answers right away is really, really important. But there are other situations where customers open cases that perhaps could be done through self-service. We’ve got a journey of more self-service sort of capabilities. That’ll allow customers to do more things with the platform without requiring support. Some of them are simple and we’re just not there yet. So, for example, we have alerts, and we have a lot of alerts because if your data is not flowing properly, you’re going to get alerts, but we’ve got a ton of them.

So, you can pick and choose the alerts that you get sent to you automatically when jobs fail or get stuck or whatever the situation is, but you have to open a case to do it. The customer can’t go on our site or on their portal and say, I want this alert. I want this alert. They have to open a case and that takes engineering time. So, there are examples like that, where we’ve got an opportunity to really streamline and it’s also more convenient for a customer to be able to do that, then open a case because they can do it at their own time, and they don’t have to wait for an engineer to get back to them. So, it’s examples like that, where there’s real opportunity to automate the more simple, tactical things and then leave the expertise in the strong engineering support that we’ve got ready to take on the big things.

Andrea Palten
Okay. Then how are you guys measuring your success?

Mike Grace
So, we are very metrics-driven and it’s NPS scores and CSAT scores. We take NPS to a different level and our NPS scores, you’re going to be shocked when I say this. Our NPS scores have been over 95.

Andrea Palten
Whoa! That’s awesome.

Mike Grace
Yes, over 95, and I don’t know of any other customer or company that can say that and it’s something that we’re extremely proud of. The challenge becomes as we continue to grow, how do we keep those NPS scores at that level without incurring massive expenditures to bring out more to bring on more support people to keep that level of score. By comparison, in the organization I ran at Cisco, I think our best NPS score was 55. 

Andrea Palten
Yeah. 

Mike Grace
So, you know, 90 plus is industry-leading. I mean, it’s unparalleled. I mean, you just don’t hear it.

Andrea Palten
Yeah. That’s really good. You said there were two things NPS and what was the other one that you use for measurement?

Mike Grace
A customer SAT based on individual cases. 

Andrea Palten
Okay. 

Mike Grace
Right, and our customer SAT out of a scale of five is traditionally north of 4.7. So,  we’re doing quite well in that, in that space as well. But again, the challenge is how do I balance keeping those scores at that level and then managing expenditures to do it.

Andrea Palten
Yeah, especially as you grow, that’s going to be… But that’s so great that you guys have that right now so that’s going to be the key to how to stay with that. 

Mike Grace
Yeah.

Andrea Palten
All right. So, let’s talk about the present, the future a little bit. How do you believe that artificial intelligence will change customer service?

Mike Grace
So, I think there’s, specifically in our organization, Cisco and HPE, Dow whoever, big tech, right. Depending on the customer and their comfort level, based on the capabilities and the service provided there’s enough metadata that we can take out that doesn’t compromise security that you could build world-class alert, proactive alerts, and world-class fixes behind the scenes before a customer even knows it’s an issue. I think that’s the true opportunity because that way you’re always going to run into situations where a customer’s got a real issue. This isn’t solved by, some script that somebody can just write off. You have to test it and you have to build a comparable infrastructure to see how this works. 

But there are so many instances where it’s just a restart of service or, hey, I’m noticing that your capacity on a certain piece of hardware in an environment is getting high. Your I/Os are high. Whatever the situation is, there are so many opportunities to just build those alerts and then the proactive fixes behind them to restart a service, to reallocate memory. There are just so many opportunities that I think that’s where AI really comes in and you leave the hardcore support. We cannot figure this out or it’s a multi-supplier situation. So, Cohesity with Cisco, with VMware. It’s all three and we can’t figure it out. There’s no one way to pinpoint where the issue lies. 

Andrea Palten
So, Mike with your long experience in customer service and your successes, especially now with that crazy awesome success rate, can you give our listeners one main advice for customer service success?

Mike Grace
Yeah. So, leadership has to walk the talk. So, Cohesity focuses on NPS scores. If we get a low one from a single response, from a single user as a customer, we all have to figure out why and how we stop that from happening again. Our services leader is a guy named Andy, and he is all about this. I mean, it is fanatical in a good way. At Cisco, when I was running an organization in core to be all-hands, it was a little different because it was a paid-for service. So, customers had high expectations, the account teams that sold it had high expectations. It was a matter of me demonstrating yeah, you’ve got to do what the customer asks for. I mean, we have to satisfy contractually what we’re obligated to deliver, but we always have to exceed those expectations.

I think if you don’t have a leadership team that just talks about metrics. So, for example, at Cohesity, with this focus on NPS scores, if we’ve got a low one and we’re still not 95 MPS who cares? It’s not how it works. It’s every single low score that gets investigated and we have to report back on it and it’s that important and that takes cycles to do. We’re not doing other things that customers expect or focused on this to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I think if you don’t have that leadership backing on customer success and what customers expect from your company, whether it’s a paid-for service, regular service, what have you, I don’t know that you can be successful from a customer service standpoint.

Andrea Palten
Yeah. That’s really great advice. Well, Mike, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your time.

Mike Grace
Absolutely. It’s a pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

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