Podcast #10

How to better leverage
knowledge for customer
success

Sara Feldman
Customer Success Enablement

Program Manager – FastSpring

About this podcast

In today’s episode we interview Sara Feldman, Customer Success Enablement Program Manager, for FastSpring.

Sara discusses self-service for the customers, content-based, and knowledge centers.



Explore the power of AI and NLP
for your customers and agents

Interview Transcript

Andrea Palten
Hello there today we have Sarah Feldman. She’s the Customer Success Enablement Program Manager at fastSpring. Thank you so much for being here. Sarah, can you tell us a little bit what you do at FastSpring? And explain what that title means? 

Sara Feldman
Thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here today. So first, I should say that I’m fairly new to my role at FastSpring, I think I just crossed my four month anniversary. So still ramping up in many ways, but I’ve been able to do some good things so far that I’m happy about.

So really, I’ve been brought on to, I would consider it more like knowledge management or knowledge program and enablement. And we use it to focus on how we can better leverage knowledge to improve customer support, customer success, and ultimately, customer self service.

Andrea Palten
So do you work with the actual customer service agents? Or do you support them as a program manager and bringing new things on, and looking at metrics and that type of stuff? 

Sara Feldman
Yeah, great question. I’m actually embedded within the support team right now, which I love is actually the beginning of my career. As a technical writer, I started as a technical writer embedded with the support team. And I’ve moved across a few teams during my career, but I’m back again to support and it’s really a great place to be. It’s a great way to quickly get oriented into what’s really happening with customer experience at a company. 

Andrea Palten
Oh, yeah, cuz I’ve seen that where people that do similar things like you, they’re not in customer service, and they get everything later, and metrics are coming way too late. And then they’re not really on the phone, and they’re not hearing them, and they’re not in the same room with them. And it doesn’t really help and it’s being on the front line is really what works really well. So let me ask you, are you on the front line right now? Or not so much? Because of COVID?

Sara Feldman
No, as our company’s growing, our customer activity is increasing. And our support team, I would say is busier than ever. So the only folks that are more on the front line than me are certainly the actual customer service agents and customer success managers that are responding to customers directly. But I’m, I tried to be just one step behind them helping enable knowledge and the latest information from other teams that they need to support our customers. 

Andrea Palten
Okay. And so let me ask you, I know you’ve only been there for four months, but you already brought new ideas and bringing in new processes and that type of stuff. But I want to know, overall, what is FastSpring doing to promote great customer service? 

Sara Feldman
Yeah, great question. There’s a bunch of things that the main thing is just being as responsive to customers as possible, I would say that summarizes it based on our business model, which I don’t need to get into. But when our customers are successful, literally that increases our success. So we have a vested interest in them being successful. And so the quicker I would say, like, quickest response time, the quickest that we can help them resolve any issues and get back to doing what they need to do. That’s our focus for great customer service. 

Andrea Palten
Yes, that makes sense. So right now, everybody’s complaining about limited resources. But even before COVID, we always heard customer service teams being like, there’s not enough people, there’s not enough time, there’s not enough budget. What are you guys doing? How are you guys managing any lack of resources that you may have?

Sara Feldman
Yeah, I totally agree with that perspective, I think you hear it, I think you hear it everywhere. I mean, it kind of makes sense from an organizational organizational perspective that you’re going to often have less resources than too many resources, because as soon as you have more resources, you’re going to take on more work, and then you’re going to be under resourced again. So I think about three things, when it comes to how we try and tackle what we need to do with limited resources. The first is constant reprioritizing. There’s a lot of variables that go into that in terms of customer needs, business needs, what’s changing from day to day, certainly in our business, we have hour by hour changes. So being in constant communication among the team across teams, we have a lot of constant communication with our finance team due to our platform. And like I said, constantly reprioritizing makes sure that we’re always tackling the most important thing, you know, real time. Another thing that we’re driving towards, to help with resource issues would be self service. That’s a big part of why I’ve been brought on to improve our customer self service experience, the more that we can enable Our customers to help themselves. They prefer it and it frees up resources on our end as well. And then the third thing, this is something I’m constantly trying to work on myself is really identifying what’s the next best thing we can do to optimize with what we have going on right now. And that often means de-scoping, you know, you have a vision of this next, you know, iteration or in this next next improvement that you want to make. And you might have a great vision, but often de-scoping quite significantly is the best way to get that next thing implemented, it requires less cross functional resources, it gets implemented faster. And so always trying to figure out what the next best the next best change is to make.

Andrea Palten
Yeah, I like de-scoping. I think that’s actually something that I haven’t really heard too much. But it’s true, we have to do that we have to really look at things and the scope. I like that. And then how do you measure the success of your customer service?

Sara Feldman
Yeah, great question. So my boss is the head of support. So she looks at your traditional support metrics, the ones I’m sure you hear about often sees that NPS time to resolution, those types of things, we’re often looking at that the main thing that I’ve brought been brought on to help with related to that, as I’ve mentioned with self service is reducing volume. So for us, that means reducing the number of interactions per case where possible, and then driving situations to self service to reduce it overall volume coming into the Support Center again, because that’s ultimately better for our customers as well.

Andrea Palten
So you kind of hinted at this, when you were saying what you were saying your three points. Number two? What are you guys doing with artificial intelligence? Are you guys actually using that right now? Was that what you were kind of talking about in any or number two points earlier? 

Sara Feldman
We’re constantly improving self service, we aren’t using AI much for self service right now, I would say, in my experience, I’ve tended to work for smaller software companies. So I think this is generally true, is that AI is a little bit more about augmenting the agent experience, you know, making agents more efficient and enabled than necessarily altering the customer experience, I think, at bigger companies, you know, when I think about my interactions on Amazon, and Netflix, and big companies like that, as a customer, I think you see AI in play a lot more. But for smaller software companies, I think you more often see it as a tool to make agents more efficient with, you know, real time access to knowledge and data and trends analysis and things like that.

Andrea Palten
Yeah, that totally makes sense. Tell me about the Self Service a little bit. So how does your customer utilize the self service that you have?

Sara Feldman
Yeah, so most of it is content based. So it’s on our, our customer support site, we have a couple customer segments with different sites oriented towards them, trying to make it as quick and easy as possible for that customer, whoever they are to find the knowledge that’s going to solve their issue. And so it’s constantly refining and retooling. Almost that landing page experience, like where, where and where does that customer first land in a service interaction experience? What information is presented to them? You want to make it possible for them to certainly create a support request, but how are you also providing knowledge along the way that makes it possible if it’s possible for them to solve the problem on their own? 

Andrea Palten
That makes sense. So let me go back to the artificial intelligence question. What do you think is going to be the future of AI and customer service departments?

Sara Feldman
Ooh, interesting question. I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way. I think. Let’s see, I think in general AI is augmenting our experience probably slower than we all thought it would. Because there’s a lot of learning and retooling that has to happen along the way. I think as consumers, we are still getting used to interacting with AI based tools as opposed to human based tools. So I think in general, it’s a bit of a two steps forward one step one step back type evolution with AI, but we’re going to see it a lot more. When it comes to simple interactions. I think if there’s a simple interaction with a few variables that a customer needs, if you think about your typical password resets and sync simple configuration changes, I think AI is going to drive those types of interactions. But as soon as you get into more complex interactions with multiple variables, I think it’ll be awhile before AI is Fully, you know, driving that experience.

Andrea Palten
And I do think that people thought we’d be a little bit further ahead. Like, in some ways we are really far ahead. But then I remember the very first time I saw virtual reality, and you had these like crazy goggles on, I really thought maybe by 2020, everyone’s looking around with goggles. 

Sara Feldman
Right, or we thought huge categories of jobs would be eliminated by now. And I think we’re just seeing that this technology is changing how these roles work, and sometimes shifting them sometimes making them more efficient. But it’s not that we haven’t seen the dramatic changes, I think that we maybe would have predicted 10 years ago.

Andrea Palten
Yeah, totally. I really want one of those. I don’t know if you ever watched the Jetsons the cartoon, but I was one of those flying cars. That’s what I’m waiting for.

Andrea Palten
Last question. So what is the number one advice that you have for customer service department departments?

Sara Feldman
Yeah, great question. So I come from a technical writing background, as I said, and then really focused on knowledge management. So I really see an experience knowledge is a key enabler for, you know, digital transformation and customer service improvement. So my advice for customer service teams would be to really look at knowledge cross functionally, as an enabling tool to improve internal efficiency and customer experience. And so that, for example, it’s blurring the lines a little bit about what is knowledge. So, case notes and case information versus documentation. They’re often thought of different things. But really, they’re just different outputs of the same information. I think we can blur those lines and, and have teams work more collaboratively real time. You know, capturing that knowledge and getting it real time in front of both the internal folks and the customers who need it.

Andrea Palten
I think that’s the way to move forward. Yes, I love it. Great advice. Thank you so much, Sarah, and thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate your time.

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