Podcast #9

Use metrics that matter
with your customer
support staff

Adamo Maino
Director of Customer Support
– FinancialForce

About this podcast

Using “metrics that matter” is how FinancialForce promotes happy support staff and happy customers. 

In today’s episode we talk to Director of Customer Support of FinancialForce, Adamo Maino.

Learn more about how this organization is handling the current pandemic, the great way they measure success, and how they see Artificial Intelligence.



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

Interview Transcript

Andrea Palten
Hello, today we have Adamo Maino. He’s the Director of Support at FinancialForce. Thank you so much for being here. Adamo, tell us what you do for FinancialForce. 

Adamo Maino
I’m the Director of Customer Support, based out of San Francisco. And my team has a couple different sub teams in it, we have our application support analysts that support our applications based on the Salesforce platform. And in that we also have product support engineering, and our technical account managers and escalation team.

Andrea Palten
Okay, so that San Francisco picture behind you is before the smoke, what is it like there right now?

Adamo Maino
It’s actually better. It’s mostly cleared up, at least on certain days. It’s sometimes better than other days, but hopefully it’ll pass.

Andrea Palten
So your introduction was really good. I want to ask a little bit more about FinancialForce, who do you guys serve?

Adamo Maino
We have a couple different applications. So we’ve got accounting, we’ve got PSA prefers professional services, automation, as we have supply chain management, and we also have HCM and so those products are all based in the cloud, they all fit nicely together, we’ve got, we have our customers are from every part of the industry, we have everything from consulting to, you know, massive companies, you know, sort of IBM sized companies, all the way down to very small, very small companies as well. So SMB, mid market, and enterprise, all those segments, we serve. And it’s everybody from, you know, we might have like a CPA calling in all the way to a Salesforce administrator at that company. So it’s all varying technical levels as well.

Andrea Palten
Got it. Alright, so I have five questions for you today for today’s podcast episode. Number one, what have you done to promote great customer service in your organization?

Adamo Maino
I think the first thing is just promoting a culture of listening to the customers. And so it’s not just about the case, but what’s beyond the case. And so, you know, trying to get our analysts to sort of focus on Okay, is it just this, you know, problem that they reported in words, there’s some things sort of a little bit larger, and then sort of start digging in. Also, driving autonomy and trust within our team, that’s a big thing for me is to have a team that’s autonomous, if I step out, you know, it’s like, I’m there, as a coach, I’m not there, you know, sort of on the certain nitpicky sort of thing that’s going on, it should really have an autonomous team, giving them full transparency into what we’re doing. And so that’s another way to sort of promote that trust. And then finally, really sort of creating a culture that’s based on innovation and driving that innovation with our team members. So having a team be part of those projects, leading those projects, and having direct input into everything that we do.

Andrea Palten
And how big is your team? How big is your staff?

Adamo Maino
So worldwide, we have a staff of close to 60. And then my team, just my team alone is 18.

Andrea Palten
Okay, nice. Most companies have limited resources, either limited resources when it comes to time or limited resources in budget or limited resources in people. If you have that currently, what are you doing with that lack of resources? How are you managing that?

Adamo Maino
It’s pretty timely, obviously, in the sort of world we are in. Now. I think when COVID hit for us, it was really about less of a scramble on the technology side. We are, you know, we’re all 100% in the cloud, so it didn’t work anywhere. But it was really about sort of how do we maintain you know, sort of what we’re doing and we’ve got, you know, I’ve got two kids, you know, And we’ve got kids across our teams and like, so how do you do that? How do you have a normal day and you just don’t. So I think that the first thing was like, except that you just don’t have the same amount of resources. So then what do you do? And I think for us, it was great, we have a culture of collaboration and teamwork. And so we all picked up pieces where we could, and it meant sometimes adjusting hours on certain customer cases, working, you know, those cases about different parts of the globe. And, you know, maybe, you know, one of our team members sort of became sort of the, the primary childcare for that house. And so how do you do that we just, you know, offloaded a lot of those cases, and shared, you know, those cases around. And then the other thing really has been sort of focusing on a community first approach, and I think that’s really important is to drive that level of care down with the customers and give them a true self service model. And so for us, we were pretty successful already with our KCS program. So KCS, plus our community, we’re getting about 20%, customer enablement, or, you know, case deflection as it translates into, so that drove down and the amount of cases that were coming in. And so that, that was definitely sort of a big, big bonus. And lastly, really, you know, look for automation, find out where there’s some automation and find out, where you can sort of take out that heavy lifting, and drive down the administration tasks. And those are tasks that your team has to do, even if it’s on, you know, sort of, you know, not even I should say, especially if the manager, why manager or anybody really just can rolled their sleeves and take out some of those, you know, things that are just kind of arguably just sort of weighing the team down, take them on, roll up your sleeves, do the dirty work, but your team, you know, do what they do best, which is helping our customers.

Andrea Palten
I was talking to somebody the other day, and they have all these processes, like a lot. And granted, he did say it was too many. But every time before they go on a call, you have to write this sheet. After the call you have to write the sheet and then you have to write the sheet for this manager and all this stuff. And they got rid of all that. And they’re like, you know what, this is not gonna work when we have limited resources. And he said, it’s working so well without it, that they realized they never needed it in the first place. So we’re learning with COVID: How we can do it with less.

Adamo Maino
Yeah, lean down. So I like to do metrics that matter and metrics that promote good behaviors. So I think there’s, there’s a difference between the metrics that you show, you know, your team, and then the ones that I, like, you know, that you called gray metrics that you have in the background. But like, you should never re metrics, like, you know, how many cases they solve, like, there should never be some number that they’re trying to hit like, that doesn’t promote horrible behavior. Or, you know, even like how long it took to solve that case, on the phone, or, you know, through, you know, sort of any means, like there shouldn’t be a sort of a dead fast number there. So, we do a, we do sort of a, an envelope of a myriad of different metrics. Team happiness is a big one for us. So we can measure team happiness. And we have a time full survey that goes out, make sure our team is happy 14 is happy, our customers are happy. We do KCS. So our knowledge base has three measures that go in there. That’s accuracy, Link rate participation, and UI. And you know, if they’re adding and contributing to the knowledge base, then that is overall going to help our organization see SAT, the obvious industry standard, we definitely do that. And our cset actually has multiple parts on it. So we actually get to see kind of where, where we’re measuring. So one is sort of the overall happiness on the case, we have a question about our organization, and then the analyst themselves. So we can kind of break that out and show where the analysts behaviors are and give that to that feedback back to our analysts. And then they can see sort of where they measure up. And that works really well. It’s if you’re delivering some really bad news, like, Hey, you know, we’ve got this bug we’re still working on, it’s not going to be in the next release. It’s going to be, you know, sort of further out. And, you know, that’s a horrible message to deliver. But the analysts like getting pinged on their cset for that is kind of rough, right, no matter how well they deliver that message. So if we break that out into different different areas, then the analysts can kind of see like, oh, You know, the customers rated me, yes, or five out of five for delivering a really cruddy message. But they’re just not overall satisfied with the process in the case. And that’s totally fine, we can break this up. And then the other thing to look at is the number of escalations. And that’s not an individual’s statistic. That’s just overall health, the organization, we have a lot of escalations going on. Obviously, that means that we’ve got to look at, you know, efficiencies, headcount, etc.

I do look at a number of cases. But again, I do that as a great metric. And I do that comparative to the team. And so I look at, you know, if, if there serve a number of cases that we look at throughput, if that doesn’t necessarily always mean that way, that same thing, you might have somebody who’s really technical, and they’re only taking a couple cases, but those cases are taking a long time. And you just know that the reason that person has so much fewer cases and throughput than somebody who’s might just be sort of crushing some easier cases, right?

Andrea Palten
Yeah. So as the director of support, how often do you look at the actual metrics?

Adamo Maino
So we have, we have weeklies, we have weekly support meetings, that happens across the globe, every manager does that. And then we meet as a management team once a week as well. And so usually, you know, as far as looking at sort of larger metric shifts, you want to do that, like once a month, you know, doing that, like on a weekly basis, you’re not going to get a lot of shifts that’s happening. But if you look at the monthly fees, and you know, sort of start seeing trends, that’s I think that’s a lot more powerful to look at. And then you’re one to one if you’re covering that information on individual performance with your team members.

Andrea Palten
Okay, then how do you personally think artificial intelligence is changing customer service?

Adamo Maino
I think this is a huge area. I was just in the Consortium for service innovation last week, they had an event last week, their annual meeting, and there’s a lot of buzz here. And so I think, I think I’m not really sure sir, where it’s going to have the most impact. And now I’m sort of watching to see how well, things progress in this area, and how well companies can tackle it. I think one area I really like is in KCS. It is knowledge management and using natural language. So when customers ask a question, it’s not sort of something they have to really statically put in and on the back end, in that knowledge article, you have to just trust that the analyst is still thinking as the customer and putting it in, but it might be a very technical, you know, sort of piece of information. And so where I see AI is working really well is sort of picking up on the natural language that the person puts in, and then matching that with the article. I think that’s fantastic. And the other place where I really think this is gonna sort of bust open a lot of gates is how we process and the information that comes in with the customer, and where and how those cases get routed to. We use intelligence swarming, and so we don’t have tears, the case comes in. And then based on a certain skill set, it gets routed out to an appropriate team member. And I think that whole model needs to change in the sense of how we categorize things. And right now you give the customer select a category or subcategory, and then it gets to the analyst, and they change that, hopefully, based on what their initial, you know, sort of analysis is right. And I think that’s, I think that model is just very static and old. And I think what’s going to end up happening is that cases are going to come in the customer doesn’t have to select any category at all. And that can be assigned and routed through the intelligent swarming model to not only like the best person, but maybe a couple people that could solve that case together more effectively. And you can start bringing in things like sentiment analysis and look at how angry that customer is. And if that customer is super agitated, you know, you might want to pair that with somebody who’s fantastic at customer service, and then a suit, like a super, you know, sort of tech on top of that and have that team really sort of interact with that customer first. And I think that’s where you’re going to get a lot of power and not only solving the cases but having the customer feel very confident in that process. So yeah, a myriad of skills. let’s not let’s look at like you know, tagging the cases and maybe saying like, you know, in this case, can In these are the areas that had actually touched, it wasn’t just, you know, time cards and PSA, it was time cards plus Salesforce issues plus this plus that. And that’s really what the problem was about. or sort of, you know, our mindset has been like, it’s got a fitness a little bucket. And that’s just, it doesn’t do that anymore. We know, that’s not where the data should live, and how we should be looking at it.

Andrea Palten
Yeah, that’s really good. That’s a good way to think about that. All right. So my last question for you is, what is the number one advice that you have for customer service departments?

Adamo Maino
Stop being a manager, stop being a manager and be a coach. Don’t try to sort of, I mean, obviously, don’t micromanage. But I mean, stop thinking about it, as in some hierarchical thing, you know, I think, I think we’re changing the way we look at management structures. And, you know, we’re in an organization, you know, we have, we have a couple of roles, right, we have, like myself, I’ve got, I’ve got a team that I directly manage as a line manager, I’m also a director. And we have teams across the globe, and we’re all doing, you know, different things. And so the hierarchies are not the same, you’re not doing this sort of pyramid management model, you should just be a coach first, like, whatever your team consists of be a coach.

So start thinking about it that way, broaden your teams, you know, stop looking at teams, having to just be now in support, and maybe start thinking about things that are composed of support and other parts of the business and put them together. So if you start thinking about Okay, well, I’m just under coach right, then that model makes a lot more sense. I think that’s I think that’s a good sort of indicator where that is also where the industry is moving, as well.

Andrea Palten
Oh, yeah. Yeah, for sure. So let me ask you a follow up question on that. So when you are a coach, so you’re the director, and you are the coach? Does it ever blur lines about management? And how you are, you know, managing the team? Or is it very similar, where you’re kind of still the leader, and you’re the teacher? Is there anything that’s a lot different than being a manager besides the micromanaging part, and telling people what to do?

Adamo Maino
I think it’s just a mindset shift. I mean, if, you know, you call whatever you want, but I, you know, I think, you know, to me, like, you know, leader, you’re obviously you’re setting direction, but you’re not, don’t try to fill in every gap. You know, don’t try to take over every little thing. And, and, you know, even if you’re not a micromanager, like, you know, don’t run projects by yourself, you know, like, That’s ridiculous. Like, you know, your team should be running this, they should be making decisions. And so, letting your team make decisions and driving autonomy, and your coaching, you’re standing back, and you’re letting that happen. That’s where you want to be coached where things are at, you know, if they’re, if people start to fall down, pick them up, if they’re succeeding, and exceeding expectations, reward them. You know, that’s where we should be sort of focused like this, like holding the team up, right? Not looking, looking down. Whenever I do intro calls, I always say I work for my analysts. So if I’m, if we’re on a customer call, and they do the introductions, you know, I always say I work for this person, because I do that’s my job if I’m trying to help this person. So I work for them. And so I think that’s the sort of the biggest mind shift. I think that we all need to make that as managers and you know, stop. Stop thinking about ourselves that way.

Andrea Palten
Oh, I completely agree. I love that. And on that great note, we’re going to end today. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your time.

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