What Is It Like to Work on the Product Team at Kustomer?

If you’re interested in joining the Kustomer team, check out our Careers Page.

What is it actually like to work here at Kustomer? We’re going to help answer this question in a series of interviews with folks from every department to tell you about their unique experience, and how it applies to anyone looking to join our team.

Here’s Peter Johnson, VP of Product at Kustomer, to share what it’s like to build our powerful platform for customer experience:

Q: What is unique about working on and building the Kustomer platform?

PJ: We get the chance to totally challenge the status-quo in the support space and re-imagine what a modern CRM should look like. We get to ask questions like, “Could ticketing be done better?” or “How can we improve on legacy routing models?” These are old problems being reimagined in modern tech, and we’re at the forefront of them.

Q: What skills and programming languages do we recommend applicants know and use on our team?

PJ: Project Managers and Designers don’t need to be able to code at Kustomer! Though it doesn’t hurt to know HTML/CSS or Javascript. I think the most important skill is being able to learn quickly. Yes, having previous experience leading a dev team, designing in Sketch, working in Agile, etc. are all helpful traits. However, the best PMs/Designers are open-minded, data-driven, curious, and genuinely give a shit about the products they design.

Q: What features are the product team most proud of?

PJ: Many come to mind: Obviously the Customer timeline, Synchronous and Asynchronous Chat Product, and Chat Conversation Assistant are highlights. Though I’d say that I’m even more amazed at what we were able to ship considering how quickly we shipped it, with such a small team, and in such a short timeframe.

Q: How does Kustomer set up its Product team for growth and success?

PJ: We try to inject data into the decision-making process as much as possible—both qualitatively and quantitatively. Existing customer feature usage metrics, as well as feedback, are extremely important in our future feature decision-making. There’s a quote I love that says “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

Q: If you had to describe the Product team in one word, what would it be?

PJ: Kustomer. We commonly use the phrase “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.” At the end of the day, no phrase or one word sums up our team better. The results our team’s hard work and output can be seen in the Kustomer product.

Q: What kinds of things does the Product team do as a team outside of work?

PJ: A few recent events we’ve done: a ping-pong outing at Fat Cat, lunches in Bryant Park, drinks at the Pennsy—we definitely have a lot of fun as a team.

Q: Where have other members of the Product team worked in the past?

PJ: Social networks, CRM software companies, real estate management software, health startups, video chat software, and more.

Q: What are some of the benefits of working at Kustomer?

PJ: Beyond things like great health insurance and snacks, I’d have to say ownership. You have the chance to design and be a part of launching a totally original product that has your fingerprints on it, and is used by thousands of people every day. It’s a really satisfying feeling to own a product end-to-end.

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If all of this sounds makes you think, “Wow, Kustomer sounds like the kind of place I want to work,” then we have some good news. We’re growing fast, and are hiring for our Product team in our NY office RIGHT NOW! If you’re interested in joining our team, apply directly here.

How CES Can Help Your CX and Product Teams Work Better Together

Brandon McFadden is Kustomer’s Customer Success & Support Manager, you can follow him on Twitter at @brandontonio.

This post was adapted from a workshop delivered at Support Driven Expo in Portland. We had a blast sharing and learning with the Support Driven audience, check out their recap here, as well one from Jeremy Watkin at FCR that discusses our presentation as well!

While they may not always understand each other, your Customer Experience (CX) and Product teams actually do want the same things. However, they speak two different languages. With the right metrics, specifically using Customer Effort Scores, you can make informed, data-backed decisions from customer feelings that will ensure you’re making the right choice.

Product goals typically focus on adding new features, achieving parity with competitors, or fixing issues that are affecting adoption, ease of use, or the ability to wow your customers. Their job is to anticipate what the customer will want next.

On the other hand, CX is usually focused on what customers say they want now—because they hear from them every day, all day. CX wants faster handle times, lower email volumes, reduced complexity, and the power to wow your customers.

When these two teams work in sync, amazing things can happen. CX has especially deep insight into customers wants and needs based on thousands of firsthand interactions, while product has the full scope of your company’s technological capabilities, business goals, and product roadmap, and are great at coming up with new innovations before customers even know what they want. However, there’s often a recurring problem in the Product / CX dynamic. When Product has the window of time to ask CX for their input on what “problems to tackle next”, the two sides can disagree. When looking at where customers spend the most time using the platform, and where they’re having the most difficulties, CX will advocate for smoothing out a more complex problem that affects fewer users. Product will often lean towards reducing the highest quantity (because that represents a larger base of users and a more frequent touchpoint), so that a greater number of users will have an even faster experience.

While seemingly different, there is one key ingredient: Both teams want to wow customers! Finally, common ground!

Another common language we all speak are shared company goals. The aim of all these features and fixes are the same: more renewals, more referrals, more repeat customers, and faster resolutions. Making decisions about how to get there can be tricky. This is because it is hard to measure the feelings of your customers, yet feelings are how humans make decisions.

At this point most teams will most likely look to NPS or CSAT to help give direction towards the issues to focus on fixing, but those traditional metrics can often be very misleading. Scenarios wherein a customer gives you an NPS score of “10” may only actually recommend you when they find someone who they feel is just like them (as smart and with the patience to put up with the complex support issues they faced). Most of the time, when the moment comes for them to make the recommendation their NPS score said they would, they don’t do it. Likewise, CSAT may provide a very high 9/10 rating of your amazing agents, but what the customer is left feeling is “why did I even have to call in the first place?”. Feelings are the gateway to actions. So while they like spending time with your agents, it doesn’t mean they will feel comfortable continuing to deal with these issues (churn) or suggesting you to a friend. This is all because of the expectation or effort gap.

So, how do you get to the root of this disagreement in expectations AND quantify feelings? It seems like the correct course should be obvious. Product is in the right on this one surely, the fix that affects the most users (in this example it’s improving refund requests) should be completed first. Why would the CX team think otherwise?

This is where CES shines. As CX pros, we see a different side to the story in this chart. The problem that is only affecting a minority of users (plan correction, in this case), is where you’re letting customers down the most. Sure, it’s lower quantity/volume than the other issues, but those customers are having a far worse experience based on their expectations, and taking up just as much of CX’s attention/time as the other issues. CX hears their complaints, and their frustration is visceral. From your customers’ perspective, it seems like making their experience way better would only require you to “just change a bit of code” (cut to thousands of engineers slamming their heads against their desks). AHT is important, but only tells part of this story, but CES makes it much clearer.

Measuring CES puts the severity of the problem in stark relief, and puts a hard number next to what your CX team has been feeling all along. Now it’s easy to see that these customers are doing more than spending more time on the phone—they’re actively struggling to deal with your company, and you’re probably losing them as a result. This issue is even greater if you’re a startup designed to “save you time” or “simplify” our lives, you’re literally training your customers to expect everything (including service) to be smarter, faster, and effortless. This problem is even worse if you are in an industry where external factors can slow up resolutions (medical, financial, insurance, etc). Improving the other issues on this list shouldn’t be neglected, but prioritize the customers who are unhappy first. Most won’t notice if their attempt to get a refund was 15 seconds faster (a 25% efficiency gain!), but they will definitely appreciate when a more complex issue becomes a breeze when the “industry norm” is so much more—and will likely save your CX team more time in the long run.

There’s even a school of thought that says you shouldn’t fix those simple problems that your team is great at handling and consistently giving that wow experience because it is another chance to exceed expectations. This is because every interaction is a chance to build a deeper relationship with your customers, and if you’re delighting thousands of them with a simple call or email, you’re deepening each one of those connected feelings in the process. This is despite having a problem in the first place. Remember, you are often judged more on your resolution than you are on the problem itself. Of course, you want every experience to be as smooth as possible and for customers to never have a problem, but by not trying to eliminate these homerun issues entirely you get easy opportunities to impress and excite your customers. Certainly, something to consider when making the case to not always simply fix the highest volume issues. And, with CES, you’ll always know if those issues are beginning to wear your audience’s patience thin.

In my experience, Product and CX are on the same page 95% of the time, but they may not always be speaking the same language. So when there is a disconnect, it’s always down to looking at the data to clear up those disagreements. Ultimately, CX deals with feelings directly more than any other team, and are therefore tasked with quantifying the qualitative. For that reason, having a platform that measures CES can drive CX and Product teams to make your customers’ experience exceed their expectations.

Product Updates: Platform Improvements, Channel Updates, Integrations, and More

Our engineering and product teams have been busy launching new features, adding new integrations, and making your top requests a reality. Here are the highlights of what we’ve added in this past quarter, in case you missed any.

Localization

Many customer service teams today have to support a global customer base. Kustomer has launched Localization, a suite of features that allow you to easily detect, respond, and provide help to a multilingual customer base. Customers and support teams deserve a seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel. Read more in our blog post.

Channel Updates

Internal Knowledgebase

We’ve launched our Internal Knowledgebase, to let users access their public and internal content from anywhere within our platform. Public Content includes the categories and articles available to customers via your public KB, with agents being able to share links to specific articles with your customers. Internal Content are the categories and articles that are only accessible within Kustomer, and cannot be shared publicly. To learn more, check out our help article.

For example, use Internal KB to document support escalation processes, making it easy for agents to find when the time is needed.

Chat iOS and Android SDK

We’ve added many new features to Chat iOS and Android SDKs.

Both Chat SDKs have Localization features enabled. The Kustomer mobile SDK will automatically change the text strings to match the language of the device your customers are using. The SDK supports both right-to-left (RTL) and left-to-right (LTR) formatted languages. There are over 50 languages translated out of the box.

Additionally, we’ve added iOS SDK support for many important Chat features:

  • Conversational Assistant: a pre-conversational feature that helps your team collect information from customers automatically, before reaching the agent.
  • Chat Availability: a feature that incorporates Business Hours into the chat experience, allowing admins to determine what the after-hours experience will be for chat users.
  • Chat Deflection: helps to set proper expectations for your customers with estimated reply times, and diverts traffic when your Chat team doesn’t respond, by directing your customers to other channels.

 

Platform Improvements

Custom Object Search

Searches aren’t just for customers or conversations anymore. Now you can create a search where the results are your custom objects (Kobjects). The possibilities are endless: you can find the most expensive orders, look through all of negative CSAT ratings from the past week, and more. You’ll understand your business in a manner far more advanced than a traditional ticketing system. Read more in our blog post.

Custom Roles and Permissions

We’ve launched new custom roles and permissions for Kustomer users. Now, admins can create custom roles to match the way they’d like users to interact with Kustomer. You can define roles based on job responsibilities or access levels, whatever matches your team structure. For example, create a “Reporting” Role that has Read Only access to Conversations, Customers, and Searches, but full access to Custom and Standard Reporting.

Delete Customer

For those of you who receive GDPR Right To Be Forgotten requests, we’ve added a feature to permanently delete all of a specific customer’s data. Customer Delete is a hard delete that loops through all the items related to the customer (conversations, custom objects, messages, etc) and permanently deletes it.

New Integrations

Twitter

Customer service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the last two years. This is why we added Twitter to our platform. Now, teams can connect Twitter with all their existing support channels, to leverage omnichannel support and provide a great customer experience. Read more about it in our blog post here.

Magento

You get the most out of Kustomer once you’ve connected all of your customer information and data. As an official technology partner, our Magento integration allows you to personalize your support based on your Magento customer profiles, including your customers’ online behavior, their purchases, and their return history. Read more about it in our blog post here.

That’s it for product updates this quarter, follow @Kustomer on social media for to-the-minute updates of our new features and integrations!

Kustomer + Aircall — Use Support Data for Better Voice Calls

We’re excited to announce our partnership with Aircall, an innovative company that makes it easy for sales and support teams to integrate voice calls with their existing tools. Our companies both share a vision of helping Support team productivity and the first-touch customer experience. With this partnership you can now add your Aircall phone experience to the rich customer information you already have in Kustomer.

More About Aircall

Aircall is a next generation cloud-based global phone solution that allows businesses to set up their phone operations quickly. Aircall customers are able to deploy a phone system in minutes, provide local numbers in over 40 countries and integrate their phone channel with essential business tools like Kustomer — streamlining their existing workflows and transforming the way sales and support teams interact with their customers.

How Do Kustomer & Aircall Integrate Together?

The Aircall voice channel integrates easily into the Kustomer timeline and the rest of the Kustomer platform.

Here are some of the integration benefits:

  • More Productive Team: A deep integration between a call and the rest of the Support experience means that team members can be more effective
  • Improved Call Quality & Customer Loyalty: High quality calls lead to happier customers that are more engaged
  • Customer Upsells: Support team members can even leverage the Kustomer Workspace to turn inbounds calls into opportunities for sales or subscriptions upgrades

Benefits of Aircall & Kustomer

Using Aircall & Kustomer together enables you to get to the right information faster when a customer calls. We put all of the customer’s information together in one place to help you deliver an improved customer experience overall.

See how the integration works.

Deliver effortless, personalized customer service.

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