This week, I had the pleasure of talking to the brilliant Brian Manthenga!
Brian is currently Technical Support Manager at Fiix Software. Fiix is a cloud-based CMMS, revolutionizing how companies schedule, organize, and track maintenance. Brian has been at Fiix for three years, and in leadership for the last two.
Hello Brian! Nice to catch up with you again. We got talking at the Support Driven Expo in Portland this year. What was your main takeaway from the conference?
That there are a lot of smart passionate people who are focused on making the customer experience better!
Very much so! I’d love to hear about how you got into Customer Support.
I have always enjoyed technology. I’m that guy in the family you call up when you want a recommendation for what TV to buy and the person you call to figure out your new software and fix your your computer. Now I just get paid for it!
I joined a company of about 30 people and have seen in grow upwards of 200. I’ve moved from tech support engineer to support lead and then into management in that time.
Very early on I identified that I loved data and process optimization. I am lucky to work for a company that values, supports and nurtures your passions.
When you made that transition away from individual contributor, to leadership, what were your first challenges?
Stopping myself from answering all the questions! I had to remind myself that my job required different focuses. If I am busy fighting the fires that means I am not spending time focussing on the root causes of this fire and the next.
What’re the skills that a CS leader needs that might differ from other leaders?
It’s about the customer. It goes beyond focusing on my teams metrics, it needs to focus on the meaning of those metrics in the wider lens of the customers experience.
Added to that, you need a ton of empathy, patience and passion – combined with rigorous planning and execution. I love the data and metrics involved. It’s how I measure my team’s engagement and their growth.
What’s been the hardest thing you’ve learned?
It’s not to be underestimated, the power of the interactions we have with our customers. Post sales, CS has the clearest view of what’s working and what’s not. We help guide the way to the golden moments.
Can you tell me more about those golden moments?
All of us, in our buying journey, pay for a tool or service to meet a perceived gap. That means, at some point, someone convinced you that the solution you paid for, was what you wanted. I believe it is the Support Orgs role to just prove you right.
For instance, in the adoption phase, your major touchpoints are with the Support team. At this time you are deciding whether the product meets your needs and delivers on its value. So if there are any value gaps because of the onboarding process or within the product or service, then we are usually the first to hear about them. So when we highlight and showcase the value and lead you to that “aha” moment, then that is a golden moment.
That’s so true, and great when it happens! So, has leadership been different than you thought it might be?
There are a lot more meetings than I expected! I wish I’d realised, early on, that it’s OK to say no to meetings – especially recurring meetings for which there are consistently no action items for you.
And I think people generally assume that CS leadership is merely about keeping the ship steady. It’s so much more than that.
Do you have any recommendations for resources?
Pay attention to your peers in the industry. Whatever new thing you are dealing with, the chances are, that someone has seen and solved for this. Build your network.
My signature question – how do you sign off an email?
Have an awesome day.
Thanks, Brian! You have an awesome day, too. I think you’re absolutely right, Customer Support has the biggest influence over how your customers experience your product.
More here next week from another awesome CS Leader!