40: Looking Beyond the Numbers with Mike Redbord

40: Looking Beyond the Numbers with Mike Redbord

Mike Redbord thinks that as we scale, we should work hard to retain the storytelling habits that are natural in small teams.


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Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to the customer support leaders podcast. This is Episode 40. And I’m Charlotte Ward. The theme for this week is looking beyond the numbers. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I would like to welcome to the podcast today, Michael Redbord. Mike, would you like to introduce yourself?

Mike Redbord 0:39
Yeah, absolutely thrilled to be here. My name is Mike. I spent about 10 years at HubSpot, building you know, great customer relationships and eventually as support teams and the success team. I’ve got a lot of experience in hiring and going international and scaling up big teams. So I’m thrilled to be here and share some of that knowledge today with everybody.

Charlotte Ward 0:57
So Mike, the topic for this week is looking beyond the numbers? So I’m interested in particularly what your relationship is with spreadsheets and dashboards beyond the standalone numbers, what what is it you’re actually trying to extract? And where do you want those numbers to take you?

Mike Redbord 1:13
Yeah, I think this is actually a really, really interesting topic, especially for teams that are growing really quickly. Because when you’re small, I think you know what good looks like and you know, when you have a customer in front of you, or when a peer of yours or you know, a member of your team has a customer in front of them that they’re just doing a fantastic job with. And you can call that whatever you want delight or something and you can try to measure it in certain ways, whether it’s NPS or CSAT or CES or something, but you know, when you see it, I think as you get bigger, sometimes, you know, you tend to manage by numbers and you manage more off the spreadsheet and that’s a very natural thing. But what that does as you build is it can sometimes bury those stories and bury what you know greatness can look like inside like the little crevices of that spreadsheet and managers and leaders don’t tend to see them. So the question then is how do you while you build and while you had all these metrics still continue to provide that world-class customer experience, head off that next issue, like really be delightful and on tone and know, you know, know who you’re talking to. And I think that that is where the story’s lie. And so I love it when teams can share those kinds of stories and kind of stand those up as examples of the right way to do the work. And it’s like, yes, sure I did. I did 20 cases today. But here’s the one that is like the perfect case, because this is what happened with the customer. Right? And in almost every case, it’s the focus on the customer. That will be the best possible story that you could tell.

Charlotte Ward 2:37
So you’re looking really for anecdotes.

Mike Redbord 2:40
Yeah. And the trick is when you’re small, all of your conversation is around those anecdotes, because every single customer matters so much, and there’s relatively fewer conversations, but as you get bigger the conversation, you know, verges more toward you know, what percentage of my quota Did I hit today or this week and the conversation shifts and it’s just so important not to lose the short game and the small ball and think about every customer actually matters. And how do we celebrate moments and tell stories? Because humans are really good storytellers. And we like hearing stories. And we tend to glom on to stories. How do we tell stories that we want people to emulate? And we want to shine a light on and celebrate?

Charlotte Ward 3:14
How do you strike the balance between the data and the stories then in terms of how you project that within the business, or any anywhere external to the support team? Who would understand both sides of that?

Mike Redbord 3:25
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think that the key to having the space both mentally or in your, you know, monthly deck that you use to summarise your performance of the month, I think the key is to actually keep the metrics really, really simple and thin. So there’s some support teams that have these really sophisticated like radar charts of, you know, average handle time, average response time and number of tickets, like all these things, and there’s nothing wrong with measuring all that. But if you make the conversation about all those data points, we only have so much room in our heads. And stories, while they’re really powerful, they take a fair amount of energy today. Just keep the metrics and the conversation about the metrics, as simple as you can. Did you have the NPS that you wanted? one number, and like when you tell the story and metrics, keep it dead simple. So you can spend a lot of time on the stories and then tell the stories really deeply and almost to the point of like pageantry, right, because you really want to have these things, be the things people focus on. And you never know, as you tell the story of what people will pick up on. When you tell the story of the great NPS. There’s only one takeaway in there. And you tell the human story of a customer that was really in a mess and how you know, somebody went above and beyond to get them out of it. There’s all sorts of different things that different people will kind of attach themselves to and find kind of shiny objects and exciting stuff.

Charlotte Ward 4:38
I couldn’t agree more and actually wants one thing that I often say when I’m coaching support in the business is you’re absolutely right with it with a number there’s only one thing you can say in a number is only in the wider business ever a broadcast. You’re only ever pushing out a number saying this is where we are now. This is where we are now. This is where we are now. Where stories and naturally conversational and People will pick up on different things and other parts of the business can attach bits of the story to their measures of success as well, which I think is really key to not only building a greater understanding of what support is and the value that support brings, but actually how different parts of the business can relate to support and I think that is in the stories is not in the numbers.

Mike Redbord 5:21
Yeah, I just see small teams are so good at telling the stories. And then as you get bigger, there’s this tendency to want to mechanise and operationalize support, especially support, it’s pretty easy to mechanise it, there’s numbers and you can wrap as many numbers as you want around the thing. Doing so really does tip the balance of you know, focus right away from that storytelling and prevents you from being as good as you once were. Right. Because if you’re going to just focus on all these metrics and stuff, it’s going to pull you away to where you came from. That could be good, but that could also be dangerous. If that doesn’t create room for storytelling and for people to see themselves in it and everything you just said it’s a very interesting, dynamic and balance as you grow

Charlotte Ward 5:59
And wants to start Focusing on nothing but the numbers, then that’s the only thing you’re ever going to focus on. All you can do then is perform to the numbers.

Mike Redbord 6:06
Yeah. And when you perform to the numbers, you tend not to beat your numbers either, which is the devil in there. You know, if everyone’s managing to X number of cases per day, you’re not going to beat x because the game becomes just do X,

Charlotte Ward 6:19
Even if then you do occasionally be x, okay, you’ve just all you’ve done is reset the bar,

Mike Redbord 6:24
You’ve reset the bar and there’s no incentive for beating X really. But there’s always an incentive for telling a great customer story because they’re just lovely and people love hearing them and finding themselves in them and sharing them.

Charlotte Ward 6:40
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/40 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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