106: Fireside with Josh Magsam

106: Fireside with Josh Magsam

Josh Magsam joins me in the new Customer Support Leaders Fireside series. In these sessions, guests bring their own topics for a more relaxed, longer chat. Josh is in the room next-door to a fireside, and this time we talk about the role of Support in the wider CX space.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 106 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we have another fireside chats this time with Josh Magsam. I would like to welcome back to the podcast this week. Josh Magsam. Josh. It’s lovely to have you back for a fireside chat with me and you haven’t exactly bought a fireside but I understand there is one in the next room. So I think we’re allowing that this week. And welcome back.

Josh Magsam 0:53
Always good to be here. Yeah, the weather in Portland is just about right for a fireside chat. Maybe later this evening. Awesome. Yeah, I always love it.

Charlotte Ward 1:04
Yeah. Cool. Lovely to have you back. So, as with all my fireside chats, my guest chooses the topic, what would you like to talk about?

Josh Magsam 1:13
Well, there’s always so many great things to talk about and think about but, you know, a lot of the conversations I’ve been having had been around customer experience, how we measure it and how we we get the executive leadership C suite leadership to to buy into real investments in it, whether that’s technology people, whatever form the resources take. And, you know, you and I have chatted and some of the folks that manage different programmes are pregnant here. We have a lot of conversations around this. You know, you see very publicly a lot of executives and company leaders talking about how important the customer experience is, how they they want to support that they want to invest in And they do. And then so this isn’t sort of saying that people purely give it lip service and walk away. But it feels like a lot of times those investments don’t go in the right area. And then inevitably, there’s sort of a sense of, well, support isn’t worth investing in because we don’t get the return on it. And I have a lot of curiosity about where those gaps come up.

Charlotte Ward 2:25
Yeah, yeah. Um, well, let’s chew that over, because I was just gonna, I was just gonna ask you, where do you think those gaps come up? So I guess for me, it seems like there’s a big understanding piece here that’s missing. I think that there is a there is that support contributing to revenue, frankly, is not that well understood. Anyway, in the industry, operating is something that isn’t a cost centre. And I think therefore, that probably how that relates to sort of the customer experience as a whole. I think maybe that’s quite Colon pieces missing? What are your thoughts about?

Josh Magsam 3:04
Yeah, yeah, the the relationship between support. And you know, more broadly, customer experience and revenue is is always a tough one. And again, you see some places that I think are figuring it out and doing it well. But in a lot of instances, it sure feels like there still isn’t an emphasis on we’re going to measure the success, the customer experience purely by something like cset. And, you know, for all the talk, I think within the field of how outdated outmoded that is, it’s still is a primary indicator in more cases than it should be. It should inform some decisions, it shouldn’t drive decisions, I think. And then, you know, you start looking at things like cost per contact, or you know, if you’re running sort of a higher volume centre or I think another pain point that comes out of it is okay, we’ve had great customer support. great feedback sounds great. company’s growing hits kind of a growth point, starting to need to scale. So you have to find efficiencies in the workflow because purely adding, you know, x agents for every y contact isn’t gonna, it’s going to work under the budget. And so what was CNS? You know, kind of a loosely connected revenue generator starts to look like a cost centre, I think in the executive mindset of I’m seeing what it’s going to cost. I’m seeing sort of what feels like diminishing returns. And the cset thing tells me that I can keep adding money to this thing and not moving the needle, right. So I think that points to impart just a natural growth pain point, but also a lack of understanding about other metrics available. Or even digging into the datasets that are there, for example, are people looking at a NPS survey and then going back and forth really doing verbatim analysis right combing through trying to find the details that really opened up about the customer experience and where they should invest? Or is it basically just looking broadly that our NPS go up? Did it go down? What percentage of our you know passives converted to promoters etc?

Charlotte Ward 5:19
Yeah, it’s still. Yeah, it’s still embryonic, isn’t it? Yes. Martha is still in very early stage of great

Josh Magsam 5:29
great term embryonic I loved it.

Charlotte Ward 5:31
Yeah. Yeah, that’s one of my favourite was startup word. Use it quite a lot day to day. Yeah, that point, you know, you made about looking at cset or looking at MPs. And I think that or in there is interesting because any of those metrics is quite often taken in isolation, isn’t it and interested in Next week, I have I’ve already I’ve already recorded a panel the next week on metrics. So we we deep dive on metrics quite a lot. But I think one thing that I’ve often thought about metrics anyway is how they’re often taken in isolation. And, and as you said, you can throw money at a team service. And a single metric may very well stay static or climb, hope claim a tiny amount, you see some small positive uplift, but it’s not proportional to the money you throw, necessarily without that service. And so that I think is the disconnect that you were talking about that as you just said, that sort of increasing investment for compared like a perceived comparatively little return. Probably adds fuel to that fire of the cost centre, doesn’t it?

Josh Magsam 6:56
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know one factor that I think crops up and I can think of an example that I dealt with at one point in the past is you know there is a need to invest in growing the team felt like headcount was the right move tool optimization wasn’t going to really get the gains needed we just have to have people were just at that point. And Okay, so let’s grow the team and you know, you’re later you look around you go, Well, this team is twice the size it was a year ago. And costs have gone up accordingly. sales volume is through the roof, that’s great way pacing projections. But at the same time, that team are not delivering pound for pound what is expected? Well, why is that the case? Well, you know, you dig in, you figure out what their scope expanded, right? So there’s a little bit of mentality of we’re gonna add all these different people, they need to be able to do more than, quote unquote, just support right. So let’s Let’s see if we can have some of those people contribute to sales initiatives that kind of crossover with social media management or something like that. And those those, you know, overlapping workflows can make a lot of sense. And particularly in startup land, you know, I get it, people have to wear a lot of hats. But you turn around you go, Well, here’s the deal you had, I don’t remember the number. Let’s say it was five agents. Now you’ve got 10. And your managers looking around saying, but our volume went up 150%. And now my people are also working on email campaigns, and they’re working on outreach, and they’re doing some knowledge base curation. And so they’re doing a lot of other high value things. Maybe I do have a way to measure those. Maybe we can talk about deflection as something that is contributing to and everything else. I’ve seen that tied to revenue and it can be successful to an extent, but it’s no longer quote unquote, support and support alone that this team is doing right. So But at the top level, you just look at the budget you go, that’s how much we’re spending and the cset maybe was hovering 97%. Last year, maybe it’s 96%. This year. Why are we spending twice as much for looks like a drop in customer satisfaction and overall customer experience? And it is hard to get that seat at the table to really unpack that and show the whole picture.

Charlotte Ward 9:26
Okay, I think absolutely. I think part of the problem as well maybe I’m just thinking while you’re talking maybe part of the problem is also that support is relatively fast moving, I think compared to some other parts of the business. And certainly compared to what I would think of as a more traditional cx or customer success role and the associated metrics that go with that and the associated programmes that go with that around, you know, understanding the customer journey and all that have those kind of things that they’re slower moving? I think, in the metrics in support, it’s just change all the time.

Josh Magsam 10:09
I agree. Yeah, you tend to see support, you know, on a day to day support is going to have very specific cadence that’s very different from an engineering team. From a sales team for a marketing team, there’s a sense of immediacy, you’re, you’re in real time with customers, even if it’s an email, you have a much more immediate turnaround and, and, you know, it’s not what what’s the scope of this project? You know, you’re not gonna sit down Go, what’s the scope of this ticket? Can I plot it out? You know, you have to get the answer, you have to get resolved. Right. And so then you look for those top level metrics and handle time, contact resolution, all that great. But it is very hard to sort of say, hey, the scope of this team and what they’re doing a day to day basis, it’s gonna, it’s gonna change very rapidly and I mean, you look at someplace like geek commerce where, you know, a platform might decide to roll out a new promotion at the drop of a hat, suddenly that team’s you know, their their plan coverage day went out the roof just because a new 50% off promotion went out and maybe went out with a wrong coupon code, you know, which was corrected Five minutes later, but not before 400 people tried to use it. You know, and so all those sort of things happen much more real time decisions made further up the chain have an immediate and deep impact and that can, you know, one rough afternoon can throw off a weak cset score by multiple points and so easily, easily, easily because anything any Support Manager will tell you. I mean, I still remember one of my teams legendarily the product he pushed out a change to a very central part of the checkout process, company’s page. And it just it was just one of those case studies in unintentional Bad UX everyone thought of a great Sunday renlund like, oh, now that it’s out in the real world, we can see the problem. And for the next four years, when I looked at the week over week data that one week spike stood out. And we were going volume 30% year over year. And still after four years, we did more volume in that one week, thanks to that product rollout the effort did. And it’s, it is a marker of like, Yeah, we got some FA Q’s, it took us forever to get out from under that people were angry with social media, you know, the support team is going to feel that and need that impact. But if you sit down, look at the quarterly numbers, you know, all that kind of gets smoothed out. But from the C suite that might look like support, it’s just not killing it. What’s going on down there. Right. You know, it might be just one or two really bad bumps that throw things off. Mm hmm.

Charlotte Ward 12:50
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That what happens in a day just as it is, is a bump on your graph for a week that shows up like a sore thumb for a quarter? Absolutely, yeah. And then it can just be a few hours of hell, but boy does do you have to live with that graph for a really long time.

Josh Magsam 13:11
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I. And, again, it’s the executive level is going to look for and I understand they’re going to look for that quarter of a quarter view, they’re going to look at the annual view. And they want to see those numbers smoothing out and it is very different in support. You just don’t have that same measured cadence, you’re going to have to, you’re kind of at the whims, a little bit of how the teams operate, even in the best intention situations, even the companies have the best communication and you know, I’m not throwing other departments under the bus. I mean, I’ve worked with teams with engineers and the product team were just super tentative to support always following up making sure that they were correcting an issue if it happened. It’s just, it’s just support is the front line so that it’s going to happen there first.

Charlotte Ward 13:58
Yeah, absolutely. You don’t always have all the answers either D, I mean, you don’t necessarily always have the, the root cause for some of these issues sometimes I mean, it may be that poor release, but other times it’s just something just bad days come along, right and, and I find that I find that really super frustrating a to be in the situation where I have to explain that one day a sore thumb the three months after. But then like when you can’t really necessarily get to the root cause of it, because it’s some kind of outage somewhere else or whatever that has an impact. You can sort of draw a loose line, but then what can you do sometimes you’re like, yeah, that was just a bad day these things happen.

Josh Magsam 14:45
Yeah. 100%.

And so I, you know, I think kind of to drift back to like, how does support end up in this in this perspective? I mean, I think part of it is, it sounds like maybe it sounds like sour grapes. But you know, it is kind of part of being there on the front line is you’re going to take the hit both internal and external, I think it’s when there’s a dip when there’s a downturn, you handle it the best you can. If, you know if, if executive leadership have a concern, they’re gonna look and say, we need to cut some costs, we need to identify low performance of support struggling or by our definition, we have to get there. So I think coming back around to saying we talk a lot of things to support leaders about how we can better educate senior management, executive management on our support functions, and I don’t think we figured out how to do that effectively in most cases. I, I I talked to a few people here and there that feel like they’ve got a good rapport going on, but it seems like even there every every so often, the question comes up like well, what this support team really, really driving value, you know, are they really they’re really delivering How can I tie you know, every the cost per ticket to every dollar of revenue and No concrete way, and it feels like it’s kind of the eternal challenge.

Charlotte Ward 16:05
Yeah, yeah, that that thing that we were just talking about the bat, understanding how you have those conversations is, is, is kind of really important because I think everything we were just saying there around the spikes and the pace of support and the cadence and the influences, actually, I think can be quite isolating for support and quite isolating for support leadership as well, unless you’re able to build those bridges and those bridges can you can put a lot of effort into them and as you just said, they can stick around for a while and then people start to question again. So you’ve got to keep having those conversations and, and keep being able to actually do some gymnastics around, around around how you draw the lines in like every new avenue in almost creative ways as well. Right? So how many different ways You can have the same conversation that your team contributes to that why to cx?

Josh Magsam 17:07
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Charlotte Ward 17:13
Yeah. So, so what was the What do you think is the final part then? I mean, what’s the what is the journey we need to make to get from support to cx? I mean, is that really is that really what we should be doing? Should should we be aiming to consistently be part of the wider cx initiative and accompany anything?

Josh Magsam 17:34
I think so. And, you know, for all the maybe grumbling if it sounds like like that, from my end, on this side, I do think we’ve made inroads you know, in the field significantly, I mean, support is talked about at different levels. It is not purely a cost centre and even if there is sort of a cost centre component to the analysis, it is not purely that in a lot of cases Companies you know, certainly the the startup revolution has has brought support to the forefront and support people have worked their way up to VP positions and C suite roles. And so it really has changed the game a little bit. But I, for me, I do think that that kind of is the journey is it’s hard to say, you know, customer experience starts with support and might end with support. And then I think that the thing to do is to challenge what is the nature of support? And again, some organisations I think, are really tackling this broadly. Is it just the CS team, or is it saying everything that we’re doing is supporting the customer at some point, whether it’s the accounting team trying to figure out, you know, our accounts payables and getting our vendors paid on time is it our IT team, making sure that, you know, our cloud tools are up to speed and people are able to sync up and deliver the product and so I think the more it becomes holistic and the pain points get spread out a bit more and support is seen as an integral part of the overall product delivery process, then I think that does change the game considerably. If support becomes part of like it’s gonna cost us X to get this product out the door. And then to make sure customers come back and can enjoy it that’s sort of decouple that sense of we’re just sort of paying x money to answer questions for angry customers or paying X dollars to give refunds back and, and I think some leaders are surprised. Extra two execs are surprised when they hear Support Manager speak up and say, Yeah, I don’t think we should be handling manual refunds, or I don’t think we should be doing some of these processes, you know, over that’s what your support team does. No, no, no, those are things we can automate. Those are things we could build tools to do. Like we have smart people that can do more and they can be part of this voice of the customer programme. And they can contribute towards sales goals that contribute these areas. And I think when you show how support is already part of that process and wants to be part of that process, you you surprise some people and you also you know, kind of expand that seat at the table that we keep talking about.

Charlotte Ward 20:20
Yeah, yeah. I think that I like that idea. They’re just surprising people. I think that’s a great point. So I I’m gonna, I’m going to say that thank you very much Josh. As always, I love chewing over support cud with you. If that if I can say that. Likewise for good does it but

Josh Magsam 20:47
good. I grew up in the Midwest dairy country, so good for me.

Charlotte Ward 20:51
Chewing the support cud there maybe that maybe that’s another series for this has been awesome.

Josh Magsam 21:00
Awesome, thanks so much. Oh,

Charlotte Ward 21:07
that’s it for today go to customersupportleaders.com/106 for the show notes and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

A little disclaimer about the podcast, blog interviews and articles on this site: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text and podcast belong solely to the author or interviewee, and not necessarily to any employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.