129: Support’s Relationship to Product with Andrea Saez

129: Support’s Relationship to Product with Andrea Saez

Andrea Saez joins me for the first time, where we talk about capturing all customer conversations and using that feedback to validate the product roadmap.


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 129 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about supports relationship to the product team. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I’d like to welcome to the podcast today. Andrea Saez. Andrea its lovely to have you join me for the first time, would you like to introduce yourself?

Andrea Saez 0:42
Great. It’s really nice to be here. So my name is Andrea and I am currently part of the prodpad team. And I take care of product growth and education. It’s definitely been interesting journey, I started actually as part of the support team, and set up the entire support framework. And then slowly as the years have gone by, I have now migrated to be part of the product team. So I understand I have had exposure to both the support site as well as product side

Charlotte Ward 1:15
as awesome, which is a very, very good reason for you to be here today, because we’re talking about supports relationship to product this week. So I think that one thing I always say about this relationship is it’s one of the best investments that an organisation can make is like having really clear procedures, a really strong feedback loop between support and product. Has that been your experience? Have you found particular parts of this relationship work particularly? Well?

Andrea Saez 1:47
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I having been in both teams, I can tell you that as part of support, it’s, it’s frustrating when you’re part of an organisation where you don’t have visibility over the roadmap, you don’t know what’s coming up, you don’t know how to speak to your customers. So you know, it can get really frustrating. Because you’re the front line support, you’re there to try to help your customers as best you can. And if you don’t have that transparency, it can be really, really hard. So I definitely understand that side of things. And being part of product now. Not having that relevant information on having that feedback to validate the ideas and the problems you’re trying to solve. Obviously puts a damper on things. So it’s it’s a relationship that, you know, works both ways. And I think every organisation should try to be as transparent as possible.

Charlotte Ward 2:41
Yeah, it’s a it’s I think, absolutely everything you said there i think is worth investing in. I think investment in this sense probably means certainly process, doesn’t it? If not tooling? Have you found any things that are? Like, are there any aspects on process or tooling that you found, over your experience have worked particularly well?

Andrea Saez 3:06
Well, obviously, being part of proc iwi is prepared not to, like take my own horn. But when it’s when it comes to collecting feedback, I always say, Don’t limit the ways in which you do that, whether it’s through support, which whatever tools they might be using, whether it’s helpscout, or Zendesk or intercom, you know, social and email conversations, your sales team, you know, open up those channels, because the more silos you add, the more difficult it is for people to reach you. And people might just give up and just not talk to you. Right, you don’t want that you want people to feel comfortable reaching out and in any way that they want. And so the gathering and the collecting, as I always say, yeah, just open it up, open up process. And what’s really important and we’re really has an impact is what you’re doing with that stuff, right? So that’s what we use profit for. And that’s one of the purposes behind PowerPoint is to provide this space where you can put in all that feedback, regardless of the channel, and then start using that feedback to validate your product backlog.

Charlotte Ward 4:15
Yeah, I really like the idea of like, not limiting the feedback and opportunities for customers. Because I think that in in support, I’m certainly guilty of this, of just thinking of the official support channels as the way we gather you know, with the right tagging mechanism or may or maybe we’re if we’re being like really diligent, we’re capturing that freeform text in surveys or something. But actually like thinking about this much more holistically and taking all the feedback opportunities that you have with customers is really great advice, actually. Um, how do you what about the other half of that loop then the product to support what what have you found has been potentially point of frictions that you describe you describe some of the earlier just that kind of sense of being kept in the dark or in terms of like what’s coming down the pike on the roadmap, or, you know, I guess maybe also the part of the frustration I found is, knowing that you’re giving all this great feedback to product and not having a sense of what’s being done with it. Yeah,

Andrea Saez 5:23
absolutely. And so while that’s like an hour talk right there, so I think I try to keep it short. So there’s, there’s different workflows or processes, you can apply to that. The first is how do you communicate to your team, what’s coming up. And part of that is sharing your roadmap. We are fortunate enough to not just share a roadmap internally, but we also share a roadmap with our customer. So it is something that’s available on our website, which makes it really, really clear to everyone what’s happening. And the second aspect to that is, we don’t talk about features, we talk about problems to solve for opportunities. And we frame that around what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and essentially how it benefits the customer. So we kind of change that conversation a little bit. The second is around, obviously the frustration of like he said, what happens when you send something in and it feels like it’s going to a black hole of like, you know, nothingness? So the first, the first thing we do is everybody in the team that manages support is specifically works with this frame of mind of asking why. So when a new piece of feedback comes through, we just always make sure that we ask, you know, hey, that’s really great about can you tell me a little bit more about what problem you’re having, or why it is that you need this. And so that gets the support team to think about things for a more product t perspective, so to speak. And it gets them to understand what it is the product needs and how it is a product process kind of works. So in that sense, the support team that has this product thinking, right, so they get to be a little bit more involved. Then once things get into prodpad, because we’re managing multiple channels, we do have one, actually, in this case, it’s me that’s responsible for kind of triage in that feedback. Inevitably, there are moments when a bug request comes through. And so one of the processes or processes that we have implemented is if it’s a bug tagged as a bug, archive it, it automatically gets zapped over to our support team, and then they take care of it as a bug. And so that’s stuck with, if it requires more information, then we’ll tag in a conversation, either Emma, you know very well, as part of the success team, or Ellie, who’s part of our supporting, and just be like, you know, whoever’s managing first line support today, could one of you get back to, you know, customer x and just kind of ask for a little bit more information? And then let us know, and so that they’ll manage it. And then we’ll come back with that information and then add it to that piece of feedback. So we are really, really involved in just making sure that we have that level of information to really use that to validate them the product backlog.

Charlotte Ward 8:18
Hmm. That that’s, that’s really interesting, because everything you’ve described there about how you go back to the customer and how you try and establish, I guess, a greater context and a greater a greater sense of what they were trying to achieve is supported by everything else. You just sat around, thinking about things in a in in terms of product, but also thinking about things in terms of problems to solve as a whole. is a whole kind of vocabularies a whole kind of vernacular, isn’t it? That Yeah, yeah, I

Andrea Saez 8:52
being part of a support team previously not prepared. And I found that when I got a piece of feedback, it was like, Cool, thank you, I’ll just pass it on. And it would be passed on to product and then I’d never hear about it again. And I wouldn’t know what happened to it. And I didn’t know the process. And nobody told me about the roadmap, but nobody, like I was just surprised when things came up. So by having this process where everybody thinks about, you know, how do we make the best out of this piece of feedback that just came through? we you know, kind of foster this, this thought process of, Okay, well, let’s make sure that we haven’t information.

Charlotte Ward 9:26
Hmm. Which also I guess, strength has that has the effect also strengthening that customer relationship. It means that you’re, you have a tie that’s much closer to that customer as well when it comes to that, that feature or that fix the or that product change effect, eventually making it live right. You’re able to have like really meaningful conversations with those customers that have said it to you as well.

Andrea Saez 9:55
Yeah, absolutely. Also, you know, pre disk And then during discovery will have the ability to say, hey, so you said this about this thing? Can you expand on that a little bit more? Can you tell me a little bit more about that? So it’s nice to be able to go to an interview and just say, we know what you’ve said previously, provided we have that information. Let’s have a conversation about that. So like I said, it kind of adds to that customer relationship for sure. Mm hmm.

Charlotte Ward 10:26
Which, which takes it beyond support. And that becomes a success conversation as much as anything else.

Andrea Saez 10:33
It’s a success conversation, it’s a product conversation, it’s, we kind of just think about it, in terms of, again, the problems that we’re solving. So there have been times when we’ll run discovery on something, and it might be Emma that joins our senior product manager, it might be me, it might be Ellie, and me, it might be me. So it’s a combination of having someone that’s customer facing and someone that’s product facing. And just having both people there, I think adds that level of trust. For the customer. It’s like, I’m not just talking to the support person, which I think is a horrible way of putting things by the way. Yeah. But you know, it’s, it’s such a i, it’s site note has nothing to do with over talking about, but I just so dislike it when people think, Oh, can you lead me to a manager and like, the support person is entirely capable of managing. But when you add that level of saying, okay, but what problem are we trying to solve? It adds a little bit more confidence, right? That it’s not just that the support person is going to take this piece of feedback, you just said and drop it off somewhere, but they’re not what they’re talking about. And we work as a team and as a cohesive, you know, group of people. And it’s not just silos, silos everywhere.

Charlotte Ward 11:48
Yeah, I mean, I’m glad you brought that up. That was kind of the final thing I was gonna say about this, just based on what you said that the, the way of talking about the support person, or the support team, or the success team or the product team, it does, it does create those divisions and doesn’t it and that’s never more evident than if you present to your customer in that way is they actually don’t really care. They don’t really care who’s on the call, or who’s solving their problem. They just want the problem solved one way or another through support all through products, or anything in between. and, and presenting them with those silos probably reinforces them, if anything?

Andrea Saez 12:30
Yeah, I, I’ve always thought that companies that don’t invest in making sure that everyone feels like they’re equals, and it just creates so many issues internally and externally, because it adds all these silos and all these, you know, potential breakdown in communication. And if you’re not communicating, well, internally, you’re not going to communicate well, externally, which is why we’re huge advocates of sharing the roadmap and sharing the product process and just being as open as possible. So that if somebody asks, Hey, how about this, and you’re able to actually either give an accurate reply, or just say, listen, thank you so much for the feedback, let’s talk about it, give me more information, and then go by the way, here’s the roadmap, look at all the other cool stuff we’re working on. And this is why it’s gonna benefit you. So you change the conversation a little bit. And I like what you said about the customer. Knowing that they have a problem, and that’s it, because that’s usually what it is, is they know they have a problem. But they don’t know most of the times they don’t even know what the problem is. They’re just like I’m frustrated.

Charlotte Ward 13:39

Andrea Saez 13:40
yeah. But once you sit down and have the conversation, and you might realise that the problem goes so much deeper than their initial sentence, or their initial inquiry, and that’s what product is there for. And mind you, that is what support is there for. So support acts as a gateway for that communication.

Charlotte Ward 14:00
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/129 for the show notes and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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