146: Fireside with Tue Søttrup

146: Fireside with Tue Søttrup

Tue Søttrup has been delivering excellent customer service for more than 20 years and is currently Chief CX Evangelist at Dixa where he’s carefully nurturing a small bonsai tree called GenZen.


Dixa is a global customer service tech company empowering brands to create great experiences for customers and support teams alike in a conversational, friendly, and engaging way.


Tue helps me kick off this new Fireside season with a conversation about Product-Led Customer Success, and how Dixa have used this approach to drive product engagement and business improvements for the customers at the same time.


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 146 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. Today I’m joined by Tue Søttrup for a fireside chat.

I’d like to welcome to the podcast today Tue Søttrup. I hope I’ve pronounced that correctly, Tue. It’s lovely to have you guest for the first time. And join me for a fireside today. So maybe we can begin with an introduction Would you like to tell our listeners all about today?

Tue Søttrup 0:52
Yeah, thank you very much. Very nice to be here. My name is Tue and I work as chief c x evangelist at Dixa to access a customer engagement platform that is supporting phone chat, email and social media. I’ve been working with customer service for more than 20 years, I spent a long stitch in a bank, in a credit card department plugging credit cards and doing fraud monitoring. Then I work that saks.com, which is Denmark’s largest online bookstore, in their customer service department as a manager, before I joined ticsa been fixed for almost four years now. And I was brought in to try to help translate what the developers could build into something that customers actually wanted. So one of the first non developers to join the company. And that was at a stage where there were no paying customers and very little product. And we have since grown the company to be more than 130 people. And we have customers who have in 35 different countries. So it’s been quite an exciting journey.

Charlotte Ward 1:53
Yeah, that’s quite an evolution that it that is to join at a time to join in effectively a customer facing role at a time when there are no customers, you must have seen it seen a lot of change. I’m looking forward to exploring some of that growth with you, which I understand is really why you you wanted to come and sit by my virtual fireside because like I can see you’re in a phone booth. as wonderful as they are. There’s no room in there for an open fire is there. So welcome to my virtual fireside today. And as with all my fireside chats, guests bring the topic. So would you like to tell us a little bit about what you’d like to talk about? Yeah, sure.

Tue Søttrup 2:29
And thanks, again, for inviting me on, I would very much like to talk about the topic of product lead customer success, where you use the product to make your customer successful. With a product that we have only part of what we sell is the product, maybe half of what we sell is a different way of working. And that of course entails that we need to understand our customers business, their business objectives, and then how we can help them become successful with our product.

Charlotte Ward 3:03
Yeah, that makes complete sense. You’re selling more than just the code that you produce effectively you’re selling. And it’s more than an experience, isn’t it? It’s as you said, it’s a different way of working. It’s there’s a lot of investment that a lot of investment I imagine that must go into that. And maybe you can tell us like, where did it all begin on this front? For a start? Like how did at what point did you realise you were selling more than a piece of software?

Tue Søttrup 3:31
At the the meetings that we had with potential customers, we could easily see that they were just as much interesting in hearing about best practices from other customers. Very often our experiences that customer service managers alone on an island, and they working in some systems that they usually to go work from somebody else. And they are doing things in the same way that they have always done. And suddenly somebody comes from the outside and have hundreds of meetings with other customers and helping them set up systems talking about how they design the best customer experiences. And then they are challenged in the way that they work. So it’s very much about forcing them to forget what they are doing today. And looking at what they want to do tomorrow.

Charlotte Ward 4:21
That makes sense. So it’s really them kind of asking you like for help essentially customer service managers, customer support managers out there that that you were in conversation with. And

Tue Søttrup 4:35
you could say that in to a certain degree, I don’t think they realise that they actually needed but when they see that there is actually somebody who can teach them and can challenge them, especially the challenge part is something that they welcome very much,

Charlotte Ward 4:49
huh. That’s interesting, as you said that they are often operating in Ireland, so maybe it’s not so much. a cry for help was a realisation that there are I don’t know is a really bad analogy other islands out there, maybe? That’s awesome. So tell me about some of those conversations, then what what kind of things were you beginning to explore? And how did that influence how, how did that influence the relationship to product?

Tue Søttrup 5:19
To a big degree, it’s a lot of it comes down to change management. Because when you are forced to work in a different way, you also need to get your agency users on board in working in a different way. And we realise that to make our customers successful with a tool, we needed to hold their hand, teach them how the system worked, that could both be with regard to the setup. But it could also be with the training of the agents. And when that part had been done, and it had been done by us, then it was, of course, much more successful for the customer. Because if they had tried to sell the product to their own employees, and it’s sometimes difficult, because they will not be able to answer all the questions that is related to why is this functionality this way, and how can I do this, but if we took it upon ourselves to do that kind of training, then it was a lot easier to get that change management process working, we also realised that some of the things that users were used to is done in a different way. And if we immediately spoke to that in the beginning of the meeting, so the pain points, instead of realising that when you start working in the tool, if you’re told up front that this is a different way, and it’s gonna hurt, but after a while, you got to get used to it, and you’ll see that it’s better than it was a much better experience, both for the customers and for us.

Charlotte Ward 6:48
Yeah, I have to admit, I think I stand by that, that change management philosophy, as well just say up front, this is gonna hurt, you know, I think that of all of the all of the practices I’ve seen, and all of the diagrams and you know, the kind of the seven steps and all of those things, simplest thing I’ve ever done is say up front, this is going to hurt because it brings you all to the same place, you know, quite quickly and and gets you gets you hopefully to look beyond the pain much quicker, I think because you’re accepting it’s there, and you’re going to live with it for a little while. So so you’re doing today in training, which kind of makes sense that you’re helping your clients onboard into the product into the business practices. What else do you do in this in this way with clients,

Tue Søttrup 7:42
when we are talking about product lead customer success, the way that we approach it is to set up these agent enablement sessions. So what we will do is spend a couple of hours with an agent working within the platform, we do that remotely, both because they are located in different places. And of course, the current situation with COVID. And that, of course gives us insight into how they using the tool. We also see what other tools they’re using, at the same time how they’re moving around between different screens. And based on that we can come up with recommendations for how the agents can be more efficient within the product. Also, what we can change in our product to remove friction in the way that the agents are working, we see if there are ways that we can improve the adoption of the product, if there are features that they are not utilising that can make them more efficient. If there are integrations that we can set up to the other systems that they are also using to make them more efficient. So in that sense, it needs to take a couple of hours, because then we build up the intimacy with the agent that we’re spending time with. And then after that we spend about an hour to prepare, report about our findings that can go back to the customer. And that of course gives them insight into what is it that they’re actually paying for? And are they getting the value out of the product that they have. And another added benefit is we also get insight into what we can do to improve the product that is being referred back to our project engineering department.

Charlotte Ward 9:17
So it’s all of this work. I mean, it’s great. It’s great that you spend a lot of time with frontline agents right rather than than just the leadership saying what what what do you as leadership need to see it gives you a real, a real sense of how things are already working and how you can map them to your existing product and, and as you said, feeds into product roadmap quite a lot I would imagine. Do you spend time before the agent gets their hand on the product with the agent or with with the team and also conversely do you spend time after after the fact after it’s been in use some time Are there other touch with points in this journey.

Tue Søttrup 10:01
Yes, that definitely is in the beginning, it’s mostly with the managers that are going to set it up, we try to tell them what can be achieved with the product. And then we help them set it up according to their requirements, how they want to meet their customers, what experience they want them to have, then we can be involved in the training with the agents. And then at a time that is agreed with the customer, we decide when they should go live, that can be flipping one or more channels into the system. And when they start pouring in, then they get the first feel of how it is to work in the product. And then about two weeks later, we have a go live evaluation. We go through the different flows, we go through the workflows, and then we see what can be optimised. And I think this is not specific for our product. But a lot of SaaS companies are selling quite complex products. And when you’re just letting customers into your product, if they try to figure out how it works, it is like giving them the keys to a very fast car. And they might end up driving into a tree and hurting themselves. But if you instead spend the time upfront, to teach them how to drive the car, and when they’re ready, you can give them the keys and they can keep on cruising.

Charlotte Ward 11:19
Yeah, I like I really like that analogy, I’ve seen many a customer hit a tree exactly as you described. And then it’s a big rescue operation, isn’t it. One thing that we’ve talked about before is this audit, the business auditing that you do, I’d love to hear more more about that as well.

Tue Søttrup 11:40
Of course, what we are trying to translate it into is a form of customer adoptions go where we can see how many features they actually using it both to make sure that they are getting the value out of it. But of course from our side, we also know that the higher adoption, the more stickiness and the longer the customer will stay with us. So it is mutually beneficial to get that insight. So some of that can be tracked automatically through product analytics and events that are going on within the product. But by having these agent enablement sessions where we are shattering an agent, we also see all the stuff that happens outside the product that can be tracked. Because all agents they are spending a lot of time in our product, but also outside the product. And we are getting that insight and we can kind of put it into a scorecard that that gives this particular customer value. And we can use that to put them into different tiers. So we can have a customer maturity level 123. And then of course, it’s the job of the account manages to move the ones on level one to level two. And from level two to level three. And the levels they have to do that is have our solution consultants do these sessions. So of course, it’s a lot easier for an account manager to have a discussion, especially close to renewal with a client, when they just have a report about how they’re utilising the product, what features are actually using what features are they not using that yet that can make them more efficient?

Charlotte Ward 13:12
I really like that, that it’s not just about tracking in the product, because I think there’s an easy way. And it’s like, it’s easy to assume that because you’re seeing clicks here or workflows, they’re happen, and happening at a pace or cadence or at a volume that you internally presume is kind of a measurement of health of that customer stickiness with the product of that of that agents success with the product even that That simple idea that they’re spending time inside the product and outside the product. And the time outside the product is almost more important, isn’t it? Because that tells you what’s missing, that tells you where you can find additional levers to pull and get some extra help, which may well reside in the product, do you? I mean, I guess that’s the ultimate aim of this is embed more of that outside worker in the product. But But do you provide as part of that audit? Did you ever kind of make suggestions that are outside the product as well?

Tue Søttrup 14:15
Yeah, definitely. I think also, going back to the initial sales meetings that we have a lot of what we see has actually to do with governance, like who owns what part of the process, and that is also something that we can identify through these sessions, who actually is responsible for solving this particular question? When is it escalated? What information do the different stakeholders need? And based on that we can also come up with different recommendations. And if I should try to break it down in how these sessions work, and I think that that would make sense is we have of course a purpose. Then we have a format for doing it and then we have a desired outcome. So we have three main purposes for the sessions. The First is to look at the agent’s workflow within the product are there changes we can recommend based on our observations that can make the agents more efficient. And that can of course, both be within the product or outside the product. The second part here is what you I slash you x changes can be made to improve the agent’s experience working within the product, what functional changes would improve the agents quality of life. And then lastly, it’s also to involve the agents and show them that we actually care that we have their best interest in the heart and are willing to listen to them. If we look at the format, then it is watching the agent work through screen sharing. We are recording the sessions for data analysis, we understand the agents workflow, of course, take notes, we ask questions, we can answer questions that are coming from the agent regarding the product, we also use it to identify challenges, both in regards to the workflow and within the product. And then we identify opportunities for improvement. And the desired outcome of these steps is to build a document with recommended improvements to the agents workflow, it is build a document with recommended improvements to the product that can improve the agent quality of life. And we would like to prioritise the low hanging fruits that are coming out of this. And lastly, build trust with the agents.

Charlotte Ward 16:24
I really like that that’s really insightful to just see how it works, you know, in, I can imagine one of those sessions now. And I feel like anyone listening to this could almost take this away and mirror some of that experience and some of that process for their own product. So that that’s really, that’s really useful detail. Thank you so much to the final part for me, I think, is maybe from the point of view of deck. So what successes have you seen from approaching growth in this way?

Tue Søttrup 17:00
If we go back to before they go live with the Excel, we try to put in some measurements, so we can look at how efficient the agents are. What’s the average handling time the average waiting time the conversations per hour? And then we look at it after a while within the platform to see that this different way of working? When we have optimised the experience that the customers are having when they contact the brand? Did it actually have the desired effect? Is it more efficient? Is it more lean? Is it a better experience that they are delivering. And that is our success criteria. We are not successful on this our customers are successful. And we need to make sure that we have the right measurements to actually track that. And based on some of the customers that we have implemented, we have seen improvement in efficiency in efficiency to something like 20 to 30%. And then we know that we have actually done a good job.

Charlotte Ward 17:57
Yeah, that’s great, because that speaks directly to their business outcomes, doesn’t it? It’s not, it’s not simply something that you’ve identified internally. As a single measure, as we started this conversation, something that you can track in the product isn’t always necessarily a true reflection of the success with the customer and actually linking some of this to their their own business outcomes is really important, isn’t it?

Tue Søttrup 18:21
Yes, indeed. And if I should talk a little bit about the product part of it, then we of course, get a lot of insight into what can improve the product. And what we try to do is take all of these insights and turn them into user stories. So we’re not talking about features that we want to implement, but about problems that we want to solve. It also makes it a lot easier to go back to the product and engineering team to describe describe the problem. And then it is up to the product manager and their team to find solutions for those problems. We very often get into this state where we are very sales driven. And we tell the engineers that we need a button that does this. And we need to take a step back and ask the customer, what is the business objective of this functionality? What is it that you want to achieve? Or what is it that you don’t want to achieve with this particular functionality? And then we can feed that back? And then somebody who’s brighter than me and usually the customers can find the right solution for this particular issue that the customer has?

Charlotte Ward 19:28
Yeah, I always advocate for that thinking about what the what the customers problem is really, rather than what they’re telling you. The problem is, I think is really key to helping them make the best use of the product and certainly, that’s what future customers are going to buy. Right. It’s solutions more than anything.

Tue Søttrup 19:51
Definitely, definitely and the journey that we have been on with diksa if you look at the sales meeting, I was part of it. The biggest Giving. And now we have come such a long way because we have solved so many problems, we have implemented so much functionality that are actually addressing a lot of the issues that the customers have when they are engaging with their customers on multiple channels at the same time. So we can really see the value of taking all this input from all the different customers and prospects that we’ve spoken to putting that into the product, which makes it a lot easier to sell the product to the next customer. And I think that’s very key to being product. Let is also be key to looking at this whole product let Customer Success approach.

Charlotte Ward 20:37
Yeah, tying the two together. I think that’s been really insightful. I’ve learned so much. I was so many ideas brewing already. Thank you to a thank you for joining me around our virtual campfire. I feel I feel the glow of inspiration, if not ever have a true campfire on this autumn day. So thank you for joining me. That was great.

Tue Søttrup 21:00
It was my pleasure. Thanks a lot, have a nice day.

Charlotte Ward 21:07
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/146 for the show notes and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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