social_linkedin_circle_gray-32 LinkedIn
Email Me

Practicing profitable customer success
>

The on-call support phone rings once on my nightstand and slaps me awake. “Paul speaking, how can I help…?”

I almost finish my sentence before I’m interrupted, “You changed something and now the product doesn’t work!”

Vision_01I knew the customer was wrong. We never push changes to production without thoroughly testing them…usually. And Operations never pushes changes without notifying Customer Support first, unless they have to.

On my way to the office, I try to call numbers in the emergency phone tree, but no one answers. I pull into the parking lot of our office, and see the Engineering Lead’s White Lexus IS 250 sitting smugly in the Employee of the Decade spot.

I trudge from overflow parking into our building, and head to my private office. I didn’t have to ask my secretary for a cup of coffee. She gave me that knowing look, “Quad shot espresso?”

But today, she had good news for a change, and smiled widely, “Oh, your team said they’ll have the monthly Excel report ready next week, 3 days ahead of schedule!”

I wanted to marvel at how fast and efficient we’re becoming, but Support Manager, Michelle, barged into my office, and excitedly started rambling. “I think we might be offline. I just saw the Engineering, QA, Product, and Ops leads in a meeting shouting at each other. I don’t know if it’s related, but we’re getting hundreds of complaints in Support. Should we send a status update? What do I tell the Support agents?”

“I’ll get to the bottom of this,” I lie to her as I rush off to find the ongoing game of finger-pointing.

As I step into the windowless conference room, I am immediately greeted by a snarl from the Engineering Lead, “What do you want?”

“Uh, is there something going on we should know about?”

Vision_02The Ops guy turns to me, “Nope. Business as usual.”

The Product guy, always the calm in the eye of the storm, smiles, “We’re down but we’ve got a plan…”

The Ops guy continues, “Okay, so Engineering will patch the patch, and QA will certify. Is that right?”

The QA Lead whines, “We can’t certify; we don’t know what we’re testing…”

I interject, “Seems like this is still a work in progress. I just need a timeline so we can manage customer expectations. Do we an ETA yet?”

The Engineering Lead explodes, “Holy crap! We’re completely down and you’re talking to us about Customers??? You want an ETA?” Disgusted, he turns the Eye of Sauron on the QA Lead.

I slump back to my office deflated and put my head on hands. Just before I close my eyes to appease the oncoming migraine, I notice my Timex. September 16, 2008.

I jolt awake.

“Nightmare, Paul?” someone asks.

I look around and realize I’m at my desk, in the middle of the Customer Success huddle located in the massive open space of our airy, sunlit office.

I breathe a sigh of relief, “Thankfully, yes…”

“Want to walk together to the Launch review meeting?” the Enablement team lead asks me.

Vision_03“Yes.” I get up, slightly embarrassed.
We enter the window-lined conference space a few minutes before the hour, and everyone is already seated and ready to begin. The Launch Manager, my direct report, calls for status reports.
The Product rep says, “The Customer Validation volunteers have blessed this release.” She looks to me and adds, “Great bunch of customer testers, as always. They found the rough edges immediately, and have really helped accelerate maturity.”

Engineering starts, “We’ve checked in all changes and the continuous integration builds without errors. The automated smoke test that includes the Sales demo script passes without issue.”

QA begins, “We’ve certified all the user stories delivered by Product and Engineering. You should have received a DM with a link to the report, and, of course, you can also find it in the Launch channel.”

Vision_04 v2The Doc person continues, “We’ve finished the release notes, end-user, and admin documentation, and are now finishing the Support FAQs.”

My Enablement Team Lead says, “And we’ve trained and certified the CS and Support folks so they’re ready when you push the changes to prod.”
I say, “Great. Now this is business as usual.”

Everyone turns their head to give me an odd look, but I just smile back knowingly. The privilege of understanding today’s benefits can only be appreciated by a battle-scarred veteran like myself.

I don’t head back to the huddle, but take a detour to our Sleep Pods. I close the dome, smiling serenely, and notice my iWatch just before I close my eyes, July 7, 2016.

UA-86484469-1