Customers have been evolving the past few years like never before. Regarding their shopping habits, needs and expectations but also their relationship to customer service. In a hyper-connected era where everything has to be available immediately, customer support is now more than ever embracing its role as a company’s showcase.
Today we welcome Zola Bakala, Team Leader for Odoo Support, who explains how investing in customer support is the next step in creating a competitive battle plan.
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Concept and realization : Ludvig Auvens, Manuèle Robin, Cécile Collart
Recording and mixing : Lèna Noiset, Judith Moriset
Host: Amy Caroline Downing
I think that to be able to grow, you need to first be able to keep your client. This is about improving the customer journey, the customer experience with the product itself, but also with the company. The generation that we have to manage today is a generation that wants everything now. If you take the same product and the same client like ten or 20 years ago, you will see that their expectation won't be the same as today. Today they are not only looking for a great product, they want to have a good experience with the product and with the company and with everything that is going with that. It's a journey that they have with the product now, being able to receive a feedback and give that feedback to the R&D to improve the product is very important to make the product evolve. Customer service and experience is definitely the next move to competitive battle plan.Amy Caroline:
Hi guys, and welcome back to Planet Odoo. I'm Amy Caroline, a support team leader here at Odoo and your host for today's episode. Customers are constantly evolving now more than ever, taking into consideration in their shopping habits, needs and expectations, but also their relationship to customer service. In a hyperconnected era where everything has to be available immediately, customer support is now more than ever being showcased by companies. Today, we welcome Zola Bakala, another Odoo support team leader who will explain how investing in customer support is the next step in creating a competitive battle plan. Zola, thank you for joining us today!Zola:
Hello Amy! Hello, everybody.Amy Caroline:
So, as you know, we're here to talk about the importance of good customer service and its impact on a company. And being a representative of Odoo customer support, I want to ask you, I'm going to dive right in, and ask you, why is it so important?Zola:
Well, I think that we are currently living in a world where everything is evolving very fast. When we can talk about technology, when you see that we have now the AI where you can ask anything you want to a website and it will answer you right already the right answer. It's pretty awesome, right? So we can talk about those things that are evolving and like with those technologies that are evolving, it's clear that people are changing too. And the way they see a product, the way they are, the need that they have with the product, the expectation is also evolving. So if you take the same product and the same client like ten or 20 years ago, you will see that their expectation won't be the same as today. Because today they are not only looking for a great product, they want to have a good experience with the product and with the company and with everything that is going with that. It's a journey that they have with the product now.Amy Caroline:
Yeah, we don't expect them to go through the user manual!Zola:
Exactly, exactly. And so I think that that journey starts with the sales. So if a sales has a good relationship with the client, if he manages to sell the product correctly, it's done. So the client will go for the product if the product is great. So the journey and the customer experience will be great. And at some point, if he has an issue with the product, he will have to contact the after sales, or the support. And that's where at support we are important because actually if we manage, when a client comes to the support is generally not happy and if we manage to make them get out of that mood, so they come with the red face and they go out with the green face, that's what we need to do and that's what will improve their customer experience and that's what will make them be happy, actually. And I think that when you manage to have that, like in the company side, where every step of the journey is great and perfect, you will have something that is that is really nice. And that's the reason why I think that customer service and experience is definitely the next move to a competitive battle plan.Amy Caroline:
Yeah, it allows the company to provide the full package to the customer. So they're never alone with their relationship with that company. So what is the main focus then for customer support?Zola:
It's a hard question, actually, because I think that you need to focus on a lot of things. I will say two things. The first one is the lead time. So the generation that we have to manage today is a generation that wants everything now. So I guess that you know that if you are submitting a request, you want to have an answer that someone that say, okay, I'm in charge of your request, I will come back to you as soon as possible or with the solution directly. And that would be perfect. That I think that, that lead time, so the customer waiting time between like the moment you submit your request and when someone is managing the request, that lead time is very important. But it's not the only one because we need to also take care of the time of resolution. So if the customer waiting time and the time of resolution is good, this is perfect. This is the perfect match for the lead time, because let's imagine that you take a really quick request, so you come back to the client. But it takes months to solve this issue or to answer this request. It's. Will be. It's not. It's not good. It's even bad. It's bad for the company. So that's for the lead time. And the second thing will be the quality of the answer. It's always quality over quantity. As manager says, we need to be able to know who we are talking to. So the quality of an answer will depend of the person that is sending the request. This person can be like an expert. This person can be someone that is using Odoo since I'm talking about Odoo now, but the product since like a few days and you cannot communicate with that person the same way because there are two different person, two different profiles. So when we talk about quality, we talk about this, we talk about the communication that the agent will have with the person. And I think that those two things will bring the the customer satisfaction. So those are the main focus that I will have for the client.Amy Caroline:
Something that you said that struck me about the quality and knowing who you're talking to, I think that's a really nice thing as well, because then it's not just one number or one item in a line. You're treating them as the person that they are. And their issue is special and unique and you're here to help them solve that specifically or answer that . Or personalise that. That's really nice. So that was about customer support in general. But how can support actually help a company grow?Zola:
I think that the customer satisfaction is the key for the support. We are looking for the customer to be happy. An happy customer will be a customer that will stay, that will be loyal to your product. If your customer is loyal to your product, he won't churn, so he will stay. At some point, I think that to be able to grow, you need to first be able to keep your client. Otherwise you won't be able to go anywhere. Like in marketing, we are talking about word of mouth. This is a powerful tool and this is a tool that your existing client have. If they can talk about your product saying good stuff, this can bring you a lot of positive things like it can bring you new lead, It can bring you a good reputation. Those people that are talking positively about your company, about your product, they are ambassadors of the brand. I have a story like that where I help a client. It was a few years ago I was driving my car while I was heading home. It was 11 p.m.. So, late.Amy Caroline:
Your Odoo car?Zola:
My Odoo car indeed. Because this is important in the story I want to tell. So Odoo car are branded cars. You cannot miss us. It's a white car. It's written Odoo everywhere, so you cannot miss it. You cannot miss us. And like I was at right. And there was a car that was next to me and I could feel I don't know if you had that feeling already, but I could feel that the person driving the car was watching me. He was watching me and I was like, okay, don't turn your head. Don't turn your head. Of course I turned my head. And the guy was smiling like, Yeah, I was like, okay, what's going on? So he opened his window. I did the same with mine. He was like, Hey, how are you doing? I was like, Hey, I'm okay. I'm okay. Are you working at Odoo? Yes, it was written on my car. So he starting to talk about the fact that he had some issue with the software? He couldn't manage to do something, and I was like, okay, do you have your computer on your in your car? It was like, yes. So we parked our car and we checked the issue. I didn't manage to solve it right away because it was about a new feature that I didn't know about. So I went home, I texted my colleague. I received the answer and I answered the client, on Sunday. So the client was very happy. And it seems like a few months ago Fabien was at a dinner or somewhere, and it seems like that person is talking still about that story, like until today, because it was really shocked about the fact that he received help like at 11 p.m. on a Saturday. And it seems like this person still brought us a lot of clients because of thestory that is telling:
about the fact that the product is great, the salesperson was great, the support is great. So this is one thing that can bring a lot of positive stuff. So for me, this person is an ambassador of Odoo and that's very important. So word of mouth, it can be your best publicity but also your worst enemy.Amy Caroline:
Yeah, people taking with social media and Twitter and all of those things.Zola:
So to be sure that no one says anything bad on social media and we only have these amazing stories like the one you just told us about, how can you actually ensure that the customer satisfaction will be good?.Zola:
Except for the fact that they need to have a good quality in their answer. They need to have a good lead time for the answer that they will provide to the customer. At our levels, we think the channels of communication are very important. So, they can do it by phone,by live chat, by tickets, of course and more coming, of course. And I think that if they can reach us when they need to, it's a good point, because the lead time is impacted by that. Right. Also, I think that we need to be able to listen to their needs. If there is no need, there is no product. And if you don't listen to the needs of your clients, if you don't listen to the fact that the product needs to evolve, you won't go anywhere. So that's the reason why, at support, we it's not only about solving issue, we are also in direct contact with the client, with the business. This is about Odoo, but being able to receive a feedback and like give that feedback to the R&D to improve the product is very important because the client will feel like, okay, what he did, what he talked about was taken into account, into consideration to make the product evolve and improving everything. This is very important for, I think, the support. And in every company we need to be able to listen to the client.Amy Caroline:
Yes. So, support helps keep the customers actually involved in the evolution of the product in order to provide the best product tailored.Zola:
Exactly. I think it's also important to actually measure customer satisfaction because when we receive feedback about the way we are working, if something is bad, we need to improve that. So, it's important to measure that part to ensure that the customer satisfaction is good. So I think what can be also really important, it's actually the team that you have. A team can do anything and everything actually. So for that I always say that when I submit a ticket I want, so the person that have my request in general, I want that the person that received my request answer correctly and do the job that I'm expecting to. So I will treat my client as I want to be treated. And for that, you need to have an agent that is good, that has a team spirit, that has the empathy, everything that we need as a support agent. And that's the reason why recruitment is very important.Amy Caroline:
An agent that isn't just looking out for themselves, but really looking out for the customer.Zola:
Exactly. And like for the work we are doing also, we don't have to be scared about changing our process and the way we are working. I remember a few years ago, Fabien, who is the CEO of the company, came to sit 50 minutes with the support to check how we were working and in 50 minutes he decided to change the way we were working. He was like "okay, no". So he just arrived 50 minutes and he decided to change everything. And at the beginning we were not happy, not happy customers working at support, but it had a huge impact. So the lead time decreased, and the way we were answering clients became very efficient. I think this is also something that is really important, to answer the customer satisfaction, you need to be able to see how you are working and to change that.Amy Caroline:
See what's not going well and improve or try new things in order to provide the best customer service.Zola:
Exactly. And we have different offices now. If yu have different office, if you have different departments, I think it's also important to be able to go there. So if something is not going well in those offices, it's important to go and see what's going on, to improve the way they are working and to provide the same quality to our client because.Amy Caroline:
Right, we want consistency that you, one agent will answer a customer with the same quality as another one to give the same personalized exact touch. I think what is special about Odoo support, but also something that is useful to create a great customer service in general is to give your voice. Every agent is different and I think that it's nice when you can hear that person come out a little bit in the message and the type of help. They're going to give you in the communication style. Exactly. So you just touched on this a little bit, discussing how many support departments we have now and the kind of service we're trying to provide. But of course, Odoo has grown significantly, especially in the last few years, and the number of clients is increasing like crazy. So how is Odoo support evolving to keep up with this change and growth?Zola:
Well, back in 2017, actually there was no support team, so the support was done by the R&D and the business analysts back in the days. So the first action was to create a team and I had the chance to be the first person hired at that moment. And our manager did a great job because she hired since then 85 people just in Belgium. And we have different offices and worldwide, we are now 230 people almost. So it's huge in six years. And actually, this was really necessary because, as you say, there was a huge growth in Odoo. So the number of clients increased and of course with the number of clients that increased, the number of requests increased too for the support. And like we had a monthly meeting here in January where we actually noticed that only for the month of January there were 20,000 requests sent by customers, just for January. And we noticed actually that it was the same number for the entire year in 2016. So it's huge. So we are managing in one month was we used to managing in a year back in the days. This was really needed. And as I said, our manager did a great job because now we are trying to work, so every office is trying to work the same way and that's very important for the quality of the service that we are offering to our clients. So we are trying to offer support 24 hours but currently it's only because it's already huge, we are covering 20 hours on a day of support and six days a week. So when clients wants to reach us, they are able to do it when they need. We are also trying to, as I said, harmonise the way we are working in each office.Amy Caroline:
So you said earlier that the individuals in the team are also making a big difference. So what are you expecting from them?Zola:
I think that the first thing is autonomy. So we want them to be autonomous quite quickly, as you can imagine ad as you can see actually, Odoo keeps growing. So we have more and more clients and we need them to be able to answer the requests that are coming from the customer quite quickly. So of course we are providing them a good onboarding, we are providing them training so that the knowledge is good, but they need to be able to manage their own work by themselves. The second thing is the team spirit. It's really important for us that they have that team spirit because this is what will help them to make the team improve. I don't know if it's correct what I say, but if you have a good team spirit, it means that you will have the willingness to share your knowledge. You will have to help others like in the team. And this can make a very big difference between two teams. Actually, if you want to help the others, it means that everybody will gain in knowledge and at some point newbies will be the new trainers. So that's something that is very important too. And also we need them to feel concerned about the clients. So empathy is really important.Amy Caroline:
And it's not just about sticking to the classic "receive a phone call, receive a ticket or an email, solve the problem." It's over forever. We really try to go out of our way to provide that exceptional support in different contexts. Every year, for example, we have the Odoo experience, which is our annualin-house event where the Odoo community gets together:
partners, users, employees, everyone. Can you talk about how Odoo support actually approaches this event in particular?Zola:
I'm not sure that the support is approaching this event differently than other department, because I think that the Odoo experience is really about building a relationship between two entities, so the company and the product and the customer or the partner that are there. So it's more about building a relationship of trust to be able to continue working together. So of course there is a product because we are presenting the new feature of the new version during that event. But at the end of the event we are sharing, meet together, we are putting music and when we are doing that it's about the relation that we build with the client. This is about improving the customer journey, the customer experience with the product itself, but also with the company. And that's important. And actually I have, I have also another story about that, that happened to me with my car actually also. So they were partners. So the audio experience was in Louvain-la-Neuve back in the days and at the end of the event they were partners, so new partners actually that were there and that were looking for a ride to go home. So they were looking for a taxi, but there was no taxi at that time. So I decided to brought them home. And during the way to the to their places, we started discussing about everything about Odoo, about the culture that we have, and they were amazed by the fact that I have decided to bring them in Brussels. It was 30 kilometres from where we were, and this was the spirit that we wanted to show to our clients. So I think that the experience is more about that than about the product itself.Amy Caroline:
Yes, the Odoo community, it doesn't stop at your relationship with the salesperson or after you buy the product. It's also the support. It's everyone involved. And that's what helps the company grow. So customer support is just one key element. But there are multiple and, it helps the entire company. Great. Well, thank you so much. That will lead us to the end of this episode. But thank you so much for joining me and for your excellent insight.Zola:
Thank you, Amy.Amy Caroline:
And that's all for today. I hope it sheds light on how good customer support can make a big difference for your business. If you'd like to stay with us longer, don't hesitate to check out our previous episode. I hope to see you next time and don't hesitate to share the show and subscribe. Cheers.