Back To Where It All Began: Why I Joined SupportLogic
Chief Revenue Officer, SupportLogic
John KellyWhy I joined
Today I’m excited to join SupportLogic as Chief Revenue Officer. My journey has come full circle – from my early days as a technical support engineer, working directly with F100 customers, to ultimately leading large global complex support and service organizations. It feels like I’ve seen it all. 20 years ago, SupportLogic would have made my life significantly easier… fewer escalations, happier customers, and a lot less stress.
My tech career took an interesting path. In my 20s, I was an aspiring professional soccer player who arguably had the best seat in the house every match — the bench. Thankfully, my backup plan was software engineering. By sheer luck, I ended up at Oracle on the post-sales side of the business and helped build the original Applications Support organization. During those days of the “license sale”, Sales sold our products, we shipped the software (e.g., CD-ROMs) with a box of manuals, and that was it. Our customers had to figure out how to assemble the final solution, the company was happy, revenue recognition was immediate — mission accomplished!
Then the real work would begin.
Our support teams would engage with the clients and begin reconciling what they thought they purchased and what they actually received. It felt like our jobs were all about making “their dreams a reality,” and that was true. And as you might expect, we were on our heels out of the gate, and each client/situation was filled with land mines.
My real role in support was a fire battalion chief
In the early ’90s, we did not have good tools. Working with a few of my fellow engineers, we developed and enhanced the company’s first CRM solution – the Real-Time Support System (RTSS). We integrated it via CTI, utilized call-center solutions that were PBX/CBX based, and did our best with what we had. The database was awesome.
We needed to know critical data points about each of the accounts we were dealing with – meta data. Over time, we built more systems and tools to get in front of the key applications and support our processes. Supporting the Oracle tech stack (i.e., database & tools) was relatively easy; we had engineers talking with our customers’ engineers. They spoke the same language, understood each other’s problems. With the introduction of business applications (Financials, MFG, HR), all of that changed.
The skillset, knowledge, and alignment with our customers became increasingly more complex. CFOs called in and asked for help “closing their books,” critical business issues that we did not understand. The volume of tickets increased, backlogs grew, escalations became common, and churn was inevitable. We were in full firefighting mode.
With a large backlog and early-release products, it was a high velocity, high-stress environment. Each day consisted of two steps forward and two steps back – sometimes more. We did our best but could never get in front of the volume. We continuously asked ourselves, “which cases should we work on? How do we work smarter?” We fell back to the basics…. and relied on the metadata.
We prioritized based on severity levels, and then considered the size of the account. On any given day, it wasn’t hard to see that “Coca-Cola Bottling of New York” was probably more important than a small, early-stage tech company. The squeaky wheel was King. Clients pinged us four or five times a day, others once a week.
It was chaos.
And here is something that was abundantly clear to me: I always knew that we were in the services business, that our customer’s success was key, and that their success was linked directly to ours… every day. We needed to delight our customers.
That has always been a “Duh” moment for me.
Fast forward to the late ’90s and the move from on-premises to other-premises had begun. We began hearing terms like Application Service Provider (ASP) and companies like Exodus Communications popped up. As the location and control of the tech stack moved, the need to execute as a “service-provider” was irrefutable. Companies could not longer hide. When the term Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) became mainstream, that said it all…. “as a Service.”
The industry had finally aligned with something that Services and Support teams have known for years — you have to earn customers’ trust and earn their business every day.
I recall a meeting from 2001 distinctly at Oracle where Safra (Catz) said in one of our regional sales meetings that “We were no longer a software company, but instead a Services company”. She put a stake in the ground and acknowledged that our future success as a company was directly linked to “services” and the importance of our install base.
And in 2008, when I joined SAP, the story was very much the same. Most of the major ERP deals had occurred (globally) at this point, and the question was simply this – how to keep growing? Simple. Take care of your customers, make them successful, and bring them new solutions that impact their businesses positively. It begins and ends with success, support, retention, and satisfaction – for our clients. And we measure those by looking at gross retention, net-dollar retention, CLTV, and recurring revenues.
So I’m back where I began… enabling customers and doing my best to help them be successful, happy, and stress-free.
I wish I had this product 20-years ago – I’m not kidding. There is zero debate about the impact it would have had on my teams and me.
My organization was ~4,500 support professionals strong. We were responsible for generating billions in annual (recurring) revenues, and I carried that number. My KPIs were simple – increase revenues, improve margins, drive down costs, and keep our customers happy. Some of those metrics often work against each other; it’s not easy to achieve them all.
Even with a gross retention rate in the high 90’s, tenths of a point improvement in my churn rates would have equated to millions of dollars. SupportLogic would have definitely helped there.
Escalations occurred and predicting even 10% of the “predictable” escalations before they happened would have been massive.
And the backlog. Knowing “objectively” and “consistently” which cases to work from the backlog and in what order is simply game-changing. Take the emotion out of it, automatically.
I know I sound like a sales executive, but it really is that simple – this product is a “Duh” (a no-brainer), and an invaluable tool for any company focused on the customer.
Uniting the “Clans”
As SupportLogic continues to succeed with companies of all sizes of growth and complexity, we are fortunate enough to see first-hand the challenges our customers face.
One is that shared, agreed-upon view of customer health.
Companies have multiple internal teams – each working with the customer. Support triages specific problems, and their UOM (unit of measure) is the case (or trouble ticket). Customer Success is looking at the overall account, product usage/adoption, net promoter scores (NPS) or customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) to develop their view of “customer health.” Sales, Professional Services, Engineering, and even the leadership teams – they all have a tool, report, or dashboard that attempts to tell them how things are really going with clients.
How do you get one shared view of reality that goes beyond the metadata? The “Single Pane of Glass”?
Working with your SOR (System of Record) and other data sources, utilizing AI and NLP, determining sentiment, and providing visibility to all of these teams is HUGE. Individuals don’t need licenses to a multitude of tools to engage with the platform, and as time goes by, the platform becomes even more efficient. In a nutshell, we’re providing a single POV on the client and taking the human-based, subjective interpretation of account health out. Consistent, logical, universal, and available.
Huge impact without being disruptive
Most solutions that deliver an impact that is similar in size and scope to SupportLogic have these challenges: they are disruptive, difficult to implement/deploy, and it takes time to see a true return on the investment (call it “time to value”).
Not with SupportLogic.
We integrate with your existing system of record (SOR) with (almost) a client of the button. Many of our customers are up and running in a few business days and seeing value from day one. Working with our Implementation and Customer Success team, we work hand-in-hand to get drive successful adoption and usage of the product – shelf ware is not a word we know or hear.
With SupportLogic able to objectively help companies drive decisions and actions to improve customer health, it enables teams to be more predictive and proactive, prioritize the backlog and reduce customer churn. If I were to have evaluated SupportLogic in my old support and services leadership roles, the decision to buy would be clear.
The bottom line: Our goal at SupportLogic is to get our customers LIVE within 30 days. Full stop.
I am greatly impressed by our current customers, their success with our products, and our team’s ability to execute.
Over the next 12 months, my plan is simple. Simplify. We want to make it really easy to partner with us, engage with us, and we want to have a shared stake in the success of you and your support/success goals.
Working with our Customers, we will continue to increase awareness and educate the market that there is a better way to reduce escalations and lower churn – and it’s available today. Anyone is welcome to speak to one of our clients and hear from them directly that the “status quo” is no longer viable. Change or be changed.
The value realized by our customers has been clearly proven – both in terms of escalation reduction and churn prevention. We are happy to share their stories. And if you give us a call, we want to make that experience as easy, frictionless, and enjoyable as possible.
We’re just at the beginning, and I’m excited for the journey ahead.