In this post we’ll learn more about our Business Development Manager, Laura de la Court, as she shares her insights into the SaaS industry.
Background: From PR to Customer Support
Laura began her career with an interest in PR and marketing, because of an innate curiosity about why people bought certain products, or associated themselves with particular organisations.
What is it about a brand or an image that makes it so appealing to companies and consumers? And what is it that builds those relationships between people?
A drive to understand consumer behaviour drew Laura to the PR and Marketing industry, as it felt most appropriate for what she wanted to do with her life. But after her first PR job, Laura ended up working in customer support at IBM in Johannesburg, because of her Dutch speaking skills.
Working in customer support for one of the biggest banks in the Netherlands, who were using IBM products, taught Laura a lot about dealing with customer problems in high-pressure situations, and highlighted the fact that being client-facing and helping solve customer problems came naturally to her.
I didn’t enjoy being on a help desk, but I did enjoy helping customers with their problems, it was very fulfilling for me.
In the days before cloud computing, this customer support role gave Laura an insight into the beginnings of SaaS, as the IBM banking software that she provided customer support for was based on a pre-cloud Citrix desktop format. Its interesting to think how nowadays we take for granted being able to access applications anywhere through a web browser, when before, applications had to be accessed from your desktop.
The Next Step: First Insights into the Importance of Customer Success Management
Working in customer support for IBM, Laura gained a decent grasp of the technical aspects of the software, and could provide solutions to most general problems before handing over to tech support.
I always got the highest client satisfaction scores in my team.
But two years working in a stressful call centre environment took its tool, and Laura quickly realised that this was not the place to develop her skills. This was because working at a call centre was all about how quickly you could complete calls and solve problems, and when you’re doing 80 calls a day, there’s little room to dig deeper and solve bigger customer issues.
Working in customer support was my first real client facing experience, and what I enjoyed the most was drilling down and having a conversation with a customer on what was really causing the problem and figuring out how I could help them best.
With a more nurturing than “quick-fix” approach, Laura decided to make a move, and relocated to Dublin with her husband.
The Next Step: Growing Customer Problem Solving Skills in the Irish Tech Hub
I knew that problem solving for clients was in me, that it really interested me, but it went beyond just helping customers, it was also about finding out: what is their interaction and their relationship with the actual technology that they’re working with?
In Dublin, Laura first worked for a vendor selling online advertising, but found that while she was skilled at growing accounts and increasing client spend on campaigns, it wasn’t meaningful work.
I never really believed in the role, I didn’t feel comfortable selling it, because I didn’t feel like I was really adding value, which is important to me.
Laura then went to work for a SaaS software monitoring and analytics company in the Sales Development department, where it was all about figuring it out as she went along, learning a lot about software development in the process. But her biggest learning in this role was: it’s not about selling a product, it’s about selling a solution.
It was really about digging deep into what people were experiencing in their day to day jobs, what challenges they had, and how the product could help them solve those challenges.
In this role, Laura knew she was selling benefits, providing solutions and giving clients value for their money. But what was lacking was a Customer Success team.
After clients bought licences, they were abandoned. The support team was overwhelmed with having to deal with setup and basic functionality problems as well as very technical tickets like bugs and issues with the actual software.
Under pressure, Laura could see that not being able to give clients that kind of follow-up support was problematic.
This disconnect between sales and support didn’t make me feel good, especially when customers were coming back to me about not getting the ROI and value they were promised because they couldn’t set up the tool in the right way.
Churn was also a big issue, and in trying her best to help clients to use the tool in a more effective way, she realised she wanted to be a part of the Customer Success team, but there weren’t any roles available at the time.
And then I found out about WNDYR.
Jump to Right Now: Creating Awareness about the Importance of Customer Success at WNDYR
Like Daphne Lopes, our Partnership Manager, Laura first got in touch with our CEO Claire Burge on LinkedIn, and was so excited to see a fellow young South African woman running her own business in Dublin.
I thought even if I can’t be a part of a customer success team myself, I can help sell that solution, and create awareness about how important Customer Success is in the SaaS industry.
Laura is currently bringing in partners to grow our business as a provider of Customer Success Management solutions, specifically through software deployments.
I’m excited about being able to spread the message about how important and critical it is to do onboarding in the first 30-90 days.
The way we work with our software partners is therefore just what Laura was looking for in her previous SaaS role, as our business model allows the partner the focus on the product and we can focus on offering a solution for a problem all SaaS companies are facing but just don’t have the capacity to handle themselves.
Interested in finding out more? Chat to Laura herself by getting in touch on Linkedin.
We’ll be profiling all of our team members over the next while, so follow our updates on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook to meet and learn more about the minds, experiences and personalities that make up our diverse team.