Rashmi (Summatti cofounder and COO) sits down with Sid (Summatti cofounder and CEO) to understand more about him, Summatti and his experience in support ops.
Rashmi: Hi everyone, my name is Rashmi Bhambhani. I’m the CEO at Summatti. Today I’m interviewing Sid Bhambhani who is leading Summatti and is the host for Support Ops Simplified. Welcome.
Sid: Thank you for having me.
Rashmi: Let’s get started. Sid, tell me a little bit about yourself, how did you get into the support field and what is it about the support environment that excites you and wakes you up on a Monday morning?
Sid: Sure. Well, for anyone who’s been in support, I know you can relate to the fact that waking up on Monday morning is never an issue. It’s staying asleep through the weekend because support is something that’s always on. I’ve been in the field for a couple of decades now.
It all started as I pursued my computer science program at the university. Like most computer science students, I came out of university wanting to be a programmer. I tried my hand at that only to realize that you don’t get a lot of personal interaction when you’re coding. That was one aspect that I really missed.
What came out of that was an understanding that when we make programs or software or products, we’re making it for people. A big part of that is making sure that people can use it and derive value from it. That’s where I started focusing as I — My career is getting to the point where handling an issue with a product wasn’t always looked at as one of those things that, I got a call this morning, hundred number now and talk to someone who doesn’t understand where I’m coming from, it would end up being a more relatable personal experience that we would be able to move the dial on as we kept going at it and doing it more and more.
Rashmi: Now, that’s a great point. You talk about customer support and the experience side of things. Let’s get into a little bit about Summatti. How did you come up with Summatti?
Sid: Summatti, the name is a Hindi word that means think well. It’s an AI-based platform. It was really important for us to have a name that resonated with the fact that we are doing the thinking in a way that is positive and augmenting the efforts of people. That’s not how AI is seen today. We wanted to make sure we distinguish our technology in that way.
The way Summatti was born is, we in the support industry know what the issues are when it comes to customer frustrations, how they’re trying to get a level of service, how we’re trying to deliver a level of service with constrained resources most of the time. One of the challenges as support operators was being able to realize which customer experiences are sliding down that scale of customer satisfaction and what you can do to catch it, just in time and turn those into positive experiences.
When I worked for technology companies providing SAS and enterprise support, we had a lot of calls going on at the same time. The ideal scenario would have been if someone like me had an indicator for, these are the calls that you need to focus on and really turn the experience around because if you didn’t do that, it would end up with a black mark on your operation.
That was the innate reason for us starting Summatti. I think technology and AI have evolved to a point where they make it easy for us to leverage that to deliver a customer experience that is more proactive than reactive. That’s been the gold standard for support operations I have tried to achieve for a long time now. I think with the technology catching up, we’re on the cusp of that evolution.
Rashmi: What would you say is the mission of Summatti? Why do we exist?
Sid: That’s a good question. Summatti’s purpose is to change the conversation around support. It is to change the narrative, where today when you talk to people about support, they’re always talking about the terrible experience they had or the amount of time they had to wait on that call. With a lot of technology coming into this forefront and this has been a very underserved industry for a long time. In all honesty, I think, it’s coming to that point where people are starting to realize that these customer experiences in today’s world are a big factor.
You being able to retain your customers and you being able to keep them happy, which in turn speaks, amounts to how you grow your business. Summatti’s mission is to enable companies to do exactly that, is to enable companies to treat their customers in a way that customers have come to expect from them and really move the dial and change the narrative on support and services and make it more proactive where you’re delivering things to them as opposed to them having to ask for it.
Rashmi: Nice. It’s almost like changing, in many companies and I know from my experience, we always saw customer support as a call center are very operational guys, we don’t know what’s going on there but really bringing them and giving them a seat at the table to make some of those decisions support our customer experience.
Sid: Absolutely. That’s a very important point. In a lot of cases, customer support are seen or even service is seen as a necessary evil, you have to have a big operation with a lot of people with a lot of logistics to handle the incoming issues. What people forget and a lot of our customers are on board with them, when we go and explain to them what we do is, while all of that is an investment, what you have there is the biggest goldmine of data from your customers.
In a lot of cases, product managers or companies that are trying to innovate are looking for things that they can do differently. You know who’s the best person to tell you that? People who already use your product and people who are already talking to you through the thousands of calls that you service on a daily basis. What we do is just collect those insights and put it in a way that is consumable and easy to digest. You have your gold mine as a company, we’re helping you mine it.
Rashmi: Nice. What is that one thing that you believe in and you know and others don’t around you?
Sid: I think one of the things that we firmly believe at Summatti as a company and as a philosophy is that customers and the way they provide feedback is a big bellwether for everything in your organization. People, I think they understand that but I don’t think they understand the impact of that or they don’t understand how you go about collecting that feedback.
We’ve all been in that scenario where you get someone a survey at the end of an interaction or when you go to purchase something. We don’t fill those out and we don’t fill those out because it’s not happening in a way that is convenient to me.
Now, here I am, I’m talking to you and if you could glean insights out of that conversation, that would be excellent. That way, you’re not inconveniencing me, I don’t have to take more time out of my [unintelligible 00:07:46] to do something and check-in the boxes for you. The biggest belief at Summatti is customers are the bellwether for what you need to be doing. They’re already telling you that. You need to be listening as an organization to the voice of that customer.
Rashmi: Nice. Why does it matter now?
Sid: Well, why not? Look at where we are in the world. We were at a point where if you wanted a certain product, you only had a couple of people to choose from. It wouldn’t be people always gravitated to those companies or for those products or services. Today, the one thing that we all have is choice, we have a lot of choice, we have a lot of vendors.
What is the distinguishing factor between me buying a T-shirt from you versus someone else? It’s the quality of service that you provide. It’s an experience that you provide.
Millennials are an experiential generation. Guess what, and they’re also the biggest consumer population today. If you want to keep them around and you want to keep them happy, your customer experience is what’s going to set you apart from your competition. There’s no better time than today.
Rashmi: Then let’s get into the world of support ops. With this podcast, it’s going to be focused on support ops and you’re going to help us simplify it. What is support Ops?
Sid: Support ops is, think of all the complex processes and tools and technologies and people and systems that you need to be able to run a support offering. When you pick up a phone as a consumer and call that number, there’s a whole bunch of stuff happening in the back end that enables your call to get directed to a person who can then help you. Support ops is basically the art and science of making all that happen.
As far as this podcast, one of the things that’s very near and dear to my heart as I’ve been in this industry is the evolution of support operations. It was again seen as one of those logistical things and technology has come a long way.
What we want to do is explore how that has enabled organizations, what some of the challenges are today and where we see this going forward as technology enables people to help people.
Rashmi: Nice. It almost feels like with the support ops, it’s basically helping that one person who is providing that great customer experience and we have talked about how important it is. Just behind that one person, there are like the team or maybe even their tools and systems in place that is geared to helping all of them come together.
Sid: Absolutely. Yes. Think of support ops as being your mechanic that you take your car into for a tuneup every once in a while, whether it’s something could go wrong and you could go in for that or you’re doing regular meetings. There are people who make this plumbing work and there’s a lot to it and that’s what we’ll be covering in the series.
Rashmi: Right. Finally, why does it matter now? Why support ops as a niche? I know we talked a little bit about, so might be why with support ops be in front in that ecosystem?
Sid: Yes. Let’s take everything we’ve talked about so far. We have a consumer who has more choice than ever. Their expectations are higher than ever. We have businesses that want to deliver on those expectations and we also don’t have an infinite amount of resources. The question then becomes how can you deliver a great, fantastic customer experience at scale, right?
The main thing about customer experience and delivering it is not just that you deliver it once, it’s the consistency offered. Support ops and us being able to enable support option a way with our platform, it’s all about making sure that we can enable customers or enable organizations to deliver that customer experience at scale consistently.
Rashmi: To simplify, if I would say three things that we wanted to make sure the support ops simplified podcast helps people with is, A, provide excellent customer experience. Like there was no two ways about it. B, learn from some of the industry experts on how they’re doing it. Sometimes it’s almost like your research [unintelligible 00:12:27] almost steal that idea and bring it to your organization. Third, help provide that insight back into the community. What does work, what does not work and learn from it.
Sid: Absolutely. The one other thing I would add to it, going back to your point about giving support a seat at the table is in doing all of this. The biggest incentive for support is to get to a point within the organization where they’re seen as the source of data and the source of truth from the customers. That’s an evolution that has been happening as organizations become more customer centric, but as part of that process, it is very important for support to have a handle on what that information, is this coming in from the customers because they are the ones who are delivering it to the rest of the organization and really driving transformational change there.
Rashmi: That’s amazing. Thanks a lot Sid. This has been really insightful. We can’t wait to hear the first episode. I’m looking forward to it.
Sid: Yes, I’m super excited and we have a whole lot of very experienced guests lined up, ready to get the show on the road.
Rashmi: Awesome. Thanks a lot everyone. Have a great day.
[00:13:46] [END OF AUDIO]