The Secrets of (Customer) Success: An Interview with Sean Ho’okano-briel
August 07, 2020
Elevate’s Global Marketing Manager, Claire MacDuff, speaks with Product Manager and Customer Success Lead, Sean Ho’okano-briel, to learn how he works to guide customers along their journey to success.
Hi Sean! What was your path to coming to work at Elevate?
After college, I worked in education in Hawaii and collaborated with another teacher to develop a solution to help our students overcome some of their learning challenges. From there, I entered the startup space, which eventually led me to Elevate. At the time, Elevate was building out a product suite primarily focused on project management, an area of great interest to me. This idea that everything has its place and fits together just so, and if you execute this plan flawlessly, you’ll deliver value, make money, and everyone’s happy.
What are today’s lawyers looking for regarding tech solutions, and how has that changed?
In the past, people were looking for solutions to single-point problems. There is no shortage of point-solutions, spread across functions, but what happens when you need to collaborate? There are so many jobs to be done, and it’s unmanageable to juggle six different tools to handle and assign them. The value comes from a simple, end-to-end, holistic solution that plays across all functions. The pricing solution must blend with project and matter management, billing, etc. That’s not always the case with the tools available. Often, they are rigid and don’t account for the multitudes of different ways in which people are addressing their projects.
That’s interesting. How do those different ways of working reflect in adoption, and how we adapt to meet customer needs?
There is a lot of nuance in the ways our customers work. No two law departments or firms are alike, and as soon as you start making assumptions, that certain things always happen the same way, you have fallen at the first hurdle. Communication is crucial at every step of the process. One of the conversations we have at the beginning is, let’s start by understanding where you are. Then, we take a look at where you’re trying to go and ensure we are aligned.
How do we take and action customer feedback if there is a need that isn’t yet addressed by the platform, or suggestions for how a feature can work more effectively?
Chances are if I am being asked a question by a customer (unless they are using the tool in a very unique way), I have also heard it from other customers.
It’s funny how it happens. I’ll get an email one day, and then the very next week I’ll hear from another customer, and another, and that tells me, ok, either we need to set up some training if that’s something the tool can do already, or we need to scope out the functionality.
In the case that we need to scope, we follow a framework called Design for Delight. This helps to ensure that we keep customer needs front and center as we work with our designers and engineers to create, validate, and build.
Let’s talk about the idea of ‘The Customer Journey’ – what does that mean when offering technology products? Where does the human element fit?
The idea of customer success is built into the DNA of Elevate, which is refreshing. We consider the customer journey to be crucial–it’s not enough to just look at the end result and say ‘well, you got the data you were looking for, so that was a success,’ instead, it’s a case of, ‘how was the process from start to finish?’
You can never lose sight of the end-users. No tool, solution, or process is universally intuitive. Every individual, team, and organization has a slightly different requirement and lens. To help customers achieve success, technology has to help support the change that is being implemented. That means a mutual understanding, of not only outcomes that are being targeted, but how far along the journey each user is, and an active commitment to scaffolding their journey forward. Through that commitment and alignment, change, and a better tomorrow are more readily realized.
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