Behind the Scenes with Customer Success
We're to welcome you to Behind the Scenes with Customer Success, where you’ll get a taste of what Customer Success means at Cloudflare by meeting multiple leaders and stakeholders that make up our Customer Success organization. Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Nicolas Gayerie, Customer Support Manager, who leads a team of 10 Support Engineers at Cloudflare. Learn more about the close collaboration between the Customer Success team and the Support team, and how we work together to best support our customers.
And we are live. Nicolas, thank you so much for joining and everyone. Hello, this is Valentine.
I am a strategic customer success manager at Cloudflare and I am very excited to welcome you to behind the scenes of customer success where you get a taste of what customer success means at Cloudflare by meeting multiple leaders, stakeholders that make up our customer success organization.
And today, this is our third edition and I am very happy and pleased to introduce you to my amazing colleague, Nicolas Gayerie, one of our support managers in the EMEA team.
So welcome, Nicolas.
Great to have you here. Hey, Valentine. Yeah, thank you very much for having me.
Fun to be here. Absolutely. And you will know that this is the third edition and it's the first time that we are having a stakeholder from a different organization.
But of course, the support team is an organization that is very close to customer success.
We work a lot together. So hopefully to our audience that is listening, you'll get a little sense of how our collaboration works and why, you know, it's important to have both of our organization working together.
So Nicolas, you are a very special person at Cloudflare.
You have been here for more than five years.
You have seen it all, seen the Cloudflare team grow and develop. So, you know, you started as a support engineer and you are now managing a team of nine support engineers.
Can you tell us about your time at Cloudflare? Yeah, sure. So as you said, I started about five years ago as a support engineer in the London office.
But then after a year, I got the opportunity to start the customer support team in Germany.
So I relocated there and then I started to hire some support engineers and build a team in Germany.
And then I'm still actually managing. So a part of my team is in Germany, but since then I've relocated to France because now we are growing in terms of offices and locations.
So I'm lucky that I was able to relocate to France.
And so I have one person working with me in France and the rest of my team is in Lisbon because that's the main location for customer support at Cloudflare.
And so, yeah, so I'm a support manager in France, but my team is mostly in Germany and in Portugal.
Great. This is amazing to hear. So it sounds like part of your Cloudflare journey was also to make a Europe tour.
So you mentioned, you know, starting in London.
This is also where we met. I remember that we were sitting next to each other and really speaking frequently about tickets and also how to best support our customers.
Then you went to Munich where you started a team which is up and running and we have German speakers there as well as covering other languages.
You also mentioned that you're now back in France. So working remotely and you are also managing a big amount of team members in Lisbon.
So, wow, this shows really how much the support engineering team has developed, how many different offices are being covered by this great support team.
And on this note, can you tell us a little bit about what differentiates the support organization at Cloudflare?
What makes it special? Well, I think that the first thing maybe is that we are growing fast.
And so for me, that's really the first time that I'm in this kind of organization where everything is moving fast.
So the first thing is that we are growing.
So when I joined the support organization at Cloudflare, it was only 10 people in the MEA.
Right now, it's about 40 of us. So it means that you need to hire, you need to find talents, you need to train people.
So you have a fast pace in terms of resources, like getting people on board, training them, getting them up to speed.
And then, of course, Cloudflare is a really technical company.
It's a very high -paced and innovative company. So we are releasing a lot of new things all the time.
So as a support organization, it's important for us to keep up.
So that's really one of the challenges for the support organization for Cloudflare.
And then, obviously, we are a global organization.
We are supporting customers in their services for cybersecurity, for performance, for computing.
And so it's all based on the Internet. The Internet never stops.
So we have to have a global follow-the-sun model with support colleagues in North America, in APAC, also in Asia.
So this collaboration with the three regions, it's also really important for us for support.
And obviously, the scope of what we are doing at Cloudflare, like the number of customers, the fact that we have very small customers with just maybe one blog behind Cloudflare, up to massive premium organization, very global, very large.
And so we need to adapt to that.
We need to be able to serve these what we call the pay-go customers. But we also need to more and more adapt ourselves to be able to serve this large organization, larger organization.
And I think it's the same for you, for the success organization.
You need to adapt and go after this larger customer. And it's also a challenge for support.
And I'm sure it's a challenge also for success. Yeah, you're absolutely right.
I think there are definitely a lot of overlaying factors that characterize both the support organization, the customer success organization.
You talked about growing the team and hiring, hiring, hiring, how important it is to hire the right team, the right support engineers.
And I think in this process in particular, you can also see how collaborative both teams are.
I remember that I was also part of some of the hiring processes of some of your support engineering team, because of course, we will be working together in the future.
It's important to understand how both of our worlds communicate to each other and ensuring that new hires also understand how the success world is and also success engineers, how the support world is.
So hiring is definitely an important part, I think you mentioned, and you saw it yourself, right?
You've been part of this growth engine in terms of creating and shaping the success organization, which is very exciting.
And you mentioned the global aspect, right? And I think we have a few questions, I will also cover that in more detail.
But I think in Europe, it's just amazing, you know, first of all, the amount of, you know, offices that we are now present in terms of the support organization.
And I think the conference success organization as well, we also had, you know, the Munich office open more or less at the same time as when you joined.
And also in Lisbon, we also have a team, a very, a very talented team there.
So yeah, it's really, really great to see all these different overlaps, which also help us to understand each other a little, a little further.
Exactly. And yeah, that's something that was great when when I moved to Munich, so the Christian, so the first success manager in Munich started like one or two months after after me in Munich, it was great, like we were sitting next to each other, I got to get a glimpse of what is really the work of a success manager.
So I was trying to support him also in his onboarding and the way we work at Pelfeir, the products, the way that the support organization is working.
And so I think it was great for both of us like to understand each other. And I think that's something that also we could mean that we try to nurture and in the EMEA, like we have meetings with the success manager regularly, where we can bring issues from both sides, trying to find solutions together, discuss any, any brokers, anything that we that needs to be addressed.
And I think that's something that is really critical, and very, very important for the success of the of the organization.
And actually, that's something that strikes me when I when I when I started my process with Cloudflare, because during my interview, my interview panel, there was actually a success manager that interviewed me.
And that was the first time I got like, you know, a success manager being part of my interview panel.
And I found that amazing, like, because from the beginning, like Cloudflare was making sure that the support engineer that were joining at the time that we were enterprise ready, like ready to support the enterprise organizations as a success manager, you know, and they were making sure that we had this this mindset of also being trained to work for the success of our customers.
Absolutely, I think you covered something that is extremely important. I think, for the success of our customers, support and CS need to be working together, we need to understand each other's world, we need to ensure that we work together to best support the customer, because, you know, the support organization is so important in that customer journey, right, it's going to be so fundamental for them to, to feel supported to feel like they are getting the most of Cloudflare to feel that they are being able to get most value.
And so the collaboration, the communication between both our teams is really fundamental to enable that achievement of success.
So I think support is also success.
So because without you, we were not able to deliver the true value of content and ensure that our customers are having a great experience.
So you're right, I think every chance of, you know, making sure that we understand each other's world, and that we work together to find solutions to cover some of the gaps, because of course, sometimes there are a lot of gray areas, you know, who's really owning this?
Is it support? Is it success? Like, how do we make sure to streamline some of these to answer some of these questions to ensure that at the end of the day, we best support our customers.
And you mentioned that, you know, being part of the Munich team, having Christian next to you, was really an enabler and an engine to facilitate those conversations.
I know that we also have these support conversation taking place on a bi weekly basis.
I think for all of the success and success managers, this is also a great opportunity to raise questions.
And, and like you said, it's really a discussion.
It's really how can we ensure that, you know, potentially some of the tickets, some of the problematics that we find there, how can we find a solution together.
So it's a very open conversation.
And, and, yeah, the goal is really to come up with solutions to move things forward to make things better.
So I totally agree with with, you know, your comment of how collaborative or both of our teams are.
So how would you write that?
For yourself? How would you how would the support team think about the CSM team at Kalkbler?
Well, I think that's something that was not surprising, but it was really that's what I found amazing when I joined Cloudflare.
It's how close that we were working together.
Like, literally, like the team was not too far away in the office.
And so it was really easy to pull someone from the success team when we were feeling that, okay, this customer, they need just more than what we can bring as support.
Like, okay, we can solve this verticate, but maybe there's something that needs to be, you know, to be seen at a different level.
And it was really easy to just, you know, go see the final success manager, work with them, and they really have the sense of ownership.
That was really, for me, it's really important.
And that's what define also like a great success manager is the sense of ownership for their customer, making sure that they can bring the customer to success.
And that's a shift. Also, like we've seen, or at least what I've seen in my career, like at the beginning, it was more talking about account manager.
And, you know, it was more like almost an administrative process.
And right now, yeah, in a lot of organizations, we are talking about success managers, like that are owning the relationship with their customer, making sure that they bring, like that the customer is using our product, our services, in the best way possible to achieve success.
And so I think it's really important for us for support to have processes like to escalate tickets, if we need to engage the success managers.
And so I think that's something that we've been working on over the time, like obviously, Cloudflare is a company that is growing, like when I joined, it was like 500 people, maybe now we are more than 3000.
And so obviously, the way of working together between teams has evolved.
And we had to formalize all these processes, like how do we, so for specific products, for specific features, who is, what's the scope?
Like, is it a task for support? Is it a task for success managers?
How do we escalate? How can they send back something to support? So that's something that we had to come up with in this period.
And I think, all in all, it's working well.
Like we have every single day, we have interaction with success managers.
They come to us, we come to them. And so that's, I think that's critical for the success of our customers.
Yeah, I think it's a very good point that you mentioned.
I think you're right. Our collaboration support and CSM has been, has really been critical to help also Cloudflare move, you know, to the next levels or to sustain this growth, because you mentioned that, you know, of course, we had to reshape or we had to formalize some of the processes to ensure that we are able to, you know, to exceed the expectations or keep exceeding the expectations of our customers.
And as we grew as a business, we also got, you know, more enterprise businesses that also had different expectations.
So we needed to adapt both our team, your team, and, and both.
And by working together, we were both making sure that both our organizations were becoming better and were sort of maturing to the next level.
So I think this is a really great realization.
Absolutely. And I think it's, it's also like, it's a process, like, you know, our president, Michelle Zephin, she always like to say that we are just getting started.
And that's exactly how it feels like, you know, although we were talking about supporting premium customers, whether it's from the success side or the support side, you need to adapt, you need to change, you need to come up with solutions.
And, and so yeah, right now, we are spending more time, more efforts to make sure that we are trained to support the premium customers, that we are coming up with new offerings.
So that's the case for, for on the support side with the SOC, so the security operation center, the TAN services that we are, that we are releasing now, so that the technical account manager on the support side to get a better idea, like how the customer is working, the, I have a better overview of their support tickets, work better with yourself and the sales team.
So yeah, we really have to adapt and evolve to support these customers. Yeah, it's really fascinating to see all these new offerings that are, that are shaping themselves based on these new, or as preparation as we kind of mature to the next level again and again.
Like you mentioned, the SOC offering, this is relatively new, I think it's less than two years old or the TAN, which is now starting to get, to get lounged.
It's really incredible how, how it's, it's in continuous evolution.
I think this is also what makes it so much fun to, to work at Confer because you're part of this change and you're always learning new things about how to best support customers, how to, you know, mature as an organization, as a successful organization, as a support organization.
And no, I think it's definitely very fascinating.
And I do want to come back to one of the points that you mentioned, you know, you mentioned that in the beginning about what characterizes the support organization, you mentioned that you have so many different expertise, right?
And you had to adapt to how our portfolio is also growing, because I remember that when I started at Confer, it was mainly about application security, application performance, but I, and I think one of our most exciting products was, okay, workers was very exciting and still is very exciting, but rate limiting was also like, wow, this is new.
But today it's almost a commodity, right? And today we have Zero Trust, which did not have, which we did not have, you know, five, four years back.
How does a support organization keep up with all these new products?
Tell us a secret. Well, that's, that's definitely one of the challenge for us.
Like that's a question that comes up regularly in interview. And that's what I, what I say to candidates is that, yeah, that's the main challenge for us is how to adapt to the pace of innovation from PowerFlare.
As you mentioned, four years ago, five years ago, it was just the beginning of the Zero Trust offering.
Magic transits was not part of the offering.
It was the beginning of workers. And so for us in support, what we, the big change that we have to come up with to try to deal with that is to, to come up with specialization within the support team.
So when I joined, everybody was working on any kind of ticket.
So we work on SSL issues, network issues, cash issues.
But right now we came up with four different teams in the end.
So one, one team is specialized in network and security. Another one specialized in Zero Trust.
Another one in core services like DNS, SSL, load balancing, and another one more on, on CDN, so cash, workers, edge computing.
And so that really helped us because then it's more easy for, for support engineers to focus on their area of, of expertise to, to gain knowledge and gain experience in this area.
And because it was really getting complicated, like, you know, when, when you are more like a cash expert or so workers expert than to, to jump on the magic transit issue where you have to support network engineers.
So it was getting complicated.
So we have to, to come up with that, like, you know, build, build a team of network and security support engineers, but I brought to support network engineers from the, from the customer side.
And so we continued in this way because it's working very well for us.
And so that was the main change to adapt.
And the second one was that we are diversifying the teams in the sense of where we have product specialists now in the, in the support organization, but I think to work with product also to, to, to think about the supportability of the product, to, to think about the release cycle, like to communicate what is coming, the change, the training extra.
So it's also really helps. Absolutely. No, that's, that's a, that's a very interesting point.
Specialization within, within the CSM team, I think we're still dealing with all the different topics, but it's, I think it makes total sense to move towards specialization, especially in the context of support, because, I mean, we have so many different products.
And I also remember that one of the best practices sort of communicate to customers is that once you are raising a ticket to support to the support team, please try to narrow down your problem, right?
You need to make sure that, you know, you know, first of all, which zones, like what, what are the issue?
How is it replicable? So that the support team can really understand, you know, what part of the product portfolio are we talking about, right?
So in, in order to support more efficiently, quicker.
So no, I think it's very cool. And I think on the second note, you mentioned that, you know, diversifying the team and, and making sure that there are product specialists I support.
I suppose that in this context, the collaboration of the product team is also very important.
You mentioned that it's not only about gathering that knowledge, but it's also about understanding the release cycles and perhaps, you know, finding common, potentially more common problematics so that you can also prepare the support organization better to be able to predict, you know, what, what kind of questions will come up and what sort of answers will support the customers better?
Yeah, definitely. So that's, that's the case for support.
But I think as we are growing as a company, also, that's, that's the case in a lot of different areas.
Like right now, the, the, we have like proper sales enablements where there's, there's, there's specialized people that are training the sales team, communicating on what's coming, making sure that everybody is trained more what they're talking about.
And so it's the same for support with, yes, with the product species, the collaboration with product.
And that's something that is really like that came up along the way.
Like that's something that we really needed to do because we were, you know, getting bigger, more people to manage more, more people to onboard, more people to, to, to integrate and more customers to service.
So that's, that's really important. And so, yeah, we have to adapt in this way.
And one thing also is that we have to adapt to the level of the customers.
I was mentioning that we are supporting pay-go customers that nowadays we rely a lot on the community to do that.
And on the other end of the spectrum, yes, for premium customer, we have to find offerings.
So, and that's where like the training from the product species, the collaboration with product new channels, for example, it's like for premium customer nowadays, they can use Slack to, to, to engage with support.
And so that's something that has been working very well, but yeah, it's, it's a journey basically to, to, to, to evolve and to, to become a mature and in our own processes to make sure that everybody's ready for what's coming and to, to keep up with the pace of innovation.
Yeah. And I think you, you mentioned enablement and you mentioned also the, the, the continuous development of our, of our documentation on, on the first point enablement, you're right.
We also have an enablement team within the CSM team to really keep the knowledge going, ensuring that the CSMs are keeping, keeping up to date with the newest innovation with, with the, with the products that will have, you know, further impact for their customers and add more value.
So that's, and without them, I think we would, we would be lost.
I mean, there, there is certainly so much to, to keep going and to learn.
Sometimes I'm also surprised by how much my customers know.
Sometimes they, they also know more than me and I'm like, oh my God, this is exemplary.
You're doing an amazing job keeping up with the blog, keeping up with the documentation.
And that also forces me to keep learning, to keep developing, which is, which is always, you know, great.
And that's why it's so great to, to work at Kafka because you're always challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone and learning.
And in terms of the documentation, you're right. If we look at the developers at Kafka.com, I mean, how much has it changed compared to like five years?
I think the list, also the UI is so different. And I think we really try to ensure that our customers can also help themselves, right.
In the context of, we want to give them the tools in their hands so that they can really make the most of it so that they can be less dependent on support, on CSMs, and really do, you know, and really have that independence and have that empowerment to, to do the best with Kafka.
So yeah, I think, I think you're absolutely right, Nikola.
I think very, very pertinent comments. I see we have about six and a half minutes left.
And I do want to ask you, how do you, do you, how are you able to manage the organization?
There's a support organization 24 seven. So you guys don't sleep.
So, so tell me what, how are you kind of collaborating? How are you continuing, you know, making the engine run throughout, yeah, the whole night and day.
So for us, the, the, the key thing is that we have presence in, in three different, Geo.
So we have people in, in San Francisco, in Austin, and remotely in the U S we have people in Tokyo, in Singapore, in Australia, we have people.
So in London, Munich, Lisbon.
And so the way we are organized, it allows us to, to, to use the follow the sun model for support.
So that means that, yeah, right now it's the, the EMEA that is responsible for the, for the support for Cloudflare later today, we will hand over to the, to the North American support engineers.
And we do that.
We, we have processes on how to do that. Like the, the day when you're a support engineer at Cloudflare, the day starts with what we call the Andover.
So basically it's a meeting where everyone is there, the on call of the day.
So the person that is responsible for, for, for driving support for this day is basically giving a summary to the next team.
So, okay, we have these incidents, there's this customer that needs attention.
There's this ticket that we need to really make sure that we escalate.
And so, and it's the same, it goes in, it continues all the time.
So there is three Andovers every day within the different teams. And I think it's, it's critical to, to, to our success on the support side.
Like we need to be able to work in between regions.
So there's this Andover where everybody attends.
And then we also have an Andover just for the managers also, so that we can discuss.
And so every day we, I speak with the agent managers, the agent support engineers in the morning, the ones from North America in the evening.
And that's, that's critical.
And at the same time, we're also using tools here, like our wiki, where we keep track of what's going on, what needs attention.
And we also have tools in our chat to remind us about this, about the Andovers, the different wikis and stuff.
And that's really important. And that's, I think that's one of the things that is working well for us in support, is really this capacity to, to, to abstract the location and to provide support 24 by seven.
And we need that. I mean, the Internet never stops.
So we have to be organized in a way that we can support 24 seven at the time.
Yeah, absolutely. Also, because the many of our customers, if not most of them are also fully global.
So they have, you know, different operation centers operating all over the world.
So it's definitely important to be available 24 seven performance is important 24 seven customer, you know, not only the customers operations, but also our customers, customers are usually also quite global.
So it's so important to have this, this fantastic support.
And yeah, you guys are doing an amazing job in terms of the handovers in terms of ensuring that all this transition happens in a smooth manner.
And again, it sounds like the customer is always at the center of, of these, of these processes.
So no, it's definitely a fascinating world. And yeah, thank you so much from on behalf of the success organization, because it means that we can sleep at night as well, right?
We can. We Yeah, we know that no matter which support organization will handle our tickets, everything will be under control and be supported the best way manner.
Thank you so much, Nico, we have about two minutes left.
And I cannot end this call before you tell us a little about your background.
Tell us about this. This background is a support engineering team. So yeah, sorry.
So we have a trophy, we have an amazing design and graphical team. So I think the team came up with this this background for support.
And so we love it. So we try to use it.
When we can. So yeah, I love it. And I can see that they also have the three clocks that that also shows the three different regions.
So we have the tree clock, we have the curl book, because curl is a super important for us.
It's one of the two we use the most.
The lava lamp is also there. Yeah, it's a it's a it's a good summary of what you know, how busy we are with that set and talking to the customer chatting and, and at the same time, yeah, we are a global team.
So it has to be 3%.
But it's really cool that you have this background. I have a very boring background compared to you.
I think we still need to have our own CSM design, fancy design background.
I wonder I wonder how it would be. But no, Nico, thank you so much.
It was really great speaking with you. We do have one and a half minutes left.
So maybe a question for you. What excites you most about Cloudflare in the future?
Why should anybody join us the amazing support team? Well, I mean, we've been talking about innovating and the pace of innovation, and that's not going to stop.
So when you see what's coming, I mean, we are just last week, it was birthday week, where there was some some great announcements around, I don't know, the Zero Trust and the scene, the ECM from from Cloudflare.
There was some some product that and that's that's the exact thing.
Like it will not stop. Like next year for birthday week, there will be some amazing announcements.
And at the same time, we will take some of the things that we announced, we will take the MGA in between this time.
And so that's definitely the most exciting things. Like Cloudflare is a really technical company, you get to work with amazing, you know, engineers, like, when we were in London, we're working next door.
It was like the some people working on defining the next version of TLS, like the son of HTTP.
I really, I really enjoyed this part of the job. Wonderful, Nico, thank you so much for your enthusiasm.
Thank you so much for being part of today's session.
It was really wonderful to speak with you to learn more about the support organization.
And thanks again for all the work you guys do. It's really amazing.