Cloudflare TV

📺 CFTV Anniversary: Cloudflare Careers Day: Customer Support at Cloudflare

Presented by Lisa Sak, Jorge Trevino
Originally aired on 

Lisa Sak (Customer Support Manager) and Jorge Trevino (Technical Support Team Lead) will represent the Customer Support team to discuss their hiring philosophy, share profiles of great candidates, and give advice on building a career in Customer Support.

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CFTV Anniversary
NAMER Careers Day

Transcript (Beta)

Welcome to Cloudflare Careers Day. My name is Roshani Hundle and I'm a recruiting lead here at Cloudflare based out of New York.

I'm joined today by our amazing customer technical support team based out of Austin.

I believe both of you are based out of Austin and they're going to tell you a little bit about the team and the roles and the careers that you can have here at Cloudflare on the support team.

And Lisa, I'll let you kick it off and introduce yourself.

Yeah, awesome. All right.

So yes, as Roshani said, both Jorge and I are here today to talk to you about the customer support technical support team here with Cloudflare.

We're excited to be here with you.

So I will introduce myself and then Jorge will introduce himself.

We'll kind of give you an idea of what brought us here, what we do and what our career process has been like.

So myself, I am the customer support regional manager for North America.

I presently manage around 20 something, 30 people about that.

I've been here about a year. My career progression with Cloudflare is that I joined in at the North America region.

And my career up to this point has been a very, very long time of a lot of technical support, customer support, mostly technical support.

I've worked with a wide variety of companies and spent a lot of my time dedicated to coaching and developing people.

So Jorge. Yeah, so I'm one of the technical support team leads in North America.

There are six of us and we each have about somewhere between four and six support engineers that report directly to us, technical support engineers, that is.

I have been in the industry for quite a while as well.

I've worked for one of the largest software companies in the world, did a bunch of time consulting, worked with some of the early Austin startups in the late 90s.

And then I've done a lot of IT as well. So it's not only support I've done, I've got quite a background, but really enjoy the fun here at Cloudflare.

Fantastic. And just so everybody here knows at this stage, Jorge actually does report to myself.

So I have an amazing opportunity to be working with Jorge today.

And the one person you do not see here right now is Garrett Brown. Garrett is our Escalation Engineering Global Manager.

He is out of the office, but we wanted to mention him because he does have a role open right now.

We'll be talking about that here in just a little bit, but we did want to bring that to your attention.

And he would have been here if he could have been. So thank you for Garrett.

And all right. So I would love to go ahead and get us started. We're going to talk to you a little bit about why someone may want to choose customer support.

We say customer support in a very generalized manner. It encompasses a lot of different things.

This is our technical support. This is our security operations engineering organization.

We'll go through and we'll talk about a lot of different types of jobs that exist within this organization.

I think that's a really great way to think about it, is that it is its own functional organization.

So it's going to be able to provide a lot of different types of roles that will all support the business's effort or the customer support team's effort and driving fantastic customer support, whatever that may mean.

And why choose customer support? Well, I've been in support for a really long time.

One thing that I feel a lot of people that work in support thrive on is the idea that we can help assist the customers directly or indirectly through the jobs that we do.

And we can do so and make them happy about choosing the company that we work for.

And we do so with a lot of passion and heart.

We want them to have really great experiences. And so that really is at the core of every single thing that we do.

And so everything, all the decisions that we make start there.

And to that end, I think it's important that we build a team that has people that start with that as a base.

If you have that, it drives a lot of your decision making.

A lot of decisions are a lot easier to make if you really come up with a passion for customers.

Now, we do have a lot of folks currently that report to us, which is really fun.

And the great part about Cloudflare as opposed to perhaps some other groups or even some groups I've worked for in the past is that we're a very high professional level, very high technical level here as far as the customer support is, technical support is concerned.

So we have a very high professional level. These people are very skilled.

They come to Cloudflare with a lot of working knowledge behind them, talent, technical capacity, you name it.

It's not my job to know more than them. So I hire them to know more than me.

And I think that's the most fun is that we find people that love customers and have a lot of talent, are extremely intelligent.

They're very attentive.

They're active. They're very collaborative. This is the type of core person that we'd like to bring into this fold because those people tend to really thrive in these types of organizations.

Customer support organizations can tend to be somewhat change heavy.

It takes a certain type of person that loves change to want to work in the customer support organization, especially at Cloudflare as we're growing so big.

We have constant teamwork and iteration.

This is huge for me. You guys, this is like my core words. You probably hear me say 500 times a day.

I'm trained in agile and I absolutely love the idea of iterating to success.

So that means that we do something, we partially fail, we mostly succeed.

We look at what it is that we may have gotten wrong and we say, that's okay.

How do we get it right? We always look to achieve what can be better. When we talk about change, that drives a lot of our change.

So with that said, and we'll talk about it here on the next slide.

I'll give George an opportunity to talk about that.

I've been blabbing a lot. But that brings a lot of innovation to the table.

We have dynamic and exciting roles. Again, we'll talk a little bit about all of the different types of roles that you could see within the customer support organization.

As well as, you know, Cloudflare is working at the edge of technology.

So we're exposed to a great range of global players in their fields and customers that are choosing Cloudflare to succeed.

And more and more each day, which is fun.

So they use us to help identify how to succeed. And that's where the fun begins for us.

The up-to-date technological knowledge. Again, as we work at the edge of technology and pushing the boundaries of what it means to work online every single day, that keeps us on our toes and makes sure that we're always keeping ourselves at the edge of technology and constantly learning and engaging with information, understanding things, and trying our best to be an industry leader.

And we have industry and development and job opportunities. I see customer support as a huge way to grow and develop all aspects of somebody's career.

You have to learn a lot about yourself going through this, I would say, and how you speak, interact, talk, you know, and how you think about how you're speaking, interacting, and talking with people.

And it's really fun to develop through it. But as well, here we have a lot of job opportunities that could happen within and outside of customer support.

We like to develop people at least two years within customer support, give them an opportunity to learn, develop through, understand truly what it is that we're trying to do here and succeed within the role before moving on.

We are exceptionally passionate about helping people continue to work within Cloudflare.

So, career development could mean a lot of different things here. So, with that said, I'm going to go ahead and pass it on to George, and he will go ahead and talk about how we move.

Yep. So, obviously, we have growth initiative and iteration, but Cloudflare is a very fast -paced environment to work in.

I can't think of a single week that I haven't learned something new.

There are new products constantly rolling out.

It may just be an update, but it may have a big impact for how customers use our products.

So, we have to be in front of that to be able to answer questions, fix any issues that come up, and just kind of be on our toes, and this is a constant process.

So, you're constantly learning. So, one of the keys here to be a good technical support engineer, I think, or just being good for technical support, is to figure out how you learn and a fast way to digest the information so that you can use it in a daily basis.

We're also a team that's really good with innovation, so everyone in the team is allowed to bring their ideas up to their managers, and their managers' managers, and all the way up the chain, because we constantly want the feedback to improve our processes.

We are an iterative company, but it's the innovation and the ideas that help us drive change so that we can stay in front of our customer base and make sure we're always delivering a world -class support for them.

And finally, I've mentioned iteration a couple of times.

Since I've got here, I was really impressed that whenever we have an issue that maybe didn't go as well as it should, we have postmortems, we have retros, we have all these mechanisms where we gather feedback, and then we'll make a change, and if that change doesn't work, maybe we roll back.

But if it does work, let's see what other changes we can make to constantly improve this cycle to make us more efficient.

Also, again, delivering on the world-class support to our customers.

If you think about the Cloudflare's customers, there are some small customers and there are some really large customers, so one size doesn't fit all, but finding a solution that fits most of the needs is always something that we're striving to do.


To touch on all that a little bit, too, of everything you all just mentioned, the growth out of the support team.

I've been supporting the team for the last five, six years I've almost been here, and I remember when we first started the team, it was like 10 people globally, right?

And it was so small, but those 10 people have gone on to do such amazing and awesome things within the company and have started orgs of their own, and it is just so cool to see that happen.

And we're still relatively small, and so I love hiring for your team because I know these people can really grow their careers at Cloudflare, become our next product managers, become our next solutions engineers, start new orgs of their own, like I mentioned.

So I think it's just really cool that your team is able to do that.

Start early. Yeah, start early.

And then, George, just like you said, all of our support engineers are at the front lines talking to the customers on a day-to-day, so they really do hear the problems and help with the issues that may come up, and so it's really important to take all that feedback and then share it with the other teams and iterate on it and make it better and innovate off of it.

So I think the support team is so core to everything that we do.

Yeah, the one thing I do remember during orientation, which every new employee goes through, is I remember Michelle saying, you know, you guys need to make friends with this guy and customer support because he's going to know their product better than anybody else.

And it's true, you do learn everything our products can do better than most people in the company, other than probably the developers, but you know a lot about almost all of our products.

So that's kind of one of the fun things about it. I love it. Yeah, and we're absolutely focused very, very hard on growth iteration.

And here, I think, I want to go back to this just a tad because I think when we talk about no analysis paralysis, that's been hugely important, I think, for my ability to be successful here, too, is the willingness to change.

And I absolutely love it. Let me give you an example of what that means.

That means if I have a skip level one day with somebody that's on my team, and if they provide me direct feedback about something that is frustrating them, within the best of my ability, I can immediately go and try to change that.

If I can't, I'll tell them, hey, here's the reason why I can't, but it wouldn't be for a reason because I didn't want to.

It would be very well for a business reason, but I'm always very open and honest with my team.

So I think that's really important, is that we have that trust and build those bonds.

So yeah, no analysis paralysis, we make changes as fast as necessary.

And then we retro those changes to see, were the changes that we make meaningful?

Did they work? Was it useful?

Should we try again? And that's the most fun of it. We talked a lot about the different types of roles that we have here within our functional organization.

And those, some of the, you'll see some business organizations are not unfunctional.

We'll talk about what that means. If we talk about what a functional organization is, it's really going to be an organization that functions within itself.

So it itself would have its own specific teams, its own training team. You see, we have partial, a hybrid model in the way that we have some core groups within our organization.

So you're going to see things like program management. You're going to see things like support operations, right?

Those are not necessarily a specific role that you would see for customer support, but we have that role here within our organizational model because we need it to succeed.

The one role that you may not see here that we don't have directly within customer support is going to be like business intelligence.

So we'll have a business analyst here, but we have a business intelligence team that works for Cloudflare and we utilize their services for those types of things.

So what I did is I want to make sure that we, I listed is almost every single role that we did have here within the customer support organization.

So you get a really good idea of what that would look like.

And it goes all the way from support operations. And by that, I mean the tools and engineering and things that it takes for us to be successful every single day.

Technical support engineers, like George was talking about, those folks that are the frontline that are absolutely there helping our customers become successful day in and day out.

The senior technical support engineers, those technical support engineers that have time in the role and the capabilities throughout multiple skills and can support and help those technical support engineers.

You have customer service agents that you don't have those in North America yet.

Maybe so, maybe in the future, we're not a hundred percent sure, but you may see customer service agents in other regions.

We wanted to mention that in case you were watching this in a different region and you had some interest in a customer service agent role.

We have escalation engineering, which those are the folks that take all the escalations from our tech support engineers, our senior technical support engineers.

We have escalation analysts. That's a little bit of a different role.

And that job is to analyze all of the information that comes into us and kind of in the way of customer journey, understanding what are the types of escalations we get?

Why are we getting them?

And what can we do to ensure that customers have better experiences going forward?

Security operations engineers. This is a newer thing. We have a security operations center now within Cloudflare support, and it's actually just open within the last, I don't know, a couple months, I would say, right, George?

Yep. That's an exciting one.

We are hiring security operations engineers for that group.

And we have training, a whole training group. We have a program management group, business analysts that we're actually hiring right now.

Management, as you can see, George is a manager.

I myself am a manager of a region.

Our management group will grow too as our headcounts grow to ensure that each person has enough coaching, you know, and then product specialists.

So as you all know, or you may not know if you're familiar with Cloudflare, we have a ton of products, and it's really important that we understand how they all work together, how they work independently, and how we can be successful supporting each one of them.

So we have people that do that. So George, I'm going to go with you to the next one.

You can talk about some of the open roles that we've got. Right. So we have our technical support engineer.

It's listed as a networking preferred, I believe.

And I actually am the, for North America, I screen, I'd say, most of those resumes.

I'd say the majority of them, 80 to 90% of them. I also do the phone screens for those and panel interviews.

So you'll talk to me if you're applying for that role.

Garrett's team is the escalation engineer. So this is the team that are support engineers, and they have taken the customer's inquiry as far as they can, and they need to escalate it to another team who can reach out to engineering or to other teams to get a resolution to the customer's issues.

The business analyst is actually a new role for us where we're actually looking at our data to see better ways to improve our processes, to make sure we're putting our efforts into the right locations.

And then finally, we have just security operations engineer.

I believe this is listed as a network security engineer in Greenhouse. It's the same role.

And here you are interviewing for a role in the security operations center within support.

So this is a SOC as a service. So your job will be to know a lot about layer three and four networking as well as layer seven networking and be really up to date on our security products so that you can make changes.

Well, probably not make changes, but at least suggest changes for customers and be their front line of defense in the Cloudflare portion of their security posture.

We actually just changed the title security operations support engineer.

So there you go. Looking forward on the careers page. I know it's changed a couple of times.

Hey, we talk about change, right? I mean, they're watching it like in the moment.

So changes all the time. There's never a boring day at Cloudflare.

Well, thank you, George. I really appreciate that. So I'm going to go ahead and talk about what a profile of a great candidate.

This is not an all -encompassing list.

It's just some of the things that we found help somebody to feel or successful or have success here within the organization.

Talked a little bit about the customers, but are you driven to provide customers world-class experience, even if that's through supportive functions?

So whether it's directly or indirectly, do you love making sure that customers have fantastic experiences?

Again, customers, if you're passionate about helping customers, you can say, I love customers.

You can't say that now. Do you like to contribute to the success of the entire business?

Do you enjoy being a part of a company that's at the forefront of industries?

And do you love solving technical problems? I bring the tactical into that.

While we do have a lot of non -tech roles, I do find that people that have technical inclination are highly technical, understand logic.

All those different types of things can thrive in an environment that like Cloudflare.

Because we are so high-tech and we do focus mostly on types of products that interact with each other to provide Internet capabilities, it's important that we know how to speak about those things.

So a true knowledge and love of technology, I think it's probably at the core of somebody here, even if they don't know everything about everything.

Because that's okay, right? Giving an example, our program managers don't all know every single one of our product, how to troubleshoot them.

But what they do is they come to the table with amazing program management knowledge, some love for Cloudflare, some ideas behind technology.

They get the logic of things and sometimes can speak to a lot, actually a lot of times can speak to how things work.

Those are, I think, some of the core things that make somebody a really great candidate.

One of the things that is really great for a technical support engineer is the loves to learn independently and together.

I say that because when you're growing and being at the edge of technology, it takes a little bit of love for that technology for you to want to know and want to be constantly at the edge of understanding what's next, what's on the horizon, what just came out with this product.

So it takes somebody that really wants to look at products, kind of understand what's happening out in the industry, how our products are interacting with other products, GitHub, my goodness, we use WordPress, a lot of different types of things.

So that would be the best advice that I have. And come being yourself, that would be the best, another best advice I have.

I think it's important that each person contributes their own unique.

All right. So the next thing, George, if it's okay, I'm going to have for you is to talk about our cross -collaboration.

Right. So we are a very collaborative bunch. It's very much like a very large startup in a lot of ways, having worked at a startup of three or four people, a couple of hundred people, we still have that field where if I need an answer for a product, I can reach out to a system engineer or, you know, if I need to talk to someone in our trust and safety team or our people team, we're constantly collaborating to get the best answers for our customers.

It could be something as simple as compliance.

Hey, does this apply for this particular circumstance or, you know, even the partner teams have unique setups for some partners.

So, yeah, we talked a lot about each other. We do that in many ways, where we use tools like what we're on right now to communicate.

We use a lot of chat for instant communication.

We do email still, but when we're in the office, we might just walk down to someone's desk on another team and say, hey, you know, I was chatting with you about this.

You know, what do you think about maybe these options?

So it's not a siloed company. We're free to reach out to other teams as needed to solve customer issues and to solve issues for our teams.

With IT, we talk to them about making sure that the tools that we use line up with what they need to keep us all in a nice, secure manner.

I guess they also work with the security team.

They're kind of on the same path to make sure that everything is compliant to our compliance needs.

And, yeah, the best collaboration I think happens with our engineering teams.

We reach out to both our product managers and our engineering managers to find real solutions for some of the more edge cases with someone using a product in a way maybe a little out of our scope and it's not doing something right.

So we find a way to find solutions. So those are really fun ones to work on when we collaborate with the rest of the company.

Yeah, the customization.

Lots of products, lots of ways to use them. That's the fun part about it.

Right. All right. Here's some tips and advice for candidates. So I'll start at the bottom because it kind of gives you an idea of what an actual process through the recruiting process would look like.

We do phone screens, as George talked about.

He does a lot of them. I have another person on my team, Chris, that we take turns.

It really just depends. We are very, very hands on in recruitment.

And in some ways we recruit backwards, which depends. But we like to directly talk with people very, very quickly.

That's very important to us that we understand who they are and what they're hoping to achieve.

We do team interviews.

Those are very, very important. That way we're really understanding whether or not it's going to be a really great fit for you as well as us and make sure that you'd be happy in that particular role.

Plus, that gives us an opportunity to independently assess the candidates and understand who they are as people.

That's very important to us. Then you'll go to an executive call. We go to offer and then orientation.

Now, that's Cloudflare orientation. Past that, we do have our own support onboarding.

And depending on what role you would be in would depend on how much time you would spend in that support onboarding.

The longest is going to be the technical support engineers.

And right now they spend months, at least three months, training with our team to make sure that they have all the tools, knowledge to be as successful as they possibly can going into the role.

Now, for technical roles, you may need to perform a pre-hire evaluation.

This includes talking about information about networking. We dive into the types of products we have, the types of product uses that we have, and what your day may be like.

This is just to make sure that, A, that person has base knowledge that will make them successful in this role.

Now, some people can learn really, really fast.

But having a really great base knowledge is going to make that person exceptionally successful because their stress level will be less for them to grow and expand within that role.

Because again, we are working with a high level of technicality.

So coming in with a base level knowledge across our product suites, or at least a couple of our product suites, you don't have to know all of our product suites.

That would be impossible for any single person to know, although we try.

But if you have knowledge across a couple of our product suites, that's the sweet spot, right?

That's where you understand different types of products, how they work together, and what that means.

Test our services. We have free plans, so you can learn about what they do by doing it.

Free domains out there.

Use our free services. Don't hesitate, because that's exactly what our customers do every day.

And you have the ability, or anybody does have the ability, to do so with those free accounts, or at least up to what is available under their free account.

Come up with your interviews with unique ideas and solutions. Put the customer first.

And be yourself. So George, I know we have about two minutes left, or one minute.

So what I will do is skip to the last one, say, please come join us if you'd like to, and then we're going to go out with a little quick story, George, if that's okay.

Sure. So the one fun thing about being in support, if you're truly passionate about helping customers, helping people, and working for Cloudflare's mission, which is to help build a better Internet, we really do get to do this every single day.

I can think of one particular instance fairly recently where a customer was expecting a huge increase in traffic, and they had been having a few smaller issues.

So we put together a team to work with this customer to make sure that we had everything set right on the Cloudflare end, that they were using our services to the best of their ability.

So with this team, we were able to make sure that they were all set to take this influx of traffic and not have any major issues.

Well, by the teams working together, both our teams and their team, they were able to take the increase in traffic, maintain their security posture, and the site's performance and reliability stayed where it should be as well.

So this collaborative effort really got us to across the finish line, and we delivered for them.

And I think at the end of the day, the customer was really happy for the support from our team.

It's a lovely story, and it talks about the complexity of the types of things we do.

So thank you for that, George. And I think that brings us to time, doesn't it?

Got around 30 more seconds. But yeah, I would just reiterate everything you all just said.

We should definitely look forward to all of your applications and phone screening you and meeting you.

So if you're watching today, don't hesitate to apply.

If you're interested in a role that's not on the website, feel free to email careersat as well.

We may not have the position today, but those positions may exist tomorrow.