Cloudflare TV

Cloudflare Careers Day: Supporting the Cloudflare Customer Community

Presented by Nicolas Gayerie, Matteo Manfredi, Tom Klein
Originally aired on 

Hear from our Customer Support Team and how they champion giving the best experience to our customers! The team will also be introducing an external MVP of the online Cloudflare Community and discussing how the wider community help with Cloudflare customer support.

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Transcript (Beta)

Hi everyone, this is Nicolas. I'm one of the team leads from the customer support team for Cloudflare.

So welcome to this new segment of Cloudflare TV for the Carrier Day.

So today I'm joined with Matteo from Milan who is one of the community MVP and Tom from Germany who is one of the technical support engineers from the Cloudflare side.

And so today we wanted to talk about how the customer support team in Cloudflare is working with the community, with the Cloudflare community and especially with the MVPs.

So very quickly, the community is like the forum for Cloudflare.

So you can discuss technical stuff, you can ask questions and then people help each other in the community.

And so we have Matteo here. So Matteo, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Thanks. So I am one of the MVPs. I've been part of the community for around four years now and it's been a fun project and a fun thing to see the growth of the community and see the start of the MVP program.

It was great. We are obviously not the only MVP. There are others and so it's a great group and it's always fun to interact with people and interact with staff as well.

It's always a great thing. And actually Tom is one of the staff members who is working in the community from time to time.

So Tom, can you tell us a bit about yourself maybe?

So I'm a technical support engineer with Cloudflare and I started in October 2020.

And yeah, I use the community a lot to practice the onboarding stuff and so on and to get to know the other issues that Cloudflare members have.

And yeah, I actually joined Cloudflare because I was a customer since 2014, I guess, 2015, something like that.

And yeah, it was always fun to work here. We have a really great team and the community is really fun because it's actually a little bit more casual.

It's more or less people helping each other and trying to get great things across the line and not just, yeah, I have an issue and hey, let me help you.

Yeah, true. And then, Matteo, maybe a question for you is how did you end up on this community?

Like did you use Cloudflare before or was it... Yeah, I was using Cloudflare probably since when the first point of presence in Italy was started like years ago.

I can't even remember the date now. And then I noticed when the community started, like I said, four years ago, I joined because there were opportunities to test stuff, to figure out stuff and to check new stuff out, new products, new announcements.

So I joined like that. And then over time, I realized I liked helping and I like replying to people because sometimes you know stuff and sometimes you learn stuff.

And so you go ahead and slowly transition to replying more and more.

And then as the MVP program started, we were selected and history.

Can you actually tell us a bit more about that? Like what is an MVP in the community?

An MVP is one of many people now, but it started as a small group which was helping, more helpful to others.

They were helping more. And so it was a way to recognize people that have contributed a lot.

And so over the years, there's been a lot of additions because people join the community and probably as myself realized that they like helping.

So they started maybe to ask for help, but then they realized that others need help in things that they know.

And so everyone is trying and slowly coming on and answering people.

And then lo and behold, you find yourself replying every day because you like it and people are fun and conversations and maybe one day even meet one day.

Yeah. The situation is not great right now to meet a community MVP meetup or something like that.

But yeah, maybe one day, as I said, I think some of the MVPs actually came to visit the office.

I remember when I was in London.

Yeah. I visited once. I know other people have. It's always fun to meet face-to-face with people that you met only online.

And so it's always great.

And people are always fun going around. Can you tell us also, I think you are a student at the moment, but you are...

Yeah, I'm studying computer engineering.

Yeah. I'm studying computer engineering in Turin and I'm hopefully with all this coming around, I'm hopefully going to finish soon.

And so then I'll be working and joining the community and stuff.

And so, yeah, maybe one day applying, maybe.

We'll see. You know, I'm going to remind it to everyone, we are always hiring, so you can always check our carrier pages and especially in the technical support, we are looking for people in different places.

So I can really recommend everybody, raise your hand in the segment to check the carrier pages.

And yeah, Matteo, you'll be a great support engineer actually. Thank you. Maybe a question for Tom.

So you've been part of an initiative from the customer support team to be active in the community to try to help the MVPs and anybody that is using the community.

So can you tell us a bit more about this? Yeah. So what we do is that certain staff members from the support team are joining the community each week for two hours and try to assist MVPs and also the community as a whole to get issues communicated to fix bugs, to answer the questions of any customers has any.

And we're trying to shift towards the community because it really helps basically sharing the solutions to issues to the whole Internet and make it searchable through Google and through our community search.

And yeah, basically just allows others to find a solution to an issue that somebody else already had.


I think one of the great things of the community is that all the questions are actually indexed in Google.

So the more we have questions that are actually answered, they are actually searchable and then people can find some solutions to the issue in using any product.

Yeah, exactly. I think I can say that we get questions about anything in the community.

I think you guys can confirm. Yeah. We get questions ranging from very specific and very hard to guess and very hard to recognize problems inside Cloudflare, which sometimes are hard even on the support engineers because they need to handle and to look around and find solutions, which are great then to be out in the public because people who have that issues then can find them.

And then other times it's like simple, very simple stuff. But obviously if you're a beginner and you've started just now with anything, you can't know everything obviously.

And so it's great to have the big variation in difficulty levels and all that.

And also sometimes some particular topics are very important.

So they are actually made into tutorials and there are whole write-ups done by us or staff or even sometimes people who reply, who are not MVPs or not staff, but do great replies and do great things.

And so they are turned into tutorials, which people can find and reference.

Yeah. I also remember a situation from last week, I guess, where your MVPs found that multiple customers had an issue about direct connect records.

And yeah, they seem to suddenly stop working.

And yeah, then I received a list from whoever it was. I don't know if it was you, Mathieu.

I don't know. I believe it was me and Dom probably. I'm not sure. But someone sent me a couple of threads about people having the same issue.

And when we started answering them and started basically answering with solutions and how we can fix that, more and more people started replying to these threads instead of creating support tickets, instead of creating new threads, they started replying on the same thread, which helped us to get it fixed faster than ever, basically.

And that was a really good thing where the community helped us. Yeah. I think it's a good example of the right way to use a community.

And I think that's also a great way for us as part of Cloudflare, from the customer support team, but also from the product manager team, they get some feedback directly from the customers, from the community, whether it's customers creating a thread, asking about the question, asking about the feature, asking to improve the product.

And also, obviously from the MVPs, like the MVPs like Mathieu, you know, the product, you know, Cloudflare, you know, the issues that the customer are facing.

And so I see that when I go to the communities, sometimes it's to try to convert this feedback and to get it to the product manager so that we can always improve the product.

And I think it's a big part of having this community. Yeah. We also see how customers are actually using our products and how they are implementing it in their specific setting.

And I guess it also helps the product teams to tailor this product more to fit the customer.

Sorry for interrupting Mathieu.

No, no, no, no, no. It was a great answer. I was going to say basically the same thing.

It's also like, sometimes you see product managers, especially some of the most consumer-facing products, Cloudflare for Teams, Gateways, Warp, and

So those products, there are always on the community and they join, they suggest features, they propose features.

They sometimes even publish things in preview saying like, we are planning on this.

Can you try it? Does it work?

And people, MVPs and not, and some others, which actually joined just for that, just like I did four years ago.

They joined and they say like, yeah, I'm using it like that.

And maybe the product team realizes that there is a new use case that they haven't thought about because the world is varied and people have different use cases.

So that's always great. And everyone is not easy to figure out every single possible setting and every single possible combination.

And so the possibility of having multiple people trying and implementing it is always fun and it's always interesting.

For me, it's definitely one of the advantages of the community.

It's this direct relationship between you, like the MVPs and the product managers.

I think you've been involved in workshops with them, haven't you? Yeah. Sometimes you get also like feedback calls and design sessions.

And so those sessions are always very fun, but also very informative to me, but also I guess to the managers because they tend to come back once they start doing that.

So I feel like they like doing these sessions because obviously you see both from like a beginner side up to probably an MVP or even some very advanced users which are known and know like some details.

And also like as MVPs seeing a lot of questions, you see the broad range of people.

And so you realize and say like, yeah, I know what this is going to do.

I know what this button is going to do, but maybe if I were a new user and knowing what people are saying, what people are viewing, maybe I would change this thing or I would modify this or move it or change the text or whatever, because it helps or because it might be easier or it might be more intuitive or something.

But it's always very informative, I believe both ways.

And also it's a way to introduce people and like everyone can join in on one of those calls.

So they are always open to having anything.

Yeah, that's great. And I think that's something also we can really recommend to any viewers.

Like if you want to provide feedback to the Cloudflare products, the community is a great place to start.

I think there's actually a category that is product feedback.

Yeah, there is a category for product feedback for feature requests.

And also there are categories for basically every single product inside Cloudflare.

So you can, especially if you're good at categorizing, which is not always easy, but if you're good at categorizing the product, it's always, it helps us and also the staff, because sometimes if you are from the work team, you are not going to check out the workers section because you don't expect to have things there.

So if you are good at categorizing, there's always a great hint that I can give, because otherwise you need to wait for someone to actually do that.

And it's always a big help, especially for quick and easy answers.

Talking about the categories actually in the community, I think there's categories for different languages also.

So in French, in Italian, in German, in Chinese, there's always- And also the platform that the community is on allows you to translate stuff.

So it's very easy. It recognizes what your browser wants.

And so it allows you to translate. Maybe it's not perfect, but obviously if your mother tongue is Italian and you translate from English to Italian, maybe it's not perfect, but you understand the concept, you understand the topic.

And also now with support engineers and MVPs around the world, we have a wide array of languages.

I mean, we have four here, English, French, and German, at least.

So it's a wide variety of languages. Yeah. No, that's definitely one thing.

And I think that's where the communities are really great, is to help people with anything they can face.

And I remember actually as a user, like before I joined Cloudflare, I used to be a sysadmin and I remember working with IBM solutions like Domino, Lotus back in the days.

And for me, I was really happy to find the community and find some help from actual users, from people from IBM, from Domino.

So I think communities can really help you in your professional way to find solutions and help improve the way you implement your application, your software, whatever, and really help you in your work.

So I don't know I know that you are also kind of a sysadmin in your company.

And so does it help you in this matter?

Yeah, it always helps because I have some help in the MVP group, but also sometimes you have some weird issue that comes up and it's like, what can I do when you maybe look out, look in the community, search and find something or write a new section, write a new topic and someone like, oh yeah, I had that issue, mine presented in that particular way, like what Tom was saying before with the Direct Connect records.

Probably if you open various tickets, each and every one separate from each other, it would have taken more time to figure out the actual issue because everyone would have been handled maybe by a different person and you couldn't come to the actual core of the issue and maybe you were going through and lose time thinking that maybe there is an issue with this particular zone or that particular thing.

And so if you have multiple people that can chime in, it's like you can get to the bottom of the issue faster, especially in more technical stuff, because as everyone, support engineers can't know everything.

So having others that can join in and chime in and it's always helpful.

Also, we're sometimes so focused on what the issue could be and we forgot to investigate other ways and in the community, everybody can chime in and view this issue from their perspective and maybe find something that helps us get to the final solution.

Exactly, because that specific issue you had, it was to do with MX records and those are always, they always for the most part now, but they used to be a specific issue that you go through and if that isn't the case, you lose time, you go through that path which doesn't lead to anything and you need to have someone or someone else or some way to figure out, oh yeah, you need to change the perspective and maybe comment and it's not the usual issue, it's another issue that can happen because it does.

Tom, would you say that the Cloudflare community or other communities actually helped you in your previous career as a web developer?

Yeah, definitely. It really helped because as a web developer, Cloudflare was a really important part for me because it provides all the security that you need basically and it's really important to get your security right because especially if you're on something like game servers or something, there's a lot of people who try to get you offline and having it configured right was really important and sometimes you come across issues, you see that features that Cloudflare has more features that you can use to improve your site rather than just secure it and some of them you need to configure the right way and if you don't do that, it might lead to some issues, there might be some errors, there might be something that's just not working and having a community there is really good because people can take more time to actually get you to understand how the features work to try to get you to understand what the setting that you changed is actually doing and why it actually fixes the issue and therefore, it was a really good thing for me.

And I think you also used the community to get even more familiar with Cloudflare just before joining actually the company.

Yeah, I joined a couple of days before my start date because I was just so excited to get started to fix issues.

I mean, before I joined Cloudflare, I was working with a couple of companies as a freelance developer and always integrated Cloudflare with them and it was really great to actually see the same kind of issues always repeating and to try to help basically others with my experience that I already had and to get a better feeling for how to deal with potential customers or how to deal with issues that may arise.

Yeah, I just created a Cloudflare community account to try to get as many touches as I can to see what others are facing issues with, how we can improve, how I can improve with my replies and yeah, I managed to get like 100 replies a day and it was really fun actually.

It wasn't just work or something, it was really fun to see how I could push others to get their things done and it was really awesome.

I think that the fun side of things is also something very important in the community and we have actually a viewer telling us that Mateo, you forgot to say that you talk about food a lot in the community.

Your hijackers. Yeah, when the MVPs and the support staff and other staff because it's not only support staff but they join in.

Obviously, you are from all over the world and sometimes there are those slower days and so you say like, oh are we going, what did you have for breakfast and then sometimes yeah but I didn't have breakfast, I was just having dinner because it's another time zone and so everyone starts posting images of food and whatever so it's always fun seeing everyone's everyone's food tastes and discussing that stuff especially now.

It's always interesting and it's always very, very fun.

What I think is we're living in a world full of automation.

I mean, you can look at lots of IT companies and you always get automated replies.

You never find any context to some companies, you never know how to reach some companies.

Don't want to mention any names here but I think the Cloudflare community is really something that's completely against it.

It really provides this human element of not just support but also you can just exchange about interesting stuff you have built with Cloudflare for example or maybe with other products that just fit together with Cloudflare and it could be really inspiring at some points.

Yeah and Matteo, so you were saying that you're about actually to start your career so do you think that the Cloudflare community will still have a place in your career?

Obviously, yeah. I like replying, I like the people, I like the lounge, I like all the stuff that goes around and all the people I met through the community.

I don't think I will ever leave it willingly.

Some have the power to make me leave it forcefully by deleting my account but I guess apart from that I don't think people and many people have actually any desire to leave the community and so it's always very interesting, very fun, very engaging.

I don't know any other adjectives that could work here but I guess you see the point.

It's a very interesting and very fulfilling, I would say, fulfilling role. It's fun.

It's a good idea and I think it's actually a good advice for anyone you're watching.

Be involved. Whether it's in the Cloudflare community, of course everybody is welcome to participate especially if you're a Cloudflare user but be involved in any kind of forums like that.

I think it's very positive for you, for yourself, as part of your career, on the professional side of things.

I think it's definitely a good advice for anyone.

Exactly, yeah. And maybe to follow up on one of the points from Tom, I think we have seen several people just before joining Cloudflare, when they knew that they were going to join the support team, they started to be active in the community to learn more about the product.

So it has also a learning component to be active in the community and so it really helped them.

We have a colleague coming from Brazil, she had to stay there for a while and and she got really active in the community up to a point where she was almost an MVP and it really helped her to be more ready when she was about to join Cloudflare.

So it's the same, if you're about to join Cloudflare, if you want to learn more about Cloudflare, the community is definitely a great place to start.

Yeah and it's a way to tackle the most common issues which are always the ones you are going to see most often.

And it's also great because in the community you see every single type of user, you see free users which are the vast majority but also sometimes the most curious and the most varied use cases and but also sometimes you see more experienced and higher plans and whatever because they maybe like they see they have an issue and they search quickly there and maybe they find something that it's basically their answer or their answer and so they engage.

And so some of the MVPs have an enterprise plan, sometimes they are free users, it's always it's a very healthy mix and it's great to see everyone use their taste and their takes on stuff.

And for Tom, so you're a bit more advanced in your career so you have a couple of years of experience now, so can you tell me a bit more like how did it help you to be part of this community and do you have any advice actually for someone that wants to be a web developer or wants to be a support engineer?

So the community really is a place where you can exchange questions or topics around Cloudflare with others and I mean web development is kind of separate or kind of a different field than customer support itself but at the end it's still something both of those sides help you in the other.

So for example in Cloudflare support really helped me to be a developer or to have some experience as a developer because in the end it's all about web development, it's all about domains, web servers, stuff like that.

And yeah so regardless of what field you choose it helps you at the end to understand the whole picture.

So for me basically when I started using Cloudflare I wasn't really aware of how DNS works exactly or how IPs work and how HTTP works and by just using Cloudflare continuously with my web hosting and my web servers I started to understand how it works behind the scenes basically and this was really really really valuable especially now that every product that you use that's somehow related to web development is more and more on an abstract layer it's basically you don't have to configure much stuff nowadays the most thing is already pre -configured and so I think it really helps understand how the basics work and helps you also get more creative with what you know you can do and what you can basically build with that.

Hope that makes any sense.

Yeah no definitely it makes sense and maybe one follow-up question for you Matteo but so among all the features that you've been helping to support in the community or use it yourself what is your favorite one from Cloudflare?

Oh wow, put me on the spot there.

I mean I love workers, I love those, I like writing stuff for workers but also like the most basic stuff I like DNS, I like can I say everything I mean I'm trying I try to you have to have a use case for every single feature there is just to test it and to do something some are always more common others are less but maybe all of them there's probably would say workers but I'm not sure if it's actually that I like the new products that are coming out the magic one magic firewall magic or the magic something products because they help many people and help myself because they abstract another layer of configuration that you need to do and so yeah I like all of them but one thing actually maybe to mention you're mentioning workers I think that the workers team actually started a chat on discords that can be yeah they have a discord yeah have issues with workers yeah there there is some help in the community I sometimes type and answer those questions I have a backlog of them unfortunately but also sometimes there is discord yeah there's another channel for them because it works better for their type of engagement and so there's a little bit of a split there but it works very well and so you can find the staff there and also some often on the community as well so it is great yeah we we are almost at the end of the of the segment so I wanted to thank both of you to to join me today on the on this car fair segment and uh obviously I would like to thank anybody that is active in the community especially the mvps like it's uh what you've been doing over the years is great like it's it's amazing that you that you are uh you know you are able to help people and uh share the share the love for carflare and all the product help people to start so that's really great and you know on behalf really of the support team we say thank you