Cloudflare TV

Post Sales Success at Cloudflare

Presented by Arwa Ginwala, Michael Manov
Originally aired on 

While Cloudflare does not offer professional/managed services, learn how we provide our customers with continued support post sales through our customer success managers, solutions engineers and 24*7 support team. Hear from our teams about customer stories and how they have been set up for success.

Customer Stories

Transcript (Beta)

Hi everyone, thank you for joining our another segment of post-sales success at Cloudflare.

We have been doing these for past two weeks and this is our third segment today.

For all our new viewers, this segment is aimed at showing Cloudflare's strength on the post-sales side of things.

Even though Cloudflare doesn't offer managed or professional services, we have a bunch of people working behind the scenes to make sure that our customers are set up for success post-sales.

Some of the most important teams that our customers engage with are customer success managers, solution engineers, as well as our 24 by 7 customer support.

I am Arwa Ginwala and I'm on the field solutions engineering team in San Francisco.

I work with customers both on the pre-sales as well as post-sales side. I help some of our strategic customers with their integrations with Cloudflare.

I help them with best practices and also work with them on their upcoming technical strategies and plan.

Just sort of be their technical advocate. With me today, I have Michael who is on our customer success team.

Michael, I'll let you introduce yourself.

Thank you, Arwa. Like she said, I am Michael. I'm on the customer success team.

I've actually been with Cloudflare for about four years. Right now, I work completely post-sales, very customer -facing role.

I'm like the day-to-day contact for a good amount of accounts.

All my customers, if there's anything you need, you already know to reach out to me.

I do have a history on the support team here at Cloudflare.

That's where I started at Cloudflare. A little bit of a technical background there.

I kind of know the ins and outs of support operations and how the escalation process works.

That's been pretty helpful too. I absolutely love it here and very much looking forward to answering some questions.

Awesome. Thank you very much for joining us, Michael.

The format of this show for everyone who is a new viewer is as follows.

I have a set of questions which I think are most relevant for our post-sales customers and just understanding how Cloudflare works internally as well as with our customers post-sales.

I'll be asking these questions to Michael who, based on his experience with Cloudflare, will help us answer and help our customers and viewers understand how Cloudflare helps their customers post -sales.

With that, ready for your first question, Michael? Let's do it. Awesome. How does the support escalation process work?

Say the customer submits their ticket through call or through email, what happens behind the scene to make sure that the customer issue is resolved as soon as possible?

Okay, that's a good question. Like you mentioned, there are a couple of ways to get in touch with support.

Some people might use the chat that's available, the live chat from the dashboard.

That's better for quick questions, not so much for bigger issues or troubleshooting anything.

Basically, the big two are the two you mentioned, which is writing a ticket, which can be done via email, or calling in the support line.

In either case, we pretty much always will track it down with the ticket. Even if you call in, the first thing that they'll ask is, is there already a ticket?

Does a ticket need to be made right now?

Just somewhere where the team can troubleshoot, review notes, link it to any internal escalations, things like that.

Essentially, the way the process works is you write in a ticket and there's an enterprise support staff that's constantly there.

They work alongside the self-serve support staff, but they're specifically there for the enterprise queue.

There's someone on the team who's going to go through and triage.

The purpose of having one person going through the tickets is this gives the person an awareness of what issues come in.

If we see maybe two or three issues of something that's an uncommon problem coming in the same day, that's the person to go, hold on, we might have an issue here.

A lot of times we can stop things before pretty much anyone finds out.

It usually takes a couple of write-ins for someone to scratch their head.

The first thing is it goes through a triaging process. From then it's split in a priority based on really what other things are happening that day, what kind of issue it is.

If it's impacting production traffic or anything in prod, then that's going to be taken pretty seriously.

It gets triaged, then it goes into the queue basically for the rest of the enterprise team, then they're constantly answering tickets.

Escalations can happen from there. It usually supports there to troubleshoot.

If there's an issue that can't be troubleshooted, whether it's something that needs to go to an SE, sometimes that happens too.

Most of the time if it needs to be escalated, it's going to an engineering team and we handle that via JIRA.

Zendesk for tickets and then JIRA for our internal tickets and escalations.

It first goes through an escalation engineering team. These are folks that work very closely with support.

Basically the tippy tippy tier. This is where most of the problems will actually end up getting solved.

If for some reason it's an issue with, I don't know, let's say a product release, that's the person that's going to be able to know.

That's the person that has access to all that. They can take it to the appropriate team.

They can continue communication with support because at the end of the day, communicating across all the teams and directly to all of our customers is really important.

If there is a bigger issue going on, like an issue for that day, then we will definitely assign someone on the support team to watch that specific issue and make sure that they're quick on the updates and we know when it's resolved.

Kind of a long answer, but it is a pretty well thought of system at this point.

We've learned through trial and error through the many many years and I think it's gotten to the point where it's a pretty quick and seamless process.

To your point, if there are usually ongoing known issues, would you like to tell our customers, I know for the matter of fact that we do this, but would you like to tell our viewers how we keep our customers up to date with maybe some ongoing issues through proactive communication?

Yeah, so through proactive communication, if there's a likelihood, if there's a chance that a customer is impacted, so usually right away if it's an issue with a product, we'll get a list of here's everyone using this or it's usually not an issue with an entire product, but a specific use case or a specific aspect of the product.

So we're very big on proactive engagement, making sure that hey, we don't know if you're impacted, it's possible, we're just letting you know.

And same afterwards too with our incident responses, so even once things are done, if something triggers an incident, like if it's a big deal, we'll have a write-up afterwards and we're very transparent about what went wrong, how we're going to fix it, time stamps of the events, and that's kind of something that we take a lot of pride in too.

Otherwise, during the course of the actual event, we have a status page, customer status, so that's going to show a quick glance at kind of what's available, what's not, but we also have someone on the support team who's constantly giving out updates to all customers that are impacted, especially once they write in, you just get added to the list, like basically the mailing list of the day for that issue.

Yep. Thank you for sharing that, Michael. I think transparency is one of the key strengths at Cloudflare, I'd say.

So with that, we can move on to the next question.

So it seems like from your answer that a lot of different teams are engaged, trying to triage customer issues and problems.

How do these teams communicate internally and make sure that the wheels are running at the back end?

That's going to be a two -parter. So there's a pre-pandemic and kind of a post-pandemic.

In both cases, we have a chat software that we use internally and that's pretty standard, I would say.

A lot of different rooms pinging directly, that sort of thing.

We also have syncs that we'll do. So just on a higher level, I'll have recurring syncs with a lot of people from the SE team, people from the support team, other account managers, that sort of thing.

But as far as if something's happening and we need to get in touch, chat is definitely a big one.

Those pings, you hear them right away. We have an employee database where we get to see basically all of our own phone numbers, and so we can get in touch with each other if needed.

It's really going to depend on what the issue is, what else is going on, how many people are impacted.

Otherwise, if it's... I'm going to give that extreme example again of something major happened, something's wrong.

We all have phone numbers for all of us, and we'll call whatever managers need to wake up and get going.

And a few times in the past that that's happened, it's a really quick response if someone needs to wake up, so be it.

But what I will say is I miss the in-person, and that's the kind of the pre-pandemic, is we all work from obviously from our offices.

We're really big into coming into the office and seeing each other, so it's...

You probably know this, but it's so easy, like if something's gone wrong, and if it's, again, severe impact production traffic and needs to get resolved right away, I can just get up from my desk, walk over to my solutions engineer or the support team and go, hey, this is what's happening, or is this happening to anyone else?

And so I really, really miss that aspect of it.

But even still, if I need to quickly talk to someone, chat is one way, but I much prefer throwing a quick video call link and just getting a little bit of face-to-face.

I think it's the best way to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings. Right.

So basically to summarize that, we are constantly talking internally, making sure that the customer's issues are getting solved.

And we've mentioned this in some of our past segments that we do have 24 by 7 around the globe support.

So can you highlight a little bit on how handovers happen between maybe one geographic region to another to make sure that no information is lost while working on a customer issue?

Absolutely. That's a great one. So we originally started with kind of three main offices that all had...

They were all about eight hours apart time zone-wise so that everyone could watch tickets on kind of eight-hour intervals.

We've expanded.

We have a lot of in -between offices now. So between San Francisco and London, we have Austin and a few others and so on, a few others in Europe and Asia.

But the big thing is that communication and the continuity and making sure that no issue stops getting looked at just because the main person looking at it like is off for the day.

So what we do is any issues that are still ongoing or any specific tickets that are still being troubleshooted, the teams will do a handover.

So if it's time for the UK to hand over, that would be the Austin and San Francisco teams that kind of pick up.

There's a handover. They go over. There's both a physical sheet, well not a physical sheet, a digital sheet that they look at that we have internally documented and they kind of talk over it to every single point down the list they'll go over.

Here's what's wrong. Here's what we've tried so far.

Here's where it's at. Here's who it's waiting on. Here's the action items.

Here's who to contact. And it's all there and people are tagged and people actually have to kind of claim that task.

So I have to, if I'm handing it off, I have to hand it off to a specific person.

That way we know that it's getting handled but at the same time the whole team hears about it and is kind of aware of what's going on.

Makes sense. Yeah, that's great insight for our customers to know that it's one to know that your ticket is being worked on and then on the other side to actually know what's going on in the background.

So thank you for that insight, Michael.

So that brings me to my next question. A lot of our customers and one important thing I would like to tell our viewers is Cloudflare treats our customers as our partners.

So we want to make sure that we help them achieve the goal that they have set for themselves as well by helping them in every way we can.

So Michael, my next question would be how would we help our customers, help them as partners to achieve their future goals from technical point of view or from a business point of view?

Great question and I totally agree. In my line of work that's exactly how I see it.

It's absolutely a partnership. In order for one of us to be more successful like the other person, the other party tends to be more successful too.

So my job specifically is to make sure that you're aware of your resources, you know how to use them, you're fully utilizing everything that you can, make any potential recommendations.

At the end of the day, my job is my customer success. So there's a lot of ways that we kind of do that.

For me, my favorite is just any sort of communication.

Some customers I know are I'd say maybe a little busier especially if projects are ongoing or they're bigger and have a lot of vendors and so sometimes it's a little bit harder to get a good gauge but to the customers that are open to having business reviews maybe once a quarter, maybe just twice a year or even once a year just to kind of get in touch and align on expectations, that's the best way for me.

So it starts with onboarding. It's typically a very tailored and concise onboarding.

It depends on what products specifically you need to use, what your goals are.

That's when we kind of align on short-term goals, long-term goals, general timelines.

We schedule follow-up meetings. So that onboarding and the onboarding has your entire account team and your designated solutions engineer.

We're all on that call and then from there, like I mentioned, the business reviews, we can do those as often as you'd like.

I have some customers that have very niche cases and this is only a few of them but they'll have a very specific use for Cloudflare and so they're happy with it.

They'll reach out if they have any new products but otherwise they're okay on updates whereas I have other customers who even if they're not interested in necessarily purchasing something, it's send me all the updates you have.

I want to know about new products.

I love emailing updates and that kind of thing too and love going over the stuff on QBRs too.

So you can ask us anything during a, I didn't mention QBR, but a business review quarterly.

We can answer any of those questions and then just making sure your resources are always here.

So even if it's the middle of the night for me, you could still call support.

You can call on the phone and within a minute be talking to a real person.

That's just making sure your resources are there.

The last point would probably be the fact that you do have a designated account team.

Like you mentioned, we don't really have managed services but we do have a group of people that are kind of familiar with your account.

We have a relationship with you. We have contacts with you. You have contacts with us and that's typically why I like to have communicate.

Even if you need to reach out to your SE for any reason, reach out to me also.

CC the rest of the team.

It's so useful to have that knowledge, that insight because then when something comes up, I'll be able to more confidently speak to how we can resolve it, what's okay, what the expectations are and things like that.

But at the end of the day, every experience is different for every customer because we do really try to tailor it to exactly what you need Cloudflare for.

Right and to that point from my experience, I know that I have some customers with whom we have weekly, bi-weekly or monthly cadences as well depending on what suits them.

If they have continuous ongoing configurations, ongoing deployments, we want to make sure that we are there for them having these ongoing cadences to make sure that we help them in every way that we can.

So thank you for that again and then that brings me to my next question which is around user management.

So security is very important for most of our customers.

So can you elaborate a little bit on how can our customers delegate access to different parts of the dashboard to different people within their organization or keep different roles based on duties that they have at their organizations?

So we do have a user management kind of in the main Cloudflare dashboard as you log in.

When you go to see all the members of your organization, you'll actually see that they all have different roles and you can change those roles when you're inviting new people.

You could set different roles. So it can be like roles could for example be like an admin role or super admin role.

Basically give them full control or you can restrict it to like this user on this email address can only see analytics and can only clear the cache but they can't make DNS record changes or anything else like that.

And it's literally just check boxes with what you want to give, what kind of permissions you want to give to the user.

So that would kind of be for the dashboard for all things Cloudflare. But if you have like your own kind of internal apps or anything like that, we have a VPN sort of replacement which is Cloudflare access.

It's I mean we kind of call the single pane of glass into your team's applications as a whole.

So that's that'll kind of let you do that too.

You'll basically secure on-prem apps with SSO and so from there you can configure out you know on a like per user and per application basis who can connect to what.

But for the Cloudflare specific stuff, it's all in the dashboard.

It's all included for every enterprise customer. Yeah and I think we also provide SSO support.

So a single sign-on for integrating with your existing SAML provider and you can access Cloudflare through that as well.

Awesome. So what happens Michael? I mean that's great that we have all these different roles and everything in place.

What happens if a user leaves the company?

Depends on if you've thought about it before. So it's really really really easy to take care of it.

Generally what I recommend in the first place is have multiple super admins because usually the problems might arise if you have one person who's like I've got all this and then they leave the company.

It's so hard to confirm identity and we want to make sure that we're absolutely sure we know who we're talking to before we make any changes.

So you know we're really careful in the few times that we do have to make changes on the back.

But as far as if it's a regular user, it's very easy to remove them from the dashboard.

That's something the admin or the super admin can do no problem whatsoever.

And as long as you have multiple super admins, let's say you have three super admins on an account and one of them leaves, if I get a request from one super admin going you know hey this is super admin B, super admin A left, can you remove them?

I'd probably call the last super admin too and be like hey you know I received this email, can you confirm everything's okay?

I want to hear their voice, I want to know what's them, and if everything checks out and everything's okay then I can you know make that decision on the back end.

But for the most part it's very easy to handle yourself especially if you have multiple super admins and it's all through the dashboard.

Like I mentioned it's all included for every enterprise account. So very very easy to handle but if something you know something goes awry or you're not sure what to do, you can always reach out to us.

We can help you guide like help guide you through that process no problem.

Yeah that's so true and I think this just role management within Cloudflare also helps our support team you know to make sure and authenticate that it's the users from our customers account or known people who are actually reaching out with support requests or reaching out to our CSMs and SE teams just by you know we can validate okay we are getting a request from this email id and that's already of a person who has a specific role that means it's a known person and we can now you know get back to them you know confidently.

We take this very seriously.

I remember it used to be the case where if you called in because we had no way to really verify who you are yeah we could escalate your ticket.

We could look into your ticket but we could only speak on a high level.

We couldn't go into any details on the phone and so we made it so that you actually get a little code now from the dashboard that you can share with the person on the phone to confirm that it's you logged into the dashboard and then from there we can just explain stuff on the phone directly.

The other thing too is let's say you forget your or you get a new cell phone and you forget to move over all your 2FA stuff.

I think all of us have struggled with this at some point.

You get to move things over and now it's like oh I didn't write down my backup codes.

I know I should have but I didn't.

If you write in a support for example email please remove 2FA. The first thing support's going to do is just escalate that right to me.

That's a security thing.

I need to talk to somebody specifically from your organization. Make sure it's legitimate.

Usually I'll call the super app and go hey this user asked to reset 2FA.

Is this legit? Is this okay? Yeah. So yeah like you were about to mention I mean security is something we take very very seriously and so that kind of goes hand in hand with service and that's I think one of the biggest benefits of having a CSM and having that account team is it's a good mix of you know being secure and knowing when like something's wrong and knowing who to alert when something's wrong but at the same time making sure there's no friction when you actually need to get things done especially quickly.

Right. Yeah. Thanks for that.

I learned something new. I didn't know about the codes in the dashboard that you can give during the call.

So thank you for that. Awesome. I think that those are all the questions that I had today but I would like to leave some time.

I hope that wasn't too bad. No. This is great. This is fun. Awesome. So I would want to leave some time since you've been one of our senior CSMs.

You've seen a lot of customer deals, a lot of customer post sales issues that you've helped customers with.

Are there any top stories that you have that you would like to share with our viewers?

Top story. There's so much that's happened throughout the years. So just to narrow everything down I'm going to look at something a little more recent and we might have time for multiple stories.

We'll see. But let's keep it on the topic I guess of support help too.

So since switching over the success team and it's been over a year for me now being a CSM, I still just like the rest of the team work very very closely with support.

And it's really really cool to when I think when we go kind of out of our way to help each other out and help our customers out.

So the story I have in mind, this is from a particular restaurant company that was one of my customers, is one of my customers.

Actually I love the restaurants.

I'm very stoked they're one of my customers. Beginning of this year they were under attack and I remember the attack coming at a weird time of day or they're on the U.S.

team so their whole designated account team is in the U.S. and it was like four o'clock or 4 30 when this happened.

They were planning on getting on a bridge call after and this is, I mean it's so short notice to try to get an SE.

As you know SEs typically are, it's one thing after another.

That's why we try to schedule things on your behalf is to make sure that things run efficiently.

Can't get an SE, five o'clock's approaching.

So we had, my plan was to transition from one support team to the other support team but what ended up happening is one person got on the bridge call at four o'clock from support.

I joined at four o'clock, you know from the CSM side.

I had access to back-end stuff as did support. We were able to kind of troubleshoot and add things and so what we decided is after changing a couple of settings and the attack seemed mitigated for a little bit and then it would come back.

Eventually we figured rate limiting might be a good thing to test out and it was as simple as we just kind of gave it to them and we're like consider this your you know your trial period go and gave them rate limiting.

Helped them set it up on the phone right there and then we stayed on and just kind of watched the attack get mitigated and talked about food and I'm kind of hungry right now just thinking about it but it was just so cool that we were able to be there for them because they were worried and obviously the fear is always like what if it's a competitor?

What if my website doesn't recover? What if I lose data?

So it was just really really cool to be able to reassure them to have a whole team on the phone and yeah it's just great to have that support from the support team.

So they really are a really pivotal kind of part of the organization and making sure things go smoothly.

So I think that's a good case that you know a good example that shows support kind of going out of their way.

We do have time to keep going so I'll kind of mention a different story too.

Another thing about about support and this is true for some other teams on Cloudflare too but it's a very very good role.

Let's say if you're already doing support work or you're already technical and you kind of do this thing you switch over to Cloudflare support you learn a lot of Cloudflare specific stuff.

It's not like a lot of other, it's not like a help desk.

We don't really have a customer says this we need to answer with this.

It's very on the fly. We're troubleshooting. I say we I'm not on the support team anymore but I was you know I'm proud to have been part of the CSIP team so I'm going to say we.

We do that the troubleshooting there and we learn a lot about the product itself and sometimes over the years we decide like hey I really like this specific product and we go and we end up working for that specific team.

So it's kind of a like a little incubator for Cloudflare where people come they learn and they move up and so because of that there is a lot of training that happens and typically we keep that to the free customers and then self-serve.

I had a customer who this was earlier this year I don't remember which quarter first half of this year and they had signed up and they wrote in to Cloudflare support.

It was just a list of questions and support got back to them and it was kind of back and forth for a little bit but then the customer called me and was like you know I didn't feel like it was sufficient.

There wasn't enough information and to be fair I do think like we could have maybe elaborated a little bit more in that specific case and it was easy to just talk to the CSIP person and hey this was the feedback can you go over this detail and they did and I made sure the customer knew like if you're ever if something feels wrong or if you're ever not happy with something just communicate that like we can we can elaborate on our points we can find someone else to explain if an escalation needs to happen an escalation can happen but since then this person has actually utilized support quite a lot and I love logging into my my dashboard and kind of seeing what which customers of mine write in because we turned him into a believer of support and actually last quarter this particular company this is different from the first company I was talking about but this company had a very very successful last quarter and anytime they needed a new product which they needed a couple it was it was really quick from support to come to me to get it going the same day everything good packaged up ready to go so I think in both of those cases the kind of I guess overarching theme is support really is I think the backbone to a lot of our operations they're they're the forefront that see a lot of kind of tickets come in they have a good understanding of what's going on we all rely on them they work very very very hard but those are also typically the people that end up staying at Cloudflare for a long time and a lot of other positions so I know SCs that have come from the support team I'm a CSM that's come from the support team and it's just it's so cool to see kind of those people grow so if you know you have an SC or CSM that their name sounds familiar they might have answered a ticket of yours in the past.

Right yeah and I think that's it's more so internally but I can't brag enough how easy it is to move between roles and you know get different experiences within Cloudflare so you might have an SC who is you know worked in support or a CSM like yourself who's worked in support and you might have so many people with different sort of knowledge and talents looking at your issue and you know that sort of helps make things faster and easier you know for the customers to be solved but thank you very much for all your insightful answers today Michael this was really helpful I hope our viewers got answers to most of their questions we don't have any active questions from our viewers today but thank you everyone for watching hopefully we'll do more of these we don't have one upcoming scheduled but look out for the Cloudflare TV schedule to look out for more of these thank you very much for joining us thank you again Michael and have a good one everyone.

Thank you Arwa, take care everyone, bye. you