Response Time: Vol. 5
You satisfy your customers, but can you satisfy our curiosity?
With Mara Vicente, VP, Customer Solutions at Pipedrive.
Please tell us a little bit about your company and what you do there.
Founded in 2010, Pipedrive is a global, sales-first customer relationship management (CRM) software company that helps small businesses drive revenue and become profitable. My role is VP, Customer Solutions, leading 140 people whose mission is to provide support throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
Which celebrity would be really great at your job, and why?
Leslie Jones would probably be great at it! She would be able to memorize a ton of information and pass it over to customers in a super fun and engaging way! She can wing it and adjust to any change in direction of any conversation (being a comedian and all).
Plus, during an interview on the Ellen show, Leslie Jones shared that she once did telemarketing … so, there you go! :)
“After 20+ years in the customer service world, I know resilience is key to thriving in this job”
What’s the most valuable thing that working in customer service has taught you?
After 20+ years in the customer service world, I know resilience is key to thriving in this job. If you are resilient, you’ll be able to build the courage, patience, and focus to face workload fluctuations, changes in processes, unforeseen incidents, and distressed customers. You can trust that there’s always a solution coming for everything we’re facing – and that being negative, defensive, or emotional about it will only add to the problem. And then life happens, and that problem is solved and you get to live the positive change and fuel from it.
What’s your greatest productivity hack?
We customer service professionals just hate to fail others! So any task, project, or deadline that can potentially affect others and their ability to also make an impact will make me focus more, work harder, deliver sooner. The fact that one of our core company values is “team first” also really helps here, obviously. It’s part of our DNA, I’d say.
What gif best describes your mental state right now?
What’s the best customer service you’ve ever experienced?
When I stayed at a hotel with my seven-year-old daughter (who was almost the only kid there at the time) and the hotel staff would cook special meals just for her and even offered her a tiny t-shirt with the hotel logo and a sentence “I slept out already” as a reminder that she was once there. They went out of their way to make her smile every single day. They won me over for life!
What’s the worst customer service you’ve ever experienced?
I was waiting in a queue at a telco store for like 15 minutes, only to be moved into another queue for 10 more minutes, and then that person went on a break right when my number came up … and they lost me then and there.
Is a burger a sandwich?
What’s the strangest thing a customer has asked you?
“Can I come visit you in Portugal?”
What can you do that a bot will never be able to replicate?
Give birth. Sorry, bots…
What do you doodle when you’re on video calls?
I write down the main ideas so as not to lose track and focus.
“Always fight to have a seat at the table and represent your customer – their pain points, wants, and wishes”
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to your peers in the customer service industry?
Always fight to have a seat at the table and represent your customer – their pain points, wants, and wishes. You are a key source of feedback and a key partner for any other department, so make yourself heard!
What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam M. Grant for the second time. Always good to go back to quotes like this one: “We learn more from people who challenge our thought process than those who affirm our conclusions. Strong leaders engage their critics and make themselves stronger. Weak leaders silence their critics and make themselves weaker. This reaction isn’t limited to people in power. Although we might be on board with the principle, in practice we often miss out on the value of a challenge network.”
What’s the best thing a customer has ever said to you?
We work with some customers that run their own companies and customer support teams. We’ve had a customer tell us they were building their support team mirroring what we were doing, because they felt it was the best support experience they’ve seen. If that doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will!
Where do you get your support leadership news?
Multiple forums – we have a weekly senior leadership sync where we share what’s new amongst peers. We also share a weekly newsletter with the entire customer solutions org on every new process, product release, marketing campaign, and any relevant information impacting customer-facing teams. And we conduct a monthly all-hands meeting with the entire customer solutions org where we look back at the path taken that year, understand where we are, and also where we are headed – and how we are getting there.
“If you live long enough, you’ll know that one job, role, or task does not define your worth, and one failure today gives room for learning, growth, and success tomorrow”
What words make your skin crawl?
“Worthless” and “never” – especially when related to people’s competencies. If you live long enough, you’ll know that one job, role, or task does not define your worth, and one failure today gives room for learning, growth, and success tomorrow. “Never” is just too big of a word, especially in a world with self-driving and ChatGPT.
How would you explain your job to an alien?
I’m here for you. All the way, every day. That’s what I do.
What’s your most used emoji in customer chats?
It’s got to be 🙏 from customers in need of help and after the situation is resolved and we read the great responses from the customers.
Do you identify more with the title “customer support,” customer service,” “customer success,” or “customer experience,” and why?
“Customer Solutions,” actually. We support and serve to improve the customer experience, and help customers reach success by providing them with SOLUTIONS.
What was your “15 minutes of fame” moment?
My new role was mentioned in a Portuguese newspaper and someone shared it online. So many of my childhood friends celebrated that as if it had happened to them. It was a glorious moment – never felt so proud of an accomplishment!
“I wish people knew how passionate customer service professionals are about their customers and how fierce, combative, and loud we get to bring the hot topics to light and to be the voice of the customer”
What do you wish people knew about working in customer service?
I wish people knew how passionate customer service professionals are about their customers and how fierce, combative, and loud we get to bring the hot topics to light and to be the voice of the customer (as loudly as possible). We’re fighting the good fight, so don’t be afraid to be assertive and complain, to share feedback, to suggest changes, to ask for enhancements. Companies will never fix what they don’t know is broken ;)
Conversation closed… for now 😏
If you’re interested in being featured in our Response Time series, you can share your insights on customer service – and thoughts on whether a burger’s a sandwich or not – with us here.