“Other side of the table” is a series featuring user researchers, their work, ideas, and challenges along the way. This week we’re featuring Emilia D’Anzica, VP of Customer Engagement at WalkMe, a platform that makes it faster and easier for users to adopt new digital systems. Emilia shares her secrets to creating a winning customer experience, tackling digital adoption, and using data to understand what users need before they know they need it. Oh, and puppies.
Let’s get started with the basics, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where you live, hobbies, family, etc.
I am an Italian immigrant who went to school in Canada before stumbling upon San Francisco. I fell in love with the city and never left. I have three amazing children with my husband of 12 years. I’m a recent MBA graduate from St. Mary’s College and a dedicated Customer Success professional. In my spare time I’m either spending time with my family, working on making public schools better, reading sappy 19th century romance novels, experimenting in the kitchen, travelling, doing yoga or running.
What’s your current role and how did you get there?
Currently I am VP of Customer Engagement at WalkMe. My experience with the WalkMe product, along with the culture and vision is what drew me to the company, and I was hired on a few years ago to build and lead WalkMe’s customer success team. I have over ten years of experience now in customer success, operations and scaling teams.
Switching gears a bit — what’s the best random thing you’ve found on the internet recently (preferably with links)?
Alright, let’s get into it — how does WalkMe help companies improve user experience?
From back-office functions to customer experiences, traditional industries are adopting new technology to make work more efficient and meet customer expectations. But this tech-centric transformation comes with many challenges.
WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform helps organizations execute their digital transformation strategy. It’s all about removing the friction that goes along with bringing operations, employees and customers into the digital age.
What exactly is “digital adoption” and how do you help companies tackle it?
When adopting new software, companies are often met with challenges we like to refer to as digital disruption. Digital transformation begins with digital disruption, where individual employee roles change to accommodate new technology. To achieve full adoption, you need to overcome resistance to change by making new technologies not just useful but really easy to use.
Can you walk us through your process for developing a great customer experience?
It begins with knowing who your customers are. If you want to really understand what a customer needs, you have to be able to connect and understand the obstacles your customers face. Why are they evaluating your product? What pain point can you identify and resolve with your service or experience? Why should they trust you and purchase your service over another one? Once you get past these questions during the sales process, you need to deliver what you promised during onboarding and post go-live, with full customer support along the way.
Ultimately, you have to prove that you’re a trusted advisor. The customer needs to know that their customer success manager not only understands their needs and the product, but also how to lead them to constantly gain value from the relationship.
Each meeting has to be worth the customer’s time, whether you’re evaluating data, suggesting new approaches to get more out of the product or finding new opportunities to expand the relationship. Identifying the challenges customers face to drive success and engagement allows software to reach its fullest potential while creating a great customer experience.
We talk a lot about design thinking these days. Can you tell us about how design thinking is applied at WalkMe?
We use a three layer approach to simplify the user experience and promote digital adoption. The three key elements to our UX strategy are guidance, engagement and insights. First, the platform offers guidance to contextually drive users to action with walk-thru’s, virtual cues and strategically placed content. Second, we tackle user engagement proactively rather than reactively by adding rules for who, when, where and how to engage, which is part of our product design. Third, we collect user data and analyze usage to offer insights. The data identifies obstacles and opportunities to engage, and helps us understand how to design a product.
Let’s talk about research. How do you go about researching ways to improve UX?
WalkMe Insights allows us to learn how users are engaging with a site and what obstacles they encounter. Once you have that data, you can act on it with purpose. Instead of guessing at what users need, a product team can use actual data to understand how to improve UX. Without data, you may be complicating your product rather than simplifying it.
Recently, I updated a communication platform before jumping on a call with a customer service leader who I was interviewing for a blog. I asked him if it would be okay to record the call. After he agreed, I couldn’t find the record button on the newly updated communication platform. I scrambled to find it and failed. The product update failed me. I ended up using QuickTime to record because I was unable to understand the new product design and the help section didn’t clearly offer an answer to my question.
This is a great example of why you need to research ways to improve user experience and then test your design before launching it. Companies that don’t research, test, implement and reiterate constantly, lose their customers, like this communication platform lost me.
It’s safe to say you know a thing or two about customer success. Are there any lessons that have changed how you approach your work? We want to know your secrets!
1. Culture: Customer success needs to be a company culture stemming from the top. Find a company that not only believes this but also acts and communicates this way.
2. Skills: Serving customers is an amazing opportunity that requires excellent leadership and communication skills. Always be reading, learning, self-reflecting on your interactions.
3. Technology: Data is critical in customer success. Select technology that will help you scale your team, understand your customers and improve the customer experience.
Tell us more about using a data-driven approach for customer success. What are the benefits?
WalkMe collects data to learn how our users interact with a site or application, and we use that to drive users to features and promotions that will solve problems and improve their experience.
If you’re collecting data, it’s really useful to be able to use it in context. For example, we can use filters to compare trial versus paying customers, or use funnels to see where users drop off a process. That allows us to target solutions to help customers when and where they need it.
An easy way to tell where users need support is to analyze help-related keywords. We look at the most common help searches and use them to understand where we should provide contextual support to make it easier for users to find self-service help.
That sounds like the kind of thing that would have been helpful with that communications platform you mentioned! Wrapping up here, any last thoughts on designing better user experiences?
Empathy is key. You always need to put yourself in the end user's shoes and design with them in mind.
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Research sessions don’t always go according to plan, but having backup plans and a user focused attitude will take you far
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