Comfy Life

From Customer to Employee—Comfy’s Tom Fisher on Driving Value with Workplace Tech

Posted by Meggy Hearn on May 21, 2018

Navigating the world of enterprise tech isn’t easy, but Tom Fisher, one of Comfy’s strategic Customer Success Managers, knows it better than most.

As a former-customer-turned-Comfy-employee, Tom is laser focused on helping his enterprise customers get the most out of our workplace experience app. He has an extensive background in sustainability and working collaboratively across many stakeholder levels to make the world a better place. Hear how Tom helps customers meet their goals by applying change management principles and creating a step-by-step plan for success.

1. You were a Comfy buyer before you joined the team as an employee. What was that experience like?

In my previous role as a sustainability and operations program manager for an enterprise technology company, I was charged with various energy-related initiatives involving everything from data centers to office space. From a sustainability perspective, I wanted to do more than just your standard corporate sustainability initiatives. I wanted to make a real impact, find ways to engage with our employees, and provide the ability for them to participate in the process of energy reduction.

I had been looking into some major building upgrades and other capital improvements when I first came across Comfy, and I was really impressed with its capabilities...not to mention how slick it looked. At the time, the company was still in its early stages, but the results from their existing clients were compelling—how Comfy engaged with employees while simultaneously saving energy and carbon. I was tasked with maximizing a pretty modest budget for sustainability initiatives, and decided to put a large portion of it towards getting Comfy for our building.

However, even for large progressive companies with deep pockets, sustainability initiatives can be fairly difficult to sell internally. To get internal approval, I knew I’d have to demonstrate significant operational savings—hot/cold call reduction, fault detection, as well as energy reduction. And it worked. In fact, the Facilities department eventually took Comfy into their own budget after our first rollout because it was saving them so much in operational costs. Since then, it’s been gratifying to see my former company steadily deploying Comfy in their offices all over the world.

Now I’m on the other side of the fence, focused on helping people like my former self get and stay Comfy.

2. Having worked through the challenge of pushing through internal initiatives, does that inform the service you deliver to your clients now?

Definitely. I know what it’s like to be in the buyer’s shoes and I know what it’s like to be in the champion’s shoes. I know all the internal hurdles they have to jump over and through to get any initiative, program, or system approved internally. I’ve found that the best way to help my clients with this is to simply listen to them—and ask the right questions. Then I can help them navigate those internal channels to make sure that the entire process runs smoothly from start to finish.

With Comfy, proving the value of the product doesn’t just stop with the end users. It’s great—and essential—that employees love the app, but you also need to show value to other stakeholders across the organization to ensure the program is successful.

"From a sustainability perspective this just makes sense because the most sustainable space is one you never need to build."

3. You have quite a diverse book of clients from a variety of industries. Is there something you’ve found they’re all particularly focused on right now?

I certainly do! I’m lucky because I have the best clients (don’t tell my colleagues that) who come from a wide variety of industries—enterprise tech companies, leading hardware providers, multi-billion dollar ecommerce platforms, you name it—and they all have slightly different priorities and different ways of meeting company goals.

As an example, some of my clients are focused squarely on improving space utilization. They want to figure out the best way to optimize the space they have and let go of what they don’t need. Reduction in square-footage-per-employee is a real thing, and it’s smart! But, it does come with the need to make sure that the space they do have gives employees what they need to be successful and happy. From a sustainability perspective this just makes sense because the most sustainable space is one you never need to build.

Other clients are more interested in operational savings—reduction in calls to facilities, significant energy savings, better fault detection, and so on—within their existing building systems. In just one building, much less a larger portfolio, I’ve seen companies save upwards of a million dollars a year simply by optimizing energy use. Those savings are real and can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

Across the board, all my clients are interested in the movement towards smart and interactive spaces. They want to create spaces that are both efficient and cost-effective, and that people enjoy being in. Getting there can be a challenge, so they’re looking for tools that can help them make informed, data-driven decisions as they move forward.

"You must create a plan for change management on the front end before you even begin to consider any sort of vetting or implementation of new solutions."

4. Given your unique experience being on both sides of the software implementation coin, what advice can you offer to folks interested in implementing new workplace tech?

It’s all about change management. You must create a plan for change management on the front end before you even begin to consider any sort of vetting or implementation of new solutions.

Figure out your goals and identify your key stakeholders. That way you can create a clear path forward and make a coordinated effort with multiple parties rallying around the same initiative. With these things in place, it’s much easier to get and keep the ball rolling—from internal approval to execution.

Lastly, it's extremely important to have a vision of what you want to create. Always map out a short-term plan with achievable, measurable goals. That way you can avoid feeling like you’re trying to “boil the ocean” and also make sure you’re hitting the right benchmarks along the way. Without a clear short and long term goals and an actionable plan to achieve them, it’s really challenging to take steps forward...much less to get others to buy in. So think big—but reasonable—and start small. 

5. What’s the most gratifying part of your job?

I love working with my customers. I love building relationships with them and I really like problem solving. It’s important for me to understand what their struggles and goals are, which goes back to the importance of listening.

Figuring out what’s their strategy, how do they see themselves, what's important to them? But also personal things, like whether they have a family, what they like to do on the weekends. That helps me understand how they tick and also just makes our interactions more of a working relationship rather than just a transaction. It creates a better foundation for designing individualized solutions and helping them meet their goals. That's the part I enjoy most—being the advisor in the relationship who is always on call.

Interested in learning more about the customers that Tom and his team support? Explore our customer stories.

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