Brian spearheads customer success and service at Comfy—a team charged with delivering delightful experiences and helping our enterprise real estate and workplace teams meet their goals. He has extensive experience with Fortune 1000 companies from his work at Accenture and Autodesk where he led customer success and growth for the construction SaaS offering. Fun fact: Brian is also a huge data nerd...feel free to look him up on Strava.
1. Tell us about the path that led you to Comfy.
I’m originally from Kansas and got my undergrad degree in engineering from the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!). I then went on to work in management consulting for a decade before joining Autodesk, where I focused most recently on a start-up within the larger company.
Something I really appreciated about Autodesk was the experimental culture that supported a “do, test, monitor, learn, and iterate” approach—a continuous cycle of trying something new and tweaking it based on timely feedback. One of the things that excited me about joining Comfy was the opportunity to apply that same approach but at an even faster pace. In my experience, I’ve found that a decision that takes months is often just as right as one that takes weeks—with the value of the latter being that you can revisit and refine quickly and get a better result sooner.
2. What’s your top priority as VP of Customer Success?
Ultimately, my team is really focused on three key initiatives. As always, the first is to make sure we deliver value to our customers. The return on investment from Comfy comes in several forms—it’s about giving time back to busy facilities teams and getting dollars back into the pockets of our customers, all while driving engagement with our customer’ employees through usage of the app.
Second, as the customer-facing side of the house, it’s critical that we are not only listening to our customers’ needs but that we’re consistently taking their feedback to our colleagues at Comfy, so that all of our teams—from product development to marketing and sales—can better understand how Comfy can be a valuable tool for our customers and ultimately help make them successful.
Finally, we’re in a big growth stage as a company. As our customers continue to scale—deploying Comfy across their portfolios of office space—we’re ramping up internally to grow our teams and scale all of our processes. We’re looking at everything from the pre-sale process to the way we provide ongoing support, and identifying opportunities to deliver more value at scale. We’ve really set the bar high for our quality of service and support and we intend to keep it there.
"We’ve set the bar high on our quality of service and support and we intend to keep it there."
3. What types of challenges are your customers faced with? How do you see Comfy uniquely addressing those?
One of the biggest challenges for our customers—mostly Fortune 100 customers—is hiring and retaining the best talent, while also ensuring their employees have everything they need to be their most productive. And while our customers can offer a lot of cool amenities like climbing walls and endless choices of snacks, at the end of the day, having the ability to configure your space match your personal needs is really what brings delight to employees. Comfy is something employees see their company investing in for them—to make them more productive while also helping the building run more sustainably. And that’s really powerful.
At the same time, we’ve heard from our customers about a lot of other solutions that don’t quite hit the mark—our customers are frustrated with point solutions and having partial solutions and partial sets of data, preventing them from making truly informed decisions about utilization and effectiveness of the workplace.
So to that end, we’ve spent time listening to our customers and being deliberate about how we build out a full suite of workplace features that address a wider range of customer challenges.
“...at the end of the day, having the ability to configure your space to your personal needs is really what brings delight to employees.”
4. How do you think Comfy’s approach to customer success specifically sets us apart?
As a workplace app, we have the added challenge of having two key audiences to support: our buyers (the people responsible for the workplace) and their employees (the folks using the Comfy app day-in-and-day-out). Both are important and require support and engagement from us in different ways. As a result, we’ve adopted a more SaaS-like approach to customer success—one team 100% focused on Comfy app support. There are support folks who are on call to answer questions, build out our helpdesk, and essentially be the voice of Comfy for all users, as well as dedicated managers who partner with our customers’ corporate real estate teams to ensure their goals for Comfy are being met.
Our enterprise customers have been very impressed by this level of customer engagement because in their world, “customer success manager” isn’t a term they’re familiar with—and customer support is usually something they’ve had to pay a lot of money for. So because our team is committed to driving value and helping our customers realize the business transformation they're undertaking, our customers see us as true partners not just service providers.
As an example, we’ve been able to help our customers identify, diagnose, and rectify real issues within their buildings. Just recently we helped one of our big tech customers identify some faulty programming with the dampers servicing multiple floors, causing a lot of costly airflow issues and comfort complaints. It had been going on a year before one of our engineers dug into the issue, and then raised it to the controls vendor to help get it fixed. This is only one small example of how the team is focused on giving our customer what they need to make important decisions that were previously pretty difficult, and ultimately make their employees more productive at work.
5. What can you geek out on for hours?
I’m a big data nerd...in all areas of my life [as he points to the Garmin watch for tracking mileage on trail runs].
I've spent a lot of time in my career pulling, studying, and leveraging data to determine what defines good customer health and implementing strategies to improve it. And it’s funny, because as much as you dive in and slice and dice the numbers to try and figure out what drives great, high-performing customer health, it often boils down to basic things like getting on-boarded quickly and encouraging consistent usage over time.
As an app company, you have to figure out what those things mean for your specific user base. For example, I read that Stuart Butterfield (CEO at Slack) had this great stat: if a Slack channel reaches a certain threshold of exchanged messages then it's considered “launched” and unlikely to churn.
For Comfy, we have our own key indicators, such as “First Week Use” which captures both the percentage of occupants who have adopted the app and the number of zones i.e. spaces within the office where it’s been used. This gives us an indication of whether the launch has been successful or if we need to quickly implement remediation plans. It all requires a lot of looking and listening, and what you listen for in the initial 90 days being different from the next.
So yeah, I think I just proved how geeky I am because I can’t stop talking about it. It’s fun stuff!