EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the EMEA Blog Takeover, where our EMEA employees take over the Auth0 blog to share success stories from the region. This week, you’ll meet our thought leaders across the pond, discover some of our most compelling use cases, and read about the trends that influence how we do business.
As a customer success manager, Aoife Crowley contributed to Auth0’s rapid expansion across EMEA, a region that saw 550% year-over-year growth in 2018. Her ability to help Auth0 customers execute quickly despite the complexity of identity has led to her recent promotion to Head of Customer Success for EMEA.
A former product manager, Aoife’s is skilled at defining, scoping, and validating varied approaches and solutions, while having co-founded her own tech startup has given her a deep understanding of the nexus of tech and business.
We talked about the big investments Auth0 is making in the Customer Success team in EMEA, the complex challenges she’s helping customers best, and her advice for helping companies work more effectively with enterprises.
"How Customer Success Manager - EMEA .@aoifacrowley used her expertise as a startup co-founder and product manager to drive 550% YOY growth in EMEA."
What kinds of identity challenges are Auth0 customers solving in EMEA?
In the EMEA region, many of our customers are running digital transformation projects to remove legacy systems, modernize to microservices architecture and refresh their customer journeys. Often these projects are multi-year initiatives, with Identity being a single piece within the initiative.
We can assist with these use cases by helping to scope a phased rollout approach, which can often be used as a model across multiple regions or projects, and track progress to goals and milestones. We also ensure customers are aware of all the features which may benefit their use cases, like our migration without a password change, the possibility of integration with various API gateways, and our ability to act as both a service provider and identity provider.
We support massive customers with very spiky usage patterns – for example, TV shows with live voting apps, global hardware companies with products that require account setup on Christmas Day, retailers with Black Friday promotions, and travel companies with flash sales. Our Post-Sales teams can work with these types of customers who have both scale and spikes, to ensure that their architecture is robust and ready.
Tell us about the investments Auth0 is making in EMEA:
In the three-and-half years since Auth0 came to EMEA, we’ve seen huge growth. Our customers have grown in both number and usage, with deeper integrations and increasingly complex use cases. We want to share that expertise with new customers as well, so we’re making really big investments into the Customer Success team in EMEA.
Previously we were focused a lot more on the account management skill set, but we’ve seen that having a blend of technical abilities as well as business acumen leads to the greatest customer success. Based on that success, we’re adding multiple people to the team and requiring technical abilities for the customer success role.
Since we’re hiring, let’s dig a little deeper into what it takes to succeed at customer success:
This is a cross-functional type of role, and you're kind of the nexus to all these different nodes. So on the customer side obviously you're speaking to people from C level all the way down to developers, and on the Auth0 side, it's similar. I really enjoy that interaction, and it reminds me a lot, actually, of when I was in product management. There are a lot of transferrable skills. When you're dealing with customers you need to get beyond what it looks like they want and understand what the ask is behind that.
So actually scoping what someone is trying to achieve based on their goals, understanding the requirements and maybe some of the barriers or blockers that might get in the way of their success and gathering information about their team and also making sure they have all the information they need about our service, and then building consensus as well because sometimes a customer might want to do everything at once. And our recommendation would be, okay, why don't you start with phase one and then build to a phase two or phase three. And that can give them a much clearer path to getting to where they want to go rather than following what they initially wanted to do. So I suppose building that consensus is a key part which I took from product management as well.
How did co-founding a startup help build your empathy for the customer journey?
The type of startup I ran was a hardware device aimed at women who were having trouble conceiving. As part of my role, I used to conduct interviews with women who were perhaps having issues and they might have gone through IVF. They might have been tracking their health in multiple different ways, and I would try to understand what that felt like, what would make that experience better, and use those soft skills on a very emotive issue to try to build out, how could we create a product and a feature set that would meet these requirements for these individuals.
And again, I think those skills are essentially what you're doing no matter what type of project you're running. You're trying to just speak to people, understand what are your motivations as a person. Why do you want to do this? Is it because it's your business's key goal for the year? Is it because it's your team and you're the head of the team and you want a promotion and you want this to go really well? Is it because the market is shifting and your business is trying to keep up with industry trends? Is it because you are responsible for maintaining and supporting these old systems, and it’s slowing you down when it comes to innovation? Where are the motivations coming from? And then that can help customer success assist, bring them down the right path first, but also talk to the things that they want in a way that will resonate with the customer as well.
On what most companies miss when working with enterprises:
If you don't have a customer success team or a customer success style relationship, it can become quite transactional. So you can end up focusing a lot on technical support: how do I do it; here's how you do it. And not taking a step back and saying, well, why do you want to do that? Or, I noticed you have 17 questions all roughly around the same topic, and if I look at them all together, I can see that perhaps you're just going down the wrong path entirely. For example, they're trying to build something, not in a standards-based way. They can have technical questions on how to do that, and we can answer those questions, but the real question is why aren't you using the standard? Why aren't you following the approved path for this? And do you know about it? And that educational piece.
So I think that's where sometimes enterprises can underserve their customers by essentially just answering their questions and not challenging them and not asking, "Why do you want to do this? So what are you trying to accomplish?" Because sometimes people think they know what they want, but when you step back, it isn't actually what they want, and the question they're asking is the wrong question.
"What do most companies miss when they work with enterprises? Customer Success Manager - EMEA .@aoifacrowley shares her insights."
What advice do you have for companies looking to delight their customers?
You have to put yourself in the customer's position and be empathetic and understand that most people are just trying to get something done in a certain way probably for reasonable reasons. So even if from your perspective, it looks like what they're doing is very inadvisable or strange or isn't following the documentation, very often there is a business reason or a very understandable reason why. So getting to the bottom of that is really the first step.
How can Auth0 customers access the customer success team?
Our Enterprise Customers have access to the Customer Success team. The team takes a tiered approach and works with customers from the corporate level to FTSE 100, with resources dedicated according to the size and scale of the accounts. The Customer Success contact information will be introduced to the team at the time of signing their contract, and they take it from there.
In other words, when someone signs a contract with us, it’s the starting line. We stand alongside their dev team to map out a strategy and help promote the investment within their business. It’s all about delivering the value we promised as quickly as possible.
Auth0 by Okta takes a modern approach to customer identity and enables organizations to provide secure access to any application, for any user. Auth0 is a highly customizable platform that is as simple as development teams want, and as flexible as they need. Safeguarding billions of login transactions each month, Auth0 delivers convenience, privacy, and security so customers can focus on innovation. For more information, visit https://auth0.com.