Lance Conzett's Dream Job at Uber
Sarah sits down to talk with Lance Conzett from Uber. The two discuss customer support as a great resource to learn how the customers interact with a company’s product and services and how that translates to working in all departments. Lance shares excellent stories from going through a massive merger that Uber went through in 2020.
[00:00:09.950] - Sarah Hatter
We always use these words transparency, transparency. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't just mean not keeping secrets. It also means saying, we don't have an answer for that or we don't know yet or coming to terms and saying, you know what? We do have an answer for this, but it's actually a really bad answer. Hi, friends. Welcome back to another episode of The Assembled podcast. I'm Sarah Haddar. I'm so excited to be doing this series with Assembled. If you haven't done so already, check out Assembled.com, the first and last workforce management platform you will ever need. Now, I love using products like Assembled products that were built by people who really understand the job in customer support and customer experience, not just someone who has a good idea about what agents might like and wants to make it look really pretty. But people who actually have been in an inbox all day long and have had to triage and had to work multichannel support across the board. People who have that experience make great operational managers, and they build great products in the end because they're really thinking of the day to day life of a customer experience team.
[00:01:12.050] - Sarah Hatter
So this conversation with Lance from Uber was exciting for me because I know Lance's story and his career story going from a small software startup to now working for this giant company like Uber. But in between, he's used his experience as a customer support agent to become an effective manager, running teams and helping teams be more efficient with the tools that they use. So we're going to talk a little bit about that. But the other funny thing about Lance's careers you'll find out is what happens when you build for yourself, your dream career and you build for yourself your dream job description.
[00:01:47.090] - Sarah Hatter
And then in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, your company gets acquired. Well, as you'll learn from this conversation, there's a lot of transferable skills that you'll learn from being a customer support agent into how to handle a merger and acquisition. And while maybe you won't be in the same position, I guarantee you're going to be in a position later on down the line in your customer experience job, where you're going to have to pivot and you're going to have to be flexible and you're going to have to figure out things on the go.
[00:02:12.590] - Sarah Hatter
So let's learn some lessons from Lance about a how to be a really good manager of people when it comes to the tools that they use every single day, the operational support that you give them and also segue that into what it's like going through a massive merger to a giant company like Uber right in the middle of 2020. So how are you doing? Thanks for taking the time. Things are good. Things are settled down. Things are better for you.
[00:02:42.870] - Lance Conzett
Sound like, yeah, things are good. It's been an interesting ride over the past several months merging two companies and merging all this stuff together. And we're kind of at the end of the road of that. I'm starting to do new stuff with my new Uber team, so it's nice to be out on the other side of it.
[00:03:02.250] - Sarah Hatter
Yeah. Well, I bet. Obviously, we talked about this before, but it's not like two little startups came together and we're like, let's be friends. This is like massive companies trying to merge and everything that goes along with that. I'm sure it's just a massive headache.
[00:03:16.230] - Lance Conzett
Oh, yeah. And it's something that I've been working on for literally eight months at this point.
[00:03:20.730] - Sarah Hatter
Crazy. Well, okay. Here we are again, take two on our awesome interview podcast with Lance, formerly of Raven Tools, formally of Postmates, currently of Uber. And that is a mouthful and a lifetime full of experience working in customer experience, right? Yeah.
[00:03:39.990] - Lance Conzett
[00:03:40.770] - Sarah Hatter
So you started with Raven Tools way back in the day. When did you speak at our Portland event? That was 2015 that we did Portland. And you were at Raven school set? Yeah.
[00:03:52.170] - Lance Conzett
I guess it was 2015. So I started in support and in tech about ten years ago in 2011. So I went to school for journalism, graduated with a journalism degree and quickly discovered that I did not want to do journalism full time journalism, even in 2011 was a hard business and kind of fell backwards into technology. I was working in a travel guide company, not really loving it. And friend of mine from College like, hey, I'm working at this startup company. We need a support person. You're a good writer.
[00:04:30.510] - Lance Conzett
You want to work with me at this company? I was like, sure. Why not? It sounds interesting. And then ten years later, here I am. So, yeah, I started out in kind of frontline support, answering detailed questions about SEO for customers of this marketing platform dashboard. That was Raven Tools. Then kind of gradually over time, took on more and more responsibility and wound up kind of running support for that company after a while.
[00:05:00.810] - Sarah Hatter
I love stories like that because it proves first of all, that support is a job that you could really excel at when you're not trying to just do support. Right. And in your case, you have this journalism degree. Well, journalism isn't just teaching you writing. It's teaching you how to explain things to people. It's teaching you how to investigate it's, teaching you how to be curious about the person who's going to be reading what you're writing, which pairs itself perfectly. I think for working in support support is, if anything, the number one thing is storytelling, right?
[00:05:32.550] - Sarah Hatter
You're trying to explain a product. You're trying to figure your out customers. Are you're trying to create products for them to use based on their journey?
[00:05:41.790] - Lance Conzett
You're speaking my language, Sarah. Probably to an annoying degree. I compare things to storytelling. So, yeah, you're totally on point on that well, it's so important.
[00:05:52.050] - Sarah Hatter
And you and I have certainly been in this game for a very long time, and we've all met people who have failures on their teams with hiring or whatever. And we can always sort of trace it back to you. You're bringing in the wrong people. You're looking for. People who maybe have a skill set for, like, call centers would be great, right? There's nothing wrong with that or working for utility company or Comcast. There's nothing wrong with that. But working particularly in tech or for SAS companies or companies who are trying to have a different level of branded support, you need to have people who are skills that are outside of the, quote, unquote norm.
[00:06:25.650] - Sarah Hatter
There's a school for customer support. But there are other ways that people can be informed about how to talk to customers. Right?
[00:06:33.090] - Lance Conzett
Yeah. Absolutely. And as I've built teams in the past, I've never really looked for like, oh, you've done support before. I've always looked for people who have had jobs where they've had to exhibit high degree of critical thinking or really good communication. I've hired teachers before I've hired managers of bands before everybody kind of comes at it from a different place. But there's that core set of skills that are really important for success. It is critical thinking. It's being curious. It's being able to communicate. It's being able to empathize.
[00:07:13.230] - Lance Conzett
And as long as you can do those four things, then you can learn Zendesk, or you can learn a phone system like, you can learn whatever social media thing you're using. You can learn any tool, anything, as long as you're curious and honest and interested.
[00:07:28.830] - Sarah Hatter
And I think you're also one of those people, too, who maybe fell into this role unexpectedly. It was something that came across your plate and you end up saying, I can thrive in this. I enjoy this. I never saw this on my horizon, but I'm in it now. Ten years later, look where we are, right. So you are. Raven told it was just a typical tech startup. You are acquired. Or did you merge with another company? Yeah.
[00:07:55.830] - Lance Conzett
We were acquired by a company called Tapka, another marketing analytics platform. Raven Tools went on kind of hard times. He went through pretty big layoffs, went down to a skeleton crew. I was leading a team of four support agents. I became the team was doing support by myself for a couple of years, building the team back up, merging the support operation in with Catholics, and then got this really great opportunity at Postmates to do something similar but more focused on the kind of operations like the scaffolding around the support team that I've always been really interested in.
[00:08:38.130] - Sarah Hatter
And that was right at, I think, the emergence in the customer experience world of people starting to build out these roles.
[00:08:46.170] - Lance Conzett
[00:08:46.470] - Sarah Hatter
So we had typically had a customer support team, maybe a customer success team in tandem. And a team lead, and everyone was kind of jumbled around responsibilities. And then maybe five or 6456 years ago, people started to say, hey, we should have specialty roles for these people as we build out these teams. Larger teams, especially Postmates, obviously, giant infrastructure of customer support and service. So you're going to need people who can help us build an infrastructure around that just as we would for a Dev team or for a sales team.
[00:09:15.570] - Sarah Hatter
I think this is one of the brilliant, shining moments of the future that we live in that we're finally really getting people to understand. Yes, support is its own industry. And yes, it needs to have the same sort of tools. And, like you said, framework or scaffolding that we put into all of the other teams within our businesses. So you started at Postmates, you're originally trying to get a different job at Postmates, and then they kind of said, hey, what about this one, right?
[00:09:42.570] - Lance Conzett
Yeah. It's funny. So I applied for a system specialist job because after eight years at Raventafclicks, I was feeling kind of burned out. I wanted to really get more into the support operations world because you can get burnout talking to customers face to face or email to email, as it were for eight years straight. It's really challenging. It can be really draining. And I wanted to solve the interesting problems of how people contacted support. I wanted to get a little bit further away from actually doing this support.
[00:10:17.790] - Lance Conzett
And so I came across this job posting for system specialist Zendesk administrator, able to do project management, critical thinking, that sort of stuff like, oh, that sounds really interesting. And I applied for this job, got a call back pretty quickly after that, went through the interview process, had really great conversations with a lot of people at Postmates, people who would be peers, my eventual boss, and got to the very end of that process. I get a call. I'm at a coffee shop, I get a call from a recruiter at Postmates, and she's like, So here's the thing, which is never what you want to hear at this point.
[00:10:53.190] - Sarah Hatter
No. Especially when you're actively looking for a job and you think that you've made it and you're like, I'm perfect for this role or something like that. You're just like, Seriously, yeah.
[00:11:02.610] - Lance Conzett
Sorry. She says, here's the thing. We really like you. You are so over qualified for this role. How would you feel about being the manager of this role? And I quietly celebrated. Let me think about that. It sounds really interesting. And yeah. So I wound up managing the role that I applied for, which is a bonkers thing that can only happen at a startup company. Right.
[00:11:29.130] - Sarah Hatter
Right. Well, it also can only happen with a company that has intellectual flexibility about who they're hiring and why. And so there are so many companies who would see your resume at that role and be like, oh, he's over qualified. Oh, he's too expensive and maybe just toss it out and say, sorry, but they actually said there's opportunity here. That's the way that we should be thinking about hiring, right?
[00:11:49.890] - Lance Conzett
Yes. And I have to give a lot of credit to my then boss, Heathleshaw, who was at Ebay for a long time and ran customer experience from a product perspective at Postmates. And like, yeah, he definitely was like, you know what? We have a gap here. Let's take a chance. And I'm really grateful.
[00:12:08.190] - Sarah Hatter
So let's talk about this role. And before I talk about this role, I want to sort of push back into the future a little bit. October 2019 seems like a world away from where we are now. But you gave a talk at what was actually our very last elevate event that we did before the Pandemic. And you talked about this role. It's about support operations, building out your support operations team. And every time we have an event, and there's someone on stage, I'm always watching the audience.
[00:12:35.310] - Sarah Hatter
I'm watching to see who's engaged, what's happening. And I just remember, your slides were amazing. First of all, they were epic, but they were so good. Again, you're such a great storyteller that it was a wonderful presentation to watch. But I remember people furiously taking notes about what you're saying. I remember hearing the clickety clacky of people's keyboards. I remember people taking pictures of your slides, and they were transfixed, not just on your incredible stories, talking about how you build this role. But I could tell that they were going to come back to their company and say, we need to do this, right.
[00:13:11.910] - Sarah Hatter
This is what we need to do. And it was such a light bulb moment for so many people, the way that you kind of spelled it out. What is this role? What is this team? What is the point of them? And how do I do it at my own company? So if you can, we'll do a little bit of an elevator version of your talk. But tell us a little bit more about what happened. You start this job, you're basically managing this process team. It's a whole new infrastructure for the support and customer experience world.
[00:13:38.670] - Lance Conzett
Yeah. So I came on to lead and build what we call the Customer Experience Tools team. And so this is a team that was responsible for all of our third party tools, that our support agencies use, our Omni Channel support platform, our learning management system, workforce management, quality, social media, like all these things that our agents use to do their jobs. That way, my boss and the product team could be focused on building the internal tools that connected into these third party tools. And my team could focus on building out the processes, the workflows, negotiating contracts, like doing the relationship management of these vendors.
[00:14:22.590] - Lance Conzett
And in my talk one, it's really important to be thinking about how people are actually interacting with support as a concept, not necessarily the support agent. I know. I certainly got very bogged down in the nitty gritty of, like, how do I talk to this one specific person, but really, just like, Holistically, how does the customer contact you? How do they get to the right person? How do you have the right amount of information at the right time to help that person? And my team was a small part of that scaffolding that architecture around the support agents to make them as successful as possible, as well as making the customer as successful as possible before they needed to contact support.
[00:15:05.010] - Lance Conzett
And so my elevator pitch for why every company needs to be thinking about this and needs to have a dedicated role is that it only puts so much on the shoulders of your support managers because they're doing a lot. They're doing people management and coaching, and one on one and QA. And they're also probably getting a bunch of questions from other segments of the business of, like, oh, what are people talking about this new product to be launched? What issues are people having with the last release, they're interacting between all these different teams and managing their team.
[00:15:40.830] - Lance Conzett
And so it's just so much to put on one person's shoulders or a couple of people's shoulders. It is.
[00:15:46.770] - Sarah Hatter
And it's also like, one of those things that sorry to interrupt you, but it's one of those things that can become a huge distraction for teams, too.
[00:15:53.130] - Lance Conzett
[00:15:53.730] - Sarah Hatter
We know that number one priority is going to be clearing an inbox and figuring out how do we eliminate how do we add self service so that we can eliminate human touch points? There's all these things. But then if we start to talk about cooling and operational stuff, it kind of takes your mindset out of the place where it needs to be. If you're just really supposed to be working in an inbox and clearing that queue, I'm a big believer in having specialties for people and special projects out of the inbox time.
[00:16:20.730] - Sarah Hatter
But I think this is a little bit more specified where it's like, you need to have a person who this is their sole responsibility. And one of the things that you said, too, about the responsibility is that you are serving the people who are serving your customers.
[00:16:33.630] - Sarah Hatter
You are empowering them, protecting them, engaging with them, but also giving them the tools they need to really succeed at their jobs.
[00:16:42.390] - Lance Conzett
And by having that role and you do two things. One, you make your direct support team more successful, not just because you're building things that help them do their jobs better, but also because you're freeing up their managers to spend more dedicated time with them and doing the right time, coaching all of the work that a good people manager needs to have time and space to do. But you're also opening up this other path of creating new career opportunities for support folks. We love it when members of our support teams move on to become members of product teams, engineering teams, and marketing the other sectors of the business.
[00:17:26.610] - Lance Conzett
But it's even better to keep all that stuff, all that institutional knowledge inside the team and continue to build on it. Otherwise, you're kind of restarting all the time. And so having this separate support operations track, it gives people who may not necessarily want to be people managers, a new branch and a new career trajectory that they can follow on.
[00:17:49.290] - Sarah Hatter
Were you ever when you are doing this roller when you're building out this team at Postmates, were you ever, like, in the inbox? Did you ever have one on one direct contact with customers, or was this solely sort of like a proxy job that you were just really thinking about, like, tool set process systems?
[00:18:08.370] - Lance Conzett
It is very strange to say, but I in my entire time at Postmates, never sold the ticket. I never had a customer phone call. I never did direct support. Once I would listen to calls, I would be part of that distillation of customer data on a daily weekly, whatever business. I would certainly hear people making calls all around me when I was in the office. But, yeah, I never actually solved a support ticket, which is very weird.
[00:18:38.550] - Sarah Hatter
Did you end up missing the inbox after a while? Were you kind of like.
[00:18:41.970] - Lance Conzett
Oh, no, because I just replaced that inbox with a whole new inbox, right? Like, our new inbox was facing our new customers, which were our agents and our support teams and our product teams. And so my support inbox, which was formerly customer facing, became a Bureau project, which was also internal customer facing, but not external customer facing.
[00:19:06.750] - Sarah Hatter
I love it. You know what? A few years ago, I had this awesome opportunity to do some consulting work for Disney, and I actually worked for everyone knows about Disney and how they treat their customers the Disney way, all that kind of stuff. They treat their parkgoers and whatever you have this very branded customer experience when you're there, but they've actually spun that into an internal sort of concierge system for their own employees. So they treat their own employees the same way that they would treat people who were customers if they're visiting the parks or whatever.
[00:19:37.770] - Sarah Hatter
And I always found that fascinating to think that this is how the larger you get as an organization, the more you scale, the more you grow, you really have to start building a community inside your own company. Right. And start treating your own employees and your different industries of employees in different departments, just as you would want to treat active customers. So to hear you say, that is really great because it's like you were really there in a role to nourish, this whole internal community doesn't mean that you have to answer calls and be on email, though, for some people, maybe that's like a hybrid role.
[00:20:15.930] - Sarah Hatter
That's where they start out. But the eventuality of it is that like we said before, you are supporting those people that they can do that job much better.
[00:20:25.770] - Lance Conzett
And it's funny, like I couldn't have solved the ticket even if I wanted to. I didn't have the permissions to do that. I literally didn't. I didn't know the specific workflows or anything like that. How do I solve an issue where the order was 15 minutes later? More. I have no idea. I don't know what credit or refund or whatever to give somebody. I would probably give them way too much because I'm too giving. I literally couldn't do it. But what I could do was work within the system that I was responsible for and make our agents lives easier and better.
[00:21:04.890] - Lance Conzett
And our customers lives by proxy easier and better by fixing bugs and coming up with new ways to automate things and try to work within the system that I did know and I did have access to.
[00:21:17.670] - Sarah Hatter
So you built this great system. It's a whole new world. You have survived one acquisition in your time. You've gone from start up to now a ten year support professional to now support business operations at a massive growing startup. And you've basically gotten to the point where you're like, this is what I want to do. This is what I love doing. I love this job I've created for myself. And then what happened.
[00:21:44.070] - Lance Conzett
And then we get acquired by a multinational Corporation that many of you have probably heard of called Uber.
[00:21:50.190] - Sarah Hatter
Yes. Huge giant. I can't even imagine being acquired by Uber. I feel like that's just like a giant spaceship coming down and flying you off to their planet, right?
[00:22:03.930] - Sarah Hatter
I'm sure you kind of might have heard some rumblings, but you guys were not expecting that this was going to happen when it was announced. You heard about it when it was announced?
[00:22:12.450] - Lance Conzett
Yes. You may have gotten, like a 24 hours heads up or less. And, you know, when you're in this industry, you kind of like, hear the rumblings and the rumors and whatnot. But yeah, I certainly wasn't cut in on that information. It was well above my pay grade. But yeah, I pretty much found out when the world did through The New York Times or whatever, wherever you read it.
[00:22:39.990] - Sarah Hatter
This is a situation where if you work at a tech startup, if you work at a small company, if you work anywhere that's maybe SAS or online, eventually you're going to experience a situation like this. Whether you're acquired the company folds, there's, layoffs or you have to out of the blue, get another job. So I want to kind of shift gears and talk a little bit about also, this is also happening right in 2020.
[00:23:12.070] - Sarah Hatter
Yeah. So there's a lot of already critical baggage happening here for people. And as much as everybody tries to make large scale acquisitions or selling a company or whatever, merging whatever it is, everyone tries to make it as seamless as possible. They try to be very transparent. They try to give people the information that they need to know. But at the same time, it can be very traumatic to have your job, your day to day in and out of your life, where you spend the majority of your time change so dramatically overnight, there's a lot of fear involved.
[00:23:49.870] - Sarah Hatter
There's loss of control. There's all of these, like the undercurrents of swirling emotions that a lot of people have and sometimes don't have an opportunity to express at work. So I want to kind of here without throwing anyone under the bus. This is a bag on Uber kind of day, but I do want to hear, like, what was your experience, like having this sort of dropped on you? How did they handle it? What are some of the great things that they did that other people can kind of put in their toolbox for when they're involved in this later on?
[00:24:18.370] - Lance Conzett
As with any of these sorts of things, there's just a lot of ambiguity. You get really used to saying, I don't know what's happening, because truly, most of the time you don't, especially when companies this big get together truly, like nothing happens for, like, six months. You're just kind of sitting around and you're still doing the same job. Your paychecks just might come from a different place. And so the thing that is most valuable during that time, especially as a leader, is being as transparent as possible, even and especially when you don't know anything, because your employees, your team is going to be freaked out.
[00:24:58.270] - Lance Conzett
They're not going to know. What does this mean for me? What does this mean for my career? What does this mean for the things I've been doing day in and day out for the past.
[00:25:07.570] - Sarah Hatter
However, the team I've spent all this time investing in or processes that we really feel very proud of creating. What's going to happen to that, right?
[00:25:18.790] - Lance Conzett
Yeah, for sure. Then there aren't going to be easy answers and you kind of have to just be okay with that. I will say I was fortunate enough to be very close to the support integration, all the other stuff. There are 1000 different workstreams all happening at the same time. The goal is to make these two very disparate beings become one, and there are so many loose ends to tie together, so I can only really speak to the support side. And the biggest boon to this whole process is just how amazingly organized people have been having dedicated project managers who have shepherded this whole thing all the way through.
[00:26:05.290] - Lance Conzett
On the support side. All these people, like working with their Uber folks, working with Postmates folks on their various workstreams, whether it's like, how do we bring our systems and tools together? How do we bring our policies together? How do we bring all these different aspects of the business that we historically have been doing individually, separately as competing companies? How do we now kind of reconcile all that so much work and so many different things going on, like having that one transparency and two hyperorganized people who are like, it kind of goes back to the conversation about having people specialized and focused on one thing.
[00:26:49.090] - Lance Conzett
We have two project managers who were specially focused on this Postmates integration who were absolutely fantastic.
[00:26:59.710] - Sarah Hatter
What about the top level management executive stuff? How did they treat employees during the giant transition that this became?
[00:27:10.270] - Lance Conzett
Yeah. I mean, with as much kindness as possible. And there's a lot of stuff that executives just couldn't talk about because right into the weeds.
[00:27:22.030] - Lance Conzett
I took a lot of inspiration from our head of customer support, exhibiting that same level of transparency. This goes pre acquisition. So like I said, all this stuff happened in the middle of 2020 when we were dealing with this global pandemic and a total shift in how people worked and this really wild thing that we had just gone through the Postmates 24/7 support, hundreds of support agents, hot desking. You didn't have a laptop. You came into the office for your shift, you answered emails, answer calls or whatever.
[00:28:04.210] - Lance Conzett
And you left. And it was all shared computers. And so having to distribute hundreds of laptops to support agents all across Nashville. And for some people who had moved back home by then, like two different States across the country and trying to figure out, how do we all stay in contact with each other? How do we all keep up, like, one information and the culture. Ned continues to have a public open Q and a channel in Slack or anyone. If you've been a Postmates agent for three days, you at this point probably have access to Slack and know enough to find your way into this channel.
[00:28:46.030] - Lance Conzett
You can ask a question of Ned, and you don't need to organize a skip, skip, skip, skip level or anything like that.
[00:28:54.070] - Sarah Hatter
We're, like, submitted in advance and hope that he gets to it in the 30 minutes a week that we have his attention kind of thing.
[00:29:01.150] - Lance Conzett
Yeah, absolutely. And Ned and the other senior and the senior managers who report to him and the HR business partner who is dedicated to the customer experience organization, like, they go in and they answer, if not everything, almost everything to the best of their ability. And it's really inspiring to see these are often hard questions that may not necessarily have answers to, but as those hard questions come up, that's an opportunity for the leadership team to come together and figure out. Okay, we don't have an answer for that one.
[00:29:36.190] - Lance Conzett
We need to come up with a plan. We need to work this into the plan that we've been building because with something this massive, there are going to be gaps. And you're kind of not going to miss things. And it's just the nature of trying to dock these two giant ships together.
[00:29:54.610] - Sarah Hatter
Well, see, this is the thing when we talk about transparency when it comes to massive infrastructure challenges or changes or mergers, or even like you're talking about this trying to manipulate our workforce into this new style of working that we've never faced before. We always use these words transparency, transparency. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't just mean giving people all the information, not keeping secrets. It also means saying, we don't have an answer for that or we don't know yet or coming to terms and saying, you know what, we do have an answer for this, but it's actually a really bad answer, and it's not going to go very well.
[00:30:31.990] - Sarah Hatter
Right. And we need to figure out, do we change this policy or do we adapt to this? So I'm glad that you brought that up, because it is one of the bigger things that all leaders need to remember that it's so much better on all levels, whether you're a team leader, support manager or your head of support or CEO saying, I don't know, but I'll find out or I don't know, we don't have a decision yet. I think that goes such a far longer way than not giving an answer and keeping people in the dark.
[00:31:01.030] - Sarah Hatter
Right. All of us when we don't have answers and we don't have clarity, get anxiety about that, right. Or worrisome, maybe you're nervous because it's just a matter of like it kind of presses back down on that lack of control and especially 2020. All of us got very intimate with lack of control in our lives. Right.
[00:31:23.530] - Sarah Hatter
There was so much that we just unknown. So all of those little assurances that people can get even if it comes down to just pure humility and saying, I don't have an answer, I think it just goes such a far away. So I really commend the team who handled that. I'm just sort of like putting two and two together. I realized that, yes, we talked about all this happened during 2020, but your acquisition, the merger actually did happen just after you had changed your work style and send people to do remote working, which is a brand new thing for you as well.
[00:31:56.830] - Sarah Hatter
So it was quite a few months of adaptation.
[00:32:02.570] - Lance Conzett
COVID sucked for a whole lot of reasons. That's the understatement of the century.
[00:32:08.990] - Lance Conzett
But I will say that we were able to really leverage a lot of the things that we had set up to handle COVID as a company into this new world of ambiguity, of mergers and acquisitions. Like, if anything, we were fortunate that the acquisition news broke. Well, after we all started sheltering in place and working from home a little bit more comfortable with it. Yeah. It gave us time to figure out.
[00:32:41.930] - Lance Conzett
How do we talk to each other now? How do we communicate effectively to each other? How do we prevent we talk about, like, silence offers as customers. But how do we prevent silent suffering as employees? How do we develop these systems that bring us together even though we're far apart and are dealing with all these external stressors?
[00:33:02.630] - Sarah Hatter
Yeah. And also you're working with a team, too, Postmates, especially with one of those. Now you have probably 100% more customers relying on you for things than you ever did before, because everybody's at home, everybody is staying at home. So you have that pressure as well. Increased user base, increased customer base. It was just a real nice, perfect storm for you. So now that 2020 is over, even though it feels like it still hasn't ended in June 2021, we're working our way through it's been nearly a year.
[00:33:35.390] - Sarah Hatter
You've got ten years under your belt in customer support, customer experience, whatever you want to call it. You're a seasoned veteran, as they say. So how do you feel? Like, what do you feel about? Maybe. Just like, stuff you're excited about for the future of customer experience? What are some things that trends you're seeing or things that you're starting to do on what is now your new team that makes you excited about the future?
[00:33:59.750] - Lance Conzett
Yeah. So post acquisition, I made a decision to kind of step out of people management and go back to it life. And on a team. It's called the Digital Strategy and Innovation Team, which is kind of a liaison between our customer obsession engineering team, which is focused on how agents interact with customers, like all the internal tools that they use and that sort of thing, as well as how customers engage with agents.
[00:34:32.870] - Sarah Hatter
Chat, phone, that sort of stuff sort of similar to what you built at Postmates, but maybe a little bit more technical.
[00:34:40.070] - Lance Conzett
A little bit more product. So what I'm excited about is to really dig into some of the stuff that was beyond where we were at Postmates, like automation and chatbots. And we had barely stood up chat for couriers prior to the acquisition. That was like a new world for us that we were starting to kind of dip or co into. And now I'm in this very complex system. It's really interesting to see, like, okay, how has this enormous entity built up its infrastructure and how can I help make improvements?
[00:35:17.970] - Lance Conzett
How can I help get the customer to where they need to go? How do we solve these really challenging global problems with technology and with smart planning and smart processes and things like that. So that's kind of the perspective that I'm coming from now and trying to lean into automation but not make it the automation of the past, which is very robotic and prone to getting you stuck in loops and things like that. I'm excited to see more about how we can use technology to bolster customer support customer experience.
[00:35:57.450] - Lance Conzett
Now, that support as a concept isn't just, like siloed into this. Well, they answer the emails, and so as long as they're answering the emails and we don't need to worry about them, this very foolhardy concept of like, oh, well, one day we'll never have bugs and we just won't need support or we can just automate everything, and we won't need human beings to do support, reacts to problems.
[00:36:24.750] - Sarah Hatter
And so once we solve all the problems or something to react to, yeah, exactly.
[00:36:29.490] - Lance Conzett
It's a very absurd, like 2005 sort of thought. But being able to free up space, I guess that's kind of my whole thing now, like freeing up space for people so that they can focus on the really hard stuff. And they're not just bogged down and, like, password reset requests and stuff.
[00:36:50.250] - Sarah Hatter
The hard stuff that we want people to be investing their time in is those really personal emails, the empathetic nature that sometimes has to get cut short because we are just churning out password reset emails, we want human beings to have their time used wisely for useful things that help customers and prevent customers from needing to contact us. That's the ultimate goal. So I'm with you. I think technology can deliver us from the bad stuff, but it's certainly never going to replace us. And I think that's the thing about to kind of wrap this up.
[00:37:26.910] - Sarah Hatter
One of the things I'm excited for the acquisition that you went through, how we're seeing Postmates and Uber or whatever is that Postmates is a beloved company, and there's great people running these teams. I know several of them yourself included, and I just feel confident that what's not going to happen is this giant alien Corporation switched out with their spaceship and sucks everybody up into robot land. I actually think you have such a great opportunity to influence from within. Influence your standards, influence your empathy, influence, how you do things, how you treat customers and your ideas for how customers use your product.
[00:38:00.870] - Sarah Hatter
I think the influence is going to go both ways. So that's something to look forward to.
[00:38:05.070] - Lance Conzett
Yeah. And I will say I've been an official Uber employee for, I guess, three or four months now, everyone that I have interacted with, especially the leadership team and community operations at Uber, have been phenomenally empathetic people who are really invested in making sure that our customers and our agents are being supported appropriately.