Software Executive Magazine

August/September 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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operations team knows to cast a wider net the next time they select a subset of users for beta testing. The com- pany is on track to have the improved version in beta in the next few months, with the goal of a full (and final) production rollout by the end of 2017. USING NPS AS A SPRINGBOARD FOR IMPROVED SUPPORT Caedmon Patalano, VP of operations at Front Rush, un- derstands an NPS survey is only as valuable as you make it. That's why the entire Front Rush team — from sales to support to engineering to accounting — reviewed every single piece of feedback from customers who responded in March 2017 (its most recent NPS survey since the ini- tial effort in 2015). When she says the team looked at all feedback, she doesn't just mean the summary generated by one of their data analysts. She means all Front Rush employees read all the raw data and comments from customers. If a customer took the time to type out a com- ment, the entire staff was required to read it. The com- pany takes this all-hands approach to customer feedback beyond the NPS survey results, too. Patalano says the en- tire company is active in Slack threads where people post both positive and negative customer feedback. Getting company buy-in to review NPS results is only half the battle. The support team then reached out to all detractors regardless of whether or not they left com- ments. In the end, any customer who left actionable feedback, even if it was positive, received a personal Keeping with the theme of transparency, I admit I'm biased when it comes to Front Rush's software. As a part-time assistant golf coach at a DIII school in Penn- sylvania, many of my evenings are spent working in its application. In any given recruiting year, our coaching staff will have a few hundred names in our Front Rush database, and we use it just like most B2B companies rely on a CRM system. If my Front Rush account was shut off tomorrow, I would be completely helpless on the recruiting trail. So, when Front Rush announced a major overhaul to its player profile pages and reverted to the previous version twice in an 18-month period, I couldn't help but wonder how its support team was navigating choppy waters. And truthfully, had it not been for a series of emails pointing out the issues, I like- ly wouldn't have noticed the hiccups in the first place. Here's an excerpt from a statement made by the com- pany's cofounders when they rolled back the new ver- sion release: "One of our core values at Front Rush is full transparency — we believe it is critical to our suc- cess building great products, building a great team, and most importantly, building trust with our customers. We do a lot of things right at Front Rush, and we have done our fair share of things wrong. We sometimes break things. Hard as we try not to, it does happen." Front Rush didn't lose any customers as a result of a few emails explaining where it had gone wrong. In fact, Cook and his support team had customers responding with encouragement. The profile update glitch was a valuable learning experience, and now the support and CREATE A WIN-WIN INTERN PROGRAM A big part of the reason Neal Cook, now director of support at Front Rush, kept showing up to work unannounced (and for free) after his internship ended had to do with the way Front Rush structures its internship program. The company has worked with about 30 interns since being founded in 2006, and it treats interns the same way it would treat any full-time employee. In most cases, interns are assigned to manage a specific project or to help a specific team. There isn't a single person managing all interns because interns are fully integrated with whichever team they are assigned to. Caedmon Patalano, VP of operations, says, "Companies shouldn't underestimate the work it takes on both the part of the intern and the part of the company to make these internships successful. It doesn't make sense to hire interns if you're not going to dedicate the time and resources to making them successful." The company has hired about 20 percent of its full-time employees from its pool of interns, but that isn't the sole purpose of the program. Interns who move on to other companies after college are not viewed as a time and resources drain; rather it's a point of pride for the company to develop young talent. Front Rush is at an advantage because its headquarters is near Philadelphia, so it has a plethora of two- and four-year colleges to provide an internship pipeline. The company has had success building close relationships with a select few schools like Temple, Drexel, and a community college in New Jersey. These schools have come to know what Front Rush expects and can help screen interns to determine who will be successful there. The company looks for interns with a strong personality and a good sense of humor to fit its culture. Having a sports management major is a plus, but Front Rush has hired interns with diverse personal and educational backgrounds. Despite its successful internship model, there isn't a standing internship offering year-round. Cook says, "There have been semesters where we don't have projects we need help with, so we won't hire an intern just to have an intern around. We make sure there is a list of things they can actively get involved in." EXCLUSIVE FEATURE Executive By A. Sorensen 3 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR CUSTOMER SUPPORT TEAM (AND CUSTOMERS) HAPPY SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 24

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