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House of Guest – Jovito Salem shares his passion for collaborating with customers

House of Guest – Jovito Salem shares his passion for collaborating with customers Photo

To see the tremendous rise in people (and dogs) roaming around our headquarters in the past few years has been exciting. Our talented people have been colossal in helping our customers succeed.

In our series, “House of Guest”, we corner a few of our team members to find out more about the passion behind their role, team and projects here at Traction Guest. This week, we feature Jovito Salem, our gregarious Customer Success Advocate. When he is not making our customers happy and solving their challenges, Jovito is a Jeopardy and movie junkie, he averages watching over 50 movies in theaters per year!

Describe the role a Customer Success Advocate at Traction Guest has on the relationship with customers.

The job title sums up the relationship pretty well. We’re successful when our customers are successful, and that means continuing the trust that our sales and marketing team started long before the customer gets to us. We have a ton of opportunities for customization and our job is to help them navigate through all of that. Additionally, we advocate for them by making sure their voices are heard within the company. It all goes a long way in building trust and our relationship quickly turns into a close partnership where both sides are invested in reaching the same goal.

What would you say is in the toolbox of skills and characteristics of a successful customer service professional?

Two crucial ones are empathy and a knack for learning fast. If you’re empathetic, you’re willing to listen and put in the effort knowing that you really have a ton of power to make a customer’s life easier. Alongside that, if you’re a fast learner, especially within the tech industry, the technical skills and communication skills will naturally come with time as your confidence grows.

How important is it to have an in-depth technical understanding of the product?

It’s significant as it gives you a well stocked mental toolbox to work with, whether troubleshooting a problem or solutioning a new use-case. The more you know about the inner workings of the product, the more tools you have under your belt to help a customer succeed in a timely manner. However, you don’t have to know everything and can still be confident knowing that there’s a team behind you that can pick up what you don’t know. It’s equally important to acknowledge when you don’t know the answer and then follow up with the customer later with the correct information.

So much about our product is customization. Talk about how creativity comes into play when you are trying to come up with new solutions for a customer’s VMS?

It’s definitely a big factor. Complex problems can require complex solutions so we often find ourselves thinking outside the box and canvasing the platform for viable workarounds. At the same time, creativity is key when trying to pare down complex solutions to simpler fixes. Follow the ABCs of Customer Success: “Always Be Creativing.” I made that last word up. So creative, right?

What is the best way to start a career in customer support?

Show that you have a passion for helping people and a passion for learning. Develop that however you can. No matter what your educational background is, it becomes truly evident when someone has a passion for helping people and can learn fast to accommodate that. I think it’s telling that our CS team is consistently ranked at the top in our industry, yet most people in our department don’t have any technical background, myself included (English Majors for the win!).

What is the best advice related to your position you have ever received?

Be curious! When you’re given a use-case or a problem, it’s important to dig into its roots to understand the roadblocks your customers are facing. They may be asking for a feature that doesn’t exist or for something that doesn’t make a lot of sense for their overall success, but if you keep drilling down into the ‘why’ of it all, you can start working together to find alternative solutions or at least be able to effectively communicate that problem to the dev team.

What is the coolest thing about working in the visitor management industry?

You get front row seats to seeing the march of a fairly new industry as it becomes more prevalent globally. As the market grows, you can see how quickly visitor management is turning from niche to crucial, and we’re helping shape that in many ways. In turn, you get to interact with some very excited customers, which then excites me through osmosis.

What is your favorite customer support book?

I’ve never read one (English Majors for the win!). That being said, Andy Weir’s “The Martian” is a good example of how to handle problem-solving and communication. It’s also a fantastic movie. Yes, I’m relating NASA/Matt Damon to customer support in this instance. However, I actually use this quote from the movie as a good touch-point whenever I feel stuck or overwhelmed:

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?”

Obviously, doing CS is not equivalent to fighting for your life on Mars (yet), but the mentality of problem solving is the same. You just begin.

What is your favourite way to start your work morning?

Nothing beats listening to a fascinating and well-made podcast right up until you get to the office. It really gets your mind primed for a new work day. I’m currently into Dallas Taylor’s ‘Twenty Thousand Hertz’ and ‘The Daily’ by the New York Times.

Once I’m actually in the office, I like starting out by contemplating whether to use the standing desk for about five minutes before realizing I really don’t want to use the standing desk.

customer interaction

Dealing with customers is obvious in your role. How important is your collaboration with the rest of the departments in Traction Guest to relay customer feedback?

There’s no point in having ‘Advocate’ in our title, without having a development or leadership team to talk to. Our customers shape our platform and we are their ear to the ground for our product’s future road map. The same goes for our communication with the sales and marketing team. They need to know what trends and questions we’re hearing and what we’re doing well and what we could be doing better to maintain good customer relationships. Again, trust is key and it’s crucial that the team maintains open communication to keep that.

What is the secret to maintaining good relationships with your customers?

Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Being professional and being yourself aren’t mutually exclusive. I’ve got a pretty strange personality, so one of my greatest joys from this job is finding out how many customers share the same interests. Over the last few years, the interactions I remember the most are the weird off-topic conversations that naturally stem from regular support topics. Things such as the attributes of Boston accents, the merits of Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi, or whether France or Thailand is the better choice for my next vacation.

What is the greatest compliment a customer ever gave you?

Any time a customer mentions me by name in a public review always brightens up my day so any one of those would probably fit the bill.

I recently got this email from a customer: “That worked!!! Once again you’ve saved the day! Thank you so much Jovito. Seriously, demand a raise on our behalf!”

Still working on that last part.

What feature in the Traction Guest VMS are you most excited recommending or teaching to customers?

Hands down, it’s the Experience Editor. The cornerstone of our customization lies in our ability to craft a sign-in flow that matches what our customers need. The Experience Editor gives them a lot of room to play with. I actually introduce it as ‘the bread and butter of Traction Guest’ every time I start explaining it to a new customer, which definitely sounds cooler in my head than out loud. I might switch it up pretty soon. The Meat and Potatoes of Traction Guest? The Salt and Pepper, maybe? Mac and Cheese? Mmmmm… mac and cheese. What were we talking about?

Traction Guest has recently won an award partly for our workplace environment. What is your favorite part of the culture here?

The “Thank You Huddle.” At the end of every week, we go around the group and say something we’re thankful for. It sounds a little corny but honestly, despite how hard a work week might have been personally, it always lifts me up knowing that there’s always something or someone to be thankful for. It’s a great way to enter the weekend.

This company has grown so much, what has it been like to witness all this growth?

I’ve truly lucked out being able to join this company when I did. The highs and lows of being part of a growing tech company has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life, and I get to see how different departments grow and scale as we hire more and more people. It feels like I hopped on a train going at light speed right when it pulled away from the station and it’s very, very exciting.