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Lead Talks: Bukola Willoby Talks Customer Success & Its Role In Building A Strong Brand

In 2019, Bukola Willoby joined the Customer Success team at PiggyVest. Over four years and over 4 million users later, she has moved across teams and is currently the head of Customer Success at PiggyTech. 

For Lead Talks, Bukola shares her thoughts on the importance of good customer service for all brands and the opportunities for those who are considering a career in customer service. 

Can you tell me a little about being the Customer Success Manager for PiggyVest.

My role as Head of Customer Success at PiggyTech, parent company of PiggyVest, PocketApp and Patronize, involves hopping from one endless meeting to another endless meeting. Nah, just kidding. 

Think of me as the bridge between support, product, engineering and other cross-functional departments in the company. My role is to increase customer loyalty and retention by recruiting and leading the best people. It also involves providing adequate information, processes and tools to improve and provide optimum customer experience. Lastly, I ensure that the customer and the team are satisfied

Why is great customer service so important to a brand’s success? 

In two words, brand perception! If your product is good and your service isn’t, you’ll definitely be viewed as bad. So customer service is very important because it gives your product the WOW factor; it builds that trust you need, while also increasing customer satisfaction. You want to be able to have brand ambassadors from those customers through word of mouth.

Say you have a good product, but when your customer reaches out to the support team for an inquiry, they get subpar service. That customer may spread the word about your bad service. No business wants that. Remember that it is more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to retain one. 

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The people. But it goes both ways. The people are the most challenging part and the best part. You constantly have to try to appease these customers, right? So, you are constantly trying to manage expectations. 

There’s a joy that comes with solving people’s problems, however, getting them to be patient and understanding can be a challenge. We get a lot of aggression and insults, almost like people forget we are humans. But that’s what comes with dealing with people’s money. [Laughs] 

Now, from a manager’s perspective, I oversee a lot of teams under one department: there’s the calls team, emails team and social team for all three brands. These teams have their own strong and valid opinions, but I have learned relationship management. It is a very interesting experience as I do not consider myself a people person, but I am in a career and industry where I constantly have to deal with people. Just consider that, as a group, PiggyTech has about 61 support reps and I try to ensure that every member of the team is doing well and bringing their A-game.

What are the skills a customer success representative and manager should have

A customer success representative needs good communication skills — actually, great communication skills. Whether written or oral, communication goes a long way. You have to be an effective communicator and listener. This goes beyond listening via phone call; it’s also listening to the tone in a message and trying to understand the customer because text can be misconstrued. So it’s important to be able to read people’s mood, even through text. 

Another very important thing is empathy. I think everybody that knows me knows that I’m very big on empathy and you can’t talk about customer success without empathy. With customer success, you can’t tell where the shoes hurt, but what you can do is try to put yourself in these customers’ shoes. See things from their point of view.

For a customer success manager, relationship and people management is key. Another important skill is problem solving. There are a lot of policy changes in this industry so the ability to adapt to change is important. You have to be  quick on your feet in identifying those issues and proffering solutions.

What are the things you look out for when hiring someone to join your team?

I look out for a couple of things. But confidence, communication and culture are the top three things on my checklist. I like confident people. I get that interviews can be nerve wracking because you don’t want to say the wrong things to your interviewers, but it is important to project confidence, no matter how nervous you are. 

The ability to communicate is also important. You need to know how to pass your point across without giving too much information. Finally, it is VERY important that someone is a great culture fit for the company! You don’t want to hire someone who, one week into the job, is looking for a way to leave. I want someone who wants to be in the team, a team player. Product knowledge is also important, but that can be taught.  

Is there career growth in customer success roles?

I’ve had people try to come into customer success just to get into tech, and then move to another department because they feel like there is no growth in customer success. But that’s based on a false premise. I went from joining a team of 4, to building one of the largest teams in the company and one of the very best customer success teams in Nigeria. It’s been an amazing and rewarding journey.

I started my career in 2018 as a customer success representative at Wema Bank. While working at the bank, I always got compliments about outstanding service and I got asked a few times how I smiled through the stress. 

It was easy because I’ve always wanted to be at the frontline of an organisation, and my goal is to change the perception people have about customer success. Joining PiggyTech in March 2019 was a step in the right direction because the company shared the same goal as me when it comes to customer success. Not only did PiggyTech care about the product and its amazing features, it also cared about the people.

One thing I will say is there is growth and it’s basically like a ladder. There’s no shortcut to success. You have to actually do the work and add value to the organisation then every other thing will follow. There are senior customer success specialists, deputies, team leads, customer success managers, consultants, chief customers officers and a lot more. Some people don’t see this, but they would if they’re open to building a career in the field.

How are you able to plan so you have enough personal time?

Guess what? I don’t plan! I realised that whenever I plan, something happens so I have to cancel. So I just said, you know what?  Be spontaneous. Whatever happens, happens.

I literally got back from Paris today. I was feeling really overwhelmed so I checked for flights and decided to take a breather. I got back feeling better. Empathising with people can get overwhelming so you have to figure out what you love doing and make time for it. I love wine and travelling, so I picked the healthy one [Laughs]. 

The good thing is, we work remotely so I can work from anywhere. Basically, I leave planning and meetings to work but when it comes to my personal time, I go with the flow.

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