5 Minutes with Caeli Collins

Caeli Collins

For years now, Panzura has consistently achieved a Net Promoter Score that’s virtually unheard of in the IT industry.

For those not familiar, the Net Promoter Score (NPS to its friends) measures awesomeness of experience by asking a simple question – on a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend Panzura to a friend or colleague?

Those choosing 9-10 are considered promoters, those scoring 0-6 are detractors, with the remainder being neutral.  The overall score is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Panzura’s current NPS score? 👉👉 88

We sat down with Panzura’s head of customer support to find out what makes her tick… and what’s behind Panzura’s customer happiness.

Q: Caeli – tell us about your background, before you came to Panzura?

A: Mine is a classic Silicon Valley story. I’ve been working in customer support for many, many years in a variety of technologies – CAD/CAM systems, semiconductor capital equipment, and for the last 20+ years in storage.  I worked for KLA-Tencor then NetApp, then three startups before Panzura. 

Q: When did you join Panzura and what was the one thing that told you this company was for you?

A: I started here in August, 2014 (that seems like such a long time ago!).  I had left Violin Memory eight months before and was doing some consulting and thinking.  Then an old friend from my NetApp days who was at Panzura called and said come take a look.    

There was a lot to look at – Panzura had a global file system and was cloud based.  I had always done enterprise data center storage, and this cloud storage “thing” was disruptive – think Clayton Christensen.  AWS had popped up on my radar back in about 2006 or 2007, and those were the early days – people weren’t sure what to make of their data being offsite, or being able to rent compute power just when needed.  So by 2014 it was making more of a splash – CIOs were starting to be asked about their cloud strategy, and Panzura was positioned in a good spot to help.

This is a long way around to say I’m a technology geek and this looked pretty darn interesting.  And there wasn’t much of a support team yet, and I learned that I loved building them as I did in my previous three startups – enterprise class support on a beer budget. 

Q: Is there such a thing as a typical day and if so, what does that look like?

A: Support can be a reactive operation, but if you’re always reacting, you’re never progressing.  First thing in the morning is a time to assess the day – has anything critical come in overnight, do we have something that really needs attention?  And attention may mean bringing in one of the senior folks, having a call with engineering or the account team, or taking a step back and asking what’s really going on.   

But it’s important to continuously look forward.  What would help our customers be successful?  What is the support team doing that could be improved through training, automation, elimination, redesign.  That all gets packed in around the regular operation of making sure we’re doing what customers need us to do.

My days are busy, and long and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: What achievement are you most proud of in your time here so far?

A:  When I got here there were three support engineers in Campbell and an outsource partner providing frontline support, along with three superstar L3’s that carried the bulk of the load.  Solving customer issues took time because the frontline team was inexperienced, we had no structure to work with engineering so getting critical escalations addressed depended on who yelled the loudest, and when we finally started tracking our NPS score it was in the mid 30s.  Ugly. 

We’ve come so far since then.  Our current NPS score is 88! 

88 is up there with Apple.  We not only have a stellar frontline team that gets huge kudos from our customers, we’ve added professional services, training and a TAM program.  It’s an enterprise grade support team from start to finish.  Our people are capable, empowered and a joy to work with.  It doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes, but we’ll do whatever it takes to make it right. 

Q: What’s your superpower?

A: It’s understanding a customer environment and ensuring quality delivery and ongoing support.  Plus, building a worldwide team that finds joy in working with customers with a commitment to never let them down.

Q: Tell us a bit about Caeli Collins the person…

A: My passion is my horses.  I have two that I keep in Half Moon Bay, and get there whenever I can.  One’s an Andalusian (Spanish breed) and the other is probably described as a thoroughbred/Appaloosa/quarterhorse/heinz57.  They are both lovely, intelligent, and have been an education in how to achieve outstanding results in any area. 

Reinforcing what you like makes it happen more frequently, and that works with people as well as horses, dogs, giraffes, fish, you name it. 

So, I try to reinforce my support engineers for doing the right thing – getting back to customers quickly, making sure they understand the problem before diving into solutions, escalating when things aren’t going right.  And the corollary is making sure they have the right foundation to be successful. 

We invest a lot of time in training and coaching, and we can see how this has paid off in a climate where everyone in support is working from home.  The team didn’t miss a beat in changing locations!

Other things – I like to cook, it’s my stress reliever, and I’m a big reader with several books going at the same time. 

Right now, the stack includes “Breaking Bread” by the King Arthur Flour head baker, “The Eye of the Trainer” by the former head of training at the Shedd Aquarium, “Predictably Irrational” by a behavioral economist and “Natural Causes” by James Oswald – he’s a mystery writer that’s new to me.  There’s just too many things out there that capture my interest! 

And I like to fit in some photography as well – I did a safari in Kenya in November 2019 and I am so glad I got it in.  Here’s one of my favorite pictures from there. 

Photo by Caeli Collins

 

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