The Support Automation Show: Episode 11

In this episode of The Support Automation Show, a podcast by Capacity, Justin Schmidt is joined by Antonio King, Head of Support at Veho. They discuss how automation can help customer support succeed, Veho’s approach to automating support, and why businesses need to adopt automation for their legacy workflows.

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Justin Schmidt: Welcome to the Support Automation Show, a podcast by Capacity. Join us for conversations with leaders in customer or employee support who are using technology to answer questions, automate processes, and build innovative solutions to any business challenge. I’m your host, Justin Schmidt. Good afternoon, Antonio. Where does this podcast find you?

Antonio King: I am in the sunny Boulder, Colorado, have been since 2016.

Justin: I love that town. My good friend of mine has season tickets to the Broncos, and we go every now and then for our Broncos game. I’ve always wanted to go to Boulder, but my Colorado adventures start and stop with Denver, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about Boulder.

Antonio: We’re only 20 minutes Northwest, so come on over whenever you get a chance.

Justin: Next time I’m going to have to build some time to the debauchery to make it up there. You’re currently the head of support at Veho. Tell me a little bit about Veho and your role there.

Antonio: First off, it’s Latin for “to carry,” which will make sense after I describe the business here in a second. What Veho is, is we are a last-mile delivery service that delivers for customer-centric brands. Think Uber, but for package delivery. We really focus on working with brands that are established around the country that also very deeply care about the customer experience. That’s one of the ways, at least, that we set ourselves apart from other competition that might be out there.

My role is the head of support. I started with them back in February of this year, being 2021. It’s surprising to hear that, to myself, at least, that I would have been here for almost seven or eight months at this point. I oversee a team size of currently 85, and that growth is going to just continue surging. We as a company have gone from 15 to 20 people in August of 2020 to where we are today, which is a little over 315. Growth won’t stop, which is a good thing, I think.

Justin: You said 85 people, right?

Antonio: Correct.

Justin: That is a large team. Is that all customer operations and customer support?

Antonio: Yes, these are a different business line or different teams that support different lines of business. Think delivery operations supporting our drivers on the road, as well as the customers who are getting parcels from those drivers on the road. That includes our trust and safety division, which is relatively new, that includes a team that I inherited about actually three hours ago.

Antonio: Thank you. That was under a different division as well. Then building up our support operations department, then our own training and development department as well. Quite a bit of different support responsibilities, all under one organization.

Justin: That’s amazing. How did you first get into customer support?

Antonio: Oh, boy. It was a long time ago. When I think about my background, I think most of my experience has been with customer experience. It’s been all over the map with trust and safety really being like the inkling of my career. Really focusing on moderation and online child safety, working with local and international law enforcement with online games. Then pivoted to a customer experience as the nature of the virtual worlds back then. I say “back then” as in like 2012, maybe ’11.

Justin: Which is like what? 35 years ago.

Antonio: Yes, basically. Back then not knowing where that market and industry was going to go, pivoted my focus to really learning and helping building some customer experiences for different companies around the globe on a contract basis. Then focusing in at one of my, I think my initial starts really at the ladder of customer experience working for a company back in Minnesota that was the world’s biggest online retailer for Halloween costumes, which we can get into how big of an industry Halloween costumes is, which I think would blow anybody’s mind.

A lot of scale, a lot of growth there. Then moving to a role in Colorado, where that brought me here, in 2016, with a company that’s intention and purpose or cause or passion was to encourage the world not to take itself too seriously. The way we did that was through retail. Here I am now in 2021 with a new organization that’s just exploding throughout the growth, but a couple of different paths of career choices along the way.

Justin: That’s fascinating. Just thinking about the retail space, where now you are in Veho, you worked for the retailer providing support obviously to end customers. Now with Veho, you’re working on the supply chain, or logistical chain is probably a better way to put it, between those retailers and their end customers, who are now your customers, are quite frankly the people you used to work for. Maybe not exactly, but–

Antonio: No, that’s exactly right. Maybe even just for more context, the company that I moved to Colorado for in 2016 happened to be Veho’s very first customer. I happened to be the very first person that was holding Veho accountable to the customer experience in the journey and here I am, three or four years later with them, now doing the same thing on the internal side.

Justin: Love it. Here on the Support Automation Show, one of the first questions I ask people is, and it’s a great question because every time I ask it, I get a slightly different answer and I think it helps drive the conversation about this whole concept, and that is, when I say the words “support automation,” what does that mean to you?

Antonio: Support automation, that can be looked at in a couple of different realms. I think that the realm that jumps out the most is building automation to help support the journey for external folks to be much easier, faster, more accessible, and internally, how do you lighten the workload that is likely manually done today from the internal team? It’s a little bit of a half and half that hopefully complements each other. That’s the way I look at automation at least as it concerns the support world.

Justin: That’s beautifully put. If some version of that happens to show up in a Capacity ebook or blog post or something in the future, I’ll raise a glass in a westerly direction in your honor. Automation, it’s one of those words where it carries a bit of weight to it sometimes. Sometimes you could look at automation as something very positive. Obviously, I’m in the business of believing it’s a positive thing, but it could also be construed as scary, where, “Oh, you’re bringing in automation to replace us.” You can point back to assembly lines replacing workers, or the future version of assembly lines, where all of a sudden, you imagine a car getting produced, it went from no assembly line to an assembly line with potentially less workers to now an assembly line with robots doing steps that used to be people.

Then in knowledge work or white-collar work, I prefer knowledge work. In the knowledge work sphere, you now have automation potentially, it’s not Rosie the riveter, it’s Annie the accountant maybe that’s potentially facing automation taking some portion of their job. Why do you think people find automation scary, and how do you work with a team, especially when it’s as large as what you have at Veho, where I’m sure there’s automation up and down your tech stack? How do you bring that into the organization and do so in a way where people don’t distrust it?

Antonio: Great question. I think the ideal balance between automation and humans is that they complement one another. We haven’t gotten to the point as a society to where technology can understand the nuances of sentiment as granularly as a human can. The ideal is certainly for the two of them to be complimentary. The ideal here is your technology handles more of the black and white questions while you utilize your humans and your teammates to handle more of the gray that don’t necessarily have those black and white solutions or maybe needs a little more handholding as it concerns in-depth problem solving to get to the right resolution that technology might not have gotten to as quickly.

I think there’s certainly the ideal there in terms of how to utilize it. I think as long as technology is positioned to be seen as an aid versus a replacement, that it’s likely going to map out much better. I think candidly, however, any of us in the support leadership space would be naive to think that there’s absolutely no replacements to be done as it concerns people and technology. I think candidly speaking, there are. However, I think if it’s positioned, “Hey, technology is going to come in and just take over everything,” versus, “Hey, technology is going to handle things you all likely don’t need to be doing, that we can utilize you all more creatively in this avenue versus what we previously didin the past,” I think the reception’s going to be much better as opposed to the former.

Justin: There’s definitely a trend in what I would call the best way to probably describe this is, and I don’t want to throw too much shade on the big robotic process automation companies, but they have presented a use case that I think is far more prone to end times prognostication on the future of humans in the workforce than something like marketing automation, support automation, et cetera.

If you deploy good automation inside of support function, customers are going to get answers quicker. Customers can get things resolved quicker, agents aren’t going to be bogged down answering the same two or three questions over and over and over again, or having simple stuff make it to a phone call for support. That way when a customer has an issue that requires that deeper level of thought, that requires that connection, that requires all the stuff that we bundle into what we call good customer support, the agents are fresh, the agents, they’re empowered.

They have the information they need at their fingertips. They have the case in front of them with suggested responses or updates to the RMA or whatever it is. There’s a lot of value there. You just have to show it. You have to make sure the people in your organization know that good is coming. Show them the use cases that are positive and I think you get the buy-in. You brought up a really interesting point when we were going back and forth booking this interview that I just absolutely adored. I’m going to do something I don’t normally do. I’m going to read exactly what you wrote, usually I paraphrase.

Antonio: Uh-oh, I don’t know what I wrote.

Justin: I think this is good because this is just a very interesting question. The prompt was a proposed topic you’d like to talk about in the show. You said, “Maybe the benefit of adopting automation to legacy workflows.” I’m going through this right now actually. I just love that question because legacy workflows are often the jumping-off point for automation, but there’s some legacy workflows, and for people who are just listening, I’m using scare quotes here, but legacy workflows could be anything from very simple rote stuff all the way to much larger go to market or strategic initiatives. I’m curious, when you wrote that down, what was it that you had in mind?

Antonio: I guess, taking a step back, I’ll give you some context into the state of the function that I walked into versus where I’m trying to drive that ship currently. I alluded to earlier that the growth of Veho is just insurmountable as it concerns going from 15 people in August of 2020 to roughly over 320 now in September of 2021. The growth has just been absolutely unmatched than anything that I’ve ever been involved in, which was both a really interesting challenge and  an opportunity to really build from scratch in a high-volume environment.

The best way I describe to people externally at least as it concerns the state of the support function, which, of course, you don’t know what you don’t know until you get at it and start to understand and ask the right questions to help you learn the scope of where things currently are. It was pretty apparent to me right out of the gate that my team– the best analogy I like to utilize is, think of August of 2020 for the support structure to be like this house made of sticks and mud, which was, hey, it was great for August of 2020, but here we are in September now of 2021, whereas a lot of the other functions in the organization have started to build these skyscrapers and in turn, build this metropolitan area where the support team is just starting to move out of this house of sticks and mud.

We’re in the process of really revamping a lot, which is inclusive of a lot of the legacy workflows that today are really manually done and/or manually collaborated via Slack, which love you Slack, but working inside your tool as it concerns the workflow, not the best use at all. One of the things I’m going through and have been for quite some time now is, okay, how do we change the workflows that my team has had to get really creative and build to help them accomplish what they need to get done, but are no longer sustainable workflows given the volume and given the growth that this company has seen here in the past 13 months? It’s proven to be a challenge, but one of the things I’m working on here is how do we leverage automation for a lot of these workflows. To give you a good tangible example.

Justin: Yes, I’d love that.

Antonio: Some of the workflows today require us to manually sit and watch a report. At a certain time of sitting and watching that report, then we reach out to a driver that may be what we called stalled. They may be hopefully, knock on wood, have not gotten to an accident, or maybe they’re running into trouble in the delivery route, but that requires us to sit and watch this report for upwards of 60 minutes. Once 60 minutes hits, then we’ll reach out to that driver and say, “Hey, do you need any assistance?” We have to balance that 60 minutes between “This may just be a driver who went up and got lunch, or maybe he went to grab their kid from school, maybe just an intermittent errand” versus, “Okay, something’s actually wrong, we need to be proactive in figuring it out.”

A simple automation addition. I shouldn’t say simple, what I would imagine to be simple because I’m not a coder. I like to make sure I preface this with me going, this is coming from zero engineering knowledge other than HTML, which probably doesn’t even count, that if we had a way to trigger an alert to us when that 60-minute timeframe hit, then it allows us to respond quickly without wasting 60 minutes just watching this report. That’s a little bit of a hyperbolic example, but it’s very realistic to a lot of the workflows that exist today that just require a lot of manual oversight with a lot of automation to be designed there.

Justin: It’s interesting too because one of the ways that automation pays for itself is the reduction of opportunity costs that you’re not spending doing something manually. Where you are, or Veho was in a year or so ago, you may have one or two people experiencing a couple of hours of disruption per day. Now you have dozens of people, maybe experiencing a disruption of 10 minutes a day, but the net effect of dozens or hundreds of people with the smaller disruption versus select few with a larger one, this is exactly where computers and technology and all this stuff is best served, where you’ve got the multiple instances of something that’s a common, repeatable process that can just be, this is exactly what automation is built for.

In terms of that growth, I want to take a bit of a tangent here, but I think it’s still very relevant to our conversation, and that is the onboarding of all those team members. That process obviously needs to get streamlined as well. How have you looked at automation not just for customers, but also for your internal team?

Antonio: Oh, boy, where do I even start with that one? I’ll even talk about the onboarding piece as an example. Onboarding as many people as we have in the organization, not even just a team, has required the need to leverage more automation in general versus just the manual work being done by our onboarding manager. As an organization, we have employed an external resource to help speed up the onboarding process that includes just adding to as many channels in Slack to adding a Gmail address to adding them to a support stack of tools.

All of that process is now automated as well because it just became so overwhelming to how one person trying to manage an influx of new hires that all needed to be added to the different tools at different times to where it just was not feasible anymore or scalable in general. On the internal side, as it concerns the team, these are all things that I’m trying to get done today just so I’m being able to service alerts faster to being able to let us know along the journey of an interaction, here’s the most recent conversations and what those conversation categories were. Here’s what this conversation that you’re handling, here’s what it might be about or here’s recent notes.

This team I think has been super resilient. The fact that they are really coming from nothing to what I’m hoping to be just like a whirlwind of changes for the better for them to where they can really reset the expectation and bar for what and how effective they can be based off of what tools internally they now have, which are designed to enable them to do their work faster and hopefully easier, which in turn hopefully makes them happier.

Justin: Your business is fairly distributed. I imagine Veho has, a least I’m assuming this is the case, you guys have distribution centers and obviously, a driver, and St. Louis isn’t going to deliver packages in Boulder. You’ve got a distributed workforce. Is your support team also distributed?

Antonio: Yes, the entire support team is distributed across the country.

Justin: Interesting. Is that distribution– I assume they’re providing support for the customers in the time zones in which they live to some degree.

Antonio: Correct. Yes.

Justin: Is it global or just here in the United States?

Antonio: Just here in the US to start with.

Justin: You’ve got, what? Four different time zones there, a multitude of different cultural– the South is very different than the Northeast, which is very different than the Pacific Northwest. In terms of onboarding, in terms of bringing these people onto the team, getting them welcomed, getting them up to speed, and getting them effective, is there a particular thing that you wish someone would have told you in February before you started?

Antonio: That’s a really good question.

Justin: You’re getting the MBA crash course in seven months deal.

Antonio: What would I tell myself with the same knowledge I have now if I started in February? I think one of the things that I would have loved to have known back then was just how expansive the growth actually was and what we want to do compared to what we currently are doing. I think I had two different approaches in mind because I really was brought in to build something from nothing. The team was all centralized and by centralized, every person was handling queries from all over parts of the country. I was really brought in to scale and build a structure that did not exist today. Not only to help support where we currently are but what the future holds as well.

There’s a lot of things that needed to be built at once, a lot of things that still do need to be built today that I think two approaches top of mind for me was as it concerns the structure, “Okay, I know this centralized structure, at least from what I understand the business and what we’re going to be doing, the centralized structure of the support team will not work. What does that structure need to look like?” We’re moving to or have moved to a regional structure to where you’d look at the Northeast, Southeast, the Midwest will be split in half upper and lower, and the West will be split in half upper and lower as well or Northern and Southern.

One other thing is that I was like, “Okay, I need to be prepared to make a decision depending on how quickly we’re expected to grow.” Are we looking to do one market a month, one market every two months, or are we looking to do two markets a month? Because that’s going to very much dictate the speed of which this org needs to be built. Do I have the time to build it from the ground up, and that may be conducive to one market every, I don’t know, two months, or do I not have the time because we want to do two markets or three markets a month, which is really what informs a top-down decision?

Nope, I don’t have the time. Let’s go, senior leader, senior leader, senior leader, you are accountable for building your team with guidance from me. I think with a breadth of understanding, how quickly are we looking to move here? Because that also just prioritizes what workflows and additions to the tech stack need to be prioritized over what maybe didn’t exist before.

Justin: Is most support driven in the driver’s app?

Antonio: Correct. You’ve got the drivers who are on the road, who have complications with the delivery. Maybe they need a gate code that’s different from what was provided in the instruction. Maybe they have got into a car accident or God forbid, something happened to them that we need to send a different driver out to collect those packages and continue the delivery process.

That’s where a good portion of contacts come from is that side of the house. Then on the other side of the house, you have our customer support group, who’s dealing with the customers receiving those parcels, who in most cases don’t have problems unless something went wrong with the delivery. That’s of course, where we jump in on that side of the house and handle it from that perspective.

Justin: Got it. Oh, so you’re the end retailers, customers– If I order a package from Shinesty and I get it and I have issues with delivery, that goes to Veho?

Antonio: That goes to us because we are the ones handling the delivery for that client.

Justin: Got it. Interesting. Every way that there could be a support use case, you guys are dealing with, right?

Antonio: B2B and B2C, all in the same.

Justin: Well, that’s the power of a good marketplace or on-demand type application like this, right?

Antonio: Yes.

Justin: That’s the nature of the business. It’s also what enables such explosive growth. It’s funny, hearing your stories. I’m thinking of the old adage, like building an airplane in the air. Well, you’re talking about building a lunar lander on it’s way to the moon. There’s a lot that can go wrong. There’s also a lot of options for just like you’ve got resources at your disposal with that kind of growth to solve the problems you need to solve.

When you look at a workflow and you’re looking at how you’re going to bring automation into it, what’s your process? Do you diagram the thing out first, do you go on a listening tour to build out all possible permutations? Walk me through how you approach bringing in automation from identifying the point that maybe needs to get automated to going through the build versus buy decision to just the whole thing. I’d love to hear it.

Antonio: I think my first step usually involves listening because 9 times out of 10, that workflow was created for a specific reason that maybe what I might be privy to coming from the outside and on a very quick level. Understanding like, okay, what is this workflow like? What was the problem this workflow was built to solve? How is this workflow evolving as a concern scale or is it not evolving? That’s the problem. We have a lot of workflows that do not scale.

I think we just happened to find that out very quickly because of the growth that we went on in about a year. We certainly are a bit behind as it concerns re optimizing those workflows to match the scale of where we are today, but learning and understanding why those exist, I think, has always been the first and foremost piece. Probably because there’s also just so much nuance to things that unless I probably spent like six months in the role, handling context, I don’t think I would ever understand as many nuances that exist.

Learning from as many folks that work in that workflow consistently is super helpful. Then number two, I think is one of the things we do as an organization, which I’m sure is not necessarily proprietary but is we try to understand, what can the MVP version of that automation look like? Sure, there’s probably more idealistic ways to do things that are very pretty and can do everything that we want it to do, but what’s the adage? Rome wasn’t built in a day. Automation’s probably the same, right?

Justin: Exactly.

Antonio: Where you start with one step to progress you forward to get to what that overall evolutional idea looks like. Understanding, okay, what is the smallest lift. Pro-tip for those of us that work with engineering team, that’s equally as helpful as well as if you can identify what is a low lift evolution that not only doesn’t require a ton of work for engineering but also helps your support team or your team, in general, go one step beyond where they currently are, I think is a win-win.

Understanding what that MVP might look like is super helpful. That’ll help you understand, okay, what does that need to be prioritized amongst engineering’s slew of things that they’re being asked to complete from several different functions across the org, but as well as don’t necessarily break the workflow if you were to move to something automation and adds a bit of value to it, even if it’s a little small lot of value, add some value to it.

You talked about the build versus buy component of automation. That’s a really interesting one because a lot of us, I think, in the support industry don’t really always have the option to build or buy, which is unfortunate because you can only do so much as it concerns your support team and being as effective as they can be. Sometimes you have to position your leadership to think, “Hey, we either have to build this or we have to buy this, or we just have to deal with the consequences of not having it, and here’s what those consequences are.”

The build versus buy process, I think is equally as important, especially if you get that as a resource. You can say, “Okay, great,” understanding what are the must-haves as it concerns, A, feature parity, moving to this tool is going to put us behind two steps versus forward one step, then is that really worth it? As I talk about feature parity, and then the other there if we move to this, what’s the impact going to be not just for this team, but for any other function that may have some collaboration with this workflow or this process. That needs to be able to work, or that has to be able to work.

That’s a lot of what we deal with here is that we aren’t the only function and the organization that utilizes some of the tools or workflows. Sure, we utilize like 98% of them, but then there’s the remaining 2% that may impact our teams on the field in Atlanta or in Philadelphia that we have to be pretty considerate about. The build versus buy process is pretty ingrained to understand, “Great, what are we losing by grabbing this tool? What are we gaining? If we don’t do it, then what’s the outcome there as well?”

That was a very high 30,000-foot picture view, but hopefully, that gives you some context in terms of how I think through evolutions, which I will say what’s nice about regional structure that’s being built out here is two things. Number one, everybody across the country is doing the same thing, which from a standpoint of standardization and workflows and processes, that’s in theory, very straightforward to do, but I think the bigger additive there is we can do our own internal testing of different workflows and optimizations to see the impact before rolling it out to the entire country.

If we say, “Hey, you know what? Let’s try this new automation with the Northeast support team. Let’s see how it works out,” and if it does work out well, then great, all the other regions across the country will now have that same workflow. We get to in theory build that test our own workflows as we get more mature here to figure out what works best without it actually impacting the entire organization, for the first time, in a negative fashion, which is cool, I think.

Justin: That’s incredibly insightful, the ability to effectively split test what you’re doing and rolling it out in phases is a major advantage for you guys. That’s awesome. Wrapping up here, when you think about the future of support automation, what excites you the most?

Antonio: That it’s not going anywhere.

Justin: Love it.

Antonio: That’s always nice to know is that we are building what is today to only be scrapped and thrown out in another 10 years. I did a podcast with someone where we were talking about just how the timing of changes in the industry and how often that occurs. I was like, “I feel like changes in the support industry come once every 10 years, maybe once every 8 or 10 years, but when they do get here, they’re pretty revolutionary.” Think back to when chat took over, telephony was no longer like the single method of answering things quickly. Chat made a pretty big presence and then we had omnichannel and now we’re having more chatbots. We’re having AI and machine learning.

It definitely takes a longer time for some of the more advanced things to catch on, but when they do, it’s super interesting to see how different organizations leverage those tools in different means of the customer experience. I’m looking forward to what other ways can we progress in the customer industry to not only give the right experience to the customers at the end but how do we impact the internal experience as well? I think automation is certainly here to stay. I’m excited to see what other evolutions it goes through.

Justin: I am also in full agreement that automation is here to stay. This is a Rubicon that has been crossed. Antonio, I can’t thank you enough for this conversation. This has been fascinating. I want to wrap up here with our quickfire round. My first question for you is, what’s the book that you most often recommend to people?

Antonio: The Effortless Experience.

Justin: The Effortless Experience, who’s it by?

Antonio: Oh, boy, of course, I don’t have the– Can I turn around, it’s on my desk?

Justin: Yes, yes. Go for it. I’m going to click-clack and Google it here really quick.

Antonio: It is not. I think of course I loaned it to someone, which reminds me I should get that back.

Justin: Well, that proves it’s your most recommended. Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, Rick DeLici.

Antonio: Yes.

Justin: Nick Toman, Rick DeLici, and Matthew Dixon. Interesting. What is it about it that causes it to be the one that you most often recommend?

Antonio: This book actually is like I read it and continued to read it, but I read it for the first time back in 2016, maybe 2015. The book basically defines that customer satisfaction does not necessarily equate to loyalty, but what does is your customer effort. How much effort are customers having to exhaust to get their problems solved? That’s much more indicative of loyalty.

I’ve been fortunate to speak at a couple of different support conferences on this topic exactly and how we’ve leveraged it in the past and what the benefits have been for us, but it gives you just a different perspective on how do you channel improvement for not only the support organization that you oversee but just the experience in general that ultimately sometimes we don’t really feel like we have a lot of control over? That gives you just a different avenue to tackle as it concerns making things the more ideal experience that you can directly impact obviously as a support leader.

Justin: Love it. Next question in the quickfire round here is, what’s the best productivity hack, tip, trick that you’ve ever heard that you’ve implemented and found successful?

Antonio: Maybe I’ll give you one that’s not necessarily as tactical as folks might be envisioning, but I think coming from a leadership role, especially for other leaders that might be listening, this is super important, and that’s delegate. Delegate more often. I think the rule of thumb I give not only myself, but the teams that I get to work alongside is if you find yourself maxing out more than 100%, then that means you aren’t delegating enough.

Delegate, let go of the reins. Sure, it might not be done the way that you envision it, but that’s okay. Everyone has their own individual style and as long as the quality is what’s expected and the timeliness is what it’s expected, that’s all that really should matter as concerns delegation. Delegate more and that’s how you’ll get a better work-life balance, I think, which is super important.

Justin: It’s extremely important. One of the best decisions I made recently is in my task management for the week, I have this really great notion dashboard I’ve built for myself, where I bring a task in, and when I create a new task, I have to fill out the urgency and the importance either urgent, not urgent, important, not important, which then basically assigns it to a quadrant in the Eisenhower Matrix of, do first, delegate, decide later, or exterminate. It is so helpful to have a sober conversation with myself on what I should delegate versus what I should take on for myself.

I tell my managers, do the exact same thing. This doesn’t create an everything rolls downhill type situation. We all still do plenty of work. If some task gets from the CMO all the way through to your new hire marketing associate and it still should be delegated all the way down, maybe that task isn’t that important in the first place. Love it. To close us up here, if you could take any person in the world of support or business or even life, in general, out for either coffee or a cocktail, depending on the time of the day and/or the vibe, who would it be?

Antonio: It would probably be Ali Rayl, who is Slack’s VP of customer experience. I say Ali because no stranger to any of us, but Slack has just been incredible in the growth they’ve gone through, which is funny because before Slack became Slack, they were a gaming company out of Ontario called Tiny Speck and I remember looking into doing some work with them to help them build out their moderation and trust and safety piece. Funny to see them spin the wheel and go to Slack, which obviously was a correct decision for them.

Ali has had to endure so– I say Ali as if I know her. I’ve never talked to her, but she’s had to endure so much growth as it concerns building that structure from the ground up and supporting its explosiveness from domestic to international customers, the 24-hour models. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that organization to see how that function functions candidly because they have so many, I’m sure, sub-functions that I’d be curious to know, “When did you decide this was the right moment to do X or Y, and what were some things that you learned, that you would’ve loved to have learned outright versus taking a year or two years to have learned in that vast of a growing organization?” I would love to learn more and pick her brain.

Justin: They’re an incredible example and one of the only ones really of something that materialized into the world and then 10 years later is damn near ubiquitous. You know what I mean? Kudos to them and you’re right, that would be an incredible conversation. This was also an incredible conversation. Antonio, thank you for coming on the Support Automation Show. Where can people find you if they want to get in touch with you or Veho? All the way.

Antonio: [laughs] LinkedIn is a really good starting point and/or if folks in here are really keen on joining communities that are helpful, I’ve been a part of one called Support Driven for quite some time now.

Justin: They’re fantastic.

Antonio: A Slack-based community. If you’re in there, you can tag me @tones. Most people call me Tones, so feel free to call me whichever name is easiest for you to remember. If you’re in that Slack for Support Driven, @tones will be the way to get ahold of me. Otherwise, LinkedIn is also a good approach too.

Justin: Support Driven is a fantastic community. I’m in there myself as a vendor. I typically watch more and listen more than I type, but absolutely, that’s one of the gold standard support communities. I agree with you. Well, thank you so much for your time today. I hope you have a marvelous short week here and we’ll chat again soon, Antonio. Thank you.

Antonio: Justin, it was a pleasure. You take care and we’ll speak soon.

Justin: Cheers. The Support Automation Show is brought to you by Capacity. Visit to find everything you need for automating support and business processes in one powerful platform. You can find the show by searching for support automation in your favorite podcast app. Please subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. On behalf of the team here at capacity, thanks for listening.

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