Nurul Mohd-Reza knows how to empathize with the customers she serves. Her work with marginalized groups as a college student, she says, helped prepare her for when the pandemic turned many of her customers’ businesses upside down last March.
Here she discusses what she’s learned after just 10 months in the industry and provides some advice for those looking to dive headfirst into something new.
Tell us a little bit about your career background. How did you get to where you are today?
I started working at Webroot back in January, so my time here hasn’t been long. For most of my collegiate career I worked in the Division of Student Affairs at CU Boulder, focusing specifically on leadership and development. I served as a student advisor to university officials and local businesses. And so, as time went on, I became very interested in the dynamic between people and business. From there, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into this realm but was unsure on how to get started. So after college I began working in healthcare operations.
I believe what got me interested in this career path was when I attended Denver Start Up Week, which was a phenomenal experience. It opened my eyes to the unfamiliar world of customer success. Seeing how companies used technology and data to proactively understand their customer persona, and on top of that, scale engagements to fit their customer’s needs was truly insane. I thought what better way of molding my interests than being on the front lines serving as an advocate between people and product.
And how did you land at Webroot specifically?
It’s a funny story. I had come across this position and halfway through filling out the application I thought I might not be well-equipped for the role, so I actually ended up not finishing the application. And then a recruiter reached out to me and said they were interested in starting a conversation. It was unconventional, but I’m very grateful she reached out because it gave me an opportunity to explain my transition and why I wanted to make that jump into tech.
From there, I ended up interviewing here at Webroot and it was a great experience overall. Being early on in my career, I knew I wanted to work in an environment that obviously fostered growth, professionally and personally. After speaking with my current boss, I was very optimistic about the trajectory of Webroot, as well as the vision for Customer Success and this team specifically.
What are your core responsibilities as a customer retention specialist?
I would say my time is split between two main responsibilities. My primary role is to oversee the renewal process for a subset of SMBC contracts projected for the quarter. On the other hand, we are a customer facing role. So handling business customer inquiries as they arise. This involves everything from advising customers on certain buying decisions to providing in-product guides.
However, we are starting to shift our focus on how to effectively connect with customers throughout their lifecycle. Previously, we’ve concentrated on the renewal period which is 90 days before expiration. Now, we’re starting to expand our scope and engage with customers to create those smooth onboarding workflows, as well as push early-on adoption of the product.
At the end of the day, it’s really about strategy—how do we effectively educate and guide the customer to build depth behind the product in hopes of retaining that relationship for the long haul.
What would you say has been the most significant challenge of your career so far?
I think one of the most significant challenges was switching to an industry I’d never worked in before. The learning curve was steep in terms of familiarizing myself with the products we offer, our workflow with all the various systems we use, and the dynamic relationships between our various partners.
In Customer Success, it’s not simply about securing renewals. The process involves having to solve roadblocks in order to help a customer achieve their goal. We have to work with a range of departments to solve issues the customer is facing—whether it be from a product standpoint or a billing redundancy. So being able to learn each player’s role and then manage those relationships was obviously a challenge to begin with. It’s exciting, though. It keeps you on your feet and you get to meet a lot of new people from diverse backgrounds.
Another obvious challenge was COVID-19. I had only been working in the office for about two months when the pandemic hit. Learning how to onboard remotely was new and something I had to juggle with most definitely.
What skills do you feel have carried over well from your work in public affairs?
I believe Customer Success is focused on building relationships with our customers—which to my advantage was a valuable skill I carried over from my work in public affairs. In this role, it’s very important to enjoy solving problems and addressing issues head-on. You have to be incredibly flexible and create some sense of fluidity in the midst of a growing que of customer requests.
In my previous role, I worked with marginalized communities to combat an array of social issues. So learning how to communicate with empathy, while also moving with focus and intent was crucial and very much transcends into my current role now.
Do you have a favorite part of the job after 10 months with the company?
I’m optimistic about being able to refine the customer journey. I believe the beauty behind Customer Success is it’s still an unknown territory. Everywhere you look, companies have a different way and methodology on how they interact with the customer. Not to mention, the type of technology and automation coming into play is fascinating.
In addition to that, our team is fairly new, which gives us a range of autonomy to create the structure and the formatting that we believe will best deliver value to our customers throughout their lifecycle. Although we are now part of a 15,000-person organization, it still feels like a start-up environment. We are constantly working to strategize and envision how we want the customer experience to evolve. To me, it’s very exciting to be at the intersection of all these moving parts.
Any advice for someone in your same situation, looking to cross over into the tech industry?
Well, given my experience, I’d say don’t doubt your capabilities. No experience is wasted experience. Even if you might not be the absolute perfect fit for a position, you have a breadth of skills you’ve developed over the past couple of years that will help mold you into whatever new role you’re interested in.
I believe one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was don’t close a door on yourself before the opportunity even presents itself. By saying you can’t do this, or you don’t have the skills for that, you’ve already blocked out all these great possibilities. So be open to new experiences and don’t hold back.
To see what positions are available for you at OpenText, visit our careers page here.