Aug 31, 2022
Ad Reform's fully remote customer success team is mostly made up of amazingly talented folks based in the Philippines (hired via Hire with Grit). Their customer success team fulfills two key functions, each of which fuels product development. The functions can be grouped as follows:
Operational Support: Ongoing support for customers and new trials
Exploratory R&D: Discovery and exploration around potential expansions to their product offering
This category includes things like live chat and email support (e.g. for technical questions, feature requests, bug reports, etc.). But it also encompasses their “human-in-the-loop” approach to delivering their solution, which empowers their team to identify and handle more advanced scenarios.
Their platform includes “hook points” to empower their team to respond to evolving customer needs. These hook points make the solution more nimble and flexible, but they also provide valuable data that they feed back into our product roadmap.
For example, here are some features they've developed based on operational feedback from the Philippines-based customer support team:
Automated Powerpoint and PDF presentations
Highlighted ads in screenshots
Google Campaign Manager 360 tag sheet integration
Automated landing page clickthrough
Ad quality metrics and landing page testing
Customers and prospects often approach them with adjacent use cases or needs, asking how they might be able to incorporate those into their offering. Depending on their roadmap and their appetite for expansion, they'll throttle up and down their exploration efforts to meet these requests. This may include doing some things as a human-in-the-loop service (always with a tech front-end) in an effort to learn how to automate the task or process in the future. You know, do things that don’t scale.
They only take on exploratory missions if they fit with their vision, they have the bandwidth, and, importantly, the customer or prospect will pay a premium. Getting paid to do R&D is better than paying to do R&D 😉
Beyond short-term revenue, though, these missions let them learn about a new problem space, identify and stabilize inputs and outputs, and shape new product features. As these take shape, they feed them back into the roadmap to expand our technology platform. They often use no-code tools in the exploratory phase in an effort to give the users an interface while ensuring they don’t spend much effort on writing code before they know more about the solution needed.
Here are some examples of exploratory missions driving product features:
Customization of timestamps, browser, and operating system UI elements in screenshots (They charged a small premium and did this manually for a month before they automated it)
Expanded ad format support: video files, VAST tags, HTML5 ads, and native ads (they had users submit these formats via Intercom until they supported it natively)
Support for Google Search & Facebook ad screenshots (they built out a productized service, charged a premium, then automated it over time)
Ad QA testing (They got inputs from customers via Tally forms and Slack before automating)
They're operational and exploratory efforts feed into the platform, which itself expands, and in turn fuels more opportunities for operational or exploratory discoveries. This model gives them insights they'd otherwise miss out on, while generating revenue immediately instead of waiting months for the features to be built out.
Hiring in the Philippines is the key to making this process work
To be able to do this with a team that is hired entirely out of the Philippines allows this bootstrapped software business the ability to scale quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively while maintaining high standards in its hiring process. This role needs candidates that are focused on the customer, writes great English, can learn on the fly, and has some advanced technical knowledge. They struggled to find that kind of talent for a customer support team in the US without having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, of which they did not have as a bootstrapped business. Being able to hire high-quality customer support candidates in the Philippines has enabled Ad Reform's founder's the ability to scale the business while focusing on higher-level decisions and work.