With an impressive track record of leading support teams at Google, Tableau, and Amazon Web Services, Declan Ivory is paving the way for technology companies that prioritize exceptional customer support.
As the VP of Customer Support at Intercom, he’s truly at the forefront of enabling this transformation within the customer support industry.
What one invention would make your work life easier?
Undoubtedly the one invention that would make work-life easier would be a ‘tele transportation’ machine. I love spending time in person with my team and when you have a globally dispersed team imagine how impactful tele transportation would be. All that commute and travel time elimination. What a game changer.
If there were no holds barred, what change would you make to customer service?
No holds barred! I’d make it mandatory for every new employee to spend 6 months in customer service to really understand the customer experience and to truly walk in the shoes of the customer.
If AI is going to change the customer service industry monumentally, who do you think stands to benefit most, and why?
The big winner in the deployment of AI in the customer service industry must be the customer. If the focus is solely on cost savings then businesses are fundamentally missing the point of AI. The recent advances in AI, means that the technology has matured to a level where you can realistically think about transforming the customer experience. The customer benefits in many ways – getting comprehensive answers to routine questions quickly, being reached out to proactively by support to resolve problems before you even know they are problems based on the predictive capabilities that AI brings, and getting through to a human support team who have the time, focus, skill, and contextual knowledge to solve the most complex questions that a customer has,
What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when nurturing a team?
The most important thing to keep in mind when nurturing a team is that a team needs to have a sense of purpose or mission that motivates them to get up every day and give of their best, and that people need to feel valued and appreciated for what they deliver and for how they are developing themselves.
What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned recently?
The most important thing that I have learnt recently is the necessity to really focus on what is important and forget about the rest. The ability to prioritise and focus is key to success in any walk of life.
What makes you really proud of your team?
Firstly, I feel really proud of the team when they receive really positive and awesome feedback from customers on how the team has really helped them to solve an issue or problem, particularly when the customer views this level of support as going above and beyond what is expected.
Secondly, I am proud of the team when they are willing to embrace change and try new things in an effort to always iterate and improve on how we deliver support to our customers. We call these experiments ‘cupcakes’ and I just love to see the cupcake factory in full flow across the team.
Which book, podcast, or newsletter are you enjoying right now?
I’m reading a book called CEO Excellence by Carolyn Dewar, Scott Keller, and Vikram Malhotra. A really great read that explores the six mindsets that distinguish the best leaders from rest. I also love listening to the CXChronicles podcast with Adrian Brady-Ceana, where Adrian converses with a range of leaders in the customer experience space – it’s always energising and interesting.
What part of your day do you look forward to most?
This is going to sound a little odd but I look forward to the mornings and heading into work. I am really motivated and energised by what I’m doing at the moment and it’s no effort to get into work each day, as each day poses new problems to be solved and new possibilities in using AI to transform support. It really is a fundamental time of transformation in Customer Service and I feel privileged to be part of this.
What’s your most memorable experience as a customer?
I was trying to buy a phone for my son who has Special Needs and he needed some very specific features. A very young sales rep went to huge lengths to find a phone that would really meet my son’s needs. He encountered a number of challenges in trying to get the right phone. He was undaunted by various obstacles that he encountered and kept knocking each obstacle down. At the end of the day he encountered a systems challenge in trying to get the phone registered and he had to give up. However I remember his persistence, good nature, and very clear customer focus despite the fact that he couldn’t resolve the final issue. I really appreciated the lengths he had gone to for my son, And from that day onwards if anyone asks me where to buy a phone I recommend that shop.
Who is your favorite cat?
My favourite cat is Top Cat – quite the likeable rogue.