We are thrilled to announce that Sumitha Nathan has joined Recurly as VP of Customer Enablement! Sumitha will be leading professional services engineering, enablement managers, and sales engineering reporting to our CTO, Tony Allen.
Sumitha Nathan, VP Customer Enablement
Sumitha is a seasoned customer-centric executive with a unique background and experience in engineering, customer support, product marketing, as well as in building technical alliances.
Most recently Sumitha led the growth of a robust ecosystem of technical partners and alliances at PerimeterX, a leader in bot management. Prior to that she helped design IBM’s developer marketing strategy for APIConnect and established a new support organization at StrongLoop before its acquisition by IBM. As part of the founding team for RedHat’s OpenShift PaaS, Sumitha played a key role in the development and go-to-market of OpenShift growing its user base from zero to 1M apps in the first two years. Early career experiences include CS leadership roles at Centrify and Wily and engineering roles at Marimba and Octel.
Sumitha earned an MS in Computer Science from California State University - East Bay, following a BS in Engineering from GCT and MBA from Anna University, India. In her spare time, Sumitha likes hiking, gardening, creating new recipes, traveling, and volunteering with local student organizations.
Going above and beyond for our customers has been part of the Recurly DNA since the very early days of our company. We sat down with Sumitha for a virtual chat to discover what customer enablement means to her and gain some insight into how she creates and grows exceptional teams that deliver an excellent customer experience through the entire customer life-cycle.
Q: How do you define customer enablement? What does it mean to you?
Sumitha: Our business is our customers. Our customers come to us because they're trying to alleviate a problem they have identified and they have chosen our solution.
Enablement is the ability to get the customer to the point that the business outcomes that they wanted from the solution are achieved. Sometimes those outcomes might go above and beyond. For example, a new merchant may come to us just to solve their billing needs and we educate them and provide them access to insights and analytics that helps them optimize their business and reduce subscriber churn. In doing that, we’ve not only solved for the business outcome that they wanted, but they've also been able to take care of other things that would have potentially come down the road. They’re paying, or they're subscribing to a service to get a particular outcome. How we get them to that outcome and show them value in their investment is enablement.
Q: From an enablement perspective, how do you approach different tiers of customers from self-service to enterprise?
Sumitha: I like to design customer enablement by their use cases and where they are in their journey and learn from it.
Even with enterprise customers, basic functionality and integrations may easily lend themselves to the self-service model. Services can help customers with sophisticated integrations make full use of the extensive functionality that Recurly provides. Regardless of customer tiers, we want to address so we can apply learnings across the board.
Q: How do you stay customer-centric throughout the customer life-cycle?
Sumitha: Whilst the customer support and success teams have the primary responsibility of delivering an excellent customer experience, the entire company plays a part in the success of our customers. Part of why I enjoy my role so much is that I work with engineering, product, sales, and marketing to bring it all together. A huge part of that is ensuring that the whole company is thinking of our customers in everything we do.
Recurly is very fortunate to have delivered incredible customer experiences up to now with an impressive customer satisfaction score of 98%, which is virtually unheard of in the industry. In order to maintain and even improve that level of satisfaction, we always have to be forward-looking. We have to be proactive, not reactive, in the way we anticipate and understand our customers’ challenges, pain points, and goals. By taking this proactive approach, we become true partners to our customers and serve as trusted advisors and collaborators during their customer lifecycle journey. For example, if we see a customer doing something that isn’t optimal, we may reach out and share our roadmap because we may be developing a feature that will provide them the desired end result they seek. Similarly, the customer team closes the loop by bringing customer feedback back to the product teams.
“It really boils down to the fact that our effort is to add business value for our customers. And when we do that and take them to that moment of delight in the expected time frame with a great experience they are going to appreciate it. That’s what it’s all about.”
Q: You got your start as a software engineer. How has that shaped your approach to leading technology teams?
Sumitha: I think that it makes a big difference for me when working with engineering because I understand where they may be coming from when prioritizing projects. When you’re in software development, there’s always a tradeoff between cool, new development and doing more backend tasks like performance improvements, both of which are necessary but impact customers differently. I moved to customer service because I wanted to connect the dots and bridge the gap between developing features and getting to see the business impact, value, and results that those features drive for our customers.
Q: Describe the approach you take when coming into a new organization.
Sumitha: With every company I join, I start by trying to understand the day-to-day responsibilities of each team. I try to see what the current processes are and why—for instance, I join a lot of customer meetings and I have conversations with every team helping the customer on their journey. Most importantly, I sit with the front line people who are doing the work. For example, at my last company, I learned the most when I sat with the implementation engineers during the onboarding sessions with customers. Taking the time to assess, observe and ask questions provides so many insights and opportunities for improvement. You can uncover inefficiencies that if improved upon can bring greater customer value and employee satisfaction.
“I think everybody wants their job and work to be meaningful.”
We look forward to having Sumitha help us double down on our customer-centric approach to enablement, with a goal of delivering an even more impactful experience for Recurly's merchants.