Meet Chuck McMahon: VP of Customer Experience

At Angaza, we’re dedicated to making life-changing products affordable to over one billion consumers in emerging markets worldwide. Our Customer Experience team proactively engages and consults with our last-mile distribution partners to ensure they are getting the most out of their partnership with Angaza. In today’s team spotlight, Chuck McMahon, VP of Customer Experience at Angaza, shares what sets Angaza’s customer support apart and what our valued partners can expect when they collaborate with us.

Q. How would you define your role as the Vice President of Customer Experience at Angaza?

A: My job is to empower all of our customer (and prospective customer) facing teams to engage with our customers and our company to ensure both entities succeed.

Q. What strategies or approaches from the customer experience field guide your day-to-day work in Angaza’s SaaS business?

A: One of our core principles is: “Seek First to Understand.” 

This concept is so important in dealing with customers, internal communication, handling escalations, and receiving and sharing new directions from leadership. I have found that taking the time to ask questions, verify information, etc., is critical to ensuring an informed, accurate, and efficient response. Even in times of great pressure for quick results (perhaps even to a greater extent), taking the time to fully understand the situation can pay big dividends in coming to the best and most effective response and helps to avoid the loss of time (and possibly reputation) by responding too quickly.

Q. What aspects of Angaza do you appreciate the most?

A: The balance between business and culture. Most of the companies that I have worked with really struggle to keep a balance. I have seen companies so focused on what they consider “good culture” that they ran their business into the ground. Many others are so focused on leading through fear and intimidation that they feel like they are succeeding until they wake up and realize that employee churn and the workplace reputation is destroying them from the inside. A great culture is not born out of having cookies in the breakroom every day (although that is always a good thing!). It is born from respecting all employees, working diligently to be kind and fair, and embracing their contribution to the company. That is something that I have consistently found here from day 1.

Q. How do you measure the success of customer experience initiatives at Angaza?

A: Of course, we have the common measurements that you might see elsewhere – customer registration growth, renewal rates, customer satisfaction ratings, etc. Our model also constantly evolves as we analyze what we do, how we do it, and what impact our actions have. Our initiatives always aim to improve the service we provide meaningfully, provide more consistent results, or help us scale our operations. If an idea doesn’t deliver the expected results, we quickly adjust or replace it with a better solution.

Q. Can you discuss a recent project where you successfully improved customer satisfaction?

A: It’s so recent that we aren’t even finished. In Q3 of 2023, we began to see areas of the communication flow from the customer-facing teams to our Product and Engineering teams that were no longer functioning. We recognized that we had outgrown the ability to continue to work without an increase in the precision of our communication. This spawned two rather large and complex projects. One is a collaboration between the more operations-oriented parts of our engineering teams and Support, and one between the more dev-focused teams and success. We are about 85% of the way there, with efficiencies already gained. This structure will allow us to improve our response and resolution times on the support side. It will help us maintain a very clear picture of where we need Engineering investment on the Success side to be more efficient in addressing new challenges. The customers should be able to experience this by having more of their support issues resolved without escalation (a primary goal) and having more effective/efficient communication with special requests that we may or may not be able to accommodate.

Q. What do you believe sets Angaza’s customer experience apart from others in the industry?

A: The most common approach I have found over the years for a customer engagement model is to act as what I would call relationship managers (i.e., “keep the customer happy”). All too often, this results in having customers that like their CSM and Support teams, but also solutions that begin to separate from the real needs of the customers over time. Companies that see CX only as a tool to keep the customer happy rarely capture what they are hearing and learning about the evolving needs of their customers. 

Here – we view our customers as our partners. We seek to invest ourselves in their success. Sometimes, that means that we are working to enable them to make better use of the platform. Sometimes, that may mean that we will provide them some insight on best practices based on engaging with 100’s of customers with very similar goals and challenges over the years. Sometimes, that means that we share internal insights into where we see potential gaps in the product offering and the customers’ needs.

Q. What’s one thing about customer experience that most people misunderstand or underestimate?

A: The size and frequency of cross-departmental initiatives. People outside of CX would be surprised at the frequency of this type of engagement and the skill level that a CX member must have to collaborate across business lines. None of our CX teams can succeed in a vacuum. They are interdependent with other CX teams and with other teams within the organization. For example – Support must work hand in hand with success, as well as Product and Engineering, to provide the best possible customer experience. Success Managers need to be Michael Jordan in leading cross-departmental initiatives. They cannot do anything alone. Their role is to discern what is required and what the business priorities are and then coordinate with others (often across more than one department) to get things accomplished that will help our customers (and, therefore, Angaza) succeed. 

Q. What are your interests or hobbies outside of work?

A: Probably different from what you might expect from someone my age. I have been an avid gamer since I bought my first computer in college (way back in the 80’s!). In college, I had a Commodore 128 and played text adventure games (when I was supposed to be studying). These days, Destiny 2 gets most of my attention.

Q. Can you share a memorable experience while working at Angaza?

A: There are MANY, but I will share the moment when I knew for sure that I wanted to join Angaza. 

It was when I met our CEO (Lesley Marincola) in person for the first time. When I asked her what the main objective of Angaza was, she responded that she wanted to “eliminate poverty.”

I didn’t immediately understand what she meant – it sounded like a vague thought (like one might say that they want to “bring world peace”), but I knew enough about her to know that she didn’t throw words out carelessly. Throughout that initial conversation, I understood that what she was saying was that she wanted to effect change in a world that currently eliminates so many from having the same opportunities and basic needs met as those in better financial circumstances. She wasn’t working to eliminate the cause of poverty – she was working to eliminate the effect! Once I understood that and saw it being played out in front of me, I was sold!

Q. What are your aspirations for the future within Angaza regarding customer experience and beyond?

A: Angaza’s mission is so worthwhile, and there is such an incredible need for what we try to do in partnership with our customers. We have barely scratched the surface of what we can (and will) accomplish.

I aspire to see this industry continue to expand – eliminating the gaps caused by financial hardship. I aspire to help my company continue to grow and build on the incredible structure created by our founders. I aspire to watch my team members grow and develop their skill sets, business acumen, and leadership skills and one day (waaay in the future) have one of them take my spot here.