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Driving Customer Success - Mabel Ong

July 8, 2022

Have you ever been in a situation where you hoped others could put themselves in your shoes, understand your intentions and transform your requests into reality? Now, imagine doing that for work. That’s the challenge Customer Success has and it’s also where all the joy comes from.

Read on, as Mabel Ong, Affinidi’s Customer Success, Senior, shares her experience in the Customer Success world with Affinidi, and the personality behind all her contributions.  

How would you describe your role with Affinidi in a few words?  

Push limits, learn quickly, and have a bias for action.  

The Customer Success team strives to delight customers. Of course, that has to be done within the realms of technology and our capabilities. This requires me to play devil’s advocate on both sides – challenge the limits of our internal solutions, and assess the feasibility of requests. This creates a healthy tension, because while it pushes the limits of our solutions to meet real demands, it also brings to reality what was before a mere request. A beautiful product that doesn’t serve a need is useless. A request so detached from reality can never exist. I bring both worlds together to deliver something meaningful and desirable.

Affinidi is a company that is not afraid of changes. As we adapt to new customer profiles and optimize our ways of working, there is a strong need for me to constantly learn to manage different types of problems and tools to serve customers from different verticals. I must pick up these nuances and skills as quickly as possible to get going.  

Bias for action, one of Affinidi’s core values, is the bread and butter for Customer Success.  I am responsible for translating aspirational principles into actionable plans. How can our customers benefit from this? What do we need to start tomorrow to deliver these results? These conversations are driven with a bias for action.  

What's the best part about being part of Customer Success?

Being close to our customers means we get to see the direct impact of our decisions – the collective result of all our plans, processes, and services - on them.  

We witness the end-to-end journey that begins with a question and ends with an improvement of the product. We feel the heat that stems from a problem and oversee how our tech teams extinguish them. Delivering positive incremental outcomes for our customers drives me to do better each day.  

What's one thing that most people misunderstand about your role?  

Most people confuse us with Customer Service.  

Customer Service reacts to problems and resolves them, while Customer Success is a broader principle that puts the customer at the center of the business.  

The title Customer Success isn’t too common in Singapore (yet), but I’m seeing more SaaS companies relying on Customer Success to drive recurring revenue streams.

How do you tackle the challenge of the company’s changing strategies?  

Our customers understand that we’re playing at the forefront of the field. And as we create new technologies, we require the deep support of like-minded partners who, like us, are also invested in the future.  

This means that they understand the need to figure things out together and change our plans along the way. The key here is that we always keep them informed and involved in our strategies, especially if a change impacts their operations.  

What’s the most fulfilling project you’ve worked on?

In my first 3 months of joining Affinidi, we needed to collect some important data to help build our product. It was a 2-week project spanning 5 countries and time zones. All of us got our hands dirty and worked with a scrappy but functional tool. We set up communication channels with each group from different countries, and saw the information flow in each day.  

The fact is that all of us were trying to execute this idea together from scratch. We’ve never done anything like that before. All of us – multiple teams including several bright interns – put our brains together to create our first operational processes and tackle the problems as they come.

The information we collected and distilled was amazing, and also extremely valuable. Most of these information cannot even be captured by international agencies.  

If you weren’t in your current role (or anything similar), what would you most likely be doing?

Learning all the Table Tennis spins and strokes.

What’s one thing that everyone should know about data ownership and identity?  

In Web 1.0 and 2.0, all of us had been very generous in sharing our personal data to get access to services. That’s because we were (and still very much are) at the mercy of these providers who monopolize the services. Some of us even feel that we do not mind exposing our information if we have ‘nothing to hide’ or ‘so long as give me good recommendations’.  

But privacy isn’t just about knowing your shopping recommendations or peeping into your search history. This laissez-faire attitude towards our data can snowball dangerously – from careless mishandling by third parties to deliberate abuse by organized entities, enabling crimes like identity thefts to take place. Today, most companies take our data for granted. In fact, such personal data provides the foundation of some of the largest companies we know.

The narrative for us shouldn’t be ‘I have no choice; I need to give them my data to use their services’. It should be ‘I can choose who I want to share my data with.’ That’s how the conversation begins.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to join Affinidi?

If you’re someone who takes initiatives, thinks independently, and takes great ownership of outcomes, your journey in Affinidi will be rewarding. I absolutely love that we are not bound by legacies and processes. People are open to new ways of doing things to improve.

Name a person you feel inspired by and why?  

My father is an ordinary man. But he possesses the patience of a saint, and the reliability of gravity. Once he commits to seeing things through, he doesn’t allow ego and emotions to get the better of him. He showed me how an ordinary person can lead a life with extraordinary values.

If someone were to spot you outside of work, what would you most probably be caught doing?

I’ll most likely be at Yakun (a coffee place in Singapore) drinking Teh C Kosong and clearing the news.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I’m intrigued by geopolitics and practical philosophy. Geopolitics because well, it’s interesting to see how fights materialize in a high stakes arena. Practical philosophy because a little dose of it is required to assess how to play this game of life.  

If you could only have 3 apps on your phone, what would they be and why?

If I had a superpower, it would be…  

Being able to understand, speak and write in all the languages in the world.  Including, or perhaps especially, animal languages.

Written by
Team Affinidi

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