A Seat at the Table: Alexa Detzi, Director, Enterprise Success
In this blog series, we’re showcasing SevenRooms’ special ingredient: our employees! This month, we got to know Alexa Detzi, Director, Enterprise Success at SevenRooms. Celebrating her five year (!!) anniversary at SevenRooms on May 9th, she has been instrumental in scaling SevenRooms’ Enterprise CS team throughout her tenure. Read on to learn more about why she chose to work at SevenRooms, how she got to where she is today, and where she can’t wait to jump on a plane to visit. Pull up a seat at the table and dive in!
Why did you join SevenRooms? What’s made you stay for 5 years?
My background is originally in the hospitality space. In fact, I’ve grown up in the hospitality space my whole life with parents and grandparents both working at the same restaurant we’ve owned for over 60 years. Around the time I found SevenRooms, I was working in operations and looking for companies in the hospitality space that were doing something interesting. This led me down the tech path, as technology is the crucial backbone for operational efficiency. From the moment I started talking to SevenRooms, I knew this is where I wanted to be.
I always say SevenRooms is the place I get to solve interesting problems with my friends. As a mission-driven company focused on helping operators make better data-driven decisions, SevenRooms has been an incredible place to grow and work over the last five years. There aren’t many jobs out there where I get to teach someone how to use something, and then see it directly in action and the real impact it has for their team. SevenRooms has always shown me the tangible results of my work. Plus, it’s easy to work for a company in an industry that I’m super passionate about.
Why did you initially decide to go into customer success?
When I first joined SevenRooms’ customer success (CS) team, I had never worked at a tech company before. What I did know is that coming from an operations background, it would probably be ‘easier’ for me to help other operators learn how to use our system since I already spoke their language. I had worked in other customer-facing roles, and knew I liked interacting with people, so it was a natural fit from the start. I love that I can provide value to our clients with my skill set, and that I can teach them the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of using our product.
What advice would you have for someone looking to join the SevenRooms customer success team?
My biggest advice to be curious. This is something that I look for when I’m interviewing candidates and is something that has carried me through my time here at SevenRooms. Our strongest CS team members understand the ‘why.’ Why something works the way it does, why an operator might be asking that question, and why we think building a feature a certain way is important. To be successful in this role, you need to understand the why, or keep asking questions until you do.
What are the core traits that make someone successful at customer success?
Empathy is the foremost important trait to hone in customer success, as you should always strive to understand how or why an operator might be feeling a certain way. The second is to be dynamic, and this is especially true in the hospitality and startup worlds. The nature of our industry means that there are a lot of changes with and across accounts on a monthly basis — whether a new client is onboarding, an existing client is bringing on a new point-of-sale provider, or a million other reasons why something might be changing for their operations. Being dynamic and flexible is the key to success here.
In this job, you have to be able to morph into different versions of yourself depending on who you’re talking to, but it’s important to always be warm and friendly. In a customer-facing role, you need to be able to relate to whoever you are talking to, and always be friendly and approachable, no matter how tough the situation might be. At SevenRooms, we always say that ‘we are at your service, so you can be at theirs.’ It’s all about showing our clients the same levels of empathy, warmth and hospitality that they show their guests every day.
Why do you think SevenRooms’ customer support is so world-class, and why is that such a benefit to clients?
As I’ve said before, our customer support is so world-class because we show empathy and can understand and get to the ‘why’ faster. A significant amount of discovery happens in the sales process, but a lot also happens with CS and support from onboarding through to go-live. Occasionally, our operators can get stuck on something as they’re going through this process, whether that’s a feature that doesn’t exist or one that doesn’t work in the way they want it to. The key to success here is understanding how to bridge that gap between what they actually need and what they think they need.
This means digging into how they’re doing it today, and asking them how they’d do it in a perfect world. You want to understand the friction and the ‘why’ behind a specific question. This is where our support team wins time and time again. They are masters at showing empathy, coaching clients through the process and helping them get to the other side by asking the right questions. This can happen in a multitude of different ways, but always with the same goal of resolution. Most importantly, they’re available 24/7, 365 days a year, so there is never a moment in time where a client will feel unsupported if they have a question.
How are you maintaining relationships with your clients while every market is under different reopening timelines (and without being able to travel to meet them in person)?
Pre-COVID, I was on the road multiple times a month, and I loved being with our customers on the ground. I’m gearing up for my first business trip in over a year to Las Vegas in May and I’m giddy with excitement for things to start to feel normal again (and to be able to hug a customer — with masks, of course!)
Especially in the enterprise space, not being in person was a huge challenge in 2020. In-person meetings have always been crucial, especially when planning larger implementations. It has taught everyone how to do more with less, and to communicate well when things are changing constantly. One of the biggest changes has been around how that communication happens. Emails are now more frequent and more direct, with a lot more bullet points and a lot less fluff. It has changed, for the better, how we approach implementations for some of our largest clients across the world.
For me, maintaining these relationships has been deeply rooted in a foundational relationship built in trust. My number one goal for any client is for them to trust us and trust the process. We do this in a few different ways: staying highly organized; providing clear and comprehensive documentation; frequently sharing best practices; and understanding the ‘why’ behind what they’re trying to accomplish with SevenRooms.
Once you have that trust, whether they’re a team of 30, 12 or 3, you find a process that works for everyone and you stay consistent with that process. Generally, I always try to start every call with a general check-in. ‘How are you?’ is a really loaded question, especially as teams have been furloughed, restaurants have closed and reopened, and all the other logistical complications of the past 12 months, so it’s nice to check in to see how they’re managing it all.
One of the most important roles I play is also as a connector. People are really curious about what’s happening in different markets, and are eager to learn from other operators with their space. Since I’m talking to operators globally on a daily basis, I’ve been able to pass along many of those learnings to other markets — like how Hong Kong managed closures, or how Las Vegas shut down mega-casinos that had never closed their doors. I am always offering to connect our clients with other operators, especially when I know they’re both asking the same questions and will learn from each other’s experiences.
How do you help coach new clients through the onboarding process?
My number one piece of advice is to be crystal-clear about what problem you’re hoping to solve for and understand the friction points that you want to work through using technology. I always tell my clients that if they tell me their dream scenario of how they hope the technology will work or a process will run, then I can help them connect the dots faster. My favorite question to ask is: what have you always wanted to do but never been able to do because technology limited you? If there’s a fit with the tools we have, I make that dream a reality for them. It’s my job to help spark their creativity and use our technology to implement it.
These coaching questions ultimately help me build trust with clients. When a relationship is built from a place of trust and understanding, it’s always going to be 10x more successful and productive in the long run. This ultimately helps drive greater adoption for our products, because if our clients love it and trust that it’s doing what it says it’s going to do, the product becomes much stickier.
How do you ensure you stay connected with SevenRooms’ NYC-based HQ in a WFH environment?
I’m very much a ‘video on’ person when it comes to my day-to-day. There are very few meetings I won’t have video on for, even if that means showing up in a baseball hat and no makeup (let’s be real, we all have those days). As an organization, we use Slack a lot. To help me stay connected, I push myself to engage in threads, join conversations and react with an emoji or comment. It’s a small action that goes a long way in helping me feel connected to what’s going on in our company, and help contribute to our culture. I definitely miss being in the office. There’s something about the camaraderie and how special that is in-person that makes our culture truly magical. There are some days where I catch myself smiling while I’m sitting at home by myself because of something someone said on Slack. It might not be the same while WFH, but it does help me stay more connected to the company.
One of my favorite activities while working from home has been to take 20-30 minutes out of my day to have coffee with one of my colleagues — either in-person with those who live near me, or via Zoom if they’re elsewhere. It completely changes my day when I take that time to chat with someone about their life, what they’re up to, and how they’re feeling as we continue to deal with the pandemic. Every time I do it, I wonder why I don’t do it more often!
What has been the most rewarding silver lining you’ve encountered over the past year, both personally and professionally?
Personally, this year has been rewarding because it’s really allowed me to slow down and take more time to do the things I enjoy. Pre-COVID, I was on the road two weeks a month, so instead of sitting solo at a restaurant bar with my laptop for dinner, I’ve been cooking a lot more with family and friends. I’m secretly a homebody, so I’ve been loving that my only social options are to cook and enjoy a good bottle of wine with a small group of friends or family. We could have always done this, but it took the world stopping for people to realize this is fun — and that we should drink a couple of bottles of wine and make that paella at home like we always said we would.
Professionally, the most rewarding silver lining I’ve witnessed is seeing world-class operators rip up their playbooks and question every detail of what they’ve done in the past to make it better in the future. Don’t get me wrong, this year was painful in many ways for hospitality operators. But it really made way for a lot of innovation and better processes for both guests and operators. This is where we’ve been able to step in as a resource and partner to them. If you had asked me 18 months ago whether a fine dining restaurant would ever offer an online waitlist or box up their food for delivery and takeout I would have said you were crazy. Instead, we’ve had operators come to the table and say, ‘You know that thing we said we’d never do? We need to do it now.’ The best part? Those changes and adaptations have been incredibly successful for them — a win-win for both the guest and the restaurant. Throughout COVID, we’ve helped, to steal a line from one of our clients, ‘cruise ships move like speedboats.’ Larger groups that previously would have taken months to implement a feature or new tool have instead been implementing those same tools in days. It goes to show that when your teams are in sync with the ‘why’ behind a decision, that’s when the magic happens.
Where are you boarding your first flight to after travel restrictions are lifted? Which restaurant are you dining at indoors?
It’s a tie! I’m booking to travel either to San Sebastián in Spain, or Mexico City. I literally can’t wait to hop back on a flight to somewhere. From a restaurant perspective, there are a few places I can’t wait to dine indoors at. Blue Ribbon Wine Bar on Downing Street in NYC is one of my all-time favorite places for wine and oysters. You’ll find me perched up at the bar with a glass of wine and a dozen oysters soon!
Want to get to know Alexa better? Join her on May 6th and May 13th for our 20-minute Coffee Break series. You’ll learn how to Engage and Retain your customers as we enter the Restaurant Renaissance. Plus, receive a $10 Starbucks gift card for registering.