Interview with Covalent's Customer Leader, Michael Wolczik

Michael Wolczik is the Vice President of Customer at Covalent, where he leads the success, support, and services organization to ensure that customers are receiving the full value of Covalent. With over a decade of customer success leadership experience in enterprise software, he has spent the past four years building partnerships with Fortune 500 industrial companies.

Give us a bit of background, what led you to customer success and this role at Covalent?

I have been fortunate enough to work in various roles throughout the customer lifecycle SaaS for the past twelve years. After finishing my graduate degree and returning home to Massachusetts, I joined a company in its infancy during a period of massive growth. Over the next seven years, I held several roles in implementation, escalation account management, custom data technical support, and consulting services.

Seeking my next challenge and desiring professional growth, I was presented with an exciting role in a healthcare technology startup, leading the customer journey for all post-sale activity. The contrast from managing my own department with a larger headcount than my entire company was eye-opening. This new world offered the chance to expand my skills, learn to be a lean leader, and use creative problem-solving techniques.

Being a customer success leader at Covalent is a multifaceted role that involves managing numerous responsibilities and relationships, both internal and external. Every day is different from the last, and the ability to have such a profound impact on our customers is unparalleled.

What are some of the most important elements of running a successful customer organization?

In my opinion, the most important aspect of running a successful customer organization is the team. I am fortunate to have hired an amazing team with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds. Our services team has an innate ability to listen to our manufacturing partners and find solutions based on their desired vision, our support team is composed of compassionate problem solvers and our success managers work hard to represent the voice of the customer.

In addition to having a great team,spending time listening to internal and external stakeholders is crucial. As Covalent is a growing company, every new relationship or differing perspective provides an opportunity to continuously improve our application and service.

What is your philosophy on customer success, how do you approach solving challenges for a growing customer base?

Transparency is key to building trust in customer relationships. As a customer success manager, one of the downsides of the role is delivering unfortunate news. By building trust with our customers, they know that we are representing them to the fullest extent. For example, if a customer request is not aligned with the product vision and a requested feature will not be pursued, we promptly relay the reasoning and decision to the customer.

To solve challenges, I first focus on listening to, understanding and then defining the underlying concern with all parties involved. If the proposed solution is not certain to solve the customer's concern, I hold off on making suggestions and instead confirm the approach with further testing or seek internal subject matter expertise. Documenting the situation and identifying alternative solutions is equally important, as this knowledge can be used to scale support and address similar challenges that may arise in the future.

You’ve worked both in healthcare and manufacturing, are there some of the key similarities and differences between the two industries?

I actually have a personal connection and passion for both industries. My mother was a nurse and my father was an aviation machinist, so you could say I grew up learning about both worlds at the dinner table. 

While they are two distinct sectors, there are a lot of parallels. Both healthcare and manufacturing can be highly regulated, making it critical that data is accurate and secure. In addition, users in both industries have a wide range of exposure to modern software, making it important for vendors to design both software and the training programs to accommodate diverse workforce needs and technical aptitude. Above all, these industries operate in complex, and sometimes dynamic environments where teams are forced to make difficult decisions and problem solve rapidly while striving for the best quality outcomes. Even though manufacturing quality and the quality of patient care is fundamentally a different problem, that passion for doing the job well in both industries is inspiring. 

What are you most excited about for Covalent in the next few years?

I’m excited about the upward trajectory of the company. The massive growth and maturation that we have experienced the past few years is something that our team is extremely proud of. Seeing how effectively our customers are implemented and then ultimately how much value they are realizing by the time they transition to success is something that I cherish and am excited to see continue.

What’s one thing you’re passionate about outside of work?

Outside of my wife (Sulim) and french bulldog (Thumper), I would have to lean towards playing the game of golf. I spend a lot of my free time in the summer on the course. It is my personal escape from hectic day-to-day life. As Bobby Jones once said- “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots- but you have to play the ball where it lies.”

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