Q&A with Beat Rüfenacht, Head of Client Services & Implementations at Fides
Beat Rüfenacht has been with Fides for seven years. In his role as Head of Client Services, Beat is responsible for customer support, service, and implementations. Beat initially joined Fides because he was impressed by the spirit and can-do mentality of the team, as well as the international environment. Starting as a client support team member, he worked his way up to his current position, where he supervises the department and has a team of 16 direct reports.
The statistics from Beat’s team are impressive:
- Fides client support team responds to 98 percent of all requests within 12 hours
- 95 percent of requests are resolved within 48 hours
- Total tickets closed in 2017 = 28,353 tickets
- Total tickets closed in the first half of 2018 = 15,775
How have things changed at Fides in the seven years you have been there?
The team has evolved and grown. When I first started, it was in client support and operations. Now, we still handle support operations but also are more strategic. As Fides has grown and gained more clients, our team has gotten substantially larger – and we are actively hiring!
What do your responsibilities include on a day-to-day basis?
I lead both the client services and implementation departments, so manage two different sections of the business that work together. I make sure that all shifts are covered around the clock, and that someone is scheduled to cover the emergency lines during the night. I’m also the primary contact for our audits, coordinating from a business perspective to provide the information that proves our processes are compliant with all relevant regulations.
We use Jira as a ticketing system, tracking incident reports, status, and who is working on them. I’m responsible for managing any major incidents, or any incidents that require escalation to ensure everything is fixed and back to normal as quickly as possible. So I have to keep an eye on that and make sure everything is coordinated. If it’s purely technical I just make sure things are on track to be resolved and everyone is communicating. For daily activities, the team does a great job with self-organization so I don’t have to worry too much.
What hours does Fides offer support?
Our support desk is available 24×5, Monday through Friday. If a technical product issue were to occur on a weekend, our system monitoring will detect it and IT will take care of the problem. Other than that, it’s rare to get any requests on a weekend.
How do clients typically request support?
Right now, 90 percent of the contact is by email. The remaining 10 percent is by phone.
Do you have peak times when it is busiest?
The busiest time for us is afternoon in European time, as that includes both Europe and morning in the United States. We work with clients and partners around the world though, so you never know when the phone will ring.
In which languages does Fides offer support?
English, German and French are the three primary languages that our clients use. We also have team members who speak Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Serbian — maybe even more — so we can offer support in those languages as well.
How much of a technical understanding do clients typically have?
When you pick up the phone, you never know who will be on the other end. It could be someone from the IT team, someone from Treasury, or even the CFO. You have to be prepared for everything from a technical specialist to someone who knows nothing about technology.
How does the support model work with partners? Do customers contact the partner or contact you directly?
It depends. The majority of our partner customers have contracts directly with that partner, so they contact the partner and the partner contacts us if they need help. We analyze and investigate each case and give them the feedback to pass along to their clients. If there is a situation that is particularly complicated, we will have a call with the client together
Are there specific topics or areas where customers typically need the most assistance?
Onboarding of new banks or new bank accounts for our ARS and EFT services is a common challenge. Often, the banks don’t know how to set up the payment instructions from the client, or clients have difficulty with the data that is needed to migrate to a new payment type or provider. We assist with those things, along with user setups, on a regular basis. Even though our product manuals have detailed descriptions, every bank connection is different.
How long does it typically take to onboard a bank?
It can be as short as a week or two, if it’s a bank we’ve already worked with that has good processes in place. Usually it’s one to six months. A lot of that is due to legal contract review, which is typically a slow process.
What metrics do you use to measure the team’s success?
For me, success is measured in client satisfaction. We track the number of open tickets, tickets closed, and time to resolution, but that doesn’t mean anything if our clients aren’t happy. I know my team is busy. We have continued to add a significant number of new clients each year, so of course the ticket numbers grow as well. Last year we built in some new functionality, which helps onboard new banks for our services. This involves more relationship management with all the banks, which has increased our number of cases as well. Every year I’ve hired one or two more staff members to be able to keep up with the volume and ensure we continue to deliver that high quality of service.
Beat is a firm believer in communication with clients. He has regular status calls with clients and partner and also periodically meets with clients face to face, including interactions at the annual Fides Conference.
“That’s how you really stay in touch with what’s going on, how happy your clients are and what their issues are,” he says. “Nothing beats the face to face meeting. By talking with our clients I learn what they are interested in, if they have new ideas, and together we can figure out what else Fides can do to make their lives easier. I may have ideas, but the only one who can tell me what they truly need is that client.”