Simon Davey recently began working as a Customer Experience Manager with Auxilion. He told us about the role, how it’s gone so far, and how he has found the culture at Auxilion.
Simon Davey joined Auxilion’s Customer Experience Management team this year, having moved to Ireland with his family from South Africa seven years ago.
“I grew up in Johannesburg, and then my wife and I moved to Pretoria, further north. We decided we wanted a change from South Africa. We wanted somewhere English speaking with a good culture, and everyone in South Africa raves about Ireland. People say it’s a kind of similar culture to South Africa.”
What was Simon’s professional background before joining Auxilion?
“I’ve done a lot of different things. I started in hospitality. That was where I first learned about customer service and working with people. I’ve always loved working with people, and you meet a lot of interesting people working in pubs or nightclubs.
“I did that while I was still studying. I did an MCSE, a computer qualification. Then I went to college and did Marketing & Communications, so that was pretty different! Studying interpersonal communication in that way was really interesting. I didn’t finish the degree in the end because I was working full time and making decent money. In hindsight maybe I should have finished it, but I learned a lot from it all the same.
“Then I went into a sales job selling Kirby vacuum cleaners. That was a bit of a baptism of fire, going door to door, offering to shampoo peoples’ carpets! But I was still very young and it was a great learning experience, particularly in terms of communication.
“Then I got back into IT. I worked as a deskside engineer at an architectural firm. From there I got into software companies, and that’s where I’ve been for about the last 15 years. Software as a service, security software, cybersecurity compliance, all that kind of stuff.”
Simon’s next move brought him and his family to Ireland.
“We moved here seven years ago. We jumped on a plane, we didn’t have jobs lined up or anywhere to live. We landed in Laois, on the basis that it was central! It turned out there weren’t so many jobs around there though. We were in an old stone cottage, and we arrived in October so that was interesting!
“I got a role doing service desk for a company, doing the night shift. I learned a lot of new skills- Linux, database, technical stuff, but also working with customers. I’d been there a year or so and the sales team approached me to work with them. Because I was good at working with customers, they wanted me to help them land some deals. I tried that for a year, I did some good deals, but it was a bit more of an intense way of working than I prefer.
“The company opened up a new role, Customer Success Manager, that was post-sales, less new business driven, focusing on retaining customers and bringing value. I really liked that. I built the customer success programme basically from scratch. That went really well and I learned a lot. Then unfortunately they moved the business to the US and my role in Ireland was made redundant. It was ok though, sometimes life throws you these curveballs to help you grow as a person and I’m thankful as I had gained a lot out of my time there.
“I found another job at an anti-piracy company, doing software licence compliance. Again, very small team, with a huge customer success focus. This was 2020, and my first day in the role was the second day of lockdown here in Ireland! I worked fully remote for three years. It was challenging to get to know the people I was working with exclusively online, but we made it work. That role took me up to May of this year, and in July I started with Auxilion.”
Customer Experience Manager
How has Simon approached his new role as a Customer Experience Manager?
“My focus is always on growing and learning more. My Customer Success roles with previous companies were similar to the CEM role here at Auxilion. This role has some differences but still works along best practices, frameworks, processes. It’s about working with people. The nice thing here though is that there’s more to learn because it’s a deeper role, it involves more. I’m learning about financial management- managing profit and loss, forecasting and budgeting, all the while focusing on delivering the best experience possible for all my customers. It always comes back to working with people. Work is work, but if you have a good team and culture, it makes such a difference.
“In previous roles, I worked with ITIL and project management and best practice around them. I can see now what’s going to work and how to do things in the most cost-effective way. Rather than trying to force solutions on the customer, we focus on what they’re trying to achieve and how to help them get there at every step of their journey with Auxilion.
"Even though a lot of customers have similar working environments, they often have different business processes or requirements and in addition, they might be at a different stage of their lifecycle with us. For example, some companies have been in business for a long time but are now trying to adopt more modern workplace practices for their employees or adopt newer digital technologies. Then, other companies may require people, resourcing support or project support. Every customer has their own challenges and requirements.”
How has Simon found the working culture at Auxilion- and in Ireland more generally?
“I came to Ireland thinking the work environment would be completely different from working with South African companies. But because of the areas I worked in- government, healthcare, financial, tech companies- it’s very similar to working here. Even the way business is done has a lot of similarities.
“However, the thing that’s different is the market. You have to understand things like the cost of living being high for example, it’s important to understand those different stressors and motivational factors for individuals and organisations. I feel very lucky, as the transition has been much smoother than I expected. I thought being foreign might be a disadvantage, but it hasn’t been at all.
“One of the reasons I wanted to work at Auxilion is that it’s an Irish owned company. I’ve worked with big, multi-national companies and I think the culture can become a bit more diluted. Whereas here, while we have people from all over the world, we still have a local culture, which is great. And I think in our Sheffield office, there is a very strong culture too. It feels like the people creating the culture rather than a ‘top down’ thing. The culture develops through the people, and I enjoy being part of the Auxilion culture."
Simon has also found his colleagues supportive as he has adapted to his new role.
“Everyone is very helpful, I can ask anyone on the team for advice on how to do something and they’ll give me a good amount of their time, not just a quick answer. I’ve found we have a very diverse mix of personalities, backgrounds, and cultures. As I work with different roles and departments, I’ve found that there aren’t siloes like there can be in other organizations.
“There’s a big focus on wellbeing as well and supporting people to avoid burnout or anxiety. I really appreciate that as well, having worked in some intense environments before.”
What is a typical day like for a Customer Experience Manager?
“A typical day involves working with the internal team, facilitating team meetings, driving and coordinating our projects. Then a lot of external meetings with customers. Those could be on a weekly basis, or, during certain projects or certain periods, they might be daily. We arrange these and make sure the actions get followed up, usually with the Project Manager.
“Then monthly reviews with customers, looking at our metrics, what we can do to improve, what other services we can provide. At the moment, we’re really focused on our Customer Journey framework. That’s something in common across a few of my roles, customer success and the customer journey, always looking at where can you add more value and how you can support customers at each step of the way.
“Because I’m still fairly new to the company, I’m also spending time getting to know our customers. A lot of them are long-term customers and you can’t just conjure up a relationship, you need to work to get to know them, to build that trust, to get to know the people and understand the histories of the accounts. The key for me is meeting with the customers and building that understanding.”
How does Simon see his future with Auxilion?
“I’m still new to the role and the company, so I’m really focusing on growing and developing in my role for now. For the future, the important thing is having options available. If you find something you have a passion for within the company, that’s something you can pursue here, it’s encouraged. There’s a lot of variety within the company, across the different areas. So that’s exciting for the future. But for the moment, I’m primarily focusing on the next year or so, getting better and better in my role, learning more about the company and our customers.”