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24 Hours with a VP of Operations
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It’s 8:30am on a mid-April morning and Justin Porter, the VP of Operations at Kipsu has already played piano, DJ’d and dealt with customer issues. It promises to be a busy day and Starting Up North is along for the ride.

Porter began moonlighting for Kipsu, a Minneapolis-based company in the summer of 2014, going full time in 2015. The company, which focuses on Real-Time Engagement, connecting service driven brands with their customers through texting and digital messaging, has grown from 5 to almost 70 employees and is about to launch in its 33rd country, but Porter’s overall responsibility has remained the same. He and the close to 20 people he manages work every day to make sure each Kipsu customer is achieving their desired outcome, or in other words, that the customer is happy and getting value. As one can imagine, at a company that sells a solution built to enable high-quality customer service, this is a big job.

This spring, Porter gave us a glimpse into what his day-to-day job is really like:

5:00 AM – The alarm clock wakes me up. Have a terrible sore throat and stuffy nose, so I sleep through 3 more alarm snoozes.

5:27 AM – I finally get up and start my day. Grab a WAL-ACT (Walgreens actifed), triage email, and then head to the downstairs gym — which consists of some dumbbells and a treadmill. I do my regular lifting routine and listen to NPR, The Daily, and Strikedeck Radio (Customer Success) podcasts.

6:23 AM – I hop in the shower.

6:42 AM – I get ready for the day and do piano lessons with my daughter. She has a recital in a couple of weeks, and we need to spend a bit more time on her solo. I keep telling her to slow down instead of rushing through it, and she finally listens to me.

7:02 AM – I take a Dayquil, grab my lunch (packed the night before), coffee from the Keurig, and protein shake before leaving the house to meet my colleague, Kris, at the Park N Ride at 394 and 100.

7:17 AM – Kris hops in my car and we leave the Park N Ride and head to the office. Kris and I were at an executive offsite yesterday, so we chat about a few items related to that. A big focus of the offsite was on the book “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins.

7:36 AM – I get to the office, start unloading the dishwasher and brewing coffee for the day. Fun fact is that most Kipsuvians are also baristas!

7:42 AM – I put on some music at the request of my colleague, Cara. We’ve been doing early morning DJing in the office.

7:58 AM – Start to go through email. Realize that an email campaign went out with a from email that is one of our Customer Success (CS) distribution lists and now my inbox is flooded with out of office messages. I go to town archiving messages.

8:06 AM – Becca, who is one of my team members, comes into my office to troubleshoot some problems one of our customer partners is experiencing. We discuss a plan to get a list of the issues and then work with the customer partner to prioritize.

8:12 AM – I start prepping for an 8:30 AM call with one of our big accounts.

8:23 AM – I get a Slack message from my colleague, Carrie, about a customer partner who is potentially going to churn. We have been working with them for 6+ months and they have gone through a bit of turnover at the property. I recommend we pull some data to see if we can show them their improvements in guest satisfaction.

8:32 AM – The customer partner for our meeting shows up and we dive in. We cover items around survey data and different integrations.

9:14 AM – Call ends with customer partner and I rush to my 9 AM meeting. The meeting wrapped up early, so I miss the discussion. Back to my office to prep for my next meeting at 9:30 AM.

9:30 AM – This meeting is focused on engineering / product priorities. We discuss communicating more internally about the product and different updates on features/enhancements.

11:03 AM – I am late for a meeting to discuss hiring new Customer Success people. We discuss ways to fill it up. We are trying to hire 1 person now and 2 people in Q3. We have 2 candidates coming in for interviews next week.

11:25 AM – I do a quick email check.

11:30 AM – We have our daily Property Management System (PMS) integration meeting to discuss what we need to do to continue to deploy to our 2,000+ customer partners. We discuss slowing down so we can dial in our approach and fix some bugs.

11:57 AM – I microwave a breakfast burrito for lunch.

12:04 PM – Paul (our data guy) and I discuss a meeting we had with a customer partner on Tuesday and some guest satisfaction data they are interested in. We go through the spreadsheet and clean it up. I draft up the email with the great news that the guest satisfaction numbers are really high!

12:51 PM – I reschedule a 1 PM meeting with a customer partner to the following Monday.

1:07 PM – Todd pops into my office and lets me know that we are having problems with message deliverability. Our SMS supplier says the messages are being delivered to the carrier and the carrier is telling us they aren’t. We need to follow-up with both sides to find out what’s happening.

1:45 PM – Finish email to customer partner with the great guest satisfaction data and hit send. I’m feeling good that I got one thing done, but it wasn’t on my to do list.

1:59 PM – We meet to discuss a conference that is coming to Minneapolis in June and what type of event we are planning to do for current and prospective customer partners. We need to pick a venue and start promoting asap.

2:30 PM – I have a short meeting with Rebecca. She has a broken computer dongle for those fancy new MacBooks. I need to get it fixed since I do some of the procurement and IT work. We also discuss a project she is working on regarding response times. She is going to present next week at our full-day offsite Customer Success Team Vision meeting.

2:47 PM – I microwave a second breakfast burrito – Yes, I am obsessed with breakfast burritos.

3:05 PM – Jack and I meet to discuss some of the work he has done around automation. He’s found a tool that can help automate some of our simple internal tasks. He is planning to train the Customer Success team next week at the offsite.

3:31 PM – I have a one-on-one with Carrie, who runs the onboarding team. We discuss some changes to the customer onboarding process, logistics for the offsite, how a customer partner training call went yesterday, and about a new initiative to train users within Kipsu.

4:02 PM – Ty asks me how to respond to a specific customer partner about changing some configurations that are brand standards.

4:04 PM – I triage more email.

4:29 PM – I start to look at tomorrow’s calendar and prepare accordingly.

5:02 PM – We have an impromptu meeting about a brand we work with and the fees they charge from their supplier management / purchasing department.

5:26 PM – Kris and I leave the office and carpool back to the Park N Ride.

5:58 PM – I get home and my wife has orange chicken and broccoli ready for dinner—she is so awesome!

6:44 PM – We go through bed time routine with the kids—put on PJs, go to the bathroom, brush teeth, and read some books.

7:32 PM – I practice some dancing for Dancing Dads, which is a dance for fathers and daughters. We have dance practice on Friday night, and I don’t want to look like an idiot who doesn’t know the dance.

7:41 PM – Time to tackle the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded. My wife washes and dries the clothes and I fold it. I have 4 loads worth to fold, but I have “Game of Thrones” and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight to keep me entertained.

9:03 PM – I start to get ready for bed. I do one last bit of email triage and scan through the news app.

9:41 PM – Lights out.

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