Meet: Philipp Schnattinger
Philipp has been with NODE since the early start at Fraunhofer IPA. With more than 10 years of experience in robotics, he started at Fraunhofer IPA in 2016 in the field of navigation and has been working on this topic ever since.
During our NODE T-Talk, we spoke through the constantly evolving landscape of customer success and the latest trends and technologies shaping the world of customer success.
Hi Philipp, tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you study, how did you get interested in working in Customer Success, and how did you decide on your current position at NODE?
I have been in the robotics field for more than 10 years now. I originally started at KIT (University of Karlsruhe) as a student of electrical engineering and information technology, where I worked in the field of mobile robotics since 2013. In 2016, I started at Fraunhofer IPA in the field of navigation and have been working on the topic ever since. I came to Customer Success through various industrial projects at Fraunhofer, in which I was involved early on. When we founded the company in 2020, it was clear that I would also continue to develop the topic at NODE Robotics.
What are the main tasks of your team, and how do you ensure that customers are satisfied with your software?
My team is responsible for launching our software with our customer and supporting them with all their questions. In doing so, we try to ensure the best possible experience by being close to the customer and specifically addressing their challenges. In the follow-up to the first integration meeting, we always specifically go over the issue again. There are usually things like special driving maneuvers or special configuration for the docking behavior of the vehicle. This is where Rosbags play a big role, as they give the customer and us the opportunity to test and tune directly on the robot's data without needing a physical robot.
How do you align the customer's needs with the development team's goals and ensure that software updates and changes are delivered in a timely and effective manner?
We use common tools to record new features through our service desk and then push them to the development teams. It is important for us to understand the needs of the customers and the actual problems. So that we can deliver the right solutions for the customer's problems. Here, of course, we always consider the complexity and urgency, as well as scalability to other problems.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work as a member of the management team at NODE, and how do you deal with them?
Working on the company is different from working on a technical level daily. Specifically, the challenge is to respond to changing demands and challenges that are part of everyday life in a startup. The work is different, as it is more about processes than product development or customer support. Working on a contractual level with our customers, planning collaborations and making directional decisions is also something I enjoy. Of course, this also entails a
responsibility that you always must consider in your decisions, as it has a direct impact on the entire company. Here, I always try to find a clearly defined line and make as few decisions as possible based on my gut. What helps me a lot is to really write things down in a structured way to exclude emotional factors as well.
Is there a project from the past that has particularly helped you with your tasks at NODE?
In general, my first industrial projects had a big influence, because you see directly what challenges and availability are required of software. This is where I always go back to large projects in the past, where I was able to work directly from the beginning of the project. I took over the project management and was able to see directly in production what the challenges are for industrial software. Especially, you get a new perspective for the target group. Since the users of the software are often not highly specialized people, but mostly employees or people with a retraining for automation, they naturally have a completely different view of our software than we do. This allowed me to learn many things and to incorporate a lot of it into our products. The step from the laboratory to the real environment is another significant challenge, especially if you no longer have a perfect environment and ideal situation. The systems must run with more than 99% availability, without anyone having to intervene. That's what I learned there, sometimes the hard way.
Can you explain the process of how your team delivers software updates to customers, and how you are working to improve this process?
We deliver our software in modularity and as a container-based solution. In doing so, we look to make the process as simple and transparent as possible.
In doing so, we try to provide as much tooling as possible to the customer to minimize the manual steps that the customer has to do.
What are the latest trends and technologies in Customer Success, and how might they be of interest to NODE?
Here, more and more trends from agile methods are being used to organize work. In addition, tools and automation are an important topic. Nonetheless, since it's always a real person on the other end, you should always keep in mind that the user should have the best possible experience with our product and our company.
Can you describe a current project or initiative you've been working on to improve the software based on customer feedback?
We have a lot of topics going on right now. It is always exciting to onboard new kinematics and vehicles to expand our portfolio. One project was with a forklift vehicle that had a whole new complexity in terms of safety that we
need to incorporate into our software to guarantee optimal driving behavior. Here we added exciting new enhancements to our software at the request of the customer. Doing so makes our customer satisfied and expands our portfolio.
What are your team's long-term goals for improving Customer Success at NODE, and how do you plan to achieve them?
We see a lot of potential in even more automation of standard processes and requests through to support. We want to put more time and development into that to enable the customer to assist themselves as well. All in all, that's the big goal. To maximize the simplicity and transparency of interaction with our products, meaning that the customer no longer needs to rely on us for help.
The interview was led by Nadine Trommeshauser.