How We Work With Clients in BugHuntress: Interview with Kurt Bergman

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Kurt BergmanTell about your job briefly. What’s your place in BugHuntress team? What responsibilities do you have?

I’m working as a client manager at BugHuntress, I provide customer support all the way through the project. My cycle of responsibilities usually includes getting all initial information from a customer, analyzing it, contacting a project analyst and then working according to the situation and his advice. After the project is finished, I also consult with our account managers to ensure all terms were kept, all agreed money paid and overtimes managed properly. We support both ongoing projects and those that business owners are just planning to realize.

What issues do you discuss with customers?

Well, I negotiate all the terms of collaboration with them. For example, if they need more human resources for their projects, if there are some paid holidays for testers working on their projects, or if they have a friend who also needs testing help, etc. I also organize their meetings with our QA experts after the customer’s read their CVs. If a tester is accepted by the customer, I also prepare all the documentation needed to get that person started with the project. The project is then leaded by our project managers or the customer himself, so at that point my part is done. To summarize, I’d point out the following key issues of my collaboration with customers:

  • Price
  • Getting to know our expertise
  • Contract terms
  • Other organizational issues

What means of communication do you use to talk with customers?

Mostly e-mails. Somehow they prefer e-mails to Skype when dealing with QA. I know that customers tend to communicate on Skype when they are outsourcing their development. I guess it may be connected with the more agile process and pace of development compared to testing, that’s why they need to always be informed and in control of the situation. With testing the process is usually more standardized and steady since it’s mostly done after some parts of the product are finished. Of course, when the deadline’s approaching and there are still some issues to resolve, customers tend to move to Skype and handle everything there and then just as well.

Do you like your job?

Of course! It’s fun to communicate and get to know different people.

Do you have any difficulties communicating with customers?

Well… The major difficulty for me is the technical aspect of what we are discussing with customers. Every time I face a new detail of the testing process the customer wants to know about I should ask testers about it. A customer can ask me, for instance, how long it takes to write a test plan for testing their product on desktop, mobile and web - and I have to explore that issue. Another difficulty, or just an unpleasant thing about my job, is that if our team fails to meet the deadline, the customer blames it on me, of course.

It’s also a kind of challenge to learn how to treat businessmen of different cultures. For example, Iranians often try to bargain on prices ignoring the objectivity of our service prices. Many non-tech customers just don’t quite get how everything is done and sometimes it surprises them why some tests take so much time while they are seemingly simple, etc. Some of them come and say, “I only have this much of budget and I want you to do this, this and also this on that money. Can you make it?” So such kinds of situations can be tricky. It also requires a knack for psychology to effectively communicate with people (especially foreigners) without seeing them. Luckily, most of the clients I’ve spoken with are understanding, business-like and cultured people who are pleasant to talk and work with.

Can you name the main factors of success in your profession which would be good to know for beginners?

Well, to start with I’d advise them to carefully study the corporate instruction on the client manager responsibilities in order to grab the basics and assume the client management specifics of their company. This instruction should contain answers to all FAQs concerning client management in order to let a new employee know what to do in any situation and reduce stress.

Another success component of this kind of job is technical competence since a client manager is a connecting link between customers and testers.

The last but probably most important success factor for a client management newbie is psychology perfection. I believe for this kind of job, one should really enjoy communication and learning about different people and mentalities. Since you are the first person who a customer speaks to, you are representing the face of your company for them. That’s why it’s critical to develop your communication abilities in this position.