February 13, 2019

Lead(H)er: Kim Rose, Vice President, Customer Success & Support at Buildium

Kim Rose has used one deceptively simple principle to guide her through her life, inside and outside of her career: Humans first, then everything else.

Now the Vice President of Customer Success and Support at Buildium, Rose put the motto into action when she took an eight-year break in her career to raise her children, then again when she joined Carbonite as a QA engineer. Technology had changed drastically since the last time she had dealt with it in a professional capacity, but Rose assured her interviewer that not only would she figure it all out, but that he could easily fire her if she didn’t.

“I was simultaneously projecting this great amount of confidence while I was also feeling pretty scared,” Rose said. “But he couldn’t really argue with that logic.”

Her role as a QA engineer pushed her to develop a deep understanding of how Carbonite’s customers needed the company’s computer backup software to work. As she transitioned through different internally-facing roles in the company, Rose began to miss that connection and sought out more customer-facing roles. Her natural problem-solving abilities, combined with the support of mentors who believed in her, ultimately resulted in a nine-year career at Carbonite that includes two vice presidential roles.

Ready for a new challenge, Rose joined Databox, a startup led by a colleague from earlier in her time at Carbonite as the company’s Vice President of Customer Success.

“I wanted to infuse the organization with my philosophy on customer experience and the humanity of doing business with small business customers,” Rose said of the decision.

Working at a startup like Databox and Carbonite can be messy, which is exactly what Rose enjoys about the environment. The daily mandate to find and fix problems appeals to her natural problem-solving abilities, and it was only a matter of time before Rose found another exciting venture at which to continue her career.

She found that opportunity at Buildium, a Boston-based company that provides cloud-based property management software -- and so much more -- to clients across the country.

“I was very pleasantly surprised to meet the team here and realize that their commitment to customer service wasn’t just words written on a wall or on a mouse pad,” Rose said. “This is part of who we are, from a DNA standpoint.”

Whether customers are looking to scale their businesses or just gain time back for a real vacation, Buildium is committed to helping them meet those goals. When a natural disaster strikes, staff from all levels of the company make calls to ask impacted clients how they’re doing and if there’s anything they need - and have donated money and supplies to customers throughout the country. New babies are celebrated with onesies, and losses are commemorated with flowers. If Buildium knows that a client’s life has changed, the company will be there to offer support.

It’s why clients regularly stop into the office on their business travels to say hello and meet the team that has paid such careful attention to their personal and business-related needs, something that Rose says she’s never experienced at other companies.

Rose’s own team is instrumental in fostering this human-first environment at Buildium. Before her arrival in August 2016, there was no formal customer experience department at the company. Rose has created one from scratch, focusing on three main goals.

First, her team provides customized onboarding and training for customers based on their goals, they look at the customers’ success as their success, and want them to get up and running as soon as possible. Once onboarding is complete, Rose’s customer success managers check in regularly to understand their progress towards their goals and continue to see where Buildium can help them achieve their results. Finally, the customer care team provides 24/7 automated and phone support with a team of product experts who not only solve problems but also take the time to listen to customers’ needs and talk about whatever may be going on in their worlds. Relationships are the focus from day one, and that makes a real difference.

From left to right: Buildium VP of Marketing Michelle Burtchell, Buildium CEO Chris Litster, Rose, and Buildium VP of Sales Ben Nadol.

While the metrics are there to show that customer satisfaction and retention rates are high, a customer-first approach does so much more unrelated to stats.

“It just makes you feel good as a human,” Rose said.

She’s looking forward to continuing to grow her team at Buildium by encouraging them to try new things, fail fast, and learn from the experiences. Everything may not work out on the first try, but as long as she and her team are learning, those mistakes are more than okay.

“What’s important to me is that I continue to learn,” Rose said.  “And the more time I spend with customers, the better. I hope to always be working in a role in a company where customers are truly seen as the lifeblood of the company and where a customer-first strategy is our compass.”

Rapid Fire Questions

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have two boys and I love spending time with them. Now that it's winter, we do a lot of snowboarding, which is something we've taken up only over the last five years or so. It’s new, it’s fun, and we love it. It allows me to spend time with them and also get time outside in the fresh air, adding hiking and snowshoeing to our activities when we can.  In the summer, I love being near the ocean - I live near the water, and it calms me down, so I spend a lot of time walking, running, and hanging out around the water.

Kim and her two sons

How do you generally manage stress?

I've actually taken up riding the Peloton bike, which I didn't think I would like because I tend to like the outdoors, but I love it. I can understand the obsession with it. Another great thing about the Buildium team is that we ride as a group in the MS ride every year. Last year we had 68 riders, and we raised over $100,000. I'm signed up for that again this year and looking forward to it, but will need my Peloton to help me get ready for it. We are aiming for 100 Buildium riders this year! That would be pretty amazing!

How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?

What’s funny is that I can take it or leave it. I’ll go for the walk to get a coffee almost any time somebody wants to go -- I like the break, but I don’t necessarily want a cup. At home I rarely drink coffee, so for me, I fuel with water and get coffee opportunistically as it happens. I know people who won't leave the house without a cup of coffee, but I'm sorry to report I don't own a coffee maker.

What’s one of your favorite spots in the Boston area?

Hands down, my favorite spot is Chatham. It's my refuge. It's a beautiful seaside town, and I love to go there in the summer, but I also love to go there off season in the winter and the fall. It's just a beautiful, peaceful little New England town.

What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments?

I think it’s the team we're building at Buildium. Having had the privilege to work with the talented folks that we have on the team and watching them grow into leaders is something I'm incredibly proud of. We started at nothing, and we have almost 60 now. Being able to scale that team without losing the human touch has been so important. I’m a coach and teacher at heart, so watching people grow into amazing leaders and seeing everybody really embrace the customer-first experience is also something I’m proud of.

Is this where you saw yourself 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I was still a QA engineer at Carbonite. I was starting to gain momentum and have different opportunities given to me, but I don’t think I could have envisioned this particular path. I was I was starting to really embrace and love the customer interactions and feedback and work that I was doing back then, but I don't think I could have ever imagined where I would be today. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunities I’ve had.

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

This one is easy for me to answer because my oldest son is a sophomore in college and we talk about this all the time. I always tell him to pay attention to the people around you. People matter, whether they’re your colleagues, your customers, or strangers you meet. Be a good human and a good teammate. Assume the best intentions. Learn from the people around you. In the conversations that we have here between my colleagues and the people on my team and our customers, we're constantly learning something that we didn't know from some angle of conversation.

I think when you’re starting your first job and are getting into the workforce, you tend to be focused on the paycheck, the role, and the tasks. If you can pay attention to the people that you’re affecting and being affected by, you learn a tremendous amount more than you would otherwise. My colleagues at Buildium are some of my closest friends, so I would tell recent graduates to thank their lucky stars if they’re able to work with people they love. I definitely consider myself lucky in that area.

Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.
Images courtesy of Kim Rose and Buildium