Quote: "It was important...that our perspective and the voice of the customer be part of those conversations. So now CX isn’t just being told what the plans are; we’re in the loop as they’re made and have influence on those decisions." —Justin Rochell, Director of Customer Experience

Director of Customer Experience Justin Rochell on collaboration, innovation and evolution at Mozilla

In close to 12 years at Pocket and Mozilla, Justin Rochell has seen a lot of change, both within his team and in his own career. Below, he shares how his role has grown in tandem with the company’s customer experience approach, how his team collaborates with the larger organization to create better products, and Mozilla’s vision that has him so excited about the future.

First, tell us about your team and the work they do.

The definition of “customer experience” depends on the company, but for us, there are two big areas of focus: supporting Mozilla’s users and being strategic partners to the product team. The things we learn from customers can help the product team make our offerings easier to use, and often address the pain points that led to those support interactions in the first place. That might be as simple as reporting and fixing a bug, but it can also be more in-depth. Last year, for example, we noticed we’ve been fielding some very basic questions about VPN, and some users were signing up before realizing it wasn’t compatible with their operating system. So we worked with PXI — Mozilla’s privacy, experimentation and identity team — to do more education up front and launch a new FAQ page.

Within CX, or customer experience, we have several different functions. Our product support team is made up of the people actually executing our support strategy; we also work with a vendor, PartnerHero, on the day-to-day frontline operational work, including raising trending issues we want to report. Our content team includes our content manager and tech writers who maintain Mozilla’s Knowledge Base, which is our largest support channel with tens of millions of monthly visitors. Our community team is dedicated to collaborating with our amazing global community of volunteers who answer questions in our support forums and social media as well as write and localize articles in our knowledge base. Our platform team is responsible for developing and maintaining the software that powers the Mozilla Support site and helps us adapt to the changing needs of the business. Finally, we have a program manager, who’s the glue that keeps us all together and helps us all work together as seamlessly as possible.

What was your path to Mozilla and to your current role?

I joined through Pocket, which was Mozilla’s first acquisition in 2017. I’d already been part of that team for several years at that point — I was the first support hire in 2012, back when Pocket was called Read it Later. Twelve years is a long time, especially in tech, but I’ve stayed because I love the products and the people, and because I’ve always had new challenges and growth opportunities and things to learn. I’ve never felt like I hit a plateau for very long.

In 2020, Mozilla had a big reorg, where we combined the support teams for Pocket and Mozilla. I was asked to lead that organization and rethink how we did support. We were about to launch Mozilla VPN, so having experience with supporting a cross-platform product like Pocket was helpful. But honestly, it was a hard time. We’d lost peers on the Mozilla side, and I felt way out of my comfort zone; I’d never managed engineers or been responsible for supporting so many products before. I spent a lot of that first year thinking about what Mozilla’s users really needed and what exactly was the opportunity we faced. That’s when we made the shift from “support” to “customer experience” and started to focus more on connecting and partnering with product management and the rest of the company to extend our influence.

I was recently promoted to director of customer experience, which feels like another step on this trajectory of evolving our team. I think we’re still just getting started with embodying CX at Mozilla, and we have a lot of support behind us.

Tell us more about that. What does collaboration look like between CX and the rest of Mozilla?

Our new chief product officer, Steve Teixeira, has been a big advocate for us, and that’s opened a lot of doors. I met with him last year shortly after he joined, just to connect and share my vision for CX at Mozilla. During that conversation, he asked me to join his monthly leadership meeting. It was important to him that our perspective and the voice of the customer be part of those conversations. So now CX isn’t just being told what the plans are; we’re in the loop as they’re made and have influence on those decisions. We were involved in the 2024 planning cycle for Firefox, for example. It’s been exciting to have that seat at the table for CX, where we’re talking regularly with people we can collaborate with and building those relationships.

The work we’ve done with PXI is another good example. We optimized the support structure for VPN and Relay to share the insights that are most valuable to them, and the response has been so positive. They champion CX whenever they can, and Joe Cuevas, the support manager for those products, is embedded in so many of their conversations—he’s like an honorary member of their team. As a CX org, I think we still haven’t fully realized all of the opportunities to be a partner like this example, but the appetite and support from the product org is definitely there.

What’s different about customer experience at Mozilla, and how is that strategy evolving?

One of the interesting and exciting things to me is that we’re a relatively small team supporting one of the top browsers in the world. The process and strategy for supporting Firefox at scale is very different from a premium product, like Mozilla VPN, where we have a team of frontline agents answering user emails from subscribers. We’re super fortunate to have a community who answers questions in our support forum and social media accounts, as well as writes and localizes content in our KB; they’re highly motivated, they care about Mozilla’s mission, and they want other users to be successful. That’s an amazing, incredibly important resource, and as long as it’s healthy and sustainable, it’s a scalable way to support Firefox users.

I think, though, that we have a real opportunity to innovate, too, and we’re looking at the last couple of years of innovation with Firefox mobile as a model for how we could be approaching Firefox on the desktop as well. When examining how we were supporting our mobile products through a CX lens, we recognized that this strategy didn’t expose the trends, insights, and reporting we needed So we implemented a hybrid model that supplemented our community support strategy by adding two  dedicated staff members to moderate, tag and track issues, just like we do for premium products. But, because we don’t also expect them to respond to every support case, it was sustainable. Now, the quality and detail of reporting we have for Firefox mobile is much closer to what we have for paid products like VPN or Relay, and we’re ready to roll out a similar strategy for desktop in 2024.

As you think about the future of customer service at Mozilla, what’s most exciting to you right now?

I think it’s figuring out the right CX journey for a modern-day Mozilla user, especially as we launch new products. Our support site and content management system is one area we’re looking at; it’s always been a bespoke platform, and Mozilla is 25 years old now. There’s code that needs to evolve. We’ve also been doing research on what today’s users expect in terms of forums, chatbots and knowledge bases, and no surprise, there’s a lot less willingness to post on a forum with your own name. So from a technical perspective, we want to do more to remove hurdles and encourage participation. I’m grateful to have three engineers on the CX team who can lead that effort; being able to have the technical conversations with them about things like information architecture and platform modularity makes it so much easier to get things done.

And of course, the collaboration with our product teams has been exciting, too. There are so many interesting opportunities. One conversation we had recently with the Firefox team is how to leverage the fact that when a user visits the support site for Firefox, they’re actually already using the product they want support for. So what can we do to personalize that experience while still protecting their privacy? Maybe they changed a setting recently, for example, and that’s related to the issue they’re now experiencing. We’ve noticed a big source of traffic to the support site is the “Get Help” button with the browser, and pulling in insights from the user’s journey up to that moment can help us give them a softer landing and a better experience. It’s all about working along those edges, so users need support less often, and we can focus on making the interactions we do have even better — and I feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we can do.

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