We’d like to introduce you to some of the people from around the world who make us who we are at Progress. In this post, meet Mike Duncan, senior director of customer service.
Progress is successful because it helps so many of its customers be successful. And part of that sterling track record is thanks to the team headed up by Mike Duncan.
The Raleigh, North Carolina, resident works out of our Morrisville office, and his team does much more than customer service. It actively works with clients to prevent problems before they start. And nothing gives Mike satisfaction more than making sure a customer has no worries with their Progress products.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Mike didn’t arrive States-side until he went to college at the New York Institute of Technology in 1985, where four years later he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, and subsequently later obtained his MBA from Dowling College in 2003. And from the start of his professional career, he’s been all about supporting the customer—for 22 years at CA Technologies, and another four years at Kaseya, before joining Progress nearly four years ago.
Let’s find out what has spurred Mike all these years, how he feels Progress is doing on the diversity, equity, and inclusion front, and why he feels so strongly about giving back to Progress through mentoring and coaching his colleagues.
I’m responsible for the customer success organization in our unit. We work closely with customers so they are achieving their expected outcomes with our technology. That means removing impediments with our technology, being their advocate. We’re acting as an advocate for them, but still wear a Progress hat. We’re there to support the customer because, basically, the customer sees Progress through us. That’s the way I look at it.
We don’t directly support them, like if they want to do customization or engage with our professional services organization. But we help direct them to the right people at Progress to get them the answers they need. We also meet with the customer—be it weekly, monthly. It’s all about being proactive with the customer, so we can see a problem before it occurs.
There are quite a few of us on the team with members located in all different regions, including Sofia, Bulgaria, but that has helped us in a way during the pandemic, as I worked from home before and had to communicate virtually with a lot of the team.
Customer support delivers a service to customers, but only when they need it—for example if they have problems with software, it’s mostly a reactive role. Customer success is very much proactive. We want to be able to stay in front of customers, keep a constant pulse on their sentiment, monitoring and supporting their adoption of our technology, while also ensuring they achieve the outcomes they expect, while keeping them happy.
One of the fundamental roles of our customer success team is to focus on customer retention and product adoption—ensuring our customers successfully achieve the business outcomes they are expecting with the use of our technology, but also to help them further adopt the use of our product so they can realize the full value of the investment they made in their purchase.
The most important thing is keeping them successful—making sure they’re able to meet their business objectives. And if they’re ultimately successful, Progress is successful and customers will speak positively about Progress.
Success, in my eyes, is my team ensuring our customers have everything they need to be successful and achieve the outcomes they’re looking for. Also, we want to make sure our team and processes are operating as efficiently and effectively possible—almost like a wheel turning. It makes me proud to be able to see my team understand their role and achieve their goals—it’s always customer first, and making sure they are successful.
I get the most thrill out of engaging customers and helping them be successful. I just like helping people in general; I always have. It’s rewarding to know you have helped someone, in some shape or form, and that I’ve done it to the best of my ability. That’s what excites me, along with working with my Progress colleagues. I enjoy collaborating with people, to get the good deed done for our customers. I always believe you cannot achieve success by one person in any organization; it has to be a collective effort. I enjoy working with my team, and enjoy helping my colleagues too. They are my internal customers, as well.
Tremendously, I would say. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here, and I still have more to learn. Progress implemented some leadership training that I was fortunate to be a part of. It was quite a lengthy journey, over a year, but it was worth my while. There were quite a few things that I learned that I could put in my toolkit, to be more effective in my role
To me, it’s really sharing my experiences when working with others, but more so it’s helping others understand the importance of customer success. I think it’s important to be customer centric, and since I’ve been in the customer-facing world my entire career, I’ve learned to be good at it. So I want to pass that knowledge on to as many as I can, to be able to share with others the things that I’ve learned and skills I’ve acquired. Not everything has worked for me, but the things I’ve seen that have worked more repeatedly, I’ve passed that on to as many as I could.
But it’s gone both ways, too. I’ve learned a lot from many of my colleagues at Progress. I believe strongly in mentorship and coaching. People are our most important asset—that should be a given in any company.
I’m hoping we can at least identify a common language, a common understanding across the company, what inclusion, diversity, and equity means to Progress. Then apply that common language that Progress can agree on, and identify what we would do to continue fostering more inclusion, diversity, and equality for all people. We all have different personalities, likes and cultures—especially at Progress—but at the end of the day, we’re all put on this planet together.
I would like to add that Progress has been doing a lot of work around inclusion and diversity—and not just this year. They’ve been doing a lot of good things, but there’s always more to do. Still, I feel the company is moving in the right direction. Sure, one can argue there’s more of a sense of urgency to move a little faster these days, but Progress has done a lot of good work—but there’s more good work to do.
I interact with people daily—and not just in the U.S. and Sofia, but in the Indian and UK offices as well. I can tell you that remotely, the best way I’ve found is you interact with them as if they are in the room with you. That has helped me, actually, to be more interactive, and I’ve fostered good relationships with my team elsewhere that I never had the opportunity to do before COVID. Working from home with COVID, I’ve turned my camera on every time that I can. Having that virtual face time with people, it just brings them into the same room. It’s just phenomenal to have that experience.
In my opinion, once we get back to some normalcy and return to the office, I can see myself bringing my camera into the office, and turning it on every time I interact with someone remotely. Just having that visual conversation makes a difference.
I like to spend as much time as I can with my family. We’re very close. My wife and I grew up in Jamaica, and I’ve known her since she was 10 years old. She’s pretty much my best friend, and we’ve been together 30-plus years and married for 26 now. We have two boys 10 years apart; they’re 23 and 33. I had my oldest when I was fairly young, and I’m very close with both of them. I do like spending time with myself—I’m a homebody, and a big movie buff. I like fixing things around the house. I’m a borderline perfectionist, so yeah I like keeping busy around the house.
When this is all over, I want to take a nice vacation back to Jamaica. We haven’t been back there for many years. My youngest has been there only once. So once he’s done with college this year, we’re going to take a nice, long vacation. I’m looking forward to that.
To get to know other Progressers like Mike, read more of our Progress employee interviews here.
Dave Pierce was the employer brand manager for Progress.
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