Meet Jenny

Jenny Dallas

Jenny Dallas | Customer Experience Squad Product Manager

Welcome to our brand new interview series where we meet a member of the Cuckoo team. In today’s interview, we’re meeting Jenny, our Customer Experience Squad Product Manager.

Jenny joined Cuckoo in January 2022 as the Retention Marketing Manager in the Growth team and was promoted to Product Manager in the Product team in November 2022. Her assistant, Neville (a cocker spaniel) has agreed to move to the Product team too.

How did you get into Product Management?

It wasn’t a straightforward path. If you’d asked me when I was 10, I would’ve said a vet, until someone told me that I’d have to kill a cow, and then I quickly changed my mind. Then I wanted to be an astronaut, I wrote to NASA and everything, but I watched Alien vs Predator and changed my mind again. A few years later I got into the TV show NCIS and wanted to be a Forensic scientist, I fainted when I had a blood test which freaked me out, so again - not for me. Y’know, all the usual crazy plans you have when you’re a kid and always something more science-based, the world of ✨ business ✨ never really interested me. So if I’m honest, it’s been a combination of luck, picking up additional pieces of work that I think need more love & good ol’ hard work.

When I left college, I’d planned to go to the Uni but life threw an unexpected curveball and my boyfriend at the time was hospitalised and I didn’t want to be too far away from him (ew, young love). I was lucky to find a level 3 marketing apprenticeship at a really local start-up and planned to do that and go to uni a year later when he was better. It turned out I actually loved doing marketing and at the end of my apprenticeship asked to do a degree apprenticeship in Business, Leadership & Management with the same company. They said yes!

While I was doing my degree apprenticeship, the start-up I was working at was changing a lot, which meant I got to get involved in loads of different initiatives. I also had great opportunities to manage some interns & progress from an assistant to a senior role within a couple of years. I had my own team & was on exec meetings by the age of 21, it was pretty cool. I found a passion for email marketing & customer behaviour and after a few years thought a change of scenery would be good.

I found a Retention Marketing Manager opportunity at Cuckoo and that’s how the journey to product management started. When I started to look at the retention strategies we could put in place, I realised how customer experience & retention are so intrinsically linked you can’t look at one without the other. I was naturally looking at ways to improve retention by improving Cuckoo’s product & proposition, I’d started to map out what we were doing and used this to work out what could be improved, working closely with the Service team to help me do that. Well, it turns out this is called Service Mapping and is something Product Managers do - who knew?

I had a catch-up with Tabatha (VP Marketing & Operations) & Tommy (VP Product) who let me know that I had a “service mappers brain” and it would be great to use my skills within our Product team. After a few more chats, lots of questions to Matt (our OG Cuckoo Product Manager) to understand what a product manager actually does, and listening to a few product management podcasts, I understood why it made sense for me to move into the role.

So I will be starting as the CX Squad Product Manager at the start of December to delight our customers and continue to make their experience with us stress-free. Watch this space 👀

Describe a typical day

My days always start the same: a morning dog walk with my assistant Neville (who frequently joins virtual meetings) and coffee, lots of coffee. I then join our morning Squad stand-ups to catch-up on how everyone is and what we’re working on. After that, the ins and outs of each day can be really different.

In general, my days are typically spread across three things. Firstly, I spend a lot of time trying to identify ways to improve retention & our customers’ experience. I talk to peeps across Cuckoo, from Service through to Product, conduct interviews with our customers and look at data to identify trends and patterns which could be improved. I also spend time with our brand team creating journeys, emails & service maps of how things work and running workshops to identify how they can be improved. And lastly, I dedicate time each day to review what other people have been working on and in the back of my mind think about how that might affect our customers’ experience too.

Where do you work from?

I try and come into Cuckoo HQ in Spitalfields once a fortnight and when I do I try to coordinate it with staying with a friend who lives nearby - always a plus! The rest of the time I work from home in a little village on the South Coast in between Portsmouth and Winchester. Here’s a cheeky picture of my home set-up.

Top tip for working from home

In the role I’m in, I’m fortunate that I can be flexible with the specific hours I work, which means I can take an hour in the day to walk the dog or go to the gym and work a little later in the evenings to make up any time. This is really useful, especially in the Winter months when I’d much rather walk the dog when it’s light out rather than in the dark - especially as I live in a village with not many street lights!

If you’re in that kind of role, I’d recommend using this sort of flexibility to your advantage to make your hours suit your needs, especially if your line manager is happy with that. ☀️

What inspires you?

It sounds a bit cheesy, but if I’m ever feeling a bit ‘meh’ and need some inspiration the team at Cuckoo help so much. Whether it’s just talking about things and we just happen to touch on things that can be improved or an idea generation session, I get so excited by it. I also find talking to friends or family about what I do relights the fire about how much I enjoy what I do, which I just love.

The other area that inspires me is just looking at the bad practice within the industry. Yep, bad practice. I’m sure it won’t surprise you that there is quite a bit of it within Telecoms and a lot of the time, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be better, which inspires me to make it better for people. If it’s possible - let’s do it!

Cuckoo project you’re most proud of?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the thing I’m proudest of is reshaping our provisioning journey. That’s the comms journey all of our customers go on between the day that they place an order for Cuckoo broadband to the day that they get their first bill. It was a mammoth project but 100% worth it.

When I first started at Cuckoo, I spent a month or so working as a Broadband Eggspert on the frontline supporting customers by helping them get online, diagnose their faults and generally be happy. While I was doing this, I was picking up on some feedback our customers were giving us and things that could really help our Eggsperts with their day jobs. Despite never having done service mapping before, I took it upon myself to try and make the provisioning comms journey that bit better.

Before I got my hands on our provisioning journey, we had about 10 emails going out which were somewhat tailored to each customer. Now, we have over 50 emails each with a number of variations to be hyper-personalised to each customer and their experience with Cuckoo. Here’s a screenshot of the before (above) & after (below):

The challenges of a product manager

I think the biggest challenge for me is understanding the art of the possible within Cuckoo and to a bigger extent within the Broadband industry. At Cuckoo, we’re racing to the future with amazing ideas and initiatives, but at the moment some of that just isn’t possible. And it’s nothing to do with Cuckoo. To explain it, I need to give a teensy explanation of how broadband works.

Broadband works a bit like a cupcake. The bottom section, or the sponge, lays the network, the middle section, the icing, are wholesalers and the top section, the sprinkles & decorations, are who you buy your broadband from. The higher up the cake you go, the more reliant you are on the layers beneath you. And some of the stuff we want to do just can’t be done on the bottom layers (at the moment). A pile of icing and sprinkles would just be a bit icky.

At Cuckoo, we’re working closely with the team at Giganet to get to those bottom layers and deliver more of what we really want. But there will always be other elements of the bottom layer we just can’t get to for all of our customers, depending on where they live. That really frustrates me as I don’t think your broadband experience should be determined by that, it’s another postcode lottery which isn’t fair.

Music you work by?

Always Spotify & each week it’s either the Hamilton soundtrack, Harry Styles or Taylor Swift.

Advice for aspiring Cuckoo employees?

I have soooo much advice and my DMs are always open if people want more, but I’ll pick my top two. Firstly, be a sponge and if you see a gap within Cuckoo that needs filling and it makes sense for you to plug it, plug it. We’re still a start-up and there’s so much opportunity for people to get involved and challenge the status quo. So live by our value #standupspeakout

Also write things down. You’ll get nuggets of information & new ideas at any time, all the time, so jot them down. Whether it’s writing things on sticky notes, a notebook or Notes on your phone. Who knows when it might come in handy down the road?

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I actually have two things. Firstly, Headway Portsmouth & South East Hampshire is a charity that helps people with brain injuries, I’m a Trustee there because they do amazing things to support their service users, and their friends & families.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Hambledon Cricket Club, where I spend a lot of time walking my dog in the Winter & watching (and sometimes) playing cricket in the Summer. I also volunteer to teach the U15 girls cricket too, which can be fun, if the weather is nice. #upthedons

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