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Inside HqO: Caleb Gonsalves

Posted By Kristin Concannon | Aug 20, 2021 8:45 AM
Inside HqO: Caleb Gonsalves

Caleb Gonsalves

Manager, Customer Success at HqO

As a Customer Success Manager, Caleb leads HqO’s Customer Success team in supporting all client relationships. He collaborates across the company to represent the voice of HqO customers, while also acting as a key touchpoint for clients. In addition, Caleb serves as a Player Coach, meaning he champions customer success initiatives for the company’s more strategic accounts.

Inside HqO: Caleb Gonsalves, Customer Success Manager at HqO | HqO

You lead a lot of important initiatives at HqO. What does your day-to-day look like? 

It really depends on the day! Some days, my work has more of a product focus, collaborating with the Product team on what we’re hearing in the field and what clients are asking for. Other days, I’m running meetings, travelling, helping out at events, or managing our partners. Sometimes, I’m even helping to source partners. Everything I do is always centered around the customer, which involves a lot of collaboration.

What’s the secret behind providing truly custom experiences for our clients?

If I think about the future of the industry, there are always the leaders who set the tone, and there are always the followers. Some companies are really investing in technology and experiences while some are just dipping their toes in the water. Ultimately, my goal is to determine what they’re actually trying to achieve from a valuation perspective and from a tenant experience perspective. What do they need? How can we get them there? Not every customer needs to run epic events. It’s more about who’s in your building, what they care about, and what delivers the most value. At the end of the day this is all about what makes somebody want to go to work.  

Definitely. Who do you collaborate with the most at HqO to meet these needs?

There isn’t really a department in the organization that my role doesn’t touch in some way. When I think about the function of Customer Success, it’s to represent the voice of the customer. But we also have to remain cognizant of the team’s capabilities, the platform’s capabilities, and where the market is. 

For instance, we work with Sales to figure out what the market needs are, but also what our customers are asking for.  Then, once we launch with a client, we work really closely with our Implementation team to make sure all their needs are met. 

Our collaboration with the Marketing team is also crucial, because who better to help convey our customer’s stories than the people working with them every day? Then, of course, there’s our relationship with the Product team. We give feedback from our customers to directly enhance our product. We have to collect and disseminate information, and bring it back to the customer at the same time. We wear many hats here, but we all are working towards the same goals.

How does this collaboration change depending on each client you work with?

Every client looks at the product a bit differently. Some just want to use it as a pure communication device, and others really want to create a connected environment. If they want a truly unified experience, we work closely with our Marketplace, Platform Solutions, and Product teams to make that happen. We have to make sure we’re asking questions like: What does the integration look like? What’s the desired user experience?

We also have clients who rely very heavily on us for the actual experience piece, like leveraging the HqOS Marketplace to source vendors and bring on-site partners like a coffee cart, micro-market, or something similar. 

Other customers are focused more on their entire portfolio, and how they can build an ecosystem that connects all of their office buildings.  For example, Cousins Properties does this well. Whether you’re working in a Cousins building in Dallas or Atlanta, you get the same amenities and experience across the board.

So, basically, who I work with is dependent on the unique goals of each client, and whose expertise is needed to make it all happen.

You’ve worked on so many projects! Which one has excited you the most? 

Our Catalog Cares initiative at the Willis Tower building in Chicago got me really excited. There was this moment in March of 2020 where the world stopped, and I loved how EQ Office and Blackstone immediately jumped on the opportunity to say that though the future of the office is uncertain, the workplace is about creating connections.

When we were thinking about what they could offer while everyone was at home, we acknowledged that retail was suffering a lot. So we came up with the concept of Catalog Cares. We built a program where you could buy gift cards through the Willis Tower building app that would support all of the Catalog retailers during the pandemic. 

We also partnered with an organization called Frontline Foods (which is now part of World Central Kitchen). For every gift card that was purchased, Blackstone matched each donation, which helped deliver meals to frontline healthcare workers. It really created a community within the building by giving existing office tenants and the greater Chicago area a way to give back during the height of the pandemic.

It was such a phenomenal example of an element of tenant experience that never actually happened physically in a space, but truly impacted the building itself and the people that work there. 

I love the way you worded that. When we talk about our product, we talk about digital and physical experiences. Those can often be an abstract concept. Do you think Catalog Cares really bridged this gap? 

Definitely. When participants got to redeem their gift card, they would go directly to the physical location and use it on-site. 

It was so successful that there’s actually talk of other initiatives that Catalog Cares can now encompass. It’s taken on a life of its own in a way. Willis Tower is such an iconic asset. Despite going through such a terrible situation, all of these people came together to support the people who really needed it. It’s incredible.

Inside HqO: Caleb Gonsalves, Customer Success Manager at HqO | HqO

That is really amazing. What other uses of technology have a real-world application for commercial real estate?

Any technology that enables pre-ordering. Not even just food, but things like booking conference room reservations. Anything that allows you to get things done faster, because everybody wants to save time when it comes to work, right? 

Time is your most limited resource, so it’s really valuable when you can provide a platform that allows people to spend less time commuting, waiting in line for food, or going back and forth in their inboxes to book something. All the moments when I can save 15 minutes here and there compound tremendously over time, and that’s what makes the biggest impact for the workforce.

How do you think this is shaping the future of the office? There’s an obvious push for more efficient, streamlined experiences. 

I think there will always be people like me. I hated working from home, because I missed the human element that I think the office brings. There’s an amazing quote from the webinar that we did with Cousins Properties, where Vivianne Clausen from Columbia Property Trust was like, ‘Look, COVID-19 didn’t cause any of these trends or changes in CRE or TeX , but it was definitely an accelerator.’

All of the trends like flex work spaces, working from home, and different amenities were already going to happen. Now, I think people all realize that you can do your job from home but you’re also missing out on a lot. The office’s role is now going to be a place for people to come together. Maybe there’s a few less dividers in an office and a few more conference areas. Maybe a few less desks and a few more white boards. Who knows? 

The human element has always been the underlying foundation of work, of society. The office is just going to be a reflection of that. 

As we wrap up, what excites you most about working at HqO?

Definitely the untapped potential. When I looked at commercial real estate and what was happening in this space, it drew me to the company. I’ve never seen a tailwind like this. I think there’s always a unique point in history where big moments happen, like the Dot Com boom. So many e-commerce companies exploded then where an entire industry didn’t even exist before. 

The concept of tenant experience has evolved tremendously, and we’re literally carving out a category here. Then, the pandemic happened. What should have been one of the most catastrophic moments in the industry ended up reaffirming the changes that needed to happen to make the workplace and work life that much better. 

In a global way, COVID-19 brought people together. You and I are sitting across from each other right now, actually doing this interview. I think that the office can be a real conduit. Technology is only a means to an end. It’s making connections faster and stronger, but it will never be a replacement for genuine human connection.  

Inside HqO pulls back the curtain and introduces you to the people who make HqO the undisputed leader in tenant experience technology. For more information on HqO’s Customer Success team, click here. If you’re interested in joining Caleb and the HqO team, check out all of our current openings here.

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