5 @ 5: Meet Tim Van Lew, Product Enablement Manager [SERIES]


We try to stay humble at Localytics, but there’s no denying it: we have an incredible team here. (#Blessed.) Our new blog series, 5@5, uses 5 questions to get a behind-the-scenes look at who’s designing, building, and marketing our platform, and how they do it.

In this week’s edition of 5 @ 5, we sat down with Tim Van Lew, Product Enablement Manager on our Product team. You know that old saying happy wife, happy life? We think that same saying applies to customers. Since Tim is the man behind the customers, we thought it would be cool to pick his brain to understand how he goes about making happy customers a reality.



1.) There’s a ton of different names used to call the department that empowers customers. Recently at Localytics, we changed the name from Customer Success to Product Enablement. Why the change?

The term ‘Customer Success’ is a bit vague and it’s hard to peg a universal definition because it encompasses so many functions: product training, business strategy planning, product upsell and relationship building. The idea of “Product Enablement” came about because it simplified our goal; to create Localytics power users through training and development that will in turn empower our customer base.

We focus our team on three main areas:

  1. Internal Product Training & Enablement
  2. Strategy & Systems
  3. Customer Education & Enablement

Basically, we function as a middleware connecting all the plumbing in Localytics to create a collaborative, educational, and (you guessed it) enabling organization. It’s a very behind-the-scenes role yet has stakeholders in virtually every functional area of Localytics, to provide a 360 degree customer perspective.

2.) What makes your role unique when compared against similar roles in the industry?

My role basically straddles Customer Success, Account Management, and Customer Experience Management. The real beauty of this position is its ability to tear down silos in the workplace: which is still a very real issue that’s often overlooked. As the leader in our space, I help facilitate the synthesis of creative juices, ensuring the customer receives not only a great product, but the insight and education they deserve from all angles of the company.

I have no quota, I have no upsell metrics, I am responsible for no specific monetary flow into the company. My role is to enable others at our company to do just that. Without that quota attached I am able to cut through to the root cause of problems we may be encountering as a company rather than sticking a band aid on the wound temporarily. It really gives me the freedom to make organizational changes without falling victim to tunnel vision.

3.) What gets you motivated to come into work every day? Any advice on how to stay motivated?


All of these publications keep posting about “How to manage millennials” and for the most part it’s complete bull. What motivates me? Interesting work, respectful management and co-workers, and the opportunity to grow.

There was a great article in the NY Times about this several months back (this one) exploring this topic and how the formula hasn’t changed as drastically as these media outlets are portraying...gotta love sensationalization. I am a very autonomous person so I enjoy being given a task with instructions saying,“Do this,” rather than a detailed list of instructions with narrow guard rails.  

To stay motivated you really have to love what you’re doing, and you have to be doing it for yourself. The young and naive may be prone thinking that compensation is the key to staying motivated, but you quickly learn that this has rather quick diminishing returns.. A couple years ago I read a book on motivation and it had a quick tip to help find what day to day tasks are most enjoyable and productive that I found useful:

Whenever you feel yourself “in the zone” at work, write it down. Record the type of work you’re doing, the date and time, and what it is you’re feeling. Not only will this help identify what you enjoy doing, but it will uncover your best working methods. Keep tracking this for a couple months and your results will speak for themselves.

4.) What's something companies tend to get wrong when it comes to empowering customers?

Companies think they can assign specific ownership for empowering customers when in reality, everyone needs to do their part. Employee product training is just one piece of the puzzle and isn’t very scalable. Instead, think about how humans fundamentally learn:

In school you have a textbook, supplemental material, and a professor. The textbook is a dense, descriptive resource on the subject. The supplemental material speaks to broader/related topics and possibly brings in more opinionated views. The professor provides the white glove delivery, clearing up areas of confusion and offering real-life anecdotes. All three of these need to be present to achieve a well-rounded educational experience. You should shape your customer empowerment strategy around this same framework:

texbook = user guides

supplemental resources = blogs/communities

professor = onboarding and consulting

5.) What's your app guilty pleasure?


























Because one of my favorite hobbies is tossing some iron around after work, I’m a big fan of Bodybuilding.com’s BodySpace app. I’m not one to post the infamous shirtless selfie, but I enjoy the ability to look through a massive list of workouts as well as their exercise repository when I want to hit a different angle or try a new movement. I almost always get my supps from BodyBuilding.com so this is a nice addition to that. They really have a solid community that cares about health and wellness, so it resonates very well with me. I love that this generation is starting a fitness revolution. As per my earlier comment, I would much rather be remembered as “Generation Fitness” rather than “Millennials.”