Erika Childers: (00:04)Hello everyone and welcome to today’s webinar From the Trenches: What Your Customer Success Team Wants You to Know. As always, I’m very excited for this webinar. We have an awesome panel lined up for you guys today. We’ve got some fantastic content. We’re going to go over some different things. Last month we talked with CCOs and CROs and we really wanted to understand from their perspective what is the contribution of customer success and how they view the contribution of customer success managers. In this webinar we’re going to flip that a little bit.
Erika Childers: (00:45)
And we’re going to ask these more technical and tactical CS pros a few different things. We’re going to learn from them what they think that executives often get wrong about customer success and their roles. We’re going to talk about how tactical CSMs and CS leaders tie their day to day back to business strategy. And then we’re going to hear some advice from them for you guys on how to be a great CSM and how to really move up the ladder. So I’m really excited to jump in.
Erika Childers: (01:16)
Just a few housekeeping things. The webinar is being recorded. We will send out the slides and the recording for you after the webinar. You can expect that in your inbox tomorrow. And we are going to do a Q and A toward the end of the webinar. So if you do have any questions for our panel you can chat those into the chat box or you can send them in into the question’s pane and we’ll try to get to as many of those as we can.
Erika Childers: (01:39)
So let’s get started. So I’m Erika, I am the Content Marketing Director here at UserIQ. I’m going to be your moderator today just for a quick overview. So if you don’t know UserIQ, we’re a platform, we’re a customer success platform that helps businesses realize the full value of customer success. We equip teams with the product data, customer insights and user engagement tools that they need to help them really fight churn, grow their accounts and align their entire business around the needs of their users. And you can definitely learn more check us out at useriq.com but enough about me. Let’s talk about our first panelist.
Erika Childers: (02:14)
So our first panelists today is Tyler Daley. Tyler is the Director of Success Management over at ChartMogul. He’s been in the SaaS space for about six years, a little over six years. He’s worked in sales and customer success. And he’s working for ChartMogul, which is a fully distributed team that delivers revenue intelligence for subscription based companies.
Erika Childers: (02:36)
You can definitely read more on Tyler right here in his bio, but I’m really excited to jump in. So one of the things that I think is going to be really interesting about this webinar is that we’ve got three panelists from three pretty different levels in their careers and pretty different levels of companies that they work for. So I think a really good question that I want to hear from each of our panelists is just a quick overview about what their current team really looks like. So Tyler, can you tell us a little bit more about ChartMogul and kind of what the makeup of the CS team looks like there today?
Tyler Daley: (03:08)
Definitely. So ChartMogul as a company we’ve been around since 2014. We have about 36 employees today. The customer success team, ours is organized a little bit differently than what you might see in some other SaaS companies. So there’s seven of us on our customer success team. And under customer success we’ve pulled in the advocacy team or our support team, our solutions team, and then my team, the success management team. So our success management team is fairly new as of the beginning of last year. But that gives you a rough idea of how many bodies are within our teams today and within the company.
Erika Childers: (03:46)
Got it. So that’s sort of a SMB sort of [inaudible 00:03:51]. I think that’s great. I’m really excited to chat with you. Thanks Tyler. So our second panelist for today is Anna Di Ruocco. So Anna is a Customer Success Specialist over at Covisum which is a FinTech company based out of Omaha. She has a really diverse background. She’s currently serving as a Customer Success Specialist, but I think her role is super unique because she’s in a smaller company. So not going to dive in all the way into Anna’s bio, but I’d really love to hear from you. Anna, can you tell us a little bit more about Covisum. And what kind of the makeup of your team looks like and really you’re the only customer success specialist on the team right now, is that right?
Anna Di Ruocco: (04:30)
Yes. So I fall into the marketing and sales department. There are several of us at different roles from either nurturing customer success. We have someone who does our PR and content. But as for customer success, it’s just solely me right now. And it just kind of entails looking at auditing the processes and creating and restructuring what we maybe did already have as well as doing the daily functions. And since we’re a startup we’re just continuing to grow and add people to our team.
Erika Childers: (05:03)
Got it. Cool. That’s really exciting. Again, another pretty interesting perspective that I’m excited to hear about. Thanks Anna. So for our third panelist, last but never least is Oliver Nono. Oliver is the Senior Manager of Customer Success for Zendesk [inaudible 00:05:19]. He leads the West Enterprise Customer Success team for Zendesk. They work with some of the largest customers that Zendesk has and he’s built customer success teams at two companies prior to that. So he has a lot of experience with that kind of ground up level. And so I’m really excited to hear from him all of our similar question for you on this one. Zendesk is a huge company obviously, and your customer success team is just one part of that. Can you describe kind of a little bit about the overall Zendesk, CS organization? And then tell us a little bit about the makeup of your team in particular.
Oliver Nono: (05:51)
Yeah, absolutely. So the customer success team globally is around 148 people at this point. Actually when I first started it was roughly around 33. So it kind of tells you how fast we’ve grown as a company as well as a CS org. We split our success experiences into four segments. So my team is specifically the experienced one team in the West. And as you mentioned, we [inaudible 00:06:19] largest customers in our region. And each of my CSMs on my team, they roughly have a book of business around 5 million in annual recurring revenue and that includes about eight to 12 accounts each per CSM.
Erika Childers: (06:32)
Got it. Okay. That’s a great overview. Thanks Oliver. So I’m really excited to dig into our questions today. We have some really good perspectives and great questions. Just as a quick reminder, we are doing a Q and A at the end, so if you just joined us as a reminder, you’ll be able to ask questions to our panelists, you can send those into the chat pane within the admin panel of your GoToWebinar or you can send them into the question’s pane we’ll try to get too as many of those as we can.
Erika Childers: (06:58)
All right, let’s jump in. So for our first question, I really want to understand what process looks like. And we’ve heard a lot about what process looks like for most of different companies and heard that primarily from the executive’s perspective. But I really want to hear from these more tactical professionals around what process looks like when a company is building out strategy and in particular what their role entails? So Anna, I’m going to start with you on this one. I know you were the first CS hire at Covisum. Can you tell us a little bit more about that sort of journey and where things really started for you when you joined?
Anna Di Ruocco: (07:34)
So when I came in my job, I went through and audited what we already had for processes. Because it wasn’t that we didn’t have customer success here. We just didn’t have someone who specialized in focusing solely on that. So I was going through auditing what we had, building it up, making sure that we had a strong foundation so then we can make it sustainable to continue. That involved though creating a customer journey map creating just all the onboarding processes.
Anna Di Ruocco: (08:05)
So then it was a lot more seamless going from point A to B instead of having it be just kind of all over or being inconsistent. We also, with us being smaller, we have to sometimes pivot and be very nimble in what we’re doing. So something might go one way and then when either software changes or we are making new updates, we sometimes have to completely take what we’re doing and turn it a little bit. And so since we’re at the beginning stages our processes are always changing, but they’re building up. So we try to think about what the longterm will look like. But how we can also be the most effective and efficient right now as well.
Erika Childers: (08:51)
Got it. So I love that perspective. I think that’s such an interesting thing that lots of our audience members are experiencing of building things from the ground up. And I think you’re in a unique position where customer success has sort of been around for a little bit. So you know, you have some data, you have some things that you can work on and really focus on driving those foundational pieces and kind of building up what you know to be true and being able to pivot like you mentioned.
Anna Di Ruocco: (09:18)
Erika Childers: (09:19)
Awesome. So Tyler, I’m going to move over to you on this one. So as a director, what really does your particular role look like, when CM strategy is being built at ChartMogul? And can you tell us a little bit more about what that processes look like?
Tyler Daley: (09:35)
Yeah, definitely. So myself and our VP of customer success we work quite closely when developing strategy. Similar to what Anna had mentioned we have to be quite nimble and so we’re kind of looking at our metrics on a quarterly basis. There’s obviously a key metrics to kind of remain the same from one quarter to the next. But there are also other metrics that do tend to change as the business changes and grows and as we change and grow as a team. So that’s kind of what it looks like in terms of how we work and this is done typically fairly autonomously. So our CEO kind of gives us a full reigns to make these decisions from a metric perspective. So some of the metrics that we’re looking at on a quarterly basis so logo or customer retention and revenue retention these are the two metrics that I mentioned that stay very consistent and as our portfolio accounts changes and things like that, we may update what those targets are, but those metrics will always remain within our team.
Tyler Daley: (10:46)
And then we’ll also break breakdown a metric into MBOs. So management by objectives. And these are the ones that will vary quarter to quarter. What we may look at things like delivering a certain amount of training sessions to our key accounts each quarter. Having a target around that. And like I said, because our team is fairly new we’re really still trying to make sure we engage with all of our key accounts. So that’s a really important metric to have. Obviously renewals and maximizing revenue potential, being able to drop those out on a quarterly basis and stay ahead of those. And then more specific tasks like we’re in the midst so just finalizing the switching our CRM. So that was kind of a big undertaking more so by the sales team but the customer success team was also very involved to make sure it was able to do what we needed to do from our reporting perspective.
Erika Childers: (11:42)
Got it. So that’s great. I mentioned this last time when you told us about switching CRMs, so sorry that that’s going on. I’m sure so many of our audience members are just cringing that is such a difficult thing. But I think it’s awesome that you have this idea of we know what our kind of top level goals are, but really what role does customer success play in each of those? And I definitely love the idea of you are helping and making sure that that’s a seamless process and getting that CRM implemented because it has big implications if you don’t. And I’ve definitely been on the other side of that where I’ve been doing it and it’s like just me and one other person and no one else is involved. So I love that perspective. And that you have actual MBOs that are built around those goals. Oliver, so what about you? So coming from this very big Zendesk company what, how does strategy come about at Zendesk? And what role are you playing in that?
Oliver Nono: (12:38)
Yeah, absolutely. So one thing I didn’t mention earlier is our customer success org has been around for about six years at this point. So really the processes and procedures that we’re using have really been tried and tested for quite some time. So every quarter we get together as a customer success leadership group. We nominate various projects to really refine what we’ve been doing for quite some time. And everything that we nominate really ties back to our goals as a success or which is really to give the customers the most value out of our platform that will in turn keep them customers for a long time.
Oliver Nono: (13:14)
So once the projects are nominated, we actually have a dedicated project management office team, which helps us complete the various projects. And typically each global customer success leader like myself, sponsors a project on behalf of the team. In the PM’s role as part of that project management office is really to get agreement globally for the change and ensure whatever change really works for all. And as I mentioned earlier about as large as we are now, we definitely have to make sure that we’re globally aligned. So very involved in the process.
Erika Childers: (13:47)
That’s awesome. And I remember hearing about you all having those project managers who kind of help guide the execution of these. And I was just like, “Oh my goodness. That’s the best.” I think there’s so many of us that we’re trying to do these goals and it can be really hard to get off track I think especially like within a quarter. So many different things that can change. So I love that you all not only are taking business strategy, breaking that down into these nominated projects, that you have people who can help guide the direction and the execution of those projects. That’s very exciting.
Oliver Nono: (14:24)
Yeah, absolutely. It was a huge change for me coming to a larger company to Zendesk and having these resources available to us. So I definitely appreciate the work that they do. Because it makes our lives much easier of being in the leadership team.
Erika Childers: (14:37)
Oh yeah. I bet. All right. So this is a great start for us. So moving into our second question, this question, on its own was my big reason for wanting to do this particular topic in this webinar. Because I really want to hear from you all about what are the types of things that executives are maybe too far removed from or what are the things that they might have misconceptions about when it comes to customer success? So Tyler, I’m going to start with you on this one. What are the misconceptions that you found that executives have about the customer success organization?
Tyler Daley: (15:16)
Yeah, I think one thing that we see often and this can be company wide or visible just within customer success is the price to value alignment. And so often the leadership team or the company will see or associate a certain price to sell the product to the value of the products. But the end user or the customer may not always see this same alignment. They may not perhaps they don’t value it the same as what we think they should, but that’s not off. That’s not to say it’s necessarily about the pricing being wrong. Like pricing is definitely a hard thing that many SaaS companies struggle with. But it could just be a matter of working with that customer or those customers to help them see the true value and to help them maximize the usage.
Tyler Daley: (16:11)
So that’s one thing that we encounter quite often and that can be encountered just in a simple renewal conversation if a company’s undergoing a pricing change that could come about. So that’s something that we have to kind of be transparent with the exec team and relationship team about that. These are the reasons why our customers aren’t seeing this value or why they can’t justify the price. And then as managers of the CS team, it’s our job to kind of work with them to improve that as much as possible. And then kind of working off of that I mentioned renewals.
Tyler Daley: (16:48)
So I think another misconception is around how much time is actually involved or goes into renewals. Ideally in the perfect world, this is something that we could pick up, ask them how things are going, things are going great, and then get straight into the pricing conversation and renewal conversation. But oftentimes this can be quite complex and there can also be a lot of stakeholders involved. So over time we may have lost touch with the appropriate stakeholders, so you might have to reengage or engage with the proper stakeholders. You now have to get an understanding of how they’re using their system, the value that they’re seeing, their general experience. There’s many layers that have to be peeled back to help maximize the revenue retention that goes into this renewal to ultimately be as successful as possible.
Erika Childers: (17:36)
Yeah, I think that’s so interesting. I almost think that there’s probably a lot of overlap between the two things that you mentioned. That if there is misconception or if there is not alignment on what the value is versus the price, then it’s going to be even more difficult to start to peel back those layers like you mentioned of starting those renewal phases. And I also think it’s such an interesting thing to hear you say that because so many of that we read a lot about what the customer journey looks like post-sale. And it always seems like renewal is like this one phase. It’s just like a one part of something that happens. But it’s really so much of everything, like everything that you’re doing from adoption to hopefully expansion pieces to driving advocacy. All of these things are kind of co-mingling and all of them hopefully do lead to renewals and retention. So it’s kind of all of this just one big thing. It’s not just like, okay, they’re 90 days out, so it’s renewal time. It’s very much a relationship building thing.
Tyler Daley: (18:39)
Erika Childers: (18:40)
Yeah. So Oliver, what about you on this one? So I just want to point out, you’d had a great kind of point about this when we chatted earlier around metrics. And we’re not going to dig in too much around specific metrics in this webinar today. But I’m really interested if you can elaborate what are these misconceptions or what do you think customer success executives and leaders are getting wrong about how they’re measuring customer success?
Oliver Nono: (19:07)
Yeah, yeah. So sort of speaking from experience as part of my introduction I’ve been a part of three customer success organizations at this point. So I’m not specifically just talking about my time here at Zendesk, but in essence I think the one thing that executives get wrong is really how to truly measure the value that CSMs are bringing to the company. Erika, you just mentioned sort of all those things that a CSM will do that hopefully lands a successful renewable, all those little things are very hard to measure. In terms of how it influences like that final measurements. So here at Zendesk we are measured by turning contraction. Right now we’re trying to go through an exercise to really figure out how all of those activities that a customer success manager does really helps with that and sort of measurements.
Oliver Nono: (19:57)
But it’s something that’s not easy to do. I’m not saying that because they get it wrong, it’s because they’re not trying. I mean, I think throughout the three companies that I’ve been a part of, it’s something that they really try to hone in on. But it’s just not a very easy exercise to really figure out what that value is that CSMs are bringing to the company. And then I think that the common misconception of that, I feel executives have about our role is that success can prevent alternate contraction, which is not necessarily true. I mean, obviously there’s instances where we can influence and get customers to stay with us. But there are circumstances where a company goes out of business or they’re acquired by a company that has a strong relationship with our competitor that can always be prevented. There’s plays that we can run of course in those situations. But in general, I think there are misconceptions that if you have, or you build a customer success role that you can prevent alternate contraction, which is again not true.
Erika Childers: (20:59)
Yeah, I love that point. And I think again, there’s a little bit of overlap there because if we’re thinking, okay, all CSM like that they can prevent alternate and contraction and we’re only measuring them based on those processes. There’s such a big gap like you said, there are all these little things of relationship building and phases and things like that, that you go through with customers that aren’t measurable. So if I can ask you, we hadn’t talked about this previously. But if you can share what can you tell us a little bit about what that exercise is currently looking like to help get more alignment on that at Zendesk?
Oliver Nono: (21:34)
Yeah, so right now we’re going through all of the different activities that our CSMs doing on a daily basis. And really trying to figure out and also survey our customers and figuring out what’s the most valuable. And then trying to see how long does it take someone to deliver a business review or deliver an agent shadowing readout? And how does that measure against what the customer sees or perceives as something that they really need or want? And so it’s a long exercise that we’re going through at the moment and probably it’s going to take us half this year to figure out what are those activities that we want to continue doing and what activities do we want to introduce that will give more value.
Erika Childers: (22:15)
Yeah, absolutely. That’s very cool. I’ll be interested to hear more, hopefully about that later. And kind of learning a little bit more about what the implications are that come out of that. So Anna, what about you on this one? What are some of the misconceptions that you’ve perceived from those that are in those executive positions?
Anna Di Ruocco: (22:35)
So I’m pretty lucky here at Covisum since we are smaller. I do have a lot of interaction with our leadership team. So I’d say our communication’s pretty good. But it’s more knowing that when I go into a meeting that I’m the voice of the customer. And so I’m trying to figure out what that customer first perspective is and voicing what they would want. But also remembering what our vision is. So a quote that I really like is by Enzo Ferrari it’s, “The client is not always right.” So it’s not saying they’re wrong or anything like that. But maybe it’s just not the right fit because, for example, where we work with retirement planning. So if someone’s an advisor who’s focusing on college planning, our product and what they’re wanting isn’t going to align so they can come to me with every requests asking for something.
Anna Di Ruocco: (23:31)
But that feature request, I can voice it but doesn’t mean it’s going to be right. So it’s knowing what the mission that you have as a company and the vision is and then seeing what your customers are wanting and trying to make sure they’re aligned. So reminding the leadership team who their clientele is sometimes. Because you might get a feature request and then feel like you need to go that way, but it might not be what we need to do. So it’s I think being the voice but also balancing what’s your company’s mission at the same time.
Erika Childers: (24:11)
Absolutely. I love that you used that quote too because I think like in my mind starting to read more quotes that were like, okay the customer isn’t always right was like a mind shifting thing. I think for me and a lot of us is that we kind of always had this perspective of the customer’s right. And we do what the customer wants. And we kind of talked about this previously, that especially being in a customer success role, like you want to give your customers the things that they’re asking for. But being able to take a step back and say, “Okay, but is this actually the right fit? Does this fit our company vision?” And especially knowing that you have such great alignment with some of the executives in your team already. I met [inaudible 00:24:51] is got to be something that’s really helpful toward that end to kind of keep focused.
Anna Di Ruocco: (24:56)
It just helps I think. Because when you think of the grants theme of that quote whatever you’re working on, it was successful to begin with. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have the company or the product. So it doesn’t mean you necessarily always have to listen to that customer. But I think it’s finding that right balance because otherwise if you do change everything to always be what the customer is wanting, you might end up with something that isn’t successful. So it’s I think just that fine line of knowing you do have something great. But also trying to implement their opinions and thoughts as well.
Erika Childers: (25:36)
Absolutely. Love it. All right. So quick reminder, if you’re just joining us or you didn’t hear me at the beginning, we do have a Q and A for just a little bit toward the end of the webinar. So there are couple of you have already sent in some questions, keep sending them in. Our panel is going to be excited to answer those for you.
Erika Childers: (25:51)
So moving into our third question, I really want to hear from our panel about how they prioritize their days. And all of our, I’m going to start with you on this one. So obviously being in the role that you’re in, overseeing quite a few different people for such a big company and knowing that you’re managing very big accounts, what are the ways in which you’re sort of prioritizing your day? Can you speak a little bit to some of the stories or data points or metrics, types of things that you’re using to help you understand what is the most important things that you should be doing every day?
Oliver Nono: (26:23)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, for us as I mentioned previously really it’s about that successful renewal just like many other CS orgs that are out there. And I do support 12 members of my team that are spread out throughout the US. So typically how I typically prioritize my days just making sure if there’s any customers that are in not a healthy state, working with my various ICs on my team and help them plan and support getting those customers out of that state. So I’ll sit down and really work with them in terms of a plan of attack to help drive value so I can support them in various like engagements or meetings as part of that, executing that plan.
Oliver Nono: (27:13)
So yeah, I’ll jump on. I’ll go on site, like I’m actually doing this week. I really work with those customers, build relationships and ensure that they’re getting the value out of our platform that they expect. So that’s what I’m really focused on in terms of prioritizing my day. And then there’s other data points that I’ll look at in terms of different projects or different deadlines that help drive my day. But primarily looking at those customers and maybe in an unhealthy state and really working with the team to get them out of that.
Erika Childers: (27:42)
That’s awesome. I think that’s a great approach. Obviously as a manager, that’s kind of your role, by being able to strategize together with your team around here’s the approach that we’re going to take for this specific customer, is that’s such a great way to kind of go about things. So Tyler, what about you on this one? Tell us a little bit about how you’re prioritizing your day?
Tyler Daley: (28:07)
Yeah, so mine is quite similar. Although quite similar to Oliver’s, although we’re a smaller team. I guess more involved in a lot of the customer’s health conversations and the onboarding and success touches. So a lot of our day is evolving or revolves around the customer health. And we’ve, because it’s still a fairly new in terms of like account management within our company, we’re still very much doing an ad hoc approach. And starting to automate a little bit more as we go along through the process. But a big part of this is obviously any new customers coming into our managed segments. So our segment of key accounts, we have to make sure that we are properly onboarding them within the first, typically the first three months. So we’re working through numerous calls there to identify, first for identifying kind of their goals for the onboarding period.
Tyler Daley: (29:06)
And then working through those and various conversations, meetings to make sure that we are equipping them with the information that they need and setting them up for success. And then within our customer health spreadsheet we’re doing proactive outreach and we can see a number of different fields and parameters there that help us make decisions in terms of who you should be reaching out to, who may be a churn risk, who is a really healthy account. So that’s really kind of driving a lot of our actions within my team. And then naturally things like renewals work their way into our kind of daily or monthly activities. And handling those as they come in and making sure all accounts are renewing. And outside of that, some of the other things I had mentioned like training, scheduling in those sessions, and then from a strategy perspective just looking forward and seeing how we can further evolve our playbooks that we have in place to help us with training and onboarding or any other kind of initiatives that would benefit us down the road.
Erika Childers: (30:23)
Got it. So it seems like there’s kind of this theme across most customer success organizations that you’re really using customer health as this sort of bar for the things that you know you need to be focusing on and prioritizing. And I think a lot of the things that I really like, they kind of focus more around the software, but it’s very interesting to hear that we’re like, we’re in a spreadsheet. But we still have all of these data points. To your point, we’ve got all of the data points, we know the types that we know where they are in their journey, we know what things are going on with them. We know what their customer health color or score or whatever it is. And that really helps prioritize in that you may not necessarily be ready for a full customer success platform or whatever today. But you’re still using those same similar things to be able to be proactive and really prioritize what’s most important every day.
Tyler Daley: (31:17)
Exactly. And not everyone will want to talk to you at all times. So the accounts that don’t prefer to jump on a call or jump on a webinar or a meeting that’s something that we can work with and we can provide valuable content and provide value to them in other ways, whether it’s through email just providing them with general updates. So there’s ways we can work with them to make sure that they are still being supported properly.
Erika Childers: (31:46)
Yeah. That’s awesome. So Anna, what about you? How especially being the one customer success person currently, how do you do it? How do you prioritize your day?
Anna Di Ruocco: (31:58)
So there’s a couple of different things that throughout the day I make sure that I’m looking at. So whenever we get new subscribers, I’m focusing on making sure that all the tasks that are involved with that are being done. Onboarding calls take up a good chunk of my time. But realizing the value that they have behind them because if you have a strong onboarding process, you know that your customer is going to be more successful if they know all the things that the software can do and all the resources they have available to them. Also, looking at the cross selling opportunities. So we have kind of intermixed between manual set off some things as well as some automation. Where I think took a step back from doing a lot more of the automating and having a lot more of the interaction with myself.
Anna Di Ruocco: (32:52)
And so finding those opportunities, talking to the advisors and seeing what would make their business grow and what we can do to help build that. I then set it also aside for either doing specific projects or blocking off time to either learn or strategize. Because it’s very easy to have the daily tasks take over your week and then you don’t have time to build out a process that needs to be done. Because in the longterm we’ll make it so much easier and more successful. So it’s I think finding the balance between the daily functions and also the longterm strategy until we actually have a team like Oliver and Tyler were, you can kind of assign one customer success person to do this and when to do that. So it also helps that we have a team that picks up where I might be able to not have all the bandwidth.
Erika Childers: (33:50)
Yeah. Love it.
Anna Di Ruocco: (33:51)
Erika Childers: (33:53)
So that’s a big day. But I love that you’re thinking about the balance between the tactical things that you’re doing and for all of our panel the tactical things that you’re doing every day and being able to balance that with these longterm thoughts of, okay, well we need a process for this. We’re realizing that this particular thing isn’t working well or this particular procedure is not fitting for our customers and being able to take a step back and not just stay on top of all of the emails all the time. But also thinking about what are the things that we can do to better support our customers in the long run.
Anna Di Ruocco: (34:24)
Yeah. My calendar is my best friend.
Erika Childers: (34:28)
All right. So moving into our next question. So I really, as always, if you’ve been on a UserIQ webinar before, you have definitely heard this question because I always think it’s interesting to hear from different people at different levels in different companies all over the place about what are the trends that they’re seeing in particular. And Tyler, I’m going to start with you on this one. What are the trends that you’re seeing [inaudible 00:34:52] impacting the customer success management role and how you think that’s going to unfold in the future?
Tyler Daley: (35:03)
I definitely see this role becoming more technical. And I think ChartMogul itself as a company the product can be quite technical at times, but even with companies where the product may not be so technical having a certain degree of technical proficiency can be really beneficial in a CSM role. There are definitely times when you want to bring in other stakeholders to help support you in the process. So bringing in your product team, bringing in anyone else that can help kind of support the customer. But I think having those skills and constantly learning more and more about the products will only make you a better CSM. And also I think customers, they want to and from my experience and my team’s experience, our customers want to not just look to us to be a kind of like a product specialist or to support them with their success. But they also look to us as consultants sometimes for just making general business decisions.
Tyler Daley: (36:05)
So we may have someone that is they’re looking to use or they are using our revenue intelligence platform, but they are in the process of changing billing systems and they want our advice on what systems have worked well for some of your customers, what once worked not so well. Can you give us some of the relevant use cases? So it really kind of goes outside and you don’t want to stretch too far beyond your product and boundaries. But as much support as you can mind them, it definitely helps. The kind of relationship and helps their success. So that’s kind of where I see the role evolving to and trends that we’ve seen in this role specifically.
Erika Childers: (36:44)
Tyler Daley: (37:05)
I would say it definitely depends on the company and the product. But maybe someone not knowing how to code isn’t a necessary requirement. But somebody with the familiarity, familiar with APIs, someone that has a bit of a technical aptitude. So like I said, they may not know how to code, but they can come in and can really pick up on the product quickly and have a willingness to learn. I think that definitely goes a long way and it’s something that you could see across multiple companies as being a determining factor for a new hire.
Erika Childers: (37:40)
Great. So Anna, what about you on this one? So what are the trends that you’re seeing in the customer success space? And what are some of the things from an operational perspective that you think are going to change what the future looks like?
Anna Di Ruocco: (37:54)
Yeah, so I definitely think that customer success operations is definitely a thing that is becoming more and more relevant. But having the strategy behind it because you might be able to support or have that technical side that Tyler talking about, by making sure that you’re able to get all the different systems working correctly and making sure that the customer success team is following different processes because it’s really easy, I think to get caught up in those daily functions. But then not looking at what you guys can do next to make sure that you’re able stay efficient and make sure you’re on top of what the customer will need once they’ve maybe gone through the whole cycle once. So keeping ahead of that, but then also teaching on just customer success as a whole because it is such a new field.
Anna Di Ruocco: (38:51)
Its having people understand what customer support is, what customer service is, what customer success is. Because they’re also closed and they’re all part of this customer experience. But it’s knowing what their functions are because they might be in the same house but they are doing different jobs. And so we are supporting but we are maybe supporting in a way of being that consultant or being technical where a support team might be helping just figure out why you’re having that issue and why that bug is happening or why you don’t understand a specific case or report. So I think it’s making sure that, especially leadership teams aren’t saying like, why are we having a customer success team? But like, why don’t we have a customer success team? Seeing like the real value behind it. So I think those are the two main trends that I’ve noticed at least.
Erika Childers: (39:51)
Absolutely. And I think too that like, to your point, just as much as customer success is new. I mean, I’m not sure that I would still consider it a new field, but a growing, a toddler field. I think there’s still learning to be done for both sides, right? Like people as a customer purchasing platform for the first time maybe I’m not familiar with customer success and I as the customer don’t even know really what to do with that information. So making sure that CSMs know what their role is and why it’s different, I think it’s so important for them to be able to communicate that to their customers in the long run. So Oliver, similar question for you here. What are the trends that you’re seeing that are impacting the customer success role?
Oliver Nono: (40:38)
Yeah, I guess I first want to echo what Tyler was saying. I feel there is more of they think a desire for someone on the accounting to be a technical resource for the customer. I used to lead a technical account management team prior to [inaudible 00:40:55] into customer success. And at the time that I was making the transition, I almost felt like that technical account manager role was going to be extinct with customer success. But now that I’m finding fast forward six years later is that there is a really a need as Zendesk is going up market for more technical resource to be as part of the account team. And as part of what we’re changing, what we do at Zendesk is we’re actually building out a technical account management team to fill that gap.
Oliver Nono: (41:27)
So first I want to, kind of I guess echo what Tyler said. But I think the trend that I’ve been seeing mostly with the other peers in this split role that I’m in is to drive more revenue from the role and even charge for success. So it even goes back to like how we’re measuring success instead of the challenges there. And so I’ve seen more companies, I think the one company that comes to mind is Oracle who is now charging for the success role. And offering it to their customers as an added benefit instead of something that is given free or included as part of the relationship with the customer and the vendor.
Erika Childers: (42:12)
I love this discussion so much. The idea of paying for customer success. So I love that you’re kind of talking about a little bit about why. Why would we need to do that? But really I think this discussion is so interesting because it shows a very clear kind of pivot in what we thought customer success was. But what it actually does. And how much bigger the value of customer success organizations is than people actually realize to the point that we want our customers to pay for that. When we spoke earlier, we kind of talked about like paying for that sort of domain knowledge. And I think that, that’s such an interesting thing. And going back to this idea of all of the things that customer success folks are responsible for, you need technical pieces. You need to be able to speak well.
Erika Childers: (42:53)
You need to know all of these soft skills. I think all of that is so critical and something that we absolutely should be potentially paying for. I’m not exactly sure where I think I stand on how that is. And I think that could be a whole other webinar. So if you think so too, stay tuned with me. But yeah, I think these trends are all kind of leading toward a very interesting, almost kind of connecting point for the future of CS.
Erika Childers: (43:21)
All right. So our final question and then we’re going to move into Q and A, which I’m super excited about because I’m reading some of you guys’s questions and they’re very good. So my last question for our panel is around advice. So I really, I know lots of us that are listening are kind of in the CS role, CS managers, CS practitioners, consultants, VPs, all of us are kind of all over the place. But I really want to hear from our panel about advice that they would give to each of us around how to do their jobs better and how to be the best CS practitioner that they can be. So Oliver, I’m going to kick back over to you on this one. What’s your one piece of advice for our audience today?
Oliver Nono: (44:01)
My one piece of advice is if you have the opportunity to it would be to take Toastmasters to be a part of a Toastmasters group. I feel it is really important if you’re in this role, especially if you’re looking to climb the ladder to become a better speaker. There are many times, even in an individual contributor role where you’ll be asked to speak. And having the right tone and presentation of yourself is really important so that whoever’s listening to you has faith that you know what you’re talking about.
Oliver Nono: (44:32)
We have an executive relationship program here at Zendesk and for our top accounts, it’s really a good test for the CSMs in the role to see how well they communicate with a C level person. Because if they struggle or can’t communicate with our execs, they’ll have trouble speaking to their customers execs. And I think doing something like Toastmasters will really help you be more concise and also a clear communicator. And again, giving that impression that you have a real sort of knowledge and can become a trusted advisor. And again, I think that’s one piece of advice that I got in my career and it’s helped me tremendously.
Erika Childers: (45:12)
That’s awesome. I think that’s a good one for just about everybody. I think public speaking, I mean I took it in college but I think not most people would take that and it’s such a difficult thing. But to your point we have to be able to communicate really well, especially in the world in which we live. So I love that one. Anna, what about you on this one? What’s your one piece of advice for our audience?
Anna Di Ruocco: (45:34)
I think my one piece is how I’ve noticed that I’m guilty of it and kind of other people in my role as customer success tries to do it all. So you want to give the best experience to the customer. So you go above and beyond and you try to do all the different roles that you maybe don’t need to be doing. Because there’s someone else in your organization that duty would fall into. So we’re typically the say yes people and there are times where it’s okay to say no.
Anna Di Ruocco: (46:11)
Like, no, it’s not my job. That would actually be X, Y, Z. Or being the person that handed off. So I think it’s sometimes those handoffs you’re like, “Well, I just can’t do it.” It’s fine. So making sure there’s a happy balance between the two, just so you don’t get burnt out and you’re not doing all the things and then you realize, oh, I should have left or taken a lunch or done this. Just because you want to always make sure that your customer is first and that you’re taking care of them and they are happy. So they’re not leaving you just because of something that you could have maybe resolved. So I’d say my biggest piece of advice is knowing when its you’re able to say, “It’s okay for me not to do this. It’s okay if it waits till tomorrow.”
Erika Childers: (47:05)
Yeah. I love that one. And I especially love that you call out CS burnout. So I talk about this on so many different webinars. And eventually I’m going to do a whole webinar just on CS burnout because I’m very passionate about it. Because I do think that the personalities of people who are in customer success roles are the very type of people who are most likely to get burnt out. You are the say yes person and that’s why you’re sort of in the role that you’re in. And why you’re so great at the role that you’re in. But it’s also a very delicate balance. So love that you call that one out there. It’s okay to say no guys. Tyler, what about you on this one? What’s your piece of advice?
Tyler Daley: (47:45)
Yeah. I think can definitely echo what both Anna and Oliver said. Both of those points definitely helped a CS practitioner move into a new role. I also think just kind of being, doing the best job that you can and putting yourself out there. Networking, building social capital, these are things that will help you build relationships with your peers in the industry and within other companies. And as you build these sorts of relationships you become likable and you become memorable.
Tyler Daley: (48:22)
And these are the sorts of things that help you take that next step into a manager or director role. And if you can prove that you can do a job that’s kind of the equivalent, if not better than the person that’s hiring you. So like ChartMogul for example, in my early days it was our CEO of did a lot of hiring. They’re looking for those sorts of people. And if you can kind of prove that you’re able to do that job at the very least on an equal level or if not better. Those are the sorts of people that will get these opportunities to move into these managerial roles. So I think some of these things are definitely the right pass to the right things to do to be in a position for promotion.
Erika Childers: (49:07)
Yeah, love it. All right. So we’re going to move into Q and A. We’ve had lots of good questions come in that I’m very excited about. So the first one that I follow that stands out to me that I think is something that I thought the same thing and this one is for Tyler also. So Tyler, would you be willing or can you kind of talk us through some of the data points that you have on your customer success spreadsheet? Obviously you don’t have to show us anything right now, but can you talk us through some of the most important things that you’re tracking in that spreadsheet?
Tyler Daley: (49:39)
Good for me. So it’s quite a large spreadsheet. We’ve done numerous iterations to kind of help pair it down and make it as concise as possible. And so we can kind of open it up and easily get a good idea of the health of an account. We do use some color coding. So for certain fields like activity or number of users that are logging into the platform or using the platform, we’ll track those data points and who those stakeholders are. For us in CS, we’re trying to gear our efforts obviously towards those main stakeholders. But also depending on their departments, they have kind of different interests in terms of the reporting that they’re most interested in within ChartMogul. Some of the other things we’ve done from more of like an automated level is obviously our team can or is CC’d on any tickets that come in from our managed accounts or from our key accounts.
Tyler Daley: (50:42)
So we’ll see those and that helps us kind of stay on top of any open incidents, any feature requests. These are some of the, I like to look at them as like secondary data points that kind of help us come to our well rounded view of a given account and the general health. I’m just kind of looking through it now. Other than that, it’s a lot of kind of the main details, the contact details, what plan they’re on billing cycle. If there’s multiple products subscriptions that they can have, just documenting that and we try to update it, like do a full update of the spreadsheet on a monthly basis. And so we kind of keep track of that. So anybody that looks at this knows okay, this is the one that was last updated and they know how recent that was done.
Tyler Daley: (51:38)
So they’re not kind of guessing like, is this comments about them not being very active? Was that from three weeks ago or is that from a few days ago? So these are some of the things that we’re looking at. And again, I think it’s really easy to let the spreadsheet or however you’re doing this manually to let it get out of control. And as well as the number of accounts, if you are deciding to focus on your largest accounts first it’s really good to kind of draw a line. We’ve tried to draw the line around about 50 accounts. But you want to remain proactive and having a number of accounts that is manageable is really important as well.
Erika Childers: (52:19)
Got it. That’s a great overview. And for those of you who are just listening in, we are going to have a transcript that comes along with the recording page of this. So if you didn’t catch everything that Tyler said, fear not, we’ll list all of those things out for you so you can start to build your own CS health dashboards. Thanks Tyler. So let’s see, we’ve got so many good questions in here. So what can you bet, maybe this is a good one for Anna. So there was one here that asks about how do you explain to your customers the difference between support and success? So we talked about this earlier, but what are you actually telling your customers? Here’s when you come to me and here’s when you might go to success or support and kind of what the differences are there?
Anna Di Ruocco: (53:07)
I’m very lucky that it’s very easy for us here at Covisum. With us being more of a FinTech, they are expert supports in our software where it’s if you have a specific case that you need to run through and go through those numbers and figure out why that this isn’t working? Or do you need to move money from capital gains to this to very specific things like that. Also, how to maybe read the report in detail or why the report looks wrong. That’s very support oriented here. What I’m doing, and I normally have this conversation with them on our onboarding call is if you don’t know maybe which other softwares are the best way to build your tech stack or who you need to reach out for something else. So let’s say it is a bug, I can help take that to the dev team, support can take that. But also if you have a question, aren’t getting the response you need reaching out to me and I will go out of my way to find that person that has that answer.
Anna Di Ruocco: (54:14)
So maybe it is going all the way up to our leadership team and asking them like, “Is this a thing we can or ever will do?” So I tried to right off the bat during that first call explain this is what our support team does. This is what we do. And there is sometimes that cross because there are things where sometimes I can help you reset a password and it’s once again it’s going back to just saying yes to doing it. But it also, I think it depends on the organization. So for us that’s our setup, is our support is very software based and I’m more of that consultant and that person to help them in maybe figuring out the combination of resources they need or showing them resources of marketing materials. But it is a very hard thing because it does cross over a little bit between the two of us.
Erika Childers: (55:16)
Got it. Okay. Yeah. That’s a really helpful overview and I think that’s such an important conversation to have. Like we already kind of mentioned earlier, it’s not clear for everybody really what that delineation is. So I think that’s great. And then I think we’ve got time for one more question. And I’ll leave this one open to the panel for those of you who have done hiring. So this question asks, “What are some of the qualities that you look for in candidates who are new to the CSM role that want to join your organization? What are some of the qualities and things that you’re looking out for when you’re making a CS hire?”
Tyler Daley: (55:53)
Yeah. I think at ChartMogul when we’re making a hire and this is going to be something that we’re doing in the near future as we grow our team. We want someone that obviously he’s really good at multitasking and is very resourceful. These are some of the soft skills that makes someone a good fit for this type of role. Because like I was saying, the number of accounts, if you’re focusing on your largest customers can grow. And in the earlier days when you’re trying to be as proactive as possible and handle a lot of accounts and it might just be one or two people they have to be very agile and be able to kind of respond to multiple inquiries and maintain a certain level of organization to kind of successfully onboard any new accounts to reach out and make sure existing accounts are doing okay and to field any questions.
Tyler Daley: (56:54)
And then from an experience perspective, it’s nice when someone does have that SaaS experience. And specifically if it’s in a customer success environments, they kind of know what to expect. So that’s something that we do look for is previous SaaS experience. But a few things that we’re looking at on ChartMogul’s side I’ll leave it open to anyone else that wants to add.
Oliver Nono: (57:17)
Yeah, I’ll talk a little bit about what I typically look for if it’s someone that’s new to customer success. Typically, what I want to see is that they’re a great communicator. I mentioned sort of Toastmasters before. But I think that’s very important both internally and externally being able to communicate what you’re trying to say and make sure that it’s done in a way that the person listening doesn’t get lost. And you can tell a lot in an interview if they’re a good communicator or not.
Oliver Nono: (57:48)
I also look at sort of what if they don’t have experience in the industry or the product, just how passionate are they. Have they looked at our website? Have they become familiar with the type of customers that we work with? And if I see sort of that passion that really sticks out in terms of really putting themselves in that role and being able to speak the same language. And then I would say the last thing that I typically look for or try to test for is how do they deal with certain situations? They may not have experienced it before, but if they are in an environment where they need to escalate something or they need to prioritize something, how would they go about that?
Oliver Nono: (58:30)
And then I would say lastly I do ask a question of how technical they are. Obviously this role as a customer success manager isn’t very technical. But as we talked about the trends and seeing it become a little bit more technical, I just want to see how quickly can they pick something up? How quickly can they jump into a product and really learn and what’s their interest level? Are they even interested in doing that? Those are some of the things I look for.
Erika Childers: (58:57)
Love it. That’s awesome. That was fantastic. Thank you so much. That’s the end of our time today. For those of you that are left we talked a little bit about customer success operations in this webinar. We’re going to really deep dive into customer success operations in our March webinar. So if you’re still here with us, I hope to see you again next month.
Erika Childers: (59:15)
To our panel, thank you so much for joining us. You are all so wonderful. And to the audience, thank you for joining us and spending some time with me today. That’s all I’ve got. I hope you enjoy a wonderful rest of your week and I’ll see you again soon. Thanks.
Oliver Nono: (59:27)
Tyler Daley: (59:29)
Anna Di Ruocco: (59:29)