Webinar Replay

    Shifting Tides

    How customer success leaders are adapting to covid-19 and the new normal

    Want to Elevate Customer Success in Your Business?

    Schedule A Demo Today   Learn About Us

     

    Erika Childers:
    The world has taken a pretty drastic turn of events over the last couple of months. There are a lot more questions than answers on how we navigate new waters and how we can effectively do our job. We’re going to talk about that today. We’re going to cover a few different things. We’re going to talk about how customer success leaders are caring for and empowering their teams, how they are adapting and pivoting their playbook to lead with empathy and customer centricity, and essentially ideas for how you also can use this time wisely and strategically and hopefully better prepare yourself for the future as we enter what is maybe an unknown future.

    Erika Childers:
    I’m really excited to dig in but as always before we get started a couple of housekeeping things. The webinar is being recorded. We’ll send out the slides so you can expect that in your inbox tomorrow. We’ll send out the slides and the recording. We’re also going to do a Q&A at the end of the webinar so if you have questions for our panelists and things that you’re struggling with and you want to hear their opinions or questions that you have about how customer success is running or changes, you’re more than welcome to send those into us. We’re going to spend maybe seven to 10 minutes with Q&A. Send us in your questions, we’d love to answer them.

    Erika Childers:
    All right, quick note about me. I’m Erika. I’m your moderator today. I’m the content marketing director here at UserIQ. We are a platform that helps businesses center on customer success. You can learn more about UserIQ at useriq.com.

    Erika Childers:
    I’m so excited about this discussion. I think we’ve done some prep calls and I’m really thrilled about the content that we have to share with you today. Our first panelist is Nate, Nate Fiedler. He is a customer retention strategy manager over at Box. He is working remotely out of Denver, Colorado. He has about eight years of experience in the tech world both in private and public SaaS companies ranging from very small 18 employees to very big 6000 plus. He’s worked in quite a few different functions across customer success including customer onboarding, enterprise customer success management, program management and operations. You may know Nate from his podcast, the Value Realized, if you’ve, if you’ve listened to that before. But first off, hi, Nate. Thank you for being here today.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me here. It’s great to be here.

    Erika Childers:
    Of course. What I typically like to do is try to do an intro level setting question and really what I would like to do is level set with the panel about what’s the makeup of your current team and what does your company look like. We have a bit of a difference between each of you which I think will actually lead to a great discussion. Nate, can you level set a little bit? Tell us a little bit about the makeup of your team and any insight you can give us into the size of Box?

    Nate Fiedler:
    Yeah, absolutely. For those of you that don’t know, Box is the leading cloud content management platform. We have over 97,000 customers and 68% of which are from the Fortune 500 including the largest and most security conscious companies in the world like the DOJ and Coca-Cola. We have a world class customer success organization with some truly inspiring and visionary leaders.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Our chief customer officer and SVP, Jon Herstein, Eric Ruby, VP of customer success. We actually both came from Autodesk. My manager, director of customer retention strategy, Katie Leighton, who ultimately oversees our skill team, our main CSMs are then segmented by different regions and TAV spend and as a part of her team, Katie, my manager oversees myself and our counterpart that also oversees programmatic efforts related to customer health.

    Erika Childers:
    Great. That’s so helpful. Thanks, Nate.

    Erika Childers:
    All right. Our next panelist is Jen Samples Lazarus. Jen comes from Oktopost where she is the managing director for North America. She oversees sales and customer facing operations and she’s been in the B2B marketing and digital marketing MarTech space for quite a while with over 20 years of experience with strategic and operational experience leading global teams. Very excited to have you on, Jen, how’s it going?

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    It’s fantastic. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I’m excited to be.

    Erika Childers:
    Thanks. I’m excited to have you. Similar question for you. Can you level set with us and just give us a little bit of context about the makeup of your team and roughly the size of Oktopost.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Absolutely. To level set, Oktopost is the only B2B social media management platform for B2B marketers leveraging advocacy analytics and social media publishing. That being said, we’ve been around for seven years because social media has been around for less than 10 years. Because of that and because of the adoption of social, we’re seeing exponential growth on our teams. We have three global teams, Tel Aviv, London, and Atlanta, and I oversee, as you said, Erica, North America.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    What my team looks like, we definitely have a customer success department and the ones in North America report to me but because I also oversee all of customer facing operations, sales, our actual support team here in North America, we all have a client success role and even I look at our SDRs here in Atlanta who don’t report to me but have a dotted line as being part of our customer success because they’re on the front lines. That’s just a little bit about who we are and what our client success makeup is.

    Erika Childers:
    That’s great. That’s very helpful. Thanks, Jen. We don’t want to skip, Phil. Our final panelist is Phil. Phil comes from HubSpot where he is the director of customer success operations. He has a lot of experience building and leading CS teams and programs. As the director of customer success operations at HubSpot, he leads a global operations team focused on enabling CSM and transforming the HubSpot customer experience. You might also note Phil from his blog, Keep|Grow which you can find at keep-grow.com. Hey, Phil, how’s it going?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Very well. Thanks, Erika. Thanks for the nice introduction.

    Erika Childers:
    Of course. Thanks for being here. Again, similar question for you. Level set with us a little bit about what’s the makeup of your team and roughly the size of HubSpot these days.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Yes. For anyone that doesn’t know, HubSpot is a platform that helps people to grow better, helps millions of organizations grow better. We have a tool that encompasses marketing, sales, and services apps to help you have a full front of office experience and transform your customer experience. HubSpot today has 3000 people and in terms of customer success, we have high level customer success split up into three functions within HubSpot. We have our success which is our CSMs and that encompasses one to many, one to few scaled different programs. We have support which is also part of customer success which is our frontline technical support teams and then we have services which is our professional services, paid for services, implementation, those types of things.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    That’s all under the umbrella of customer success and customer success reports to the chief customer officer who also looks after sales and marketing. We call that the flywheel team at HubSpot if anyone’s familiar with HubSpot. At our [inaudible 00:08:42] presentation, we like to talk about the flywheel. We have a flywheel team which drives alignment across all of our go to market teams. That’s how we’re a little bit about how we’re structured.

    Erika Childers:
    Great. That’s helpful. Thank you. All right. We’re going to dig right into our questions. If you just joined, just a reminder, we will send out the recording if you’re not able to spend the full hour with us today. In addition, we’ll also do a Q&A right at the end of the webinar so if you have questions for our panelists, we actually had one person just respond that says, “Hey, Phil, I love HubSpot,” which is great.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Thank you.

    Erika Childers:
    Thank you so much, Elisa. Send in your questions. We’re going to answer them. We’ll try to answer them live if we can or at the end of the webinar in the Q&A. If we’re not able to get your questions, we’ll see what we can do to try to answer your questions via email or hopefully a blog post or whatever that is, we’ll try to stay in touch with you and answer as many as we can. All right, so we’re going to dig right in. What are some of the big changes?

    Erika Childers:
    These are the types of things that I think I’m most interested to hear from CS leaders today. What are the most notable changes that you’re feeling and seeing about your work relationship since COVID-19 started? I think this is really meant to be a little bit open. Work relationships in terms of how you’re working with your team, how you’re working with coworkers, how you’re working with customers. Just of level set a little bit on what you’re seeing out in the world. Jen, I’m going to start with you on this one. What are some of the big changes that you’ve noticed?

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I think that globally just in working in general we’ve all seen this mentality of we’re all in it together whether it is our teams or our clients or our customer partners like HubSpot. With my team specifically or people in the Atlanta location, we work from the office typically and so if we have a question we can normally turn and ask but now that we’re all working from home, we are making a more concerted effort to bridge our teams not only in each location but from the company as a whole.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    We were very lucky that we had a new HR director start literally the day that this came in, COVID started happening, and she’s done an amazing job bridging us together. We’re doing team workouts, team happy hours. We are definitely being more sensitive to family time and meeting times because we do have working parents who are also finding themselves homeschooling their children and so time management, we’re being definitely more respectful of, not that we weren’t before, but when you’re bridging three offices on three continents, we’re all being a little bit more flexible about when we can.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    One of the things I love that our CEO, Daniel Kushner, does is he’s like, “You blend work and home together.” There’s some times where you have to take care of family things and there are some times during family time you have to take care of work things. He’s always had that mentality but it’s really run through as a culture for us now that we’re all banding together.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Regarding our clients, it’s communication. Just communication, communication, communication. I can’t say that enough. We have to be extra empathetic to our clients. Some are losing business. Some are extremely busy given the nature of their business and we’re having to change that playbook not only in how we respond to them, but the standard cadence that you may use in a followup it could be out the window. Also, the way you’re communicating. We have some clients who are on Zooms all day long or GoToMeetings all day long and they’re texting us. Normally, they’re email people.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I think it’s just being able to adapt and be flexible as we’re trying to pivot through the unknown of what’s happening today.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. I think that’s so true and such a good point that we’re all experiencing very similar things but experiencing them in very different ways. I love to hear that. Certainly, there are many companies hopefully out there that are doing similar things and being very understanding and empathetic both with employees but also with customers. It’s a tough time. It can be a really tough time for some industries. Love to hear communication and empathy being at the forefront.

    Erika Childers:
    Nate, what about you on this one? What are some of the things that you’re seeing? You talked to me in our prep call about this removal of the corporate mask which is what you called it and I would love for you to expand on that. I think that’s such a great point.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Yeah. I appreciate that. I think part of it comes from the sentiment that Jen just shared in that we are really all in this together. I don’t think that it could be put in a better term. But specifically, this notion of removing the corporate mask. It’s funny when you are growing up you have this idea of what it means to be professional and, I don’t know if other folks can relate to this, but I had these rigid constructs in my mind of being super buttoned up, not talking a lot about my personal life, not showing a lot of emotion. Now, that I’m an adult and actually a professional you realize it’s pretty hard to do, to separate yourself and have this division of self of this is who I am in the office space and going home. It’s difficult to reconcile those two sides.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Luckily, Box is a type of company that really encourages folks to bring their authentic selves to work. This is something that feels very natural to us in terms of being able to be your whole self both at home and in the workplace. Now those two things mean the same thing literally with all the remote work going on there. But I think as it relates to how business is done today, folks can’t help but talk about the circumstances that they’re in. They’re talking about the impact it has on their families, their kids. You see kids coming in into work calls and that’s something at Box that we even actively encourage.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Obviously, we’d want to be sensitive to the professionalism that we have with our customers but that’s commonplace. We have our customers who are showing their kiddos on camera too and this embrace of the new normal and breaking down those divisions that previously where those rigid constructs that prevented us from bringing our whole selves to work.

    Nate Fiedler:
    I think we’re seeing a lot more of that. If there’s any silver lining, it is that recognition of maybe our humanness and one another.

    Erika Childers:
    I love that so much. I think you’re seeing that in a lot of different ways. We’re in each other’s homes right now right on this video. We’re all in each other’s homes and I think we can’t help but feel so much more connected in this way but it definitely means that there’s a reshaping of what it means to be a professional on a call. I don’t have kids but if my dog came up here right now and was playing or whatever. Things like that I think are such a human thing that we don’t always bring to work because some of us go into an office where we put our work hat on. Definitely love to hear that Box is encouraging of that.

    Erika Childers:
    We actually had Elisa who said that she loves HubSpot just responded also. “Box is also great.” I’m sure she is. I hope she is loving this webinar if we do it for one person it’s you Elisa.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I think Elisa should become an Oktopost client so she can love Oktopost.

    Erika Childers:
    Yeah. What about you here? You talked to me a little bit about looking internally. What it’s like to work together internally now at a completely different time in a completely different environment. Can you expand on that a little bit more on what that looks like right now at HubSpot?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Yeah. I like Nate’s approach of the silver linings. I think there’s definitely some of that as well. I think locally at HubSpot, I’m sure the other companies here as well, going fully remote wasn’t a big deal for us as a company. We have 400, full time remote employees or so already. It was really a flip of the switch. But there’s many people who never worked at home, never mind remotely. I think some of the challenges are getting to know people socially is really difficult I think in these times. We get glimpses into their life over video but we’re still hiring. We’re still bringing people on board and usually, you have those casual moments in the office to get to know them.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Now, the only time we’re really interacting is it’s all business. It’s all training or it’s all work, work, work. To be really deliberate about carving out that time for social things like Jen was talking about doing team activities or team workouts, things like that, are especially important for newer people. And then I also think the introverts in the company are delighted. The extroverts are struggling with that social interaction. I think making sure as you said they don’t suffer in silence. We’ve just been trying to highlight that and give them the opportunity to create those social interactions.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I’ll say on the positive side for me managing a team of people that are in multiple time zones it’s been actually amazing level setting for me because I have people who… We’re all in the same situation. We’re all in the same boat. We’re all on video conferencing. We’re working maybe more flexible times. It’s been great that… I don’t feel like I have like this information asymmetry or the lack of water cooler hallway conversations that I might have missed out on before so. I think that’s positive, very selfishly positive, but I think the biggest challenge we really face though is less office or business and more customers.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    We have customers in many industries as does everyone else on the call and they’re stressed and they’re putting that stress on the team. They’re feeling that pressure. I think the challenge … When you’re [inaudible 00:19:20] for success, everyone will relate to the fact that you can turn to somebody after a call and vent or talk about how difficult it was or bounce ideas off each other. Now, you get off a stressful, demanding customer call and you’re turning to maybe your family or to nobody to talk to and I think that’s actually been a big gap for our customer teams as well.

    Erika Childers:
    Yeah. I think that’s incredibly interesting. We’re going to dig into all the things that you guys have talked about. We’re going to dig in a little bit deeper on some of those things. But there’s so much that’s new. I think we wouldn’t… To your point, the way you started that was working remotely isn’t that new to most of us, but all of the intricacies of what’s happened when you’re maybe… Even if you are used to working from home, there are certain things that just certainly aren’t the same. We’re going to dig into those a little bit more.

    Erika Childers:
    I’m going to piggyback off of that. For our next question, I want to ask about what are these new practices that you’ve implemented as a leader to help maintain team stability? To your point, you do have sales for you to start with but you do have folks who are used to working from home, some who aren’t, some who are experiencing incredibly… They’re experiencing incredibly stressful calls both for themselves or for their customers. What are some of the things that you’ve implemented to help maintain that stability and keep things moving as normal as they can?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I think the first primary one is really, really consistent and transparent executive communications from our leadership. Typically, we’re a pretty transparent company, we share a lot, but I think we’ve moved to a way more regular version of that. That involves weekly updates or even more from our CEO in terms of how’s he feeling about the economy, about our business, about our customers, about all the indicators he’s looking at.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    And then it’s weekly or pretty regular ask me anything with our different exec members where people can submit questions and more regular company meetings. I think it’s actually easier. We don’t have to find some massive space. We can all just jump on a webcast. I think that that’s just upping the ante there has been really important to make sure that everybody knows how the company is feeling. Because there’s a lot of anxiety and maybe rumors and things like that that people have on their mind.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I think just to be more specific at the team level. I’m sure many of us here have done this as well virtual coffees and water coolers as we’ve called them and things like that have been useful. One of the most useful ones in smaller group settings is that [inaudible 00:22:06] to go around the room and say like, “What are you working on? How are you feeling about things?”

    Phil O’Doherty:
    And then having leaders and managers just leave with a bit of vulnerability there to say, “I’m actually pretty stressed out. I’m finding it hard to focus and motivate.” I think letting your team know that that might be okay [inaudible 00:22:21] suffer in silence and leadership take lead there and should be calm and not hectic, of course, but like, “It’s okay to have a bad day.” I think that that’s important.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I’ll share one of the things that works for me. I’m not so great in large group conferencing situations. I say to my team, “I’m going to be drinking coffee on Zoom at 3:00.” If anyone wants to join, I’ll sit there and drink coffee. If no one joins, that’s fine. If someone does, they do. But at least they know that I’m there and it’s a casual conversation. I think there’s lots you can do but I think it really starts with that consistent communication from the top.

    Erika Childers:
    I think that’s so important. I think to your point having executives that lead with that vulnerability can help really open it up for other people. Going back to what we were talking about, some of us have very rigid ideas of what it means to be professional but when we see other people opening up the door a little bit and we can calm down and remember that it’s okay to have a terrible day sometimes. It’s not going to last forever. But I think it’s great to hear that there’s executive leadership that’s taking part in that too.

    Erika Childers:
    Jen, what about you on this one? You talk to me a good bit about some very personal things that you’re doing with some of your teams. Expand on that a little bit further and tell us how you’re helping maintain that stability for them.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Absolutely. I think one of the things to keep in mind is when COVID started here in the States, we were at a two to 3% unemployment rate overall. We’re now at an over 30% unemployment rate. When we look at our teams, there’s going to be natural questions regardless of how stable any company is if they have the potential to be let go because they’ve been impacted by a family member or friend that they’ve seen recently lose their job and it’s not to performance.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    We’re very lucky at Oktopost that our overall culture is to empower our team members to do their jobs and manage their business, whatever their business may be, whether it’s customer success or customer support but they always know that support is available. However, as leaders, we’ve been even more involved in supporting them knowing that, and I know we’ll get to this later, but tensions can be running high due to the stress that clients are facing and needing to feel stable.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    What I’ve done already before this happened is one of the things that I practice with my team is they set a personal goal for each month. They also set a professional goal unrelated to their job that would benefit the company as a whole. For example, a personal goal may be they wanted to go hiking X amount of times during a week.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    One of our CST members had wanted to use our walking desk in the office three times a week that was his goal and now that we’re not in the office, he doesn’t have access to the walking desk. We’ve all said, “What can we do? Can you work out in our company workout? Can you go for a walk?” Really getting involved and still helping them maintain their personal goals, but also showing them that when situations happen, you don’t necessarily shift your goal in this. You don’t lower your goal or you may need to modify it.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    And then the other thing that I do both professionally and personally is I use a philosophy called control the controllables. With control the controllables, there are things that you can control in your day to day life that regardless of what’s happening you’re able to maintain and that may be exercising a specific amount each day, controlling your reaction, controlling your attitude, perhaps emailing a certain number of clients today regardless of if you need to talk to them.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I have a checklist for our CS team. It’s completely optional. There are some team members who love to use it because it helps them get hyper focused. We assign point values to different outcomes. It’s like they’re competing with themselves and it’s a game but they’re able to maintain stability because they know they’re controlling the controllables. They can’t control what’s happening, how long they’re going to be sheltered in place, but they’re still maintaining that consistency that it needs to make them feel stable.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    The other thing, the third thing, is really just being hypersensitive to being positive and offering extra doses of encouragement. We also need to coach and make sure that our team members are performing correctly but knowing that there is extra anxiety or tensions may be running high or there are children in the background and their stress levels are up to here, we need to be sensitive to that. I feel that encouragement is an extra bonus.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    And then also making sure as a leader, you are familiar with your health benefit programs and you can coordinate that with HR but at Oktopost, like many companies, we have an employee assistance program if someone isn’t feeling their best or maybe they need to talk to someone and reminding our team that we do have this as an option and it’s something that they can tap into if they are feeling scared or unsupported at home and just be mindful that there are conditions that us as leaders aren’t aware of that are happening in their home necessarily.

    Erika Childers:
    All of those are such great points. I think that the theme that I really loved about when we chatted through this on our prep calls is that very personal interaction. Reminding people that they have mental health resources that they need them especially in a time like this. Being positive. I think one of the things you had mentioned on our prep call was people generally know when they’ve done something that they maybe shouldn’t have or that they made a mistake and they’re already probably feeling pretty bad about it on top of all the anxiety and stress that we’re already dealing in our day to day lives right now.

    Erika Childers:
    I love this focus on positivity and just trying to really be there without losing that sense of still being a manager and coaching. It seems like you might be a little bit more of a life coach sometimes and a professional coach. I love that though. I think that’s such an important dynamic to have between managers and employees.

    Erika Childers:
    Nate, talk to me on this question. You told me about a program that you helped start at Box around the COVID-19 playbook. Can you expand on that for us a little bit and tell us where do they come from, where do they go, what does it mean?

    Nate Fiedler:
    Yeah. I’ll get to that in one sec. I wanted to just say really quick, I loved what Jen talked about in terms of having an actual plan in place that’s a personal goal. I want to let the panel know right now on that list of things I want to accomplish it’s crashing one of those nice happy hours that Phil’s hosting. Maybe it wasn’t happy hour, maybe it was coffee, but I’ll bring my own beer into that. I would love to get back together with this panel. It can be a lot of fun.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    [inaudible 00:30:12].

    Nate Fiedler:
    Oh, good. Good, good. Here’s something that I think folks can take away from this call and turn into action pretty quickly. You’ve probably already done this to some extent but I think some definite room for folks to solidify frameworks and how they’re approaching customers related to COVID-19. I don’t think that there is a one size fits all best approach which is why we started to take a look at how we might think about our playbooks differently and how we engage with our customers.

    Nate Fiedler:
    The interesting thing about that exercise that we went through is that if you really think about the core intent from a philosophical standpoint what it is that customer success should be doing as an organization entity. They should be advising their customers, they should be a primary point of contact and really, ultimately an advocate. Those three core principles, I think, don’t really change in the world of COVID-19. If anything, they’re just magnified even further.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Sure, we made some slight modifications in terms of how we engage with the customers but we’re at such a point right now where there’s just so much uncertainty and when we talk to folks who have more professional experience, they talk about whether it was 9/11 or the financial crisis in 2008. These things are just a part of your career and being able to navigate through uncertainty that in and of itself is a skill. That shouldn’t be discounted.

    Nate Fiedler:
    The second of which is as we coach our CSMs on how to engage with the customers it’s really dialing back to the basics, the soft skills of relationship building and ensuring that you’re putting people first and leading with relationships and letting anything related to business come after that. It also gives us an opportunity to be really good students of our customers game.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Something that we pride ourselves at Box with our customer success organization is being very business oriented. That means taking the time to truly understand how the businesses that our CSM support how they actually work. I think this is a really great opportunity for our CSMs to pay attention to what’s going on with our businesses that we support. It’s also a great time for them to learn some macroeconomic principles because if there’s anything that will be true related to COVID, it’s that even though your direct customers may not be impacted immediately there are a bunch of ripples that are taking place today. Getting an understanding of how macroeconomic trends impacts different countries, different industries, it’s good opportunity to brush up on that skill set.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. I love all of those things. I love especially that you make the point that this is a crazy and big thing that’s happening but it’s certainly not the only time that this type of crisis will happen in many of our careers. I think there’s something to be said about developing a playbook that’s almost not just… This is not just our COVID-19 playbook but this is how we would manage future crises and things that might disrupt our normal day to day but here are the things that you can always go back to and learn a little bit more about your customers, dig in a little bit further in the types of industries that you serve, things like that, I think are so important and a great way to help us centralize on the things that we can be doing and get really hyperfocused on what Jen called controlling the controllable.

    Nate Fiedler:
    I want to jump in as a quick followup point, if I may, just really quickly. I think that you’re absolutely right. I think that there’s an opportunity to… Before there was BCP, contingency planning specifically, but I think that that model… I think leaders are quickly realizing that you need to shift the mindset from business continuity to just business resiliency. I think that small mindset makes a huge difference in preparedness.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. Love it. All right, we’ve covered a lot here. We’re going to move into… I have a couple of questions that are starting to come in. Just know that we are going to answer both of those questions in just a minute. As a reminder, if you just joined the webinar or haven’t been on very long, we are going to do a Q&A towards the end of the webinar so if you have questions or things that you’re dying to know and want to hear from our leaders, please send those in. The recording will come into your inbox so once we’re done, we’ll send this recording out so you have access to it.

    Erika Childers:
    Shifting just a little bit over from the business, customer, or employee side over to the customer side a little bit here and talking about what are some of the new practices that you’re starting to adopt in order to help maintain stability with customers. We talked a lot about how you’re training your customer success teams or building programs or working with them directly on how they can do this for themselves but I’m also curious to hear what are some of the new things that you’re helping them do and maintain that stability.

    Erika Childers:
    Nate, I’m going to start with you on this one. Can you tell us a little bit? You talk to us already about the playbook that you’re working on but can you tell us a little bit more about other programs and things like that that you’re seeing within Box?

    Nate Fiedler:
    Yeah, absolutely. The thing about Box is that it’s technically purpose built for this because it is a born in the cloud solution that allows people to work anywhere. Now what we’ve seen is an influx of users and companies who are relying more heavily on our technology and because of that, we’ve had to come up with creative solutions that really help folks get work done remotely and securely. We’re seeing some interesting things come out from our wheelhouse from not only collaboration with our sales teams but also with our professional service consulting team as well that are really dialed in to supporting folks to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to support our customers in new and interesting ways.

    Nate Fiedler:
    I think that there are other things that we had traditionally done that are part of any SaaS business from a renewals perspective. You may have customers who are looking for some midterm concession, they go out of business, something of that nature. With COVID, we have what we call our hardship requests where there are companies that unfortunately are declaring bankruptcy or they’re hitting some really hard financial times in our industries that are disproportionately drastically affected. We have been very empathetic with those folks and ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to support them through this difficult time whether that’s restructuring payments or working with them on the contracts to various extents.

    Nate Fiedler:
    Ultimately, we’re doing everything we can in short to support folks and make sure that we’re being as supportive as we can to get these companies through these difficult economic times.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. I think that’s a great point, too, because I think for all of us, everyone, that the panelists here on the webinar today is not focused in one vertical. All of us work with a lot of different verticals, a lot of different industries, and so many of those are heavily impacted. I think it was Jen that mentioned it earlier. There are also a lot that are still doing okay. They’re actually seeing a lot of good things that are coming. Silver lining, I guess. Everybody is seeing different things. I think that’s a great point.

    Erika Childers:
    Phil, can you talk to me a little bit about how this is working at HubSpot as well? Can you talk to us a little bit more about some of those programs and things that you’re doing to support customers right now?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Yeah, sure. I think for us there’s been maybe three levels of how we think about it. The first one of those is not necessarily directly impacting customers but it’s more about how we’re using COVID-19 and crisis as an opportunity as a business to make sure that we’re being thought leaders in a time like this. We have 70,000 customers with a lot of data about their sales and their marketing efforts and their customer support efforts. We’ve been trying to surface that data into the industry to help people to show up how it’s affecting different businesses. It’s a good way to position ourselves as a top leader in that area.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    And then also on the sales side, there’s lots of companies who aren’t doing well in these times or have access demand. It may have shifted our focus in terms of our acquisition to those types of customers to acquire more of them as well and make sure that we’re writing more about that, we’re talking more about that, we’re finding more of those types of businesses.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Specifically with customers, I think, what we try to look at in terms of how we can help our customers is we want you… We can’t just give everything away for free. We are business, too. We want to be around to help our customers but we want to do what we can. So we looked at things that weren’t directly going to impact us in terms of our immediate revenue straightaway. What are those secondary levers that you can pull and for also some of those things where, for example, like limits in our product. We just got rid of limits in certain areas because for us that’s not a direct revenue source. It’s something that we can [inaudible 00:40:31] on for a while and we can focus on our core metrics.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Other things where we moved features from some products down to lower tiers to give smaller businesses more tools. We prepaid our partner commissions as well for six months so we gave all of our partners in advance on their commissions which was big help. Most of them are really small businesses, consultants, and things like that. That’s all stuff we talked about publicly was good as well to help them.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I think when it comes down to each individual customer, Nate said there’s no one size fits all. I don’t think there is but at the same time… The stress that a CSM team can be under having to negotiate a contract situation every single time for every customer is challenging. Personally where I’ve spent a lot of my time is giving a list of levers that they can pull with their customers with very defined criteria for them as well to say, “You can offer these four things in this order if the customer meets these criteria,” and giving clear process and guidelines about how to do that, when to do that, who’s a fit, or who’s not a fit so that we take the guesswork out of It. That’s been really useful to take all that stress out of the situation.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I think that the final piece which we’ve shifted to more recently in the last couple of weeks is there’s a whole host of customers who are not in terrible situation, maybe not in a great situation, and maybe they’re just taking along. They could be bad customers in six months or a year’s time because we’re giving them no attention. We’re firefighting everywhere.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Our proactive plays are at the window in some cases. Really trying to focus now on more enablement for the team to see those types of customers, make sure that they’re not being invisible at this time, and we’re not ending up with another crisis of customer retention or something in a year’s time. That’s also where we’ve shifted to in the last week or two.

    Erika Childers:
    That’s great. It sounds like you guys have done a lot and very, very thoughtful about the things that you’re offering. Just as a quick followup, can you give us any insight into what that process really looked like? It sounds like you accomplished a lot. I can imagine especially at such a big company like HubSpot it definitely takes all hands on deck to be able to accomplish that. Can you give us any insight just from a high level into what that process was?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    You said it right. It was all hands on deck. It was pretty stressful. I’d say we had a daily… There’s a daily executive COVID-19 standup where they would make key decisions and then those decisions were brought down to, say, my team. We got a cross functional group of finance, customer success, sales, all the various operations teams to turn them into programming.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    We have to do some pretty hacky things, some stuff was dependent on different systems or whatever so we have to just do whatever we could to make it work and use some workarounds. We met daily and had a standup daily pretty quickly to power through those. For maybe a month, it was all hands on deck and I think we’re starting to come out of that now but it requires a lot of a lot of effort across all the teams.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. I actually did have one question that came in for you, Phil. This one was about, can you give us any insight into… You would talk about one of the big challenges as a customer success team member is coming off a really stressful call. Normally, in an office, they might just turn over and say like, “Oh my God, that was the worst call ever.” But obviously, they’re not able to do that right now. Do you have any ideas of how you think this translates into work from home? Do you just call your manager or call your best work friend? What do you do when something like that happened?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Yeah. It’s tough. I don’t think there is a great solution. What we’ve tried to do is we use Slack like I’m sure most a lot of people do and we’ve tried to create more casual groups so that we can do that type of thing where it’s not getting mixed up with all the other professional stuff. We’ve done that. And the other thing we’ve done to help balance that is we’ve created like a good news repository like share your customer’s good news stories and have a live feed of that people can click into if they’re feeling bad after a call, they can go and see some good news or encouraging people to share that.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I don’t know if we have a great solution and I don’t think there is one, but I’m sure for CSMs who work remotely 100% of the time that’s something that they would be really used to but I love to hear from others on that too.

    Erika Childers:
    Yeah, absolutely. If you guys in the audience have any other ideas as well of how you’re managing that we’d love to hear it. All right. Back to our regular scheduled programming. For this question, I want to ask Jen about this as well. What are some of the things, Jen, that you’re seeing… Or what are some of the new practices that you’re implementing and getting your team to adapt to help with customers and maintaining stability for them?

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I really liked, Erika, what you said that I’m seemed like sometimes more like a life coach than a professional coach but as a mom…

    Erika Childers:
    I think we might have lost you, Jen.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Oh.

    Erika Childers:
    There you are. You’re back.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Can you hear me?

    Erika Childers:
    Yep, you’re good.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Okay. When you said, “Jen, sometimes it sounds like you’re more of a life coach than a professional coach.” One of the things that I’ve learned as a mom of three boys is that you have to look at the whole person. Before I was a mom, my life was work and I want to make sure that my teams understand that they’re whole people and that there is more to who they are than just the tasks that they do.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    One of the things that I think is incredibly important in keeping your customers stable is your relationships. What we are seeing right now is that we are having an opportunity to build deeper relationships with our clients because of that mentality that Nate was saying we’re all in this together and then also, we’re having the opportunity to open new lines of communication because as our enterprise clients especially are modifying their budgets.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    We are being brought in to meet with operations people that we normally wouldn’t interface with because we’re a marketing software and operations is looking at, “Hey, what are things that are revenue generating versus nice to have?” Because of what we do and we help bring in that new leads via social media, Oktopost has been looked at as a revenue generating platform but that also has given us a chance to speak to more than just the head of procurement.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    We’re having more executive level relationships. I have an amazing CS team who is not shy about bringing me in because really it’s my job to help negotiate with the lawyers because there may be different terms that are just… Small things here and there that would impact their business significantly but may not impact ours or vice versa.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    It really gives us a chance to build out other lines of communication but going back to developing people as a whole, maintaining this attitude of gratitude. We are thankful for our customers and no matter what’s happening at home or personal or with COVID or business, we need to be positive. I feel like our CSMs are on the front lines and when we encourage them as leaders and we’re positive with them, they’re going to turn around and be positive and encouraging to their clients. They have the ability to recognize that their client is having a bad day and manage that situation.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    The other thing, to Phil’s point, we still have business to run and we still have goals to achieve but right now we’re having to shift those playbooks and add a human touch to the analytics and the forecasting tools that we may have been using previously. I think that when we’re looking at how we interact with our customers, how we make them more stable, not only do our teams, we have to look at them as whole humans, but our teams need to look at our customers as a whole human too because we’re all in this because of relationships. That’s what we really want to maintain.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. That’s such a great theme, I think, across all the things that we’ve talked about is relationships and communication and trying to just stay as positive as you can and hopefully relay that positivity. One question that we had had in this same topic but not quite.

    Erika Childers:
    One question that we had had come in that came in via email was, and I’ll leave this open to the panel, about how you guys are starting renewal discussions. How do you… You certainly have customers who are in that renewal phase or are coming up on that renewal phase where typically you’d be starting communications or reaching out or whatever that playbook is. What does that look like right now? What is the appropriate message? What are the things that you guys are doing? I don’t have that for anyone in particular but if anyone in the panel has an idea of how that’s working for their companies I’d love to hear it.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I’ll start. Some of the things that are tactical that we’ve done. We have a certain number of days in advance or months in advance that we would open up an opportunity in salesforce for the renewal and so the CSM can plan what the strategy is to either grow, retain, or maintain that client. What we’ve done tactically is that we’ve expanded that window. We’re not necessarily reaching out to our customers outside of that window about the renewal, but we’re giving our CSMs more time to plan and prepare on what their strategy is.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    The other thing that we’re doing too, I believe it was Phil’s point, we’re going to have renewals six months down the road that are going to be impacted by this, what are ways that we can support our clients who… For us with employee advocacy, do they need extra advocate users? Is this something that we can either highly discount or gift to them or bonus them in some way for a limited time during COVID? I think not only are we looking at short term renewals but also how do we shore up and plan for those renewals that are six to nine months out?

    Erika Childers:
    That’s great. It’s a great answer. All right. We’re going to move into our final question before we answer some Q&A. I really want to hear about what we think the future looks like. Are there aftereffects of the changes that we’re making now which I’m sure they are looking to your crystal ball and help us understand what does the future look like? I’m going to start with Nate on this one. What is the future look like? Or what are some of the things that we can take away from what we’re doing now to help us secure what we hope is a more normal future?

    Nate Fiedler:
    Yeah. I really think that there’s three things. The first one is if you think about how traditional customer success management has been formed in the past, it is as it should have been, not saying that it should have been any other way, but it has been very business unit focused. It’s been very company focused. Whereas the individual relationships, I think it was easy to lose sight of. It was really easy to lose sight of the people who are my main points of contact, what are their career aspirations? How can I sit in their corner to ensure that I’m advocating for them within their own companies?

    Nate Fiedler:
    I think that what we’re going to see is a shift. When we think about customer success, yes, we’re going to put it in these broader terms like the companies that we serve but there will be a focus on how we serve success to individuals. I think that’s one.

    Nate Fiedler:
    The second of which is generally speaking, this is really intuitive. As humans, we tend to remember the people that were there for us when we were down and were celebrating with us when things were great because chances are there’s probably fewer people that were around during the difficult times. Similarly, customers are going remember this. They’re going to remember the companies that really worked with them to ensure that they were acting as partners and weren’t treating it as just an opportunity to make a quick dime. I think that is going to stand out in our customers’ minds in the months to come.

    Nate Fiedler:
    The last one is really we talked about as a discipline, customer success being business outcome focused. I think that there’s a spectrum of adoption in terms of where you are, if you were an early adopter in that plane, maybe you’re a laggard. You cannot be a laggard anymore in quantifying business outcomes anymore because CFOs more than ever are really going to be scrutinizing their budgets and looking to the actual business outcomes that are being delivered and the benefits that are realizing from their software vendors. I think that attention to detail and that measurement of ROI is going to become even more stringent than it ever has before.

    Erika Childers:
    Absolutely. We only have about five minutes. I hate to cut everybody off. We have about five minutes left. Phil, what about you on this one? What are some of the things… Maybe if you had to choose one thing that changes happen now that you hope will continue afterwards, what would that be?

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I think what I might pick is I think we’re going to see more interest and maybe a push towards the scaled customer success in many organizations, face to face, one to few customer success is of course necessary, but I think people will take a lot more interest in how we can scale customer success to more and more customers so that we don’t have to hire CSM every time we have X number of customers especially in hard financial times and companies are trying to survive.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    I think if you haven’t started thinking about how you serve the low end to your customer base or if you do have a low end, I think now’s a great time to kind of get ahead of that because I expect there to be a lot more scrutiny as Nate said on teams and outcomes. That might be one of the results of that is to do more with less.

    Erika Childers:
    Yeah, I think that’s a great case for customer success operations. I think that’s such an interesting… I had a conversation about this earlier that we’re going to have to get really, really rigid about what we do in customer success and operations to be able to help support that. Jen, what about you on this one? Any final thoughts about what the aftereffects of this look like? What do we think the future holds for CS?

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    In a nutshell, I think this is the opportunity to turn a test into a testimonial and I already mentioned that we’re going to grow deeper relationships and that clients will begin realizing the value of the tools that they’ve purchased beyond the feature sets. The biggest value that we offer is our team and our customer success team is really part of the value that we’re all selling, whether it’s the person who’s managing their account to Nate’s professional services team. I think that what we’re going to end up with as an after effect.

    Erika Childers:
    Yeah, absolutely. I love your turning a test into a testimonial. It’s a good one. All right. We have time for one question for the Q&A. Hopefully, we’ve answered a lot of the ones that have come in during as we’ve been chatting through. We have one question that has come in. This is from Elisa who is the one who loves HubSpot and loves Box. She’s very excited to be with us today. She thinks organizations are going to stop hiring for CS for a while. How do you guys respond to that? What do you guys think it looks like for hiring in customer success after COVID-19?

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    I’m not sure… Go ahead, Nate, or Phil.

    Nate Fiedler:
    I’ll give a really quick answer. I think it’s going to vary by each individual company. I think holistically speaking what you may see is adding additional headcount in what Phil was talking about specifically in skilled populations. I think that that is something that we’re going to have to be much more creative in doing more with less. I don’t think that we would necessarily see a unilateral decrease. I think it’s going to depend. It’s a great question. I think it depends. I hate using that as a comment but I think it does depend.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Yeah. I don’t know if I agree with this. Because if we stop hiring customer success roles, then we are not setting our customers up for success. To Nate and Phil’s point, we may be adding things but I know the structure with Nate and in our company at Oktopost is that our CSMs or into in CSMs. They manage onboarding and training and the actual business outcomes. I see immediate value in that and as we add additional customers, I think we would need to hire more CSM not pause that as a role. Otherwise, we’re doing our customers a disservice. But that was a great question, Elisa.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Yeah, I agree with what everyone says and it definitely depends. I think if I were to give someone advice I would say either become super technical or focus so that you can help grow those scale teams or become a bit more of a generalist and be open to being a bit more of a general so you can do what Jen’s CSMs do and work across the whole spectrum. I think that if you’re trying to pitch in your whole self into just a relationship manager, you might see a reduction in the amount of opportunities out there maybe. I don’t know for certain but I think that’s what I would try and focus on if I was looking for a role or considering that at the moment.

    Erika Childers:
    That’s great. Yeah. Thanks for the advice. I think that’s a good approach. All right. We went a little bit over time. Thank you all so much for being here. I thought this was a wonderful discussion. If you have additional questions that we didn’t get to or that you didn’t get to submit to us, you can email those to me at itserika@useriq.com or let me know what you thought. Let me know about other topics that you want to hear about. Thank you all so much. Thank you to the panel for being here. We’ll see you all again soon. Thanks.

    Phil O’Doherty:
    Thank you.

    Jen Samples Lazarus:
    Thank you.