What We're Focusing on in Q1 w/ CS Leadership Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, What We're Focusing on in Q1 w/ CS Leadership Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>A weekly segment:</p><p><br></p><p>CS Leadership Office Hours</p><p>Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.</p><p><a href="https://lu.ma/CSLOH" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://lu.ma/CSLOH</a></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="http://gaingrowretain.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">http://gaingrowretain.com/</a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/</a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach</a></p>
Growth and Planning
00:44 MIN
Change of Strategy
00:52 MIN
Value of Time Tracking CSMs
00:52 MIN
Keep the Momentum Going
00:40 MIN
Change in Segmentation
00:52 MIN

Andreas: So I hope you had some fun in the breakout sessions with your time capsule predictions, what is happening. And if I send this in the past, I put myself in calendar event in for the end of the year or early next year. And I brought my time capsule prediction actually in there so that I can go back and see how good I was at looking for the crystal ball. But I'll leave that up to you. And then also, hopefully you had within this small community already a chance to talk about what you're, from a CS perspective, are focused on in Q1 and what help you could gain from your fellow members in your small breakout room. And also of course, post those questions in the community as well to solicit feedback. That's what we're really here for, to help each other. And also, as I said it in mind to challenge each other with other opinions; we're paid basically set up for a lot of growth and change. And so let's keep pace with that in order to hear from the individual groups, if the designated spokespersons from each team would please raise their hand, that would help me kind of do the volunteer inaudible of the various breakout rooms. And oh, here we go already. And Alex is right on top from our group. So Alex, why don't you take it away and share what we talked about?

Alex: Great, excellent. Yeah, we had a really lively conversation and it was just so motivating to see how many different ways in which people are building, but to kick things off, key predictions were around continued and rapid growth within customer success. And also like a lot of new innovations, new recognition through the media, through podcasts, through a lot of other sources that were really a separate entity. And we have a very specific role within companies, but it is very different from say, sales. Some of the key challenges that people are going to be looking at in Q1, are moving into new rules, building out an operationalizing and expansions motion, including like hiring. Some folks are focused on making sure that the roles in their team really speak to the specific elements of a customer's life cycle and establishing that much more, building out an automating more touches, and then one that is near to my heart, building out a new customer health score and really working to get that right. And there was just general agreement that, while there are a lot of tools that help support health score builds, fundamentally you have to have the data in order to pipe it into that tool to make it really work. Yeah. So, how you doing Andreas?

Andreas: Outstanding, thank you. And thank you Leslie for raising your hands because I know we were in room six so I expect that at least five more hands, but there was one. So Leslie, why don't you share what you discussed in your breakout to him about the time cups and predictions and some of the helps.

Leslie: We had a couple, we had a mixture of people in our breakout room. We had a couple of people who are looking for their in between roles right now and so a lot of their predictions had to do with finding the right companies and sort of personal growth. We had somebody who has a personal sort of slack group that he was creating and has some personal goals there. There's a couple of us that are also leading CS teams that I think one of the themes was really about, at least for me that I heard, is a lot of times when you are in CS leadership and in this time of year, there is a lot of rewriting into what CS means for your company into next year. And so whether its small tweaks, into what it is, whether you're making a small tweak in the way you are approaching your customers or whatever those things might be or massive changes right. I think was commenting on how we went from last year, I was told that we were going to quote quotas all of our CSM. So they were going to do all their CSM work and they were going to take on quotas and we were going to do all that, and we're going to be amazing and successful. And then inaudible COVID and that didn't work right the way our product is, it doesn't actually work. And so I've had to re- present our role in what we're going to be doing customer success next year and get approval to hire account managers to start to split the role. It's a massive undertaking and I rewrote the plan last year and I'm rewriting it again this year for CS and I heard from other groups or other people in our group, Steve and Sean, who also are kind of in the same boat at this moment in time. So I think there's a lot of that as it pertains to kind of putting out our best ideas and practices and what we, how we want to describe our CS roles because I think in general, this role is not sort of static. It's not something that once you get it established that it just stays the same for many years to come.

Andreas: Thank you Leslie, and totally agree, the dynamics of what customer success is and how to innovate yourself is really what keeps me excited and engaged to stay in this field and be a part of this core community and see all the trends and innovation. By no means anyone has written the definitive book on it to say, this is it. This is the standard operation procedure and the new ISO standard doll, whatever you would have in that sense. So perfect. Any other volunteers come on, there were more groups than two so please raise your hands. Otherwise I start calling out some folks.

Nelce: Hey Andreas, it's Nelce, I didn't have the raise hand button on my thing but I'd be happy to go.

Andreas: Ah yes, take it away.

Nelce: Right on. Thank you. So in our group, the core underlying theme we had a number of people who had been in the CS seat for a long time and some that were relatively new to the position. So the core theme here was just around growth and having that plan at the beginning of the year and the target, right? Because ultimately, if you don't know where you're going, any road's going to get you there. And as leaders across this group, it's wonderful to hear what the plans are across the board and how much work actually goes into the planning. And when plans don't go, right, like Leslie was saying, get ready to rewrite the plan. Right. And it's not a big deal. It just is what it is. So a lot of what I took away from, from our group was just one, the growth that sees us never stops and nothing in our professional world does either. And two, to always have that future looking pace which is why I appreciate the question today and the conversation. And it really was a good reminder of just how important it is to do not just in January, but you know, continuously throughout the year, because guess what, there's always 12 months ahead of you, no matter where you are in the year; March, April, may, June, there's always another 12 months ahead so you might as well do the planning and keep always having a forever iterating thing in the future. And then we can align and see how we did at any point.

Andreas: Oh, and here I file the case you have to do this only once a year, but you're absolutely right. One of my former CA CEO's was always at the end of the water is like, okay, we've done this one now the next quarter, right. That's the most important quadrant of your lives kind of going in that sense and yes, having that rolling plan. So, appreciate that reminder from you. And I see, thank you very much. Ashley, raised the hand, so take it away.

Ashley: Thanks. So we had, I'm not sure what group number we were but, had a good chat as well in our group. Similar themes, I think a lot of it, I had to summarize was around like segmenting customers for different purposes. I know Kevin was talking about wanting to be able to create better automation for customers and being able to have that customer journey make more sense for them and eventually automate that better. We have some people who are launching new products, so everything that comes along with that from creating user guides and documentation and training and new sales that will be coming in as transitioning from one product and then transitioning all customers over to this new product. So I thought that was a really exciting challenge that will be for them in 2021. Also, what else? I think it was nice a couple of people called out some of the personal aspects as well that I think are worth mentioning is getting back to traveling and seeing people in 2021, a couple of people in our group mentioned how they're excited to do that. The people we're at home with are great, but you know, it's nice to connect with others outside of these rectangles as well. So I think overall, I'd say like really segmenting customers figuring out automation and just improving processes going forward. Oh, and making sense of data, figuring out how to basically turn that data into more information. So like where is it stored? How are we using it? I think it all kind of went hand in hand.

Andreas: Thank you. That's something I struggled with a couple of times, despite being a mathematician by birth or trade or whatever, turning data into information because otherwise it's just a lot of noise that confuses you more than anything. And so thank you for bringing that up as well. Jeremy, I see you raised your hand. Thank you very much. Hopefully you're bringing up one of the challenges is getting rid of the COVID 20 pounds, since weight loss is typically at the forefront and I haven't heard that yet. And I want to make sure I'm not the only one that has this as a personal goal as we go through the course of the year. So take it away.

Jeremy: Yeah. Hey Andreas, hey everybody. So I was grouped with looking on the screen here, Laura, J, Karen and Pam, actually a whole new group of folks. There's a few different things that the group came up with from various topics. So Laura, for example, shared with the group that she works for a relatively small startup that she's been there for seven years, she's been in her specific role for about three years. And just looking for kind of what's next working for a smaller startup, like how does she continue to grow in professional development and continue to acquire new skills? And the challenges with that. As a group we discussed the challenges of what COVID has pushed teams remotely and strategies around what are we going to do when offices do start opening back up. You know, how do we pull those teams? Do we allow the flexibility to continue to stay full remote? Do people go back to the office? How do you do that without making and putting unnecessary pressure on people who may not feel comfortable doing one option over the other? So we spent a lot of time on that discussion. Jake shared with the group he just wants to improve as a manager, he and another individual that is in his team and his 18 CSM. He wants to continue to develop in that role and continue to be the best manager, best leader for his team and for his company that he can be. Karen, I thought was another unique challenge in that she's trying to bridge the gap between development teams and the CS and operations team. So there's a lot of siloed capabilities and she'd love to see more cross- collaboration between your teams. So I would highly recommend for anybody who has dealt with that challenge and has been successful, definitely connect with her on that. And then lastly, Pam shared with us that she's a part of a startup as well. She actually runs her own business, so just the challenges that come with leading a business, trying to grow a business and be successful and especially in this market. So that, we really focused on I think if you hit it at the level how do we, how do we communicate better? You know, what does the future of working remotely or in office and being the best that we can be from a professional development perspective.

Andreas: Thank you, Jeremy. Appreciate the summary there. Now, I don't see any more raised hands. I assume it's like Nelce's that your individual manifestation of Zoom doesn't give you that raise hand feature. Oh, there was actually one more here, Tanya, here we go. Alrighty. Thank you, Tanya. And from the other teams as well, please raise your hands to share but Tanya, the floor is yours.

Tanya: Thank you. Well, I was in a group with Joshua Lions and Maria, who's last name I don't think I know. And Matt Timmins, and we spoke about a couple of really great things. We had folks who are looking at changing jobs, moving cities, there were a couple of big potential moves happening in our group, which was exciting. On the customer success side, I was really excited to hear from Matt who works with culture amp, that he's working on really building out his one to many strategy within his organization. So that's a topic that's somewhat near and dear to my heart, as it's the reason I came to service now is to spin up such a group. And as we were just talking, strategies change and COVID happened and that sort of thing, so I actually have shifted my focus elsewhere, but the one to many strategy of really sort of the low value, low ACV value customers, but sort of addressing them in volume and giving them the love that I really believe that they deserve both from a customer success and experience perspective was cool to hear about. So I was asking him if he's focused more on having a named representative, a named customer success person versus customer marketing approach. He's talking about kind of doing a little bit of both. So Tim, I know Matt, I know I'm speaking for you. I hope that's okay. And then, as I said, we also had someone in the group whose company is kind of struggling a little bit. And so she's interested in looking for new opportunities and so it was exciting to hear what she's thinking about and also a cross- country move.

Andreas: A lot of transitioning going on, it looks like the average lifespan of someone in a customer success role of 18 months, hasn't changed yet much. So we have our job boards, which I think is of great quality because it's not just the appliance stuff, but that you have an inroad into the individual companies as well. So reminding everyone of that and Madeline looking forward to hear from you and what your group discussed.

Madeline: Thanks Andreas, happy new year everybody, we had a lively conversation. I think it was really exciting to have all new faces. So this group continues to grow in terms of networking. So thank you inaudible routine for that. We talked about a lot of things. We all agreed that we'd like 2021 not to be a repeat of 2020, so hoping. In terms of exercising, my personal goal is to continue my Peloton addiction, definitely got me through 2020. So all of those of you on the chat Peloton all the way. One of the areas that we discussed that I haven't discussed in this group before is the concept of kind of time tracking your CSMs and the value of that. So airing away from micromanaging, but really getting an understanding of where the time goes and proactively sharing that with leadership to better resource and better prioritize by segment, but also by just basic tasks and help to help you grow your team. So I think that was a valuable kind of new discussion area. We also touched on really the differentiating account management from customer success management, and sort of what that means and how your company will grow and where to focus on what happens in the middle to drive that value. And I think that was an interesting kind of focus areas, not just focusing on the dollar amount and the incentives of renewals and upselling, but actually the gravy quote, unquote, of defining that success criteria and driving that throughout the customer life cycle. So a lot of great discussion areas and ready for a challenging year ahead.

Andreas: Outstanding, thank you. And in regards to where people spend their time, if some of you remember, and Jay and Jeff helped me out here, what was the webinar with SIF on basically in the excellent series, having meaningful conversations and engagements with your customers so they do not drown in the noise. So look that up on the community if that's something that you want to get some guidance on and learn from one of the Yoda's of customer success in that area as well. Is there anyone, any groups still missing speak up or forever hold your time. Jared?

Jared: So I can't find the hand raise feature. I'm the world's worst millennial, but I know great to be here guys. So we, I was actually very fortunate to be in a group of like a bunch of giants in the industry. So learned a lot from them, just a couple of random things that we talked about, things that we're working on in this year. I know Jeff heckler talked about how they have 95,000 customers and they're looking to segment those customers this year. Some things that they've done, they've hired CS operations, as well as data analysts to just make that more efficient, more streamlined, which is super cool. Matt, I'm going to butcher your last name. So Matt, everyone knows him. He said he wants to understand the Europe market a little bit better for his company. And just to make sure they have a more robust customer success structure set up in that market. And then me along with the other gentlemen that were in the group, we talked a lot about how we want to continue building our personal presence and brand within the customer success community. Communities such as this really helped with that. This community is incredible. There's others as well out there. LinkedIn is a great platform. Personally, for me, I've started a website, customer success whisper, where I like to get other customer success managers to write blog posts. So if you want to get your ideas out there, let me know. I'm more than happy to help you out with that. And trying to think of what else we talked about. Really, it was just very positive outlook for 2021. Great things happen for customer success in 2020. And we're looking to just keep that momentum going in the new year.

Andreas: Thank you Jared. And we have about six minutes left, so I see Phil raised your hand so you will be the last one to be put on the spot and go ahead, Phil.

Phil: And don't worry. I definitely won't take the whole six minutes. So I was in a group with Boaz, Ed, Sue, Mateo, and I'm one of the new faces in that some people have mentioned. So for me, it was great to see so many people on the whole thing and the technology able to drop us all into individual breakout groups. I thought that was quite fascinating. A couple of people in our group, both Susan and Ed had been impacted by COVID throughout the year in terms of their role and were looking for their next role. So yeah, there was this discussion held around the fact that COVID has impacted both ways. Some companies have kind of steered into customer success more and said, this is where we really want to focus on our customers and others that it's meant to change. And that people have had to look for different roles and different opportunities. We touched upon the fact that sometimes the technology and the wifi issues, and I'll tell you, I had a few wifi issues and that it's not an individual's problem, an issue it's technology. And we all really get that at the moment. Everybody understands that everybody's working in the less than ideal position. And we had quite a bit of a conversation about the change in segmentation, whether it's by changing company or changes in what customers are buying, but the move from high touch and that one- to- one kind of relationships that have been mentioned already in the recaps, but that one to many move and how that requires a completely different mindset. It requires completely different kinds of people in those roles and different skills. If you're managing 5, 000 customers, it's a different skill set to managing five very large enterprise customers, but also the difference in technologies that you might look at and the type of tools that you might want to use as well. I also mentioned to the group, as I've said to them, I'm new to this group and new to the overall kind of network of lots of CSMs or growing together. And I think it's amazing to see so many people learning and sharing with each other so thanks for the invite and thanks for the time on the call.

Andreas: Absolutely. And everyone get ready for the group shots, decide that we have you engaged and smiling and on three, one, two or three, and here we go. Perfect. So thanks everyone for this first session of the new year. I will post something on LinkedIn, provide a summary and capture a roommate knowledge for the community. But I've also noticed that yes, we have a couple of newcomers, like Phil here, but a lot of good friends that we developed relationships with over the past year, inaudible retain emerge, but we also went from 146 to now 46 people in participation. So as you see that post don't just like it, but share so that your network sees what value you're getting out of this talk. Hopefully entice other people to join as well so that we can come back next week and over the next couple of weeks and welcome a couple of new faces. And Jeff, Jay, any last words from you guys, otherwise we'll give you two minutes. I'll stay back.

Speaker 11: Nothing else on our end. It was great to see everybody again. We'll do it next week.

Speaker 12: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the gain, grow, retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


A weekly segment:

CS Leadership Office Hours

Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.



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This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...

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