The Seven Pillars of Customer Success with Wayne McCulloch

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This is a podcast episode titled, The Seven Pillars of Customer Success with Wayne McCulloch. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week, Wayne McCulloch joins us to discuss driving impactful client outcomes for your company!</p><p><br></p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
Defining the Journey
01:14 MIN
A Bigger Challenge in the Success World
00:16 MIN
Storytelling is Critical
00:18 MIN
Celebrate Success
00:45 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain, Grow, Retain Podcast.

Jason: Welcome back to another episode of Gain, Grow, Retain. Today, I've got Wayne McCulloch who is the Global Head of Customer Success at Google Cloud, and sounds like you're working on some other things which should be really fun. And also, Wayne's got The Seven Pillars of Customer Success, which is releasing later in April, but he's really put a proven framework down into a book that helps you drive impactful client outcomes for your company. So Wayne, first off, thanks for hopping on today, excited to do this.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, thanks for having me, Jason. I'm super excited to have this conversation, for sure.

Jason: All right. So, I always like to ask some just easy questions, maybe some softballs, whatever inaudible the middle, so to speak. So are you a football fan in the true sense of the word?

Wayne McCulloch: I am not because football, for me, is called Australian rules football, AFL, and so that to me is football. So when I'm coming over here and I look at football here, I'm like," I don't understand." So I'm not a true fan, no, I'm not.

Jason: Well, I was even thinking of a soccer fan, in the true sense of the word, crosstalk.

Wayne McCulloch: Like real football?

Jason: Yeah. So you mentioned Australian football, is there a team for back in your years of growing up, is there anybody that you were following and maybe explain to me the difference or what is Australian football?

Wayne McCulloch: Okay. So Australian rules football is played on a field that's about 200 yards long and 180 yards wide. It's full contact, no padding, no helmets, you can get attacked from any direction. It never stops moving, so commercials do not happen during the game because it never stops moving. And it is a extremely fun game to watch. Check it out on YouTube, look up AFL or Australian rules football. And I followed a team called Collingwood, which the equivalent would be, I was going to say, Dallas Cowboys, it's the team everyone loves to hate, or you love them more than anything, but I don't know if that's now the Patriots, I get confused as to who hates who, but the Collingwood is though, it's a working class sort of suburb, blue collar, and either you love them or you hate them.

Jason: Oh, man. I have to go look this up now, I'm super intrigued because it sounds like a little bit of a mix of rugby style, in terms of no pads and just full contact and a really long field, then it sounds like there might be some American football similarities in there as well maybe.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, soccer.

Jason: Yeah, I'm going to look this up afterwards so I'm glad I asked the question and we got there to begin with.

Wayne McCulloch: Yep.

Jason: But Wayne, super excited today just because we've had the chance to connect a little bit over the last number of months and I think a lot of our Gain, Grow, Retain audience will probably know that you've shared a ton of your seven pillar kind of inaudible Gain, Grow, Retain, so maybe just the easy place to start is why write a book? How did you come to that conclusion, and what did you start with?

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, well, first and foremost, let me just say, if I knew how hard it was to write a book, I probably wouldn't have started. This is a three year journey for me, definitely a labor of love. Sort of every Friday night from midnight to 2:00 AM for three years, and Saturday night, I was just putting my thoughts down. But the reason I did the book initially was because I pivoted into customer success after spending nearly two decades in training and education in B2B software companies. And I really love the fact of helping customers to adopt the technology and get value, which is a natural kind of precursor to moving into the world of customer success. And I see a lot of my peers that I've grown up with, whether they're in education training, sales, support, consulting, they're all looking at customer success and saying," Actually that kind of fuels my passion even more than what I'm doing." And so there's a lot of people pivoting in. And one of the challenges I had is that pivot happened while I was at Salesforce, and I really started to understand the value of customer success and why it exists. And I'm at the preeminent cloud company, so I'm learning from probably... Company's been doing it longer than anyone, and I really, really got into it. Then throughout my career, I started to, for example, became a chief customer officer and I'm like," Oh, customer success. I know how to do this. I came from Salesforce." And so you start to deploy all the things that we did at Salesforce and it didn't work, and I'm like," Well, hang on, it worked at Salesforce, why doesn't it work here?" And so as you delve in, and you talk to more of your peers, and you read community posts on things like GGR, and you start to immerse yourself, and you recognize that there isn't a one size fits all. What works for a small private company doesn't work for a large public company. And you start to understand these nuances in here that make it very difficult for someone who's new to actually know what advice that you're hearing will work. So there is amazing advice out there. What was missing though was how do you pull it all together? So I'm like," Oh, I'm thinking of playbooks." Well, cool. Someone has a cool idea on how to do a playbook. How do I do customer health? Or someone has a cooler... And you do all these things, and you're like," But I'm missing this, I'm missing that, I'm missing this. People keep asking me," What does customer success do? What value do you bring?"" You get these same questions from all different organizations and people, and eventually I'm like," I need to sit down and work out how to put a framework together that allows me, no matter what situation I'm in, public or private, small or large, I can build a really impactful customer success organization that also can take into account the nuances of my situation, the company, the product, the maturity, the marketplace." All of those complexities that only you kind of understand that you can overlay on the framework to make sure it works for you. And so the book was written originally for me to my problem that I couldn't work out how to make this really efficient, and scale, and be effective. And then I realized," Oh, there's a bunch of other CS leaders in the exact same boat, I want to help them." And then of course, as you write the book, you're like," Well, I got to give examples." And I've used people from this community and others to actually put their thought leadership in the book. So now I'm writing it for CSMs, and then I realize people want to come into the industry so now I'm like," Well, what if you're in sales?" Or," What if you're in consulting?" And so, the book itself expanded to the point where after three years and 344 pages, the publisher's like," You just got to get this out, you can keep writing forever." And I'm like," I can." So the book really started off with just helping me, and just grew into something much bigger over time.

Jason: Yeah. The thing that resonated so much with me in that as you described that is the fact... Jay and I had our consulting business for the last three years, and the number one thing that I noticed or picked up on over those three years is that one strategy or tactic wouldn't necessarily work, plug and play. You could kind of take it and take the concept, but it would have to be adapted as you went. And so, seeing nearly 60 different companies, that really helped solidify, for me, that at the end of the day, there are... Just like you said, I loved the way you put it, there is this framework that you're operating within that says," I understand that there are fundamental things that need to happen. We need to retain our customers. We need to help them grow. We need to make sure that they're satisfied and that they're earning value, they're gathering value from our product." Those are kind of the high level things that we all know about customer success. But that framework, like you said, is the mesh underneath that, that says," Here are how all of these things are basically laddering up into helping us achieve those objectives." But seeing those 60 companies, I can legitimately tell you that looking inside of those companies, you could easily see the, I'm trying to think of the right word, but you could easily see how the concept or the idea was very similar from company to company, but the way in how you deployed it was the difference maker. You took it and you had to adapt it in certain ways. And the last point that I loved, and maybe even to harp on it a little bit more from what you just mentioned as well is that customers are inherently always different. We now are working at Higher Logic, we're building communities on behalf of our customers, and one of the things that inherently you're noticing over time as well is that all of their members are different. And so, it's not a plug and play," Hey, here's how to make your community successful." It's the same thing. It's almost this microcosm of customer success that we have to go live day to day. And so customers are so unique in different ways too. I mean, I think that hits the nail on the head for me.

Wayne McCulloch: Exactly. I think the book itself is broken into two parts and you don't actually get into the seven pillars until page 120 or something. So you're a long way in the book, because like you said, there is a foundation, there are things we need to do. We need to understand the customer journey, and one of the complexities I always hear is like," Well, services does this, and think they own the implementation, and sales thinks they own the relationship, and success thinks they own the business value." And I think there was a great quote in the book I got from an executive at Walt Disney who says," No one owns the customer, someone always owns the moment." And once you start getting that clarity on who owns the moment, you start becoming customer success, and where this microcosm, you start to become," We're a company trying to create a successful outcome." And that's made up of many different groups. And so defining the journey and understanding that is just one of the 10 tools I talk about in the first part of the book, which these are critical, foundational things we need to know and understand in order to then go leverage the framework and be able to scale out repeatable success no matter the situation we're in. And so, that for me was, what you said when you're in consulting, you're doing the same thing, you're going into 60 companies and you're help them create value for their customers, and expand value and create advocates. And that's what you're doing, but the way you do it is different in a lot of cases because there's so many nuances. When you're selling to a customer, I feel like there's a really well- known methodology on how we find, and nurture, and bring through a funnel, and there's NQLs, and there's metrics and discipline. And we all understand that, but when you get to the post first sale, you're in a very complex, different world that doesn't... It's not as simplistic and not as formulaic. I'm not saying it's not easy to solve, it's a complex problem to solve, but there are easy things you can do if you break it up, and I think the book helps to explain some of those nuances that hopefully will accelerate people's ability to drive value in their organization.

Jason: Yeah. The other thing that just kind of triggered for me too is when you start thinking about an example like the customer journey, and I love that quote too, thinking about some of those key moments that are happening over time. I think the word customer centric has now become too cliche or mainstream, it's been butchered so many different times, but I think at the heart of it, the idea or the concept is to really start looking outward in rather than inward out. Inherently what we do when we start working inside of a company is we start looking at things saying," Okay..." Just like you said," Here's a process for implementing a customer, and how do we make that as efficient as possible?" And that's normally the mindset you come with," How can I make that process as efficient as possible so that we get to our outcome internally as fast as possible, which is to get that customer up and live and provisioned as quickly as we can." But being customer centric, it's kind of been butchered, but being customer centric, or that type of mentality is really kind of looking at the other lens and saying," Wait a minute, what's the customer seeing? What are they experiencing when we go through that process? Do we communicate in the right way? Do they feel like they're communicated with, do they feel that we've got kind of a clear set of expectations and processes in place?" And so I think that also, the key moments to me resonates because I think sometimes we forget that the customer is really the winner at the end of the day, they're the ones who are judging whether or not this is successful or not. And then we really need to optimize internally for our stakeholders, it's not really for the customer, it's for optimizing for our stakeholders, and we need to make sure that those two things are harmonious and that we're doing those in tandem, but at the same time, we can't conflate the two and think that they're both trying to achieve the same thing.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. Well, there's a couple of points that you mentioned that I think are worth delving a little deeper on because, time to value is really a super critical aspect of what customer success can help with, but we don't control that whole process. There's product, there's partners, there's services, there's a whole bunch of stuff. But our job is to get time to value as fast as possible, because for the customer, they're paying from day one in a SAS environment. So every day they're not getting inaudible is a waste for them. So we have to go tackle that. And I think it's really critical to think when you're thinking of time to value, like you said, the internal stakeholders are looking at some different metrics. And so, one of the challenges of a success leader is it's not," How do I manage the expectations of this efficiency engine I'm being demanded from my company and value that my customer's expecting." It's actually educating the company on getting to this value creates tremendous value for our company. It's not about necessarily the efficiency, it's about the ability to retain, the ability to expand, and the ability to grow your revenues from doing this piece really, really well. And so, in the book, it's funny you mentioned customer... That it's sort of overdone a little bit with, yeah, we're a customer centric, I literally use that in the book by saying, I remember I talked to this PS leader and I said," Do you feel like your organization's customer centric?" And they're like," Absolutely. We live and die by the success of our customers." And I said," Well, cool. How do you pay your consultants?" Well, we're paid on revenue, margin, and utilization." And I'm like," Which one of those three are customer centric?" And it's kind of this blank stare. And you're like... So yes, it does get used a lot. And again, that professional services leader is no bad person, it's just that that person is being given these operational metrics on how the company judges success for that group. Revenue, margin, utilization, and there's even NPS, don't get me started on NPS, there's a whole rant in the book about NPS, and how it needs to just go away as a business metric of success. But ultimately, that person is stuck. We are in success where there's expectations of what success looks like to our company, which doesn't translate to what the customer needs. And our job is to make sure that what we do for the customer is communicated internally as a value to our company. And that's one of the bigger challenges in the success world.

Jason: Yeah, it is. I've been on this kick recently talking about kind of storytelling and talking about how, as you really start looking at great businesses, and I think just great leaders and people that you've kind of respected over time, I think the more and more I kind of looked back at that, I feel like they're the best storytellers in the way that, just like you mentioned, they're able to translate," What is the customer looking to achieve? How are we helping them achieve that? What is the value they're getting? What are all the ways that we're making them successful?" And then just like you said, we have to translate that into how it's helping our business and operational metrics, and that type of translation takes storytelling, it doesn't take the best person who knows analytics or knows metrics, doesn't take the greatest order that's out there, the greatest writer, it takes the person who can understand both of those things very intimately, understand how those things overlap, and then be able to articulate that story to many people so that they'll follow, and that they'll understand that they'll come be part of that journey. So I love that point that you made. Because I also think that, it's probably top five on the things that I hear a lot from, our inaudible and kind of the leaders that I've talked to is this really hard challenge of," I'm really trying to make my customer successful, but then my my business over here is telling me that we got to hit this certain net retention number and how do I make sure that those two things are happening?" And so I think it's a different... Kristi Faltorusso that we talk to a lot who's in the community, she's got her new brand, which is basically built around that CS is simple.

Wayne McCulloch: Is simple?

Jason: Yeah. And so it's simple because when you start thinking about those things, it's very simple, but it's complex when you start thinking about the leaders that can kind of hold two truths in their mind at one time and be able to articulate that story.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, absolutely. And again, this is the value of a framework. So if you think of telling a story, a story has certain acts, there's three acts. Well, the framework has three parts. And the first one is operationalizing customer success, and that's all about my company. And I started with that, people are like," Why didn't you start with the customer?" And I'm like," Because if I can't get that right, I cannot service the customer." So the operationalization of success is super critical and that's all about my company, but it's to set my company up into a position where I can go execute amazing outcomes for our customers. And so, the first pillar is operationalization, and then I talk about these 10 tools that you use to operationalize, and then I go into depth in each of those tools and say," This is what it is, this is how it works, this is what great looks like at the end, and this is where you can start because you don't have a team of data scientists, you don't have unlimited budgets for CS software and..." When you start out you're kind of scratching and trust trying to make it work, and then over time you slowly build credibility, and you prove value, and you get more from the financial side. And the book also talks about the difference between cost of goods sold and how do you move the financial maneuvering to, again, have a good conversation with your CFO that then can go to the board that puts your success group in a good position? But either way, that three acts is really critical because when you have the three components, you can then start articulating how your organization works in your company, across the customer, and then how you execute with the CSMs, which is the third act. So, for me, storytelling is one of the most underappreciated skills that any executive can have, and in the world of CS, it's even more critical because it's not as well defined and well known outside of CS people, and that's where the storytelling becomes really critical. So, yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Jason: Yeah. I was looking over at my desk, or at my little bookshelf here, because before we hop off, I'm going to go... I think it's on my nightstand actually, I just bought a book and it's about a guy who is the... This is going to be kind of funny, but they have a slam poetry contest in this town somewhere, I forget where it is, but he has won it 10 times out of 12, or 10 times out of 13. And it's just this storytelling competition, and he wrote a book about how he became so good at storytelling and all this stuff. And I recently just bought it so it's on my nightstand so I'll make sure to tell you about it, and see if it piques your interest.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, I'll check it out.

Jason: Yeah, you said something that also piqued my interest, which is NPS, in the rant, that we could get you down about how that's a bad metric. But the one thing I did want to mention is I think we might hold a similar truth around this, which is, I don't necessarily care about the NPS score itself, I've always looked at it as an engagement method with our customers. And so how can we use, again, like negative 10, negative 30 plus 10. For me, I just throw that out the window because I don't necessarily care, I don't think it really has an appreciative value, but what I like to look at is who is responding, who's not, what are we doing with the responses, and then what are we doing with the non- responders? And how do we start to look at those things as a method just to get in front of our customer and open up the right conversation, if it's needed? So I've always tried to look at some of those things, like NPS, C- SAT, again, sure, I care about the score, but what I care about more is the customer taking enough time to respond? And if not, then clearly then something is off the rails, we need to be talking to them about something if they can't even take the five seconds to respond with a zero through 10. And I would love to find a different way to be measuring and looking at ways that we can look at satisfaction and how often they promote us, I think there's probably going to be better ways that we can do that in the future now that more companies are going SAS.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. So I worked at a company where the whole company got paid, part of their bonus was tied to NPS. So then everything's geared towards," How do we make NPS scores good?"" Well, don't ask that guy, ask that guy." Or,"Don't ask that company." And you see the weird stuff and ultimately, look, NPS is all about people's intent, but not behavior. And so I don't really find it valuable. I've said a million times, I hate my bank. Every time they mess up, I'm like," I'm going to leave my bank." And you know what, five years later, I'm still at the bank because it's too much of a hassle. So I would give them an NPS of two all day long, but I'll bank with them forever. It just doesn't matter. I think what you're talking about that engagement is, so in pillar number six I talk about advocacy and how critical it is in customer success, not just for us, but it's a way that we can show value to sales and others, among other pillars too. But in this case, if a customer doesn't respond, that's a red flag. If a customer gives you a bad score, they could be having a bad day, but you need to respond and react. If you're going to measure and ask people for their input, you need to be prepared to respond right away. I've got a great example in the book, when I was traveling through Denver airport and I use Clear because I travel... I used to. I remember those days.

Jason: Oh yeah.

Wayne McCulloch: So I used to travel 12 weeks out of 13. And when I was in Denver, I used Clear, and it was really bad, and I would have to wait, and I watched other people not in Clear go inaudible and I'm like," I'm paying for this premium service because I'm always running late to the airport because I'm always traveling." And so, I gave an NPS score of three and I wrote some comments. Within four hours, the person that runs Clear at the Denver airport had written back to me to acknowledge what I wrote, to explain the situation, what had happened, to tell me that they're taking these necessary steps to prevent it from happening again, and would welcome any more feedback I like... And would be open to a... That blew me away the way. I'm like, that is why you ask people an NPS score because you genuinely care. And I see so many times we send it out and we're like," Okay, well this score was minus 10. Well, that's horrible. Let's talk about that in our next all hands, or leadership meeting." And you're like," Next week." And then the... I'm like, how frustrating is that for someone? So when I talk about advocacy, again, as part of the book, and I'm like advocacy is a journey. And we don't think of it, we're like," Oh, we need a testimony. Where can we get a case study?" It's always really reactive. And I talk about advocacy as... I created something called an Advocacy Maturity Map, which it says," Once you've identified stakeholders, influences, and champions, and things like that, then here's a journey you can take them on as individuals, as people." These are people we're dealing with," To say," Hey, let's nurture them into advocacy. Let's ask for some testimonials, online reviews, things like that."" And then how do we engage them slowly to become more case study referrals, champions, things like that. And then how do we move them into the promote stage, which is now they're presenting at conferences and writing blogs that take way more effort on their behalf. And again, I think NPS, there's a whole thing in the book about how it's used incorrectly. I think it is an advocacy metric, it helps you identify where there's problems, and it helps you identify where there's opportunities that you can capitalize on, nothing else. And so, yeah, that's what I've learned in my experience anyway.

Jason: Yeah, I love that example about Clear. I'll give you a quick example too. When we first started Gain, Grow, Retain, smaller scale, when we first started Gain, Grow, Retain, we were running our office hours calls every Thursday. We started with 20 people in the first one, went to 40, went to 80, went to 160 literally within the matter of weeks we had, I forget, I think it was 1, 600 people on this email list. And one of the things that we would do in the first probably eight weeks that we started was we would send an NPS survey after every session. And so what we wanted to do was make sure that people knew we heard them, that we were responding to it, we were trying to adapt. So we asked NPS and just said," Hey what would you rate the session?" But then what we were doing was we were also asking questions like," Did you appreciate the... How was the facilitator today? How was the topic that we talked about? Do you want to go into breakout rooms? If we did, how would we do that?" And then as we started adapting and changing, each week we would essentially change the format because we were responding in real time. But before we would... From week to week what we would do is also come in the first five minutes of... So from week one to week two, and week two, the first five minutes we would say," Hey, here's what you all responded with from week one, and here's how we're going to address it in today's session. Here are the changes that we've already made, that you're going to experience, we're going to ask you again, and then week three we're going to do the same thing." So for eight weeks we did that. And I think our response rate on that was 75 or 80% of people who came to the meeting responded to it. And I think it's because A, I wrote it in a really personal way when I sent out the actual email to ask them for feedback, but I think similar to your point, I think the fact that we walked into the meeting and owned the responses and the metrics and said," Here's how we're going to adapt the meeting and the changes that we're going to make." I also think really propelled us in that way, especially because we were talking to a bunch of customer success leaders. And we were asking them this question. So I think if we didn't present this, they'd go into a mutiny knowing this is typically what would happen.

Wayne McCulloch: Absolutely. I love that you mentioned you wrote that personalized note because I was raised by my grandparents, and big on note writes. So whenever you get a present for your birthday, you had to write a card. You write notes at Christmas time, birthdays, and stuff. So we're always writing handwritten notes, and I still do that today when I have an event in offsite, I'll always do handwritten cards and stuff because I feel like that's... Because it's genuine, it's easy to write an email and just blast it out to an email list, but to sit down and take the time to write a note and put something personal... Customer success is about people, and I know that's funny when you talk about," Well, what about tech touch, that's not about people." I'm like," Absolutely it's about people, you're using technology, but it's still about people. Who you're sending the electronic information to? To a person." So absolutely it's about people. And so I really feel like we've kind of... As customer success leaders, when you map out the customer journey, one of the things that I talk about it in the book is, there's a great example where I've dealt with a company where when it comes to renew my subscription, I don't get a generic," Hey, just letting you know, three weeks from now we're going to renew your subscription on this credit card, make sure the details are correct. If you need anymore..." Blah, blah, blah. I'm like, I get that from every company I work with, in B2B, B2C, it doesn't matter. This particular company, they send a note that says," Hey, coming up for renewal." And there's a gif of the person, and there's streamers and confetti, and they're like," We're so excited to have you here. This is really cool." And I'm getting excited about the renewal, even if I don't want to renew, I just want to renew because I get excited about they're excited. And I know it's generic, and I know it goes to everyone, but they've put effort into just making that experience more fun and personalized. And that's a renewal. So think of your organization sending out renewal, you have a renewals team that sends out an email or say," Hey, renewal is coming up in three months, 90 days." Whatever it is, have a think about what you write in that note, have a think about how corporate and generic it sounds versus a personable kind of like," We're excited to partner with you. You're part of our family. We can't wait to extend our relationship." And that's one simple example of how customer success can look at a company and say," Are we really customer centric? Are we really thinking about the customer? Or are we just operationalizing for profitability?" Which I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but you can do both, it just takes some effort and thought. And that's what our job is, I think, is to make sure we're doing that, and to call out those groups that are doing it, to say," That is awesome." That support experience, that is exactly what we're talking about when we talk about customers centric, and you got to highlight that as well, you got to do both. We're the parents, I guess, in the relationship in that way.

Jason: Yeah. I'm trying to push right now, and one of the things that I would love to do for our customers, they're building communities, and it's not necessarily their first moment of value, but one of the most... There's probably two memorable things that I think about when we started our community. One is the first time somebody actually posted in the community that wasn't us, the first time that somebody asked a question or somebody did something, that to me was really a big moment. And so I want to start memorializing that for our customers to say," Hey, we know that it took a lot of effort just for you to get your first member into this community." Think about all the stuff that we had to work on. We had to stand up the community. You had to get all the approvals internally, everything that happened. I want to memorialize this moment for you because it's like," Look at this, you did it. And we're here, we did it together." But how cool would it be if we sent a handwritten note to every customer that went to that moment. And the second moment is your first year renewal, but it's like," Hey, this is your birthday, essentially, for your community. You've got this thing for a year, let's look at all the growth, let's look at all the things that you've done, let's look at all the conversations you've sparked." That kind of thing. But those two moments in my mind stand out right now as like, how could we take personal notes and go do those two, those two things because I think that would be a nice personal touch to say," Look at that. Higher logic knew that somebody wrote in my community and they're sending me a personalized note about it, and it's from my CSM or it's from somebody in the company, and they knew the date we launched, they know the year renewal." It's just, again, I think like you mentioned, those little things go a long way, and they take a small amount of effort if you can do them. And you can find... I mean, there's plenty of companies now that do some of these things at scale. There is a company, I've seen it recently, that will write hand written notes on your behalf. I mean, I think that's a little... You can do it, but it's also taking away a little bit of the personal aspect, but hey, if people say you can't scale that, you can, there's companies that do it, and there's like [ inaudible 00: 30:18] and some other ones that do gift sending on your behalf, or Alice, which is gifting for those things and doing it at scale. So I think there are ways that you can subtly pull these things in, like you said, and make them part of your technology strategy that still helps you scale, but still achieve some level of that personalization so that the customer feels like," Hey, they actually know this, they're not just throwing me to the wolves."

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. I mean, I get my little Chick- fil- A email at the end of the year that says," Hey, the number one thing you purchased this year was chicken nuggets." And I'm like," That's pretty cool."

Jason: Is that you or your kids?

Wayne McCulloch: I don't eat any chicken nuggets by the way, but yes, absolutely, it's a my kids.

Jason: That's inaudible.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, no, but I talk about customer delight in the book and I say," We've got it all wrong, customer delight." And people are like," Is it sending out swag and these cards and stuff?" And I'm like," That's number 11 of all the things you should do for customer delight." Because I remember one time I was talking about," Oh, we did this great thing." We launched, it was a new mobile app we built for a company. And so we built a cake for them in the shape of an iPhone, and it had their logo, and their app picture on it, and it had little icons down the bottom like ours, and other things they cared about. And it was just cool, and we shared it on social media, and everyone thought it was great. And every time we launched a mobile app for a company, we would do this special cake anywhere around the world, it was their app on a cake, and it was a great moment. And then I remember one of the executives I was working with said," You do realize there's a Harvard Business Review that says doing stuff like that does not create loyalty, does not ensure retention, does not..." And I said," Oh, I'm not doing it for loyalty or retention. I'm doing it because I want to celebrate success with the customer. No other reason." And so people start to... They see these things, they're like," Oh, we've got to do that. That'll help with retention or help with..." No, it doesn't, it just celebrates a moment with a customer, it's a point in time, and why can't we have that with our customer? It doesn't have to be everything about getting the renewal and expanding, it's just about recognizing the efforts from our team and their team together to achieve something. So I think you're right, I think celebrating success is a critical aspect of what we need to be doing because there's plenty of things that are escalated and red flags, and there's plenty of those problems to deal with. I say in the book, I'm like," I remember watching the Olympics and there was this guy from Haiti who was a hurdler and it was amazing, he was there, I was so excited, he was in the quarterfinal, and it's," Go!" And he runs and he hits the first hurdle and he falls over and he comes last and he doesn't qualify for the..." And in my book I'm like," I hope you weren't expecting a feel good story, or a great ending on this one." And I'm like," Welcome to customer success." Even though it's customer success, it sounds successful, it sounds glamorous, but actually it's very tough. And so when we find success, we need to celebrate it, for sure.

Jason: I love that. Yeah. It's like the quote where it says," Happiness is a choice." You choose to be happy, you have that mindset, similar thing. Like I think, just like you said, when you can recognize those moments, that's a choice for you to sit there and say," Hey, we need to recognize this because there was a ton of effort to get us here in the first place." I love that.

Wayne McCulloch: Absolutely, yep.

Jason: Well, I know we've only got a couple of minutes left, but I wanted to maybe ask, it sounds like you had a ton of conversations, you did a fair bit of your own research, and you kind of brought in your own stories, but kind of cliche question alert coming towards you, but what's one of the things that you kind of walked away with maybe from some of those conversations where you're kind of like," Wow, I really..." Not that it changed your mind or anything, but maybe it was just kind of like, wow, it was such an impactful conversation with some of the people that you were interacting with for the book.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. Well, I think there's many. I mean the first one I mentioned earlier was just reading that quote from Disney, which is," No one owns the customer. Someone owns the moment." Completely reframed how I had conversations with other people around me. But then talking to a lot of the sort of people I've learned from and peers in the industry, you mentioned Kristi earlier, she's great blurb in the book for me, which was awesome, Jay, who can't be with us today, but he's actually contributed a thought leadership piece. I tried to bring in other experts and peers and people that I'd learned from into the book, and in some cases, what they're saying might not necessarily agree with me 100%, and that was deliberate because I'm like," This is an example of the frameworks the same, but how you do it is different, and don't be afraid to personalize what you're doing." And so I say it this way, like," I'm giving you the plans to build a house, but you get to decide what carpet, what TVs, how we're going to paint the walls, you get to do all that, but the frameworks critical." But I think from talking to a lot of other people, it's like The Avengers, each person I talk to, they have these amazing insights, like how to go execute triggers and playbooks, and using data analytics, and automation, and scale, and health inaudible, and voice of the customer, QBRs, risk frameworks. Everyone has these great sort of experience and knowledge on how to go do something in the world that they've lived in. And to me they're like individual superheroes and til you bring them all together and create The Avengers," How are you going to defeat churn?" I know that sounds very cliche, but like, how do you bring all these golden nuggets together? And I tried to do that in the book, which was bring it all together inside the framework. So the framework can be used by anyone, you can tailor it and customize it any way you want. But these nuggets, you pick up in the community, when you post a question and you get five answers and you're like," They're all amazing." And look at your framework and say," Okay, where would I put it in, and how would it work?" And it just will help you navigate all the great insights you'll get in putting it into a way you can apply it in a consistent, scalable way.

Jason: Man, I like that. Yeah. I love the idea of the framework too because I think it's going to resonate a lot. With my experience from consulting, just the fact that you've kind of got to bring this with you. The example of, it's a house you get to decorate the inside, is a really good one. I also really appreciate the hurdler and how that can be... I was immediately thinking about how that could be a customer that was lagging on their implementation or time to value, or there's all these things that come out. But Wayne, this has been fun. I feel like we could probably talk for a litany of hours around this kind of stuff, but if people want to find more about you, about the book, what are some of the key things coming up? This is your time to shine.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. So I have a website that's set up for the book. So it's cspillars. com, real simple. Www. cspillars. com, Customer Success Pillars. It has more information about the book and other stuff that you can learn. This templates and stuff in the book, the website you can go to and download all the templates. So if you're like," Oh, I really like this, I'd like to use it." You don't have to recreate it, you can just download it. So that's the best place to go. It links off to other areas too. So there's one company for example, have used the seven pillars to redefine their customer success organization, they've rolled it out across 60 countries, have CSNs in 60 countries. There's a huge deployment, they've had tremendous success. So obviously being asked to go create some training around the seven pillars. Wasn't the goal of the book, but if people want to delve in a little bit more, you can do that off the website too. And then ultimately just ping me, I'm on the GGR community. I try to be as active as I can. I can be more active now, the book's finished and it's off to the printers so now I can get back to the GGR community. But again, I'm more than happy to connect with people that just want to share their experience or learn more, and just send me a note, I'm more than happy to get engaged.

Jason: Awesome. Well, yeah, we're going to time this up. So hopefully this episode comes out right around the book launch, and we'll be excited for you. We'll be celebrating some of those moments with you, we'll have a moment of celebration as you get that out the door because three years is a labor of love for sure.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, absolutely. And there's people from the community in it, and I just want to thank everyone who contributes, who asked questions, who's willing to learn as being vulnerable, and those people that give up their time to give their experiences. It's really unique to our industry, it doesn't happen as much in other communities so I just want to say thank you to everyone for just being part of this movement and helping to grow out this profession in the future. So thank you.

Jason: Yeah, ditto, I will ditto that. There's a lot of people in our community that give a lot of time and energy, so I'll ditto that. Awesome. Well, we'll have to do this again soon. Thanks, Wayne.

Wayne McCulloch: All right, man. Take care. Bye.

Jason: 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 subscribes, we really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


This week, Wayne McCulloch joins us to discuss driving impactful client outcomes for your company!

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Today's Host

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Jeff Breunsbach

|Director of Customer Experience at Higher Logic
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Jay Nathan

|Chief Customer Officer at Higher Logic

Today's Guests

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Wayne McCulloch

|Executive, Advisor, Author