Eat, Breathe, Sleep Customer Success w/ Maranda Dziekonski

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This is a podcast episode titled, Eat, Breathe, Sleep Customer Success w/ Maranda Dziekonski. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week Maranda Dziekonski Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly, joins the show to discuss all things customer success. </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><br></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>
How to Successfully Network
02:20 MIN
Networking Inside of Your Own Company
01:25 MIN
You're Building Your Network Every Time You Make A Connection with a Coworker
00:53 MIN
Projects Maranda Has Been Working On
01:45 MIN
Helpful Tools To Use in Customer Success
01:34 MIN
There Is No One Size Fits All Model For Customer Success
01:09 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain podcast.

Jeff Breunsbach: Welcome back to another episode of Gain Grow Retain. I've got Maranda Dziekonski. Did I just do it wrong?

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah, it's Dziekonski. You're close.

Jeff Breunsbach: Dziekonski. Oh my goodness.

Maranda Dziekonski: You're close.

Jeff Breunsbach: I just did this in a podcast earlier where I literally said the person's name correctly the first time, then I record and I didn't do it. Dziekonski.

Maranda Dziekonski: Yes, Dziekonski. It's a complicated name. People struggle with it. It's okay. I inherited it when I got married to my husband. My maiden name was just as challenging, so I guess I should have done better when I picked the last name. Maybe you pick the last name and not the husband. I don't know.

Jeff Breunsbach: Hey, my wife definitely knows your pain. Her last name was Reynolds, and now it has to be Breunsbach, a very German spelling. She's all upset about it, I'm sure. She's also in the medical field, so she have to go get all new licenses and all this kind of stuff. I think she knows what you're talking about for sure.

Maranda Dziekonski: A little funny anecdote on that before we move on to the more important stuff. I grew up with the last name VandenBroek and I was always at the end of the line because I was a V. It was really awesome to move up to the top of the alphabet with a D. Too bad we don't line people up alphabetically in real life for lines at restaurants or stuff like that. Because I don't reap the benefits of it now. But as a kid, I was always wishing I had a name that was at the beginning of the alphabet. Here I am.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like that. That gave me literal flashbacks to being in the hallway of elementary school and the teacher's telling you to get up against the wall to go to lunch or whatever it is to go out to recess. Literally it was all by last name. That's funny.

Maranda Dziekonski: Exactly.

Jeff Breunsbach: All right. Well, Maranda, since I butchered your last name, I forgot to mention that you're the Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly, which is exciting. I know you all have had an awesome year so far. You yourself personally, and it sounds like the company has as well, so exciting things that are happening. I'm excited to have you on. I know you've been doing a ton of things in the customer success just network in general, in terms of the industry, trying to make sure that we can progress the industry, help people get involved progress careers. First of all, on behalf of everybody, thank you for doing that. I think it doesn't get said enough, but you're spending a lot of your time and energy doing that probably outside of your day job. You've got other priorities in your life. First of all, thank you for doing that. I think it's awesome. Once you find a passion, it's really hard to let go of. I'm sure for you it doesn't feel like work.

Maranda Dziekonski: It doesn't. It's funny you say that because I often joke around about this, but it's true. I eat, breathe, sleep customer success. I love customer success. I love the field. I love all of the different things you can do with it. It's a perfect match of being a people person and also analytics and also solves my operational brains and the need I have to make order of chaos. I have been now doing some type of customer facing work. Officially this year, I hit my 24 year mark. I've been doing this for a long time. I just feel so blessed and fortunate to have landed here in the San Francisco area, now about 11 years ago. The community has been incredibly accepting. COVID, while many terrible things came out of COVID, I think one of the silver linings is it just broke down the barriers for networking. I've met so many cool people in 2020 that I probably never would have met if we were only having in- person events, which is kind of the way it was pre- pandemic. No, thank you for the thank you. Thank you to everyone in the community for being so supportive and being awesome and reaching out and talking to me on LinkedIn and Slack and all of that.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yes, for sure. Well, I always like to start with a couple of fun questions and we'll try and get to know you a little bit better. The first question that I have to ask you though, I'm a big fan of the squirrel cam. I have to know, how did you think of doing the squirrel cam? How often do you look at the squirrel cam? I mean, are you a daily addict of the squirrel cam now? Every moment of peace that you need, do you go there? Tell me how that came about because I think it's fun. For the people that don't know, on Maranda's profile, probably at least like once a month, I think, or maybe once a quarter, I don't know, but she's put it out there quite a bit. But she has a kind of an outdoor Nest camera situation and she has put it next to a feeder. There are squirrels that just come up and are just sitting there doing their little squirrel hands and eating. It is one of those things in life that is very peaceful. It's like watching an otter swim or watching a dolphin do... It's just one of those things where you're mesmerized. You're like, " You know what? For some reason this is very calming." How did that come about?

Maranda Dziekonski: Oh my gosh. I sit in my home office all day and I face a fence. I look out my window at a fence. It first started... I'm a little out of control. I just have to put that out there. I'm a little out of control at this point, but it started out, I was like, " Okay, I'm going to put a hummingbird feeder up." I put a hummingbird feeder up and I'm like, " This is so cool. I love watching all these hummingbirds." Well, then I had a bully hummingbird that would come and just bop the other hummingbirds off. I put another hummingbird feeder up so the bully could have the hummingbird feeder and the other hummingbirds could have a feeder. Then I'm like, " Well, it'd be kind of cool if I could watch some birds." I put a regular bird feeder out. Then I randomly saw something on Facebook where somebody had put a squirrel picnic table on top of their fence and I'm like, " I need a squirrel picnic table." I put a squirrel picnic table out and I could see all of this outside of my office window. I'm like, " I can't sit and watch this all the time, but wouldn't it be cool if I could capture it on camera?" My husband is amazing. He does all of this stuff for me. He put the squirrel picnic table up. He put a camera up. It's been so much fun. I have this little wildlife world outside of my window while I'm sitting here in meetings all day long and watching the squirrels interact with each other and fight over the corn. Which-

Jeff Breunsbach: I like it.

Maranda Dziekonski: ...brings some levity to my day.

Jeff Breunsbach: Actually, I'm going to deep blur my video for a minute. But I have a window in my office and I have done nothing, but now you're making me think that I should try and hang something out there and get some wildlife. Because that's pretty much the only... Besides going downstairs and walking outside with the dogs, I'm kind of trapped in this little one window office, but it's giving me ideas now to do that.

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah, same here. I mean, I traded in working in busy San Francisco to sitting in a very quiet room in the suburbs every day. I really missed the action. This is different action, of course, but it keeps my mind busy.

Jeff Breunsbach: All right. Two or three more questions, just softballs so we can get to know you better. Are you a coffee, a tea, soda? What's your mode of choice when you're sitting down in the morning?

Maranda Dziekonski: I actually drink a diet Coke in the morning. I don't like coffee. I love ice tea, but there's just something about a diet Coke first thing in the morning. I know it's very weird and very random. I also have my water first thing in the morning too, but that's how I caffeinate, is from diet Coke.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. Hey, everybody picks their poisons, so to speak. I drink coffee until the cows come home in the morning and it definitely... This morning I've had to dial it back. I'm half a pot right now, but I need to figure out-

Maranda Dziekonski: I could tell. You're talking fast. No, I'm just kidding.

Jeff Breunsbach: I talk very fast. I need to slow it down. The last question and then we can get into the real stuff. But I always like to ask people this, it's become one of my favorite questions. I'm not really sure why, but what is your favorite fruit?

Maranda Dziekonski: Oh my gosh. I like so many. How do you pick one?

Jeff Breunsbach: I don't know. There's been a lot... Actually, you know what? I'll give you an inside tip. Very rarely has somebody said the same one as somebody else. This is probably the 15th time I've asked it, and I've had people say 15 different fruits. Which is just shocking to me.

Maranda Dziekonski: You know what? I'm thinking about it right now, and the fruit that I eat the most, so I'm assuming it's probably one of my favorites, is pineapple. I did a lot of whole foods delivery during pandemic, and I would just add in the already cut pineapple that was fresh and find myself just sitting at my desk eating pineapple like it was going out of style. Yeah, pineapple, I'm going to go with that.

Jeff Breunsbach: I need to do that more. I'm a big pineapple fan. I need to do that more. Though, like you said, kind of order it just pre- cut too and just use it as a snack. I always joke with my wife because she's like... I'm at home all day. She's a physician assistant in a doctor's office and so she has to go to work every day, but I'm sitting here and I'm like, " Chips were downstairs or maybe there's some goldfish or something. She's like, " Why don't you go eat a piece of fruit?" I'm like, " Well, I'm going to have to cut it and then I have to do all this stuff." It's just so big.

Maranda Dziekonski: To reduce the barrier to entry. That's what we do in customer success, reduce that barrier to entry.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like that. That's a good way to put it. Awesome. Well, I think again, one of the things that I feel like you're passionate about, you're really good at, you do it a lot, it's just the whole idea of getting around to the community and to the network at large. How do you make connections with people who are in similar roles than you who maybe are in a role that you want to go after? But I always have thought about networking. Earlier in my career, I think it was one of those things where as you're an individual contributor and kind of coming up, you're kind of like, " I'll network later or maybe I'll do it when I need it." Kind of thing. Really, I feel like it's the reverse. You kind of are supposed to do it when you don't need it, because that's where you get a lot of value and then you make connections that can kind of lead to future jobs. For you when you're talking with people out there, how do you think about kind of coaching them or giving them ideas about, " Hey, here's kind of the right way to approach some networking." Especially in, like you said, kind of today's world where it's changing, everything's on either LinkedIn or digital, Twitter, there's all these things out there. But how do you kind of coach people on some of the first things to look at or do when they think about networking with people?

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. First things first, you hit it spot on. A lot of folks wait until they need something then they go out to network. That's a huge mistake. You don't want to come right out of the gate with somebody that you are just getting to know professionally asking them for a favor, asking them to, " Hey, you work at Bob's donuts. I'm really interested in a role at Bob's donuts. Can you introduce me to the recruiter? Yeah, by the way, nice to meet you." That just, it feels very self- serving. When you're thinking about building out your network, you can never start too soon. You could just first start doing simple little things by following people that are in the field that you're in or that you want to be in, have the role that you want. Start following them. Follow them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter. I'm not a big Twitter person. I need to do better with Twitter, but I'm very big in LinkedIn. Go out there, follow them. It's not enough just to follow them because a lot of folks have a lot of followers. How do you make yourself stand out? Interact with their content? A lot of people share posts. They share articles, they write articles. Infographics is a really big thing right now. Interact with these things, like it or write a comment. I personally tried super hard, and it's hard, to respond to every comment anyone puts on anything that I share. Whether it's just a thank you or it's a follow- up question. But interact with these folks through their content on LinkedIn. Make yourself known. I've actually hired folks that I've met arbitrarily through me posting something on LinkedIn. They commented on it and we then went back and forth a little bit. Then the next time I posted, they commented on something again. When I posted a job, I was like, " What about so- and- so? Let me ping them and see if they're looking." Boom. It was top of mind for me. A lot of the times it is about who you know, not what you know. Figuring out how to get the who's to know you is key.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like that. Well, and I think you hit on something there too, which is, I think in today's kind of digital first or however you want to think about it, we've got all these connections that you can make. But really it's all also about just trying to provide value before even asking for anything. I think that just goes such a long way. I think kind of I think similar to you, I've adopted LinkedIn and just kind of dove into it a couple of years ago now. You get a ton of messages and a ton of things coming from people. It's really rare when somebody actually sends something to you proactively of value that says, " Hey, Jeff, I saw you post about this and here's something you should go look at." Or it's always... I mean, again, I feel like my inbox, I'm sure your inbox is flooded with, " Hey, can you mentor me? Hey, can you do this for me? Hey, can you do this?" It's just like it's, so like you said, if you can stick out and just kind of say, " Oh my gosh, I saw that you post about this often." Or, " Hey, I saw that you work at this type of company. I thought this would be valuable for you." And give it. I mean, I think that goes such a long way. Then you can also translate that into just building your own personal brand on LinkedIn too. I think one of the ways that I feel like I've been successful and I think if I ... I won't speak for you, but just looking at the way that you think about some of your content too, is like, those are situations or scenarios that you're going through. You're kind of sitting there saying, " Hey, I'm having to go build a customer journey. You know what? I'm sure everybody in customer success has had to do that or is doing it. Why not post a couple of insights about what I've learned through this process or how I'm approaching it?" Those little things too, just help so much in terms of the network at large. That's how you start to build a little bit of personal brand and people start to know your name. I think the thing that I always like to talk to people about too is, not to feel afraid to post things. I think sometimes people say, " Hey, I post it. It's going to be there forever and people are going to associate it with me or judge me with it." While it's true, you can change your mind in the future. You can post other things that push it down the list that people won't find. I don't know. It just is not as big of a deal as you think. It should be much more of a flowing exercise of like, " Hey, I'm going to put some things out there and hopefully get some feedback." But those are a couple of things that I've thought about before too just in terms of doing some networking and trying to provide value to the broader community.

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. I like all of those points. One of the things I do when, and I know we're talking about networking, but I think it applies too, when you're applying for positions as a hiring manager, the first place I go after I skim your resume really quickly, I immediately go to your LinkedIn. I want to see what are you interacting with? I get kind of stalker- ish a little bit. I'm like looking in there just to kind of understand what are your thoughts about customer success? How ingrained are you in the community? Are you passionate about it? how have you approached it? I'm looking for what kind of articles have you published or have you shared, and how are you interacting? Because I think it tells me a lot as a potential hiring manager about maybe how you would interact with the customers or how you would approach interacting or building rapport. I think also to speak to your point, a lot of people have said to me, it's like, " You want me to publish stuff on LinkedIn?" I'm like, it doesn't have to be huge. Create a small infographic or take a stance on something in customer success and share your thoughts on it, and then pose a question and start dialogue. Like you said, it doesn't mean that this is a forever thought. Your thoughts will evolve and change as you get more experience or as you learn more customer success models. But doing that and ripping that band- aid off, after you rip that band- aid off, it's going to feel like no big deal. A big sign that you've made it is when you have at least one hater. I mean ...

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. I like that. Yes, that's true. I'm sure over the years I've developed many. You've been in this game for 24 years. I imagine you've got some yourself at the end of the day. But the other thing too that I've always tried to encourage people is, and actually you just made me think about this, I need to go do this for myself, but even just looking at your own LinkedIn profile. How do you make it inviting? You have an about me section. I've told people before as well, I mean, similar to you, if you send in your resume, that's great. I'll take a look, but I'm going to go look at your LinkedIn and I'm going to look at how do you present yourself and really in the about me section. Then in your, what bullet points and things do you list under your jobs there. Because your resume, it's very concrete. You're going to think a little bit different because you're like, "This is on paper. These are the things that really need to be..." I don't know. It feels a little bit more official maybe, but you go to a LinkedIn and it's a little bit more casual. It's like, how are you inviting me in? I also think about in today's world, especially how are you kind of crafting your narrative in the about me section? Are you a good writer? I think some of these things are also kind of skills that maybe have been overlooked a little bit, but now are coming back to the forefront to say, can you write a really engaging email to a customer? Can you do that in your about me section, make me really want to kind of read the next sentence? It's kind of like this avalanche. Can you make me kind of keep wanting to read on because it just makes it so interesting? Just like you said too, if you don't want to go make a post and put things out there, at least take some looks over your LinkedIn profile and say, " Hey, how can I make this better and more appealing and make sure that it really kind of stands out from people and kind of exemplifies what I want it to be?"

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. Standing out as the key. Competition is pretty heavy. Five years ago, it wasn't this competitive in customer success. Now you're getting folks who do have two, five plus years experience in customer success that are competing with folks who are trying to get into customer success. You do have to do things to make yourself stand out a little bit, and that's definitely one. Kind of moving back onto the networking topic, there are a lot of other things too. I know we're focused on LinkedIn, but I get an invite probably at least a few times a week to online events. I'm seeing online CS speed dating type stuff. Then I know Gain Grow Retain has their office hours. I'm part of the Customer Success Leadership Network. We hold webinars over Zoom and we've had people all around the globe join them. There are just so many of these things right now that are happening that are great again, networking opportunities. It's a little different to network over video, over Zoom than it is in person. But for some, it actually can break down that fear or that barrier because it's a little bit more safe sitting behind the camera than it is in person. I'm also starting to see some in- person events come back. I know inaudible is going to happen in September, I think. I got my message that my tickets are being transferred. I guess-

Jeff Breunsbach: I got that today too.

Maranda Dziekonski: ...I'm going to San Jose in mid to late September, whenever it is. In- person events are coming up too. That will open the world for folks to... Go to Meetup. Sign up for meetup. com and look for customer success events in your area. There's just so much that folks can do and they should be taking advantage of those opportunities. Investing in your career, if you are hungry, networking is a big component of it. It is not an 8: 00 to 5: 00 job. It's something you do have to take time out of your work day that you're... Mot out of your work day. Away from your work day to invest in your brand, your career. It all feeds into it.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. The other thing I think too that I've thought about a little bit more in my career towards the last couple of years as well is, there's also an opportunity inside of your own company to do some networking. a lot of times you're in an organization, I would imagine that's growing, that's adding people. It goes from really quickly you're from 50 to 100. Then all of a sudden you're from 100 to 200. Pretty soon you're like, " Well, I only know the people on my team." Especially virtually it's like, " Well, I'm only really knowing the people that I meet with. I might see a message or two on our internal communications or maybe on a chat thread." But go find the peers in the organization as well and start trying to figure out, okay, if I'm a manager in customer success or if I manage an implementation team, you've already kind of probably already met everybody else on the customer team. Hey, who's in product? What are their roles? What are they doing? Who's in engineering? How do I go to sales and marketing? Those are also your peers inside of the organization. You're not networking to necessarily say, " Hey, can you help me find another job." Type of situation. But it is, " Hey, help me understand your role a little bit better. I would love to know the things that you're working on. Hey, what types of groups do you get involved with?" That also can just be really beneficial because now you've started to just learn other parts of the business. You're starting to understand forums or discussions or areas that they go to that might be valuable to you someday. I also think there's just an opportunity too to look inside and say, " Hey, how can I go get to know some of my co- workers in other divisions or other departments a little bit better as well?"

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. That's actually genius, and I don't think that's talked about a lot. I know we have donuts. There's like an app that you can put in on your Slack. There are a lot of mechanisms out there to help you get to know folks you work with a little bit better. I think what's not talked about is the importance of why you want to do that. Not only is it great to have the bond, the human bond, the human component with people that you likely spend a lot of time with. Well, maybe not anymore, I guess now that I'm saying that. But people that maybe you work a lot with on certain projects or people you don't, it's important to learn how to build those dynamics and get to understand what they're doing. Especially if you're trying to figure out where you may want to go in the future. But I think the one thing, and this is the point I was trying to make before I lost train of thought, thinking about working remote and COVID, and we no longer sit in offices together, is when you leave that company, those folks that you got to know within your organization, they now become part of your network. Your actual network that can help you in the future. You don't know how many times I've encountered people that I've worked with two, three, four or five companies ago that they've pinged me and said, " Hey, can you be a reference for me?" Or, " Hey, do you know so- and- so at this company. I'm thinking about making a move and would love an introduction." These come from the relationships that were built while we worked together at another organization. You are building your network every time you make that connection with somebody internally at your organization right now. Even though you're not thinking about it like that. You're not thinking, " Hey, I'm going to leave, so let me make a lot of friends here." Most folks aren't thinking that. But when you leave, you don't tend to completely sever those relationships, and they just become part of that network that follows you.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. There's a saying recently that I've liked where I listen to a podcast and the guy was talking about... He said, " You can't let luck find you, you have to go make luck." I think it's similar to that. You kind of have to go make things happen for yourself. You were talking about earlier too, investing the time. You have to make the time to do it. I like it. Well, I'm curious, are there any projects or things that you've been working on? I know we kind of talked about trying to find people who have been doing projects or things they've been working on or things that... The best part about having a network or having a community is to bounce things around. Is there a particular project or anything that you've been working on that we could talk about for a few minutes that'll be fun to kind of noodle on out there?

Maranda Dziekonski: Well, I have a couple of things that I've been working on. One, I'm not sure if I'm ready to go public with. But first, for me, it's making sure that I'm getting all of the head knowledge I have out of my head and onto paper. That's a lot of work. I keep a spreadsheet of writing ideas. That this spreadsheet is probably five years old. I look back on it now and I kind of laugh. It has topics from like, why Slack can suck the energy out of your company. Which is very controversial. To, how to give a killer EBR. Everything like that is on there. What I've been trying to do, and this is not really so much a project, but just a challenge for myself, is get out on LinkedIn more and just start sharing some of that. Whether it's through articles or infographics, or me just doing two or three minute videos on my phone, trying to do it in one take and just get it out. That's been something that I've been focused on over the last year and a half, because I don't have to commute right now. It just makes it a little bit crosstalk-

Jeff Breunsbach: A little bit of time. Yeah.

Maranda Dziekonski: A little bit of time to do that. Another thing, I have been working on a book behind the scenes. It's probably not going to be ready for any kind of prime time for another year or two. But I definitely have a lot of thoughts and a lot of things to say. I've been trying to get that all ready to roll and figure out what to do with that.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like it.

Maranda Dziekonski: Those are a couple of things.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. I actually love the first one that you mentioned too, just because I always think that I tend to try and learn and talk with people. A lot of the things I'm trying to figure out is, how do you operate yourself? How do you make sure you're getting things done? Like you said, where do you keep documents? Different people. Some people have a notes app on their phone, you have a spreadsheet, you have... I'm curious, what's your process for kind of taking an idea and putting it into an infographic or kind of turning that into content for you? Is it like are you sitting down on a Monday and kind of writing out five posts for the week and getting it all done? Are you doing that on Sunday? What's kind of your operating model? Then I can tell you mine and see... I'm curious to see if they're different or the same.

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. It's usually Sunday. That's funny when you said that I'm like, " Yep. It's usually Sunday." I like Buffer a lot to where I can go in. Buffer will just post things to LinkedIn for you, you can schedule it. Which is great. I also use Canva to get my infographics and everything created. But generally what I do is, I look at my topics of things that I've collected over the years and say, " What do I think could provide the most value right now, and what do I have a strong opinion on right now?" Because my opinions, the strength of my opinions, kind of ebb and flow over the years. If you would've asked me five years ago, should a CS own revenue? I'd be like, " No, never." Now you ask me and I'm like, " Well, maybe." What do I have a very strong opinion about right now? What do I see as trending in customer success? I do try to stay on top of what are the problems people are trying to solve for the most right now. Then I will sit down and just think about things in a very simplistic manner of, what is step one, step two, step three, step four, step five? Then I first put in my little titles of the steps, and then I'll just fill in the blanks. I don't know if that helps, but that's kind of how I even do my presentations. When I'm prepping for speaking at a conference, I will literally create the titles of each of my sides first. Then usually I'll do it in a Google Doc, not directly in the presentation. But create the titles and then go under that and do the bullet points I want to touch upon. Transfer it over and then think about my talking points. I know people don't like to say I'm type A, type... I do lean type A. I'm very methodical in the way I think about the world and I think about things and think about how we can make things more efficient and operationalize. There's definitely a process.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like it. Well, I think everybody's got a little different style and I like that you touched on a couple of things. Is also thinking about how to develop slides and think about... Because I think it really comes back to architecting a story and telling that. I think sometimes that gets lost when people think about presentations because sometimes people are like, " I just need to get something on the slide, data." Whatever it is. I like the way you talked about it, where it's like, " Hey, how can I go actually kind of write the headlines first because that's really going to architect what the story is." Then you kind of then have the supporting material underneath it. I do something similar as well. I try and do it Monday mornings just because I'm trying to do the whole, I want to enjoy my whole weekend. I don't want to be there. I do like doing customer success. Like you, I love this. But at the same time, I'm trying to create some sort of boundaries. It doesn't always work. Sometimes I'm doing it on Sundays. But Monday mornings I'm trying to sit down and do a similar thing where... Also, I'm not very good at writing. I'm a much better writer under the gun. This sounds bad. This is such a bad excuse, but I'm a much better writer when I have my back to the wall and I've procrastinated all the time away. I have to get it done. What I typically do is, I will do similar. I'll kind of look and say, " Hey, what's been interesting? What am I reading about? What am I passionate about? Can I go write kind of five headlines for the week?" Then each morning I'll kind of sit down and then I'll actually kind of fill out the rest of the post. But if I sit there and kind of write it out ahead of time, it just generally doesn't come across as well. I don't know why, and I probably need to figure that out. But the other thing, and I really liked that you mentioned this too, the other thing that I feel like I've gotten better at or I've had to get better at over time is, I tend to go write a first draft. I tend to not be really... If I'm sharing it internally, I'm really not ashamed about my first draft. I will sing until the cows come home. I'll be like, " Hey, this is a first draft." But I find I make a much better product of a presentation or an idea or something if I can just get you to look at it and put your own thoughts down. If I kind of keep it sheltered and hidden away, and then seven days later show you, it's like, that... I don't know. It could have gone in such better direction. I am always like, " Hey, if I can write something down on paper and even if it's really bad and it's cumbersome and way too much talking or whatever it is, if I can just bounce it over to you and you can put in a couple of notes, I'm like, perfect." Now I've got it off. I can start running. I'm much more of trying to collaborate on those types of things as well. Especially when it comes to presentations. Like EBR decks or things that we were doing in the past, I do it a lot with emails as well. When we're thinking about engaging customers at scale, it's like, how can we craft a great subject line or email context? I'm sitting there and I stress over all those things and people are like, " We're probably thinking too much about the words." I'm like, " No, it matters now." We got to captivate these people so much.

Maranda Dziekonski: It's funny you say that. I probably have 20 unpublished articles sitting in my Grammarly account right now. I will sit down and I'll... I'm not a genius and I'm generally not the smartest person in the room, but I have moments where I'm like, " That's genius." I sit down and I'll start an article and I'll get it a third of the way through. Then I'm like, " Look shiny light." I was kind of laughing because I have probably 20 of those right now sitting in my Grammarly account, just waiting for me to go in and finish it out.

Jeff Breunsbach: I'm going to start holding you to that. Now that I know that, I'm going to start peppering you saying, " When are you going to release the next one? When can we get into the next one?" I'm-

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. I started a fable. I even have a fable I'm writing of the perfect customer.

Jeff Breunsbach: Oh my gosh, that would be funny. That would be so good. Oh my gosh. Speaking of which, you just kind of mentioned Grammarly and I've been going down this kick recently as well, trying to find... We kind of talked a little bit about networking. We talked a little bit about how do we process our own kind of content and some other things. Maybe this will be the third topic we can touch on real quick. But are there any... I'm not talking kind of your CSPs, your Gainsight's, your Salesforce. I feel like everybody kind of knows about those tools. But are there some kind of small Google Chrome type tools or like you mentioned Canva and Grammarly, and are there other little tools that you just kind of throughout your day you're just kind of like, " This is so good. I don't know if people know about this." But do any come to mind? I'm always on the lookout. At one point, you should have seen my Google Chrome bar was way too littered with all these little tools I was trying to use and test. I'm curious if there's anything that you've come across where you're like, " This is such a nice little hack or nice little tool."

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. Loom. crosstalk-

Jeff Breunsbach: I love that.

Maranda Dziekonski: You have to have Loom if you're doing anything with customers. We're in this world where it's like, " Do you have time to hop on a Zoom call?" " No, no, no. Just do a Loom video, send it over and hopefully it'll help." So Loom. Todoist. It's kind of like Asana, but it's really a to- do list, Todoist. Very clever play on words. I have that app on my phone. I have that. I actually have writing topics in there too, that when I'm out and about, I don't have my spreadsheet available. I'll just be like inaudible and I throw it in my to- do list under my writing topics category. Then I'll move it over to my spreadsheet. Also, we talked about well, Calendly is another one. Calendly, I can't live without that. People are always pinging me, " Hey, do you have 15 minutes? Do you have 20 minutes?" I'm like, " Yeah, here. Here's my Calendly." Grammarly, Canva. Grammarly changed my world. But it also, while it's serving me so well, I feel like it's also making me just so reliant. I'm like so fearful now of sending anything out without having Grammarly look at it.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. Without it.

Maranda Dziekonski: inaudible did I have this much self doubt before Grammarly? I don't think so. But I might cringe if I look back at my writing before inaudible Grammarly. I think those are some of the big ones. I'm trying to think. I'm sure there are so many more that I just use and I don't even think about it.

Jeff Breunsbach: See, that's where I was too. Two from my past life, they serve a little bit of value now, but maybe not as much. But one is called Wappalyzer, W- A- P- P- A- L- Y- Z- E- R. All it does is it just gives you a list of technology on that website that you're on. I just like to use this every once in a while. If we're talking to a customer, let's just say, and they could be leveraging Google Analytics and part of our product. Kind of talking to a customer, I can easily go to their community site and kind of say, " Hey, I noticed you have Google Analytics on your site, but you don't have it inside of our actual product. Here's how we can go do that." But little things. That one's just helps... It's kind of specific, but it just gives you kind of everything that they're using. Kind of their tech stack about what powers their website. I use that one a little bit. Another one that I just like to use it's called Similarweb. They just went public recently actually, but it is all about website metrics. They're kind of looking at what's your page rank and where are they getting visits. A lot of it again might not be useful, but I always find that there's some little nuggets that you can always pull out of there. Like how much web traffic are they driving that's just direct? What are some of their major competitors? What sort of Google search terms get people to their site. Again, customer success managers, it might not be the biggest thing that helps you move the needle. But to me little things like that over time, you can kind of just... Like you said, if I have a little file on my customer, it's kind of like, I noticed that a new competitor popped up in their Similarweb. I'm kind of looking at that and I'm just going to jot it down for later. Or, oh my gosh, I noticed that they're now getting a lot of traffic from this keyword. It looks like they've kind of repositioned their products. It's small things, so they're not going to drive a huge impact. But those are just two kind of Chrome apps that I've put into my little toolbar that I've used every once in a while.

Maranda Dziekonski: I'm going to definitely check them out. That's really interesting. I had never heard of either of them, so this has been very beneficial. Thank you. When you were talking, I was thinking completely different tools. But I also use Lucidchart a lot.

Jeff Breunsbach: Oh my gosh, yeah.

Maranda Dziekonski: Again, I'm not an artist, but if you give me a tool where I can visually diagram out what I'm thinking, that's super helpful. Lucidchart is on my list too. I would add that on.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. I love Lucid. Like you, if I can go visualize it and easily drag and drop, I don't have to do a ton of my own little graphic design, I'm like, " All right, that's a..." I'm like you too, I've used Canva before and I'm like, "Canva is a godsend." Because it's like, I can just drag over templates that people have used before. They make it so easy. I'm on that boat too. Perfect. Well, if you're looking out there and people are trying to network, they're trying to take it out there, we've talked about a couple of things. We talked about looking internally at your own company and making sure you kind of know your peers. We talked about just trying to build some personal brand a little bit where you can on some social networks, kind of putting yourself out there. The one that I think we kind of under talked about a little bit that you mentioned, is just also following what some of those people in the industry are talking about. What are the topics that are really interesting? What are people talking about? Going to Slack groups, going to threads and forums and saying, " Okay, what are really some of the hard hitting topics?" I think that can be so valuable also just to almost just create... Can you go create some controversy, so to speak? Can you go and put a takeout there, a hot take, so to speak? Just like you said, Hey, should CSMs own revenue? Go put a hot take out there and just generate discussion. Because at the end of the day, if you can do that and generate engagement, it just shows a lot. I just love that. It's so under thought about. But the way you kind of talked about it earlier was just such a good point.

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah, absolutely. I just want to remind everyone, there is no one size fits model for customer success, period. It's okay for two very different things to be true at the same time. Should CSMs own revenue? Yes and no. That's both okay. That's both true because it depends on the company, it depends on the goals of the company, it depends on the CSM model or the CS model and the types of CSMs that you are hiring and training. I always want to remind that when you are getting out there and you're ripping that band- aid off, know that multiple things can be true at the same time. I'm not suggesting people go out and start being CS trolls, out there trolling the forums and stirring the pots, but it's okay to get out there. Definitely, like you said, just to have a hot take about something and then say, " Hey, sound off below." Boom. I bet you anything you're going to get a lot of folks if you have the right people that are in that forum that are going to tell you what they think.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah, seriously. It's generating healthy discussion. I like it. Well, before we hop off, I would love to know... I always like to ask people this too. I normally ask it in the intro. I'm going to ask in the outro today. But if you had to describe your perfect Sunday morning, what's your perfect Sunday morning look like for you?

Maranda Dziekonski: Well, I broke my foot in April, so I haven't been able to hike in a long time. I would say prior to that, hiking somewhere out in the hills. But now, my perfect Sunday morning is my two Shih Tzus, a diet Coke, and watching 90 Day Fiance while scrolling through Instagram on my phone. I'm just being real.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like it. Hey, I love that. Hey, I've fallen trap to some 90 Day Fiance episodes. I mean, they're just too good. You're looking at this and sometimes you're like, " Are these real people? Is this actually... Are they just yanking our entire leg? How much of this is true?" But it's just so ... I mean, it's a guilty pleasure. Sometimes you got to indulge when you're in work all day in business and you're trapped or at least I'm trapped in my one window, two window room. You got to go find some fun out there. I like it.

Maranda Dziekonski: Yep. Keep my drama on the TV. crosstalk-

Jeff Breunsbach: That's a good saying. I like that. Well, Maranda, if people want to connect with you, get value out of the community and the Slack group that you've created, where can they go do that?

Maranda Dziekonski: Yeah. The first thing, reach out to me on LinkedIn. I love, love, love, love, love connecting with customer success folks on LinkedIn, because I love filling my newsfeed with all of those unique ideas. Never hesitate to send me a connection. If you are in customer success, I will accept it. Then another place, I'm part of the Customer Success Leadership Network. We have a Slack group. I post once a month. For the invite to that Slack group, just ping me and I'll send it over to you if you're interested in joining. I am on Twitter but I am not a super active Twitter person. But I'm pretty proud of my Twitter handle, marandasays. I've got that for my LinkedIn. I've got that for my Twitter, but I think really to connect with me, LinkedIn is where usually I'm found.

Jeff Breunsbach: I can definitely vouch that Maranda's active on LinkedIn. She's always willing to help people, so don't be bashful. Be out there. Stand out if you can. Maybe give Maranda a hot take. It'll give her some interest to connect with you. But Maranda, like I said, really fun just to talk a little bit more on the personal side, just talking about things networking, how are you trying to build some of that personal brand, thinking about just some tools that we use in our everyday life that are stuck in Chrome. I enjoyed this. But I'm going to entice you to come back on. With all the experience that you have, we're going to talk through some... We'll get to the nitty- gritty of some customer success topics next time as we do this again.

Maranda Dziekonski: Awesome. Jeff, thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on and great time. Thank you.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. 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.


This week Maranda Dziekonski Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly, joins the show to discuss all things customer success.

If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:

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

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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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Maranda Dziekonski

|Chief Customer Officer, Swiftly