Utilizing Health Scores w/ Sean Fleming

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This is a podcast episode titled, Utilizing Health Scores w/ Sean Fleming. The summary for this episode is: <p>Today Sean Fleming is on the show to discuss the complexity of health scores and how to keep them manageable and actionable.</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="http://gaingrowretain.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">http://gaingrowretain.com/</a></p><p><br></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/</a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach</a></p>
How to manage your health scores
03:09 MIN
Key moments for onboarding a CSM
01:15 MIN
Ensuring CSMs aren't scared of red accounts
02:06 MIN
Reviving relationships with dormant customers
01:51 MIN
Utilizing insights as key point during presale, adoption, and other processes
02:28 MIN

Announcer: ...the Gain Grow Retain Podcast.

Jeff: Hey, there, Gain Grow Retain. This is Jeff. Just wanted to take a quick minute and let you know that the annual conference for Higher Logic called Super Forum is back and happening. It's October 19th through the 21st. It's a free and virtual event, and we wanted to make sure and spread the invite to all of you. It's going to be a chalk full of stuff around community, customer success, customer experience, really trying to help you all think about 2022 and make sure we can drive retention initiative. So drop into the description of this episode and sign up. Welcome back to another episode of Gain Growth Retain. For today, we're coming to you on a Monday, and I've got Sean Fleming, who is the VP of Customer Engagement over at Zendrive and entrepreneur outside of that. He's got a very busy schedule, it sounds like after his weekend. But Sean, I appreciate you hopping in and talking with us today.

Sean Fleming: Thanks, Jeff. Happy to be here.

Jeff: I would like to ask a couple of questions, just around trying to get to know you, and I'd like to give you a lot of heads up on this, maybe throw out a couple of icebreaker questions. So I'm going to run through maybe three quick icebreakers, will make it easy, painless, but first one, if you were going to dominate a category on Jeopardy!, besides customer success, what would that category be? What would you consider yourself kind of a dynamo expert in, in terms of some sort of Jeopardy! knowledge. And you can make the category up yourself, doesn't have to be one that you've seen before.

Sean Fleming: Science fiction movies from the 80s to early 2000s.

Jeff: Man. I like that. I like the timeframe that you specified too. So obviously then, I take it that you've kind of binged these movies over the years?

Sean Fleming: I've binged them, I've memorized them. This is before there was DVRs and stuff. My cousin and I used to sit there with a tape recorder and we were watching HBO or something. We would record it on a tape and use our imagination and play out the voices. We could probably recite most of the Star Wars trilogy, with the voices and everything. We all wanted to be a little James Earl Jones with our Darth Vader voice. And so yeah, absolutely. And my team knows this. As soon as you come into my team, I'm a big Star Trek, Star Wars, Picard, or Kirk, I just get into all that.

Jeff: I like it. That's a good one. I've started using that question recently and I like it a lot. I actually stole it from Jay. So thanks Jay, if you're listening to this episode.

Sean Fleming: Thank you, Jay.

Jeff: Yeah. You gave us that good question. My second question I really like to ask, this has just been one I've asked now for almost two straight years of doing this podcast. And so I feel like I have to keep it going. What is your favorite fruit?

Sean Fleming: I really didn't have one for the longest time, but during COVID with the kids at home, they would snack on these Halo, Mandarin oranges, all the time.

Jeff: Oh, those are good.

Sean Fleming: And after a while you just start, you know, we were starting to have lunch together. I never had that before and I was going to have lunch with my kids, and they're eating these oranges. I was like,"Let me just try one." And they're just tasty, they're small, they're, they're neat. I'm not into messy foods and everything. So, they're just very neat and it's just convenient, and you can juggle them.

Jeff: Yeah, those, like you said, something small that is so easy. Normally, a regular orange, it takes you so much to get the skin off-

Sean Fleming: Peel it off, yeah.

Jeff: ...and then you like,"Oh my gosh." And then you're just sitting there trying to get it out. And it's just all over your hands, I agree. I'm a big fan of those Halos too. I need to eat... I probably need to get better about eating more fruit. During the day, I've tended to resort to, and I don't have any children yet, but I've tended to resort to Cheez- Its and goldfish, which people are like,"Well, do you have kids in the house?" I'm like," No, I just buy this myself." So I need to get back into maybe eating something a little healthier at lunch as my snack. That was a bad COVID hack. You know, that maybe happened on my side. The all right, the third question, final one. We'll let you get away is, if you could eat lunch or dinner with somebody past or present, just one person that you'd call or you can make it a foursome, whatever, however many people you want to add to your dinner, but who would that be? Who would you kind of bring to lunch and dinner? And then I think the more important question is where would you have that lunch or dinner? Like where's a place that you'd want to get back to, or go to for the first time?

Sean Fleming: Oh wow. Well first, Barack Obama. Would definitely love to lunch and just pick his brain. I'm in the middle of his autobiography-

Jeff: Oh, nice.

Sean Fleming: ...right now, and it's a long book. And I was going through it and I'm a reader, I love reading and stuff, but this one's long. And I also have some other things reading as well, got kind of a book club thing going on in our company.

Jeff: Nice.

Sean Fleming: And I'm in the middle of this book and I was like,"Ah, I'm just running out of time." And a colleague said," Go with the audible." And I said, Ah, but that's not the same." He's like," It's his voice Sean, it's his voice." I said," Oh, great advice." So-

Jeff: Yeah. That is like, oh, that's perfect.

Sean Fleming: ...I love hearing that voice. And I just feel like I could just listen to him all day. And so I would just love to sit there and just ask him every question under the sun. And I think I would just learn so much on politics, on everything. So definitely love it.

Jeff: I like it.

Sean Fleming: Not to mention, my daughter's kind of a mini community activist, she's kind of into that kind of thing. So maybe it'll also tune me onto it as well. So she wants to do political science and that kind of stuff. So it turned me on.

Jeff: Very cool. Where would you want to go eat with them?

Sean Fleming: I'm really flexible there. I mean, I really... South Beach.

Jeff: I like it. That'd be sweet.

Sean Fleming: Just because I love South Beach.

Jeff: Yeah. Get down into the sun, enjoy the vibes of Miami and Florida. I'm down with it.

Sean Fleming: Absolutely.

Jeff: Right now, it is hot and humid in Charleston, South Carolina. So I'll find any excuse, even if I'm going to Florida, it is not as bad as Charleston, South Carolina right now. So I would take that right now as well. Well, we were going to talk about two things today, which I'm pump. So one, I think comes up quite a bit in our community and I think customer health is maybe the top, it's maybe is like one of three topics that gets talked about over and over and over, and people have so many different opinions on it frontwards and backwards. But I think the thing maybe, that I see in our community quite a bit, and I'm curious from your perspective is that I think over time, the health scores tend to get more complex. You kind of try to add too much, it tries to become too much to your company, and so all of a sudden you're starting to think," Oh, now I've got, maybe it starts with five metrics, but now I've got six and seven, and now it's 10 or 12, and by the end of it, it's kind of like your CSM team might be feeling like," I don't even know how to impact this health score, one way or the other." And so, what is this really telling me? So I'm curious if you've come across that yourself? Have you had to kind of keep your health scores at any of your companies that you've worked in, maybe tried to keep them somewhat manageable and actionable, and maybe how have you gone about doing that?

Sean Fleming: Yeah. I went through this exercise, or I'm actually in the middle of this exercise of overhauling it a bit because we had a customer, they didn't exactly churn, but they certainly, reduced usage significantly. And we had a green. As the health score traffic light system, there was a high score. And I just thought we were totally blindsided. So whatever we were looking at was not enough. And we really didn't get into the value of our software, and in our case, it dealt with things like certain accuracy and certain feedback. They weren't considering, we were looking at more technical elements, right? We see our adoption going up and I think that's always like a false set of confidence say," Oh, the adoption's going up, that's great." And then it's going to drop off, right? Or you don't have any severity one tickets raised. And you talk to some customers, they don't like raising the tickets because they know we're going to ask them a whole bunch of questions. We kind of put some homework on them, probably by design, to make sure they've given us the information logs, whatever. And they don't want to do all that work, so they'll just hold back. But unfortunately, they're dissatisfied, they're having a pain point, you're not aware of it, they're not expressing it to you, and it's just bubbling up. So that lack of tickets, I almost wish I could have something where it goes," No tickets? That should be a red flag," right? Something's going wrong there, right? Everyone has some issue there. And in the nature of our software, where you kind of have like this heartbeat concept where we can kind of figure out the health of our software. It took us a while to get the implemented, but it's a great tool. And I'm trying to use that like crazy now to kind of see, how it's performing. So not just adoption, but also how's the heartbeat. And I think if you look at all these things, analyze it, figure out your baseline, if you will, and then you start to see," Okay, this is where I'm coming off." And then there's also some of the financial metrics there, and there's other parts of usage. I think many times we get stuck into maybe one use case, and you forget about some other adjacent areas of your solution, whether it's more reporting, and APIs, and interfaces, that kind of thing versus something the end- user might engage with. So if you're only focused on one, you're missing on the others, again, those can be indicators that it's going down. So in our perspective, I thought we had a big miss there and I said," Okay, I'd rather, almost start fresh and do ground up exercise. And here are the six or seven metrics that we're going to follow there, we're going to do it quasi, manually, and then we can work with our reporting teams and help us automate things and monitor this." But I always, kind of do the franchise model, right? You kind of got to go through all the steps yourself first, and then you can automate it and all of that, right? But I don't want that case again where we're thinking everything's all rosy and then they say," Hey, we're putting a pause on this and so forth."

Jeff: Yeah. There's a couple of great points that I wanted to kind of pull out of what you said. One, I think your last point is something that I've really noticed a lot over the last number of years. And I think two, I think I see people struggle with this, which is trying to automate things too early. I think like you just said, right? You kind of," Hey, let's go put this together, let's do the first couple by hand, let's kind of validate that this is the right thing, let's run it by some people, let's get some more perspectives. I think sometimes people just almost automatically jump to," Hey, we've already got the tool in place, we've already got all this stuff going in, we might as well just start automating." And I think sometimes that can be a detriment because, you're not really giving yourself the time maybe to think ahead of time to say," Okay, what are the right metrics? How do I validate those? Do they easily make sense to our teams? How can we go kind of pull this together? So, I think that's just a big point maybe just to reinforce for people is that, there is I think, an opportunity for you to go do it by hand first to then go absolutely automate in the future where you can... You also then, I think go by going through the manual version, I think you also are just closer to the data, you're closer to the... Right. Once you start automating, you kind of get one step removed and then you might run into challenges down the road, and then, you're trying to figure it out. And so I think just doing that, I think is a big step and something that I've definitely realized a lot over the last number of years and seen in our consulting work and whatnot.

Sean Fleming: Yeah. And I've noticed that sometimes your automation breaks down, right? And the worst thing is you don't know it, right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Sean Fleming: You're just believing, right? And so you don't know how to go back and check those things out. I'm not saying to become a data scientist or something, but you just go through some of the steps there and say," Okay, I see, I agree. It's still green on that front there, that one's still yellow, I understand all of that." So I think you have to make sure you go through all those steps, it reinforces the learning. I'm very big on your pillars of knowledge and making sure you got all your functional, your technical, your industry knowledge to help that. Because I think then, you're in that position to ultimately advise your customer.

Jeff: Yeah. The other point that I like, that you were kind of talking through as well. And I don't know if you explicitly said this, but I think you were alluding to it, is also the fact that you really have to get beyond the product metrics. Like I think sometimes people use that as a crutch, and it's like you said, Hey, all of a sudden, I think it worked in kind of, or maybe it worked in the reverse way here, and your scenario, right? You kind of said," Hey, the product, we were actually decreasing usage, our thing was still green, that's why we need to go revamp it." But I think also I've seen that in reverse where people sometimes almost over index and the usage metrics make up 90 to 95% of their score, and then it's like, well, there's so many other elements you start thinking about in customer success.

Sean Fleming: Absolutely.

Jeff: And the two maybe that come to mind that I've thought about quite a bit, especially in my role, I now lead our customer community. So this one is probably near and dear to my heart. But one is, are we getting that contact engaged? And I think like you had mentioned as well, there's education programs that they should be going through, there's the customer community that they should be involved in, are they in the knowledge base reading? Like those are just three that I feel like you've got such control over, because normally somebody on your customer success team is probably owning those systems and those tools, right? It's typically your knowledge- based, your customer community, and then, your academy and training site. And so if we can just make sure that data is being collected and flowing, then I think again, you kind of see," Well, are they just engaging with the CSM and then never doing anything on their own or vice versa?" Like," Are they only doing stuff on their own and they're not engaging with the CSM if there is one?" And so I think of that quite a bit, kind of the self- service. Are we capturing that in a way that we can at least just kind of give a yes or no type answer of whether or not they're utilizing it, to some degree? And then I think the second part of that, is that relationship with the CSM. How can we, I think we've seen recently maybe standardizing, maybe a one through five scale of, okay, how would you rate your relationship with this person from one, never talk to that person ever, to five, this person has my cell phone number and we text all the time? How can we start to standardize some of our relationships that we have? And then, can we do that at a contact level, so that we can kind of see where are big gaps that we have maybe at this customer where it's like," Hey, we've got a lot of users, but we don't have an executive sponsor. We need to figure out how to go get that." So those are two I wanted to call out maybe from personal experience recently.

Sean Fleming: Yeah. I totally agree. I think I have a tendency to bring on CSMs of very strong project management skills, and they don't necessarily have as strong in the technical or the functional, not functional, industry knowledge law. And then you kind of grow on you learn that, right? But very strong PM skills there. So it's very great during the onboarding implementation aspect, hands down, they get the solution going with our customers, get it integrated, do change control, manage scope creep, and all that, make sure we just stay on track. But then after that, right? These people kind of need that driver to say, okay, now, you're looking to figure out how are they going to increase their usage? How are they going to kind of evolve and grow with the platform? Because requirements change, right? Maybe when you started off in this journey, they thought of this one primary use case, but now the business, the market, it's kind of moved a little bit. So the software has to hopefully go along with that. And then, you're the conduit as a CSM. You're the conduit, get that information, come back, work with product manager, so forth and make sure we stay aligned, we stay close, we stay relevant, that we're there. And that takes continuous knowledge, right? Continuous knowledge of your client's business, of your client's market, where they're going, of course, as well as that technical knowledge. So you're moving way beyond that onboarding and that implementation piece that kind of got you there to launch, now it's after. Because many times the customer figures," Hey, I've learned it now. I've been trained I'm onboarded. I don't really don't need you anymore." Right? Unless there's a problem, right? And that's what you don't want. You want there to be proactive and ahead of the curve on them, right? At least giving them some of those insights, right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Sean Fleming: So you have to know your roadmap backwards and forwards, you have to start learning their industry. So what I've been doing with my team is saying," Listen, we're going to focus on this continuous improvement, we're going to do these trainings here. I'm making it mandatory for you, maybe it's a more technical track, for you, maybe, it's more CSM courses to improve your functional skills, but for almost everybody, it's always the industry, right? Because I didn't hire industry experts on the team." Sometimes you pivot, right? As a company, you started here, and you pivot a little bit over here, right? So, it's okay I think, to get that later, sometimes, depending on your company. And so that's where I'm making all the teams start to go through that and really improve that business knowledge. It helps in the communication, and I think that will help with the continuous engagement post launch and adding more value.

Jeff: Yeah. I love the way you break down the different types of skill sets that you kind of need in order to be a CSM as well, right? Kind of making sure and saying," Hey, let's kind of use these as a way to make sure we're kind of rounding out your experience," right? We want you to be... I think proverbially, you want to double down on your strengths for the most part. I think everybody talks about that, but I think you also need to be kind of at least serviceable in the other areas, right? You need to be able to hold your own with the customer, be able to make sure that we're still driving them forward. So I love that point that you just called out. The other thing that just reminded me of too, I've talked a little bit about this with our teams recently is, I think there's a tendency when you start going through implementation and onboarding people. I think there's this tendency to kind of throw everything at them up front, right?" Hey, we want them..." And I think that comes from a misnomer of time to value. I think in some cases we'll, the only way you can get value is if I train you to a hundred percent, and that's when you're going to get value, and then the products implemented. So you can go do everything that you need to. And I think the thing that we're trying to do is start spacing out to say," They're not going to retain information in that, they're not going to retain a hundred percent of what we're trying to teach them in that first like little bit. So how can we kind of pair that back and figure out, Okay, as customers kind of systematically go through this, right? We're implementing the product. Okay. What is the human aspect? What does the person need to be doing in terms of onboarding? What are some of those key moments that we know need to happen? But let's start kind of pulsing or giving them that information over time." Because I think the other thing that it brings into is now the CSM has something of value that they can continue to give over time, right? If we're training the person a hundred percent upfront, then the CSMs kind of always going backwards crosstalk.

Sean Fleming: You use all arrows in the quiver, right?

Jeff: Yes.

Sean Fleming: You're empty now, right? And it's not, you're really holding back, but just like you said, there's much so much that a customer's going to take and they're focused, they usually have a few key use cases that they're focused on, maybe just one, right? And so let's get success with that one thing, let's get that out there, and then here's the next milestone. Let's discuss that in the QBR and here's what's next. So they kind of see that plan, because they may need to in the customer side, bring in other people, because many times there's a handoff, right? There's a handoff to some project team or someone who lives with you for a while and then, it may move to another support organization or whatever. And that the business owner, those original stakeholders who wanted that transformation for this the solution, they're kind of out of pocket, right? Until there is a QBR or something. This gives you a chance to kind of engage, right? So of course you're going to have those technical stakeholders, and they usually will stay engaged, but they're not always the decision- makers, they're not always setting the direction. Not always, depends on your organization or the customer. But this way you can still engage those other business owners in the process.

Jeff: Yeah. The arrows in the quiver. I just wrote that down because I want to use that, that's a good analogy. You said, you kind of get rid of them at the beginning, but I think the other thing you were talking down a little bit earlier. You said, you've kind of narrowed it down for yourself maybe to six or seven kind of core components that you want to make sure that we're going down. So for you, I guess, for the process that you're about to go through next, how are you kind of envisioning getting that into a repeatable way, I guess, are you going to look and say,"Hey, can we just-

Sean Fleming: We're defining a playbook around it. I think that kind the best way to do it.

Jeff: Nice.

Sean Fleming: So we're defining a playbook around it, and I'm kind of personally teaching them all to do it the same, consistent way. So at least it doesn't get too... I know it's going to vary there, some of our customers have different use cases and so forth, but at least the same process to get the metrics in, and then, we'll see how that goes over a quarter, we're going to put it into our OKRs of how we're achieving that, and maybe the next quarter, or maybe two quarters after that, we can look into some better automation. But I want to kind of slow it down and get the process right, and then kind of analyze it, review it, see if it's accurate, see if it's improving and then we can turn on the automation and so forth. So, that's what we're going to do with the CSMs.

Jeff: Yeah. I love the other... Again, inherently, you're also making the CSMs a part of this process, right? I think sometimes we've seen where people might build a score in kind of a black box or in the background, they're kind of building it with one other person and then they kind of roll it out. And then the team just feels like," Hey, I wasn't really included. I don't really know what this is or how this is going to be impacted." But like you said, building some playbooks around it and getting them consistently doing this for a month, two quarter, or one month, two months, three months, or maybe two quarters, whatever the number ends up being, now you've inherently are starting to get their buy- in because it's kind of like," Hey, this isn't an end all be all." This is like," Hey, we're kind of rolling this out, we're testing it."" But tell me where are the gaps, right? Where does the process not make sense? Which metrics maybe aren't as reliable than we need? Or how do we go improve that?" But if you can make them a part of that process, then you've got total buy- in. Once you do automate it, it's" Hey, you had the opportunity to kind of get involved and speak up," right? And so it's kind of just giving them the maybe empowerment to say," Hey, this is the time for you to help us kind of evolve this before we automate it and get it into a system, we need to make sure we're all kind of on the same page."

Sean Fleming: Absolutely. I think, you definitely get better buy- in there. And also I think things will evolve, right? I think we're going to find out," Hey, maybe let's change, let's talk about some better waiting with these metrics, Sean. You were thinking that waiting because of that experience shaped you one direction, let's adjust that, fine tune that." Or," Give me a little control over that waiting. I know this customer a little better, and they're a little different, so I think the waiting should be a little different for them." And I'm totally open to that feedback, I just kind of want that continuous improvement in our processes and our people across the inaudible

Jeff: Yeah. Well, and I think too, the other thing, at least that I've learned, and maybe thought about is, it's kind of shaped my mentality around customer health scores as well is, trying to make sure that CSMs don't get scared of red accounts. I think sometimes it's like," Hey, maybe I've got a couple red accounts. What does that really mean? Is it kind of reflection on me? What's happening." And I mean, I think that there is time to kind of go through that discussion and that thought process, right? But I think, hey, whether the account is red, yellow, or green, what we want to try and do is can we diagnose what's wrong with it? And then what are the steps to improvement? I think a lot of times you talk to executives, right? They're kind of less worried about, I mean, they are worried about the red accounts, but maybe they're more worried or what they're looking for is," Hey, what's the path back to green?"

Sean Fleming: Exactly.

Jeff: "How do we anticipate taking them from a red to a yellow, yellow to a green? And give us a realistic timeline," right? Like," Hey, how does that happen over time?" And so I think as CSMs that are out there as well, just kind of getting into that mindset of," Hey, it's not just solely a reflection of me if this customer's in red, they're lots of factors." And so, like you mentioned earlier though, Sean, Hey, I'm a conduit to our business here. And if I'm looking at this, what are the appropriate steps that we need to take in order to get this back to green? And if you can consistently come with that mentality, you're going to be really valuable to your leaders in the customer success organization. Because I think at the end of the day too, one of the metrics that you typically will start to see is," Hey, what percent of our customers are in red? What percent are in yellow? What percent are in green?" And then how does that transition over time, right? How will we kind of shape that exactly with our experiences over time?

Sean Fleming: Exactly. Yep. Absolutely. I mean, one thing that's going to come out the next part is, yeah." How do we address these yellows and getting them from yellow to green or red to green, so forth. How do we move them up to stack?" So we can obviously look at the good model customer and say," Okay, here's how we fixed it over there. Maybe that can apply across the board." That's the instruction, that's the play for whenever you have this situation, right?" Adoption is low, here's what we do."" They're not using this dashboard, here's what we do." We know exactly what the steps are, we think we'll correct it. If we get all these things corrected, they should be green, right? So that's the idea.

Jeff: Yeah. Exactly. Sounds easy enough, right? Hey, let's just crosstalk

Sean Fleming: It sounds great in theory. It does sound so great in theory.

Jeff: I know what you mean. Well, I know in the last couple minutes I was just curious again, I try to look for things that are popping up in our community and hopefully kind of bring them into the audio form, so to speak. And one thing that's caught my eye recently, there's been a couple of discussion threads going around just about dormant customers, kind of," Hey, I've got a customer, maybe they're using the product, but they're kind of not opening marketing emails, they're not in our customer community, they're not responding to our CSM. Almost like what you were saying earlier, seemingly that customer's okay. Like not-

Sean Fleming: They're paying.

Jeff: Yeah, they're paying, they're using the products, but they're just not engaging with our teams and in the ways that we would hope. And so again, I'm curious, have you come across a scenario like that with some customers?

Sean Fleming: Absolutely.

Jeff: And I don't know, do you have any ideas that you've kind of kicked around to say," Hey, how can we kind of get in front of this customer and kind of revive this relationship?"

Sean Fleming: I found that it's nothing, at least for us, it wasn't anything internal, right? They kind of felt," Hey, we understand your product. Thank you, you implemented it well, you helped us implement it well, and we're using it and we don't want to meet up for a QBR. We don't want to meet up for... we're good." Right?" And we're paying and you should be happy." Right? And that's never good enough, right? Never. I find what seems to catch their attention is external, right? So if they see an adjacent customer having some tremendous success, all of a sudden you get their attention, right? And then you want to figure out," Oh, A, does that apply to me? Are they using the same use case as me? Can I follow that?" Or something like that. And hopefully, that's the case. So you have to kind of get those cases ready, and then I think that's what you show for, show to that customer. It's less, I mean, maybe it's your roadmap, maybe there's some upcoming feature there, but they may just say, inaudible you're a great software company, SaaS company, I'm going to get that regardless. But when I start seeing either in not direct competitors obviously, but maybe competitors in other markets and other regions, and I can follow that process and you helped enable that Zendrive, excellent. Help me get to that level of success. Then I'm willing to take your call, then we can have the," Oh, was that in the QBR? You should have led with that, Sean, that's what I want to discuss with you." Right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Sean Fleming: And then you can follow up with all your features, and your roadmap and all that great stuff, your thought leadership. But you need, I think, that external validation, that's what they, I think more mature customers are looking at, right?" How is the rest of the market doing? How are they using your product? How is it helping them improve their business? How is it transforming their business? And was it similar to me? And can I follow that path?"

Jeff: Yeah. You hit on a point that I try and hop on a lot and probably had nausea recently just because it's just in my mind. I've actually had requests for QBRs because of a couple tools that I kind of own here at Higher Logic. And I'm just like," Man, are your bearings off right now." Like that's the last thing I want to be doing? Like, you said, can you kind of provide some external validation first? Can you give me a couple of nuggets of value? And then I'll come to the meeting. The thing I talk about and hop on is, on average, I don't know, given the tool right? But maybe our customer spends 30% of their time in our tool, maybe 40%, maybe 20. But a lot of times the tools that we have, I mean, our customers are just moving from tool to tool, they're kind of in and out, they're doing so many different things. And so, I always am trying to preach and hop on the, our customer and our contact, maybe isn't in our tool 60 to 70% of their time. So what are they doing with the rest of their time? Right? What are the types of things that they have to do on a regular basis? They're probably having internal meetings, they're dealing with their own customers. And so, if you start thinking through some of these scenarios, just like you mentioned, what's going to be really valuable for them? Insights that they don't currently have today, a way to help share that information internally, that makes it easy for them to do, and a couple of other things. So when I was a CSM, one way that I would try and go interact and engage with some dormant customers maybe, or try and kind of get in front of them, I would ask them for their PowerPoint template as a way as a kind of a non- descript way to reach out and just," Hey Sean, do you mind kicking me over your PowerPoint template for your business? I wanted to throw a couple of slides together about our progress that we've made, and things that are happening, but I wanted to put it your template. Because you're going to have to go share this internally."" So let's kind of screw my logo and branding right now because I know you need to go tell this story." And so that was kind of a way maybe to catch people off guard, because they weren't really expecting me just to reach out randomly, one sentence email, it just kind says," Hey, do you mind shooting me over your PowerPoint template? I'm putting some slides together for you. So, that was one tactic I used as a CSM and it almost without a doubt to your point, I think will said yes to it because I was just giving them slides and I would try and make them extremely valuable. It would be kind of," Hey, how far have we come with our product? What are we really enabling your business to do? And then what are some market insights?" And it was just three slides that I would try and throw together. And that was just a really, again, kind of a surefire way to, again, kind of maybe catch them off guard in a good way." Hey, just shoot your Powerpoint template. I'm going to put something of value together for you that you can go use." So that was just one I've used that you kind of triggered on and hit on for me.

Sean Fleming: Well, I'm going to copy that. I'll share that with my team.

Jeff: Yeah. And I tend to, if I showed you the email I would use, it's kind of just so straightforward and simple. You're just kind like," Oh man, like no other context yet?" And I was like," No." Just like one sentence, here you go. So I'll try and revive that somewhere and share it with you if I can. But that was one way. I'm curious for you too, you kind of mentioned that when you start thinking about engaging these customers and trying to give them some sort of market analysis or other ways that customers are using your product, I think that was another really good one that you talked about. And that's another thing that leaders want to see. But when you're kind of coaching your teams on maybe QBR playbooks, or if you guys have regular recurring meetings with customers, are there a couple of like surefire slides that you know you're kind of getting in there, like you said earlier, or early on after your experience? Can you just inaudible example?

Sean Fleming: Early on it's the insights. So, our softwares are driving analytics type software. So the key thing I push, even from the presale process ultimately through adoption and beyond is, getting those insights, right? And that we have tons of great internal reports and so forth. And the team, you're so busy fighting fires, you don't look at those internal things to get those nuggets of wisdom. I think all the data's right there in front of you, you have to just kind of keep analyzing it. And if you're probably not watching as much, maybe the customer isn't either. So you have to go back and make them aware of these pieces there, show them those pearls, and one of those insights may hit, right? And especially if it hit over in this customer profile, well, if you have the same persona in your other customer, try it over there as well, right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Sean Fleming: And so I just tell them," Partner up with product management, get some of that functional knowledge, get some of those insights as well, and then bring it back to the customer." Typically, they don't want to talk because they don't see the value. It's that simple. They don't see the additional value. They may get the value from the product, it's working as you sold it and that's fine, but they don't get the additional value. So you need to show that and then they're going to call you. Then they're going to say," I have to think through this problem. I got a scenario. Can you possibly do this?" And once you've opened that door a little bit, I think you have that credibility. And many times people don't have confidence. And so I think if you get a lot of that knowledge, you feel more competent and you'll more confident, right? And then you're going to go out there very confidently and talking about some other things they can do, adjacent use case, so forth, what other customers are doing, roadmap, all those things, and then a customer's going to listen, they're going to pay attention to that. So I think for us, it is usually they're not ignoring us, they're dormant in the sense that they don't want to meet and go through. But if there's an issue, of course, they'll call up. That kind of thing. So I said, you have to show the value. They have all the analytics, we know our data better than they do probably, so we have to give them that insight before they've uncovered it. Work with the product teams, build your knowledge, talk to the data scientists folks. There's very smart people in the companies I'm sure you, and get those nuggets there, and then you present that to your customer.

Jeff: Yeah. The last point I'll leave here too that I think about quite a bit, especially from some of my days, is that if you can become really good at analysis, if you can become really good at taking some of the and building and architecting the story and doing that on a slide in a very co... I was going to say coherent, but I meant succinct. In a succinct way, I think that's also where you find that customers are reaching back out to you because they're realizing that that's a," Oh man, that was a, a really good kind of insider nugget you put in there." And it wasn't just kind of regurgitating a metric from a graph that I'm already looking at. It was like,-

Sean Fleming: Something new.

Jeff: ...there was some sort of hypothesis behind it, there was some sort of analysis about why it changed, maybe there was some opinion that we dropped in there, or maybe there was some market analysis," Hey, it moved because of these market changes or things that we're noticing." So, I think the more you can get, again, if I'm thinking out there at CSMs, and like you had said earlier, some of the skillsets that you look for on that trifecta, analysis can become such a really, really good weapon for you of," Hey, I can really get in front of my customers because I'm giving them something in that again, they feel like a shareable internally with their company." That's typically when you find somebody who's reaching back out to you about slides you build or analysis that you have or reports,-

Sean Fleming: Exactly.

Jeff: ...because you were really good at taking that and applying it to their business and then they took those insights and they shared it internally. And that's where you're going to get that validation.

Sean Fleming: So think about what excites you, right? You saw it presented in some slide that you didn't see before and you said," Oh wow. I wish I had that slide." Right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Sean Fleming: So you work on, even within our own community, build up this repertoire of different slides, everyone has different data and different ways of presenting it. But maybe that's the more insightful thing that works for your customer base, right? That would work for you. And I think as a CSM, you make it your own when you get that data from your product, your engineering team, and you ask those questions, you put yourself in the mind of the customer, right? And you're going to say," Okay, here's my why, here's my question. I'm going to formulate my own way." And then you present it. I think it will break through the noise, like you say, get the customer's template even better, right? So it works even better.

Jeff: Exactly. I like it. Awesome. Well, Sean, appreciate you hopping on today. It's been fun just to navigate and kind of talk through a little bit of health score, trying to make sure we can still keep it actionable, make sure that we can really then try and figure out a repeatable process and just talking through a couple of ways, maybe think about some dormant customers, how do you get back in front of them? So if people want to find more of you, where should they go?

Sean Fleming: I'm available on LinkedIn. I will definitely try to respond to every post there, but that's the best way to seek me out.

Jeff: Awesome. Cool. Sean Fleming, over on LinkedIn. And we'll have to have you back, I think you've probably got some more nuggets of wisdom in there that we can pull out. So we'll have to make it happen soon.

Sean Fleming: Thanks, Jeff. I'm learning from you.

Jeff: 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.(silence)


Today Sean Fleming is on the show to discuss the complexity of health scores and how to keep them manageable and actionable.

If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: http://gaingrowretain.com/

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

Jay Nathan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/

Jeff Breunsbach: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach

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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Sean Fleming

|VP of Customer Engagement, Zendrive