The 10 Customer Commandments w/ Megan Bowen

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This is a podcast episode titled, The 10 Customer Commandments w/ Megan Bowen. The summary for this episode is: <p>In today's episode, Jay and Jeff are joined by Megan Bowen. Megan is the COO and CCO of Refine Labs, and is here today to discuss her 10 Customer Commandments.</p><p><br></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Megan's post on The 10 Customer Commandments.</a></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>
Megan's Process for Writing Content
01:10 MIN
The 10 Customer Commandments
01:24 MIN
Diving Into "The Customer Has The Power, Respect This, And Adapt Your Process To Fit Their Needs."
03:56 MIN
The Customer is Probably Not Telling You Everything - It's Your Job To Make Them Feel Comfortable Being Honest
02:13 MIN
The Customer Will Forgive Mistakes, Only If You're Accountable and Take Responsibility
04:17 MIN
The Customer Will Leave At Some Point, That's Okay. Nothing Is Forever
02:18 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to 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 truck 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 initiatives. So drop into the description of this episode and sign up. Welcome back to another episode of Gain Grow Retain. Today, we have a very special guest in Megan Bowen, who is the chief operating officer and chief customer officer at Refine Labs. So Megan, appreciate you hopping on and I'm excited. This is a long time in the making. We haven't recorded a podcast, right? I'm not thinking... Or did we? crosstalk Office Hours, but.

Megan Bowen: Yeah. I feel like we spent a lot of time together in March, early April of 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, when you all launched CS Office Hours, that was the beginning of Gain Grow Retain. And so we had a lot of fun on some of those live sessions. But this might be the first formal podcast episode we're recording, so it's about time.

Jeff: Yeah, definitely. It's a long time in the making. Big fan of what you and Chris are doing over at Refine Labs, so I'm excited. So before we jump in, we'd like to ask a couple icebreaker questions. And so just a quick, how can we get to know you? I'm not going to pull up any TikTok videos or anything, maybe like you've been privy to in the past, but there's a couple of questions. And my first one just comes from a conversation we were having just before the podcast started, so I'm going to have to ask, what's your daytime, go- to snack? If it's in your pantry, what are you going to grab out of the pantry and snack on at your desk?

Megan Bowen: So my favorite go- to snack, it's very specific, a sliced honey crisp apple, with some chunky peanut butter to dip it in. So I hope that that exceeded your expectations.

Jay: It actually matched mine. It matched my expectation. I knew it was going to be something healthy, for some reason crosstalk.

Jeff: I was going to say mine, my go- to are goldfish, popcorn or a trail mix. So you've definitely got mine out of the way, got me beat on the health factor there. All right. Second question. This is one I've been doing since the beginning, I can't retire it. I've tried to, but I've always asked. What's your favorite fruit?

Megan Bowen: My favorite fruit?

Jeff: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Megan Bowen: Well, since I already mentioned the apple, I'll give you another fruit. So I would say... because honey crisp apples, I probably eat one a day. I love grapes and I recently discovered cotton candy grapes.

Jeff: Oh, I've seen those.

Megan Bowen: Have you eaten those? It's basically candy, but you feel good about yourself while you eat them.

Jeff: I've seen those. That's a first. I've been asking that question probably for 50 or 60 episodes, that's the first, the cotton candy grapes.

Megan Bowen: And pro tip, freeze your grapes and then crosstalk frozen dessert when you enjoy them.

Jeff: I just saw that recently. I like that, it's a good tip. crosstalk. All right. To round out our quick get to know you, the last question, this is actually from Jay. This is one that he found recently and I've been asking it and I've really liked it. So, if you were going to go on to jeopardy as a contestant, customer success, can't be... it can't be the choice, but what category are you going to dominate on jeopardy? What are you going to know all of it? It doesn't have to be one that exists, you can create your own category. But what are you going to dominate if you were on jeopardy?

Megan Bowen: Cooking food topics. I fancy myself a great home chef, my life plan B is to become a food network star. And so I spend a lot of time thinking about food, making food, cooking. And so cooking for 1000, Alex our new hosts of...

Jeff: Yeah, I like that. I don't know, Jay, have you answered? What is your topic that you would crush on jeopardy?

Jay: Oh, man. I don't know. I think it probably would have something to do with music, maybe even'90s music,'80s music,'70s music, or guitars. But I'm not an encyclopedia of knowledge on that stuff either, I just really like it. So I might think I know more than I do, probably.

Jeff: I think mine, the only thing I feel I know to a tee would probably just be some sport's knowledge. crosstalk.

Jay: I know you were going to say golf.

Jeff: Yeah, I said that earlier to my team. I'd asked this question on my team. We had a team meeting this morning, so I do an ice breaker where we go around, there's about six or seven team members and we were answering that. So I did say golf earlier. I said anything golf related, from the Tiger Woods era, 2000 to 2020, I could probably knock that out of the park.

Jay: He knows golf to a tee.

Jeff: Yup. Perfect. Well, we wanted crosstalk. That's a good pun.

Jay: Yeah, okay. Thank you.

Jeff: Yeah, you're welcome. Well, we wanted crosstalk to get you on here, Megan, for a multitude of reasons, but one of the inspirations was a recent post you had on LinkedIn. And before we even dive into what that post was, I was curious, can you give the people a little bit of what you want or a little bit of, what's your process for writing content? For your growth that we've seen on LinkedIn and your consistency, what have you found to be some of the key successes for you to get a thought down on paper and then get it refined, that you can put it out via LinkedIn? So I'm curious about that first and then we'll jump into the post.

Megan Bowen: Yeah. Great question. So people ask me this a lot and I always like to tell people, " Don't underestimate how much knowledge you have, the things that feel obvious to you are usually not obvious to most other people." And so really I have this running document of different ideas that I keep, so that when I'm sitting down in the morning and want to write a post, I already have a lot of different ideas I can look through. And typically one will call my name and I'll write out a post. And really those ideas are generated by me living my life, going day to day. People ask me questions, different challenges come up at work, I have different experiences with customers that inspire a thought track that I'll follow. And so I think you just have to be paying attention. For me, a big prompt is questions. Whenever anyone gives me a question I'm like, " Other people probably have this question. So I'm going to throw this on my idea sheet and see if it inspires me to write a longer post about another day."

Jeff: I like that. I love the point you made too, just about how your experiences are... You've had your experiences and you've got something to offer, because not everyone has the same experiences. And so there's this inherent idea that you have something to share that's valuable. The other reason I liked that you said that is also, it's something to preach to customer success teams. I think a lot of times you might hear... And maybe it's even just more broadly teams that are customer facing. I think you've got a lot of experts, product experts, people who've been in the industry for a long time, and that works as a double- edged sword. When you've got experience, it's a good thing because you can go show that depth, you can really drive value. But then it's also, I think like you were saying, I think the flip side of that, or the double- edged sword of it is, sometimes it can be something where you don't realize that sometimes the simplest thing can really help customers, and you take that for granted. And so that's something that I've been thinking about quite a bit recently is that, don't take for granted because your customers at the end of the day are just trying to save an hour here or there. Maybe they're just looking for that one little tip that's going to get them to the weekend earlier, and those things can be powerful when you're building relationships, so I like that.

Megan Bowen: Yeah, it's really inaudible.

Jeff: All right. So the posts that we wanted to look at where your 10 customer commandments. Which I think one thing that I've just appreciated about looking at your LinkedIn content recently is you typically brand things, you have lists and you brand them. And that just leaves a memorable moment. So that's why I saw it and I was like, " We have to talk about this." So Let's just each read one after the other. So I'll read the first one and then Jay, you read the second, Megan, you read the third. So we'll just read the 10 commandments and then we're going to come back and pick out which ones are our favorite. So first commandment that you wrote was, the customer has the power, respect this, and adapt your process to fit their needs.

Jay: Number two is, the customer is not always right. It's okay to set boundaries and push back.

Megan Bowen: Number three, the customer's perception is their reality. Ensure you understand their perception.

Jeff: Number four, the customer is probably not telling you everything. It's your job to make them feel comfortable, being honest.

Jay: Number five, the customer will leave at some point and that's okay. Nothing is forever.

Megan Bowen: Number six, the customer's expectations will evolve. Stay connected to their changing needs.

Jeff: Number seven, the customer wants the relationship to work, make it easy for them.

Jay: Number eight, the customer will forgive mistakes, am I reading, only if you are accountable and take responsibility.

Megan Bowen: Number nine, the customer decided to engage to drive an outcome. Don't lose focus on driving the desired result.

Jeff: And number 10, last but not least, the customer is just another person, apply the golden rule. I think these are so nicely written succinct. I think you also put just some keywords that really resonate with me in there. So I think what we wanted to do today was just go through and try and dive deeper on some of these. Talk about maybe, how you came up with some of these, what shaped those experiences. We've probably got examples we might be able to bring to the table. So maybe Megan, let's kick it off with you, the guest on the show. What's maybe the one out of these 10 that sticks out for you most?

Megan Bowen: I'll go ahead and latch on to number one. And so I think to provide some additional context on this one, especially in teaming up with Chris last year and joining Refine Labs, through my own experience, building and running customer success teams. And as we think about building our company and really our whole offering is helping our customers get more customers. It's really acknowledging how different things have become, especially when you compare a decade ago, 10 to 20 years ago to today. There's been a massive power shift, from companies and sellers to the buyer and to the customer. And as customer success professionals, I'm sure we can appreciate that shift because I think what comes with it is a much deeper respect for the customer and the teams that support them. And I think that one of the things that I experienced growing up in the startup scene and being at five different B2B SaaS companies, all in customer success or leadership functions, was really witnessing how easy it was for companies to make decisions that were in the best interest of the company, or what the company was trying to achieve, versus their team, their customer. And making decisions that maybe were not fully rooted in reality. Debating theories and hypotheticals in a conference room, but not actually embracing what's happening in real life, and having that inform the strategy and the decision- making. And in my personal success, I think I credit a lot of my ability to turn around teams and drive business results to the fact that I brought a customer success mindset to everything that I did. When I was first COO, when I was managing marketing, sales, success, operations, I thought about the customer through all of those functions, and that drove strategy and decision- making. And again, the second one is the customer isn't always right. But at the end of the day, you have to acknowledge reality, you have to spend time where your customers are. You need to really understand them, if you have any desire to build a scalable, sustainable, successful business that is actually driving results that matter for your customers. And so this applies to how you should think about marketing, sales, customer success. Actually this new thing I've been talking about recently, I'm calling it go- to- market 3. 0. I think there's a really interesting evolution that go- to- market teams might experience, a prediction that I have is really thinking about awareness as the marketing's primary function to get that buyer 80 to 90% through a sales cycle. And then thinking about acquisition, retention, advocacy outcomes as then converting them and staying with them for the longterm. And I'm not cutting out sales, sales matters. But it's just rethinking the over segmentation and really, what are we really trying to do? And at Refine Labs, I do a lot of selling for us, and it's been interesting how if you sell as a customer success person, how it can really improve the lifetime value of that customer and the expectations and the retention, and so. I could go on and on, but I'll pause there to get some of your thoughts or see if you have a follow- up question, if I can dig into any of that deeper for you.

Jay: I'll jump in with a question. What's interesting is, and I know you jumped to the second one, but I'll pick on that one too because... So the customer's not always right, but their perception is right to them, and what they believe is right. So what we have to do is figure out what's going on in their minds? How do they see the world? Which it's what customer success teams I think are accustomed to doing, but more and more, you see people like Chris and you all at Refine Labs and Dave Gerhardt and Gary V, talking about this idea of giving before you receive, and understanding what's valuable to them before you ask for things in return. I'll just summarize. I was in product at one point in my career and one of the mantras that we had is that, there are no answers inside this building. And I think you made the point, a lot of times we're making decisions based on what we think is good for the business, which is a doubly bad thing, what we think and what is good for the business alone. But how's that going to land on the customer? What does it mean? So just talk about it from that perspective. How do you go outside of the walls of Refine Labs or any other company that you've worked with and try to really understand what their perception is and what their needs are?

Megan Bowen: Yeah, absolutely. The simple answer is just talk to customers directly. I think ask open- ended, unbiased questions, to really understand their context. Your questions should start not about what they think about your product or service, or trying to immediately dig into the specific pain points that your product addresses, but more about what is this person dealing with? What is their day to day like? What are their goals? What are their challenges? What are the things that matter to them? What are they trying to achieve? What is not working today in the way that they wish it was working? I think people skip over that step. They make assumptions that their customer, of course, is going to want their product. They think their product is amazing and everyone's going to want it, and not do that particular homework. I think the other piece of it is knowing that, even if you have a lot of those conversations, you're not going to have it all figured out right away. So you need to start by having those conversations, to formulate a hypothesis and stay close to the market. In every leadership position I had, I don't think I've ever gone more than a week where I didn't speak with an actual customer, regardless of my role or my position, because I understand the power of staying connected. And so it's not a one- time market research project that you can then check the box, it's respecting how important that is and making it a priority to stay connected on an ongoing basis. One of my other ones talks about evolving needs. Because that's the other fun part of customer success is that you could nail your original promise to the customer and deliver exactly what they wanted when they bought, but then the next year they have a different problem and crosstalk help them solve that problem, then maybe the relationship won't stand the test of time. So I would say customer success is one of the hardest functions in the company.

Jay: It really is. Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah. I think the thing that stands out too, when you were just talking through staying close to the customer, staying connected is, it's easier than ever to do that. There are so many avenues. I think I'm in your court, Megan, where I try to talk to customers as much as possible, and I like to get on the phone so that I can hear it directly, so that I can ask specific questions and whatnot. But think about the other channels that you have available that you can tap into, if you don't have that type of time. You can go listen to gong calls and get into there, and you can listen to it on two speed. You can go listen for certain keywords and only listen to snippets. Think about how that can really change the game, especially if you set aside time to do that type of thing. Another is communities. You can go into communities now that are open and free. You can go, listen, hear what your quote unquote, ideal customer profile, what are they talking about? Hey, Gain Grow Retain, there are 6, 000 customer success leaders. And one of the things that maybe has always irked me and Jay since the beginning is, people always coming and maybe trying to take without giving. Technically you can take without give, you can just come in and just read the comments, you can read all the discussions, you can read all this stuff that's happening. And so I just think taking advantage of those scenarios are such easy ways, that you don't have to uproot things that you're already doing. You don't have to go change a big process. It's just, " Hey, can I answer 10 to 15 minutes of my day to go do these types of things and set aside the time?" And I'll tell you what, I think it's right now and underrated activity. One of the things that we're trying to do right now, and the reason why I say it's underrated is, think about the types of content you can generate and the type of value you can generate if you're really listening to your customer to build something of value, rather than listening to respond. A lot of times you're listening to, " Hey, our product can do that. Hey, this can happen. Hey, you can do this." Why don't we just listen to intake and then start looking at, " Hey, do we have a tool or a template that we could send them that would be really viable for what they were talking about?" How can we start to get that into a mechanism of creating content? Which I think is going to be really valuable to teams, especially as you start to think about customer success as an actual scale of function. I think a lot of times in the past that was just, " Hey, we automate some emails here and there." But now, we're starting to get tooling and technology where you can create a totally digital customer success experience. And that's going to be predicated on, do we have the right amount of content to deliver at the right times, at the right moment for customers? So that just resonated a lot with me when you were talking about... The customer has the power, going back to your first point. But I think listening, staying connected to them really has influence over what you're doing in the future, because of the content you can create and the value that you can generate.

Megan Bowen: Yeah, absolutely. What's your favorite, Jeff, if you were going to pick one of these that stood out to you? I know it's hard because they're all good. crosstalk.

Jeff: Hey, I appreciate that confidence because they definitely are all good. The one that resonates a lot with me is number four. So the customer's probably not telling you everything, it's your job to make them feel comfortable, being honest. Did I steal yours, Jay?

Jay: You did. It's okay. I got a story I'll...

Jeff: So I think for me that just becomes more and more important because of what we just talked about. I think sitting in on customer calls and trying to build authentic relationships is a lot harder than I think it needs to be or tends to be. And I think part of that is just trying to create the right openness on those types of calls, trying to create the right relationship, trying to make sure that it's okay to share both positive and negative feedback. And I think the other thing that comes to mind a lot is, if you start to show customers with action that you're actually listening to them, then I think that more and more honesty comes after that. I think more and more, they start to feel more comfortable because they're saying, " Okay, if I share this it's coming from a good place, they're actually going to do something or address it or talk about it." So one example that we've done recently that just maybe hits the nail on the head for me is, you typically respond to an NPS survey and the automated message comes from your CSM and says, " Thanks for responding. Hey, I saw this happen, let me reach out to you and we'll schedule yada, yada, yada." But one thing that we tried last quarter, and we're going to continue to do this, is we actually sat down and we looked at, what are some of the major themes that came out of the NPS responses for the last 30, 60, 90 days, what are they aligned to in the business and do we have active projects against them? And then if we do, we wrote a page, but then we actually just had Jay sit down in front of a camera, and we had Jay openly talk and say, " Hey, we want you to know that we actually read this, we actually listened to this, this isn't just going into a black box. And we want to show you how this aligns to priorities and projects that we're working on as a business, because we want you to know that we're listening. Because at the end of the day, we're only as good as our customers." And so to me, I don't think it's going to be revolutionary. I don't think we're going to say, " Hey, our NPS response rate is going to go from 25 to 100, because we're doing those types of things." But I think over time, that's how you start to show customers through an action. " Hey, we're listening, we're in- taking that information and we're going to do something with it." So that's just one that stuck out to me and something that I think we try and exude when we get on customer calls, is trying to create an openness like that with customers.

Megan Bowen: Yeah. And I think the interesting one with this is, I find that it's really easy to fall into check- ins or conversations with clients where, " How are things going?" Where it's just easy for them to say, " Everything's fine," even when everything is not fine. The reality is, is most people don't like confrontation or conflict, most people don't want to give you bad news. Customers have so much going on and they're like, " I don't want to raise this issue, because I just have other things I'm thinking about." And so, I love the tactic that you described. And I think another thing that I try to do is, I try to frame all my questions to make it really easy for them to give me constructive feedback. And so one of my favorites is, " Hey, if there was one thing that we could have done differently up until this point, what would that thing be?" And then they're like, " Hmm, all right. Well, if I have to pick one thing, I think this is it." And then you get some interesting tidbits of information that way. And so I try to think about, anytime I'm having a meeting with a customer, writing an email, what is some type of specific question that I can ask that just makes it really easy for them to answer and not feel that it's becoming some type of confrontational conversation? So that tactic alone has been helpful. And then I think also directness. So very often, if I feel like something is off and I don't feel I'm getting a straight answer, I just call it out. And I'll say, " Hey, something doesn't feel aligned. Something is off, I can't quite figure out what it is. Do you agree? And can you give me any insight into where we might be missing the mark, so we can course correct?" I think if you're honest and bold people, will usually open up and talk with you at that point. So those are a couple of very specific questions or prompts that I'll use, that can really... you're essentially giving them the floor to share any constructive criticism.

Jay: Even if you think things are okay. Actually maybe a more dangerous situation is if" Oh, everything's fine. Everything's great. It's awesome." It's usually not, this is not a perfect world we live in, and certainly the software rebuild is not perfect. And the way it integrates into the environments that our customers have is not perfect either. So we had an interesting situation come up the other day relative to this, where we lost a customer. And when we went back and did the analysis on it, we found that our main point of contact there, wasn't allowed to talk to us about the fact that they had already selected another vendor. So the ultimate version of what you wrote in that, the customer is probably not telling you everything. They certainly weren't. So I liked the technique, but I think that you outlined it. And I think it's also important to use that technique up and down, and try to get to different people within the org. So if you're the single person connected at an organization, then you're at risk. And if you're not having conversations with people who control the purse strings, are the key users, are the champions internally, then there's probably more risk than you're letting on. So that could inform how you set up your risk model and however you track your customers. If you don't have those relationships, just go ahead and assume everything's not okay. So that's a mantra that I've taken on over the years. It's pessimistic, but.

Megan Bowen: Yeah. It's spot on. It's a great example. And I feel every CS professional has a version of that story that they would be able to tell. What about your Jay? I know Jeff stole your...

Jay: Jeff stole mine. Yeah, I did have a backup, let me see if I can find it. Oh yeah. The customer will forgive mistakes, only if you're accountable and take responsibility. And I would say, especially if you're accountable and take responsibility. It's just basic human psychology at play because of number 10 that you wrote, which is the customer is just another person. By the way, this is so much deeper than just the customer relationship. But if we're willing to be vulnerable and admit that we've not done everything correctly, then customers are usually the first ones to jump in and say, " Well yeah, you didn't, but hey, these other things are going well. So let's just get it back on track and let's go." It's more about awareness. If you don't admit it, you had a support issue and your team didn't respond for three days, or we didn't keep in close communication during an outage, or whatever the situation may be. If you don't admit that you were at fault, then you may not be aware that you have a problem, which is a big problem for me as a buyer. " These people just don't know what they're talking about." Same with your team members, same with your partner in life. So this goes well beyond your customer relationships, but I like that one. What made you write that one, Megan, if you can recall?

Megan Bowen: Yeah. And I think one of the things that I've experienced multiple times in my career is, I actually have built some of the best customer relationships as a result of having a particularly bad moment that we had to overcome. And so I think there's something to be said for, if you're able to work through a really difficult or challenging moment or obstacle with another human, it creates a sense of experience or history or bonding that can actually strengthen the relationship. I guess the cliché of, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And so it's funny, even recently, I approached a conversation with a customer about expanding our partnership and upselling to a different level of service. And essentially my initial approach to broach the conversation, I mishandled it. And even me who has been doing this for years and years and years, I had a lot going on, I skipped some steps and I was like, " I think this is just going to be fine, let's just make this happen." And I clearly ruffled some feathers and upset them. And then when I realized I did that, I was just like, " Okay, stop. And I said, you know what, I tried to rush through this. I messed up, I apologize. This is what I feel I did wrong, if I could go back and do it over again, this is what I would've done instead. And at the end of the day, I don't even care about this upsell anymore. I just want to make sure that you understand that and taking responsibility for the mistakes that I made. And ultimately our partnership is what matters the most, not you buying this extra stuff." And it was amazing how after I was able to just admit that, and you alluded to this it's, " Hey, you know what, it's okay. We're human, I appreciate you saying that. And I agree, but it's really big of you to just own that and apologize, and I accept your apology." And 10 days later I get the signed contract for the upsell. And again, that wasn't the ultimate goal, but now we have... and he's even been teasing me about it a little bit like, how I'm going to aggressive with the next upsell or something like that. And so we've moved past it. They're happy, they're getting what they want. And I think because of how I handled it, we were able to move past it. I take the teasing, I deserve it, but it's fun now. We have this improved relationship. And I love it when you can joke around and have a laugh with a customer. I feel that means you've gotten the relationship to a certain point where there's a lot of comfort and trust.

Jay: crosstalk history. Someone's asked someone to be more aggressive in sales.

Megan Bowen: Yeah.

Jeff: The other thing that sticks out to that too, and something that I think about quite a bit as well is also, understanding who should take accountability and responsibility for what happens. Sometimes I think we have a tendency to... I think it's situations, it's like, " Hey, I'm the chief customer officer. I'm the CEO. Hey, the buck stops with me. I should be the one who's jumping in to solve the problems." But sometimes the customer doesn't really want or need that. They want the apology from their day- to- day contact and they just want to figure out, " Hey, what's the next step that's going to happen? How do we move forward in this?" And so I think also just trying to understand, where is the customer? What's their expectation? And where's the severity of the mistake we have? Who do we need to get involved in order to take accountability and responsibility? And where does the message need to come from and where does it need to be received? Like you said, I think your example was very direct, because it was like, you're doing. But I also think sometimes we're in scenarios with customers where, " Hey, the product didn't perform. It did X, Y, and Z." And at the end of the day, I'm the customer success manager and I'm representing the company and the product is representing the service that we're delivering. And so it's like, " Okay, how do I rectify this? How do I make sure that the customers is feeling heard, is feeling addressed? Hey, this mistake happened. How can I go internally to make sure I've got the right message coming back? And then, who do we need for that message to come from?" I think just becomes a big part of that accountability and responsibility. And I think sometimes there's not a lot of stock that people put into that. I think it's just sometimes your generic, " Hey, I'm going to go get my chief customer officer. Hey, I'm going to go get my CEO because I think that's what you want." When really, I think you can also ask that question too like, " Hey, who would you like to hear from, in order to make this move forward? I'm going to go figure out the right next steps, here's X, Y, and Z. But who else do you feel you need to talk to?" I think even asking that question sometimes can alleviate some of the pressure in the room.

Megan Bowen: Yeah, I totally agree. I'm going to sneak in one last one-

Jeff: I like it.

Megan Bowen: ... I wantto hit on before we wrap up our recording today, and that's number five. The customer will leave at some point, that's okay. Nothing is forever.

Jay: No, it's not.

Megan Bowen: I believe that how you break up with a client or how you off- board a client, how you transition a client away from your product or services is just as important as how you onboard them. And I think that having a sense that no one will ever churn and people are always going to need what you're providing, it's just not realistic. And I think that one of my mantras in life is, everything needs to be a win- win. This needs to be working for everybody involved. And if at some point that stops happening, a re- evaluation of the relationship needs to happen. Sometimes it's a matter of realigning what's needed and just renegotiating the terms of the partnership. But sometimes that means that it's not a fit anymore. And so I feel people are really afraid to navigate those conversations. I feel people are not proactive about calling out that things might be misaligned early, and they just wait for the client to break up with them. I'm a big believer when you feel something is off or it's win, lose, it's not win- win anymore, bring it up early and try to course correct if you can. And then if you can't, work on an exit plan together so that no one's surprised, you're doing it in a way that's going to be easy for both sides to absorb and move on. I think it's easy to think that... This goes to relationships too, in many ways. I think we all have people that come in and out of our lives, and that's okay. And I think not being afraid to address and acknowledge those things, is important. And I can't tell you how many times I've had good breakups with customers, where they've referred new business, they've become a customer in a different context, we've stayed connected in different ways. And so I feel like how you show up in those types of scenarios is really important. And it's uncomfortable, and so I think a lot of people tend to try to avoid those situations. I like to encourage people to lean in.

Jay: Well, one of the things about being in this business is, obviously retaining customers and growing them is key. And that's the ultimate win for a SaaS company, I won't even say customer success, but any company in general. But the next best thing is to know well in advance when it's not going to work out, so you can forecast it and help the business understand what's happening. And then in the best case scenario there, and I've had this happen once really notably at a company I worked at two or three companies ago, but had a customer cancel, gave him the white glove service out the door. They were a great customer for us for years. And we told them on the way out, " Look, you're always welcome back here." And three months later, they called us back and guess what? It was the fastest deal cycle in history. We still had all their data, we just turned them back on, it was glorious. The sales rep that I gave that lead to crosstalk.

Megan Bowen: It was a lay up.

Jay: Exactly. So you never know how it'll turn out. Just do the right thing.

Jeff: I was just going to say, if you didn't bring up that kind of story, I was just going to call Jay out for that. I think that is one of the things that he has preached most as we work together is that, " Hey, of course we want to retain as much business as possible, but at the end of the day, we need to keep two things in mind. If we can forecast it and we can plan ahead for it, then that's going to be a lot better of a situation that we find ourselves in. And then two, we need to make sure that we're easy to do business with. We don't want to just allow people to out of contracts, willy nilly and let cancellations happen." But at the end of the day, we can't look at this from one lens, where we're trying to keep somebody into this when they don't want to be. So yeah, those are definitely two things that I'll re- emphasize that Jay preaches quite a bit. All right, well, we've got a couple of minutes left. So Megan, I've enjoyed this. I think we're going to have to come back maybe and do another one, or I'm telling you, if you all go to Megan's posts, Megan Bowen on LinkedIn, she brands all these things. She has the top 10 customer commandments, she has a top five list, she's got sevens and threes. She is a content master and somebody you should follow. And so there's a ton more that I think we could do this with and break stuff down and bring experiences to the table. But Megan, I've enjoyed this. If people want to find more about you and what you all are doing, where's the best place to go? Be shameless and plug where you want everybody to go for their action.

Megan Bowen: All right. Well, yes, the only social network I am on is LinkedIn. So you can find me there. I try to post content regularly that's helpful, tactical on customer success, sales, marketing, leadership, and personal development. So I mix my content up a bit. I have my own podcast that I launched last November, the Unwritten Playbook. We just wrapped our 40th episode and I'm taking a couple month hiatus to reboot season two with a new format. So we'll be releasing season two later this year. Check out Refinelabs. com. Me and Chris Walker are building the new way to do B2B marketing, and we'd be happy to talk to anybody interested in learning more. And then Chris and I host Demand Gen Live every Tuesday night. And it's published to the State of Demand Gen Podcast, top 25 marketing podcasts in the US, so check that one out too.

Jay: That's awesome.

Jeff: Yeah.

Megan Bowen: Yeah. But so those are all my details. Shameless plugging completed.

Jeff: I can definitely vouch too. I've been to the Tuesday sessions, those are fun. Once you all get into the groove, you guys hit on questions and you try and make sure you're leaving the audience with something that's not your normal standard take. It's not just, " Hey, come, we'll tell you what you already know." So I've enjoyed those. But Megan, thanks for doing this. I'm excited.

Megan Bowen: Thanks for having me, a great conversation.

Jay: Good to see you Megan.

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.


In today's episode, Jay and Jeff are joined by Megan Bowen. Megan is the COO and CCO of Refine Labs, and is here today to discuss her 10 Customer Commandments.

Megan's post on The 10 Customer Commandments

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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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Megan Bowen

|COO & CCO, Refine Labs