Metrics to Customer Success w/ CS Leadership Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, Metrics to Customer Success w/ CS Leadership Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>A weekly segment:</p><p><br></p><p>CS Leadership Office Hours</p><p>Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.</p><p><a href="https://lu.ma/CSLOH" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://lu.ma/CSLOH</a></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="http://gaingrowretain.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">http://gaingrowretain.com/</a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/</a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach</a></p>
Profitable ARR and Renewals
00:27 MIN
High Value Conversations at Executive Levels
00:33 MIN
The Basis to Serve Customers
00:28 MIN
Strategic Initiatives
00:25 MIN
Never Underestimate the Power of Knowledge
00:19 MIN

podcast introduction: Welcome to the gain, grow, retained podcasts

Speaker : In our breakout room we did spend a little bit of time talking about our new year's resolutions. So, we actually didn't get to the second question; I wanted to offer a little bit of our feedback on the first one. Kind of across the board, we realized that we really do not have that profitability metric for customer success. And we took an interesting kind of exit ramp from the conversation and talked about the age- old question of where does the commercial responsibility lie and if it does not lie within customer success, are you viewed as just a cost center by your organization versus a revenue generating center. And I think that is key to keep in mind when you are having that profitability discussion of where that commercial responsibility lies, but across the board in our group, we really, we talked about acquisition costs and general cost of churn and retention goals, but not really that profitability number. So it is definitely on my mind and I can speak on behalf of my own organization. I have just a gut feeling that we are going through such dramatic growth right now that it is not something that we have taken pause and looked at. We have the resources to kind of throw people in where we need them, and we have our goals that we want to achieve. And it is, this is kind of brought it to my mind that maybe we do take pause and look at that profitability number and make sure we are not too far out of whack even in growth mode.

Bertell: And so this is interesting so you currently do not, do you have any milestone, like any timeline when it comes to without profitability I feel like our customer success, like an IT department is more for cuts that don not really have a P and L. Do you have any my sort of timeline for 2021? You said, I really need to put some numbers again, this cost of managing your customer success team based on however your business is actually growing it.

Speaker : I think so. I think that is probably in line for us in the late 2021, after we have achieved some of the aggressive objectives that we want to get under our belt in the first half of the year.

Bertell: Okay. Thank you. And I do not see any hands raised, but I would love to jump into David, just sharing what he shared with our group, which I thought was really interesting. Go ahead, David.

David: Thanks inaudible So, there is a lot of people talk about ARR and I have never really focused just on ARR, for me it is about profitable ARR, right? Anybody can be successful, giving things away for a loss and then going out of business. So, but the two big metrics for me would be profitable ARR and then at eBay, my customer success team was responsible for renewals. So we also looked at the percentage of renewals closed because if you are closing renewals it shows that you are adding value, that you are doing all those other things and my feeling is instead of trying to measure value, if I Have customers that keep coming back for more than, then I know that the company is adding value to them. So I would say those two, and then there is a third one that I like to use that is not related to profitability, but that is NPS. And I think NPS has to be more of a global measure across an organization, but you have to be careful about how you do NPS and that could be a whole different conversation.

Bertell: Thank you, David. I really love it. I find that very inspiring, especially we keep talking about AR and your recurring revenue and you add in really important work, which is actually profitable and AR like having a flat renewal or just increasing growth, having growth through price increase because you have more features does not make you out. Does not mean you are more profitable. So we need to find a ways to upselling across that. And we are back to a question that has been around in 2020, which is our customer success. Should he or she handled the commercial part of upselling or selling or just being really value- base. So, this is not the conversation for today. I'm going to go back and forth between one question and the other. So the second one, what are your top three major strategy initially for 2021? I feel immediately my share, I have shared about actually setting this framework here. Anyone would like to share their, his, or her thoughts around the second question. No?

Andreas: inaudible I can speak for my group as a co- host I cannot raise my hand, so I just raise my voice. We had actually three grades strategic initiatives in our team. One was to increase the collaboration with the end users so that they are not surprised and overwhelmed by all these new, great things that are coming out of the product pipeline and making sure they are enabled and equipped to really improve their productivity with all those newer features. One other company is empowering the CSMs more to make decisions at their level and have basically some more freedom about initiatives with them. And the third one was to train the CSMs who are very much focused right now in helping this end user community to have more these high value conversations at the executives levels. So to engage more with the decision makers and I thought those were really awesome. So that is it from my belief group, number six.

Bertell: inaudible I really love the idea of freeing. I think it should be in a recurrent topic every year. We should be able to add more scales and better work internally across them. I would like just to stay a little more on the three measures strategy initiatives. Any ones would like to add anything else, if not, I'm going to ask Boaz as actually, I think you share some of your strategic initiative on one of your many webinars or conversation or interview. I'm losing track with all of them, but if anyone is raising their hands. Actually, Paul now, go ahead and then we jump to Boaz.

Paul: crosstalk Thanks a lot. A lot of our 2021 objectives are like the top three are going to be more commercial driven a more commercial approach for revenue generating activities for our CS org. So the first and foremost is that we have to we are transitioning our AEs sales team from having to renewal cross sell ups, sell responsibility to our CS team and having more sales focused or revenue, OR revenue- focused CSMs and inner CS, or we have three different pillars and we need to build out and scale it. So this is another objective for 2021 is we have our under CS umbrella we have support, which is a pretty strong pillar already. And then the other two that we are working on is the account management value driving kind of business acumen pillar, which will drive the revenue. And then the other one is that onboarding implementation pillar, which we want to lower that time to value to TT the, to our customers. And then lastly, which kind of rolls up into the other two is improve our data. Improve our usage data for our CS to be empowered, to both drive in proven value to our customers, as well as drive for a, an upsell, a renewal or a cross sell or any other revenue generating activity.

Bertell: So that is interesting. So three pillars: support, account management, and essentially onboarding. So the customer success are going to be leading the exclusivity. The onboarding account management would be the team providing ongoing value to the client in charge of the renewal. And the support will be certainly the background for technical support. Who will be the main face for the main point of contact essentially for the your client.

Paul: It would be the account that account manager value driving conversation, because those are the ones that are going to be reaching out for the QBRs or solution reviews because we feel QBR is has not had a bad arrest, so we do not want to use that term. So we do solution reviews. They do reach out for, you know, collaboration, G2, podcasts, that sort of thing. So really that account management pillar is going to be that main point of contact moving forward. But we do what we call it a full stack CSM approach. So anyone, no matter what pillar you are in, you should be able to help out if needed. We are a small seed stage startup. So you still have to wear hats. We are not big enough to have a specific individual roles, but you do have super powers and whatever your super power is, we will throw you into to one of those three pillars.

Bertell: Thank you. This is really interesting. Thank you, Paul. Boaz, and then now we can go back to the first question. I am going to pick another lucky one to share his or her thoughts.

Boaz: Thanks, Bertel. I will pile on to the comment on data. I just extended an offer that if everything works well, the guy will sign, in the next couple of days for guy to add, join our team and build a super strong data kind of intelligence program. Actually the job title is customer success intelligence program. We are doubling down dramatically on getting the insights on customers. And this is a foundation for us towards creating the right playbooks that can in turn, save our customers based on sale of assets. Tom Tomasz, some of you may know him, he is one of the most worthwhile people to read. He is a VC from Redpoint Ventures wrote at the end of 2019. [ inaudible 00:09:40] is his top predictions for 2020. Obviously COVID was none of those, but he did say that data science is the new CSM. And I remember I was reading that. I tried to understand it better. I actually talked to him about his perspective on this, and I thought that makes all the sense in the world. When you think about customer success, the main thing that differentiates us from the old school account management role is the availability of data is the basis to serve customers, right? You want to sell customers based on what they do, not based on the time in the month that, it is all the duration before the renewal or whatever. So getting deeper and deeper and deeper into understanding the data as the base to do everything else is critical. And we are now doing literally doubling down on debt with a whole team focused on generating that level of data. So that is the main thing for me in 2021.

Bertell: If you don not mind adding on the chat group the name of this author. I'm sure some people might have missed it such as myself would love to go through this book. I love the idea of the data sciences as a new CSM. Let me ask you a question about the specific data. Is it based on your own strategy? Is it data that is already available within your organization based on usage, based on the strategy, or is it, are you going to be working with data vendors related to your client's space to better understand as an industry level, how to better capture your client and provide you always more value, if it makes sense?

Boaz: That is a good question. We do not plan in 2021 to go outside. We do plan to collect all the data from the different systems, from the CRM, from the HR, from the case management, obviously from the product itself. And lot of the work that we will do is work with the products team on getting deeper insight into the product itself. And then the outputs are going to be to one output for our CSMs to know what are the segmentation? What are the activities? What are the actions? So we can do things. The second output is data for customers, which we may or may not decide to monetize, but giving them more insight into their business based on assets, becoming much more important partner than their rights to them. We don not only provide you software you can do business with, we also give you insights that are more interesting and valuable for you. How to work with your customers, how to walk with your employees, how to optimize the way you walk, almost irrespective of whether or not you use that. So obviously if you don not use me, I can't have you the data, but I'm trying to create another tier of value proposition to them.

Bertell: Thank you. Right. Anyone wants to jump on these data science, being the new customer success as the strategy goal for 2021. Laura, am I going to have to pick you I know you are hopefully well versed on that stuff. No?

Laura: It actually goes back into, so the challenge I have is our CSMs have gotten so strong for everyone's knowledge. I lead a customer success team that works with robotics and the data is really powerful because it obviously optimizes the efficiency of the robotics. It improves performance and CSMs are experts and looking at the data and creating recommendations. And one of the things we have been doing with the product team, I don't know if any of you use Grammarly and I find David, I see your hand raise and Boaz. I find their emails and prompts and tips to be one of the best that improved my performance. And one of the things that the more that CSMs act as great data analysts, the less they use our platform for analytics. And so I'm at this interesting crossroads where I am pushing a product team to be improving not only the experience in the platform and really getting them the data they need, but then also how can emails and other communications or texts and other things. My stakeholders are interesting in that. They are not always sitting. They are not definitely not sitting at a desk. So I'm trying to figure out how a self- service model, how communications can prompt behavior and also highlight when things are at risk while also things are great. So I've advanced the team to a point where it is actually hurting the success of our customers in adopting our data platform, but also making it more difficult. So one of the things I shared in the strategic initiatives is I got to get them to higher value. So that's one of the big initiatives and it's through product, through onboarding efforts and through self- service that we're actually developing that. So I'm a big fan of great data CSMs and the ability to tell a great story and talk at a very executive level and then drop back down to the, what is the end user for us. So Bernard is that, I'm sorry. Burnout. Does that answer your question?

Bertell: Yes. And it's, it's really interesting. I'm curious, I'm really excited to discover a little more within the 2021 one where this project is actually getting to anyone who would like to jump on this interesting data relative space. Yes. Maude

Madhur: Hi everyone. So we kind of really got the points really good and we got a B2B SAAS company in dealing with big data analytics, big spaces, and all like big shopping mall retail completely. And even for us, I think adding up to the strategic insights for next year, being focused on generating or creating a source of growth for our company in terms of adding every client data and product adoption, everything in one place. And now for us, it would be the next stage would be generating insights from it so that we can, create a more meaningful insights for all these customers and then take action items on top of it. And also a lot of that basically utilize how we can help our customers accordingly based on that in video format. Also, the second part of that is that we are utilizing the way our customers use our product and then trying to figure it out how the whole industry uses it and how they can learn from each other, in a more better way. For both the way that we are heavily focusing on data, both from their own usage and their product, [crosstalk 00:15:43-00:15:47] so, completely agree with that.

Bertell: Thank you Madhur, thank you. This is during our conversation, I find it very interesting, the type of value you are providing to an industry and end user who has been really impacted by COVID- 19. So in terms of strategic initiative for 2021, when you have an industry that has been as impacted as a cruising, cruise or retail, anyone would like to share a how they are actually providing value, keeping the business, running some renewals as well for 2021, and his strategic insights.

Amanda: I can speak to that. crosstalk Hi, I'm, I'm in, I'm in the hotel space. So it hass been quite a year for us. 95% of our customer base had to shut completely for three months or more so, and still about 80% are not open. So our strategy as a result of the impact of COVID, we had a riff. And so are doing more with less, right? So really focusing on tech- touch, and then going back to that segmentation. And it just so happens that doing more with less is now our value proposition for our product. So our hotel clients are, have had to downsize as well. They're running at much lower occupancy is they are looking at really investing in technology to do the things that a larger staff did. So we are partnering, we are pairing both our value proposition to our customer base with that, to our actual, how we will run our CS team. So we have quite, some roadblocks ahead of us and, and we are looking at tools, right? So I think a few tools, we talked about Pendo, Appcues. What can we do? Where can we invest in technology? It is sort of how we're aligning. So if anybody has ideas around those things, both internal tools in terms of BI tools and data analytics tools, but also tools that will actually hit the customer directly. I would love any insights on that.

Bertell: And thank you, Amanda. That's really very insightful. And that's where maybe if we can add a couple of insight of how to actually keep this client renewed, focusing on the future when we will be back to normal, any insights? I'm going to pick, I'm going to move to the second page crosstalk. Yes, go ahead. Andreas

Andreas: I'm jumping in here for two reasons. So as a mathematician, I love Boaz and Tom and Ed Powers and all the other data nerds put myself in that corner. But in our team, someone actually said how they started with analytics kind of is since they have some customers that they are not able to touch and just doing the comparison between the results in terms of renewals and retention between the two segments. If you think of customers that have a CSM, that do not, we're already some staggering results, and you have that, then you can find yourself like Boaz, a data scientist who can drill deeper down into the other metrics. But also as one of the co- hosts today I want to take a nice screenshot. And so I tried several, one of them and always someone was kind of in an inopportune pose. So if during the next few minutes, you try to smile a bit harder and that will all look so much better on the LinkedIn post for that. Thank you.

Bertell: Thanks Andres. Thank you. We will take a picture toward the end for the last one. Everyone is going to stay. Happy new year. I would love to have a Niels and Marcus thoughts just sharing their thoughts. Sorry. I do not mean to put you on the spot, but we can start with Neils. I would be very quiet on the second slide on the second page. So it is bringing you back up. What are your thoughts on do strategic initiative around providing value to industry- based clients that have been directly impacted by the COVID such as hotel to go back to inaudible exam question.

Neils: Yeah. And Bertel thanks for the call- out always happy to share, appreciate the, putting your finger on. So, in these cases where there literally was no playbook written ever for anything like this, right? A couple of things you have got to rely on. Number one, everybody, you and your company and your CS team in particular are domain experts. You think about the problems that your solution solves more than anybody else ever will. Therefore I can confidently say without knowing any many of you individually, but you are world- class experts in your solution, right? And in those times when there's a lot of uncertainty, your customer is facing just as much as you and bringing those situations to the table where you are bringing ideas that are grabbed from a large, different, a large amount of customers and bringing them together to help them figure out some direction forward. Like Madeline was saying, there's a whole different focus that they have now in serving their customers and even positioning their product. That's fantastic. And that only came as the result of all of this, crazy stuff that happened. So never doubt that, the expertise that you have to see the world in a vastly different way even than your customers does, is incredibly valuable. And I would say to always take a step back and be looking at that and saying, look, we are unique and that we see how hundreds of people do this. It's our job to take that, bring it up to a high enough level that we can share it probably at a framework level that could help benefit all of our customers, right? Because we can't just say like customer a to this and customer B to this and customer C to this, and you should do this. That does not really work. But if you say the top things that are happening in to our hotel clients, given the circumstances here is they are doubling down in these three areas. Now let's talk about how our solution can help you double down in these three areas, right? You create a direct connection into that. So, never underestimate the power of knowledge that you have from serving a customer base, because your customers, they never see the same spectrum. They are only working within their world. And they are just trying to solve the problems that are right in front of their face. But you can see it from 2050, a hundred, 200 thousands of different angles. And it's your job to bring that to the surface, help them find a new way for it.

Andreas: I love it. I love it.

Bertell: Yes. And always our see the customer success team as kind of the eagle eye above the cloud. We have these 360 views. Our client love hearing stories of other businesses or industry you have been impacted and how that can relate to them and providing these aha moments or these blind spots about something that might be useful in the short term to help them to survive. We have got a few minutes, but I'm going to pick up Ms. Sherry who is as well, very quiet during our conversation. So if you do not mind sharing your thoughts around those loose industries that have been directly impacted by the COVID and how in your belief to customer success can provide additional value. And when you essentially those businesses?

David: Neils, I know you had something to do with this.

Neils: I was going to say that technically, this was all Bertell. I wasn't, sure you got called on happily it wasn't me, it wasn't me.

David: So it's interesting, our company, like I said, for those of you have heard me say this before I apologize, but we're an SEO and content marketing software. And we work with a lot of people who have been hit, like hotel chains, e- commerce media. Everybody's been impacted in some way. And what we have found just based on, like I said, the niche area vertical that we sit in is a lot of people were woefully under pre unprepared for things to go completely digital or there or not really didn't realize until it was too late, the impact that your online presence has and how and where to put things. So we have seen a lot of companies come to us this year. Like what do we do? And I mean, we have been fortunate and not only weather the storm, but have experienced a lot of growth this year, simply because of that. But like, e- commerce how to, how do we help your business sustain something when, especially if you rely on the brick and mortar where the traffic has died down for anybody in the travel sector that we deal with, we work with a large hotel chain, how do we help them? And a lot of that is looking at it, not just from a larger expanse is, but the local level, because different states, different communities, when they have those landing pages for different hotel chains and really be able to hone in on what they can do for their website. And a lot of it can be super technical, but content, what are people looking for right now? What is the intent of their search and how to best support that. So we have been doing it. Like I said, it is just interesting. Like I said, we have seen a lot of that. Universities they have been hit, they have gone, a lot of them have gone, digital, or they had some online learning, but they did not put a ton into that because now they had to. So we deal with a couple of people in the EDU space, but that has grown.

Bertell: Thank you. Interesting. This is very interesting. We've got under the full minutes left. I want to make sure, sorry. I'm telling you, I see you raising your real hand, but maybe the next time do you want me to, but we have another four minutes. I would like to leave and sorry Marcus anyways, I told you I would like to invite you to join. But two things I would like to do for the remaining three minutes. We all are going to say happy new years to each other, and I'm going to take a screenshot and this I'm going to leave the last word to Jeff. Who's going to close our conversation. So at three, we are going to say happy new year one, two, three. Happy New Year! Terrible. Thank you. You are going to see that on LinkedIn. Perfect. Jeff, do you want to take over for the remaining three minutes?

Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. Appreciate it. Bertell. Thanks for helping to lead today's session and appreciate everyone joining. I know. Good to hear. I always love how these sessions go. I actually liked being a participant. I was in the chat window. I was actually, connecting. So it's a little different for me this time, which was great, but I from Jay and I just want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone. Who's, who's on the call. Who's been here over there, you know, the remaining or the previous nine months or so that we've been doing this. And I wanted to give you some context, which I think is pretty cool. So we started this on, I think May 5th. It was our first session. We had 18 people in our first session that we held since then. I think we've held 37 sessions. If I counted correctly, 37 office hours across that time, we've averaged about, I think it's close to about 71 people over those 37 sessions. So it's pretty crazy for us to imagine that we started with 18 people. And now we, we regularly get about 50 people. Our community now has actually grown to, I think 3, 600 members. We've got over 5, 000 or 5, 500. Who've engaged in tons of content that we have. Our podcast has gone from literally zero listens. I think we are above 35,000 right now, getting close to 40,000 listens over the last nine months. And so again, this is, you know, a very heartfelt thank you to you all for joining. I know, you know, the biggest thing that I think we always try and strive for is just providing value. That's the reason you all come. We want to give actionable insights, drive value that you all can go put into your day- to- day lives. I think connecting with another, one another during a year like this has just been great for us just to make sure we are not crazy, make sure that we've got the right ideas and make sure we're thinking about it. So, I'm just very appreciative. I know Jay is as well. We're excited for 2021. We've got a ton of great plans coming into, into the fold. And we are going to be gone for the next couple of weeks and I hope everyone gets the opportunity to do some rest and relaxation. Enjoy some time with the computer close if you can. But I just wanted to give that as a last little party gifts about how far we've come as a community together. And I appreciate you all doing this and building it alongside of us and then more to come in 2021. So appreciate everyone and look forward to seeing you all in the very near future. And we will see you all again soon. Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the gain, grow, retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribes. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

DESCRIPTION

A weekly segment:

CS Leadership Office Hours

Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.

https://lu.ma/CSLOH

--

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