Challenges of Integrating New Tools w/ CSM Office Hours
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain, Grow, Retain podcast.
Jeremy: I hope everybody enjoyed the breakout groups and your discussions and got to meet some new folks. I know I speak for my group, almost everybody in our group was new to me. So I'm really excited to make some more connections. For the remainder of our time, I'm going to call on your group, whoever your spokesperson is from your group, ask that you share a 15 to 30 second summary of the discussion and then kind of what's the key prompt you want to open up for the group? And I will hopefully get through most of the groups based on the discussion. And then for those of you who want to ask a question, raise or make a comment on what's being talked about under the reactions button at the bottom of the screen, just raise your hand. Jeff and I will see it and we'll have you all come off mute at that point in time and address the topic that's going on. So yeah, Josh has got it. So appreciate it. So I'm actually... In theme of going in reverse order, I'm actually going to start with group 10. Wow, we had 10 groups, this is awesome. And we'll have you all go first. So from the group, Walter, Marcus, Julie, Irvine, Hailey, Andrew, whoever your spokesperson is, do you want to come off mute and provide a quick summary in the prompt for today's discussion?
Julie: Hello, Jeremy. How are you?
Jeremy: Hi Julie, good to see you.
Julie: Good to see you too. You're doing an excellent job, by the way.
Jeremy: Thank you.
Julie: Fantastic. So yeah, we had Rob, Walter, Hailey, Irvin, Ander, and Marcus in our group. And so it was actually a really good discussion. We were talking basically the kind of theme as we were all talking about our different roles as Australian challenges that we're facing, was those challenges of scaling. So some of us have joined new companies that are very rapidly growing. Some of us have joined companies that have brand new teams that are rapidly growing, and because we're getting lots of new clients, which is excellent, and lots of new team members, which is also excellent, kind of brings up challenges of integrating new tools. What kind of CSM tools are integrated, and then the change management that goes along with that. And it also brings a challenge as we grow our client base and our customer base, how to keep those customers engaged? Because I went into the scale, you have your promoters, the other end of the scale you have your detractors, but there's a lot right in the middle that aren't really sure. A lot of times we're not really sure how to best engage and get them to adopt the product once they purchase it, and then continue to see value as they become more of a long term customer. So those are kind of some of the main challenges that we discussed, were just scalability challenges.
Jeremy: Who doesn't have that challenge, let me know, of being able to drive that? No, that's a great point. Was there a specific question that came out of it that the group was asking for? Just for some feedback on how they've scaled different market segments within crosstalk.
Julie: Yeah. Well, Rob had some good suggestions on unique out of the box ways to engage clients. So maybe if anyone else has some unique ideas on the best way to get those clients engaged that maybe had early adoption of the product, but now have maybe kind of found a little bit into the ether and we need to reel them back in and make sure that they are getting the maximum amount of engagement and value from the service of the product you're offering?
Jeremy: Awesome. That's a great question. So I'll give everybody a moment before I start calling on people to answer the question, but I know scaling and engagement is always a big possibility. I think one thing that I think of from personal experience is identifying customers that... your low touch customers who naturally go through cycles of not communicating versus those who are like really high engagement and then suddenly fall off the face of the planet. So understanding where do they fall on it? If they don't respond, is that normal or is that not normal? And you're driving the plan around that. If it is normal, then maybe there isn't as much concern there. If that's not normal, I would even say working with your leadership team on how to engage not only that team, but maybe other teams that are associated with it to try to bring them back in, as you say, to specifically address that. So it's a really great question. So Vic, I saw your hands go up first. If you want to come off mute and provide any additional commentary?
Vic: Sure, absolutely. I would say that's certainly a challenge for any organizations that's trying to grow. I've certainly run into that issue too with scaling, and the only recommendation I'll make is make sure that there's a true revenue or business impact for the hire and the expansion of your team. Because sometimes you just want to offload some work or try to get some more people on your team, because you think that's needed, but make sure you can build out that case. In terms of engaging clients that have gone radio silent, there's one way that always gets their attention, is here's the ROI we've given you lately, the value we've driven for your organization. But another go- to of mine is product roadmap enhancements, especially if it's something that they might've been asking for in the past. So making sure that you can paint that vision for how we're going to continue to work together near term and long term.
Jeremy: Yeah, that's great. You bring up a great point. Karyn, do you want to come off mute and share as well?
Karyn: Yeah, sure. Thanks Jeremy And really good question Julie, something I've been thinking about a lot. I joined Slack about a year ago and they've experienced tremendous growth, and there's been so much change and development to the customer success org. I think one model that I think is interesting and I personally love to hear everyone's perspective on this as well, because I came from management consulting where we had a pod model or a team model, rather than an individual contributor structure where you'd have a team supporting a client. So I've just been grappling with whether that is a good fit for customer success, whether that's the right model as a company scales and grows. There are certain customers that require different levels of attention and oversight, especially as you move into enterprise. So what does that look like for customer success as an org? Is there a model where rather than an individual contributor role, you'd have a pod model where you'd have several customer success managers supporting large customers? Salesforce, I think does this for a major enterprise customer where they have multiple CSMs on one account. That's something I haven't seen at Slack, but would be interested to hear from the group, if anyone has seen that at your companies. Because I think that's a really interesting way to scale and provide the right level of attention and agility to different customers at different points on their journey. And then I think just one example of a way to get a customer's attention. I faced this challenge a lot with my book of business, the wall- to- wall customers on Slack who've been on the platform several years now feel like they understand the value, so why do they need to talk to me? One thing I've tried is to leverage our beta program. So when there's new feature releases coming out, to extend them an opportunity to participate in a beta for a feature that I know might be interesting to them and then have them aligned to the product manager, to provide continuous feedback along that experience. And that seemed to be pretty helpful and re- engaging especially because I'm catering to a feature that I know they're interested in. So that might be one I got to go through as well.
Jeremy: I'm a big fan of that beta, the beta model myself, especially if they've proven themselves to be high users and consistently provide good feedback, getting them in there early to test out new stuff, it's always a win- win. I love any opportunity that I can to leverage that model. Take a couple more, Louis, I see your hand raised?
Louis: Yeah. Once again, I just want talk on Karyn's point about the pod. So MongoDB did a pilot last year with four accounts. They split them out into two each and each of those two accounts had a part that consisted of senior CSM, pre- sales, like solutions architect, solutions engineer, a dedicated support person, two or three support persons, everything that this account created got routed to the same support team. And obviously like the enterprise sales rep. So we don't have multiple CS, but we do have teams dedicated from our highest ARR companies. And the pilot went really well, and this year we're going to expand, I think we're going to create five or six more pods. Because those accounts, they need that dedicated person. There's an account we have like 40 to 35 projects. You cannot have an account like that, and then 29 other accounts with one or two projects, there's not no bandwidth. So I think we're going to see more companies, as they grow into large customers, adopt that pod model. So yeah, it's interesting you bring it up Karyn.
Karyn: Yeah. Thanks Louis, that's interesting.
Jeremy: Yeah. That's a really interesting comment Louis, because the only... I've seen that on the other end, low touch customers kind of putting them into a customer success pool, so to speak, in this kind of round robin, whoever's got the bandwidth to pick that up and move forward with it. Kind of more of a reactive customer success than a proactive customer success. But that's a really interesting model for large enterprise customers, is having dedicated sales engineering, CS support. That's really cool, thanks for sharing.
Louis: Yeah, but the sales reps in-store, you've got to find a million dollars in this account so it's not for everyone.
Jeremy: Yeah. That's right. Well, thanks for sharing. Scott, we'll take your feedback and then I think we'll move on the next few.
Scott: Yeah. I was going to say Karyn, we had that model of multiple CS people on the account for some of our really large accounts. One of them was we did multiple hosting through computer science corporation. So they had five people and then one CS person that kind of managed the whole scenario across the globe. From the IBM side, we kind of did multiple because we had multiple products that were serviced, and then have them under one manager. Plus we had a lot of the other pieces that were mentioned, dedicated support people. I functioned as kind of a technology advisor, and an escalation point for things that were stuck between support and development, and getting those things out. So I could certainly see it working very well on a product like Slack, when you do have a global deployment that you're trying to work with the customer at.
Jeremy: That's awesome. No, I appreciate you sharing, Scott. I think there's a lot more, this is I think Matt Vedela's comment about there's never enough time to deep dive into this. I definitely think this is going to be one that we'll have to have a followup discussion on, but I appreciate Julie summarize and bring the question for us and for the feedback so far. But I'm going to move over. I'm actually going to bounce around a little bit because the group I was in a call on, I see some folks that contributed on our call last week. I'm a big fan of participation of the newer folks. So I'm going to call on... I'm actually going to call on group six. So this is Anastasia, Adam, Ashmit, Benjamin, Craig and Erica. Your spokesperson want to come up here and share what you guys discussed?
Speaker 8: I can take over. We actually haven't come up with who the spokesperson will be, but I think that there was some good discussion that the folks could really pitch in some opinions. So we all struggle with similar things, customer success and how to define it. But one particular challenge that stood out was how do you convince your entire organization that customer success is not a support function, but rather a cost of doing business, rather than an actual business department that is needed to make the company grow?
Jeremy: Wow, I think I saw this comment come up. This same question came up in Jeff's posts on LinkedIn this morning, about how do we help crosstalk?
Speaker 8: Right. In particular, when executive leadership feels like that they have the best product on the market, they're awesome. And they don't see that there are any real competition. So how do you convince not just the sales team, not just the technical team, but the entire company, that customer success is a native place that is going to help you grow the company rather than just somebody that is responsible for the bills?
Jeremy: Yeah. So Matt, I see your hand raised. So I'll pitch everything you just said. I've got a clarifying question for the in- stage in our group. Is the question coming from, is CS considered a cost center at this point? Is that part of the problem?
Speaker 8: Yes. It's a new department that is just getting started, and it's something that is clearly necessary to reduce turn and make it more of a proactive team. But there's not enough people in the company, specifically executive leadership that is willing to jump on board.
Jeremy: Yeah, I think that's the biggest part right there, is jumping on changing it from being a cost center to a revenue generating center. And I think there's plenty of stuff that's been published over the last couple of years on CS, in trying to shift that discussion. But Matt, did you still want to come off mute? I saw your hand go down.
Matt: Yeah. Just trying to be kind to not spend the raise hand function.
Jeremy: Fine, yeah. Go for it and then Gabe, I'll pass over to you.
Matt: Appreciate you, Jeremy. So yeah, I love to look at starting organizations and see, especially where their product line and in an instance like that I'm supposing, and see where the teams are because especially in instances like that, they like to think," We got everything and we don't need to consider the other perspectives." But if you look especially in my group, we talked about things where CS isn't just an external function. It's an internal function as well, and you can see a lot of gaps within your organization. So in a product led model, it's wonderful to be product led, that your product will sell itself. However, there's still opportunity, no matter what, there's always room for growth. There's room for more revenue, there's room for more efficiency and there's room for more unity. So to hopefully see the room to impress upon that within the organization, I tend to find that people won't say no to more money as a key motivator. But nonetheless, I think that a lot of folks do really enjoy intrinsically that aha moment, that ability to be able to do more, that ability to grow. And of course that will come from leadership, so hopefully that can help you guys out.
Jeremy: Awesome. Thanks for sharing. Gabriel, do you want to come off mute?
Gabriel: Yeah. So that's the challenge that I currently also have where I work, where there definitely isn't a clear CS vision from our executive leadership, but things have been getting better. And what I've learned is that you need to respectfully, but incessantly push your way to get a seat at the table. If your voice is not being conveyed at the executive level, then things are just not going to happen. You're not going to get the approvals you need, depending on how your organizational structure is like. But I thankfully have a boss who believes in what we do and what we want, but I've had to convince her and persuade her into that. And then every time something comes up and I have a great relationship with her, I share again, and I share again, and we talk about it again and over and over and over, and she takes it to her boss. Just had a meeting where they wanted to make CS responsible for generating sales, so net new clients. And I was adamantly against that, got on a call finally with our VPs and our CEO. And they agreed, but I don't think it would have happened honestly, if it wasn't for consistently going up and telling them," This isn't what CS is for. If you want the strategic work, if you want the value of these other things, then we need to create a different function. We need to separate tasks and so on." So I do think that you have to continue to bring it up and as you bring it up, it's not just talking about it because that's not going to create anything, but you have to come with numbers. You have to come with reports. You do have to be able to present some form of ROI to the work that you're doing, right? So," I'm reducing costs here. I am preventing issues on this side of things by doing this and that," and having actual examples. So one thing that I've partnered well with my boss is that whenever we do have these great wins, it's getting shared with our executive team every time." We just did this," and they're seeing it so that they're seeing that this isn't just support. Look at the other things that this team is doing, and look at the value that it's bringing to the entire company. So you do need a good partnership with someone higher up that's going to be willing to advocate more for you, and then be consistent with that while not just verbally, but presenting numbers. If you have any form of ROI, you have to bring that to the table.
Jeremy: Yep. I'm sensing a theme around ROI from some of the comments throughout the discussion of you kind of show me the money, so to speak, so a 100% agree. Patricia, I know that you have some issues getting the hand raised. So I want to give you the opportunity to speak, and then maybe we'll take one more. And then I want to maybe open up to one more discussion topic before we wrap today.
Patricia: Yeah. Cheers. Thank you Jeremy, and thank you, Matt. I've never used Zoom. I'm like one of those that I can find the buttons, so thank you. I was going to say I think... and this was part of my presentation as to why the company should hire me. So I did a lot of research on CS versus sales. And like Gabriel was saying, if you want to look at it from a numbers point of view, just go out and look at the stats. And you will see that nurturing a relationship versus creating a new one, that will cost you about six, seven, eight times more creating the new clients. So why do you want to have a CSM group? Or why do you want to have a CS... I think the question is the other way around. Why wouldn't you have that? If your product is on a model where you have a recurrent revenue, when you know that you're not going to be paying for it in year one, how are you going to make sure that your client is paying for the investment that you had to make on the infrastructure, the people, the resources, the product development, all of that? So if you go to your leadership team and you're not talking about fluff, you are talking about numbers, which leadership groups love. So if you go to them and you start talking about all of that, I think the question is how come you don't have a CS function yet? So it's, it's that pain, and that is how... I know my head of department has been able to justify the numbers and justify the growth of the department because it would've cost them far more to hire one sales person, than to have two or three people that are working within the success structure, and they are product specialists. And then they have different functions within their success umbrella so that they can support the business and create that continuity, which is what has been removed when you look at the different levels of client engagement that we see in our way. The revenue is not all hours upfront, but is given in monthly, annual, insert here, installments kind of thing.
Jeremy: Awesome. Thank you for sharing. I think you're spot, doing the research. The thing that most of us probably don't particularly enjoy... If I go out on a limb here for a second and say there are other things I'd rather spend my time on, but you're right, doing the research and being able to present it well, that speaks to revenue gained or revenue loss is... We're all in business. All we're doing is structured around revenue retention and revenue growth. So it's great feedback, thank you for sharing. So David and Lee, I see you both have your hands raised. If you don't mind, maybe let's continue the conversation and Gain, Grow, Retain. I do want to give one more group the opportunity to share their topic of discussion before we wrap. Today, it's been very in- depth conversation. So I'm actually going to call on my group, selfishly. Maddie is newest to the CS role and newer to our community. So I want to give her the opportunity to introduce herself and share a couple of thoughts that she and a few others from our group shared around being new to CS. So Maddie, I'm going to turn it over to you for our final discussion topic today.
Maddie: Thank you Jeremy. My name's Maddie, it's nice to meet everyone. This is my first time talking in front of this many people so I'm a little nervous here, but yeah, we happen to have a lot of us in our group that were either brand new to see us, or just currently in our first customer success roles. That was kind of nice to be able to meet other people like that. And so a lot of our challenges were similar and focused, kind of around the idea of transitioning from a different role over to CS. And especially coming from maybe some different areas. For example, I'm from a more of a traditional sales role. We had support, marketing, and different things like that, and how to make that transition smooth and just adapt as quickly as possible, I think is where a lot of our struggles came from. So our main question to the group is just, has anyone made a leap over to CS from a completely different role? Kind of any advice surrounding that would be super helpful. What is the most important skill sets you guys took over from that? And then additionally, we kind of had a more fun question. If anybody has had any really random jobs that maybe they didn't expect any of those skills to transfer over to CS, but they surprisingly did and were actually very valuable? So just anything like that, I think we're all fairly new and would love any advice surrounding that topic.
Jeremy: Awesome. Great job Maddie. Make sure you all give her a hand after that. She did an awesome job so well done. I know we've got some veterans on this call out here, so I'm sure there's plenty of feedback that can be shared. So I'm going to call on some... Vic, I will come back to you. I'm going to give Bryce. Bryce, I'm going to turn things over to you, give you the opportunity to share some commentary on this.
Bryce: Yeah, sounds good. I'll answer the latter question. One of the skills that I gained and kind of transformed into with the RCS role is kind of gap analysis. Before, I worked at a biotech company and I was doing quality control. It sounds like very far fetched from CS because you're working with the actual pharmaceuticals. But if you think about it, your customers are your product, and you got to make them successful and make their outcomes come to life. So I'll measure their usage data, see who's," Out of tolerance?" Who's" Ready to turn?" And that's how I kind of manipulated my previous skills into my current CS role.
Jeremy: Awesome. Thank you for sharing Bryce. Let's see. David, I'm going to butcher your last name, so I'm going to let you come off mute here.
David: Yeah, no thanks. So the one thing that I would say, that transition is something that I did as well. And I think many people have from different roles, especially from sales, where you're dealing with high touch customers. So you're kind of dealing with them on a day- to- day basis anyways. But the one thing that we found super helpful in terms of kind of defining exactly what those boundaries are and where you play that role is building out the customer journey and being very, very detailed about what that journey looks like. So what does the initial point of contact look like? What does the sales process look like? When does it actually become a customer? Is that during a pilot stage or is that during the point where you're actually going to annual contracts? How do you build in that transition? So defining that customer journey was something that was extremely important to us and helped us really be clear about what the roles are. And when again, you might engage for example, sales to come back in, as you have a growth opportunity or a cross sell opportunity. So versus just trying to be like inaudible or is that your role, or how do work? Now I've got my sales hat back on, but I'm doing success. So I think just every organization's a little bit different, but defining that customer journey and mapping it out is well worth the time if that hasn't been done yet.
Jeremy: Yep. Absolutely, spot on David. Thanks for sharing. So I think we've got time for one more. I saw Stuart's hand go down, so Connor, I'm going to turn it over to you for closing comment on this before we wrap?
Connor: Cool. So having made the transition to success from more of a product support role, I know a lot of people on our team that revenue all, that's kind of the route that they've taken as well. One thing that we've kind of had to teach ourselves is in addition to setting boundaries like David was mentioning, is dimensioning there. When customers are asking about a particular feature or about something specific, taking a step back and asking why? What is it that you're trying to accomplish and really kind of getting to the heart of their issue? I know that that was something that has been huge for us and helps drive that customer conversation and also sets our team apart from maybe a traditional product support role, because we're trying to learn more about those goals and get to kind of the heart of that question and those goals themselves.
Jeremy: Yeah. Spot on. And that actually, I'll speak on behalf of Maddie, That was one of the members of our group is actually coming from a marketing background. So in trying to understand how the transition of skills, so you're exactly spot on with that as well. So thank you. Thank you for sharing Connor. For the rest of the folks, I know there's a lot more people that have feedback and wanted to share. So I apologize we didn't have time to get everybody's feedback, so I'm going to make the shameless plug to you. On these topics and to the other groups that we had today that we didn't get to, please make a post on the Gain, Grow, Retain if you haven't already, and continue the conversation there. And then the second plug is for those of you... And Matty, hopefully I didn't scare you away. Hopefully you'll come back next week. But for those of you... we are looking for more folks to help be a part of the facilitation process for these weekly CSM office hours. So anybody who wants to step up, the commitment's pretty light. inaudible this is my first time. It was pretty, pretty easy to do so I would highly recommend. Definitely, we'll be coming back again and doing this. So we'd love to have seen more of you up here, facilitating and being a part of the conversation. But with that said, thank you all so much. Jeff, was there anything you wanted to say before we close out?
Jeff: No. You ended it perfectly. Appreciate you doing this Jeremy, really excited to get you into the mix again here soon, and enjoyed the discussion. I hope everybody has a good week and we'll see you all in CS leadership office hours on Thursday, if you all want to make it there as well. So appreciate it, and we'll talk to you all soon.
Jeremy: Thanks. Benjamin. No, you don't have to wear a Patriots pull over. crosstalk Yeah, y'all take care. 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.
A weekly segment:
CSM Office Hours
Every Tuesday. 11:30am ET.
If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain
This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...