Leveraging Internal Resources w/ CSM Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, Leveraging Internal Resources w/ CSM Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week we are discussing leveraging internal resources.</p><p><br></p><p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CSM Office Hours</p><p>Every Tuesday. 11:30am ET.</p><p><a href="https://lu.ma/CSMOH" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://lu.ma/CSMOH</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>
Sharing Positive Customer Reactions
00:40 MIN
Philosophies of Offense
00:43 MIN
Being As Proactive as Possible
01:07 MIN

James: Let's moderate some discussion here. Josh Zamora, which group were you in? And let's pick on someone from your group to kick us off here.

Josh Zamora: Yes I was in with Alana and Jody and David. And David was happily nominated because he was the last person to get off of mute, to be our spokesperson for that. But had some really good dialogue about the challenges, the leveraging of internal resources and talking about some best practices, some ideas. Something that really resonated with me was building partnerships internally and making sure that you're understanding the value of your partners internally to get that leveraging. So partnerships before leveraging, I think Jody put it that way. So, David, I don't want to steal all of your thunder, but you want to jump in here and give a little bit of a summary?

David: Yeah, yeah. I can do that. Thanks for volunteering me. I appreciate it. But a lot of it was like you said, partnering for leveraging, understanding who does what with the organization, whether that's through a RACI chart, some other type of schematic or diagrams, basically keeping RACIs in their places. Also taking a very customer advocacy- focused position when you want to internalize with, or you want to work with, other teams in the organization. And a lot of times the engineer is nose down in code, and doesn't quite understand the pain points of the customer. Because they're so nose down the code they're in their own funnels. So being the advocate to bring those pain points and tell that narrative I think is really helpful as well. So we talked about that. We talked about leveraging your partnerships and then communicating via the proverbial fecal sandwich as it's called: the bad news, good news, bad... Sorry. Good, bad, good, right? I haven't had breakfast today, so I'm hungry. That's a terrible analogy. Yeah. So yeah, so a lot of good points were brought up and a lot of good food for thought. So I think really it was pretty consistent across the board and in all the approaches that we're using, which is really good to see given that we all work in different verticals.

Josh Zamora: Yeah. And it's kind of interesting. There's a phrase I like to use. It's people really don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. So I think that actually does make a difference when you're trying to leverage someone like a sales person, right. Do you care about their quota? Do you care about what they're trying to accomplish in terms of their goals? Do you really care about the fact that they've got this much of a target on their back? If you don't then that's going to make it really, really difficult to build up that bridge and find some common ground to help the customer out. So it's important that we actually are building those bridges across many different groups. So one of the other groups, do you guys want to summarize what you spoke about and maybe give some insight to-

James: I want to volunteer Jack to talk about Group 2.

Jack: Happy to, although there's probably better people from our group to do it. I think maybe the couple things that came up for us was Katya had some great examples of just how are we essentially bringing together information to help make some of those decisions easier in terms of like who to get involved, and when. So, she had some great examples of just pulling together some Google slide decks of," Hey, here's the current situation. Here are the things that are happening." And then trying to make sure you kind of pull the right people in. I think that was something that we had talked about a lot. Is just the there's a lot of contexts that needs to happen in order to get kind of more people involved. And so how do you artfully think about pulling that together so that if I do need to go pull Josh into this conversation, Josh doesn't have to go searching every Salesforce record, every product or every account, every admin record, right. He actually has all that stuff readily available so that he can kind of quickly say," Oh yeah, I've got an understanding. Happy to do X or happy to do Y." So I think that was maybe one big thing is we had talked about, and I might see if Katya can share maybe like a blanked out version of what she described, because it sounded pretty awesome in terms of her Google slide deck. So we might get that one day.

Katya: Yep.

Jack: Yeah. I think the other thing that we had talked about a little bit is what happens after these situations as well. So a lot of times, I think you hear the proverbial negative situations, right? We're always getting brought in because of an escalation, it's a support ticket, it's a renewal discussion, it's a contract negotiation, right. But also just trying to figure out like, I'm sure those happen. We know that they're there, but when something good happens, how do we start evangelizing that internally a lot so that people don't always have kind of a negative reaction to a situation that we might need to get more people involved with. So I threw out a couple of examples that we're doing just at Higher Logic. So we have a thread every week. And one of the leaders on our customer experience leadership team essentially goes in and pulls out NPS and C- SAT responses. We all just forward emails that we get from customers, whatever is there. And we kind of put out a weekly thread that just has all the great things that happened that week, who was involved, what they did. We just kind of do a synopsis every Friday as a way to try and just evangelize some of the situations, so that our teams and the people involved just start feeling a little bit more appreciated maybe about the situation." Hey, thanks for getting involved in escalation," or," Hey, thanks for doing that. This is what happened, but here's something great that came of it." So those are two big things that we had talked about in ours, Josh.

Josh Zamora: Yeah. And that's great. And there's two themes that are kind of coming out of that, right? So contextualization is, I think one of the most understated and undervalued pieces of a customer success manager's job, right? You have to provide context for everybody that you're working with, whether it's a customer, whether it's an internal resource in a different team that you're working on. If you're not contextualizing, then you're not giving the appropriate information. And I mentioned it during our breakout, right? If I'm being blindsided by an issue, then I can't help fix that problem. I don't have the appropriate information to actually make something work. The second thing that I'm hearing is storytelling, right? You have to be able to tell a good story about what happens, not just in the problem, but also in the solution. And if you're not good at telling stories. If you're not good at being able to wordsmith your way through the goodness of what we're trying to do for customers, then a lot of times you don't get the emotional weight behind why it's important. So being able to contextualize and then build out a proper narrative, this is what we're trying to accomplish. This is why it's important to the customer. And here's what you need to do. Then all the RACI charts, all the centralized location and repository of data, all that stuff just becomes kind of meaningless. There's another phrase I like using, right. Data in itself is worthless, unless you can tell a good story about it. So this is all part and parcel to how to be a good customer success manager and then how to actually leverage those themes internally. Who's the next group on the list, James? Who've we got?

James: Maybe group three?

Josh Zamora: Who was in group three?

James: Who've we not heard from? I haven't heard from Mary, Courtney, Jessica.

Courtney: I think-

James: Courtney you're up.

Courtney: I think we were group three. Ben, Paul, Josh, does that sound right? Okay. For full transparency's sake, we were very confused by the question. The pronouns, we didn't know what the subject verb and agreement was, the direct object, but we had a great conversation nonetheless. And I think one thing that Josh actually said in our group that applies to, I think what the topic was supposed to be, that was really good. And Josh, if I butcher it, please restate it for me. But he said," I like to think we're a for- profit company. So our sales team is really the customer. My sales person is really the customer. The end user. If I please the end user that pleases my customer, the salesperson." But thinking through that perspective and that filter kind of helps him to deliver and prioritize accordingly. So Josh, if you want to add to that, but I think that was a really interesting lens to look through.

Josh: Exactly.

James: Gotten all thumbs up from Josh. Yeah.

Josh Zamora: I've heard that. And actually that's a really good point, right? We have multiple customers. We certainly have the paying customers that are our end users, but then we also have internal investors in customer success, which is our sales teams, which is our product success teams, which is our engineering teams. And we have to please them just as much as we're pleasing our customer. So we take a very unique role within an organization when customer success is done right. So I like that inaudible, CSMing internal relationships. That's absolutely right. We have to be the one to many ratio, both internal and external. And the more we're doing that, the better it is. And you're off to a point, right? Like that goes back to something I said earlier, right? If the sales reps don't know that you care about their quota. If they don't know or understand how much value you're trying to bring to them in the relationship, then they're not going to want to partner with you on anything. And this is where you get that immediate sort of conflict. Especially the sales reps. We were lucky to have Alana on our group because she's a former sales person. And she's slowly wiping off the residue of being a salesperson, but she gave us a little bit of good insight into how that that partnership can work. And it's really good to see that if you're doing it right, you are qualifying leads for the sales reps to actually follow through. You're actually building out a good pipeline for them. And then that creates a really strong partnership internally on behalf of customers and prospects.

Alana: I think communication is really key there. I'll just say that. Because from a sales perspective, how somebody in sales will look at the CS and sales relationship is," I'm providing value to you. I'm giving you customers so that you have a job and you can put food on your table. What are you doing for me? What are you bringing back for me?" Right? So if you educate them on what it is that you're doing and how you can provide value for them. It doesn't necessarily have to be like," Hey, I renewed this" or" I grew this account." It can be as simple as," Hey, I'd love to educate you on what's going on in these accounts." Or" I'd love to educate you on how you can leverage our tool more. And this is something that you can then bring back to prospects and sell more, or have bigger deals in your pipeline." So it's a two- way street. And I think they kind of see it as a one- way street for now. So.

Josh Zamora: Josh, you had your hand raised.

Josh: Yeah. Yeah. I wanted actually to add on, Alana is going exactly where I wanted to add to, which is that there is this interplay between the hunter and the farmer, but they both have the goal of increasing revenue. And you're hoping that your organization is putting your customer success under the CRO rather than under support. So that way you can be going and playing the farming game, using philosophies of offense, rather than philosophies of defense. And when these things come together, you're able to go and build that additional revenue.

Josh Zamora: There's an analogy I like to use... I see your hand, Courtney. There's an analogy I like to use about... Everyone always talks the quarterback in an account, right? And the sales reps are always like," That's me, that's me. I'm the quarterback." And I actually like to take it back a little bit, take it up a level. And it's actually, you're the offensive coordinator sales rep. You're the one that's going to build the plans for what's going to happen in the offensive side of the house. We're the defensive coordinator. We're going to make sure that you're not losing any money. We're not losing any points. And if you take it up a level and start talking about coaching, coordinating, moving pieces around, it's not about necessarily being a person on the field, making the calls. It's the person that's actually thinking about the strategy as a whole from both sides of the picture, from an offense and a defense perspective. So-

Josh: I just want to blow my way into this, this portion, if I may.

Josh Zamora: Please.

Josh: Which is that I think too often we have... Or I think historically we as customer success, we're looking at it from that defense. The don't leave me, the crosstalk. But in a lot of ways, we actually have our boots on the ground in a way that even... In the enterprise environments, we have our boots on the ground in some ways with a level of detail that the salesperson may not have. And so our ability to go and understand and learn about other departments, et cetera, can be information that we're bringing back to that hunter to have them help us get into that next business unit, group, department, et cetera. And in that way, we are collaborative in the offensive portion.

Josh Zamora: Oh, absolutely. There's definitely interplay and intermingling between both the offense and the defense on this. I don't want to miss... So Courtney, you had your hand raised, and then Jessica.

Courtney: Yeah, I was just going to add too, I think making sure all of the internal teams know," Yes, we're the advocate for the customer." But I always tell my project management team and my delivery teams," I'm also your internal advocate too." And then creating opportunities to not just say that, but to show that. So if a customer is taking a really long time to get back to my project management office to schedule a meeting and it's pushing out a timeline for an onboarding or something, I'm saying," Hey, I'm going to give the customer a call today. Don't worry about sending them the fourth email," and just like advocating for them another level. And then going back to the salesperson and be like," Hey, just so you know, the project manager is doing everything possible to get this call on the books. Your customer's gone a little dark. We've left voicemails and stuff." And so just always making sure that the delivery side, the operation side, knows that I don't just come to them when a customer is upset and ask them to work really hard to make them happy. I also go to them and say," Hey, I'm advocating for you when the customer's kind of dropping the ball, because you're not the one who's making this project slow down."

Josh Zamora: Yeah, that's right. Jessica, you want to add something to this?

Jessica: Yeah. I really liked your unfair offensive defensive scenario there in the new... Is it Wayne McCullough? Am I saying his last name right?... book he just came out with. He talks about how lots of times you get a lot of tension because someone will say, this is my account. I own this account. And really the way he was painting it, which I liked was, nobody owns the account. You own this moment. And then the next moment your teammate owns it. And the next moment somebody else owns it, but nobody owns the account. So I really liked that.

Josh Zamora: Yeah. It's a baton pass. And if you ever done relay races in school or whatever, and there's a beauty, there's an art, to that baton pass. That if it's not done right, it's going to trip everybody up. Right? But if it's done well, then it should be smooth. It should be almost invisible. And the baton doesn't know what's happening. To personify of baton. But the customer shouldn't know what's happening, that like there's some sort of weird, complex transition happening behind the scenes. It should be fairly seamless. It shouldn't be something fairly easy for the customer to just go like,"Oh yeah, I need to go talk to Josh for this. And I got to go talk to Jessica or Alana for this," right? There should be a good delineation of services internally. That is almost kind of invisible to the customer.

Jessica: Yeah. Also take the baton and talk about group one since I'm off mute. So we talked about... we're more tactical really. Physically, how do we do this? So David talked a lot about... He's got a fancy slack integration set up so that when a kudos or a review externally comes in, that it automatically gets fed into a slack channel specifically for client stories that goes out to everybody, which was nice. We talked about either a daily ops or a jump start sort of huddle of either the whole company or targeted representatives of each group within the company. And verbally sharing stories and things that are happening in the news and kudos and just client interactions. I think it was Mary was talking about, they have a gong. And so when something good happens, whether it's sales or service or client story, they send out an email saying" Gong.". They say what happened that was good. Then they actually physically go hit a gong. And that way both internal and remote employees get to have the gong experience and that their HR person also sort of tracks those. And seeing who's getting a lot of those and giving out additional kudos and gift certificates for things with gong. And then I think at the end, there was another cool slack integration with Google forms where you can submit a kudo and give points, which I didn't say this to David, but it sort of sounded to me, Harry Potteresque that... 10 points to Gryffindor. When someone does something good, you put it in the form. And then at the end of the quarter or the month, the person you've given the kudos about the success of the client would get recognized. So there was a sort of mix of kudos in conversation, as well as sharing clients stories. But we talked about different ways that these happen in our organizations.

Josh Zamora: That's awesome. And we do too little celebrating the successes, I think in general. So the more of that we can actually foster and build up internally for not just customer success, but across the collaboration teams, the better it's going to be for everyone. Ben. Benjamin. Ben, I don't know which name you for by.

Ben: I go by Ben, but yeah, I know. I'm glad to hear other teams talked about a little bit of the tactical, like how to actually do it. Because Courtney and I talked a little bit about how she had a pretty cool process where they build presentations that's intended to be shared internally on the client side. So that way, even though you have your one champion, other teams at the company can then go on to see the value as well of your product or service. And I thought that was great.

Josh Zamora: That's awesome.

Ben: Yeah, I was just going to pile on to that too. One thing that we don't do that here currently at Higher Logic, but one thing we've done previously, and some of the organizations I was in was having like a weekly presentation of a spotlight customer. And it's not always your customer that's the biggest, smallest, pays us the most, whatever. But it's giving an opportunity to the CSM to kind of put together a one or two- pager that gives them the insight and it kind of allows them to talk more across the company to say," Hey, here's what's happening with this customer. Here's what's going well. Here's what's not going well." But like just getting more stories like that, more customer examples out into our internal teams and kind of the spreading of information was really the goal. And it worked out really well. We made it really short. 15 minutes. Like," Don't go spend a lot of time on it, but hey, come do a 15 minute presentation on a Friday. We'll invite the entire customer organization." So just another example there too.

Josh Zamora: That's good. It's funny. So I worked for a smaller startup and trying to build out customer success within that organization was pretty tough. And we did not do enough of that highlighting of good customer stories, highlighting of good experiences with customer success. The end result of that is, it was really difficult to prove value of the customer success organization. And eventually a lot of our team got cut because we weren't able to establish that attribution model of goodness that we can do within the accounts. So that's something that I think that's a long tail sort of benefit of doing this sort of stuff. If you build that collaboration internally and you build out that partnership with other resources and other teams, then it does help solidify the value of the customer success organization over time. So little things, the minutiae matters in the long- term, in the big scheme of things. The more of that stuff we do the better. Anybody else want to add anything to the conversation here?

Nathan: Well, I'll add something. So I was in the group with Jessica and David and Mary. I feel like I'm missing somebody. Oh, Susan. Yeah. I think one of the things that I was just thinking about through kind of what you were just saying, Josh, is that like... to go back to sports analogy. I'm not a big sports guy. But the defensive or offensive... Like that level of knowledge is important, but it's like as a customer success team, you want to be as proactive as possible and as reactive as little as possible. There's going to be stuff that you have to do that's going to be reactive, right? Customers asking to cancel, et cetera. Okay, I got to do something. But that's maybe where that analogy kind of breaks down because it's like, yeah, we might be on the defense, keeping the customer with us. But at the same point, we should be focusing most of our energies on getting that proactive stuff, quantifying those leads, upselling, cross selling, we should be gathering that information and then be able to report on it. Like metrics, like tactically. Like," Hey, we've sent marketing, we've sent sales, we've sent X amount of over to you guys." That's the way to kind of quantify maybe some of those kind of idiomatic..." Like how is Success doing?" And it's like," Well, here's how we're doing." We can just tie a quick and easy, simple, like, this is what we are producing on... That matters to not our team, but to other teams. Right? Other teams don't care about great conversations you're having. I mean, they do, but they care about what does that mean for upsell? What does that mean for marketing? What does that mean for advocacy? What does that mean for better reviews on a third party platform? So as much as you can kind of align some of your metrics that you're sharing with those internal teams to those things of like, these are how we are quantifying good things for the whole company. You're going to get the company to buy in on like," Okay, cool. They're doing stuff that matters to all of us." Because it's going to matter to every department in different ways. It's kind of a way to just say," Yeah, like there's our standard." And we're doing tons of other things, right? Like there's tons of things that are just beneficial for our customers and they're actually growing those relationships more. So those are things that I'm kind of thinking through right now. Like how do we get better at those tactical...? What is it that they're looking for? What are those numbers? What are those metrics? I don't know if our sales team knows, or our account management team knows, how many customers they'd like to see from the success team.

Josh Zamora: crosstalk.

Nathan: And how do we measure success.

Josh Zamora: Right. And that's absolutely right, Nathan. And so sales teams always have the charts, the big graphs that show what their numbers are per quarter. They're forecasting, they're able to see what their pipeline looks like. Who here has a customer success dashboard that you're looking at that shows your progress with your accounts and potential wins or potential risk mitigation things or activities? Anybody? Raise your hand. You got it.

Katya: Yeah. We do it through Gainsight. We recently thankfully started investing in the CSM operations org. So we're starting to build out dashboards and KPIs and metrics that are trackable and are attached to our bonus compensation plan. So preliminary stages. The data's still a little funky. We'll get better over time, but we are making progress there.

Josh Zamora: Right on.

David: We use Microsoft BI analytics apart from Gainsight as well. Gainsight is really good at getting granular, but sometimes we need that thousand- foot overview. So I can immediately pivot from my Microsoft BI chart on how many strategic alignments I've had, how many EBRs I've had. When the last updates were. Just because the interface sometimes in Gainsight's really restrictive, to say the least. So that's been an additional-

Josh Zamora: Gainsight-

David: What's that?

Josh Zamora: Gainsight is great. I was a CSM ops person for a little while and helped implement it. It's a beast, but it does provide a lot of really good data and Katya to your point, having the right investment in that is incredibly important. Cool. Josh, did you want to add something else to this? Yeah. I saw you go off mute for a little bit. I wanted to make sure I wasn't steamrolling you a little bit here. All right. Good. James. I think back to you, anything else you want to bring up?

James: Awesome. No great discussion today. I think we had a conversation in one of the Thursday sessions recently, and it was actually measuring success for our customer's desired outcomes. So, I raised my hand because I sense I can track every single renewal, all that up and the down the churn and the activities. There was 650 accounts in my segment across six CSMs. So having a bird's eye view on that was really ideal, but we weren't tracking their outcomes. We were incredibly focused on our outcomes at a sort of I guess, a pivotal moment in my career recently where it was like, I need to stop focusing on my renewal number and my expansion number as CSM. And understand what is my customer trying to do? Are they trying to increase their reach across more merchants? Do they want to increase average merchant span? Do they want merchants to onboard to their platform faster? Once we understood that we removed our focus and sort of overwhelming desire to hit our own numbers. We focused on theirs and we hit that desired outcomes by our appropriate experience on our end. And we just started seeing no churn. We haven't seen any attrition since mid last year, which is really great to see. But how do you track that? You have to ask the customer," Give me three things you want to hit." And every quarter we ask how we're doing against that. It's manual. We've not figured out the best way to track it yet. But at least we can say we're hitting this. We're not hitting this. Yeah. All right, guys. Well, this was a great conversation. Thank you so much, Josh, for hosting. Great topic. I definitely think this is something we could expand on and drive next... Further, more, lots of great people to hear from. Everyone think about one thing we can take away from today and maybe put into our workflows so that we don't lose traction from these sessions. And we can learn from our esteemed peers and colleagues. Thank you very much, guys. Enjoy the rest of your day. Jeff. Great to see you back, inaudible.

Alana: 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.


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