Enterprise Customer Success Without A Contract w/ Jacob Laufer
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 a 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. Awesome. So I got my old friend, Jacob. Say your last name for me because I think I always mess it up.
Jacob Laufer: It's Jacob Laufer.
Jeff: Okay, all right.
Jacob Laufer: And it's actually funny you say that because, I was middle school wrestling and I set a pin record within six or seven seconds. I hope it's still a record at Benton Middle School. But most people put a French accent on it. So I can't tell you how many times I get Lafuer or something from Canada or one of those places.
Jeff: Perfect. All right. Well, it seems I should know that if I'm calling you my good friend, so. But Jacob Laufer, so and I met at Snagajob several years ago now. And Jacob was in FP& A, Financial Planning and Analysis at the time. So we'll touch on that because I think that's super interesting background relative to what you know about customer success, and what you're doing. It's just a really interesting tie in. But before we get started, I got a little bit of an icebreaker question for you. I didn't prepare you for this and that was intentional. So the question is, and you already gave us a little glimpse into your life there with the wrestling anecdote, which is pretty funny. But what Jeopardy category would you absolutely dominate?
Jacob Laufer: Definitely sports. And in anything Tampa Bay Buccaneers history, or anything Tom Brady related right now at this point. When he joins your team, you fall in love all over again.
Jeff: All right. That's cool. So why Tampa Bay? Why is that your team?
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. So this is the next that gets every single time that I say that. The real answer is that the Washington Football Team was never any really good, despite my mom and dad are our big Washington Football Team fans, so it breaks their heart every day. But inaudible was my... Growing up as a kid in my adolescence Florida state football, he was just fantastic. He would return all the ponds, return all the kicks. And he went to the Tampa Bay Bucks, so I just followed and that was right in their heyday 2002. And we won the super bowl and it just stuck. I did have to relive the past decade of really not being very good, but it's been well worth the wait.
Jeff: That's funny. Well, now I'm doubly sorry that Jeff isn't here, because Jeff is our sports guy, I'm like the, not intentionally, but the anti- sports guy, I know nothing about sports. I know a lot about a lot of other things, but I'm not any good on sports. So, but I have heard that Tom Brady does not eat things that are red. Do you know that part?
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. He definitely wouldn't want to have anything that would cause too much inflammation in his body, that's for sure.
Jeff: Yeah. So that's real dedication right there.
Jacob Laufer: And that's funny because almost every one of my analogies is going to probably be football gear and so, let everybody crosstalk.
Jeff: All right. Well, I used to play football in high school.
Jacob Laufer: Good.
Jeff: I was a kicker. So I don't know if you could say I played, but I did. I was around football a lot in high school and I enjoy football. I just don't keep up with it. So I can't tell you stats or anything like that. But the good thing is, we're not here to talk about football. So what we're going to talk about, you are in the company called Shiftmed. You could tell us a little bit more about what y'all do. You're the SVP of strategy there. You started as director of operations. So you were running a lot of the operational teams within the business, and you can talk a little bit about that. But now you're overseeing go to market, new product offering, solution expansion in the market, that type of thing, which is super cool. But you started out in FP& A, so can you give our listeners a little bit of, what is FP& A? Why is it important to a SaaS business? And how did you get there to begin with? That's when you and I met, by the way.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. My path is definitely a unique one to say the least. So I'm actually an accountant by trade. So I went to school for accountancy. I came out and was an accountant for three to four years. People found out that I could actually talk, so they told me to get into finance. I said, " Okay, let's try it out." And really got a good understanding of how to... And a lot of people Jocelyn Mangan and everybody that we had at Snagajob that helped me to make my transition from finance to product. I was really able and always wanted to connect to more of just the different metrics, and what was actually driving the underlying operating models for all the financial statements that we would be preparing. And so I think that that ties in to customer success. And really is the basis of how I make all my decisions and where I focus my time, where I try to solve customer pain points, whether that's through our product offering, some new innovative offering or some change. It's always coming down to some type of metric that I'm trying to move. And it's also just a helpful thing from customer success that you can always talk in very revenue terms. So understanding exactly where we can get the most value by tweaking the model, it's something that I can play out across operating and growth and also a future offerings. It becomes very secondhand to me or second nature, so that definitely gives a lot of help to growing the accounts and retaining them.
Jeff: Yeah, that's great. So I love what you just said there about talking in terms of revenue. We spend a lot of time thinking about that and talking about that, both in the community and at Higher Logic where we were, " How do you tie everything back to revenue?" So I think when you get into a more mature business, you realize that having someone help you model the business behind the metrics... because all those metrics are all outcome metrics, they're just reporting on the facts, they're not necessarily helping you change the reality of what the facts are. And so that FP&A work really helps you find out, what's moving the number and how you can do more of that, more of the positive stuff, less of the negative stuff. So it's a really powerful asset.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. And it's even more of a powerful asset for a company like Shiftmed. And just a little bit of a backstory, Shiftmed is the trusted workforce solution for providing nurses and other healthcare professionals when you need it. So we have over 60, 000 healthcare employees right now, nationwide. We've got easy to use a scheduling software for skilled nursing homes, hospitals, home health companies. Even at home community patients can request open shifts that they need to be filled, and then we match that against our 60, 000 healthcare employees. And so we're really helping to solve a lot of staffing problems, very systemic workforce issues across everything nursing, and really finding better ways to provide better outcomes and improve inefficiencies. But it's interesting when you have a business like Shiftmed where our operating metrics are also the metrics that matter to all of our clients. So we often say, we're not even into any type of staffing business, we're actually arrival experts. So we work all the way back up the funnel from, when a shift is requested and where all the different drop- offs are. So for us, after a shift is requested, we want to get that fulfilled. So that matters of having all the correct credentials to pick up a shift. And then we want to work with the client to make sure that that's actually confirmed because in healthcare, your census can change rapidly. Every single day, you get 10 new patients, now you need two more patients or five people get discharged, now you need less staff, and they have to constantly change this imbalance. So keeping but making sure that that confirmation rate is as high as possible, also make sure that the health care professional shows up at the highest frequency. So we call ourselves most of the time, just arrival experts, because that's what our clients are looking for. They don't just want some software to solve their solution, they need a physical person to be walking into those buildings. And we use our model and operating model and metrics to essentially optimize that on a week by week basis for all of our clients.
Jeff: That's awesome. By the same token, you could call Uber and Lyft, they're arrival experts as well. Is that the right way to think of it?
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. That's it 100%. If you're booking a trip on Uber or Lyft, they want to make sure that 99% of the time that there's somebody to come pick you up. And then it's the same thing around confirmation and cancellation. It's like why the Uber app has the license code. And they even have, I think now where they'll turn your flashlight on so that crosstalk they want to make that connection because they're saying... And that's when they get paid, is making sure that somebody... That's actually a super interesting analogy because then you have all the same interests things of, if the provider doesn't get matched with them, you as the consumer still pay a cancellation bonus. And we have the same thing of, if for some reason something changes last minute, can have our health care professional, once they have the same courtesy extended to them. So it's a very fun and exciting model for sure.
Jeff: Everyone's interests are fully aligned, is what it smells like. And that's the essence of customer success too is... And I think it dovetails into what you and I really wanted to dive into, which is, there's a really interesting, and sort of like Uber and Lyft, y'all don't have contracts with your customers, in a sense. They're not committed to pay you a monthly subscription fee for you to earn business, right?
Jacob Laufer: Exactly.
Jeff: You actually have to deliver an outcome for them every time you schedule a shift, every time you schedule a rival, that's got to happen for them to be successful for you to make money. So talk a little bit about that dynamic in your business.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. So that's the emphasis for why we're having this call, because I think it's just such a interesting concept of, any one of our customers at any given time could just stop requesting shifts, and that would be the end of the contract. It's not like they were locked into a monthly recurring revenue or an annual recurring revenue, and we can sell them some other new feature and add thousands of dollars more. And so a lot of those historical customer success metrics aren't the best for us. And we're in a place to where, here's the other kicker, most of our current clients, they don't even want to utilize an outside labor company. They would prefer to have it all be within house and make sure that they could fill it. So there's a lot of different variables that are important to them of having the continuity of care that they're looking for. So we're in a constant, week after week cadence of just making sure that we can provide value to all of our customers. And since 2018, when we launched the company, we've yet to lose a single customer. And it goes back to just that, every single week we're delivering them weekly metrics to understand where their fulfillment rate is, where we're having potential even healthcare professionals unable to work. And we think that there could be opportunities to adjust credentialing requirements. We're monitoring where they're at on their cancellation rates, what their return rates are. We need to make sure that, if Jay books this week, that Jay comes back next week. Because we want to make sure that there's really good continuity of care and that you're seeing the same residents or patients on a week by week basis. So that's where we're. And things are changing, they're dynamic, so you've got different pricing things happen, we've had COVID- 19 happen. We've had to figure out how to work and make sure that everybody's getting the right type of weekly testing frequencies and staying up to date on, all those various changes and those have pricing implication. So making sure that our clients are staying competitive. And we're seeing lots of innovation in that space too. From our customer success teams is where we are seeing the lion share of innovation coming from within our company. So if I can expand on that for a second.
Jeff: Yeah, go for it.
Jacob Laufer: We have one really exciting offering that we came up with during COVID 19. I think that for us COVID- 19 is a terrible thing, but it's during these times that a lot of innovation does happen. Because people have to figure out other ways to work and come up with different things. So one of the things that we observed is that... And talking with our customers and the reason that we haven't lost the customers, that we have a lot of empathy for them. So as we were in the midst of March and April and May of 2020, we saw that bill rates were really skyrocketing. And in talking with a lot of our operators and owners, we just didn't see that this was going to be a sustainable trend that they could have. And so as you mentioned earlier, if a nurse gets canceled, they have a really, really high discontent rate for receiving those cancellations. And during COVID- 19 you had so much other stuff going on. You had people who were concerned about contracting the virus, you had childcare limitations for a lot of our nurses. You have people that are living with an elderly member and concerned about that. So we wanted to provide as much certainty as we possibly could to all of our healthcare professionals. So from a lot of our internal surveying to healthcare professionals, and then also in working with our clients, we found that this cancellation rate was a real big issue for them. And so we came up with a concept called guaranteed shifts. So what we said to our customers, is we said, " Hey, if you could guarantee the work to the healthcare professionals... So if they schedule a shift with you and you end up having to cancel that, you're actually now going to start paying for that entire shift." And then we allowed that to be marketed to all of our healthcare employees inside of the Shiftmed app, and we just got such an overwhelming response from it. And now guaranteed shifts are 25 to 30% more popular than everything else. They get picked up a day earlier so that all of our customers get a much more certain schedule. And it turns out that when you guarantee the work to the worker, they show up at a higher frequency. It's not exactly crosstalk rocket science. And the big thing was for our operators is that, we were actually able to start passing that goodwill back to them in a lower cost per hour crosstalk. They were able to save, as the bill rates were skyrocketing, and in some other providers where just going to keep riding that wave up. And we were actually able to lower that during this time, and that's Goodwill that we were able to pass to our nurses. And it gets back to this theme of just arrival experts, we wanted to find the best way. And that's how we've been able to sustainably work with all of these customers, and we never lost a single one.
Jeff: I love that story. The part I love about it most is that there's a listening aspect of that. And I think probably everybody's getting the gist from the way you're talking about it, but it's a two- sided market. You've got nurses on one hand and then you got facilities and other institutions that need that kind of capacity. So tell me about the process, you sort of glossed over that part. Like, " Yeah, we listened and we learned." How did you listen? Who was talking to who? Was it the customer success team or the account managers? Where was that insight coming from?
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. So our customer success team is our account managers. And we have a loose contract, you could say. And inside of each of these facilities, there's also so many different stakeholders. So you've got the scheduler who's working day- to- day to put out all the fires, they're kind of begging, borrowing, stealing, patching the schedule together, running around all day long, just making sure that they can fill all the slots that they have. Then you've got more of a traditional director of nursing, that wants to make sure that you're the providing the quality of care there. And then you have an administrator that is you making sure that they can stay financially sound. And typically, and a lot of our customers, and one of the ways that we grow is, they work within larger management companies. So about six to seven facilities will roll up into one corporate structure. And so, how we've expanded across a lot of our markets is just doing really right by one of their customers and then getting a referral to the next, and the next and the next. And so inside of those account managers, seeing the different issues every single week, and working with the scheduler to say, " Hey, you need to really monitor this cancellation rate." Hearing concerns from the DON that we're not fulfilling enough shifts, and then trying to back into the operation of, " Well, Hey, if actually we could get the shifts posted on an earlier frequency so that we had more time to fulfill it." If you weren't canceling 30% of your shifts, and all the other various factors that can come into this. And then the administrator at the end getting all the invoices and seeing the cost of this really start to skyrocket. They have to pair all those parties together, and then translate that over into any of the surveys or feedback that we're getting, whether it being on coming through our own support channels for our healthcare providers. And that's where the in- between all of this, the high cancellation rates, increase cost per shifts, is where the genesis came for making sure that, " Hey, well, what if we just threw out a concept like guaranteed?" And that the staffing industry has been around for 30 and 40 years, and this has been probably the antidotes that I can give you is that, it's always been a little bit of a stigma that an agency nurse is less reliable. And we had a newer take on that, that that's not actually true, when you look at the scheduling data of that nurse. If she asked requests for five shifts and the provider comes back and cancels four and confirms the fifth, there's a very low likelihood that they're going to show up for that shift. And it's not to say that that nurse wasn't reliable, it was more of that you broke your commitment that was already offered. And so we help to bridge that gap, and guaranteed shifts is now one of our leading features that providers reach out to us too. Is because we're not looking to just increase the bill rate over and over again, so that we can get you more staff. We are really trying to more holistically fix this problem that at its core.
Jeff: You actually are making the entire industry better by crosstalk.
Jacob Laufer: Exactly.
Jeff: It reminds me of... So when you and I worked together a Snagajob, just for people's background, I came to Snagajob through an acquisition of a company called People Matter. And our mission statement started ringing in my head, which I still remember this is years ago now, and our mission statement was, to change the way hourly work is done and make it better, basically. It reminds me of what you're doing, changing the way that providers and nurses work together and making it better for everybody's sake. That is truly a customer success driven mission on both ends of the spectrum for all of your customers, and I love it.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah.
Jeff: I think I cut you off. You were going to keep going there.
Jacob Laufer: No, I just... And that's where in our mission where we're looking to empower as many caregivers as we possibly can. And so it was just an awesome win- win that we were able to take care of their largest complaint, and pair that in a lot of goodwill for our providers as well.
Jeff: Yeah. Everybody won when you made that decision, it sounds like. And you dispelled an old myth that actually probably wasn't even true in the first place, which is cool. I was thinking a little bit, as you were talking about... I want to hear more about what the customer success or account management folks do in your team, because it sounds like a really dynamic role. And I want you to plug that you're hiring at the end of this too. But I think of three things, when I think of customer success management. I think of building relationships and you talked a little bit about all the stakeholders at play, the administrator, the director of nursing who's in charge of quality, and the scheduler who's in charge of operations, basically. And then, so those relationships, there's the actions that you're taking on a daily, weekly, monthly basis with those customers. And then there's the utilization of the service, which is where all the data and the metrics come in. So talk to me about your account manager role. You don't have a contract, like we talked about. You have more of terms of service, is what it reminds me of.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah.
Jeff: ...that those do a SaaS contract, which is durable, annual, multi- year maybe. So talk to me about that role, because it sounds really dynamic, and-
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. So our account managers, they're really ingraining themselves within their portfolio accounts. So they've got to understand the operation. Because the way that every facility does things is also different, and they've got to understand their metrics. So they've got to know, certain facilities may have a budgeted patient per day different than the other, and they want to know where they're. At each of these healthcare facilities, monitors that PPP metric on a daily basis. And they're just trying to make sure that the actuals meets the budget right on, because if the actuals is too high, then they're burning too much costs. And if they below it, they're not hitting the quality standards that they're looking for. And then there's a part of this, of wrapping around the operation and ingraining themselves. A lot of our success comes to as well, what we do during the implementation. So if you think about the implementation and working in a facility where each of these... I always say that, you have to think about every one of these facilities as a small city. And so, if you're driving into Charlotte, it's a different way in then if you're driving into Charleston. And there's different directions to go, people act a different way. There's different types of things that are acceptable, things that aren't acceptable. And so they have to understand that persona of each of these facilities within their portfolio and how they like to operate. We don't have a contract and the line that every single time is very thin. So you've got 27 shifts. You could have 30 different nursing supervisors where, if we have a bad shift turn, that one nursing supervisor, if she didn't get contacted in the right way, or somebody showed up that they didn't expect, there can be a lot of friction within this. So our team... and this is something where the account managers come in as well is, we've really invested in our implementation of our onboarding. So we make sure when you're coming on as a client that we understand across every single of your day, evening, and night shifts, where you want us to contact if there's an issue. And we make sure they intake that. And that's something that's available on our software, so that our account managers, when something arise, obviously they're not working all 27 shifts, and they can pass that down to our support teams. To really make sure that if there's some type of issue that pops up, that the person that can fix the root cause is always known in every single one of those shifts. Because at the end of the day everything that we all do is communicate, and you just need to make sure that those communications are going to the right person. And so that's something that we spend a lot of time on. And we've built our own proprietary system that's housing all these analytics and making them available to all of our partners and our account managers. They're the arrival experts, they're helping to figure out how to move those metrics, grow their portfolios and working with those clients. So something that can come up pretty frequently is, that there can be various credentialing barriers. So one of the things that we track within our Shiftmed app is, we can tell if like per se, somebody went to go try to claim a shift at your facility, and you wanted to have a two- step TB test. And we can see in our data that we actually had somebody try to claim it with a one- step TB test. So the account managers will actually go and work with the healthcare facility to address those concerns and these opportunities where, do you really need to have that requirement? We haven't had tuberculosis since 1900. And this person has a pretty recent test, can we adjust this policy? How do we go about doing this? Who do we need to loop in to do that? And when they're able to uncover that value, that now unlocks 10 to 20 more shifts for them. So now they just took that weekly customer and just improved by, I could be on an annual basis, $ 150,000, right on that small change. So they're kind of our crosstalk.
Jeff: And that change would also help the providing facility as well right?
Jacob Laufer: They're going to get more arrivals.
Jeff: They're going to get more arrivals. So you call it account management, but it is the quintessential definition of customer success, in that you're using the data to actually make the operation happen more smoothly and get a better outcome every time. That's great. So what skill sets do you look for in these people? Are they coming from the healthcare industry? Or are you able to teach them that part of it, if they're good at relationships, understanding data? Can this be taught, I guess is my question?
Jacob Laufer: Yeah, definitely. So we have a crash course. We actually have a very robust client success guide that was developed by this team that sent out to all of our partners on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis as it's being updated. And it's a Bible that we can share across each of our account managers. And really what we found is that, obviously having some analytical chops does help. But the interpersonal skills of this position are very crucial. You're going to be working with a lot of people that are really busy inside of these facilities and trying to make and find the right contact, so that you can deliver the story that you're looking for is a large part of the job. So I would say that probably half of our team has previous healthcare experience, but it's not necessarily a requisite at all. Sometimes we look more favorably, I would say on people that aren't healthcare, because then they can bring some new perspective like we did. crosstalk I knew nothing about healthcare when I made the transition from Snagajob over to this, so.
Jeff: Well, you would never know it from hearing you talk.
Jacob Laufer: Exactly, so. crosstalk.
Jeff: ...blow my mind every time we chat, it's crazy.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. No, I never thought I would even usher the words tuberculosis inaudible. That's something that still blows my mind and I certainly don't crosstalk.
Jeff: I've not even heard of at least one of those words.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah, I certainly probably don't pronounce them right. But if you're in healthcare, you probably understand what I'm saying.
Jeff: That's awesome. Yeah. And I think you hit on something. So the beginner's mind is very real, being able to access that all the time. And as you learn new things and bring new insights, and you hear that about all kinds of startups. People getting into businesses they had no clue about, and they were able to look at it from a different angle because they've never been there, so that's cool. And I think that some of the other skillsets that you mentioned, I wrote it down as you were talking. Find the right contact to tell the story. Just having that tenacity to go in and figure out like, " Okay, where are the decisions being made? Where are the operational decisions being made? Where the business decisions happening? And who are the people that are really controlling those discussions?" Finding those people and then being able to get audience with them to share all this fantastic data that you have, that is an account management skillset. And I talk about it all the time. Account management is a critical piece of customer success. And I think we avoid that sometimes, but I think we also confuse customer success sometimes because we don't talk about that as being a critical element of it. So it sounds like y'all are seeing that and you've got to figure it out.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. And I think the biggest thing I think that customer success can continue to expand upon, it's just the cadence that our account managers follow. Are you coming in each week to your clients or partners and figuring out ways to provide value? Because all the metrics that we follow across, net retention, gross retention, all these things where it's understanding if somebody's going to churn or not. If you were providing value to them every single week and measuring yourself under that stick, you can achieve 100% retention. That's something that we've proved, and that's really everything. And it comes down to if you... and you probably have some symptoms of this where everybody gets all hands on deck leading up to a renewal. And that's what a lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to space out the whole year. So I think keeping the scoreboard up in front of you at all times is something that we've really innovated on. And even showing that scoreboard at all times to our clients and make sure that they can see how much of value that we're actually providing.
Jeff: Absolutely man. I love that word cadence. I'm reading a book right now by John Maxwell. You know John Maxwell is a leadership guru, he's an old dude. It's called A Leader's Greatest Return. And I literally just wrote this quote down an hour before you and I got on the phone here, but it says, " People don't determine their future. They determine their habits, which determine their future." So what you're saying about cadence and what are the thing... This goes well beyond customer success as well. If you want something to move, you got to put the numbers in front of people. You got to focus on what matters every day, every week and that's operations. And half of what we do is operations. Some of it is innovation, but a lot of it, once you figure out the innovation is just how you operate the thing, so. Look man, love what y'all are doing. So we're about out of time here. I know you're hiring, so give the plug real quick for crosstalk.
Jacob Laufer: Yeah. So if you're interested in joining our rocket ship here at Shiftmed, check out our LinkedIn, or also Indeed jobs pages, to see all the hiring that we're doing. And we're currently in the process of a nationwide expansion, and so have lots of exciting opportunities across every single market you can think of across the United States.
Jeff: Awesome. And you don't have to have healthcare experience to tap into this crosstalk.
Jacob Laufer: No. And we actually hire remote too. So completely flexible. We can hire, and actually as we continue to expand onto the West Coast, that's becomes more of a challenge for us given that we're more of a Eastern and Central time based company at this time.
Jeff: Well, you'll have your pick of the litter of the customer success world out on the West Coast, for sure.
Jacob Laufer: Yep.
Jeff: Awesome. All right man, how can people get in touch with you if they want to connect with you?
Jacob Laufer: Yeah, if you want to get in touch with me you can go to my LinkedIn, Jacob Laufer or also just jlaufer @shiftmed. com. If you have any ideas or questions about anything that we're doing, love to hear from you guys.
Jeff: Awesome. Good to have you, man. Talk to you soon. crosstalk.
Jacob Laufer: ...man. Yep.
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.
Today Jacob Laufer is on the show to discuss enterprise customer success without a contract
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This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...
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