Helping Sells Radio reaches across the pond to speak to David Jackson, CEO of TheCustomer.co following his recent talk at Pulse Europe 2018 titled, How to Construct a Predictive Health Score With or Without Usage Data, that he gave with Charli Rogers, Vice President, Client Success at Yext. The subject of that talk alone is more than enough reason to have David on the show. But digging further, David has a unique perspective on product-led customer success, which is timely with Gainsight's acquisition of Aptrinsic, and his views on simplifying customer are music to our ears.
We talk about the customer journey. But the term journey implies there is a path, and customers take the path. If customers are unique, and most of us think they are, then wouldn't they take their own path? And if each customer takes a unique path, then how are WE (software companies) supposed to manage that? The answer is: We aren't. That's why I like that Ellie Wu talked about moments. Ellie Wu, Senior Director of Customer Success at SAP Concur and a top 100 Customer Success Influencer, joins Helping Sells Radio to talk about owning moments (not the customer). We talk about a lot of other things too, including fawning over her Linkedin videos, whether to hire a customer success executive or a customer success manager first, and we even talked briefly about Olympic skeleton racer, Noelle Pikus Pace and how she overcame the possible destruction of her Olympic dreams with one statement from her doctor in her darkest moment.
What would you do, if you could split off a small team of developers and could direct them on changes to the product that customers hound you about every day? This new team, your team, would work in parallel to the product development team, unencumbered by the restrictions of the product roadmap. No more begging the product team to listen to you. No more making the case that this customer is special and this feature is important. No more explaining to customers, "I promise, I'll pass that along to our product team." What if you could make those changes happen? What if you could be a true voice of the customer? This is what Mel Bilge, customer experience led at Learndot by ServiceRocket can do. Jealous? In disbelief? Well, we talk to her about how it works, why she did it, and why Mel thinks this could be the future of the product / customer experience mashup.
If you are a regular listener of Helping Sells Radio, you know that whenever we have a guest on the show to talk about customer success, pick challenge them (I'm putting that nicely here in the show notes) on the idea that customer success is really not yet about customer success and more about "our" success. I ask when are we going to change that and actually start talking about customer success. Well, we have two customer success guests on this episode, and they have an answer to the question. And the answer is: business outcome management. Dave Duke, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at MetaCX, and James Scott, General Partner of the Customer Success Practice at SuccessHacker explain that business outcome management is a core customer success competency (or should be) that provides a team a methodology for helping customers achieve business outcomes.
Sarah E. Brown, author of Power to the Startup People: How to Grow Your Startup Career When You're Not the Founder, wants to help people evaluate whether and how to build a career in startups. As we talk about on the show, most of what is written about startups is for the founder. Little-to-none has been written to help employees. Until now. Working at a startup can be fun and exciting and enriching and lucrative. Working at a startup can also be stressful and purposeless and cliche and unprofitable. To make matters worse, one startup might be a perfect fit for you, but a terrible match for your best friend, who you think is so much like you. In other words, working at startups is not for everyone. The point is to evaluate what you want out of your career and see how that matches up with what startups can offering. You need to look for a fit.
There is a first time for everything and this episode has two first times. First, we took Helping Sells Radio on the road to visit Dustin DeVan, founder and CEO of BuildingConnected at his office to talk about disrupting the construction industry with collaborative software. Second, Sarah E. Brown, founder and long-time co-host of Helping Sells Radio and director of content marketing at BuildingConnected, joins the show as a guest host AND a guest. She even took over the show open. So, this was an exciting shows on multiple levels.
Here is the question of the day: "How far do you go to help a customer adopt your software?" I ask this question to many of our guests, and there isn't one right answer. As you can imagine, there are many answers. In other words, "It depends." My favorite answer now comes from Arjun Devgan, VP of global customer success and services at Percolate. His answer is to create a methodology for adopting the software, publish an eBook describing it, and then publish tools customers can use during their implementation or digital transformation.
Nils Vinje, from Glide Consulting, just gave me a new perspective on customer success readiness at SaaS companies. Although Jason Lemkin says customer success is a single digit hire, and he may be right most of the time....Nils says, "Not so fast." According to Nils, when to hire customer success depends on the maturity level of your customer. "It's wonderful to disrupt a market. However, it's also terrible to disrupt a market." Said another way, it's good to "have the first solution" to a problem because it's a greenfield opportunity. BUT. "If there has been no solution there prior, there is no ownership in that organization for that particular function. There are no processes. There are no people who run those processes. The customer will therefore need a lot more help than a customer success organization can or should provide.
You want outcomes? Allison Pickens, Chief Customer & Corporate Development Officer at Gainsight, has outcomes. In fact, she is perhaps suggesting the ultimate customer outcome that a customer could have after using your product. That outcome? Getting promoted. Think about it. Someone...an actual person bought your product. They stuck their neck out. Convinced many other people in their organization that buying your product was a good idea. The your product is a promise to make some meaningful improvement. People agreed and green-lighted the project. Looking back...someone is going to ask, "Was that a success?" If it was, perhaps your customer now looks so good, he or she ought to be promoted. Right? So, how many of your customers have been promoted? I think that might be the ultimate customer outcome.
She tried. And she succeeded. Naturally. Emilia D'Anzica, founder of Customer Growth Advisors, joined Helping Sells Radio intending to take over the show and interview Bill about his book. We did that at the end of the show, but before we did, we spent time talking about Emilia and her work with customer success teams. Very early on in the show we talked about on-boarding pitfalls because we all want to avoid them. One of the pitfalls Emilia wants us all to really get is that we assume our customers will just learn how to use our software. And this is not true. Customer needs our help in on-boarding to understand why and how to use our software. But that does not mean turning on the fire hose and trying to show the customers everything. Emilia urges us to make sure the on-boarding training is laser focused on the fewest most important task that get customers to perform the one thing they bought our product for...whatever that it. Don't do more that because customers will forget it anyway. Just get them to the one thing first. Then build on that learning later.
Michael Redbord, General Manager of the Service Hub at HubSpot, joined Helping Sells Radio to talk about making customers successful. Software companies have to focus on building trust, adding value, and helping people do their job better. But how far should we go in helping our customer be successful? Asked another way, "Should the gym employee come to my house and throw away the cookies?" While Michael doesn't think the gym should go to people's houses slapping cookies out of their hands, we should try to help customers do their jobs better, not just get them to log into our software. Just think about how HubSpot does his. A lot of it is with education: educational blogs, HubSpot Academy, and the book "Inbound!" Speaking of books, Michael thinks the topic of making customers successful more than warrants a book. We agree. Write it, Michael.
Matt Cameron used to hand write letters to prospects to get into their office for a sales call. After granting Matt a meeting, a global company CFO said to him, "I need to believe that you know something that I need to know now." Whoa! How many SDRs are thinking like that? Not many. At least in part, it seems this experience has driven Matt on his mission to help sales people learn executive acumen and become experts in the domain into which they sell, so that they can help prospects create value. Matt is well on his way. He founded SalesOps Central and created the SaaSy Sales Management boot camp to do just that. His background is as a sales leader at Salesforce and Yammer, two sales juggernauts to be sure.
According to Jeanne Bliss, a four-time author, customer experience expert, and founder of Customer Bliss, one of the keys to creating an amazing customer experience starts by hiring people and not resumes. "Employees often define the company for customers," she said, influencing the entire customer experience. Jeanne joined Bill on Helping Sells Radio podcast to talk about why today's companies need to wrap humanity into their customer experience model and how that helps them grow.
According to Ari Hoffman, customer success is kind of like being a professional sports coach. The coach's number 1 priority isn't to fill the stands with fans, help the team get new sponsors, or worry about the price of food at the concession stands — it's to help the players win games. Help the players succeed on the field (or court, or wherever they play). It's just one of the reasons why Hoffman, Customer Fanatic at MindTouch, spends his days listening to and sharing stories with customers, colleagues, other people in the tech industry, and even his friends and family. He wants to hear it all because he's curious about the stories that "engage people and raise the bar for everyone."
Companies know they should be using their data more effectively, but there's just so much of it that it's hard to know where to start. The biggest hurdle, according to Patrick Lawler and Dave Derington of Azuqua is that data is isolated in different areas of the company. The second is that no one has a good process to analyze the data they gather, so it just sits there, accumulating. "The idea of 'my data' can be daunting," Patrick said. "You'll make incremental strides if you just break it down into little chunks."