Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode 22 · 10 months ago

Create a Healthy Balance of Product & CS Interactions w/ Vanessa Hannay

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Serving your customer via your product and CS team interactions is a bit of a balancing act. There needs to be a healthy level of both.

In this episode of Customer Success Leader, Vanessa Hannay, Sr. Director of CS at Muck Rack, talks to Eric about…

- Striking a balance between customer interactions w/ the product & CS team

- Tips on establishing trusting relationships with customers

- Why losing a company isn’t losing a customer

For more info, check out customersuccessleader.com or send a message to hello@flatfile.io.

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Customer Success Leader on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

You have to help teams understand whatthey're doing today is not the most ideal place to be and also help themsee where the tool that you're offering can fill that void, want to createdelightful customer experiences. Youre on the rain lace. Welcome to customerSuccessulleger, where you'll learn about the successes and struggles ofleaders who are passionate bout, their craft trust me, you want to stickaround here's your host, Eric Cran Heyyo. It's Eric Crane, Sion Co,founder a flat file. I'm here this week on customer success, leader withVanessa Hane she's, the director of customer success at Mucrack, which isthe all in one solution to help PR PROFESSIONALS: Hey Vanessa. How are youdoing today? Hey haric thanks so much for having me doing well. How aboutyourself can't complain too much othough. The House is out of power. Wehad the hurricane run through town, not too long ago, so still trying to cleanup everything from that man yeah. In some ways it feels like two thousandand twenty is just one hit after the next yeah I'm waiting for. Like thelocusts, I think they said those are coming next week, but I'm not certainman. Dont have to worry too much about locas you're, calling in from New Yorkright yeah. That's right! I actually just moved to a new apartment inManhattan in March, so not the best time to move into Manhattan but alasther. I am yeah. I believe it wat part of Townian, I'm in Washington Height,so right near the George Washington Bridge for those who are familiar withthe New York City area, Nice. So don't really get to spend that much time onthe upper west side. Whenever I visit New York, I feel like it's just like aforeign area. Despite all the time putsing around, you know Metown anddowntown what I love about. It is the husband I mean you can't beat it andwith the bikepath along the way. It's just a beautiful place to be and haveaccess to well have to make sure to pick your brain about favoriterestaurants. So hopefully I can come up in that area. Next time, I'm in townre'egardless we're here to talk a little bit more about customer success,not necessarily restaurants in New York...

City. So thank you so much for sharingyour wisdom with the folks here who are listening to customer success leader. Iwould loke to just start by understanding a little bit more aboutwhat is your unique definition of customer success. Yeah absolutely forme, customer success is all about whether or not your customer got to adifferent end dat after using your product and how your team specificallyhelps them get there. So the customer should be a positive return afterinteracting with not only your product, but also your team and there'sdefinitely a balance between the two as well. That's a really cool way,awording it getting to a different end state. How did you get to that endstate throughout your career yeah? So I've been in customer success for overfive years now, and I've been with MUCKRAFK specifically for almost fouryears. So a lot of my customer success journey has been a result of partneringwith our customers at mackrack, and I've definitely benefited and enjoyedjoining the organization when we were under twenty employees and now we'reabout to hit a hundred employees at the organization. So there's been a lot ofgrowth in the past four years and as a fully boosedraps company to we havedefinitely remained scrappy as a team, as we've grown, and one thing that Ialways try to not only remind myself that also my team is that customers, intheory, shouldn't have to interact with us in a way we're always workingourselves out of a job or that's how we should think, because we should becollaborative partners crossfunctionally, helping products,helping account management, understand where customers are running intofrustration, points or where they're achieving great success. And then howdo we capitalize, especially offos the success that one customer has and helpother customers realize the same? It's a pretty interesting approach, the ideathat I think, as you just directly mentioned, customers shouldn't reallyhave to interact with us, so hate ofe.

The cases where they do have tointeract with you, and why is that the case yeah? So this is very specific toour industry, but we are definitely a market leader in the PR software spaceright now we are bringing to market what we call public relationsmanagement and with that, it's a huge change in mindset for how a lot of PRteams have traditionally operated. We're really trying to get teams tounderstand how they can stop using multiple tools in their day and insteadbring all of the data that they need into one place. So with that comes alot of change management changing perspective and, I would say, werecustomer successis needed the most specific to art organization, buthopefully this presonates with others listening as well, is that you have tohelp teams understand what they're doing today is not the most ideal placeto be and also help them see, where the tool that you're offering can fill thatvoid, so you're, almost creating the problem for them or helping them seethe problem with how they are used to interacting with their currential setor their current way of working and then bringing them over to a better wayof doing things. So thelet just about anybody, run a podcast these days, andI got to say I know next to nothing about pr and what those actualobjectives should be. So coun tell us a little bit more about what you'rehoping to help this PR professionals achieveon yeah. Absolutely so if wetake a sales org, for example, fil teams have been using crms for yearsand years and years, but PR professionals haven't had access to thesame benefit. So if you think about yourself as a PR professional, a bigpart of your goal is reaching out to journalists and building relationshipswith them to help further your own brand message and as a result, if youwere a team of five people, you could probably imagine how easy it is formore than one person on a team to end...

...up reaching out for the same journalist.So that would be a horror for a sales team and PR teams haven't had that samestructure access to software that makes that easier for them. So we're lookingto achieve with our customers that we partner with is giving them access tonot only the database that they need where they can actually search for andfind those journalists, but then also help them manage all of thoserelationships in one place to God it. That makes a lot of sense. So the wholeideas ist help those PR folks actually expand their ability to manageefficiently multiple relationships with journalists, ultimately resulting inmore information being passed between the two parties. If I'm understandingcorrectly yeah, that's exactly right. So how do you establish a relationshipwith your customers? Yeah? That's an awesome question to so our customers,thankfully, given the nature of their work, are pretty communicative and doenjoy relationship building. So when we kick off the new relationship with acustomer, we definitely want to understand as much from the sales hand,off process is possible and I'm sure many listening and you as well havebeen in the position of you bringing on a new tool inteurnaly within yourorganization, and it's so painful when you have to tell the CSM or the accountmanager the same information that you just shared with the salesperson thathelps you bring on this new piece of software. So that's one of the thingsthat we want to do on RN to make sure we're diligent in understanding. Whydid they purchase MIT rack? What was the main painpoint that they weretrying to solve? We know that we want them to use the tool in more ways mostlikely than the one that they initially purchased for, but we definitely wantto understand and reference early on in that relationship why they purchasedthe tool. So that's key understanding what they purchase, knock back for andthen bringing that up early in the conversation so that they know you're,proactive and excited about the partnership to and from there we reallytry to match our customers excitement. We do look at all of our customerrelationships as a partnership so have to meet US halfway, but we'redefinitely here to support the...

...initiatives that our customers arelooking to achieve, whether that be finding more contact than they'vepreviously interacted with monitoring media coverage better than they have inthe past, or just trying to understand amdprove the value of their own work.Thats a huge gap in the PR industry right now is helping those teams thatar prove their Ri internally. So no matter what objective they're trying toachieve, we definitely want to help them get there and we want tounderstand what their commitment level is to so that we can meet them halfway.You know that makes a lot of sense is the ultimate goal. Here. I used to runinto this all the time when I was dealing with social media analyticsteams. I was working with software that helped those folks and it was a similarchallenge which is like what is what is the value that we're actually providingback to the business, and can we put something justifiable and quantitativebehind that value to absolutely and obviously it makes it easier for APRteam to justify the spend Formarak if we can also in return help them provetheir own Rli. So it's definitely a win win relationship. There yeah definitelymakes sense. Where does things go ri? So where do things kind of fall offwhen you can't meet the customer halfway or they can't necessarily showthat ry yeah? Absolutely so part of the challenges were all busy people right.So I think when people bring on a new software, there's often a lot of goodintentions and sometimes things come up. You lose momentum with therrelationship and we always try to do our best to bring that excitement backup whether it's through a business review or a new feature that we justlaunched that we know they had requested or a d wish for and vocalizethat to us in the past. So there are definitely small ways that we try toengage our customers, as well as the bigger efforts, like those businessreviews and interacting with other members throughout the organizations,but we're things ofs and go right to is when you don't have that stakholderinternally, and that is Sokey, especially because we are trying totransform a team's entire workflow. So,...

...as you can imagine, you can't reallypull that off unless you have at least one person who's fully bought in withinthe organizations and ideally that the leader senior leader, who can reallyexcite the team and motivate them to use the tool in the way that we bothwanted to be used. So that's where things definitely fall. Flad is whenmaybe we had a keypoint of contact and they left that organization, or maybewe never really got that full dying from the team on utilizing muckrack asa work clotool. So there's a lot of ways that, of course, things can gowrong or not necessarily wrong, but not the way that we had both hoped for. ButI think, having that key stay holder, I've seen that prove out plenty oftimes on my end, where, as soon as I get that one person who raises theirhands asbs, I believe in thes I can see whyr. My team should be using this. I'mgoing to work with you to work with my team to get theme using the cool inthis way. Yeah makes a lot of sense, and how have you designed sort of yourteam structured to be able to support that goal? Yeah? Absolutely so withincustomer success, I have a Tean of size and two of those individuals arefocused on support. Three of those are focused on success at the moment, andone of my team members is really focused oncustomer communication andmaking sure that, as we're launching new products and features within theplatform that we're making customers aware of that, because one of the mostpainful things is when you see cancellation or turn feedback comethrough and they went to a competitor because they didn't know that your tooldid that. So we're always trying to take sure that that doesn't happen asmuch as possible, and I have another person on my scen to who worksstrategically, with our account management teams who mantages all ofthe customer renewals to help them better understand, customer health oftheir own book of business and then the third team member I have on my seamright now, wit in the success side, is focused on on boarding. So customers,who really need that one to one dedicated training, call upfront he'staking the lead on those and that's how...

...we currently have the team structured,but we've seen so much growth in two thousand and twenty were very thankfuland blessed for that. And so I know that growts will continue into twothousand and twenty one as well, and the team, as a result, will expend todo you envision expanding to the point where you'd have CSM's own individualcustomer accounts. Or would it be more of this kind of functional orientationas you grow, I see it more as the functional orientation as we grow,since the Account Management Team has a dedicated book of business and they'reresponsible for specific set of customers. Our teams job is to reallymake their jobs easier and, as a result, improve our customers day to day aswell, so we're definitely more strategic as a cross. Functional teamworking with Product Sales Account Management Marketing pretty much everyteam at Matrak to improve the customer experience. So we definitely seeourselves as part of the customer journey, but we also want to make surethat we are not taking on anything and everything and just becoming the de it.All team makes a lot of sense. That also leads Mo to believe that you havesome systems in place to ensure that there's a lot of great communicationhappening internally about each customer and what their experience hasbeen thus far. So U Coun tell me about like some of the systems and tools thatyou're using to manage that type of structure on the team. Weve havethought, as our CRM and Houb spot is really the tool where, of course, thesales team is using it, but the account management team is using it to tome,manage renewals and renewal deals and our team is recording any calllogs thatwe have with customers in there. Any relevant meening notes that we want tomake sure is reference or easily access ocross, the company. We use Intercolmto communicate with our customers from a support angle, but also a proactiveangle to so that's where we're not only responding reactively to inquiries thatcome indirectly through the product, but we're in addition to that messagingcustomers through iner com to let them...

...know about that new feature launch, andespecially in the early days of someone joining the platform. Helping themrealize all there really is to access and set up and leverage. We do useproduct bord on the product side, but I really like what we've done incollaboration with our product team there to ensure that any conversationthat is happening through intercom or anything that's being long in hub spotis actually channel through product pords, where the product ing caninteract with those engagements and assign different things to the roadmapand ultimately identify what type of request or questions are starting tobubble up to. We recently brought on client success and that tool isdefinitely going to help us take things to the next level in terms of measuringaccount health and helping the account managers to understand where thoseopportunities for upsells Ly and where the opportunities or red flags are withdifferent customers, so that we can continue to say one step ahead of anyissues or decrease in value that a customers realizing through the productdis greed. To hear. I just had a conversation with Dave from clientsuccess. Yesterday afternoon, well, imeathing sitting in my car Wen, tryingto connect to a couple bars a lte here in the neighborhood. So that's awesome.That's really exciting that you got a really thoughtful set of tools andsystems that you working with to ensure a positive customer relationship. I dolike to ask so where the areas where you're still doing things manually thatyou feel like technology should be able to help you S. yeah. That's a greatquestion. I mean I don't know how much technology could really help with this,but one area that I know not only our team struggles with, but probably everysingle customer success and Account Management Scene Out. There is keepingtrack of those day colder relationships. It is so challenging to say Antabos,especially as your company grows, which people have left in organization andthankfully, email alert are part of a...

...tool that we offer. So if someone hasan email alert set up through the platform we see when that email,bounces, and that is definitely a good indicator that they've most likely leftthe organization. But that is one area that I know we've really struggled with,and I've been talking to other customer success. Teams to I've definitely heardthat shared struggle, so it'd be great. If technology could help more with that,but I would say that's one of the biggest challenges, because when youlose key Sak holder, even a power user, it is really hard to bounce back fromthat and you have to put in in some cases it's almost like reselling yourproduct to that organization. Yeah, definitely seen that happen many a time,and I think there should be some stuff out there, but for those folks who arelistening, who are builders of the world? Just know that, regardless ofwhether or not there's something that's out there, it's definitely notsomething that we have found Norvanessa, nor many of the other folks that webring on the show so keep an eye out for that as an opportunity area. Forsome of you builders, I really appreciate you sharing yourperspectives about what's happening at nuckrack and how you define customersuccess. I love for you to leave our listeners just with a piece of advicethat you receive related to customer success. That's really influenced howyou think about it. Yeah. I would be happy to it's not a piece of advicethat I received, but it is a piece of advice that I would like to offer, andthat is when you are in a tough conversation with a company who islooking to cancel their contract with. You definitely remember that, while youmight be losing a company, you are not necessarily losing a customer, and whatI mean by that is that person at that company that is turning or in theprocess of turning might very well go to an organization next month or nextyear or two years from now, and want to and advocate to bring on your productat their organization. They don't make it painful for them to leave. ObviouslyOu want to do your job and be diligent and get that feedback in case there issomething directly related to the...

...product that could really help improvefor other companies and customers as well. But that's my biggest pace ofadvice to offer is that, even though you feel like you're losing a customeryou're, really not you're, losing a company Yeth, don't necessarily try tohold your customers. Ransom right, like Stockholm Syndrome, isn't exactly thebest way to build up for Poro with the market like it's okay, sometimes it'snot someone's decision to leave and that's okay, if you make the experiencepositive, even when leaving they're going to remember that positivity, notnecessarily the downside of you know just things not working out in thatparticular instance. Exactly great well! Thank you! So Much Vanessa again thatwas Vanessa Hana she's, a director of customer success at fuck rack and IMarie Crane your host of customer success leader. Thank you for listeningthis week and Tun in again. Next, you depend on the fastest time to value foryour customers, so why I let Datea onboard and sew you down: Stop emailingspreadsheets, creating CSB templats for sending a pact transfers, createcollaborative secure work spaces with your customers and their data savingyou time, while providing a memorable, onboarding experience. Oh and there'sno code required. You can go to flatfile dot, IO flash TS LEADER TOLEARN MORE and get started for free. Thank you so much for joining us forthis episode. Customer Success leader is brought to you by flat file ifyou're a fan of the show and want to help us share these conversations withothers. Leave us a rating on Alpe podcast, just tap the number of stars.You think the show eserves! That's it for tyday catch you in the next one.

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