Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode · 2 years ago

Customer Care in Cybersecurity w/ Stacie Ward


This probably isn’t a newsflash to most of us but… the customer isn’t always right.


They are, however, always the hero. This is a super relevant concept, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting your customers from breaches.


To give us the lowdown on customer care in cybersecurity, I sat down with Stacie Ward, VP of Customer Care at Red Canary. We talked about: 


- How customer success and all other departments create a cohesive wheel around the customer


- Why it’s helpful for customer success teams to have a senior leadership ally


- How to forge trusting customer relationships in cybersecurity


- Expert advice for professionals new to customer success


For more info, check out or send a message to

When they grow, when they become more sophisticated in their security program were able to continue to grow with them and help them raise the bar on themselves. Want to create delightful customer experiences. You're in the right place. Welcome to customer success leader, where you'll learn about the successes and struggles of leaders who are passionate about their craft. Trust me, you want to stick around. Here's your host, Eric Crane. Hey, all, this is are crane, the CEO and Co founder here at flat file, and today I've got stacy ward, the vice president of customer care from Red Canary. Hey, stay see. How are you? Hi, Eric, how are you? I'm doing great. I'm doing all right. Thank you. You said you're calling in from Colorado. Any of those crazy Colorado thunderstorms lately? Yesterday we did. It hasn't shown up yet today, but I'm optimistic so I don't have to go out and want of the yard. Yeah, we have the same type of thing here in Georgia, though yes, we probably get more frequent but not quite as intense, thunderstorms for sure. Thank you for joining me today, customer success leader. I'm really excited to hear from you, especially given your feet background and working with customers, and I love to just start out by learning a little bit more about what you do right canary. So tell me more about your role and how you got into it in the first place. My role at Red Canary is to essentially be the warrior for customers internally, to be the fierce owner of net retention. So my team touches virtually every other part of the organization to ensure that we are delivering on our promise to be the security ally for our customers. How I got into this was I was actually the VP of customer success at another organization and a former coworker of mine called me and said, Hey, we could use your customer success expertise over here at read Canary. He talked to me about the job and the more I learned about it, the more I thought, oh, that sounds really interesting and was very excited about the opportunity to work in...

...cybersecurity. So I made the leap and it's been a great experience. That's great to hear and I love the way you describe the fierce owner of net retention here. That's a good lead into my next question. How do you define customer success? Boy, that is a really broad when I have to say customer success, I think, is the organization that touches customers throughout their entire life cycle. It's the one part of the organization that is definitely not transactional. That is especially in Sass organizations. The Customer Success Team is, I think about it as the center of a wheel. So the very target in the wheel is the customer and then the circle outside the customer is customer success and then the spokes of the wheel are all the other their departments within the organization. Often we forget that customers success has to interact with finance and accounting or product marketing support, every part of the organization. So customers success is sort of the group that ties all the rest together to make sure that we're delivering on the promise to our customers. So how do you manage an obligation to so many different groups externally and internally? Phasing? Lots of diplomacy, I would say. Because we do have to have touched so many other parts of the organization. It's helpful to have an ally in the senior leadership organization. So sometimes it's the chief operating officer, it might be the chief revenue officer, but it's important that that person is very bought into the value of customers success and how customers success contributes to the overall success of the organization. With Sass at some point you may hopefully get to the point where your existing customer base is larger than any one single year of new business sales that you might bring in. So the customer success team really starts to overtake the...

...revenue responsibility of the sales organization. That makes sense. So basically, I mean that's probably the goal of every fast business or is to have that strong existing in set of customers that are, as you put it, you know, net retention. I net retaining over times. So how do you forge a type of relationship with a customer that you can depend on and existing in perpetuity for Your Business? Obviously it starts with the product that does what is expected that it do. The other part is ensuring that on ongoing basis, you are eliciting from the customer what they're trying to accomplish. What how are they defining success? Not How we define it as our company, but what looks like success to them, and then ensuring along each every step that we are tying back to them. Also ensuring that we know their success criteria as it evolves. When you first start working with an organization, you might have, or the customer might have, a particular view of what success looks like to them and as they grow and mature with your product or service, that may evolve and change and they have higher expectations. They want more, they want more from the customer success team. So it's being willing to adapt and evolve with them, so not remaining stagnant. I think that's that's a key thing that has is why our team has been successful with our customers when they grow, when they become more sophisticated in their security program were able to continue to grow with them and help them raise the bar on themselves. We also know it's the typical you do the sync calls with the customer. You ensure that you are also than doing business reviews and setting those business reviews up so that you have executive buy in front the customer level and if you don't, don't go ahead with the the business review. Yeah, I hear that a lot. How important it is to get buy in from executive leadership as well as individual decision makers with an organization but how do you actually get to the...

...point where you can have a deep understanding of the customer and what their business goals are? I'd imagine, especially in your space, the cyber security that might be something that's all a little close to the jest. It is indeed some customers it even takes a while for them to turn on their camera and let us see their faces there in the dark, or they're wearing a hoodie. It's very, very secure, very secretive. But I think what we've realized is that by doing what we say we're going to do, following through, offering them value all along the way, whether it's an article or access to one of our cyber security experts, that they can have a QA building that trust over a period of time. You realize that it's the key to that long term success. The other thing about cyber security is most people in that work in that are in cybersecurity feel like everybody else is so smart. So it's really important for us to make it okay for them to ask questions and it admit that maybe they don't know. We try to make it a safe place for them to have that type of communication and when we do they respond by saying, Oh Gosh, I'm so glad you brought that up because I was really wondering about that. Just making sure that we have expertise, not that the Tsm knows everything, but that we can get the expertise from organization to them. Yeah, so you're creating heroes of the customers so they can in turn, advance themselves and at the same time, do you. You and I are regard to absolutely, absolutely part of our reporting, helps them feel more comfortable talking about security and demonstrating to their senior leadership what red canaries actually doing for them and making them, as you said, they just they look more like the hero. So, besides your own product, what are some pieces of technology or tools that you use to ensure that you're keeping track of and maintaining out of the customer relationship? Of course we use sales...

...force. Like most companies, we also use a tool called churn zero to manage the customer relationships. We find that turn zero is for our size organization, is really easy to adapt. They've been great to work with. We are able to pull in data from our product into turn zero so the customer success managers can stay within that tool. We use Zend us for our support tickets. That data also gets pulled into turn zero, so we are able to allow the customer success managers, for the most part, to work within one tool instead of bouncing around two, four or five different tools or attempting to run their business out of Google docs and sales horse. But do you feel like you're still doing manually, that there should be some sort of technological solution for analysis and reporting, not so much at the individual customer level or what the CSM's are doing, but reporting on things like lifetime customer value, what are our customer acquisition costs? Things like that are challenging to do and I wish we could have them more automated. It would be a lot easier. We work with partners who resell our product. I would like to be able to parse out partner transactions from our direct customer transactions and while we can do that, it is it's a it's a heavy lift. From a manual perspective, that makes a lot of sense. It's really important to understand where your customers are coming from. So let's just say that you were trying to adopt a new tool or a new process. What is the process like? They're internally regulnary, like how do you make sure that you're constantly able to evolve your business tooling in processes and meet the current demands of the business? The way we would probably go about that is identifying what is the problem that we are actually trying to solve, how that benefits the customer and then seeing...

...what technology might be available to assist us in solving that problem. Once we do identify either a specific product or group of products, we would then go back and identify what are we again, what's the problem we're trying to solve, and then creating a business case that I would typically deliver to either the chief revenue officer that or the chief product officer if it involved any technology changes on the back end with our product. That's how we've done it so far. We're still relatively small company and the process is not overly formal, but the biggest piece is creating that business case. For Why is this important? What will be the benefit? Either it's going to help us deliver more value to our customer or it will save time for a customer success manager. Got It. That makes sense. So thank you and I'm going to diverge a little bit from my set of questions around tech. I just have to ask as a maker of technology here. So I'd love to learn a little bit more about your perspective on qualities of a great customer success individual. So what are some of the key qualities that you look for when you're bringing someone onto your team? We're actually hiring right now, so I have some direct experience with this. The one thing is passion about the customer. Sometimes they might have customer success background, sometimes they have sales background, but even in their sales background, if they are in a highly transactional sale, that might not be a good fit. Those people who have been in sales where it is a land and expand model, they have to continually essentially go back to the well and set resell to the same customers. Those tend to be a better fit for us, as well as people who are just generally really, really curious. We like to have people who aren't free to ask difficult questions of...

...customers. As an example, sometimes we have customers who are doing things around their security program that to us just doesn't make sense. Often, if a CSM doesn't have that ability to ask the difficult questions, they won't say well, can you explain to me ABC customer why you're doing that particular thing in that way? What was your thought process behind that? And then maybe challenging them a little bit and saying, well, have you ever thought about this? Is this something you considered and if not, why not? Is that something you might consider, not in an aggressive way, but just really being curious why that particular customer chose that direction. That general curiosity, that a willingness to ask difficult questions are key things that make successful CSMS, as well as the basics that you have to be able to build, apport very quickly be comfortable with learning new technology. So if someone were just starting to think about getting into customer success, what are some things that you'd recommend they either do or read or try and their current role, I would say one is definitely listen to podcasts. The customer success leader podcast would be a good place to start to just learn a little bit about how different companies approach customers success. The other thing is to learn about that if there's a particular organization you want to join, make sure you learn all you can about that organization before you interview with them so that you can ask very relevant and insightful questions. The other thing is if you are looking to pivot from some other type of roll into customers success, there are a lot of transferable skills, but we call them different things in customers success. I've had a number of people who wanted a pivot from sales into customer success reach out to me and ask how to do that. I recommend that they look at other people in customers success, look at at their linkedin profile and learn about how did they describe account management in a customer success way versus the way you might do that in sales...

...and sales that gets very percentage of quota driven rather than retaining customers. So talking about similar things but using different language kint it. So, speaking of learning, I would love to hear your favorite customer success story where you feel like you learn something impactful or new about customer I would say the one that we have. We have a situation right now. We're a customer. This one was a challenging lesson. A customer did not have read Canary on their entire environment, the environment that they did not use red canary had a breach and there wasn't anything read Canary could do about it. Because we were not on that part of their environment, and that's for me. That was a really good lesson in making sure that we are always challenging our customers and asking them why are they are not putting Red Canary in these other areas and being in a way, bold enough to say, why aren't you? This is the risk, not to get overly scary about it, but this is the risk that you are assuming by not doing it that way. Are you sure that that's a risk that you want to undertake? We just took the customer at their word and said, okay, you only want to cover this party environment, but we didn't take it to the next level and we should have. Maybe we could have prevented them from getting a breach had we just pushed that little bit further and even ask the question about why they chose not to cover their entire environment. And that's weeks of the parts of something you mentioned earlier, right about establishing this relationship with the customer so that you can be comfortable asking those questions and not be worried that the customers going to raise a red flag because you care so much about their business process and what they're doing to get value out of your product if we truly care about their security posture. Those are questions that you feel justified in asking because you really you're you're...

...coming from a place of really caring about the customerman wanting to make sure that their environment is safe, given the current climate with cyber crime out there. If you truly care about that, in the dollar bills are secondary, customers will know. Totally agree. So I like to wrap all these conversations with the same question, which is, what is the best piece of advice related to customer success that you've ever received from someone else? The best piece of advice is that in a SASS business, at some point you will reach that point where the fly wheel, which is your existing business, is bigger than what the sales team can sums single year. So when that happens, it's time for customer more success to sort of demand a bigger seat at the table. In prior to that, its sales is generally king, whereas when it flips over, it's now for customer success to be perhaps a bit more bold than we've been and ensure that the rest of the organization is on board with making our customer successful. Gota. That makes sense, so thank you so much, your time today. Stacy again. That stacy ward, the vicepreads and Ne Customer Care at Red Canary, and I hear their hiring so you should go check it out at you're interested, and I'm are crane from flat file. Thank you for listening in this episode of Customer Success later. You depend on the fastest time to value for your customers, so why let data on board and sell you down? Stop emailing spreadsheets, creating CSB templates or setting up FTP transfers. Create collaborative, secure work spaces with your customers and their data, saving you time while providing a memorable onboarding experience. Oh and there's no code required. You can go to flat files IO C S leader to learn more and get started for free. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode. Customer Success leader is brought to you by flat file.

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