Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode · 1 year ago

Customer Success: The Ambassadors of Change Management w/ Kristi Faltorusso


Customer Success is not just an exit survey or ensuring that messaging is getting through. 


Kristi Faltorusso, Vice President of Customer Success at IntelliShift, details out how her team is involved from Day Zero through testimonials and references.


What we talked about:


- Customer Success partnering with other cross-functional teams.


- Driving operational efficiency, and maximizing customer assets. 


- The need for agility in customer success.


For more info, check out or send a message to

I think anybody in a customer successrole. You really have to be an ambassador of change management becauseyou're effectively trying to get a company to do something differentlythan they've done before want to create delightful customerexperiences. Yoare in the right place. Welcome to customer success leaderwhere you'll learn about the successes and struggles of leaders who arepassionate about their craft. Trust me. You want to stick around here's yourhost, Eric Cran Hio. This is Eric Crane Seo andcofounder flat fil. I'm here today on customer success, leader with ChrispiFELTO Russa from intella shift: Hey Crissi, how you doing today, Hi Ericgreat great to be here. Where are you calling ind from? I am calling it fromLong Island, New York so about forty five minutes outside of Manhattan. Iwas actually referring to the room of the house, her one calling in from my Home Office,which fortunately, we had fully renovated right before the quarantine,so my contractors were here wrapping up on day to of us being quarantine, sofortunately I was able to get my set up in order because I haven't left my HomeOffice since that's really exciting. It's interesting. We actually do offera Home Office fonovation for our employees that have their own home atso wow. It's pretty cool. Who did you work with on the office tenivation? Sowe have a contractor he's been doing work on our house since we moved inabout foges ago, so he came in and I gave Him a vision and he executedfallessly so and please to hear. Well, I'm really excited to share yourperspective on customer success with our audience. He worked in a lot ofdifferent companies in spaces, but it seems like your career, has reallyaligned towards becoming a customer success leader and that's what the showis all about. So I' love to hear a little bit more about Youur background,just how you got into customer success and now what you're doing today Untellashift as well awesome yeah. I actually really love my professional journeybecause I think I speak with a lot of folks that are trying to break intocustomers success, so I think it Duf tells nicely if to giving them hope,but an example of how you can segue. So I started the first ten years of myprofessional career in digital marketing premomarily in search entinedopisimization, I worked in house. I worked in agencies, I owned my ownagency. I was a professor at a university for about four years andreally one common theme over the last few roles that I held was I maximizedthe value out of a softhware called bright edge, and so I use them at twodifferent companies when I was running and managing all online acquisition andspecifically search andjoptimization, so theire Camport in my career, where Isaid to the CEO mcgo, like you, know, open an office in New York and I'llcome work for you and they did and I did, and so when they opened theiroffice in New York, I was able to transition into customer success as asubject matter expert. So because not only was I familiar with their product,but also the CERCHENGIN, optimization landscape and that space it was areally nice transition to helping. Basically, my peers, maximis value outof the solution, and so stayed there for about five and a half years grew mycareer from an individual contributor to vpof customer success and practicedevelopment, and then also you know.

Teen took that to three other companieswas over a organization called Sizsens, then Tei Space, a company called bettercloud in the SASS opps space, and now I'm at Intelle shift and we focus onbasically connected operations, and so what that means practically is we helporganizations that have fleep, really optimize t their operations soconnecting the data from their most important assets, which are theirvehicles and bring that data in house. To that way, they can actuallystreamline their processes. It's clict a journey that there I love to dig in alittle bit more, but tell me a little bit more about what it's like to be aVk of customer success like what does that mean that you're doing on aregular basis? It means I'm doing everything. So in an organization whereI feel like customer success is really embodied and valued you're wearing alot more hats than probably just orchestrating the postsel journey, I'mworking with the entire organization on everything that may impact ourcustomers, and so that's everything from the you know day. Zero of theawareness exposure that our marketing team is generating to bring prospectsin the door all the way through ensuring customer advocacy where we'reworking with our customers on kace studies and testimonials and references.So you know in my daytday I'm running a team and we've got about fifteen peopleon the team today and growing so soft plug, but we are still hiring and we'relooking for folks for all of our segments, so we're really excited aboutour continued scale, but managing the team in their day today to help reallyprovide them, the resources and the infrastructure to be successful insupporting their customers. I take a very servant leader approach, so Ibelieve that my existence is really just make them successful. Soeverything I do is to drive efficiency and you know, drive the operations forthem. You know a'm most importantng with all of our great. You knowcrossfunctional teams, so whether that sells marketing finance product sowo'rking very closely with them and nsuring that they are doing all theright things to support our customers long term and in the lastly, it's ourcustomers, and so probably most importantly, it's connecting with themand making sure that we understand what they need from the partnership and thatwe' delivering that on a you, know, gaily basis, yeah, there's a lot therethat goes into customer success, it's sort of a bridge between many differentparts of an orgiization, both internally as well as exterly, but I'love to dig in more on that last point you made about ort of delivering value.So how do you define customer success? A and dellashift? So it's funny rially?I can give you he the coined version that floats around the Internet byLincoln Murphy Right. But what I can say is, I do wholeheartedly believewith his theory of, like you know, achieving your customers, esiredoutcomes and insuring good interactions is the gamesigt methodology of likeoutcome is inexperience right. So I believe that those are the right things,but only think about it. Internally, I think it's more telored to theexperience and outcomes that we want to drive for our customers. So when Ithink about customer success is really did, I help them drive operationefficiency because it is more specific to my company and not just a generalstatement of what its customer success for us. It's. You know my customersthey're working with us for very...

...specific reasons, and so my success isbasically if they were able to drive better operations in their companythrough change management. As a result of our partnership, we've beensuccessful, you know yes WBAT. I love for every interaction. They have to bea good one with us were scaling hypergrowth company and, like mostcompanies right you're, never going to get it right, a hundred percent of thetime. So my goal is to just really make sure that they are. You know, drivingtheir business forward, got it and yeah. You don't necessarily have to beperfect every single time, but what you want the customer to understand is thatyou're aligned with it. Yes, that's more important, a that anthing, so Iguess the operational efficiency right like how does that measure? How do youmeasure that they're able to effectively change and become moreoperationally efficient? Let's get tmeweeds a little bit here. Just togive our listeners a little bit more context. Yeah I mean it definitely aspace that I feel like people are less familiar with telematics right and likeGPS tracking. So really the big thing for us is helping our organizationsthat we partner with WHO manage very large fleets right. So we're talkingthink about a construction company WHO's got trucks, but they also haveequipment. Companies could also you know cars. They gave boats, so it's anyasset that they have that's out there executing work through an operatorright, so I think of driver or somebody who's managing a piece in machinery,and so really it could be a couple of things. So the first thing we look atis: Are we able to help them understand how to maximize the value of thoseassets, and that could be through fuel efficiency right? Think about how muchmoney these vehicles are spending in gas. So if you can just help a customerunderstand vehicles that are spending too much time, idling or if they'vetaken longer routes, because they didn't know where they were going andwe could regrout them to optimize that you're saving them a ton in fuel thatfuel right that cost there. That's a huge ry for a lot of these businesses,that's a huge linum for them every year. So that's something that were workingwith them on another big one is safety, so obviously a lot of these companies.They want to protect two things: their employees, so those operators whoaredriving those trucks as well as those vehicles themselves. So it costs acompany, a ton of money, ind vehicle downtime. So if an operator gets intoan accident, for example, to take that vehicle off the road, not only is itthe cost of maintenance and to repair it or maybe even replace it, it's alsothe cost of what is it doing to the business? To now have one less assetthat is going to go and drive a job forward and then obviously, with thatGosh I mean I mean- hopefully nothing horrible happens to the person who'soperating the vhehicle or somebody else in another vehicle. But then you haveinsurance costs and premiums, and you know just other things related to BotlInjuri, so I mean we're looking at it through all facets. It's really. Whatcan you do to optimize the vehicles and their performance and output? What canyou do to actually do more business so, instead of your company only doing fourjobs today? Can you drive operation efficiency? So you can do five jobstoday, so it's really connecting an allset Rli through those kind ofprocesses. So I don't know I will say this is not a world I'm familiar with.I did not come in here with the chelnattics background, but it is superinteresting and probably, if ive had to...

...say of all the companies, I've workedat probably the easiest one to connect to Real Rli, which insess everyoneknows that. That's that's the big! That's that moment. You know where youcan realy Shin, especially with executives as being able to connectthose dots here. I S it's a really clear line to how you can drive valuefor a business and I'm. I think it makes us even more excited about thework that we're doing yeah. It's all about that Roia right. So the thing is,though, is that you understand what your product cand deliver in terms ofour. Why, but how much time would you say you spend just educating yourcustomers on what Roi should be for them versus trying to maximize s thatar why a lot is the answer. A lot of time goes into that, and I think youknow this a nots to be said about any any product. That's in this space, soobviously your customers, they know what they think they want your productand your partnership to yield for them, but sometimes connecting those dots isvery difficult, and so you know for us. We spend a lot of time one trying tomake sure that we understand the difference between who is executing thework that we're doing so. Maybe it's the person who's deploying the productversus who is the person who made the decision to purchase the product sounderstanding, not only those two different roles. The gap between thoseroles then also Makeang sure that we're getting access to the right person whounderstands the business use cases, because that's the biggest challengethat we have. We often spend a lot of time. Speaking with the folks that areusing the product in the day today, and sometimes they are very far removedfrom understanding the business goals and then business challenges that we'retrying to solve. For So, I would say our first challenge is getting accessto the right person to have the right conversation to get the right data andthe second one I think, that's kind of part of that is also being able to getthe right empowerment across their company to drive change management,because that's what we're doing at the end of the day right. I think anybodyin a customer success role. You really have to be an ambassador of changemanagement because you're effectively trying to get a company to do somethingdifferently than they've done before right. They did something, and now it'seither you're replacing an technology, so they're learning something new andthey're trying to change their habits or behaviors or processes or they've,never addressed it and so now you're getting them to think differently aboutsomething in a problem that they had solved. For so I mean, I would say, wespent a lot of time here. We probably never not never an was aut F, the timewe're not getting to that hard answer in the onboarding period. It does takea little bit of time, so we find that, like you know, it could be six monthsin on a don't forget. Most of our contracts are about three to five years,so it could be six months in before we're really locking down all the Dataninsides that we need, so we actually can build out a successful plan. Thatmakes sense. So it sounds like again. You have this general idealrelationship that would havevolve over time with the customer. But what getsin the way of that like what are blockers, where you have to takeanother route or something different than you might typically go in order toensure that the customers seeing value and want to stick around. So it's like a map aright like so you gotto figure out how Yo're going to navigate it all the time. There'salways many roadblocks and things that pop up and pivot. I mean, I think covidis a great example of that most of the...

...companies and customers we were workingwith how to plan had something they were working on for two thousand andtwenty, and very quickly that had to pivot and shift, and so I think themost important thing that I kind of hopefully educate and power enable myteam to do is to be agial and how they're supporting their customers. Soyou know being able to understand when something does arise. There is anotherpath forward and you just got to work with your customer to figure out whatthat is, and you know our customers priorities are changing daily and we'vegot to be Nimble enough to change with them, and so you know it's making sureone that we've got the right relationships established that weunderstand the roles that each of those individuals play in the partnership. Wehave to understand really again that close alligment to their business goalsand priorities. So that way we actually are providing value constantly. Ifwe're misaligned there, I will tell you we're not moving anything forward. Iwill tell you: I've got people my team here, like Nope, I'm focused on projectday and it's like well, the customer told us that project B is the wothat.They really care about now so like you've got a pivot and shift, and youcan't keep trying to push something. That's not allying to where yourcustomers are, and the third thing I would say, is like we are very big onbeing transparent with our customers, and you know really just having theability to be audible about like. What's going on, how are we workingwith them? You know what challenges are we facing and so also socializing andescalating that up if we had a road block, it's our responsibility to makesure that everyone in the partnership understands we're not advancing becauseof this, and it's not a finger pointing game and we're not here to like placeblame, but we all want to be on the same page, because at the end of theday, if they're not successful, we're not successful, and I think that'swhere the transparency is really really important. Now as road block aproprietary term or reat great choice of words, there so tell me a little bit more about theteam like how do you set them up for success with systems and tools, an makeit easier for you to do this really deep? You know engaging support of yourcustomers at goals, so this might be my favorite question. I'm a big operationsand process person, and that's you know- that's probably like my favorite aspectof what we do here and kind of in my role. But you know one of the firstthings that I've done when I arrived here was really defining what customersuccess would look like and it's everything from restructuring all ofour customer segments. There were we, there were loose segments before Iarrived, but really no clear way to define what the similarities were: Ind,the behaviors and the strategy behind grouping our customers a way that wedid so really defining our segments designing the engagement model that wewould need to invest in to make sure that they were all being successful inthe partnership. Also creating a very well thought out. Customer journey thatstarted not only when we received the customer from that initial sale, butalso again, I talked about earlier that engagement. We have like marketing, butstarting at that day, zero right, like what is their first impression of USwherever they find out for that bean ad, a review site our website really trulyunderstanding that all the way through and so know my cross, functionalalignment with you know. Sales and marketing and product has really beeninstrumental to my success because allowing them to really lean into theprocess educate me as I've rabed in the...

...role and for us to just, I think, allaline on the same theory around Customer Successfu. What we really wantis a business has been really helpful. You know beyond that we've deplayedGanesit. Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak knows that I speak aboutgames. I quite often it's a tool that I've used for the past. I don't want tosay eight years now, since about wo thsand and twelve at all four companies.I've been at I've either been you know, part of the you know, team, that'sinfluential and making the decision to the bring them on poar or keep them,and the last two companies have been the executive buyer. So really I'veseen great success with it. So what I've done to help my team forge forwardand do all the things that I've described today is through driving atoperational efficiency and gainsite. So we build out everything every singleplaybook every process. Our customer journey is all orchestrated through thetechnology. All of our ornamation is built out through journy orchestrator,which is one of their products. We even use them for our PRAC usage data, sogainsit has a a product usage technology called game PX. We use thatto understand how our customers are using our technology today, wearethere's ways to optimize that what are they not maximizing the value? Out ofso really that's been, I think, kind of the Central Hulse to the successive ourteam is being able to orghestrate all that now juest the tool design. All ofour things now does it create my playbooks now, so all o. That wasreally well thought out: everything down to our score cards and our healthscoring segmentation everything, but having a tool to really deploy all thatand to ensure continuity across all my employees. All of my teams to make surethat everything that we need to have happene at the right time. The rightway is actually reality. God it Yeah Buti did touched on technology I mean,is you know, a founder of a Tech Company? I have to ask it's a greathear that you love the Games lit and I'm not looking for you to knock themat all, but more just generally wheres tycons Yo, failing you right now. Thisis a good onee, so I will saying where? Is it not getling me today, but whereit's failed O me, and so I think, kind of by career learnings, I think,historically, we used to rely very heavily on health scores or a you know:Red Yellow, green kind of indicator, just say or forecast churn or toforecast renewals, and so I would say the bigger fail that I've had withtechnology is over reliance on with the data says without any emotionalsentiment weight in, and so I I used to say, Yep, here's what we can. You knowthis customers, green, so they're, definitely going to renew or thiscustomeris red and like they're out the door and how many times over the yearshave we seen green accounts, Thurn and red accounts renew and grow, and so Ithink, where I have probably put less emphasis, is around health score todrive my business forward and rather to be an indicator of changes in behaviorand points where I think my team needs either reengage or to change whatthey're doing so for us it's more of a directional engagement pulse ratherthan like me trying to forecast the health of my business on it. So I wouldsay that was my big fail with technology outside of that I mean likelisten at the end of the day. If we could automate every single thing, thenwhy would you need customer success... right like? Why would I actuallypeople that have the skills of strong communication? Empathy and you know,Change Management and program management, so I think there's a lottechnology can do, but at the end of the day I still think that thereis ahuman element- that's required ornor for your customers to truly besuccessful. Totally agree, so tell me more about you're, touching on thehealth score a little bit and particular like building behavioralchange into it. So like what is an example of a type of behavioral changethat you might want to look for. That would inform the health of thecustomers relationship with Andella shift. So here's a great one- ourcustomers are no longer speaking with us right. So all of a sudden- and youknow I hate to use you know Covi and this this global pandemic, but I thinkit's a great example of you know we could have a customer who was highlyengaged before maybe using the product really well, but all of a sudden is notengaging with us. So one of the metrics that we keep track of is you know,points of engagement and so what we call a high valued activity or an HBAwhich would be a call, a video meeting and onsite. You know those types oftouchpoints where it is more valuable for the customer and so as those Ithink, kind of drift away from the timeline that we'd ideally hope for inan engagement model. So we shoot for every thirty days having one of thosewe've seen more and more customers fallinto forty five days sixty days andfor many of them it's because their businesses were closed right, but wehad to use that as that's an example of what we would use is like thatindicator of where we have to change our behavior, because we know somethingis going on on that customers end. It could also be the same thing as usingyou know. An indicator in our health score card is looking at product usagedata or you know, connected assets. We've also used that to understand youknow the MINUTEA customer disconnects all their assets, so maybe now they'veremoved a hardware component and now they're, not tracking that Aso anymore.Well, what's going on, you know it could be an indication that there is acompetitor in there because now they're, removing our hardware and replacingwith someone else's or it could be. You know maybe they're going through someacquisition and they're removing it right, so that will also drivedifferent behavior change for us and how we're going to help support thosecustomers. So we try to use that data to really help drive what we might do,but nothing is ever so prescriptive so that, like we can't pivot or we can'texplore, what's actually happening because there's a lot of reasons. A lotof people do a lot of things, so we want to be very thoughtful about it,but those are some of the ways that we're using that to drive changeandbehavior and how our team operates. So where do you go to learn all of thisstuff? I find the best experts are usually just consistent and constantlearners like what are your favorite places to learn more about things thathelp crash fist, understanding or methodology behind effective customersuccess. So definitely I'm a big advocate of like listening to theirleaders, so podcast like this and other podcast, I'm also really big. Onlinkedin, I follow as many leaders as I can so often, people will get requestfrom me on Linkdon. It's not because I'm trying to like increase my numbersthere, but rather I just want to follow as many people, because I want to seewhat people are reading. I want to see what they're learning I wint t see whatthey're sharing I'm also pretty active... a lot of customer success,communities, one of them being game, grow Routaine, which is by the fatndersof customer imperative and so been really active in that. Not only is agreat online web community, but also we do like weekly leadership office hours,which is great because you're hearing directly from other leaders, whaththeir challenges are and how they're navigating them. So I'm big from justlike learning from others from their successes as well as their failures. SoI think that really helps an like. Listen. I can rattle off the laundrylisten books that I also enjoy. Reading that helped me, but the reality of itis. I learn a lot from just doing every day right. So a lot of my expertiscomes from experience, so, whether that's over the past four companies,where I've done it and the failures that I've had and the successes thatI've had, they all teach you and you learn from them. So I've been reallygrateful to have the experiences that I've had to test all of the differentthings that I've done and to formulate my own opinions and hypotheses on whatI should do to move forward. But I would love to go all day, but wedefinitely don't have it so I'd love to leave. Just with one last question Ilike to ask of everyone, which is what is the best piece of advice related tocustomer success that you've got from someone? I would probably say one of my formercolleagues was I'm a bitter perfectionist, I'm a very type Apersonality. I don't want to do anything unless it feels like it'sgoing to be wildly successful and one of the things that I was told early onwas you know it's more important to have progress over perfection right,especially in a hyper changing industry like customer success right like it'sstill new, it's changing every day, there's somebody else coining somethingelse and changing something. Oh No, you know ebrs don't work anymore orwhatever it is so making progress. Oer Perfection was probably the best adviceI ever received because I will tell you it's that has just stuck with me aswell as encouraged me and powered ne to just move faster and fell fast andpivot, where I need, but I've also been able to be much more successful inscaling and growing and executing in the roles that I've been in. As aresult, I can't agree more. It's always important to keep moving toward bhosefrom a psychological perspective of maintaining momentum and the stealingof advancing, but also just because you get more done that way. It turns out itas well. Thank you so much Yor Tintoday Christi again, that's Chrissy, Felta,Russo from atelaship Christi Greed to have you on customer sasets leader andeveryone listening in Ameri Cran from flatfile. Thank you for joining us thisweek and look forward to chatting with yougain to think Derek. You depend on the fastest time to valuefor your customers. So why let data onboard and sell you down? Stopemailing spreadshets, creating CSB templates for setting up CTK transfers,create collaborative secure work spaces with your customers and their DanaSaving. You time, while providing a memorable, onboarding experience. Ohand there's no code required, you can go to flat file, dot, IO, lash TSleader to learn 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. U Share these conversations withothers. Leave us a rating on Appe...

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