Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode · 9 months ago

Implementing and Scaling Human-First Experiences

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Lots of times we get caught up in automating every part of the customer experience. Sure, technology can make things more efficient.

But be careful not to scale the human out of the experience.

The Founder & CEO of ClientSuccess, Dave Blake, joins Eric on this episode to discuss…

- How to offer and scale human-first experiences

- Pitfalls to look out for when scaling a human-first experience

- Why it’s important to balance relationships with results

For more info, check out customersuccessleader.com or send a message to hello@flatfile.io. To hear other interviews like this one, subscribe to Customer Success Leader on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I like to think that it starts withauthentic and passionate humans first, who go above and beyond that genuinelycare about our customers as individuals and that carries through with themhelping them and wanting to help them succeed as a business as well want to create delightful customerexperiences. You are in the right place, welcome to customer success leaderwhere you'll learn about the successes and struggles of leaders who arepassionate bout, their craft trust me. You want to stick around here's yourhost, Eric Crane, Hey y'all, thanks for joining us againthis week, my name's Eric Crane, Sio and cofounder flat file, and I'm joinedthis week by Dave Blake, his the founder and CEO of client success, HeyDave! How are you doing doing great thanks for Hoavin ME ORC? Have yougotten to shred any fresh, POW out there in Utah, yet I av? Actually, Igot up in the mountains just this last Saturday, with my two boys up to parkcity and a little bit of snow, not not a lot of powl, but a little bit of snowenough to have a great date with my sons. Now do you prefer the runs or youmore of a back country? Skier, I'm more runs. You know. Just generally, my boysmay get me back country this year as there they like to do that, but I justenjoy a lot of runs going fast hand, mixing it up quite a bit yeah beingfrom the South. I've really only tried that once in and ended up a anintermate meeting with the tree was kind of how it ended and an it let't be stranded somewhere in the backcountry, and my boys would leave me there. Well we're not here to talk about skiind, we're going to talk about customer success and you have started a company.That's focused on customer success. So I'd look for you to tell me it just thefounding story of client success. What pad you come up with the idea and whereyou at today yeah thanks had a great experience founding client success.It's a great company and we're excited about it. Mine was one of those storieswhere it started out, as experiencing my own painpoint and tri to solve thatand also chase a passion, and I thet...

...most of my career in the customersuccess space was with a startup called omnature that had a huge success storyin going hypergrowth and then public, and then we were acquired by adobe forone point: eight billion dollars. I built scaled, the enterprising strategy,customer success teams there at a'mature and then continued with thatat Adobe building a global customer success team, and so I had a greatexperience, phenomenal team. I just felt so fortunate to have them as ourteam, but we struggle in trying to pull together the processes the inside theanalytics and really had no solutions that were built for us. We were tryingto use spreadsheets and cells, force and other things, and so I left theDebi and decided to build a solution that I wish I had and that's how clientsuccess came about was to chase a passion and jossolve a painpoint that Iexperience as a customer success. Leader, love it and tell us a littlebit more about kind of where you started like how did you actually getthe company off the ground and yeah me more about where you are today to so? Iwas ready for a Changin Adobi had a great experience, but just felt like Ineeded something different in my career and I was debating them whether us tojoin some other companies or start my own and just felt pulld this directionand felt like that. I wanted to build something to leave a legacy to havethat experience and started to do that. Luckily, I was in a position where Icould sell fund it for the initial Esperiment and to build a minimalviable product and MBP, as they say, and did that and it justk the theopportunity an in the past and just kept going there. I remember toll mywife early on hey: let's give it a shop for six months, see if there'ssomething there and if note'll go and get an opportunity, get a job somewhereelse and it just kept getting better and better and fhunner and funner, andso we decided di be all in and the rest of is history. So we're excited we're acompany that builds a customer success platform for customer success teams tohelp you manage your customer bassind couldn't be more excited about our team,about this space in particular, and the...

...opportunity that we've had and theopportunity ahead of us, yeah and so we're getting close to the end of twothousand and twenty, so you're seing a lot of these memes sort of how itstarted and how it's going. I want to follow a similar trend. You know be,like you know, hip, and all that, like a true millennial, I guess here and askyou: How did your definition of Customer Success Start and how is itabalved over time to where it is today? You know, I think it stayed prettyconsistent kind of growing up in this space it throughout my career, I'vebeen able to and startit in the front line in the trenches. I've been had apretty clear understanding. What customer success is to me: It's just acompany, not not a role but a company being able to maximize their customers,investment in their producted services and to do so by delivering an amazingcustomer experience along the way. That's kind of my definition has alwaysbeen that way, and I think the beauty of it is that it's just that definitionand that need is only amplified over the years, especially this year in acovid enbarment, where I think that pre Covid, I think, there's a lot of SAScompanies and particular Cos who looked at customer success as a band aid as ayou know, as a gorified tech support organization, sometimes not always, butin some cases. So when covid came and pipelines dried up, I think a lot ofthese ass companies and cos and even board members realize that I've nothingelse but to take care of my current customer base. At least for this period,and so I should double down there- ther their burtenhand, their customers thatwe already have, let's take care of them, let's grow them, and I thinkthat's just reinforced the importance of customer success this year in thisreally unique year of covid yeah. It's an absolute necessity for business andI'd argue that we're probably getting to the point now where test majority,at least the folks can sort of enterprise software really understandsuccess. Well, how do you make it exceptional? What's that standoutcustomer success? Experience Look like,...

I think it. I love that wordexceptional. I use a word extraordinary and I think it really evolves aroundthe entire company being able to rally around an extraordinary customerexperience from first touch to last TINC or to I'm going touch. But you canlook at and say: Hey my customer success team needs to Routaine and growour customers, or you can say, hey we're all here to get. How do we dosomething unique, indifferent throughout the entire customer journeythat sets US apart? That differentiates US indrives, exceptional value to ourcustomers and I think the ones that are doing that customer success best. Takethat perspective, so we're going to get a little bit Meta here. I'd love foryou to describe how you've helped your customers of client success, kind ofget to that point with their customer success. Organizations that you do makethose exceptional experiences much more possible. You know it starts withpeople. Obviously we have a great teann across our entire team. Our customersuccess team is phenomenal and then the rest of our team engages- and I like tothink that it starts with authentic and passionate humans first, who go aboveand beyond that genuinely care about our customers as individuals and thatcarries through with them helping them and wanting to help them succeed as abusiness as well, and so I think it's there and then I think it's trying tomake sure that you optimize those touchpoints that you you don't look at.I think sometimes we as companies as we try to scale. We scale the human out ofthe experience versus in figuring out how to amplify the human experience andmaking sure every touchpoint from transition from cells to on boarding todrive an adoption and through even the renewal experience which, hopefully isa positive experience as well and frankly, even sometimes all companieshave customers who churn as how do you...

...treat customers when they decide toleave and what is there? Because it's a small world and they did thosecustomers will, I remember, how you treated them on the way out, just aswell as they remember how you treated them in the on the way, an and so thoseare I'd, say, start with people and then build amazing experiences aroundthose people yeah. I really like that perspective that idea that scalingdoesn't necessarily have to cut the human out. In fact, it can, you know,clorify a relationship that to humans have together. He talked maybe in likedetailed specifics about one way in which you've done that for yourcustomer as a client success yeah, I think one experience that we do thatthat I love is we lo? We really try to make sure our customers are heardacross the organization, so, whether it's from our CSM to engage with themon a daily basis where they woel they collaborate, they listen to them andthey provide feedback to having the CO myself respond and engage withRespondeng on the MPR NPS surveys or are having our SVP of product. Who isdeeply engaged with EUR customers. All of our customers know who he is he'swe've also implemented. What we call this idea exchange that allows ourcustomers to share ideas to be able to participate in our product, a discoveryto delivery process, and so that I think, if you were to ask most of ourcustomers, they would say they listen and they engage with us across theirentire organization and that's something that we're really proud ofand a seems to be something that works really well for us. What do you thinkthere are are gaps that you're running into here, so as you're growing as abusiness a lot of times? There are things that kind of Sli through thecracks like this page of business. Where you have, you know, epaseivdozens of employees, probably hundreds of customers like what are you lookingto next to kind of show up and continue to provide that experience that humanfirst experience like you mentioned, but at scale yeah? I think where a lotof companies struggle is it's easy to build processes around onboardingexperiences and renewals and those...

...types of things I think there's thismidtle experience about finding the right level of connection around theadoption experience and the value realization experience were customersuccess company. So that's we think about that often, but it's deliveringthat right experience at the right time for each customer and be able to scalethat across across your team- and so you know going back to originally islike I don't like to scale out the human experience. That's not what Iwant to do, but I can scale some of the repetitive processes, some of theinsidts, that we have and build tools that help our customers that facilitatethings without a human being involved. Selfservice tools and some of those, sothat's kind of wherewe're at at the moment- is how do we do? How do we, howdo we deliver value at scale in that middle ground, that on post on boardingto prerenewal experience, God of that makes a lot of sense yeah. I thinkthat's one of the challenges you run into, especially as you grow the teamat a certain point, not everyone is going to know your svpof products right,and so how do you allow that connection to be made when the timing is right forthe customer, and so that leads me to another question, which is what do youdo with those customers that don't want to be in touch the ones that say hey?We want to just use your thing and go. Do our own thing and not really talk toyou too much. I think you have to respect that. I think you have toreally understand your customers well enough to know what kind of experiencethey want and some are. Okay, we've had customers who have said we feel like.We have a really good onboarding experience, an excellent omboardingexperience, but we have some customers who say you know what it's so simple.I've got it. You know just just answer questions here and there, but I canfinish: I can do it in one week or two versus you know our coaching experience,which might be three four five or six and that's okay, and at the end of theday my feeling is like you think, about the the end goal and there's differentmeans to get there, and it's important to just understand your customer enoughthat you can adapt the means in order to still achieve the goal and make surethat the mean the way you do it is...

...aligned with thir their timeline.Theyre, they're jus. You know, theyre preferred frequency of engagement andthose types of things Yeh. So moving on from like customer success as arelationship to customer success as a platform, I'd love to learn a littlebit more about the the techtit yeller building out. So tell me a bit moreabout client success, kind of how it works and what sets it apart from otheryou know, tools or system someone might use to help engage with their customerbase. Yeah. We love to talk about client success. It's our platform isthere to really help drive that postcells experience and to help youmaximize that that experience with your customers. So it's everything from howdo I manage proacticaly manage the customer journey from New Custar. Wecall from new to renew and beyond how do you measure customer health and allof these signals that are coming in to help you understand what the truehealth of the customer is both positive and negative, and then how do youmaximize that revenue through retention and expansion so wete the solution thatCSMS use every day all day as their primary solution, and also others inthe company who are engaging with CSMS? To drive this experience and that'swhere we really play our kind of differenntiators? We really try tofocus on. I've talked about a lot the experience. We believe that softwareshould be simple to implement, to use, and so weve really focused Hart on anddelivering the best user experience in the best time to value in the marketand really are proud about that, and then really try to keep the theworkflows and the execution very simple, so that these customer success teamshave a cadence and they have best practices that they can use every dayall day to find success O no. Given that you have a customer successplatform, I imagine you have ariety different o profiles of clients thatyou work with. So how do you design your system to be oriented around thesuccess? Guals of potentially lots of...

...different customers with their owncustomers in various industries? Yeah? It's a balance between delivering bestpractices through our platform, but also configurability, to allow ourcustomers to align it to their so, for example, health scores is a big topic,a big area that a lot of people look for in customer success solution likeours. We found that companies don't like a blackbox health score. Theydon't want. You know I could present the most fancy algorithm and machinelearning and ai had I could to deliver a health score, but if our customersdon't know what's happening behind the scenes behind the curtain and theydon't get it, then they don't adopt it. So we've tried to build it with thatcombination of Beth, practic inconfigrability and it help scoreexample. We provide a framework where they can build out their own recipesfor health and then, and so it's very clear and adapts to their company. Butthen we use our propriotary technology to bring those that recipe together. Jusurfice the health core. So that's that's the way we do it. I like that,by the way this is just in Asid but yeah. I want to get our team lookinginto scs platform and some that check out client success anyways. I C getback to the questions. So what are your current customersasking for the most right now that you feel like is an area of opportunity foryou great question. I think that you know theyre again they're looking athow they can contuue e scale through human and first experience, so thingslike more automation, capabilities. How do I engage with my customers moreeffectively and through different mediums, and how do I navigate thatcustomer journey with them in this in this way that that puts the human atthe forefront, but the technology facilitates it more effectively. Thatcontinues to be a theme, and I think theywill continue to be innovation. Youknow from our company and others on those fronts in two thousand and twentyone and beyond so who's your favorite tech partner to work with that reallykind of enhances the value of client...

...success. Good question: I think well,first of all I'll throw throw out that big fans of of what you're doing therea flat file and that's that's a partner that we're really looking at, and Ithink that we, I would say thre's, there's technology and there's otherpartners. I think there's we have a lot of technology in our in our backbone ofour platform, but I would actually kind of talk about other partners that weuse as well. I think service P partners that we like to collaborate with likewinning by design those folks success, Hacker and folks like that- are reallyvaluable for us, as a company and in our in our space, O, really valuableawesome. Yeah, I mean I think this is pulling from a previous podcast episoderight, but it's crisickin, who is the CEO Annofh said, but he has this whole,like pyramid hierarchy of like customer success, realization, and it the one ofthe top things is realizing like hey we're, not the only solution that ourcustomers are going to use right. So how do we best fit into this kind ofnetwork of tool, solutions, process and people that ar customers used to helpdrive, success, yeah and that's kind of how we look at it as well? We certainlyhave a lot of technology partners that that, if power are our help, US powerour platform, but it's an ecosystem. As you said, it's technology partners,it's service partners, it's other players in the space. Maybe there'scertainly there's competitive space, but there's also a lot of complementaryplayers in the space that come together and and drive values. So it's like howdo you be a classy player in the ecosystem, even even in the competitivespace is what we really try to focus on plemit and so you've been in customersuccess. A while and I like to ask everyone. This is sort of a finalquestion, but what is t e? The best piece of advice related to customersuccess that you've ever gotten from someone else yeah. I think, there'sthere's a at the end of the day. I have this concept that I got from my boss.Many years ago, Steve Wellan, who was...

...my boss at amatern adobe, and he reallytalked about the importance of a relationship and combined a few thingsin this one. Is this concept called Relationship Roli? And that means that,as you engage with your customers and you develop that trust and you developthe ability to have a deep relationship there. That's really important, and youwant to be able to do that in this concept he used to say hig and wide.That means yeah. I don't focus on one key contact. I look at many and I go ashigh in the organization as I can and try to find drive value for each ofthem, and so they recognize the value or bringing back to them. I thinkthat's a critical aspect of it is the your ability to drive a relationshiporowhy. However, the second point is that most times, people at the end ofthe day, its results over relationship, so sometimes young CSMS get caught upin this concept of like I am I'm best friends with all of my customers, butsometime down the road, your best friends, those customers have to provevalue internally with their with their company and and they may have to makesome difficult decisions that go against you if you're not providingvalue. So one is the importance of developing relationship ry. To is toalso remember that results are many times more important than thatrelationship and so to have that right. Balance between the two. Oh yeahcouldn't agree more remember, especially early on wondering why of myrelationships with certain clients weren't getting me to where I wantedand realize, like Ohhey, you do have to really focus on insuring businessresults at teen of the day. It is a business relationship and you can getmany meaningful personal relationships out of it at the end of the day. Butthe whole point here is mutual benefit and that's usually measured by a numberor two that your customer is looking to it. Yep, that's exactly right, righ!Well! Thank you so much for joining me today, again yell. That was Dave. Likehe's the founder in CEO Client success and I'm Eric Crane Conerand Sio offlatfile signing off on this week's...

...episode of customer success. Laterthanks Hort, you depend on the fastest time to value for your customers. Sowhy let Datea onboard and sell you down? Stop emailing spreadsheets, creatingCSB templates, forsetting up CTT transfers, create collaborative secureworkspaces with your customers and their data saving you time, whileproviding a memorable, onboarding experience. Oh and there's no coderequired, you can go to flat file, dot, Io Lash, CS leader to learn more. I getstarted 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 Apple Podcast, just tap the number of stars.You think the show deserves. That's it for today catch you in the next one.

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