Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode · 8 months ago

How to Identify Overworked CSMs & Deliver More Value

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Scaling a customer success gameplan is unique to every organization. And, in order to offer customers the most value, it’s essential to keep customer success managers from becoming overwhelmed and overworked.

Megan Costello, Director of Client Success at UpMetrics, shares her three methods for identifying overworked CSMs, as well as…

- Her views on the evolution of CS

- Her mental model for helping customers find value

- The importance of diversity in the CS role

- The best CS advice she’s ever received

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.

There's some really simple math thatcan go into that once you know well, our average client actually takes thismuch support. We thought it was half that so we have a problem, that's oneof those things where numbers don't lie and they only really lie. If you letthem, you know, if you don't look at them, 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 about their craft. Trust me. You want to stick around here's yourhost, Eric Cra Ye, welcome back tare, Crane, beer,Atasio, cofounder flatfile, and I'm really excited about our guests thisweek, I' got begging Fastello, who is the VP customer success of metrics, andactually is my former Bos: Hey Ige as gone, hey eric good to ee, you again along ten years, but I think the most important thing to think about in thoseten years this his been ten years since the packors that wont the Super Bowlexactly right and I feel like this is a pretty strong correlationwith the rise of customer success to so iews. You want to talk about thepackers Ik festomer Successas, I feel like we cal send the whole half hourtalking about eitheroday. Absolutely absolutely, and you know we were. Wewere both in Boston when that happened last and this year, there's a bit of abosting connection. So maybe the stars are alining that way. Well, we'll haveto see all right. We we'll see and we'll put caus tack on festomer success,but you know I. I was really excited to talk with you about this, because whenyou first hire me that customer success wasn't really a term that people wereusing, you know books, Woutd, have Talkin about cisan account,managemenand and customer support. A customer success wasn't really a thingso talk to me about how you kind of shape for part of shaping customersuccess into this acsatit within a business to the point where, by thetime I left you know, th, that company of Bouston a my title, Lis customersuccess, Yeah Yeah exactly. I think it's really interesting reflecting. Ihave had the opportunity to spend almost my entire career in customersuccess functions in Sass analytics businesses, but we didn't even callthem that at the beginning- and so I think your point is well taken- that alot has changed. One of the things that I think is really interesting. If Ilook back on our time together and at Crimson Hexagon, we started out with awith a mentality that Tiservice we would be providing was a little bit ofproject management and a little bit of professional services from sort oftraditional kind of implementation standpoint where our job was going tobe. Okay, here's your timeline and here's the work that we're going to doto make sure your team is trained on how to use our platform and knows howto kind of set up their first usecase o of the software and that's it. And Ithink what has been interesting about...

...this, especially in the analytic space.Is it doesn't matter what your platform does it doesn't matter if it requires alot of training or a little? A huge part of making your customer successfulis making sure that they form the right mental model for using your tool set,and so for us. I think what professional services very quicklyevolves into technology, consulting and inbout and evolved to customer success,and I think that lends that activity of how do you help your customers have theright mental model to be successful in using your software is kind of thethrough line here and for me, that's really exciting, because that's thework thet, I don't think they're ever going to build US oftware to replace.It is an interesting way to put it a heard. It phrase like that before otherthan I guess many years ago, but like talk to me more about when you saymental model, what does that mean like? No? Is it frameworker? Is it likemethoamore yeah? So if we put it in the UPMETRIC context, which is the companythat I work for now, our platform helps nonprofits, take data from a variety ofdesparate sources and use that data to measure their impact and tell theirstory to their stateholders and their donors, and so, if you think about themental model, that's required for that. We really like to think about it interms of questions of impact or or even, if that's a little too formal to evensort of say, okay, what am I going to put in my annual report? What am Igoing to put in the letter I send out to donors at the end of the year to sayhere's how successful we were, and how do I work backwards from that answerand determine the data that I need to make that happen. So I think thatquestion and answer pece is important and also kind of working back from areal artifact. If you need to get down to really brass tax can be a helpfultool as well gat, so it's basically about Yo getting tustopers and not onlycancer questions with your suffer, but also like making sure they're askingthe right questions to understand the value that the softwarine pretis in thefirst place. Yeah yeah, that's exactly right got, and so what happens? Whetthey're, not the line, so customer comes to the door and they say yea.We're Gongno get this this at this answered by the software. You gotta gooold at the second yeah, so I think, there's probably one of three pathsthat I've seen and the first one, probably the most common one is wherethe gap between the data that a company or an organization aspires to have andthe impact that they aspire to measure is really different than the data thatthey actually have access to. So, if you think about a sport, space, YouthDevelopment Organization, for example, that's mission is to use soccer toempower girls to be strong leaders for their life. They probably don't havevery much data and how often that happens, because they maybe haven'teven been around long enough for some of their program participants to havethat opportunity, but they do have data...

...about how many children they servewhere they're from you know the schools they're going to, and so the firstchallenge we see is really squaring that circle between aspirations and andand real life data. I think the second challenge is the the sort of challengeof not having any data at all and and really needing to start out on a datejourney and kind of putting the right pieces in place to be able to collectsort of the first data. So if we go back to the same socker example, theymight not have very concrete data about who's showing up who they're serving oreven how much money they're raising, but somewhere they've got something.And so it's really about the supports to be able to kind of dig in and findthat, as you can probably guess, the third one that we see is the dataoverload where the the philosophy is just more is more and here's all thedata we have for the last twenty years of everything, and I want it all, and Iwant to see everything about it and in that case, obviously prioritization isthe most important thing by far. So, how do you coach your team in thosesituations where there's sort of a Ismash between the available data andit Gond like? How do you guide your team to guide your customers towardsultimately like successful result? Yeah, that's a great question, I think. Forme, I've had the privilege of working with customer success, teams that arecombination of experts in the CS function and experts in the populationthat we're serving so at upmetrics. Now our CS team includes a lot of folks.whove previously worked in the same kinds of nonprofit organizations thatwe served, and so that's where I think, empathy as a customer success. Teammember is really important and for me now, as a leader, it's actually reallyeasy to get people on my team to channel that empathy, because they'veliterally been in those shoes they've been in those positions. So, forexample, a woman on my team now has a background in fundraising and she'soften been on the other side, with a client who's trying to solve a bigproblem with their fundraising data and she's really easily able to bring themback to kind of the core and sometimes a little bit more simple, but butactually really powerful data of what was your goal? How much did you want toraise? Did you raise it? How long did it take? Where did it come from? Whatmethods did you use? So I think that's. That's one really important piece of itN. I also think that, especially in an early stage CS team, the opportunity topartner with your clients along that journey is the source of so muchlearning that I really encourage people to engage in that process and not worrytoo much, especially at the beginning about whether or not what they're doingis immediately scalable. Some things we do might not scale but learning whichthings do and learning which things don't are actually that learning itselfis really important. So, aside from the customer success teams Wih DirectlyWorking With and coaching Han, you...

...establish so like a positive contractwith other parts of the organization. Yeah, that's a great question and Ithink one thing I've really enjoyed both ametrics and the company I was atpreviously were really mission driven organizations, and so I do think whenyou're in a mission driven organization you're, starting from maybe second baseon the question of of how you're working together as a team, becauseeveryone is really there for a common mission. It certainly doesn't mean thatthere aren't challenges. But I think I think it puts you a bit of head. I alsothink that the more often you'r able, as a customer success team to representthe voice of the customer in a true authentic way across the rest of theorganization. I think that's a really important piece of it, because if I'mahead of sales understanding what happens to the organizations that I'veworked with when I sort of throw them over the fence and hand them off to seeus and making sure the promise that I sold is being delivered on. That's areally important bridge to build similarly with product and engineering.If you can communicate as a client success team, what brings customers joyand delight? And really sort of create the channels where you know everysingle developer in your organization understands what that is. It's a reallyimportant way to kind of infuse that so I think, if you can lead not with I'mthe head of CS- and this is what I need- or this is what the team needs, butthese are our customers, and this is what we're hearing from them, or howdoes this match with your understanding? How does this match with our roadmap?How does this map with our sales and marketing plan? That part, I think, isfor me one of the things that I enjoy the most about the customer successfunction and I love the framing of that too right because Yeu, if you frame it,is like. Oh our team eats this. I mean he the end of the day right. Yes, thetea might need that to perform in a certain way, but if you Frienk, it islike hey. This is what our customers are saying, and this is what I think wecan do together about it. Even though you're functionally aligned intodifferent teams, it doesn't feel like you're on different teams, anymore yeah.I think that's right and I think, especially within an early stage, SassOrganization, that distinction can be really important because as you'rethinking about product development and what it looks like to really build outa platform, that's truly selfservice from start to finish, for certain partsof your user base, understanding that you're not building for your supportteam you're, not building for the power users, that sort of sit you know orused to sit in your own office and Nas sit in there. You know in their guestour mon zoom, but you know you're not building for the folks on your team,you're building for someone else with a different orientation, a differentendpoint. I think that's where now working in an organization thatprimarily serves nonprofits and...

...philanthropy and previously working inan organization that served education, understanding that your users are goingto be different than the folks on your CS team. You know: That's that's reallyhelpful from both e products. Development and a market positioningcause perspective to yeah. That hundred percent agree- and like also just likeyou know, helping those other teams is customer. Success is like a chanl to dotheir jobs better as well and so a lot of times, especially when I'm thinkingabout the establishment of customer success. I'm thinking like okay, let'smake sure that this team is in service to other folks internally. First,because Ey got to realize how valuable it is to have an advocate for thecustomer in one place like when you're super early yeah, everyone can talk toevery single customer. You can see every single feature request, but, asyou scale, it's important to realize, like o good people, Tho have the samelike okay, I can go to this person. I know that they're going to give you thevoice of the customer and the night can turn translat get into a bet, a resultfor those customers to yeah. I think that's right. I also think that it canbe a little bit of a double edged sword as customers grow and especiallythinking about places where client success teams get stretched a littlethin, really understanding how to make sure that that voice of the customer isalways told and always out there, and that your client success team member isready at a moment's notice to jump on a sales call if it's what's going toclose the deal, that's great and fundamentally, that doesn't alwaysscale as well, and sometimes I found especially in an organization. That'sthat's struggling a little bit to figure out how to make their product alittle bit more user friendly. That can also be a bit of a cover for some gapsin product knowledge and market knowledge across the organization sofiguring out how to use it and get all of those benefits from it withoutwithout putting yourself in a situation. That's ultimately but sticky, and a bitunscalable, I think, is a challenge and and one that I think good customersuccess teams figure out how to balance IMEAN. Let's, let's talk about that alittle bit like it. You Know How do you notice, when customer success orclients is basically feeling a gap that the products releas should be feeltlike like? How do you call that out and then turn that into sort of, like youknow, teacher expectations for the development of e product yeah? So I Ilike to think about it, sort of from the perspective of as long as everybodyknows we're making a conscious decision. Then that's great. So if we take anexample of, let's see, if I can think of an example, if we take an examplewhere you know, maybe your data product has a few manipulations that have to bedone in excel outside of the data product and you're, bringing on aclient that's going to require a lot of that, but get a lot of value out of it.Understanding that you're sort of doing it once to see what happens and to seethe benefit and an understanding sort...

...of what the economic returns are onthat that's great and I'm totally happy if our head of outreachur or head ofsales makes the decision to do that in the right cases, because that's howwe're going to learn, that's how we're going to grow. Were you start to getstuck is if you know three or four months later you're in a position whereeverybody wants that thing, and you don't have the channels, you don't havethe mechanism or you don't have the capacity to accelerate where it sits inthe product, rigd map and so so making sure there's a synchronization betweenwe're trying this for this purpose. You know: here's our hypothesis for thisexperiment and if we learn AB ORC that this is awesome and everybody wants it,we're going to have to build it and we're going to have to build hit quick,because we can't keep throwing people at this part of this problem, yeah socersins. Another question related to the team. You know haw you identifywhen someone is overwhelmed, like they are doing too much they're trying to bethe product as upposed to the expert in the products yeah. So I think I thinkthat's probably one of Thet Hart. I talked before about how some parts ofbeing an a mission driven organization help you out, because you sort of getto start on second base about everybody being aligned about where you're going.I think in some cases this is the reverse of that. It is more common tosee this. I think, and and a little bit a little bit harder to suss this out inan organization where everybody feels like you know: you're, not justbuilding software, to measure twitter, your building software to save theworld. So it is, I think, a little bit more challenging I'E founed a couple ofdifferent things to be helpful. So first I know it's. I know it's sort, anold school and a little bit boring, but time tracking data is actually reallyimportant, and I think, from from my from my position of previous roles,I've been ind. I would say that bringing that in earlier, rather thanlater is helpful, obviously the way that you bring it in really matters because making sure your team understands thatit's not punitive and that it's actually for their sort of guard railsin their safety is super important, regular one on ones with team members,where you really get a sense on how they're doing what they're, what theread is, that's important to and and really asking what's on your plate thisweek you know not do you need help, but that sounds like a lot. What are younot going to do this week to make sure that this other thing that we know youhave to do this week is going to happen, so I think pushing a little bit thereis, is important to and then also it's actually not difficult to just watch.So obviously, in that sort of like covid environment, it might be a littlebit more challenging, but but what I mean is if you know that most of thetime your onboarding process takes, you know, call it twenty days or thirtydays or whatever it is, and all of a...

...sudden that's starting to slip and it'sstarting to slip, because people have so much on their plate, they're justtrying to fit other steff in that's an important indicator to so some of theyou know. Some of it is not very exciting but LIK. You know askingpeople how they're doing and some of those trid and true methods, I think,actually work yeah. I actually agree with that. A lot think one of thetowayis that we are trying to address. This is related to do measurothe TindChecki, saffer Rit, like yeah ut. It was no athing to do it like. Oh, weEitho make sure you're doing the job like the work. I people who we knowwant of you. The jobs are drippen by the dition of the business and the typeof work that they're doing. So that's not the concern. BECONCERN is likeyou're not able to do the things that you do the best, because you're doingall these other things that really somebony else should be doing sed, yeah,yeah and even now, sort of going through a process where we're lookingto kind of figure out, like our hiring slients for two thousand and twenty oneand things like that from a client success, perspective understanding. Youknow just simple Racios of how many people you need to support a certainnumber of clients, there's some really simple math that can go into that onceyou know well, our average client actually takes this much support. Wethought it was half that so we have a problem. That's that's one of thosethings where numbers don't lie and they only really lie. If you let them, youknow, if you don't look at them, yeah totally agree yeah. You can mudiculatenumbers te like hey. Let's o t the Bados hiearchy of like businessunderstanding right. The first is just like at least go get them o understand,but they need, and then you can try and like it. Like. Okay, Wat ar theformulas and stuff iused to build up the motion and the business. I don't. ITan get scientifically significant numbers from like the team of tenpeople, but you are going to get directionally right things that you canenact on yeah, and I should also say I mean even now we're sort of in theprocess of doing this all now at Ometric. So it should. You know, interest of all transparency, call outthat you know this is still something we're working on. But that means thatfor me going into that two thousand and twenty one hiring plan, I have to knowthat everything on there has a giant astras Gon it because I made that withlike the most limited input possible, and so that means that later on, whenI'm trying to make a decision about, you know, do I start a hiring processor not. If I'm thinking well, the plan is Batthius Whal happene in Q. ThreeI've got to remember that. That plan was basically made up and that's notbad. That's what you have to do at a certain stage and some organizations,but you also have to realize, when you're doing it and sort of remember,what's estimated and what's actually measured, so we're talking about atoutwhat we're doing in Customr success today and we talked o a little bit ofbeginning about how customer success foro started merging as a formal sertof organization, a fororole within the business. Why do you see customersuccess? There's a role evolving over the next five years? Yeah. I thinkthat's a great question. So I am a...

...passionate generalist and I came to thethe customer success function because it was the one that felt the most broad,and so I think that over the next five years, it's going to be reallyinteresting to watch how at workforce and a labor force that I think in someways is increasingly you know, tries to be increasingly specific is going totry to try to mesh with this. What I see is like the generalist need withincustomer success. I think that's kind of I think, that's kind of interestingthat might be longer than a five year trend. I also think that as softwareproducts continue to to grow and develop the need to make sure thatthese products are being designed, develop supported by people who sharethe experience of the user is extremely important, and this kind of speaks toto one of the you know. One of the challenges in the field right now ishow do we make sure that you see gender balance in the customer successfunction? How do you make sure that we get people from diverse backgrounds andNibour skillsets into the function? I think that organizations that do thisthe best are the ones where they've been able to recruit and retain talentthat that is able to deeply empathize with the users they serve and in a lotof cases at that comes from from sharing a background and sharing anexperience hat. That makes a lot of sense that I, as ope in the next fiveyears, that the packers Amay, at least on our superbowl, so we'll see absolutely absolutely wel. Thank you.So much perjuunning me today, Lik Leko close he fone last question, which isjust sort of like paying it forward of it. What is the the best piece ofadvice related to customers? Success that you've gotten from someone else?That's a great question, so I think one of the most important pieces of advicefor anyone in customer success is just gets goes back to did they getvalue out of the experience and you and I both know Malissa plunket Gomaz andshe was the champion of value. I think for a long time when we all worktogether. I remember every single call that we would do together. She wouldask like, as we were pressing for it, okay, what value are they getting fromthe product right now and I think it's a phenomenal organizing principle forany customer success organization to really be really be focused on, becauseit's so simple, but in some ways it's sort of so complex. It really gets tothe heart of what we're trying to do and if you cand answer yes, so thatquestion you know you're doing your job, I love it and now I will gond bring athis on the podcast that they che referrd, that I know right well thinksyou all for listen and really appreciate it again: Thats NeganCastello. She is the DP of customer success and Mesurts Amayor Pran Sencofender flood file. Thank you for...

...listening to this week's episode ofCustomer Successlyr. Thanks so much aric go back, go back, go you depend on the fastest time to valuefor your customers. So why let data onboard and sell you down? Stopemailing spreadsheets, creating CSB templates or setting up ftt transfers,create collaborative secure workspaces with your customers and their datasaving you time while providing a memorable, onboarding experience. Ohand there's no code required, you can go to flat file, dot, IO, slash 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 Apple Podcast, just TAPD, a number of stars.You think the show deserves. That's it for today catch you in the next one.

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