Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode 21 · 9 months ago

Map the Customer Journey to Success w/ Kia Puhm


Do you know your customer's objectives, challenges, and timeline? If not, you might be practicing random-access customer success. Your customer could feel like you're executing acts at them rather than for them.

In this episode of Customer Success Leader, Eric sits down with the Founder and CEO of DesiredPath, Kia Puhm. The two discuss...

- What failure looks like in customer experience

- Random acts of customer success vs. Holistic customer success

- Why customer mapping helps CX as well as marketing

- Moving the burden of intent from human to machine

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

Without the context that holisticcontext of the customer, we are executing acts at our customer not forthem 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 Yo, welcome to this week's episodeof Customer Success Leader, I'm Eric Crane, the CO and Co founder flat filetoday, I've got kiapum is the CEO of desired path on the show with me Heykahow you doing today, Good Eric? How are you doing today? I can't complain toomuch. So where are you calling and from I am calling in from Toronto? So areyou blue Jays Fan by chance? I am, I can't say, as I'm a die hardFulon Fan, but I am a definitely especially whe they're doing well afair weather fan for sure Nice, I'm a big baseball person. I also like hockeya little bit to wait. Let me pronounce that the right way, Hawkey e Dayde.Okay, did you did all right? Well, thank you so much for calling inreally appreciate you willing to share your experience here on the the episodehere with US excited to learn more about you andyour background. So how did you get to start in desired bath and tell me alittle bit more about what you're doing there yeah? So I computer engineered byeducation twenty five years ago, sove been in software my entire career andhave had the opportunity to work at companies of various sizes and beenable to either build, create, lead and manage all post sales functions at somepoint or other or at the same time, and so I've worked at companies like enterprise contentmanagement, company day software, which was acquired by Adobi and Ello withOracle and was able to really get a lot of experience in thatcustomer success. Space early on before the term custoer success and thepractice even existed. So I've been around for a while, and I found that I was continually getting asked to havemy brain picked. You know for what what did we do at various organizations, andso I found that there was an opportunity, a very good opportunity tostart my own practice, and so I help companies basically become customer centric toachieve faster, smarter revenue, Broth, and I work with predominantly Cos CrosCCOS to help them create this customer centric aligned model to be able togenerate revenue browth and be able to scale in a very sustainable andrepeatable manner. I'm really interested, then, in your answer tothis question, because I'm sure, if mean even for me, it's evolved overtime like how do you define Customer Success Yeah? So I take a very literal view on customer success. I literallyview it as the success of your customers and then, by extension, thesuccess of your own company when your customers are successful. I alsobelieve that customer success needs to be a mindsetacross an entire organization. It's sometimes too easy for companies to or roleswithin companies that are not within the function of customers. US successto feel that they're not responsible for it, but actually your customersexperience is an aggregate som of all thet, either indirect or directinteractions that they have with your brand, and so every rule is importantfor helping to define that customer experience. EAH. It's interestingbecause, like experience and success,...

...might sound objective right, but theycan be fairly subjective across the organization in the industry, even inspecific geographies as well. So could you tell me a little bit more aboutlike success than maybe the opposite of that which is failure that you've seenin customer experience? Yeah, so I mean I've. Maybe I'll talk about it in therelation to the experiences and successes I've had in my career, and Ifind that I've gained a lot of insights, not only but my successes but t butfrom the failers, but I can summarize twenty five year career into twoAHAMAMAS and that's one thinking from the customers perspective literallywalking in their shoes is the best way to understand a customer andholistically so that you're able to meet them where they need to be met inorder to achieve their objectives and two. I view the customer journey map as thebest way to align an organization holistically to support customercentricity and support that customer to a success path, and the reason why Isay this is that you know we're living in this experience economy where thingsare changing so rapidly. Customers expectations are increasing,expinentially, our products and services that we deliver are changing. The markets are changing and, of course,you know today, especially in the environment that we're in justgenerally the environment is changing. So that puts the significant pressureon businesses to be able to support customers, and- and how do youdo that scale and repeat a built in in a repeatable manner, and so thinkingfrom a customers perspective and using that customer journey or that desiredpath? Tho Success as the means by which you can continually observe and gaininsights for your customers of what is working and what's not the successesand failures allows you then, to be able to continually operate in avery agile manner to meet your customers yeah and there's sort of likean opposite of that to it' Sur. I think we were touching out a little bitbefore the show right. You want to share a little bit more about that yeah.Absolutely so I find that often we are operating our customer successpractices in random acts of customer success. You know the market is stillgrowing and evolving and companies are looking for best practices and whatthey should do to execute. Customer success properly, and so what'shappening is that you know we're grabbing onto these tactics. Okay,we've got to run executive business review. We've got todo proper onboarding we've got to do a hundred and twenty day renewal orexecute the renewal when we execute all these things without the context thatholistic context of the customer, we are executing acts at our customer, notfor them, and so there's this disconnect between what our customersneed to be successful and the activities that were executing at them.In order to do that- and there could be this false sense of security- that ifwe have a certain number of meetings with custers that equals renewals and-and it doesn't right, we need to make sure that we're mindful of what is it,that our customers are trying to achieve as outcomes and then help themachieve those outcomes. So there might be customers that don't need anyinteraction with us. They need us to just feed US feed them. Information onhow the product works and they're going to run like the Dickens to go and andleverage that that platform to get...

...their success, and they will be veryhappy if we do that in a in a relevant and timely manner that meets theirneeds of when they need that information, and then there might beother customers that that really need a lot more help. They might need, subjectmatter expertise, they might be new to technology, they they might havesignificant change within their organization, and so we need tounderstand the bigger context of customers so that we can actually helpthem achieve what it is that they're trying to achieve. We need to beintelligent about how we are aligning ourselves to the customer so that weare providing value at and driving outcomes, not just executing randomacts of success at them. So sometimes you don't even know youhave a problem until you can kind of step outside and recognize and say likeHey, okay, actually yeah. That sounds like what I'm doing. How would someonerealize that theyre they're in this sort of mode of random AXI customersuccess as opposed to that more halistic view? Yeah, that's a greatquestion whell if you can't say or understand anything, but your customer,if you don't, if you're not quite sure about what their objectives are, whattheir challenges or constraints, how the people that you're, interactingwith need to provide information internally to theirstakeholders or what their objectives are and and what their timelines tomeet them. If you don't have that insight, you are likely then runningrandom ax s customer success. Another good indication is if customers aresaying that they're too busy that they're too busy to have a meetingyou're having a hard time getting ahold of them. You're not able to have them do the work that they need to do inorder to leverage the technology that could be signs that you're not addingvalue in that exchange or that interaction, and that customer doesn'thave time for that, because they need to get the r their work done andachieve their goals and so they're going to push you back because of that.So it sounds like there's this ideal state where you are like to use a termthat I heard on one of the other podcast as is basically intimate withthe customer right. You understand their business. You feel like anextension of it and that's sort of this like nervana state of customer success,but it can also be pretty high effort to so what are the ways in which youfind folks able to scald themselves to accommodate being an intimate part ofmany relationships with many customers so and something I'm quite passionateabout in in doing, and why I created the intelligent framework that I usedto help companies. So this this customer centric model we do not haveenough time in the day our customers do not have enough time in the day, and sothe ability to have strong relationships with customers and spendall the time needed to ensure that you're driving that success is notalways possible, especially when we start scaling and we have more and morecustomers to deal with. So what we need to do is we need to really understandwhat are the patterns of our most successful custeers use those insightsand learnings to figure out. How can we replicate this to create a verypescriptive and proactive journey that allows our customers to achieve theirsuccess in a way that they don't even realize we're leading them on that? Itjust feels seemless and intuitive for them to be traveling. This way thatwe're anticipating challenges they might have that were anticipating whatare the industry specific challenges that that might have, and that wereresolving those for them before they shoulds even arise, so that thatthey're they're successful and then what happens is we're able to startcotifying that into automated tools and assets that allowus to scale? So we could start to create videos, or we could start tocreate, nurture campaigns that allow us... move customers along that way, andthe intimacy is of course one on one. Human Interaction is the best way tobuild that, but if you are meeting customers where they need, if you knowwhat your customers need and you are providing them with that information orthose assets or tools or that service along the journey when they need it, that customer is going to feel like youunderstand them like you, get them and theyare going to be. That relationship is going to bestronger, and we all know this from our experience with brands that we likewere companies just just get it. It's resonated. They understand us and webuy from them because we feel like they understand it, and that means that wedidn't necessarily have a one oon relationship with them, but we trustedthem to be able to do that so not to give away too much free business,because I know this is what you do for a living. But, let's just say we werehaving conversation and you're saying Eric youall have way too many random ACof customer success going on over there flatfile, let's get things started: l',let's clean this UFP and, let's make sure you're supporting your customers.Well, what are some of the first practical steps that you take withorganizations you work with to help them kind of design? What that ultimate,you know, journey map and framework would look like if you go onto my blog.The desired Pathcom you'll see that the very first articles that I wrote aboutwhen I started the company was all about journey mapping to the pointwhere people were talking about journey mapping the in customer success, but itwas still more of a marketing use and an Aset, and you know, as beating thisdrum beat about about mapping out the customer journey, and it's now startedto resonate. People will go out and map out that journey is part of building upa proper CS organization structure. What that enables you to do when youmap out that journey is, like I said before, is start to walk in the shoesof the customer, we're not mapping just interactions or our own internalprocess and methodologies of what we believe a customer should follow. Weare mapping what the customers entire holistic experiences, so that we canunderstand them and we can start to figure out. How do we now align activities to support that customeralong that journey, and so we can then reverse engineer how we operate. Youknow, too often we start with: U Organizational Structure, our peopleand then we start like what are their roles or responsibilities and what willthey do with customers? We need to go upside down. We need to go backwards,accustomer centric approach and look at the customer journey first and thenwhat are the activities that are needed to support those successful traversalsof those journeys and then look at you know what are the roles and activitiesand and when I've done this, I have an ineviably with all the clients that Iwork with, have discovered or uncovered areas that they weren't even addressingthat, then they started to add into their customer success engagement modelwhich significantly impacted retention and revenue. So, what's an example ofone of those types of blockers you've seen before yeah, so one of thecompanies that I work with was a very large software company that providedsoftware end actually big hardware to hospitals, and we started the processof journey mapping and mapped out what that map would look like, andinevitably it was more of an internal process when we started o dig in whatwas the reason for retention problems, we started to look at the fact thatthere were unused licenses and, of course, come renewal time, it's verydifficult to sell the value of unused licenses and when we dug in deeper whatthat why that reason was it was. You...

...cannot pull everybody out of a hospitalemergency room to do software training. Now this is something scheduling or providing best practiceson how to Schedule Hospital employees for software training is nothing thatmy client thought they needed to do, because it had nothing to do with thesoftware or and who are they to tell the HR organizations at hospitals howto go about scheduling employees, but it had everything to do with retention,and so, when we looked at it from the holistic perspective, we actually addedBest Practices into the engagment model, because my client was actually in thebest position because they were working with all the clients that were at allthese hospitals. They actually knew what was actually working. So that'sjust an example of where, when you look at it from a holistic perspective andwalk in the customers shoes, what some of their challenges might be, it mightstart to open up path to different activities. You never thought aboutthat could be hindering your customers. You know seemless journey yeah, it's also an example of turningan area of what was previously weaknessed and turn it into an area ofstrength. Right like that example, is perfect. Hey we actually work with alot of folks like you, and we can provide you some great insights intohow best to do this because then it sat you up is sort of like a trustedconfidant of the customer as well, not even just someone who is deliveringthem value through software yeah. That's exactly right! So, just as wich hears a little bit,I've got ta ask because I'm founder of a software company, what type oftechnology do you like to use and where has that technology failed you before that's an interesting question abouttechnology. Failing that implies that technology understands what yourdesired outcomes are and has figured that out for you, and I actuallybelieve that you know we don't buy or use technology because we want to buyand use technology. We buy technology because we want to leverage it for somesort of outcome or use the technology and leverage it to chieve outcomes. Andso what I find is that when technology fails it's because we might not be clear about what ourdesired objectives are or how we want, and then we don't know how to go aboutleverage in the technology, and so I think part of what customer successneeds to do an and often can miss the mark on this when they focus just onthe technology aspect, is we need to understand? What is it that client is trying to achieve and then beable to figure out how they best can leverage thetechnology to sell it? So you know, like I said it doesn't fail, you're, not sure how to leverage it. We had a term for that at a previousrole, its called the picnic, it's a problem and chair not in computer igtrightlike. Well, so regardless, what do you feel like you're doing manuallytoday that you feel like machine should be doing instead? I don't even know how to answer thatquestion. I don't know loading the dishwatcher ironing. I know that's whyI take close to the dish the dry, clear we I I don't know. What do youimadually? Do that you think machines should be doing you know, one of the things that Ireally would love to see. Machines doing is actually understanding what I'mthinking a little bit more and maybe that we're getting a little bit too faradvanced, but a lot of times. You will maybe sound something out in your headbefore you say it. Even on this podcast conversation, I've been thinking aboutdifferent things and I'd love Tor, even something to understand, not even theneurological symbols. Just the physical symbols of me sounding things out in mymouth, while it's close like I think...

...that would be super cool right like youmight be thinking about what you want to say, but you're not actually sayingit, but you're, probably like moving your tongue a little bit ind your mouthor like having these microfacial expressions that actually wouldrepresent thoughts or ideas, and just I don't know, turn it into email,transcribing or one of my are our favorite newssolutions and how I can't even remember the name of technology, but what itdoes is it lets you record video and it lines up the audio with the visualandless. You use a textbased editor to like delete and add certain phrases in.So it's like a combination of like deep, fake and media attack, and but this is,it makes it a lot easier for you to have a single take every time you do apodcast recording or a demonstration video, and so there's all these otherthings where it's like. Okay, Hey! I have to do this thing over and overagain or I have to do it manually. Is there a way to solve that withtechnology that's available today and I think a lot of times it's just not evennecessarily creating new technology, it's just more about figuring out howto apply the existing techa. We have to what we're doing right, leveragingfiguring out how to leverage and use it. I mean that's, that's why we built flatfile in the first place was we were like why dos everybody keep building adata importer over and ever again, why do people have to use V lookups all thetime, every time they're trying to get data and a piece Os offware if it's thesame set of data, but it's just formatted the wrong way or the columnsor ordered the wrong way? Why are we making humans do all that, like machineshould be able to figure that out? But, as you mentioned earlier, the machineshave to understand the intent of the human for technology to be mosteffective, and I think if we always put the burden on the human to provide thatintent to the machine, we won't necessarily go ro as fast as weotherwise could. But if that machine is designed to understand that intent andlearn more about that over time, that's when we can really start as humansdoing the things that we are best at, which is building unique perspectives andunderstanding how emotions tie into you know successful operations andproductized results and how you ow different unrelated ideasconnect with each other, and so that's I mean that's really why we started ourbusiness in the first place was like hey, let's, like humans, be more humanand teach machines how to understand us just a little bit better. I reallyappreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast today, we're about atime here, but I do like to ask a final question of all my guests just to pickkind of biit forward to her a little bit whats the best piece of advice thatyou've received from someone else on your journey towards becoming acustomer Successfulyar Yeah. You know what the best piece of advice Ireceived was not specifically related tocustomer success, as it was quite early in my career, but it definitely isrelevant for customer success and it was to never spell someone's name wrong and I was told this by a seniorexecutive when I was living in Switzerland working at day software andwhen I was told that I was taken aback at. Why was te telling me something soobvious as spelling someone's name right and when he started to unpack itwe discussed it. You know we all identify with our names right and ifsomebody spells that name wrong, you instantly have a reaction to that andit informs how you might feel about that person and then it also sayssomething about the Cender who might have got it wrong. Maybe they were justin a hurry. It was an accident, that's that's, okay, that can be one overlater, but there maybe they didn't care. Maybe they weren't. Mindful enough, youknow, and so when you looked at it it,... really had an impact. It said a lotmore about how to really interact with customerswhen you're, when you're working with them and actually to this day there isnot one email I send out where I don't double check the name, even if it's aseasy as spelling as Jack and Jill just double check that you know autocract,Etca and and there's something about that. That has allowed me to maintainsort of this connection with with an individual as I bit. I love that somuch. That is a great piece of advitice and it resonates well with me right.It's just like that. Little thing where it's like hey. Yes, I want to make surethat this is someone who I'm respecting is a human being and one of the easiestand simplest ways to do. That is the extra certain that I am appropriatelyaddressing them in a way that they would respect and appreciate. Soabsolutely, but thank thank you so much for your time today, again y'l that waskey. AP Tim she's, the thee of desired path. I Marrie Crane really appreciate youall doing it us this week on customer success leader and we'll cetch youagain next week. You depend on the fastest time to valuefor your customers. So why let Datea onboard and sell you down? Stopemailing spreadsheets, creating CSB templates for sending up CTT transfers,create collaborative secure work spaces with your customers ind their Danasaving. You time, while providing a memorable, onboarding experience. Ohand there's no code required, you can go to flatfile dot, IO lashts leader tolearn more and get started for free. Thank you. So much for joining us forthis episode. Customer Success leader is brought to you by flat file ifyou're a fan of the show and want to help us share these conversations withothers. Leave us a rating on Appe 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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