Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode 20 · 9 months ago

Providing Value to Skeptical Customers w/ Mike Egan

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Do you struggle with providing long-term value for skeptical customers? Mike Egan, VP of CS & Integration at BenchSci, suggests driving every single conversation and customer interaction with the outcomes most important to the individual.

In this episode of Customer Success Leader, Mike offers even more tips for winning over skeptical customers. Plus, he and Eric discuss…

- Why it’s essential to always keep customer outcomes in mind

- Obstacles he faces when working with some of the world’s top scientists

- Why it’s important to share customer successes internally, too

For more info, check out customersuccessleader.com or send a message to hello@flatfile.io.

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Customer Success Leader on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

You can add lots of tools all the time,but if your process is not set up to support the tool or doesn't help, youknow if they don't work hand in hand, then what you're doing is unfortunatelychanging too often. So I think the longer term picture rob obviously is tocontinue to refine process and then have the tools metch. The process wantto create delightful customer experiences. Youare in the right place.Welcome to customer success leader where you'll learn about the successesand struggles of leaders who are passionate about their craft. Trust me.You want to stick around here's your host, Eric Crane, hey all this is Eric Crane Seo and Cofounder of flatfile. I'm here this week on customer success, leader with MikeEgan, who's, t e dpof customer success at Ben Si, Hey Mike Owre you doingtoday, I'm doing well Eric. How are you I can't complain too much I hearcalling in from Texas is still a hundred degrees out there. Luckily, no,but it's not far off we're about at eighty five today, but hopingly hopingto work our way in the right direction toward autumn. So when its ske seasoncoming up and he's Texas Huh yeah and not happening, you know it's funny aworking for for a company, that's based in Toronto, where I got to spend quitea bit of time last last winter and was fortunate to do so. I appreciated itbecause we don't have much winter in Texas at all yeah that', something Imissed. I remember I lived out in San Francisco for a while and I just reallygot to miss in seasons. You know a little bit of snow here and there neverhurt anybody and followus pretty nice, especially right now, this time of yearyeah, I do Miss Seasons and and obviously summer pressis long, so wekind of slog through summer with with a very short fall and then winter for usis really mild. Yeah. I hear you well I'm not here to talk with you about theweather, although we could do all day love to talk to you a little bit moreabout what you got going on at bench side. It sounds really interesting. SoI love, if you could just describe to our listeners a little bit more aboutwhat bench side does yeah absolutely I joined benchsigh earlier this year andearly this year, and basically bench...

...side is, is were what we do. Is Wedecode the world's biomedical experiments and really help scientistsbring drugs to market faster? We know that obviously experiencen life,blood of preclinical, RND and and what we've basically done is we built theworld's most advanced Bya medical ai to decode data from over ten millionbiomedical publications. At this point with the mission to bring medicine topatients, fifty percent faster by two thousand and twenty five, so ambitiousgoal, but we definitely have have the platform to do it. That's reallyexciting, especially right now in the midst of a global pandemic right. Socan you tell me how that's affected business over there? It's been veryinteresting. Obviously our customers are the largest PHARMAU companies inthe world and working with them on a daily basis, as theyr both buildingtherapeutics and trying to put vaccines together to fight this pandemic hasbeen good to see. But it's also it's been a challenging environment,obviously because they were out of the lab for a long time, and we wereobviously from a customer success perspective having to try and really beadaptable to kind of the methods by which we stayed in touch with thosecustomers. Yeah and you've got a different profile, a customer thanfolks o typically come on this podcast. They could tell me a little bit moreabout the customers that you work with and how you define success with them.Absolutely you know we have t the users of our platform are some of the thesmartest scientist in the world. So you know, obviously, from from a platformperspective, we've built that around really the expertise internally that wehave from from a scientist perspective, we have beench scientists in many Benscientists in our organization who have helped. I the platform, help but designthe AI and then obviously start to really dig in at the at the detaillevel, with with this experimental Ba farm and from a customer successstandpoint. It's interesting because we are training, a batch of users thattops in their fields, but they are...

...incredibly intelligent and in a lot ofrespect, skeptical to so, we really, our onboarding team is actually a abatch of PhD scientists who help on board and train from the perspective ofknowing because they woere been sciencist themselves. But yes, it'sdefinitely not the not the typical user base for sure, yes o. How do youleverage that skepticism to your advantage? It sounds like that'ssomething. That's inherent in your PhD. You know, scientist customers. So whatdo you do that kind of help ensure that their skepticism is ha well founded,but be also something that they don't necessarily need to have whenapproaching Benchsih as a solution to some of their problems? I think I thinkthe biggest thing that I can say is that we really focus on show me don't tell me kind of mentality.We have to really show them the platform, Showthan the power and thevalue of the platform and really with the ultimate goal of their outcome.Their outcome is, is you know, obviously, what we're trying to drivethem to and obviously what we're trying to do internally as well, we have to befocused on the outcome and the outcome is for them to to run successfulexperiments and for us to be an enabler in that and to make that faster andeasier and more efficient. So we really have to. We really have to be able todemonstrate that at all times it makes sense that a hypothesis driven approachwould probably work pretty well with your customer base. How do you approachthe business level? Conversations as well, though, because I could imaginethere might be a little bit of a disconnect between the scientists whoare working on the bench and those that are working in. You know the frontoffice trying to run these pharmaceutical companies absolutely a D.I think you know for us it's very much about having that value conversation atall levels right, because the value across different parts of theorganization is different, and I think that the beautiful thing about ourplatform is that we have the ability to show value not only to the end userbecause they see it in their day today, but also to the business, because wecan equate that to time and value and...

...what that means what that means forbasically speeding that process up for them for a business perspective. Whattypically gets in the way of the speed of that process? A lot of things Ithink, the the the most interesting thing is that there's a lot of the percentage of experiments that passin the process of you know doing the science of obviously trying to getdrugs to market the percentage of success rate. There is interesting inthe fact that, if we can improve that success rate for those experiments bygiving them the appropriate data, then that's obviously going to speed theirprocess bee that you know speed that along to getting that to market as well.So I think it's it's really driven basically by the value that we can bring in theefficiency of the process, and so where do you find like blockers tounderstanding and delivering that value? And how do you work around thisblockers? For us? We have to make sure that our conversations are driven byvalue. I mean I really push my teams to drive value at every interaction and totry and one not only say something but analyze what we're doing on a regularbasis it becomes. The blocker is not necessarily the skepticism or what theplatform can do. The blocker becomes really more in building trust around onthe relationship and to how we can make sure at every level of what they'redoing we can show them the appropriate value. What the black fum coal bring doyou have like frameworks or tools or process enforcement that you use toensure that that is actually being fulfilled with each customer yeah, asyou might imagine, being a hypergrowth startup company. We are evaluatingprocess and tools and the way and mechanisms by which we engage customerson a regular basis and o, obviously for the ultimate Gole of making that assmooth the process, while still giving the appropriate what I would say, threehundred a sixty degree, visibility of where we are with each one of thosecustoms on a redar basis. We have lots...

...of tools in place. We have tried lotsof tools and have switched out a lots of tools, as you might imagine for us.You know we do have standard crm in place and a lot of things around thatwe are implementing a customer success platform to kind of help us take thatwhat I would say, usage insight and really drive that to engaging userswhere they need us most and certainly along with the tools, comes the process,because I think you can add lots of tools all the time.But if your process is not set up to support the tool or doesn't help, youknow if they don't work hand in hand, then what you're doing is unfortunatelychanging too often. So I think the longer term picture rob obviously is tocontinue to refine process and then have the tools metch the process orless theis get to see this. But I was smiling because that is. This is thesame approach, but I always take with the team. They'll say like hey here's,this tool, we should use it and the all. The answer is always. Why, like whatproblem is it solving for us and is that problem the most important problemto be solving right now and if you can't answer those to questions, we'renot going to use a tool right so taking that value, drifeen approach, notolywith your customers, but also with the tools that you select, is a reallyimportant part of scaling up your CS ork. One of the things that we talkabout a lot to is looking at the activity that we're doing and makesureing that the make sure that the activity that we're doing is tha hasthe highest impact in the highest value for the customer. Sometimes you can getcaught up in so much. You know things to go do, but, but if you're spinningyour wheels on things that don't that are not the highest impact or thehighest value, then then it's a lot of time wasted and I think you can fixsome of those things with process. You can fix some of those things with tools,but they absolutely have to be together. Yeah totally agree, and where do youfeel like those tools are falling short like? If you could pick up a coupleprocesses you feel like you're doing manually over and over again today, Icould serve ice inspiration for someone listening here to try and come up ithsomething new. You know. I've always had this. This idea that the three hundred andsixty degree view of a customer is like...

...the panacea everybody's trying to getto right, because sometimes you may have sales working in one tool. You mayhave marketing working another tool and then you have customer s, successsitting in the middle between them and product and Engineerang, trying to youknow kind of bring that big picture together and what that unfortunately,means is you're doing a lot of things in Meddale, that's y you'R, building,spreadsheets you're building decks with pbrs your you know all of these pro, asyou know, one off things, but it's really hard to say. What's the true,you know three hundred sixtygre view of what's going on with that particularcustomer from and to end right from things that they see being reportedfrom an issue standpoint, how those are addressed, how we then get thatinformation Likot, the customers, it's everything! It's e!! it's thecommunication, it's the activity so really trying to see that three hundrednd sixty gree. We still use a lot of spreadsheets and a lot of places wherewe analyze outside of a tool, because you know we have to, and I think thatyou know it's a necessity, but as we get more intelligent from a processperspective as we look more and have the head the ability to look more atwhat we're doing and find those those things that we can do to bring thattogether, o the other thing that t a drives me crazy. A lot of times isduplication of effort right. We all do it. ORWE'RE US and another team are nothaving enough communication to see that we've been doing the same analysis froma slightly different perspective, and really you know just a simpleconversation would would smooth that process over yeah whate of those earlyindicater. Is that you're kind of getting ot a step with another teamthere internally, you need to like Rac Center hundred percent, and I I do nottake crossfunctional relationships for granted. I think it's I think it is. Itis key, especially in customer success, because, if we're not in locks up withsales and lock stuff with product engineering and lock step with themessage, that's going out from a warketing perspective and then beingable to to visibly show all of those things together internally to yourleadership team and otherwise what are you just gives you the opportunity tomiss step or to spend time on something...

...that that maybe is not the best placeto be spendn time? SADDI celebrate shared success with your customers. Youknow that's a that is really a great thing to call out, because I thinksometimes we get sometimes the successes get lost and externallysharing those successes get lost. We have a a great opportunity as we workindividually with some of our users, some of these scientists on a regularbasis. We are very careful to collect that feedback to share those. We build time into our qbrs that wehave, with our with our Steriang committees, an our customer sites andand really spend time celebrating those successes, because they're, tangibleand they're specific to that particular customer, and I think that you knowdoing that obviously keeps the relationship at that place, but alsolets them understand that we're making sure that we have quantitative feedbackand qualitative feedback to be able to to back up the things that that we talkabout regularly from a business perspective yeah, and it's also one ofthe more rewarding parts of for working in customer success. Right. It's justthe ability to share wins, and I mean even the losses with your clients right,because then you get the chance to develop empathy and developrelationships that often time last well beyond your time, specifically workingin one business, yeah. We've we've actually built a very good structureinternally to because I think the other piece of that is sharing customer windsinternally with the team as well, so that the team knows that all of thishard work that they've been putting in you know across multiple teams isactually having you know having the impact that it's supposed to have. Sowe you know we are very careful also about sharing those wins internally towhich I think is sometimes often overlooked. Yeah, you know what thecelebrating this stop at the first. You know invoice being paid right exactlyfor our listeners here who aren't in customer success. What is your likethree centence pitch for? Why someone should think about moving into successas a career path? You know, customer...

...success is a it's a special place to be.I think part of it is for those of us that have lived at different parts oforganizations, I'm an old tech guy. You know I've I've been on the process ofbuilding, and I then always with this pension for him for being customerfacing and building relationships. I think hustomer success is specialbecause we do get to really build long, lasting relationships with customers.Our goal is to drive, you know their longterm value and we have to do thatthrough continuous engagement and I think, there's creativity there. Sopeople who, who love to engage in making sure that that you stay on topof what you're doing but from a creative perspective and also what thatmeans for for how you build relationships. Relationship builderscan really thrive in customer success. You know for the long term outlook forcustomer success. The industry is only on the upswing. I think you know it'sinteresting because for those of us that have been in kind of a SASS worldfor a long time, I don't take it for granted, because I've also, you knowbeen in other parts of the industry, from sales or acount managementperspective, and things like that. But customer success is very special. Weget to touch the technology we get to touch the customer. You know we get tobuild those long lasting relationships while I'll still you know sitting inthe middle, not only in your own organization, but also with with how wenavigate those customal avizations. That's awesome, and you know you strikeme- is the Tipe teachust, a lifelong Larner who's, always just trying to tolearn more and more and we're getting a post ter time here, but I'd love toshare some of your thoughts about best places to learn about customer success,Best Practices for our listeners. There yeah it's a great it's a great topicfor us to have, because I you know people often ask as well I mean there'slots of. There are some books on the customer success base that have beenreally interesting farm, dout hunt things like that that that obviouslycan kind of help define the space. But...

I think where I've seen the mostvaluable content of late is in kind of the growing community of blog and forumand podcast content, because I think what you're seeing there is is almost ashift to really understanding the business of customer successspecifically, and what that means. Is You know Processis Best Practices? YouKnow How do you build playbooks? What does the framework? Look like everybody?Has these questions and until you've been down that path, it's kind of hardto wrap your head around. All of that you know, there's there's some greatcontents available there. I would also say: There's even a growing there's, agrowing customer success, kind of coaching mentoring, environment,there's some great places on linked in like Gango routaine and some otherplaces that are really helping not only from a content perspective but from aconnecting people perspective, because I think that's the bigger piece- and Ireally I don't know about you- I truly enjoy kind of connecting with otherleaders and customer success in really kind of getting ideas and sharing ideasand sharing successes and failures, because you know we've all had thefailures and that's that's that's the way we really grow. I love it. I lovethe the offer to pay it forward, so hey if you're listening here, feel free toreach out and like to chat with him about everything. Customer success, I'msure to be happy anytime, happ. You have those conversations great well.Thank you so much for joining me. This week again, I marrie crane the CON COfounder flat file joined this week by Mike Egan Ho's, the VPF customersuccess, an Benchsai thank you for Listeng to this week of customersuccess. Later I sure you depend on the fastest time to value for yourcustomers. So why let data onboard and Sel you down? Stop emailingspreadsheets, creating CSB templates, forsetting up CTP transfers, createcollaborative secure work spaces with your customers and their data savingyou time, while providing a memorable, onboarding experience. Oh and there'sno code refired, you can go to flat file, Ot io, slash CS leader to learnmore 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 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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