Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode 20 · 1 year 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 allthe time, but if your process is not set up to support the toolor doesn't help you know, if they don't work hand in hand, thenwhat you're doing is unfortunately changing too often. So I think the longer term picture, rock, obviously, is to continue to refine process and then havethe tools much the process. Want to create delightful customer experiences. You're inthe right place. Welcome to customer success leader, where you'll learn about thesuccesses and 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 Rane, CEO and Co founder of flat file. I'mhere this week on customer success leader with Mike Egan. He's a VP ofcustomer success at Bensi Hey, Mike, at you in to day. I'mdoing well, Eric, are you? I can't complain too much. Ihear calling in from Texas is still a hundred degrees out there. Luckily no, but it's not far off. We're about eighty five today, but hopinglyhoping to work our way in the right direction toward autumn. So in hisski season coming up in East Texas. Huh? Yeah, and not happening. And you know, it's funny working for a for a company that's basedin Toronto, where I got to spend quite a bit of time last lastwinter and was fortunate to do so. I appreciated it because we don't havemuch winter in Texas at all. Yeah, that's something I missed. I rememberI lived at in San Francisco for a while and I just really gotthe missing seasons. You know, a little bit of snow here and therenever hurt anybody and follows pretty nice, especially right now, this time ofyear. Yeah, yeah, I do Miss Seasons and at obviously summer forus is long, so we kind of slogged through summer with with a veryshortfall, and then winter for us is really mild. Yeah, here youwell, I'm not here to talk to with you about the weather, althoughwe could do all day. Love to talk to you a little bit moreabout what you got going on at Bensie. It sounds really interesting, so I'dlove if you could just describe to our listen there's a little bit moreabout what bench side does. Yeah, absolutely. I joined bench side earlierthis year and early this year and basically...

...bench side is where what we dois we decode the world's biomedical experiments and really help scienists bring drugs to marketfaster. We know that obviously experiments of the Lifeblood of preclinical R and Dand and what we've basically done is we've built the world's most advanced biomedical Aito decode data from over ten million biomedical publications at this point, with themission to bring medicine to patients fifty percent faster, by two thousand and twentyfive so ambitious goal, but we definitely have have the platform to do it. That's really exciting, especially right now in the midst of a global pandemicright. So, can you tell me how that's affected a business over there? It's been very interesting. Obviously our customers are the largest Pharma Stut ofcompanies in the world and working with them on a daily basis as they're bothbuilding therapeutics and trying to put vaccines together to fight this pandemic has been goodto see. But it's also it's been a challenging environment, obviously because theywere out of the lab for a long time and we were obviously, froma customer success perspective, having to try and really be adaptable to kind ofthe methods by which we stayed in touch with those customers. Yeah, andyou've got a different profile a customer than folks he typically come on this podcast. They could tell me a little bit more about the customers that you workwith and how you define success with them? Absolutely, you know, we havethe the users of our platform are some of the smartest scientists in theworld. So you know, obviously, from from a platform perspective, we'vebuilt that around really the expertise internally that we have. From a from ascientist perspective, we have bench scientists in many bench scientists in our organization whohave helped build the platform, helped design the AI and then obviously start toreally dig in at the at the detail level with with this experimental platform andfrom a customer success standpoint. It's interesting because we are training a batch ofusers that tops in their fields, but...

...they are incredibly intelligent and in alot of respects, skeptical to so it we really are on boarding team isactually a batch of PhD scientists who help on board and train from the perspectiveof knowing because they were bench scientists themselves. But yes, it's definitely not thenot the typical user base. For sure. Yes, I how doyou leverage that skepticism tea or advantage? It sounds like that's something that's inherentin your PhD. You know, scientists customers. So what do you dothat kind of help ensure that their skepticism is a well founded but be alsosomething that they don't necessarily need to have when approaching Bensie as a solution tosome of their problems? I think I think the biggest thing that I cansay is that we really focus on a show me, don't tell me,kind of mentality. We have to really show them the platform, show themthe power and the value of the platform and really with the ultimate goal oftheir outcome. Their outcome is, you know, obviously we're trying to drivethem to and obviously what we're trying to do internally as well. We haveto be focused on the outcome, and the outcome is for them to runsuccessful experiments and for us to be an enabler in that and to make thatfaster and easier and more efficient. So we really have to we really haveto be able to demonstrate that at all times. It makes sense that ahypothesis driven approach would probably work pretty well with your customer base. How doyou approach the business level conversations as well, though, because I could imagine theremight be a little bit of a disconnect between the scientists who are workingon the bench and those that are working in, you know, the frontoffice US trying to run these pharmaceutical companies. Absolutely, and I think you know, for us it's very much about having that value conversation at all levels, right, because the value across different parts of the organization is different andI think that the beautiful thing about our platform is that we have the abilityto show value not only to the end user, because they see it intheir daytoday, but also to the business because we can equate that to timeand value and what that means, what...

...that means for basically speeding that processup for them from a business perspective. What typically gets in the way ofthe speed of that process? A lot of things. I think the thethe most interesting thing is that there's a lot of the percentage of experiments thatpass in the process of, you know, doing the science of obviously trying toget drugs to market. The percentage of success rate there is interesting inthe fact that if we can improve that success rate for those experiments by givingthem the appropriate data, then that's obviously going to speed their process, speedthat, 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 canbring in the efficiency of the process. And so where do you find likeblockers to understanding and delivering that value and how do you work around those blockers? For us, we have to make sure that our conversations are driven byvalue. I mean I really pushed my teams to drive value at every interactionand to try and one not only say something but analyze what we're doing ona regular basis. It becomes the blocker is not necessarily the skepticism or whatthe platform can do. The blocker becomes really more in building trust around onethe relationship and to how we can make sure at every level of what they'redoing, we can show them the appropriate value of what the platform can bring. Do you have like frameworks or tools or process enforcement that you use toensure that that is actually being fulfilled with each customer? Yeah, as youmight imagine, being a hypergrowth startup company, we are evaluating process and tools andthe way and mechanisms by which we engage customers on a regular basis andobviously for the ultimate goal of making that as smooth the process while still givingthe appropriate, what I would say three hundred and sixty degree visibility of wherewe are with each one of those customers...

...on a Ragar basis. We havelots of tools in place. We have tried lots of tools and have switchedout a lots of tools, as you might imagine. For us, youknow, we do have standard crm in place and a lot of things aroundthat. We are implementing a customer success platform to kind of help us takethat what I would say usage insight and really drive that to engaging users wherethey 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 ifyour process is not set up to support the tool or doesn't help you know, if they don't work hand in hand, then what you're doing is unfortunately changingtoo often. So I think the longer term picture rock obviously, isto continue to refine process and then have the tools match the process. Ourlesson there is getting see this, but I was smiling because that is thesame approach I always take with the team. They'll say like hey, here's thistool, we should use it, and they all the answer is alwayswhy? I like, what problem is it solving for us, and isthat problem the most important problem to be solving right now? And if youcan answer those two questions, we're not going to use a tool right sotaking that value drive an approach, only with your customers but also with thetools that you select, is a really important part of scaling up your seesor one of the things that we talked about a lot to is looking atthe activity that we're doing and make suing that the make sure that the activitythat we're doing is that has the highest impact, in the highest value forthe customer. Sometimes you can get caught up in so much you know thingsto go do, but but if you're spinning your wheels on things that don'tthat are not the highest impact or the highest value, then in a let'sa lot of time wasted and I think you can fix some of those thingswith process. You can fix some of those things with tools, but theyabsolutely have to be together. Yeah, totally agree. And where do youfeel like those tools are falling short, like if you could pick up acouple processes you feel like you're doing manually run over again, today, thatcould serve as inspiration for someone listening here to try and come up as somethingnew. You know, I've always had this this idea that the three hundredand Sixxty of the review of a customer...

...is like the panacy and everybody's tryingto get to it right, because sometimes you may have sales working in onetool and you may have marketing working in another tool and then you have customerssuccess sitting in the middle between them and product and engineer and trying to,you know, kind of bring that big picture together. And what that unfortunatelymeans is you're doing a lot of things in the middle. That's you're buildingspreadsheets, you're building decks with qbrs, you're, you know, all ofthese called, as you know, one off things, but it's really hardto say what's the true, you know, three hundred sixty the view of what'sgoing on with that particular customer from end to end, right from thingsthat they see being reported from an issue standpoint, how those are addressed,how we then get that information back out the customers. It's everything. It'sthe it's the communication, it's the activity. So really trying to see that threehundred sixty review. We still use a lot of spreadsheets and a lotof places where we analyze outside of a tool because, you know, wehave to and I think that, you know, it's a necessity. Butas we get more intelligent from a process perspective, as we look more andhave the head the ability to look more what we're doing and and find thosethose things that we can do to bring that together. You know, theother thing that that drives me crazy a lot of times is duplication of effort. Right, we all do it, or we're us and another team ornot having enough communication to see that we've been doing the same analysis from aslightly different perspective and really, you know, just a simple conversation would smooth thatprocess over. Yeah, one of those early indicators that you're kind ofgetting out of step with another team. They're internally. You need to likerecenter a hundred percent and I I do not take cross functional relationships for granted. I think it's I think it is, it is key, especially in customersuccess, because if we're not in lockstep with sales and lockstep with productand engineering and lockstep with the message that's going out from a marketing perspective andthen being able to to visibly show all of those things together internally to yourleadership team. And otherwise what you just gives you the opportunity to miss stepor to spend time on something that that...

...maybe is not the best place tobe spending time. SADDY's celebrate shared success with your customers. You know,that's a that is really a great thing to call out because I think sometimeswe get sometimes the success is get lost and externally sharing those successes gets lost. We we have a great opportunity as we work individually with some bar users, some of these scientists on a regular basis. We are very careful tocollect that feedback, to share those we build time into our qbrs that wehave with our with our steering committees, at our custom and recites and andreally spend time celebrating those successes because they're tangible and they're specific to that particularcustomer and I think that, you know, doing that obviously keeps the relationship atthat place but also lets them understand that we're making sure that we havequantitative feedback and qualitative feedback to be able to back up the things that thatwe talked about regularly from a business perspective. Yeah, it's also one of themore rewarding parts for working in customer success. Right. It's just theability to share wins and any even the losses with your clients, right,because then you get the chance to develop empathy and develop relationships that often timelasts well beyond your time specifically working in one business. Yeah, we've we'veactually built a very good structure internally too, because I think the other piece ofthat is sharing customer wins internally with the team as well, so thatthe team knows that all of this part work that they've been putting in,you know, across multiple teams is actually having, you know, having theimpact that it's supposed to have. So we you know, we've we arevery careful also about sharing those wins internally, to which I think is is sometimesoften overlooked. Yeah, you don't want the celebrating to stop at thefirst voice being paid. Right, exactly. For our listeners here who aren't incustomers success, what is your like three sentence pitch for why someone shouldthink about moving into success as a career...

...path. You know, customer successis a it's a special place to be. I think part of it is forthose of us that have lived at different parts of organizations. I'm anold tech guy, you know, I've I've been on the process of buildingand I then always with this pensiont for have for being customer facing and buildingrelationships. I think customer success is special because we do get to really buildlong lasting relationships with customers. Our goal is to drive, you know,their long term value and we have to do that through continuous engagement and Ithink there's creativity there. So people who who love to engage in making surethat that you stay on top of what you're doing, but from a creativeperspective and also what that means for for how you build relationships. Relationship builderscan really thrive in customer success. You know, for the long term outlookfor customer success, the industry is only on the upswing. I think.You know, it's interesting because for those of us that have been in kindof a SASS world for a long time, I don't take it for granted becauseI've also, you know, been in other parts of the industry fromsales or account management perspective and things like that, but customer success is veryspecial. We get to touch the technology, we get to touch the customer.You know, we get to build those long lasting relationships, while I'llstill, you know, sitting in the middle, not only in your ownorganization but also with with how we navigate those custom organizations. That's awesome andyou, strike me, is the tight who's just a lifelong learner, isalways just trying to learn more and more, and we're getting a plus there atime here. But I'd love to share some of your thoughts about bestplaces to learn about Customer Success Best Practices for our listeners there. Yeah,it's a great it's a great topic for us to have because I you know, people often ask as well. I mean there's lots of there are somebooks on the customer success space that have been really interesting. Farm don't huntthings like that. That obviously can kind of help define the space, butI think where I've seen the most valuable...

...content of late is in kind ofthe growing community of blog and forum and podcast content, because I think whatyou're seeing there is is almost a shift to really understanding the business of customersuccess specifically, and what that means is you know processes, best practices.You Know 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 great content. It's available there. I would also say there's even a growing there'sa growing customer success kind of coaching mentoring environment. There's some great places onLinkedin like gangro retain and some other places that are really helping, not onlyfrom a content perspective but from a connecting people perspective, because I think that'sthe bigger piece and I really I don't know want you. I truly enjoykind of connecting with other leaders and customer success and really kind of getting ideasand sharing ideas and sharing successes and failures, because you know, we've all hadthe failures and that's that's that's the way we really grow. I loveit. I love the the offer to pay it forward is so hey,if you're listening here, feel free to reach out to like to chat withhim about everything customer success. I'm suying to be happy anytime happy to havethose conversations. Great. Well, thank you so much for joining me thisweek again. I'm are crane, the C and cofounder flat file, joinedthis week by Mike Egan, is the VP of customer success at Bensigh.Thank you for listening to this week of customer success leader. Thanks, sir. You depend on the fastest time to value for your customers, so whylet data on board and sell you down? Stop emailing spreadsheets, creating CSB templatesor setting up FTP transfers. Create collaborative, secure workspaces with your customersand their data, saving you time while providing a memorable onboarding experience. Ohand there's no code required. You can go to flat file DOT IO CSleader to learn more and get started for free. Thank you so much forjoining us for this episode. Customer Success leader is brought to you by flatfile. If you're a fan of the...

...show and want to help us sharethese conversations with others, leave us a rating on apple podcast. Just tapthe number of stars you think the show deserves. That's it for today.Catch you in the next one.

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