There was so much interesting and meaty content in last night’s Customer Success Meetup, we could barely keep up with capturing it all. After the regular community announcements (see the end of the blog post) and panel introductions the discussion was well underway. And to be honest we served up the first couple of scripted questions, but the audience engagement and natural flow of the conversation just took over.
A quick recap on the panelists:
Maheen Memon – Technical Account Manager at Nulogy, a cloud-based supply-chain solution for contract packaging. Technical account management in Nulogy is post-sales.
Dana Lacey – Leads the Customer Success Team at ScribbleLive, a real-time engagement platform, focusing on real-time content creation, publication and syndication (affectionately known as the live blogging platform). Dana heads a team of 7 CSMs.
Peter Armaly – Director of Customer Success at BMC Software, enterprise business service management software (on-premise and in the cloud). Paul leads 4 teams of CSMs across North and South America.
What is the first thing you notice about our panelists? Definitely, the diversity in their product offerings, corporate structure and domains – which is likely why the conversation was so dynamic and the audience so engaged.
Despite the surface differences, some similarities merged as they discussed a “day-in-the-life”. Each of the panelists was the first person in their company with this distinct role. They have worked hard to define the essence and the importance of customer success. Time, knowledge and experience have also caused them to closely evaluate new employee candidates on a basis different then perhaps what they were hired on.
Although Peter’s day consists of a variety to initiatives, he is focused on trying to drive the cultural changes. The cloud is relatively new focus for a corporation with over 30 years over experience. As a result, he observes models of other SaaS companies and actively engages with social media to assist in determining the best strategies for BMC clients. Looking to be a CSM at BMC? You’ll need vigor, client leadership and some experience in a dynamic environment – having a background in marketing seems to have some secret sauce too.
Dana’s day consists mainly of proactive outreach – her team is young and she works with them to get used to the idea of being proactive and thinking outside the box. And she spends time defining and demonstrating the value of CS to the executive team – it isn’t 100% related to revenue. How does Dana define proactive outreach? Targeting some aspect of what the team can do if the customer isn’t doing well with the product or doing anything at all with it. She identifies opportunities where the customer can achieve greater value from the product and proactively contacts them. Looking to be a CSM at ScribbleLive? You need to fit into the culture with some content creation and project management background to think beyond the next story when you are creating a customer success plan.
Maheen drives a lot of discussions around product adoption and her day-to-day is spent engaging directly with customers. There is a different dynamic between a mom and pop shop and a global vendor with numerous locations. She’ll spend time walking through success plans with a vendor who can have up to 20 locations. Looking to be a TAM at Nulogy? You need to meet three criteria – tech savvy to field questions from a technical perspective; domain expertise preferably in supply chain so that they don’t have to spend time ramping up on this area and can learn new elements; cultural fit – a unique culture and a small team, so fitting in is key.
TAKEAWAY: Regardless of the difference in corporate structure and offerings, all three face similar challenges, especially with staffing. Those “perfect” candidates seem to remain elusive, but they are getting creative and looking at some diverse backgrounds – like in marketing. Maybe you should too?
All three companies believe in customer success plans as an integral part of success for their customers. However, they are not without resistance, especially from some of the legacy clients. They resemble a contract of sorts, an intent to work together in a proactive way by keeping the customer rather than the product at the forefront of the success. With clients who have been using BMC for years the customer doesn’t understand why a success plan is necessary. Nulogy just introduced success plans as part of their onboarding process – and even though there are clients who are only 2 years old, there is still some push back. And with all new clients, ScribbleLive now introduces success plans upfront – but with the same challenges from some of their existing clients.
TAKEAWAY: If you have the option, introduce success plans at the start of every relationship with all clients – convincing them after the fact introduces resistance.
The panelist fielded questions on determining customer health (all defined in differing manners and degrees depending on information and technology available), scaling up and aligning with sales.
To scale up:
- BMC is segmenting customers into tiers and aligning CSMs. They are looking to strike the balance between low and high touch and automation.
- Nulogy has built a lot of processes and templates over the past year to establish repeatable approaches based on the client’s need. They’ve just started customer journey mapping.
- ScribbleLive is hiring deeper expertise in all their roles and starting to automate things in order to scale.
TAKEAWAY: Repeatable processes, workflow and automation help customer success teams scale.
And the question with the most reaction: Does a salesperson promise something that you don’t have?
All the time! And to best prevent this from occurring, the customer success teams have gotten very savvy. Nulogy has a list of success criteria to compare what is promised vs. what is delivered in the product. BMC has a value realization process where the customer’s goals are captured at the close of the sale and used to match with the software, and at ScribbleLive they established weekly meetings with sales (attendance mandatory) and the teams have been moved physically beside each other – to keep each other in check!
TAKEAWAY: Make friends with sales –the relationship is so important. It paves the path to happy, retainable customers.
We’ve captured the majority of this Meetup but we aren’t doing the event justice. The learning and insights were invaluable. In addition to this blog post, ScribbleLive was live blogging during the event, so you can catch more of it here.
A special thanks to Peter, Dana and Maheen whose contributions would not have made this Meetup such a success! And to Isadora – the ScribbleLive live blogger on her first event – you did a great job! Perhaps if we are lucky we can have them all back again for round 2!
And I am sure you can guess what those Community Announcements were?
ScribbleLive, Nulogy, BMC Software, Street Contxt and Soapbox are hiring.
The Customer Success Meetup now has 146 heroes! If you aren’t already a member, it’s time to sign up!
Have a great summer everyone! Look for our next meetup event in September.