Episode No:10

Distinctive Customer Success Operations at Swiftly ft.

Maranda Dziekonski

Chief Customer Officer, Swiftly

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Ep#10: Distinctive Customer Success Operations
at Swiftly ft. Maranda Dziekoński (Chief Customer Officer, Swiftly)
Ep#10: Distinctive Customer Success Operations at Swiftly ft. Maranda Dziekoński (Chief Customer Officer, Swiftly)
  • Ep#10: Distinctive Customer Success Operations at Swiftly ft. Maranda Dziekoński (Chief Customer Officer, Swiftly)

Episode Summary

In this episode, Adil Saleh chats with Maranda Dziekoński, Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly, Inc. a big data SaaS platform helping cities with public transit. and a Podcast Host of “From There To Here“. Maranda shares her journey of how she ended up being one of the Top 25 Customer Success Influencers. The conversation revolves around Maranda’s process and CS teams at Swiftly. The podcast uncovers Maranda’s perspective on CS operations in general. The podcast starts with a discussion around Swiftly as an organization and Maranda’s experience in building Customer Success teams for diverse start-ups. Moving forward, Maranda shares what kind of tools and resources CSMs at Swiftly leverage to manage the influx of transport and databases in the busy cities while managing millions of data points. Swiftly has a standalone team for Onboarding and implementation. Besides that, the role of the Customer Success team is to focus on ROI and share progress with key stakeholders. Moreover, they have peeled off Renewals and tech support and have added the last layer of CS ops Umbrella. The final layer is to help manage it and help CSMs operate strategically. She further shared, that CSM to account ratio is an art, not science, for Swiftly’s Customer Success team as customers are Segmented at Swiftly based on revenue and account complexity. Moreover, another angle to Customer Segmentation at Swiftly is the region-wise segmentation plan which has impacted significantly. The Customer Success department at Swiftly leverages data analytics to make efficient decisions. They leverage resources and tools, including GainSight, Segment, Intercom, and Google data studio. CSMs leverage various metrics at Swiftly to measure and track their health score. As the conversation progresses, we learned how working with government entities differs and how insignificant external signals or data sources can become while achieving customer success goals. Maranda shared some powerful nuggets on how Swiftly is taking steps to make data-driven public transit an easy to execute job in various cities and expanding its operations worldwide.
  • Gainsight
  • Segment
  • Salesforce
  • Google Data Studio
Key Takeaways Time
About Swiftly? 1:00
Swiftly, in a nutshell 1:19
Maranda’s CS journey 1:56
How Swiftly managed the influx of transport and databases in busy cities?
Role of a CSM at Swiftly 6:44
Managing a CS team for a technical product 7:03
Onboarding and induction: Standalone team 7:53
The Customer Success team focus on achieving the ROI and sharing progress with key stakeholders 8:45
Peeling off renewals and tech support 9:29
Adding of last layer: CS ops Umbrella 10:35
Responsibility of a CS individual 11:13
CSM to account ratio at Swiftly 11:53
Customer segmentation based on revenue and account complexity 12:34
How does a CSM at Swiftly leverage data analytics to make efficient decisions? 14: 33
Resources and tools leveraged include: GainSight, Segment, Intercom and Google data studio
Health score metrics used at Swiftly 17:16
How do Customer Success operations of a Government entity differ regarding renewal and expansion in terms of leveraged external signals?
How is region-wise customer segmentation planned for Customer Success teams at Swiftly? 19:21
The intent of cadence meetings at Swiftly 22:33
According to Maranda, since she has built several teams from scratch, what is the biggest challenge in team building? 25:58

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Maranda Dziekoński: So you should always be reviewing your segmentation regularly expecially if you are a rapid growth or in in your rapid growth phase because if you if you sit on it too long, it will become skewed and you’re not going to be doing the right things for the right customer base. Adil Saleh: Hey, welcome to the hyper engaged podcast. It’s a weekly interview style podcast series, we will pick the brains of some of the best customer success leaders across the globe and try to unearth customer engagement beyond onboarding expansion and chirps. So let’s get right in. Hey, greetings, everybody. We’ve got Miranda from swiftly. Thank you very much, Rwanda, for joining us today and taking the time out. Maranda Dziekoński: Yes, my honour, my honour. Thank you for having me. Adil Saleh: Great, great. So just so everybody knows, Miranda is serving as the Chief Customer Officer at swiftly, swiftly is a big data platform for that is helping cities with with public transit. And they’re working with some large cities. And they’re, they’re very good recognise data analytics platform. So Ken, could you tell us more about swiftly, Miranda? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, you summed it up pretty well. We’re a big data platform that powers public transit. We are both the behind-the-scenes analytics that help folks at the transit agency make decisions, and also the customer-facing analytics layer that helps folks know where’s or when is my bus coming? Simple things like that. We are working right now with over 110 I believe we’re about 110 transit agencies were in multiple countries and all over in the United States. So that’s kind of swiftly in a nutshell. Adil Saleh: Great, great. Yeah. I mean, I’ve looked at swiftly, some years back and you were just trying to penetrate into the US market. And I mean, I just the first look, I thought, okay, that’s really like billions of data points that you are managing on daily basis. So could you tell us more about your journey into into the customer success at Swiftly? When you started? How you started? What was your motivation back then? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, so I have been doing customer facing work for many years, and well over 20 years now at this point. And I’ve had, I’ve held various titles all from before, it was called customer success. You know, like maybe Account Services or account management, whatever, we called it back in the day, up to CEO and VP of Customer operations, and VP of Customer Success, and so on. When I was recruited to come to swiftly, I was actually thinking about taking time off and just enjoying myself for a little bit because I’ve never taken time off from I think from the time I was 14, I’ve not had more than a few weeks off. So when I was recruited by swiftly and I saw their mission, I knew it was something that I really wanted to be a part of. And, you know, the mission is, is very much so centred around accessibility. Accessibility to transit is so important. It’s mobility, its accessibility to education opportunities to health care, to food to employment. And in, at least here in the United States. And I don’t know if I can speak to other regions. If you don’t have that accessibility, it can be the difference between life or not, in some cases. So when I saw the mission, I knew it was something that I wanted to get behind. And it personally touched my heart, I grew up in poverty, and in a very rural area, where we didn’t have access to public transit, and we had one vehicle in our household and when that was gone, if we needed anything, if there were emergencies or anything like that we had to rely upon, you know, calling someone in our family or friends to come get us and that’s not ideal. So yeah, that’s kind of like the journey as to why I came to swiftly Of course, there’s much more but this is a short podcast, so I won’t go into all those details. But yeah, I when I joined it was we were under 30 people, and I think we’re well over 90 Knocking on 100 Now, so it’s been over three years. Adil Saleh: Wow. Wow. That’s that’s inspiring, like, the kind of story that you have in your background and the kind of vision you brought into swiftly and that is actually resonating back into your old days when you lack these kinds of resources and your personal life. So looking at swiftly, swiftly as a business, like you tap into some really, really, really, really busy businesses, sorry, business busy cities, like there’s so many influx of transport and databases and the working hours. So how did you manage like as a as a Customer Success leader with your team cross, you know, to communication and you know, onboarding your customers and you know, you know, implementing the, you know, implementing the processes and ecosystem initially for these big busy businesses, busy cities. Maranda Dziekoński: First things first. Oh, Adil Saleh: yeah, I tell it, referring it to as businesses because they are your customers. So your customers are cities? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, our customers or transit agencies, right. So, first things first, I came in, and there was already structure in place for Customer Success operations, even though the company was small. And that was a really good sign for me as a leader, it showed me that the CEO, and the Standing Team was very small team was already very bought into the idea that customer success is important. So it wasn’t a build from scratch. type of situation, which I’ve been in before as well. It was a partner with some very smart people, situation to optimise, create efficiencies, and really think about the overall experience. first things we did was, of course, look at data, understand what was going on where we were spending our time, where do we need to be spending our time? Where are the gaps? And how do we fill in those gaps. Maranda Dziekoński: customer success managers as swiftly we’re doing everything. And when I mean everything, I mean everything from customer support to implementation and onboarding, to renewals, management, and so on. Everything in between, Swiftly, is a very technical product. And we ingest multiple data feeds. And there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make things move and power things. So what we started to look at was, if we peeled off certain responsibilities and started special specialisation, would it enable folks to be able to go deeper instead of wider, and we determined at that point. That’s what we needed to do. We needed folks to be able to go deeper because of the complexity of our product. And because we want to make sure that we are partnering with these transit agencies, and helping set them up for success, making sure that they’re getting a strong return on their investment that we are collecting their goals and helping them meet those goals. So what we ended up doing first is we peeled off the implementations and onboarding. And now that is a standalone team and has been, I think, going on two years, has been a standalone team. The onboarding and implementation can take, you know, upwards of three months, it’s everything from, you know, doing the kickoff call and welcoming, welcoming them to the swiftly family to figuring out what type of training is needed. What is change management look like doing the data integrations, validating that the buses are driving on the road in the playbacks and not on the lakes or on the ocean or whatever. So it’s in itself, implementation and onboarding is a wide and deep process. And that’s why it takes a long next thing was making sure that the customer success team, which implementation still sits under the customer success org umbrella, but we have a customer success team, that they were able to really focus on achieving ROI alongside of the customers and helping the customers get to that. And also getting up a machine for executive business reviews, to where it’s not enough just to achieve the ROI. But we have to share with our key stakeholders, the progress that has been made throughout the duration of the contract, and what we’re going in, then collect goals on what we’re going to do next. So that was step two of getting that machine up and running. three was peeling off renewals, and getting CSMs to a place where they could really be laser-focused on the relationship portion. Don’t get me wrong. customer success managers are responsible for CSQLs and identifying growth opportunities because if they’re doing their jobs, they’re really thinking about the longevity of the relationship and how swiftly can continue to partner and Grow the relationship or grow with the relationship. But we peel renewals off. And then the next thing is tech support. We had such low tech support needs, it was the last thing that we’re peeling off or we’ve peeled off. And the overall model has worked out pretty well. I want customer success managers not to be doing tech support as much as possible. Occasionally, like any customer success manager, you are going to have to be a firefighter. But I would rather you not when possible. The last layer that we just added this year is the CES ops umbrella, we implemented a pretty complex Customer Success solution and needed the CES ops layer to help manage it, but not just manage it help us think things through strategically, like what can we do with our data? How do we optimise our processes? How do we bring everyone together to make sure we’re all doing the right things at the right time? And so on and so forth? The very long winded answer, but I hope it was telling a story of a journey. Adil Saleh: Yeah, thank you very much for a shooting in a very detailed manner, the entire step step towards, you know, renewal cycle and all. So now talking about your customer success individuals, like of course, they must be serving a lot of enterprise accounts. So how many accounts does an average customer success individual your team serves? And what kind of data integrations you guys have for your customers apart from, you know, apart from the product, like the platform usage data and the engagement data? What else? Does your customer success manager, you know, monitors on daily basis? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, so in regards to CSM to account ratios, I’m going to tell you, it’s an art, it’s not a science. And I know there are a lot of industries out there where it can be very scientific. But we use a little bit more art than science, my goal would be to have every one to 2 million per CSM, as we grow in an ACV, or an ARR per account, sometimes that could mean only a couple of accounts. And sometimes that can mean 20 accounts, right? Adil Saleh: So you you basically segregated based on the revenue coverage. Maranda Dziekoński: That’s kind of like my North Star. So I you know, I partner with my director over customer success, and we go through and we try to keep things, you know, regional when possible. Like I don’t want a CSM covering accounts in Europe and Australia. Like that’s just not an ideal situation for the customer or for the CSM. But definitely revenue, but also account complexity. Because sometimes we could have accounts that maybe don’t pay us as much, but they’re strategic in nature, and have six key stakeholders that you have to deal with, because you’re dealing with six departments. I also should add that swiftly isn’t sold on a seat model. People have unlimited access with their subscriptions. So anyone in the transit agency can have access to swiftly with their purchase. So it’s incredibly important for the customer success manager to be partners. Adil Saleh: I’m sorry, I’m sorry to interrupt. So it’s not kept on on user based. Like it’s not careful that like one agency in Austin, they may have like 15 or 20 different stakeholders they have access to swiftly Am I right? Maranda Dziekoński: Correct. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And so based on the modules that they purchase, and how big how big the agency as the fleet size, Adil Saleh: got it, got it. Got it. So and in terms of data, of course, when somebody’s having managing, like, I’m just talking about that individual managing accounts worth 2 million, that can be five or six customers, or two or three customers, how does your CSM stays on top of, you know, data analytics to make efficient decisions and make data driven decisions and you know, bring meaningful communications and regular QBRs and, you know, Cadence meetings, and how does that process go along and how data plays a part in? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, so one, I’m just gonna say we’re a series B Company. We’re not super great at this. However, we’re getting better every day. We leverage I don’t know if I can say it on the podcast, but I’ll just say which tools we leverage. You can you absolutely can. Okay. Okay, so we leverage Gainsight segment. We’ve also used Google Data Studio a lot and intercom on. So those are a few of the key tools that we use to help keep us organised methodical in a data driven manner. Adil Saleh: Okay segment for the for the for the platform user data and the intercom for the communication. What about the CRM like Salesforce or Maranda Dziekoński: we use Salesforce customers does not use Salesforce Customer Success uses Gainsight. But Gainsight and Salesforce are very intertwined with each other. So Adil Saleh: Gainsight basically pulls all the data from Salesforce and, you know, segment and gives insights to the CSM. Am I right? Maranda Dziekoński: Correct. Or we push information into Salesforce from Gainsight? To give information to the account management or account executive team? Adil Saleh: Great, great. Yeah, I mean, I’m a big fan of Nick, Nick Mehta. And that’s how Customer Success started when he came up back in early 2000. Okay, so great. So Gainsight has been integrated for your customers, customer facing teams. That’s right. So that, that pulls all the data from, from the platform from the communication side, from the, you know, sales team and everything. So, for CSM, it’s going to be a dashboard of gains that needed to play around daily basis. Is that right? Maranda Dziekoński: Correct. Yeah. So they open up their Gainsight. They look at their dashboard, they kind of see what kind of calls to action they have to deal with. Which accounts they have ongoing monthly conversations with most of their accounts, where they’re going over projects that they’re working on together where they are in the projects. So yeah, that’s kind of a just there’s a lot a lot more, you know, a lot more that goes into the day to day. So I’m oversimplifying it, any anyone on my team that’s listening to this? I know you work hard. And I know I just way over simplifying what exactly, Adil Saleh: exactly, exactly, I 100% get that. And I absolutely hear it, because there are lots of, you know, senior leaders from, you know, similar state businesses, and they’re trying to make their way around to make it make this dedicated customer success platform for their citizens to make their day easier and efficient. You know, and a lot of them using catalyst Gainsight, some of them have their own custom object inside Salesforce, I’m not sure if you’re leveraging that too. And that gives an extra layer of data for the customer facing teams for expansion opportunities for you know, more touch points that can bring on so what kind of help signals do you guys have for his for the CSM, customer success team? Maranda Dziekoński: We are right now building out our health score. But really, everything we do right now is centred around ROI is are we building out qualitative and quantitative ROI? If we’re not that puts that account at risk? Adil Saleh: Got it? Got it? Yeah, because you meant you got to be like that. Because your your product is highly technical. And it’s it’s highly high touch model. You have to stay 100% in good and with your customer gold at all times. So now coming back to the customer success journey, for an individual that strictly, you know, you get a dashboard, that’s fine. And that’s how you drive your database operations and all and what about when, you know, when it when it comes to renewal and expansion, obviously, do you have any external signals, like news from CrunchBase us from LinkedIn, and external data point that your your team is leveraging at this point? Maranda Dziekoński: That doesn’t really work like that for public transit? Where it’s government? It’s, it’s government entities? So no, it doesn’t work like that. Adil Saleh: It doesn’t work like that, ya know, Maranda Dziekoński: and when I was fine, it did. So when I was at HelloSign, I had everybody you know, we followed CrunchBase, and LinkedIn and we set up Google Alerts around news, what was going on with our customers. And, you know, there are a lot of corollaries. Of course, like if an executive sponsor from a transit agency leaves, like we want to know immediately because you know, that that could put the relationship at risk, just like it was designed just like it did at Catalyst health just like it did anywhere. So there are certain corollaries but there are also things that are just very specific to this industry. Adil Saleh: Okay, that’s fine. That’s, that’s fairly understandable. So now, you know, of course, you will have your own customer segmentation. For like region wise, they perform they have different patterns. So how do you plan that for your customer success team? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, so do the same. I brought over what I did in tech. This is my seven, seven startup. So I brought over what I’ve done historically, and it’s small business, mid market enterprise and then strategic. So very standard in almost all SAS industries, and we do Just kind of defined what it means to be in each of those segments, the type of behaviours that we want to see the customer success team exhibit, and also the kinds of outcomes we want to drive at each of the different segments. Adil Saleh: Great, great, great, great. So you’ve already sorted that on and it’s working out pretty fine. You’re trying to iterate it overtime, you try to make it Pitch Perfect. You know, as time goes by? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, I mean, when you’re a smaller startup, enterprise customers, what what is enterprise and what a small business is going to change if you’re successful. So, you know, I remember at one point, enterprise was anyone that was paying us over 150k. Now enterprises, you know, way higher than that, like, because we are growing the overall contract values, and we have more modules and all of that. So I definitely like in any company, you should always be reviewing your segmentation regularly expecially, if you are a rapid growth or in your rapid growth phase, because if you if you sit on it too long, it will become skewed and you’re not going to be doing the right things for the right customer base. Adil Saleh: Exactly, exactly. The same goes for the playbooks, like, we got to review your playbooks every quarter every every three months, you got to review it, and you got to make sure you tweak it in the best way possible. You need to update you need to keep longside so I spoke with Senior Vice President at fastly, Emily Garza, I’m sure Yeah, I know. She’s a very nice lady. She’s done an MBA recently from University of San Francisco. And, you know, she shared a story about, you know, doing the cadance meetings and being curious with your customers, and how that helps an individual to evolve with the customer goals. As time goes by, and you are trying to be curious on it can be, you know, you’re getting people, your customers or point of contact, they’re on a cadence, we’re just to discuss some features. So just to discuss some initiatives that you’re going to take and you’re just curious, and you’re keeping your customer a part of that conversation. And that works pretty fine in some some of the tech tech businesses and my vote for your, in your case, as well for small, small, smaller businesses to mid market size businesses, sorry, agencies at your site, to the expansion model. Maranda Dziekoński: To be clear, our regular cadence of conversations isn’t with the intent of selling them more. That’s not what it is. It is we’ve collected these six goals from you. And these are the things that we’re doing together to help achieve those goals. Now, let’s make sure that we’re all continuing to, you know, work on these goals together. And it’s a regular cadence conversation generally around that, and making sure that we’re working through any change management or flagging any things that they need more of or less of. That’s, that’s the actual reason for the regular cadence conversations now, do. Are there other issues that are highlighted for us that maybe is coming up that they could use assistance with? Absolutely, all the time. And then we pass that over to the account management team for them to follow up. Adil Saleh: Okay, so you’ll see us work directly with with account managers when it comes to you know, cadences and they provide the handle hands hands off and everything. That’s right. S o and, you know, of course, inducing a customer success, individual into your team can be a challenge. It has been a challenge for a lot of businesses. And of course, not only just to induce them, but retain retaining them is another challenge, too. So did you take any training initiatives across your team as swiftly as of now? And what kind of initiatives did you take? Maranda Dziekoński: So like formalised training initiatives for what customer success methodologies? Adil Saleh: Yes, exactly, exactly. For training and inducing people on regular basis and allocating in different books or businesses? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, so early on, I got the team access to practical CSM, which is Rick Adams training platform. So we’ve had that we’ve done you know, book clubs where, you know, we’ve read all of the core books or set out I shouldn’t say we read, we set out to read. But really, the training that we focus mostly on is how to set up agencies for success. So it’s more transit centric, and we utilise Customer Success methodologies through everything we do, but we don’t Don’t do formal training on, you know, we don’t do formal training. This is this is how you do X, Y or Z. It’s just ingrained in the day to day. Adil Saleh: Okay. Okay, so you you basically you better off training people on what is the real process, how it’s done with different agencies and what are the key, you know, best of the best strategies that that you can apply? Okay. Okay. So last question before, we pretty much up on the time. So last question on that, since you’re, you’ve led teams, your build teams, customer success team for many businesses, as of now, what is that one thing that you need to mention that that that is the biggest challenge, while we’re building and starting up the team from scratch, because that’s where the most, you know, most of the leaders they suffer, and they struggle to, you know, start off make the first step? Maranda Dziekoński: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge that most CEOs, leaders, especially early stage startups are going to encounter is how to aggregate the data to tell the story of where you need to invest and when you need to invest. So data is, of course, only part of the story. But it does help paint a picture of where are you falling short for your customers? What are they asking for? What do they need? What about your teams? Where are they spending most of their time? Should they be spending their time there? Is it the right use of a very expensive resource, right? So just getting at the data and having a firm understanding of what’s going on, both with the CS team and the customers and then painting a journey on where you’re gonna go next. Adil Saleh: Okay, ready to invest the most. Okay, thank you very much for taking the time out. Miranda, it was really nice having you today. And I wish you good luck with all that you guys are doing and wishing you way more success in the coming years. Maranda Dziekoński: Thank you so much. It was such a pleasure talking to you. Adil Saleh: Likewise, take care. Thank you so very much for staying with us on the episode please share your feedback at the lead heparinase.io We definitely need it. We will see you next time another guest on the stage with some concrete tips on how to operate better as a Customer Success leader and how you can empower engagements with some building some meaningful relationships with qualified people for the episode just to make sure we bring the value to the listeners do reaches out if you want to refer any CST leader. Until next time, goodbye and have a good rest of your day.

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