Adil Saleh: Hey, greetings everybody. This is adil from hyper engage podcast, we have our Co Host
Taylor Kenerson: New Jersey City, New Jersey. And we have Amie, from you know, a SaaS platform and leading a customer success team. They’re slow time coming. We’ve been reaching out on LinkedIn. And we’ve been looking at all the things that you’re doing on LinkedIn. And we absolutely loved it. Thank you very much, Amie for coming over and taking the time.
Amie Weizer: What an absolute pleasure to be here today. Thank you so much for having me. And for the podcast you do. I mean, certainly important, especially in the realm of customer success, to share experiences, so great for you for putting this together.
Adil Saleh: It’s no less than a pleasure to us. So Amie, first off, let’s get right inside. You know, why did you choose this role? What is your why of doing all that you’re doing today? And briefly touch on how is it so much connected to your prior experience? If it is connected or not, or it’s entirely different tensions you brought in into this SAS platform? Please go ahead and keep it. I would love to hear this.
Unknown Speaker: Thank you very much. Yes. So the LMS 365 opportunity presented itself to me when I was working at Gartner as a leadership client manager, it’s just their fancy way of saying customer success for large enterprises and the C suites. So when I was at this organization, I was definitely feeling like, okay, there’s a lot of bureaucracy working for a large organization, you don’t have as much of an opportunity to make a mark. So when I had the oppor tunity with LMS, 365, presented itself with an organization that was already past the opportunity of getting established in the market, LMS. 365, is a leading LMS platform built into Microsoft Teams. So I knew there was something special there, through the relationship with Microsoft and through what they were doing to change learning for organizations really democratizing learning. So everybody has access to scale and standardize on how they train employees, I got super excited for the opportunity, and then started talking with the leadership team here about the vision and the goals for this organization, extremely aligned with what I wanted to do, which was get into the realm of really directing the customer success journey for our clients and also for this business as a whole. Because it’s really unique, and that SAS organizations get the opportunity to help customers use their products effectively, and make a change for their organization that’s really valuable to them, what’s more valuable than learning and development, it’s the core of what we do every single day. And I love the opportunity to be part of such a engaging, welcoming, and inviting community and learning and development.
Adil Saleh: Loved it, we our entire team. So look up to some of the ladies. And that also includes you. So you know, you’re sharing content, you’re making sure everybody is so much integrated and motivated towards this, this, this customer success. And it is not just the term, it’s a code for everybody, whether whether you are a customer success manager head or part of a customer facing team or not. So I really, really appreciate that you’ve been so expressive, and so much open, you know, towards sharing things. And that is the reason you bought it here. So tell us more about, you know, why did he choose LMS? As an E, there are lots of platforms, similar, there’s lots of their competitors. And, you know, taking the experience and background as you have kind of experienced, what was the specific reason and inspiration towards joining LMS?
Unknown Speaker: Yes, absolutely. So for me, it was the first conversation I had with my now leader. He unfortunately, after the first 10 minutes had to jump for another call. But in that first conversation with him, he said he just knew, he said, Amy, I just understand your vision, I’m bought into what you’re trying to do, I think you can really help us with some framework and expertise you have in your background. Let’s figure this out together. And let’s build a team around customer success as other most important of what we do in this business. So for me having that immediate buy into what my vision was for what we can do as a team, and then realizing the culture of this team was so unique and so special. I couldn’t wait to be part of the LMS 365 team and start building my own culture within the customer success team, which is, of course what we’ll get into next. But I’m just so excited to have had the opportunity to build the team myself and an arena that I care so deeply about. I wanted to mention the background of getting into customer success to Adil because early on in my career, I was in sales for a co op marketing company where I was just surrounded by a bunch of people just caring about the numbers and just caring about chasing that next sale. I definitely understood where they were coming from but then I saw the other side of it when we went to renew the customers and they were like, oh your partnerships helped us so much in the community because we were able to do XYZ See. And that’s when I really started to feel the power of customer success and true account management with a trusted advisor. I could not believe how these people wanted to just engage with me outside of what we were trying to do, which was help market their business in the community. They wanted to know, you know, what’s on the roadmap for what you guys are doing, or how are other people you order your business. That to me was like a lightbulb moment where I’m like, wow, this is really something and customer success is really a unique position to be in, where you’re balancing the data of what the client base is telling you what the market is telling you. But also that human element of okay, somebody does need to talk to someone at some days, somebody needs to maybe you start your your follow up call with a client by saying, Oh, they’ve had a tough week. So you get to get into it. I don’t think there’s many professions like that. And it’s a really unique position to be in.
Taylor Kenerson: I’m so glad you’ve touched on that Amie, like the human aspect of your roles and your responsibilities. Like, you know, you may have a job for X amount of hours in a day. But then there are other hours in the day where you’re a human. And then when you incorporate that humanity into, you know, your conversations and what you you know, the tasks you do and the roles that everyone has within a team. That’s so important. But just to touch on how you’re so you’re, you’re so inspirational, how did you shape your vision, and know what culture you wanted to, you know, provide at the LMS 365? Which shaped that?
Unknown Speaker: What an excellent question has so so part of it came from the relationship I built with my leader, because he was always very encouraging. He’s like, Well, what experience do you have in this, could you go learn more about this, and then let’s talk about it together and kind of brand it together. So we focused a lot more on skill sets than I think anybody is. And then of course, this pandemic happens and more and more people leave jobs, start new jobs, start looking at their own skills, evaluating what they want to do. It was such a unique opportunity for me and this leader to say, we would really like to build the team focused on these skills rather than the classical Customer Success upbringing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the classical customer success, or upbringing, but for our organization, we needed to have people bought into our journey of where we want to be in three years, we needed to have people who understood that we’re building and executing the playbook at the same time. So for me, then realizing that the customer success team was going to have to be bought into our vision. And our journey meant it had to mean something to them. And they had to be there too. So they were on that same adoption journey. So it started with just two teammates who one actually did have the classical background, and one was coming from just more of the account management side and wanted to break into the industry, two absolutely amazing hires, who are still with us today. And then just continued to build on this where we brought in other people who were helpdesk representatives, we brought in other people who were on some more legacy products, but still doing some part of the adoption of the software. So then seeing this team over the past couple of months, just really start to hone in on okay, I’m going to take this because I know I have some expertise in this from my past role, or I’m going to start looking into this area, because that’s where I have an interest in and I want to get better myself to continue upskilling. So the culture is also built on learning, I want to say because a lot of what we do is okay, learn from each other and teach other something, but also just be so open and willing to have a conversation with your peer if you don’t know how to handle that customer or if you need help on talking through that renewal.
Taylor Kenerson: That’s so amazing.
Adil Saleh: Okay, so I also wanted to talk about, you know, like, first off, we need to get our head around how big is the team? And how many customers you guys are serving at this moment, post sales operations? And what does an average day to day look like for your CSM or account executive? So can you touch a little more and then we dig in deep into operations?
Amie Weizer: Absolutely. So the team is a global team. And our mission is to keep our customers as we lovingly refer to it as the ship. So when we’re keeping our customers on the ship, we are a team of just about 10 moving into the next year, I would say getting close somewhere close to 1.5 of that. We have a team that covers the whole globe. So we have clients that are in the EMEA and APAC region, clients in the Americas region. All together. We are servicing 1500 clients across that base. When we get into the day to day then of the customer success team to keep going for you adil, We have definitely a lot of time spent on the onboarding and adoption, which is very, very interesting. And something I want to dig into as well, because I have found in my experience, really the customer engagement comes from the trusted relationship that you allow your CSM to have with those clients. So just as I was talking about the culture of the team, being learning and being bought into our journey, I’m also bought into their journey and what they want to accomplish as individuals. So for me, it’s not just the fact that they’re a CSM supporting these clients. But they’re humans too. And they have their own interests and their own things they want to accomplish. So what better opportunity for me to let them run with something new, or start on something that they haven’t thought they’re capable of, but coach them through it, and we work on it together, I also believe really heavily in having the trust relationship with your team. So I’m not at all one who says you need to be here, by this time and by this date to do this thing. I’m one that will say, Hey, give me a status update. Let’s work through this together if you have challenges, but I’m trusting that the team will do what they say they will. And that piece of trust with the team is something unique to LMS 365. I haven’t seen at other organizations. And the only reason we feel so compelled to have that relationship with our team is because of the leadership, they let us have that flexibility. And they let us say you know you’re doing your work. But it’s even more bigger than that. Learning is everything you do, and it’s around you every single day. So you need to always be that advocate, we don’t want you to be somebody at work, who is completely not bought into the learning journey and what you can do as a person. It’s really that self empowerment, I think that we chase when we’re looking to bring on new CSMs to the team.
Taylor Kenerson: You know, just to touch on just to touch on something we were talking so much about the team Amy, how did you? Or what do you look for and someone that you know, you want to join your team? You seem like so unorthodox, and you’re definitely not afraid to think outside of the norm. So what are some of the characteristics or skills are anything that you pick up on when trying to find someone that’s going to fit within your family?
Amie Weizer: A fantastic question. Taylor, I would say for me, it’s definitely a little unorthodox, and that we do have informal conversations with the team, because when they immediately join an interview with us, you will kind of see that the leadership team and I are not trying to sit in some high tower, we are on the floor with you. And we want to make sure you know that and that we will support you through it. So when we’re doing an interview, and we ask a question like Well, I’m trying to think because a lot of it is so informal, it really just depends like us chatting about you know where we’re from that building of the rapport, I think is probably what our most important aspect of the interview is. Because that makes the interviewee feel and feel comfortable and makes the interviewer feel comfortable. So we spend more time probably building rapport and getting to know the person outside of their role just as much as what they’ve done in their career. And I think that also speaks to the skills aspect. Because you take those skills, not only at work, but you’re doing them at home, maybe you are someone who spends a lot of time planning and organizing, you’re not just that way at work, you do that at home too.
Adil Saleh: And it definitely reflects, it reflects just like you mentioned, the trust factor with the team, your people do it for the trust, people don’t do it for the role. They’re not chasing the calendar, they’re not choosing the schedule, they’re just making sure they are empowered and trusted. And that’s that’s the power that brings motivation, and it actually drives their day to day. I love that point. I mean, and it also transformed into the from the leadership, I get to reflect from the leadership, just like you said, you had a mentor, you’re a leader, you learned it, and you saw it happening in front of you. They’re doing it, they’re going first and then it replicates and reflects to the team and they’re looking up to you. And most you know companies small, mid, even big corporations, people look up to their seniors, like their leaders, their their reporting authorities or maybe their senior leadership C suite executives a lot. And that’s that’s when the principal vision values these come into play. And I absolutely love that point to the trust factor. So now getting back to your customer successful operations, like we want to talk about, you know, sales, handoff and then onboarding, adoption, value realization and retention expansion, that standard that’s everybody’s pretty much board. We will talk deeply on how you measure first how you segment your customers and and not just as as some customer but for you as a cause. For Success leader for your set of customers, how you as a team, segment your customers for your team, whether it’s on the revenue basis, whether it’s only on the usage of communication basis, a lot of them to do. So what is that your criteria as a CS team to segregate your customer base and books? And then how you allocate it? And what is the reason you allocate to different people? Does that involve any kind of skill set or kind of mindset and kind of experience? Or maybe training that involves just touches more? You got my point, right?
Amie Weizer: Yes, absolutely. So for us having the EMEA and APAC region and the Americas region, it does run just a little bit differently, and how we decide to segment the customers because the markets are certainly different. If we’re talking about EMEA and APAC, we are talking more about the region that the person is located in, because it truly matters to understand the operating context of that country. And what they are looking to do when they’re looking at a learning management tool. Versus across the US it is a little bit more standardized, for us to say most industries in this particular vertical are trying to accomplish XYZ with their learning versus the size of the company is going to matter. And that’s where we’re moving our segmentation into in 2023. But for right now, we’ve looked a lot more at what is that industry doing, and then a little bit to geography base to the business managers. So we wanted to make sure that the relationship between sales and customer success is very tight knit as well, it’s something you do have to work on, because it’s really important that they make sure they know anything that they are starting with the client has to be delivered from the customer success team. So the expectations have to be clear, everything has to be set in an order that the customer can be successful because it was sold with the right expectations. Getting a little bit into how the customer success team then works is really looking at the holistic understanding of you’re setting up a learning management tool. So we know you’re going to need some support with the change management around what it means to have a learning culture, you’re going to need to understand the operating context, is learning distributed at your organization, through each each region or through each business unit, or is it all centered in HR, and maybe it’s more about the compliance and audit training compared to what it would be for upskilling in a particular role. It’s very, very interesting as we’re digging into the jobs to be done framework and understanding customer profiles based on the things they want to accomplish. So we’re doing that data analysis right now and trying to understand going forward, if we’re looking at the company size, and we’re looking at these use cases, how can we as a customer success team, be better proactive with what the client might face as they’re putting together their learning management journey? Learning Management is definitely not the type of thing that you set to running and then it just goes on its own. It’s the type of thing you have to work on, you have to iterate and we hear that from our clients. So often, we try to follow that same approach. And we really listen to the feedback when a client says, you know, this course was really good to get us started. But I really want someone to just show me can you just show me so our customer success team spends a lot of time actually in that human element side of what they do. And back to that empowerment. It’s 100% empowerment of the customer success team to say, Hey, I noticed this client has a lot of requirements, or they’re going to have a difficult time adopting this part of the tool because they’ve never used it before, or they’re so used to using Excel and PowerPoint. So we have a big change management journey that the CSMs take the clients through or just in general, when they’re building those relationships. Understanding is the organization saying we need an LMS just to fill the requirements, or do we need an LMS to transform how we do learning at an organization. That’s what’s pretty exciting about what our product does and what our our customer success team is able to do. I just want to mention back to your point earlier about the data side of it to for customer success. Because in my past roles we were so metrics driven to a fault, it was so difficult for the customer success manager to be able to spend extra time on a client call having that human connection with somebody because he had to get to call after call. So I wanted the opposite of that I wanted the customer success team to be able to say this customer needs a little bit more love or this customer is okay to keep going on their own because they are independent. So we built that into our segmentation. And I would encourage anybody getting started in this business to really think about measuring what matters and not just building out metrics to have metrics but really understanding that people are humans and they want to be talked to like that too. They don’t want to be set on an automated journey.
Adil Saleh: Yeah, data that drives actions and high value actions that are actually going to matter and help you evolve as as a as a manager as a as a servant. With the customer goals, so it’s all about your your your onboarding adoption cycle or that little patch is most critical. And also, it’s more about evolution with your customer, how you roll with the goal? How would you work with their goals and how you manage. So let me also know, like, like, what kind of product usage, data wireframes, or sort of infrastructure you have for your customers and team because a lot of them I know, they’re not so much tech savvy, or they don’t understand a lot of data points that, that sit in the segment, or Mixpanel, or amplitude and all these product managers tools. So how does that play around and how difficult it was initially building up and creating an environment and mindset, it instilled into your customer success team that they need to be data driven, to be to be able to have all the information ahead of time staying on top of actions before to communicate. So
Amie Weizer: that’s key, definitely, that is key to being successful. So for us, it was mapping that customer journey based on the segments that we were working in and understanding that customers, you know, are often falling at this point, this is where they’re weakest. So that’s where the customer success team has a manual intervention. But when it comes to platforms, and I know that one of the preparations was explaining about how the dedicated platform for customer success is changing our industry, I do agree with that. But being that LMS 365 is a certified Microsoft Gold partner, a lot of what we do revolves around the Microsoft suite and LMS 365 being built into the Microsoft team’s platform. And SharePoint Online means we are 1,000% bought in and we need to drive our customers sometimes on their Microsoft 365 journey just as much as the Learning Management journey of what they do. So our customer success team is definitely put in front of in front of a big obstacle knowing that the customer might just be getting started with their own journey in Microsoft 365 adoption, we’re now having to say where are we teetering the line on really teaching them to fish or giving them all the answers and setting those things up for them. The dedicated platform we use is Microsoft 365, for sales for marketing and customer success. We are blessed to have a fantastic CTO who has built out so many different configurations into Dynamics 365. So we’re getting to that 360 view of our customers through our platform, the customer success team is understanding the emails that are sent to customers reviewing the open rates, reviewing the read rates, then determining should this be our next step to have a straight call to the customer? Or do we send something value related to the customer, check out our latest webinar, maybe that is of interest to the customer. But then when you’re talking about data overall, I could not agree more that it’s very hard for a customer success manager to just look at data because it is that part of whole but I know this client wanted to accomplish XYZ by this date. So really, I need to go out of my standard pattern. And I need to reach out to that customer because we’re in this journey together. I know it’s unorthodox as well. But it’s just a little bit more flexibility that we have because we are new and our team that we are building out just a year and a half, I would say within customer success here for LMS 365. So we accomplished so much in our first year together. Now we’re ahead of schedule with what we’re trying to do and 2023 as in 2026, our end goal, we’re really trying to be unicorn status, the eighth unicorn to hit our house, Denmark. So it’s a humongous scale to climb and a big mountain to get there. But having the people feel empowered, and what they’re doing matters, making sure our clients know that we care about them and that we are trusted advisors to them, not just the learning management platform, but understanding the culture of learning for them. All of those things make for a really unique recipe where our customer success team can be flexible understanding the data points we have about clients usage about how clients are using I say usage overall meaning did they use the platform? How are they meeting their use cases? You know, in a customer kickoff, your understanding, how will they derive value from your product. So having the opportunity to follow up on those things as time goes on reminding a customer you said we wanted to accomplish new hire training together. So in our follow up call, how was new hire training going and then that whole idea about iteration comes back up? You know it worked for us in the beginning but now we’re ready to iterate it. So the customer success team feels ready to have those conversations and get to the next level with the customer. I just also want to say to that trust based relationship with the customer is very, very interesting in the renewal part of it. Because if you are having a customer on the fence at renewal time, I would suggest to any other customer success manager or leader just have a conversation with the client. Don’t go back back and forth via email and don’t talk about it in teams, please, please just have a call with the customer. And you would be so surprised just how many customers you can save, because they had that human interaction and they know you’re bought into what they’re trying to do. So you can help them and year two and year 3,4,5,6, if you just understand, we’re going through this together and you are trying to accomplish these goals, allow us the opportunity to do so, it really makes a difference.
Adil Saleh: No, absolutely working for the customer with them, and you know, integrating all the knowledge and everything, and going side by side. So that is pretty much work for you and technology and business like you like it, I mean, three years. If I push myself three years back, no one could imagine some, some business like LMS would go entire digital customer success operations, which you started one and a half years ago. So that’s a great job. And I wish you with time, you will find more scalable processes, you know, based on experimentations. And all lot of dedicated tools are already out there that centralized data dedicated to the customer success team. So you know, the cut the silos and friction and, you know, make them more productive and more efficient, you know, data driven, not. So that is great. I was also, you know, thinking of, you know, what kind of growth plans you guys are looking at thinking of next one year, it’s 12 months.
Amie Weizer: So from a standpoint of where we’re continuing in our journey with the Microsoft relationship, you know, Microsoft is releasing viva. So that means we have a great opportunity on our hands to understand how Viva integrates with LMS 365, and where our clients will be able to see benefits from both of these tools. So we’re continuing to invest in the Viva integration of LMS 365 to empower people using teams, and then really understanding are we best penetrating the Microsoft team’s market, if not making sure our relationship with Microsoft gets stronger to have those strategic sales representatives, working with our customer success and our sales teams. The other aspect of what we are doing is also just understanding. Let’s think about this, this learning and development as a whole there is so much changing and learning and development with the fact of the great resignation starting now people doing quiet quitting. I mean, it’s just evolving so much all of this is now finally out in the open, how employees are engaging with an organization and how happy they are in their roles. So we’re just going to continue to watch these trends and figure out where is learning and development? And how can we create the right tools and the right additional features to make sure we’re meeting that market demands? A lot of what customers are asking about now is are we going to continue to support the elearning, which is of course important for onboarding, but then the instructor led training, how are we making sure there is still somebody being able to instruct somebody through a workshop or through a brainstorm, supporting that in our tool or supporting some of the on the job assessments. A lot of clients are also focusing on micro learning. There’s a couple of these trends that we’re starting to investigate and doing some client to digital customer visits, understanding how do the customers plan on continuing to invest in learning and development and then shaping our product around those things our customers want us to see. But being the default, Microsoft based solution for an LMS is where we’re continuing to differentiate ourselves and be there in the market for our clients. I love going to a conference and people come up to the booth. They’re like another messin teams. I’ve never even heard of that before. Then we talk about all the additional built ins that we have to be supporting as easy as putting a PowerPoint into a course putting a quiz on it, if that’s what you need to do to stand something up, do that first. And then we iterated over time, having the clients buy into the journey to it’s just so important, you can tell I’m so big on
Adil Saleh: Yes. So, so important. Yeah. And that’s about it, this is what it takes. And best part about you guys, you know, looking at different avenues that you have, in the foreseeable future, these are the plans that you need to implement, like, on the on the instructor side as well, like how you’re facilitating the instructors as well to empower, you know, to actually present this this entire elearning and that’s, that’s the end value and basically is the end consumer. So to be able to do that you can you have all you know, your customers you’re working so hands on with them, and you can take feedback and shape in the way that they need. So that’s the best part about you know, working so closely with the customer and knowing them so much better. So, this is what it takes, you know, especially in the in the role that you have. So I really really appreciate that you you brought these different insights and different views on how customer success can operate on a level, they can build relationships with their customers, and still take care of the operations. So I really, really appreciate more time for taking, taking the time and sharing all this knowledge. And we’re basically working also working on all the cards that we have, we’ll get it in one place, we’ll build a report from all these, like some C suite executives that you have like, and from some unicorn businesses as well, some small startups, all range of different tech industries, of different sizes, different technologies, and we’re getting that information and taking feedback and getting back to the same people and seeing like how we can, you know, build a structure a wireframe of sorts. So it actually helps in the action actionable way to the startups. So this hyper engaged podcast in a few months is going to be a go to podcast for for startups that want to learn how to build customer success, right from day one. And this is super important. It’s it’s emerging big time. Great. So Amy, I think this is I think pretty much all Do you want to ask anything? Taylor.
Taylor Kenerson: I think we did a beautiful job of covering everything, then that gets forgotten in here, our goal. So I really appreciate you Amy and your time and everything. And we’ll definitely be in touch, I’ll connect with you. If you have LinkedIn connect with you so we can stay in touch.
Adil Saleh: You look looks so much like hell and back. And in the 90s, there was one movie named as good as it gets with Jack Nicklaus.
Early in my age, when I was too young, you know, too young, very young, for very, very young for I used to like tie movies and characters, and you know, the way she delivers dialogue and all, along with Jack Nicholson, do watch the movie.
Amie Weizer: Yeah, definitely. And I’ll just touch on what you just mentioned about the, the internal part of the relationships. For me, I’m always advising the customer success team, that internal relationships matter just as much as the external. So I would say for anybody building out a team as well, it’s really important that you understand that and you make the time for those connections, because you don’t want it to be a siloed organization where sales isn’t getting the info they need to sell better marketing doesn’t have it, or the Build Team doesn’t have it, you know, the product team, making sure you invest in those relationships. And sure, it’s another session that your customer success team has to contribute to. But if you allow them to have those insights, and then empower them to say, hey, team, I hear the most of our customers are interested in this feature, what is it going to take for us to build on that, because you have a good relationship with the Build Team, it’s a lot more well received, and you have the opportunity to action on that feedback early on. So I would say invest in your relationships internally just as much as externally. Because customer success really has such a special position in the organization, knowing what we are trying to tell the customers and what the customers are telling us. I think it’s incredible what customer success is and can continue to be advising customers and getting to that strategic point of knowing your customers trying to accomplish XYZ business goal and what your product does will help them achieve it. That’s something that is really special and was taught a lot in the in the Gartner bottle of understanding that you have this one piece of what you’re doing for a customer. But here’s how it fits into the vision of what that company does. So having those insights across the customer success team brought back to the product team brought back to marketing is so so important. So build those relationships early and often.
Adil Saleh: And that is why the this it makes this podcast so interesting and so powerful, because range of different people, they’re doing different kinds of things to serve their customers better. And crossing bridges going an extra mile. And this is all about just the way you guys are doing. So one more time. Thank you very much for showing up today. Because remember you and we’ll definitely touch back once you’re done with the report, maybe in a month or two, and maybe we can have 1015 20 minutes conversation.
Amie Weizer: Sounds great. I definitely appreciate the opportunity today for you guys as well. Thanks for working through this podcast because it is a need for sure.
Taylor Kenerson: Thank you so much, Jamie. I’ll talk to him for you see you bye bye