Adil Saleh: Hey, greetings everybody. This is Adil from hyper engage podcast, we are joined with Taylor kenerson co host from New Jersey, and a special guest from Montreal, Canada. And Ashley Stamps you very much for taking the time today. And it was really nice having you on today.
Ashley Stamps: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
Adil Saleh: So just so everybody knows she is serving as VP of Customer Success at Celtx which is a SaaS platform for storytellers and creative teams that helped them with script writing, help them with better production and all to one solution. So looking at the solution, looking at the platform, it seems pretty interesting. And we’d love to jump in deep into the feature set and their internal processes before we the you know, as Kim story, actually, about what are what is the main motivation behind joining the customer facing role and looking at yourself serving in the FinTech industry, that’s a big change as as a technology as well. So I would love for all the audience to know, how did that transformed over the years?
Ashley Stamps: Absolutely. So I had my very first customer facing role outside of tech, and it was as a bakery assistant at Panera Bread, which is a really popular chain in the United States. But after I graduated from high school and started in college, I decided that I needed to step it up a little bit. I found my way over to Copenhagen, Denmark, which has a very active startup scene, and I presented something that was somewhat unique as a Native American English speaker. And the company that I was working for Falcon IO at the time, really wanted to tap into that market. So I got my start in customer success, specifically, as an onboarding specialist. And they used my voice for a webinar that they wanted to get started as a part of their first engagement with North American audiences. I think that something that made me gravitate towards customer success and stay in customer success over the years has been, it just feels like such a natural fit. I like to consider myself a bit of a people person. I know that that’s so cliche, but it truly is the case for me. I thrive when I’m around others, and I thrive on conversation. I thrive on having really great discussions. And that’s something that takes place every single day in customer success. So why not stick with it?
Taylor Kenerson: Cool, awesome. And on, on your on your journey, Ashley, how did your your thinking evolve and like while you were in customer success with you know, Panera Bread starting at Panera Bread to like where you are now? Are is customer success different based on the industry? And are there some similarities as you go along?
Ashley Stamps: 100%. And I think that that’s the case, because the title customer success is one that is still no more than 15 years old at this point in time. And I think that as the practice has evolved, it started to take different shapes, depending on the industry, depending on depending on the business model, as well. I do think that customer success, it has almost been synonymous with SAS for the last 10 or 12 years. But I believe that customer success has started to really branch beyond SAS, and you can find customer success in every business in some way, shape, or form. And I’m very happy to see that customer success managers, traditionally over the last, I suppose three or four years or so they’ve made the LinkedIn, you know, highest, highest or maybe fastest growing in demand positions as well. That’s no coincidence either.
Adil Saleh: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, you had a touch of experience at Pleo as well, back in 2017. About five years back. Could you tell us more at that time now they’re, you know, pretty going smooth and on the growth stage. And the recently raised, you know, $200 million, as you will see. So at that point, could you tell us more about what was your because that was your first experience. So what was your thought process back then what kind of challenges you faced and what was your role and how you evolved with it during your stay at Plepo?
Ashley Stamps: Absolutely. So I’ll tell you first that Pleo was the position that I took after I had my first child I old, and I was coming straight off of maternity leave and finishing a master’s thesis in global health care systems of all things really far removed from customer success. But what attracted me to the pleo role was very similar to what happened at Falcon, they wanted to branch into a new market in this case, the UK market. And I came in despite not being from the UK, but I do consider myself to be fairly proficient in English. And that was something that got me in the door. That was really wonderful because working at pleo, at that point in time, we’re talking about a 30 person team. And at that point, there were only two others in customer success, wonderful Danish talents, and mostly support oriented so when I came in, I was expected to provide that injection of customer success, best practices, and eventually scaling the operation. Though my time at Pleo was short, it was quite fruitful for both me personally, and for pleo overall, because we were able to tap effectively into the UK market. I was in London, you know, beating the streets going from financial institution to financial institution, customer after customer just trying to get Pleo in the door with pleo cards in my backpack or my briefcase, and to see it now grow to a company of over 900 people. And they have dominated the Swedish and I believe German markets, in addition to what they’ve done in Denmark and the UK. It’s amazing. And I did mention that the Copenhagen startup circle is quite small, the two co founders I consider to be amazing people, and I’ve had brunch with them and I know their kids and they know mine. So you know, being able to continue that has been amazing. I’m definitely looking for them to be more and more successful over time.
Adil Saleh: Loved it, loved it, because having a customer experience like having a customer oriented approach towards different region like UK, Europe gives you a touch, like a lot of diversity and you become like more proficient and building relationships and understanding the nature of different cultures, you know, in different regions and even people at points. So how did that help? While you joined Celtex you know that your diversity? You’ve been working with people and customers in the FinTech space at Denmark and then UK traveling around and you know, going door to door walkway. You know that that was quite interesting. So how did that help as you as a person to develop as a as a customer facing leader?
Ashley Stamps: Absolutely. I’d say that really the only commonality between each of the companies where I’ve joined as a Customer Success talent has been that there’s been a customer success in my job title here, I’ve jumped from industry to industry, social media management in the case of Falcons of FinTech at pleo game engine technology at Unity, and now at Celtex with script writing and narrative storytelling through digital tools. You know, what has really helped me has been my ability to adapt customer success to whichever industry that I’ve worked with, I do find that the recipe for success there has been understanding that customer success has to take a different shape and a different form, depending on the product depending on the audience, depending on the people that you hire to power each of these teams. And I do consider myself to be a global customer success leader because when I was at Unity Technologies, for example, I was the only customer success team member in the Copenhagen office, I had a team that was reporting to me out of Pereda, Columbia, right and UK and Montreal, Quebec, Canada at the same time, so I’ve worked with people all over
Taylor Kenerson: Wow. And just to dive into your your journey as a CS leader a little bit can you like take us on what a day to day looks like for you? Like what do you do throughout your day, as you know, the VP of CS
Ashley Stamps: each day looks different. But the way that I like to start it is pretty consistent. I started by saying good morning to my team on Slack. I know that there are so many people who have gone remote as a result of COVID. Celtex has always been remote friendly, but because of COVID We are almost remote first for a lot of our new hires myself included. Slack is really a part of that core ecosystem and making sure sure that we can still keep that you know, morning coffee or water cooler conversation is the first thing that we do. Besides connecting with my team in that way, it’s looking into how we’re performing. So we attempt to be data driven as much as possible, I want to look at how many new customers we’ve acquired what type of contraction we’ve experienced since the previous day, if our renewal forecast has changed in any way, and also make sure that I check my inbox to see if any customer support escalations have come in to my view, I try to make sure that each day I’m connecting with a team. So there’s some form of a stand up, or there’s forms of one on ones with my leads, who actually manage the individual contributors in the organization. And there’s lots and lots of time to go into Gong. And actually listen to recordings of each of the team’s engagements with customers, where I’m trying to find if there are certain key words that I should be paying attention to that are coming up in the conversation, understanding what our customers are talking about how they’re reacting to the discussions that we’re leading with them, I really try to make sure that I’m tapped into all of that from day to day, my Northstar my Northstar metric at Celtex is to improve retention and customer happiness. So, all of those activities are geared towards that.
Adil Saleh: Love it, love it. So, let us go deep into what kind of systems you have incorporated in order to make a success like net revenue, it would never end retention and you know, working on retention and adoption or during the customer journey. So, your customer success team, what kind of technology they are always looking up to in order to get the right data in order to get the right information to be able to build a better engagement points or touch points with your with your customers, which
Ashley Stamps: of course, so I must say that Celtex uses a mixture of homegrown tools that we’ve built internally and we use some third sources. Salesforce is our primary CRM. Most Customer Success engagement for Celtex uses HubSpot, which is a marketing automation tool, simply because of the sheer volume of our customer base, Celtex has an all time global active user count of over 6 million users. So we’re very different from a traditional b2b business. And that means that the tools that we use are built for scale. We’re also in the process of putting in place a customer success platform. I’m going to keep the name hush hush for now, because they have to prove it after we onboard. But, you know, once we bring that on board, it will help us centralize Customer Success operations as well.
Adil Saleh: Okay, cool. So you’re looking, looking to onboard a dedicated customer success platform real? So you’re working on that? So what made you do that? Like, did you can you just showcase some of the challenges you might face or that tool can overcome? Once you
Ashley Stamps: absolutely. So, you know, Celtex has been running as a business for over two decades at that at this point in time, which is amazing. That means that the amount of data that we collect is vast, being able to harness that data and truly make it actionable is the first thing that we expect a customer success platform to help us achieve. Taking action within that platform as well will be the second use case for us. I think that customer success platforms come into play for Celtex at this point in time because we have an established user base. And what’s really on our minds is to grow that user base leveraging technology,
Adil Saleh: exactly and scalable processes that can you know, streamline your entire day to day activities of your customer success team that you can save more time and serve more customers in the most amicable way to achieve retention and you know, all these success metrics you have So could you tell us a bit about your average customer journey now let’s talk about segmentation. You have customers in the small to mid size, you have customers in the enterprise as well. So can you break those down into the journeys and their their entire cycle of the customer for your for your CS team?
Ashley Stamps: Sure, Celtex has a primarily self serve business to consumer segment, it drives the majority of our revenue that would mostly consist a very small businesses, but we do have a managed customer segment that has a bit more of a traditional business to business cohort. In terms of our engagement, we are digitally led for the self serve audience and we also have a full support 24/7 email based handling of those customers. And then for our manage customers. That’s where they do have have a dedicated customer success manager and an account manager who are responsible for seeing that they are successful with the product.
Taylor Kenerson: And and on to that point, how, because you have so much, you know, data coming in prior to, you know, the CS platform coming into play? How did the team know what to take action on? And what were priority items to follow through with? How were you managing all of that
Ashley Stamps: full transparency, it wasn’t really managed. And that’s what we attempt to, that’s what we’re attempting to put into place. It’s the age old story, you know, we want to be proactive instead of reactive. And I hate to say it in that way, but in Celtex case, it is 100%, the first thing that we are attempting to change through putting in place a risk monitoring system, standard health scores that allow us to know if someone goes into the at risk cohort, place them into a certain engagement flow, if someone in the inverse is rapidly adopting, or they are adding team members, potentially placing them into a flow that will turn them into more of an advocate for Celtex and grow us through their own customer advocacy and word of mouth.
Adil Saleh: Okay, that’s interesting. So that actually also makes me think that you’re what kind of metrics you have for your paying customers. Like, of course, you can set up automation, you can set up sets or models just like Slack, and, you know, notion and all these tools in the last five years that have actually really skyrocketed their, their customer success. So at this point, for the for the customers, you have dedicated customer success managers, what kind of technologies they are looking up to, in order to get the right data, and how they identify risk, and, you know, health of the customer during onboarding, and then adoption, then making sure it’s been returned and everything. So that journey, do you have any standardized metrics, or any kind of indicators pretty much set up in Salesforce, and then they trigger down to the tools for for your CS teams.
Ashley Stamps: So in terms of being able to create alerts today, those don’t exist. We’re working on it, though. But we have a very robust internal product activity and Support Activity Tracker, and each customer success manager has access to those tools. So for their respective accounts, when they’re prepping for an engagement, they’re able to understand what a customer has been doing in the platform, we don’t have access to a customer’s content, but we understand if they’re using certain features. And where we see that they are, it’s an indication of health, where we see that they are not, it’s an indication of risk.
Adil Saleh: Okay, so you’re further going to break it down to specific usage metrics to better forecast the customer journey by using third party tools. Like the one you mentioned, that you’re going to have a dedicated tool that will serve the same purpose that basically it’s going to serve. But as for my understanding, your most critical port portion of your customer journey would be adoption, you know, the better you are able to adopt your customer better, they’re going to retain and expand. And for that you need to make sure you have product use your team is absolutely sitting on the product user at all time understanding it and making engagements and you know, measuring the the the adoption stage. So that is why you’re probably trying to incorporate as ces central to to give you that data that drives action ahead of time.
Ashley Stamps: Absolutely. And we can’t ignore the fact that Celtex, like Unity, we are serving creatives, and that means that we are only going to be as successful as someone who is actively using the tool. That’s why adoption is really the name of the game.
Adil Saleh: Yes, absolutely. Okay, so now, how big is your team right now and blood kind of rolls. It’s so much diversity, just like yourself.
Ashley Stamps: Okay, so we have a team that consists of eight really talented individuals were split, about halfway down the middle for support versus success management, and the three disciplines that are currently in our organization, our support, success, management and account management.
Adil Saleh: Wow. So account management. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Taylor Kenerson: Yeah, I just want to for you know, someone that’s looking to get into CS and like, join the CS team. You’ve obviously done lots of hiring and work with a lot of different diverse teams. In your opinion, what are some like key characteristics or traits for successful CS managers that come into this space? Maybe they don’t have the experience, but they have, you know, these specific traits that allow them to flourish. What what are you like? What are some commonalities in that? And then what is something that you would recommend to someone that is looking to join into, you know, the CSB, great question, tutor?
Ashley Stamps: That’s a great question. And I would also say that the first thing that I do when I’m interviewing someone is I pay attention to the questions that they’re asking. That ability to ask the right questions is something that I really look for when hiring a new customer success manager, I want to confirm that they are able to profile and re profile as required to make sure that we’re always in tune with what the customer needs and what they really want. Beyond that, I look for someone who is able to adapt to whatever the team dynamic is, and it’s not necessarily fitting in, but it’s offering the ability to work with work well with others. And for us, that means not being cut from the same cloth necessarily, but being able to build relationships effectively, internally and externally that the customer is as required.
Taylor Kenerson: That’s a really key thing, too, that you you just mentioned, it’s, you know, being a team player and stuff, it’s less about, quote, unquote, fitting in and just going along with the flow, and a lot more so on, you know, how you are blending in with the team while still holding your uniqueness and your own perspectives, and still bringing in your, you know, your thoughts and your thinking to move the team forward. And it’s less to do with, you know, the individual and more to do with like, you’re joining something bigger than yourself, how are you able to move that along? And see it less as, you know, a youth thing and more as a team thing?
Ashley Stamps: Yeah, yeah.
Adil Saleh: Well, yeah. Why are we why are we asking so many questions, because you have a hands on with team, then you have actually built teams from scratch for businesses that are now pretty big around you and gives you’ve done the same with Caltex. So, I mean, we have recruiters that are listening today, we have people, individuals that are customer success leaders, and they’re trying to get a top tenant for their businesses, just like, you know, we met people from totango, we met people from these SAS businesses that are very big, and they’re growing their customers suggesting they’re having some challenges. So having your nodes having your input, your experience will definitely help them in some way that they can, you know, get get to the right people that at some some point when they need. So at this point, what is, you know, towards team growth, like how you’re growing a team thinking up next one year, anybody listening to this any one from our audience that wants to join your team, they can contact you. So what is your what is your plan for the next one year as as the growth of the team,
Ashley Stamps: where I would be looking to hire are individuals who come with industry knowledge specific to Celtex core audience. And what’s on the horizon for us are game studios. So if there’s someone out there who has a really great understanding of what the game development process looks like, and they can think of how Celtic’s can fit into it, then I need to talk with them. But even if you don’t come from that background necessarily, I truly believe that if you are an effective customer success talent then you should be able to adapt, and I want to talk to you. I do not come from the media and entertainment industry in terms of discipline, but I have been able to, I think, exercise a good amount of impact at Celtex.
Adil Saleh: Yes, absolutely. That I know that I know. Definitely. So, you know, everybody listening to this, you know, you can reach Ashley out on LinkedIn. You know, she can share our calendar you guys can meet if you think that there’s something you guys can contribute towards all Catholics is trying to accomplish. And also taking notes from all the experiences, she has a diverse experience, I would suggest that it’s worth worth a conversation with her. And I’m telling this to all the young folks, I’m sitting here in the Pakistan in Asia, right across China, and she’s in New Jersey, we are more than 100 20 million people under the age of 32. And most of them they have just recently graduated and they’re so interested in joining customer facing roles and learning about SAS and you know, tech driven, you know, customer experiences and all that. So wonderful. It was really nice talking to you. And, you know, I really appreciate that you took the time and you know, have yourself featured here and then our team will Have some content write about you and create stories people can listen and improve in any little bigger way that we as a team, as a family can help them achieve their goals.
Ashley Stamps: Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure and I am down to top customer success with whoever reaches out to me so do not be shy. Hit my DMs everyone.
Taylor Kenerson: Thank you so much, Ashley. We so appreciate you. We were you dropped a lot of little, not little but large nuggets and insights and we’re super super grateful and appreciative for that. So thank you so much. A great day.