Adil Saleh: Hey, greetings, everybody, this is hyperengage podcast. And we have our Co-host, Taylor kenerson s with along with a special guest from signeasy. Abheesh, Thank you very much, sir, for joining and taking the time today.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Hey, Adil, thanks for inviting me over to the podcast. And Taylor, great to see you here as well. Happy to take this forward.
Adil Saleh: Just so everybody knows. Abheesh is leading customer success team is more. You don’t technically need a chief customer officer. But he’s head of customer success at signeasy, which is an agreement, documentation and signing platform competing, PandaDoc, competing, DocuSign, and all these platform that are helping in the space and covering the same use cases. So wonderful. I just want to jump a little into how you started all of this course. Leading a customer success team is not something you know, just to walk in the ground. It’s it needs specific mindset. So it definitely needs a sort of thinking model or background experience or maybe a personality of some sort. So what what was the one thing that made you convinced to join a customer success role? And then leading a team and, you know, making people do the same what you’ve done?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Thanks for the question, Adil. And here’s what I think, right? Let’s let’s kind of break this question down into two or three pieces. First, in terms of personality, right, like what what it takes for someone to excel and succeed in customer success. I think being a people’s person, which basically means having great levels of empathy and emotional intelligence. And the willingness to work with folks in general, is, I think, foundational. And on top of that, when you add some skill sets, like it could be effective communication, it could be the ability to read through data, and read between the lines in communication, this kind of helps in developing mastery of this. So how do I how did I get here? Right? So I think I think, between nature and nurture, so naturally, I was able to build that, that interpersonal skills throughout my life, early childhood around, and the nurturing kind of happened over the last 15 years or so that I’ve been, you know, professionally working. And I’ve been given the opportunities to operate in overall GTM functions, being it within sales and post sales, and I’m seeing for sale, because when I started back in the days, it was account management, right. So. So it was largely on making sure our customers are, you know, which our business that I worked for back then. Which was also both in tech and non tech, right, in my early career. So yeah, I mean, making sure that, you know, our customers are getting what they purchased, essentially. And the services or the product consumption is going well, and all the way through renewal if it’s a recurring business, or if it’s not a recurring business, we’re getting repeat business from the same customers, right. So that would be quite important, or what really made me develop interest and passion in customer success. And I think the last, if I were to talk about signeasy First off, I kind of felt it was it was largely based on signeasy as a company, the founder, the story and the journey and an opportunity to work with really competent and smart people, I think that took precedence and less about the role per se. Like I wanted to be a part of something big and signeasy was it for me. And and I found myself fitting well within the customer success and overall GTM ops that we have here. And yeah, right. And to kind of close on this question. I started off as a enterprise sales and success consultant. And yeah, and I’ve was given an opportunity to do a lot of things which helped me deliver a bunch of outcomes, and a lot of learning too along the way and, and the opportunity to elevate myself into leadership roles.
Taylor Kenerson: I love how you really gave us a micro a macro view rather of your journey and that like you didn’t first and stuff and see us like you had a different course. And then you encountered Yeah. So can you go just dive a little bit into what what that look like that that those specific moments in your journey that actually shifted you into CS? Was it someone or something you heard or an experience you had?
Abheesh Dinavahi: sure. I think it’s about largely it goes back down to the fuzzy parts of why, right? which is quite emotional, I guess. I mean, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that you get when customers are happy with what they’ve purchased. I think that that does not, or that’s, that’s intangible, right? Well, the revenue and things are tangible, that sense of satisfaction is intangible, and you’re taking those things back to the product team, and helping the product evolve to meet the evolving needs of your customers. So that’s the, I think, I think that’s the most important part. tracking and managing revenue or book of business is tactical, in some sense. But you bring it down to strategy, you become an extension of the product team. So that’s what really, really got me into it. And before signeasy, I took a stab at building a product. So that really helped me learn a lot of product principles.
Taylor Kenerson: We, I just want you to go down that rabbit hole a little bit. What like, go into that journey, what caused you to you know, have the courage to start your own thing and then understand and take those lessons and apply it until what you are now?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Okay. Well, I’m trying to think how to make this concise. So I think it was it was largely an opportunity of the moment, I’m, it’s a personal journey for me. I moved from India to Mexico, I started working for a tech company here initially. But I also kind of planned along with the move to really, okay, if I’m moving to another country, where language is different, culture is different. And there are a bunch of products that I’ve used before while I was living in India, and those products are not necessarily there to serve the community in another land. So I mean, its a culmination of all these thoughts, which brought an idea of okay, when I go there, I am going to start something I don’t know what it’s going to be. But I’m going to start something. So it went like that. And my first step was, okay, let me let me, you know, get the little bear low hanging fruits. Right. So let me learn the language. Let me learn the culture eliminate the word culture, let me understand the problem statements, opportunity statements available here. So I took that route, and taking up a job here, in a tech company helped me gather a lot of things. And also, most importantly, get to know people and build a network, right. So I did that for about a year. But I always knew that it’s going to be for one year, and after that, I’m going to start. So it also meant live frugal, and save up. Yet startup expenses are not cheap.
Adil Saleh: I’m sorry, there’s a little delay go on. Sure.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Okay. So, so yeah. And then I went on to start a Edtech company, Edtech startup. Here in Mexico, which is doing pretty well actually. Now, it’s serving over 100,000 students. And it’s growing, and there’s a great, don’t
Taylor Kenerson: be so humble. Oh, my goodness, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. Um, we need more people like you to, you know, use their multiple skills and work on one thing, wow, you know, giving back in another way. That’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Awesome, and I think I mean, the company is right now run by my co founder, who also happens to be my wife. And we decided, okay, you run this thing while I go do something else. And something else was the signeasy. It started off as, hey, let’s, let’s, let’s figure out how I fit in into signeasy journey. And it’s two years down. Here. We are here.
Taylor Kenerson: And I hate to dive down this rabbit hole. But I think this is super important. Can you just talk a little bit about what makes a good team especially with a high you know, living with that your partner but beyond that, you know, there are some key elements that make the team successful. So can you just dive into that and then you can bring it back into your team?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Sure. I think it is predominantly mindset, ability to communicate and problem solving. These are the three things that really make or break a team right If I were to kind of dig deeper into this mindset, so here, it’s about agreeing on the same vision, and the same purpose that we want to operate in. Right? And, and when we agree on that, fundamentally, there can be a lot of disagreements at a tactical level, which is okay. And it’s, in fact, helpful and healthy. Right? It allows, at a foundational level where we agree on the vision and the purpose, it is easier to, you know, work through disagreements and work through different ideas, work through different creative thoughts. The second is communication. And when I say communication, it’s also about conflict management, it is about expectation setting, it’s about largely agreeing, planning, and agreeing to things before we move into execution, right. So there’s, there’s no stone left unturned there. Typically, you try to keep as few surprises as possible. And, and, overall, build a great morale with these things, right. So and when these things are, there, typically teams succeed in what they’re doing.
Adil Saleh: Interesting, interesting, the way you explain your journey, I mean, that kind of very much resonated with me as well. And I started back in 2010, I was 17 years old, the guy who didn’t have an ID card. And that was my first job as a mortgage broker, and in a business that is more into a BPO industry out of Salt Lake, Texas. So at that point, I was completely invisible. And my mentor, he was my immediate boss as well. And he told me that it’s okay to not have control, it’s okay to be invisible, and walk on the highway with various signs and misleading to nowhere, just open yourself up and just believe and trust the process, put your best, put your best on the table and see what happens. So which is pretty much what you did in the beginning, that you know, you didn’t have direction, you didn’t have visibility, but you are all that you had is faith, which sometimes is more powerful than all the things that people chase and they don’t they get stressed out, when they lose control and, and direction. Wonderful. So let’s get back to summer success operations that you have at signease. So a family of just over 100 people, how many people you have on our YouTube,
Unknown Speaker: it’s growing, we are eight, nine people now. And I’ve got a couple of team members joining in over the next couple of weeks. So I’ll probably be closing this year with about 13 members in my team, including myself.
Adil Saleh: so what is that one thing? Just a random question that we have, or conversation that’s so genuine, because you don’t be asked questions along the way. So what is it one thing that you would you would never want to, you would never want your team to not have any individual buyer hurting or making decision on people?
Abheesh Dinavahi: I’m sorry, can you repeat the question?
Adil Saleh: What is that one thing? One skill can be a soft skill can be work ethic or anything that you cannot avoid? While while making a decision on people.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Something that I look out for while hiring talent. Yeah. I think it’s, if I were to zero it down on one thing, it is the mindset and attitude and alignment to core values. I think that’s the biggest.
Adil Saleh: How do you measure that? Like, how do you scale that like gauge that in a 30 minute interview? Or maybe three? Sure.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Yeah, typically, interviews are like, you have between 40 minutes to an hour that I run? Yeah, I mean, we have a set of core values that we that we, you know, dedicate ourselves to. In fact, we can extend it both within work and outside of work. It could be the growth mindset, learning mindset, creative problem solving, and, you know, you know, the strive for excellence. So these are some core values that we have. And typically, when I’m conducting an interview, I try to ask questions, learn about their previous experiences. Maybe it could be even anecdotal, right? And look for moments where they they demonstrated these core values. And it could be like, you know, questions like, Tell me about a challenge that you came across in the company or in the last role that you the job that you had, and how did you overcome it? And obviously, people who’ve done really well will will know the fine details, they talk through the story really well. And typically, it’s not done alone, right? It’s a team effort they bring in other stakeholders who were involved. It also kind of gives you is this individual, someone who shares the credit with everybody else, or wants to just take it on their own? CS, in my opinion, is a team game. It’s not an individual game. And there’s no one hero, but who, who brings in the victory, but an entire team that gets a victory, right? Absolutely.
Taylor Kenerson: I love that you brought it back to the team, it’s less about the individual, you you, as an individual have a very valuable, invaluable part actually, in making the business successful, though it is a team effort and a team to success when all fails. If the team when all goes well. It’s the team. And I’m so glad you you touched on that. And so when you in order to make your team proactive and not reactive, how do you help your team? And how do you manage them be proactive?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Good question. And it’s, it is an ongoing effort, right? As we build teams and grow teams as well, right? And as our business evolves, and one of the ways to develop proactive Ops is by promoting curiosity, right at the underlying level. When people are curious, for example, in the context of customer success, I, you know, urge my team maybe urge is a strong word there but, but to be curious about our customer’s business, understand it’s just not our product and how they use our product. Let’s understand, you know, how, what is their business? How do they how What is their success? What are What do they care for? Right? And, and we don’t get a chance to talk to every customer, especially for a company like signeasy with tens of thousands of customers, it gets hard. So we have this lighthouse customers are there are some customers who are just they’re proactive because right? Take advantage of that, stay curious, learn from their experiences and learn from what they want. That really helps.
Taylor Kenerson: I’m really glad you touched on being curious. And also prior, you also mentioned a couple of values I have, how do you incentivize a slash healthier team, learn these values, and then embody them? You know, it’s one thing to just conversate about being curious, like, really go dive into your customers? But how do you help the team? Or what tools do you give your team to actually enable them to live out these values
Abheesh Dinavahi: sure, there are a couple of like systems and tools that we have, right? It could be I mean, I’m happy to name the tools. For example, for customer success, central platform that we use is Churnzero, Churnzero, helps us in bringing, aggregating all customer data, at the account level and the user level. It helps us develop health scores. So we were able to see the customers who are at risk and the customers who are succeeding really well, and then dig further down into how and why customers are successful. And try to replicate those things with other customers. And those who are at risk, understand why they’re at risk, and take right steps accordingly. And then there’s this huge set of customers who are in the middle, who largely get ignored. I mean, sometimes even when I’m learning, and I’m trying to find answers, maybe could be on Google or on someone else, it’s very easy to build talking points on successful customers and customers at risk. But it can be a little hard to build talking points on the customers in the middle segment. Right. And it’s a large volume of customers.
Adil Saleh: mapping the journeys, like, we won’t go so mainstream on you know, adoption and all that we would definitely love to know that how you’re measuring and identifying the stages of customer, let’s say, on the while the onboarding says these metrics are met, you’re using Churnzero. So that gives you the leverage these matters about this customer is onboarding and move to the next adoption stage. So what kind of metrics have you set up? And how much of that is Tector?
Sure, good question. So let me answer the latter part of this question. About 40% of our customer base is CSM touch or high touch, and about 60% Is tech touch. That’s that decision is based on a few factors. One being revenue, one being customer, you know, customers were our design partners slash Lighthouse customers. So they could be at any revenue point, but we consider them as high touch and work with them. We have some ICPs that we’ve our marketing team, and product team has come together to develop, in fact, all the GTM teams. So there could be some edge cases within those ICPs who, again, we take a decision whether we want to be at high touch or tech. Now coming back to your your question. I mean, it’s largely three phases, right? There’s an onboarding phase, like you said, and then there is I think through the journey phase, and then there’s a renewal phase, right? So if I broadly take a look at it, and if I were to go down into onboarding, how do we measure if it’s a successful onboarding or not? Obviously, we track down a bunch of usage metrics, usage metrics could be broken down further into overall product usage. For us, our Northstar metric is number of documents signed using signeasy. Right? So are they signing documents and things and but we also see other metrics like so we are releasing a lot of features, we have a lot of integrations in place. So understand the product stickiness, right? Are they taking advantage of the integrations that we have built to increase enhance their productivity to make things a lot easier for them? Are they taking advantage of some, you know, some powerful features that we’ve built within the within the app? And we measure on even things like activity, how often are they I mean, activity can be broken up into activation and then activity, right? So have the users activated? Because largely sometimes we see that, you know, the admin user has already invited a bunch of team members to, you know, consume their seats, signeasy licenses, it sometimes happens where we, you know, a few people have forgotten about it, or it’s laying there in their inbox, and they’ve not activated the product, right? So these are all kind of things that we look at during the onboarding phase. So it’s typically from D minus 15, to D 30. So what I mean, there is there’s some customers, we, our CX team kind of supports our sales team, or, you know, sometimes even product lead growth, right? Its customers who are already engaging with our product, without our sales team getting in touch with them. But if we see that, for some reason, activity is not happening. Are there some potential roadblocks for them that we kind of sense? We go in there, my team goes in there, it’s a non sales approach, right? So solution approach, rather, hey, whether you buy it or not, is your decision, but now that you’re using it, I want to help you use it really Well. Right.
Adil Saleh: comes like, on the support role? Like that’s major support team. Thanks. Yeah.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Yeah, it’s like between success and free sales solutioning, so to speak.
Adil Saleh: Yeah. Absolutely. So you know, identifying the friction points during the any stage of of the customer? How does technology like a platform like churn FM helps you like it takes data from your product? Integrations like Mixpanel, and segment, and CRM as well, you know, gets all the data and puts you insights and recommendation or maybe alerts and all, you know, we know, catalyst, Vitallyy. A lot of platform doing it? Yeah. How does churnzero help you or any platform that you’re using? We’re not talking on the platform, we’re just trying to, you know, talk through cases, what are still the gaps that you think as as as leading as, as a leader, they still need to fill?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Sure, let’s address the first part, like how does churnzero help us? I think at a very high level, it it helps CSMs plan their time, their day, and focus on what matters, right. And, and because this is an ongoing, constant challenge, in some sense, especially, I remember when we were setting up churnzero when we started using it and things are, are, I vaguely remember times before that how much of noise and chaos there is. And if one lets their mind to, you know, take that on, they can go into that rabbit hole, right. So and, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself working through a lot of chaotic things, a lot of noise, which may not necessarily be delivering value to our customers and our business, right. So that’s where a churnzero really helps in planning a customer’s day. And when these platforms are well implemented. I, I can operationalize these things by basically having CSMs Hey, it’s great that, you know, you have intrinsic curiosity and proactive approach and keep that going. And we’ll build on that. But to make life easier, let’s all react to a platform that’s being proactive for you. Right? So because it’s, again, like humanly very challenging and probably impossible. If you have a book of business of 150 customers that a CSM is managing, to know and stay on top of every single customer what’s going on at any given point. It’s it’s hard. And that’s where these platforms come in and help.
Adil Saleh: So it basically not just aggregates the data and throw it on dashboard, but also create tasks like high value tasks for your customer success team to stay on top of Okay, great. Yep. So now, you know, how have you seen like, it’s been How long since you using your own platform that gives you everything that you guys need to know, during any stage of journeys?
Abheesh Dinavahi: I think so we implemented churn zero, sadly, before I joined the organization. So I think we can safely say about three years. Okay, but three years. Okay, cool. So we have a bunch of other systems in place as well, like you mentioned as Mixpanel. There is we have a BI team, which has built some custom dashboards for us. There is churn zero, and our CRM, which our sales team uses talks to turn zero, so we get a lot of data coming in from there. And there are these I mean, did I mention all the tools? Maybe there’s another one or two that are missing? There’s a revenue side of things. There’s ChartMogul which helps us understand cohorts on MRR revenue, right, and churn and mostly Importantly, the biggest value valuable insights my team members bring in is from anecdotal. You know, notes from our customers could be through QBR and other meetings that they conduct with customers.
Adil Saleh: Cool. So the CRM you’re talking about is that Salesforce. So you’ve got something because we haven’t yet finished HubSpot. Cool. Cool. HubSpot used to be pretty easy on budget side. But now it’s pretty expensive. Just check with another friend of mine who’s who’s trying to integrate HubSpot. They’re charging around $20,000. For a few 100 customers, that’s not that small. Okay, so now, we’ve seen and we’ve heard a lot of CS leaders taking initiatives and driving different approaches towards cadences. You know, one thing that you mentioned is curiosity. That’s good. You’re you’re curious about some feature as a product manager, or as a customer success manager, you want to, you know, make your customer included, and bring that on on to the cadence or review or any follow up? Do you do anything like that? Like, how, what are the touch points? You mostly engaged with your customers? mostly talking about high risk? Or maybe customer in the gray area that you talked about in the first place?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Sure. So I think it’s a packed question. And we need to break that down into three or four mini questions there. So with let’s address, the first, right? about features and things, so we actually have operationalized something within the organization. And this is the entire company from customer success, product engineering, sales and marketing, right, that we don’t want to call it features, but we want to call them as customer pain points. It is just not a sentence here. But everything that that’s behind it, right. So we used to call it a feature feature wish list and even address it Hey, what features do you want? But but that’s not really a great product building practices, because what you want to really do is understand the pain points customers have. And and we then take a decision, our product team takes a decision whether do we need to build a feature around that? Or is there something else that they have to do for it? Is there is is the pain point within the scope of our product? And should our product expand its scope? Or should we stay narrow down on our scope? So so there are these bunch of things? Like, for example, very quickly, if I were to say, we started off, I mean, signeasy sort of its journey about 10 years ago, 12 years ago now, as you know, a two point solution, right? Here’s an app that helps you sign documents, right. And 12 years later, we find ourselves largely in the CLM space or Contract Lifecycle Management, it’s not only signatures, it has expanded both forward and backward, right? All the all the stuff that goes into coming together, two parties coming together, to agree on things and sign a contract, right? So there’s a lot of document workflows in there. So that’s how your product evolves. So coming back, it’s a customer pain point that we really care about in terms of solving. It may not it may mean a new feature, or it may mean an enhancement, or it may mean just better education, or it may mean a better UI and user experience ecetera. Coming to your next question, how do we target that large segment of customers who are neither at risk or at and, you know, very successful, obviously successful that we see? Or if I want to ask the same question slightly differently from the cohort of tech touch customers, right, so we have a bunch of journeys that we have mapped on churn zero, we have playbooks on that. So it could be largely educating customers, on the product specs right on the specifics of things, whether it’s features or whether it’s usability, and it’s in these playbooks trigger based on customer actions or lack of customer actions, right? So for example, I’ll just take something really small and trivial, right? We have an ability where a customer can upload their logo onto our product. So every signature request that goes out to their customers or stakeholders that email notification is customized for their needs with their company logo on it. Now, when we see an account that is almost concluding on its onboarding stage or sometimes even past Its onboarding stage and they’ve not utilized this particular feature. There’s a, there’s a trigger that goes out, an email that goes out only to the admin, and like Hey, you’ve not updated the logo, if you want, you can do this and this is how it’s useful for you. Right? So. So stuff like that. I mean, for, for a lot of things, we break it down at a micro level. We also want to be cognizant, a number of emails and things that we send, we don’t want to barrage them with a lot of emails. So that’s where we take some decisions. What are the communication that you want to communicate over an email? What are the things that you want to want to communicate over an app banner or in app notification, what are the things that you want to communicate to the admin or user, but more on a personal level, right? And we list down those things that we want to communicate on a personal level. And those things are addressed during either an onboarding session, or later on during a QBR. Of course, during quarterly business review, there’s a lot of things that we discussed, and these things form a bit of the discussion. And, and any ad hoc requests that either come from our customers, it will be from as simple as, you know, my team members in their, in their emails that their email signature, they leave a little Calendly link, right. So we allow customers to book a time with us, if they want to specifically talk about something else. And that could also be an opportunity for us to bring in anything that we want to bring into their notice, whatever we may have.
Adil Saleh: Cool stuff. That definitely makes sense. You know, when it comes to working as a systematic will be the systematic approach, you need to take you know, as a team, and your systems knows that what customers you need to take care of most. And what personas are just, you know, they’re pretty okay with all the we have in the system, like knowledge base and trainings and all that. Yeah, cool. So by the way, I still remember I’ve seen you guys back in 2016 17, when when we had a launch at Product Hunt with Content studio, and we had like a bunch of reviews and G two. And then we I got in contact with the G two team. And now they’re running their own startups, I’m bringing them up on my podcast. So I love your journey. And the way you guys have matured as a product and the way you have shaped your feature set, which is quite a quite exceptional, we’re just thinking by looking at your pricing as well. Because, you know, even to try I always love to invest. You know, I don’t go and believe so much on limited features. Putting this trial, I need a full stack. So I’ll definitely talk with my partners and make a decision on how soon you can purchase it because for my some of my businesses, it can become so handy. But for SAS Of course, it’s not that relevant. So
Abheesh Dinavahi: well. Absolutely love go with the decision of buying signeasy for your document needs and hey, you have your the customer service leader on speed dial so yeah, I mean that guy’s
Adil Saleh: so that’s, that’s, that’s the thing about this podcast, we get to meet people, they’re doing a bunch of different things. And a lot of them we get to know for the first time, and that is something that’s my passion, a lot of things that I want to do, I want to do it for the first time. So cool stuff, I really appreciate you took the time today from your schedule. And you know, our team will catch up with you whenever they need anything from you like a high resolution picture of yours or anything the need for the webpage. So we can push this conversation towards our audience because that is so valuable, valuable, especially your story and your own personal intuition towards getting into the getting into the customer success role. So any questions, anything, any advice that you want to share with our audience? You can go ahead and just speak up loud?
Abheesh Dinavahi: Sure, I think. I think I think one may not be advice, but just a note I would love to share is I mean customer success. While there’s a you know, it’s a function as a bunch of team members. It’s a shared responsibility of everybody across the company from a customer centricity standpoint. So it goes all the way down to engineering, QA, marketing, sales, etc. Right. So I would see it as a responsibility for every CX leader to develop the customer centricity within their organizations.
Adil Saleh: Love it, love it. Yes. Because it it should be a mantra for from from the CEO to the customer support rep. The customer centric approach, which is what CJ has been telling me since night is that you know, the better the sooner you understand and your customer better your product will be. So one more time to take good care of behavior. It was realized that you know, getting around and having a really deep conversation.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Awesome. I enjoy this equally Adil and Taylor, thank you so much and I would love to see more podcasts of other leaders from you guys. It’s really inspiring s
Taylor Kenerson: We’ll talk soon. Thank you.
Abheesh Dinavahi: Thank you. Bye bye bye