Taylor Kenerson: Hello, it’s Taylor. I’m here with Adil and a beautiful guest, Estelle from Arctic shores. Thank you all for joining us today.
Estelle McCartney: Hi, Adil. Hi, Taylor.
Adil Saleh: Nice to meet you as to.
Taylor Kenerson: Okay, so let’s, I would love to just have a little brief intro on you kind of how you got into this role, this journey that you’re on. And then if you could take it away also describing a little bit about, you know, the product, the brand, and
Estelle McCartney: Of course, so Well, I have spent my whole career working in companies and causes that I care passionately about. So I actually started out in politics, and then moved into kind of public policy consulting. And through that journey, I met an incredible person called Robert Murray, who’s one of the co founders of Arctic shores, and the CEO. And to cut a very long story short, just around the time that Robert and safe our founders were thinking about building out their senior leadership team, I was looking for the next career challenge. And it was really important for me that not only did I get to use the sort of the commercial and the business and the scale up experience, I have my previous 20 years of working, but that I was coming to work in an organization that had a very clear mission and vision and something that I cared deeply about. And Arctic shores, that mission is all about helping companies to discover the potential of the candidates that they are looking at to hire, and then about providing candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate the potential that they’ve got. So we are a really exciting, disruptive HR tech company. And we have an online assessment, which is based in very established neuroscience and psychometrics. But it’s very novel in the way that approaches assessment. I don’t know if either of you have had to complete an assessment for any job that you have ever had. But the kind of the traditional approach where it is a very, it’s a questionnaire, and you’re sitting there going, you know, what do they want the answer to be what what would I like to be? What do I think the correct answer is to get me this job. So we call that a self report assessment. And the you know, that they have their limitations, let’s put it that way. And Arctic shores, Robert and safe are passionate about improving the candidate experience and, and enabling this potential to be uncovered. And so what we’ve created is an online assessment that has got a number of tasks that are completed by the candidate. But the unique thing about these is there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s about enabling the candidate to demonstrate their natural strengths and their potential and the way that they approach things or think about things. And then the way that the candidate approaches the assessment. We then map that against the particular strengths that we know we’re likely to determine potential success in that role. We’re on a mission at Arctic shores to scrap the CV. And they are a terrible predictor of likely high performance in a role, they are steeped in bias. And so we are all about providing individuals that opportunity to kind of demonstrate their natural strengths and their potential and the companies to see it. And the other thing that we are really passionate about is what that experience is like for that candidate. So you know, we’ve all applied for those jobs and had the horrendous application form the horrible interview, and that traditional psychometric assessment, and not only is the assessment itself much more engaging, and fun to complete. But once a candidate’s taking the assessment, they immediately get sent a report not telling them whether they’ve been successful or not, but just providing them with a few insights into their natural strengths that might help them on their career path, even if they’re not successful in the particular job they’ve been applying for. In this case, it helps them to give a little bit of an insight based on neuroscience and psychometrics into what their natural strengths might be, and, and the feedback we get from our candidates is, they love it.
Adil Saleh: Interesting, really interesting. So talking about nurturing the potential of the candidates, and which there, it is not so easy for them to even come up with and they they don’t have, you know, you can say visibility into who they are, and what is the biggest potential that they carry. So, working with customers like BBC and PwC, and all these big giants, what is could you explain, touch on, you know, your onboarding process? What is your thought process while engaging with, you know, businesses as big as this, they have diverse teams, they have diverse departments, hierarchy is pretty different. So how do you guys approach as you know, as somebody that is going to transform their their employee experience?
Estelle McCartney: Course? Well, I mean, that the first the first thing, and I think really the important thing, is, is actually an internal thing, the relationship between the sales team and the customer function, and we are really hot on that. So that that experience for any new customer feels really joined up and doesn’t feel like you know, they’re starting all over again. And I guess what we’re really focusing on in that transition period, is what is the specific problem that that customer is trying to address by by deciding to work with towards the Arctic shores? And and then it is, depending on which platform our customers using, there is a process and of really helping to guide that customer to identify what are the success criteria that are likely to be most pertinent for the roles that they are, you know, that they’re hiring for. And we’ve got kind of two pathways for that. One is in our platform, enough, drawing on everything that we’ve learned from the upwards of 3 million candidates that have taken the Arctic shores assessment. And we’re able to guide those companies to select to self select the success criteria that’s most likely to determine success in that particular role. But we have also got the most incredible team of amazing talented business psychologists, who are, you know, very experts in guiding our customers, understanding what success might look like, like in that company, and drawing on their experience, and to really working together to establish that success criteria. And the really lovely thing about that from I guess, a customer success perspective, is that it really kind of depends the relationship and the, and our understanding of that company, right at the very start of the relationship. And then it’s about understanding, you know, their broader recruitment process, not just not just being centered on our products, but thinking about their whole holistic recruitment process. And I guess that would be a piece of advice I would give to, you know, to any company or any customer success team, is you are likely to be bought one piece of their overall jigsaw, their overall business profile, their overall pain points. And so it’s about not just thinking about your product, but about thinking about the customer and their business and their business strategy and their pain points and their pressures. And trying then to onboard them in a way that fits really nicely and helps to address those pain points. And so think less about, don’t just think about, well, what features do I need to enable them on how to what do I need to tell them about what should I be asking? How should I be listening and, you know, in, in my experience, that’s where you get the magic happens in onboarding or in onboarding? And and of course, we all know that that is critical to a great start. And then I think you want to make sure that you’re you are you. Onboarding is isn’t a moment, it’s a it’s a process. But I think that what you want to be thinking about by by the end of that process, is having that that very clear picture of what are the key milestones for my customer, what you know what else is happening in their business? And you know, when do we need to be demonstrating that value? What’s the best way for me to articulate that value back to that customer and do it in a way that’s going to help with their internal stakeholders with the things that they need to people reporting on and showing so it’s really about putting, putting yourself in the in the place of the customer? My background I spent many years working, not in saas As businesses, but in consultancy businesses, and the kind of the measure for success in those businesses is really clearly about becoming a trusted adviser to your client. And while that, you know, we might think that that’s, you know that that feels like a quite a heavy touch and, and a heavy way for you, we might be talking about low touch customers, and you know that we don’t need to guide them so much need to help themselves. And I think that’s right, of course, at one level, but you still want to try and become a trusted adviser to your customer, even if it’s only about a very small thing, it’s that really sharp and the onboarding moment is the most is a really critical moment to do that. But it’s focused on driving value from the product and addressing those pertinent business needs and problems it solves.
Adil Saleh: Absolutely, absolutely. And crossing bridges, bridges for your customers walking in their shoes, and replacing them, you know, how you would feel as somebody taking this service product. So you recently mentioned in the off record, that you’re trying to build a SaaS model, a self serve model, how big of a challenge that was.
Estelle McCartney: And it’s, it’s a brilliant challenge. I mean, so Arctic shores, and it’s about eight years old now. And we have been fortunate to work with some incredible, you know, brands like PWC, KPMG, Accenture, Coca Cola, Siemens, Airbus BBC, I could go on. And what we’ve seen over the kind of the earlier years of Arctic Shores is the impact that our assessment has, in terms of a better candidate experience driving, taking unconscious bias out of the recruitment process, which then has a fantastic impact on more diverse, greater diversity, whether that’s thinking about gender, with that thinking about ethnicity, or social mobility, which is an area that in the UK, we’re seeing companies really focusing on more, and we have been able to see that impact and what we then wanted to do as a business. And because we’re so passionate about, you know, a world of work where potential matters just as much as skills and experience, we wanted to try to create a platform that that would enable us to work with companies who might not be quite so big as a PWC, or a BBC. And that is where our newer platform UNA, is, is coming in, and that is in our early adopter stage. But we’ve got some incredible companies already using it and getting some great results. And the way that that’s different is that what we’ve done is we’ve taken the learnings that we’ve had from the 3 million plus candidates, that have taken the assessment, and the work that our business psychologists have done with our customers. And we’ve built some of that guided journey into selecting the success criteria into our UNA platform. And, you know, which, you know, which provides opportunities for a broader range of companies who also care about, you know, removing bias, who’ve also got, you know, time pressures and resource pressures on screening who also recognize how useless the CV is, as a way to identify talent. And the other thing we’re seeing, which I think is really interesting, is, you know, I think everyone’s talking more and more about the skills crisis. And you can I think the World Economic Forum have predicted that by 2030. So not that long, that way, about 90 million jobs will have been lost through to because of, you know, automation, AI, but much more excitingly, think about the same a number of jobs, new jobs will have been created, because of new technology, or because of you know, focus on things like addressing, you know, the green issues, etc. But what that means is that you have got all of these companies, and who need to hire people in roles that just haven’t existed. So how can they hire based on experience when nobody’s got that experience? And that in part is where you know, where we’re working is, is those opportunities and those roles where there’s just no, there’s nobody’s got the experience and you’ve got to look to potential transferable skills, and who’s got the, you know, the cognitive ability, the learning ability to learn new skills, able to do that role and that is absolutely where our assessment comes in. And, and that’s really where our customer success managers are having great success and then being able to expand the areas and the roles that our customers might be working with us.
Taylor Kenerson: Amazing, I’m really glad also so that you, you kind of bridge the gap between I mean, the core of Arctic shores, which is, you know, you’re kind of taking this people, this feature of, you know, being really intimate with someone and having to run that process in order to select the type of people that you want to be a part of your team while integrating it with technology and finding that balance. So can you kind of just like dive into, because where I feel like we’re getting into, definitely on the corporate side of the world and business where so many companies are focused on the people, but they’re unsure how to correctly balance or how to balance the people and the tech and how to integrate those and join them and drive decisions. So can you dive a little bit into that? And how Arctic shores does that? And is thinking of that?
Estelle McCartney: Yeah, well, I think there’s two things I would say here. The first is that, and I think I mentioned that our candidates, every candidate who takes the assessment gets a report that that shares a little bit about their natural strengths. And I think that’s a brilliant example of where you can use technology to at scale, create a much more unique, personalized, person centric recruitment experience. So that’s, that’s, I think, one really nice example of how technology and human needs can come together. And actually, technology, technology can improve that. And then I think the second thing is, one of the things that I hear from our customers is that when they work with us there, because before they were working with ours, they might have been like screening CVS, and looking at CVS and sifting out candidates based on their experience. So that is clearly a very time consuming effort. What we are working with our customers is to able to help them sift in candidates with to progress the next stage, I’ve got the right sort of potential, the right natural strengths. And because, you know, what happens is the candidate takes the assessment, and then the recruiter or the company gets, you know, gets a score or a rating. It’s a much more effective and time effective activity for those recruitment teams. And what that enables them to do is to take that resource they were spending, you know, sifting through those CDs, and put that into, in thinking about the interview thinking about a much better interview experience, and freeing up that resource for those real value add human elements. So I think that’s just a couple of examples. So what were that
Adil Saleh: this one very thing. This one wording definitely separates you from a lot of talent acquisitions and recruiters that actually yeah, they their job is to make sure they enable the candidates to be a best fit for for, you know, different placements in different companies for any war. But again, they’re not working so much hands on a lot of them that I hands on with with candidates to be able to qualify them on a potential level like to uplift their potential to basically nurture the best of them. That’s cool. So let’s talk more about what is how big is your team, I know that you’ve been there for about eight years. And you are a team of 100 people all together, Around 100 people. So how big is your team leading as a customer success, customer Chief Customer Officer, so you must be taking care of all the support operations, sales, success operations yourself?
Estelle McCartney: Yes, just to quit actually, tomorrow is my two year anniversary Arctic shores, I’ll be an artist Explorer for two years tomorrow. So the company is about eight years. But I’m I just came on board two years ago. And the customer six the customer team, and we’ve got three areas that sit under that team. And the first is our professional services team who I mentioned our amazing team of business psychologists. And we then have a team of customer success managers who are obviously responsible day to day for ensuring that our customers are getting the maximum value out of the product. And they are also responsible for renewals and expansion to their commercial, a commercial and revenue team. And then the third team is our amazing community and support team who are really focused on that experience. And making sure that as the candidate goes through the the assessment that they’re supported, that we’re answering any questions and they’re obviously managing any You know, any technical support tickets that come through? So those are the three teams within our customer success function. And I guess as a as a very new function, really, I mean, we sort of described us as, as maybe a toddler. And now, you know, our focus really is in three areas. One is around that customers for life proposition and really thinking about how do we make our customers for life. And I’m really happy to see that this year, we’ve had a couple of customers who’ve moved from one role to the other and taken us with them, which is, I think, the absolute the litmus test of great a great product and great service. And we’re really focusing on metrics and data, and we’ve got a big job to do and really evolving and becoming more mature in how we approach that. And that’s really going to be an area of focus for the team next year. And then the third element, I think, so many important things for any customer, customer leader or aspiring customer leader is, you know, obviously, we’ve got the role that you expect in terms of managing the day to day making sure customers are, you know, having a good experience, and that customer journey is right, that they’re renewing that they’re growing. But I think the the second part of it that I think is so important from a strategic perspective, and and also, you know, from a business perspective, and anyone that’s got ambitions to get to the C suite, I think really needs to think about this is how do you make sure that you know that you are bringing that voice of the customer back into the business. So, you know, I think that we’re a hugely privileged position in our customer team, because we get to see the value and the the great benefits every day in the frontline. Now, you know, sometimes if you’re having a bad day, and something isn’t quite going to plan, you get the downsides of that. But we get the all of the hard work of our, our devs, our amazing product team, you know, our operations team, our mark the hard work of our sales and marketing team, everything that sits behind, we’re the ones that get to see it in the marketplace day to day. And therefore we’ve got, I think, a responsibility to share that with those teams. And, and, you know, not the product team, I think is the obvious place. But I think it doesn’t just stop at the product team. So you know, Carly, our, my Peer, on the SLT who’s our chief revenue officer is, you know, thinking about what should what’s our ICP where, you know, where do we go when I think we’ve got big responsibility in the customer team to be saying, well, this is the use case that we see working brilliantly, this is what we find challenging. That, you know, and, and so one of the things that that I love about being a chief customer officer is, you know, you can’t excuse to speak to everybody in the business.
Adil Saleh: Yea8h, that’s, that’s about it. You know, people look up to you, and you are taking the scenes like high level decisions every day. And you got to make sure the sustainability of systems and also at the same time, the revenue. So talking on your entire customer success team, just about the team. What kind of technologies have you incorporated, you mentioned about data analytics, you’re about analytics. And you also mentioned that you are going to incorporate the SAS model, I would say more self served model or maybe tektites model. So how does that play out? Right now, is that is that incorporated or not as yet? So what is the process around it?
Estelle McCartney: Yes. So in terms of what we are using at the moment, so, HubSpot is a CRM that we are using at the moment, and our big kind of project, and is as a business we have, we use snowflake. And one of the things that we need to be thinking about and doing is taking that data from snowflake and bringing it into not just at the moment, it’s very much used by our team of data scientists and psychometricians who are thinking about the data from the perspective of our product. But so far, I’m co founder and chief technology officer and I have just been talking about how we need to to start to evolve that to fit that into the customer team. And but it’s you know, it is HubSpot. That is our focus both for thinking about our you know, our day to day customer engagement. RTK managemen, our NPS survey is at the moment, that’s all so it’s the biggest thing piece for any CCO or any any CSM, for me is adoption. And yeah, absolutely,
Adil Saleh: it’s it, you know, the most critical journeys is the adoption, you know, the better customer adopts and lands into the platform, the better you will retain and expand and all of that. So adoption is what have you done in terms of technology, like how you translate it up from the product, or maybe platform uses data so people can navigate like customer facing people can navigate the shoes it potential, the health of the of the customer. So, apart from HubSpot, HubSpot is mainly a CRM, are you using any kind of, you know, of course, you might be using Mixpanel, or amplitude or segment for product usage records, all the activities and everything? How does that data translate into the customer success team that actually operates and they are the front runners?
Estelle McCartney: Yeah. So I mentioned too, that we are a toddler. And we are in the are on the journey, making sure that at the moment that data and sits within it sits as raw data for us, which obviously is is an imperfect solution for our CSMs and ready for the whole business. But that, for me is a fundamental priority.
Adil Saleh: Maybe I would just guess, still, I would just guess that prior to this, you were working, you’ve been working with big giants like PWC, and dBc. And all these counting firms, and you had like sort of high touch model and you were assigned, like account managers that working really, really hands on with customers. But now you’re tapping into the small to mid market more into and building a search of model, you would need choose like dedicated customer success to that brings data and translate and push into the action driven data for customer success team, you would also think about having some sort of automation on our knowledge base, like on trainings like tools like customer data, a lot of tools that are there, I’m sure you’re already planning on that.
Estelle McCartney: Yeah. And I do, I’m going to bring you into my budget meeting with my SEO and you can make the case for me, okay.
Adil Saleh: Because the moment you mentioned that you’re trying to tap into and you’re that is why you’re building a self serve or SAS model. You’re trying to help local, like small businesses with market size businesses, as well. So that is why, you know, you need less people to serve more accounts, more customers for that ad automation.
Estelle McCartney: Absolutely. We are on a scale up journey. And and I should say we are adding to our portfolio of customers rather than moving away from my rates. And
Adil Saleh: I loved it. Absolutely loved it. So just you’ve been here for about two years now. I’m sure you’re sitting at a at a C suite. Executive seat. So what is that your goal? Like in terms of revenue in terms of customer acquisition in the next few years?
Estelle McCartney: Yes, so we are on a very high, very fast growing company, I’m not sure how much of this commercial information I can share with you on this,
Adil Saleh: as long as you think you can share, you can share, we can always
Estelle McCartney: take it out, so don’t worry. I’m gonna be canny and cautious and say that, you know, we the last two years we’ve grown by by around 16%. We are in a bar, which is obviously a key metric for us. Yeah, it’s sitting at one one 6%. Today, which is a great results, especially when we’re seeing that maybe without, you know, some of the, the automations and the things that that we are as a toddler were just looking to invest in. But actually I think that speaks to something really important and, and something sort of course Data Automation, and all of that super important. But I actually feel that there’s been a benefit to us in starting our customer function journey without too many processes and tools, because culture, focusing on customer relationships, understanding our customers, spending that time and I actually think is a brilliant place to start and of course to scale up Have, we then need those processes some of those tools, but I think that there is a risk, and I see it, see a bit of it in customer success, people are almost hiding behind automation, process, data. Yes, it is important. But the clue is in the title: customer, you’ve got to know your customers, you got to talk to you know, and, and, you know, of course, I think that that, that perspective is going to evolve as we grow out the types of companies that we’re working with, and, you know, I totally get that. But I, I always say, particularly if you are starting, you know, in a new company, or in a new sector, starting a new role, do not hide behind automation and processes and data, look, that’s one important part. But you know, be in your customer orbit be in your customer space, you don’t just go to Customer Success events, go to the sector events of the of the sectors that your customer bases in, read their trade press, you know, get the Google alerts for customers, like live and breathe their sector, and then you’ll know what their problems are. And you will have much more credibility with your customer base. So that’s my little bit of advice on that wants to
Adil Saleh: hear it loved it. Absolutely, that knowing knowing customer, is the number one rule of serving the customer better. So only on your concern about hiding behind technology is like is something that absolutely resonates with us as well, because we are also a tech company, and we try to not only incorporate technology, but also need to understand what technology means what what that data means for that customer. So to be able to, you know, understand that data point, to be able to serve that.
Estelle McCartney: And I think you learn, it helps you to interpret the data much, much more effectively. And if you’ve got those little nuggets, and you get those aha moments from, from a customer conversation. And, and, and the other thing I mean, you know, is is around the kind of picking up the phone, or, you know, the connection like I you know, I smoked meat with you all but you know, I sometimes I’m speaking to colleagues, and I’m saying yeah, I’m struggling with this and had this email exchange, I’ve been slacking with my customer. And I said, Well, have you had a conversation? Have a conversation. Like, bring it back, bring it back. Bring it back. Step away from the slack, step away from the message,
Taylor Kenerson: no email. Have a chat,
Adil Saleh: have a chat, loved it, loved it, we love we will definitely love to connect one more time in a few months. It was such an amazing conversation. And beside everything else, the fact that I love so much that a consultancy. Scope of service is trying and transitioning into a product which is which is so big, and serving to a small scale to mid market like smaller businesses, not just like recruitment firms and tech acquisition teams serving, working closely with Dell and these big customers. So I love that. Thank you very much, Sam for taking the time today. And it was an incredible conversation. And it was so powerful for our team, and also our audience to learn about how this all works when it comes to people and bringing and working on the potential to be their best. So great. I wish you good luck.
Estelle McCartney: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Taylor Kenerson: Thank you so much Estelle!