Episode No:54

Uncovering the Customer Success Landscape from Heap to Panther

Veronica Dasovich

VP of Customer Success, Panther

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Ep#54: Uncovering the Customer Success
Landscape from Heap to Panther ft. Veronica Dasovich (VP of Customer Success, Panther)
Ep#54: Uncovering the Customer Success Landscape from Heap to Panther ft. Veronica Dasovich (VP of Customer Success, Panther)
  • Ep#54: Uncovering the Customer Success Landscape from Heap to Panther ft. Veronica Dasovich (VP of Customer Success, Panther)

Episode Summary

Meet Veronica Dasovich, VP of Customer Success at Panther. From account management and CS at Heap to leading the Global Customer Organization at Panther, Veronica talks about her journey to Customer Success. She shares valuable insights on how to build a successful CS organization, highlighting the importance of delivering lifetime value to customers. She also discusses the challenges she encountered during her journey, giving listeners a well-rounded view of the CS landscape.
Key Takeaways Time
Veronica’s Journey at Heap 1:37
Building a Digital Customer Experience: Challenges Faced 8:20
Getting Started at Panther 9:45
CS at Panther: Adapting to the Technical Nature of Customers 12:38
Factors of a Successful Onboarding Experience 15:50
Benefits of Focusing on a Core Customer Segment 25:35

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Veronica Dasovich 0:01 We had to continuously look at and map out our customer journey, do customer segmentation and make sure that it was really aligned to the sales leadership and how we’re building out our sales motion. Taylor Kenerson 0:15 Welcome to the Hyperengage podcast. We are so happy to have you along our journey. Here. We uncover bits of knowledge from some of the greatest minds in tech, we unearth the hows, whys and whats that drive the tech of today. Welcome to the movement. Adil Saleh 0:30 Hey, greetings, everybody. This is Adil from Hyperengage podcast I have my co host Taylor Kenerson and really special guest, Veronica. She is currently the VP of Customer Success at Panther. It’s more of a data analytics platform prior to that she’s been a part of, you know, a key platform from San Francisco as well. And she ended up a role of VP of Customer Success for good five and a half years. And she joined us as an account manager to learn. Definitely learn more stories around that journey of five long years. And, you know, there she is. Thank you very much, Veronica, for taking the time. Veronica Dasovich 1:11 Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s really great to meet both of you, Adil and Taylor, and looking forward to chatting this morning. Taylor Kenerson 1:18 Lovely. Thanks, you, you have to dive into this. Veronica, you have to talk to us a little bit about your journey at Heap and managing that $3 million in accounts and enterprise corporate accounts as an account manager and how your journey then turned into you being the VP of CS. Veronica Dasovich 1:37 Yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s honestly one of the moments in my career that I feel like in 15, 20 years, I’ll look back on as just a pivotal moment for me.I honestly was so excited about joining the Heap team because I was a customer before joining. And that’s always kind of a unique place to be in customer success as a customer first and then joining the customer org. Woohoo. But I you know, I think I think just the timing of when I joined the company, and the sales organization that we had built was so focused on new customer acquisition and not taking care of our customers. So, you know, I kind of behoove the opportunity to quickly make the case for billing at a rapid scale account management organization that was really doing, you know, every hat within cs onboarding, through renewal, so we call the team account managers, but really, we were, you know, customer success managers, onboarding managers, implementation managers support everything in between. Over the years, as we grew the company, and we saw a lot of acceleration in the market and the demand for analytics, I also took that opportunity to move further up in management, I personally love to develop people and really thrive in that kind of an environment where I’m balancing, working with customers helping my team doing a lot of operations and revenue operations, sales work as well. So naturally, the VP CS role really fit to my my strengths. And I’m really grateful for the opportunity ahead at Heap. There’s no shortage of learnings that happened along the way. But I think ultimately, you know, me just aligning to what I was most interested in, really helped me accelerate that path. And then again, moving quickly, really did help as well as we had to hire a lot of people as we’re onboarding a lot of customers. And, you know, eventually seeing that as my path for my career. So I’m really excited that you know, CS has opened a lot of doors for me and, you know, being being a customer first person, I think, is really ultimately what helped me find my stride and working in customer success. Adil Saleh 4:00 Very interesting, you know, since having to live and breathe with technologies like Salesforce, that actually they started up this customer success back in two years, and how they evolved and you know, yes, that the bars for real the technology that came out of San Francisco and heap is one of them. So you’re staying, you know, you ended up as a VP role for about one and a half years you stood there. You also took care of some of the SMB motion as well like the SMB segment as well. So what kind of the decisions, the high level decisions that you incorporated while just taking on the role as a VP back in the years? Veronica Dasovich 4:40 You know, I think ultimately what was interesting also about Heap is when I joined was about 7 million in revenue 100 customers and by the time I left we had 10x growth so you know it 1000s of customers, hundreds of employees upwards of 450 And I was personally managing the customer success management organization, and customer success operations. So that organization grew from just me to 30 people in that time. And I mean, definitely some of the challenges with the business is that we did help customers from startups all the way to extremely large enterprise. So as a result of that, like we had to continuously look at and map out our customer journey, do customer segmentation, and make sure that it was really aligned to the sales leadership and how we were building out our sales motion. So, you know, I think like maybe so, you know, good learnings along the way is, you know, segmentation obviously, is always really important. But in that kind of a model, you have to think about customers that come through a free trial and customers that, you know, might start on a smaller plan, but could grow into a multimillion dollar customer, and those kinds of customers need to have a higher level of service. And then on the flip side, you know, there’s a lot of noisy customers that in the SMB space, and so, you know, we kind of over service, that customer segment, without really seeing the benefits of doing so, there’s just so much market volatility that happened COVID happened while I was at Heap. So, you know, there’s a lot of companies going out of business, and then the day, you know, if the product is just not adding enough value, there’s only so much that CS can do in that state. And so, you know, to this day, there is still a CS organization supporting SMB, but it’s much more focused on Tech touch, and just in time, and really helping, you know, customers in that segment, get to value as much as we can, but focusing more on growing the enterprise and strategic segments of the business. Adil Saleh 6:53 Got it? Got it. So of course, you gotta, you gotta do more towards as a success team, to increase the lifetime value of the customer, we’re kind. And who knows, that sometimes comes from a startup that sometimes comes from our customers hitting SMB. So how you guys are ensuring and prioritizing these, I would say, data points, if you had set up systems, like more than a digital motion, or kind of standardization, but you have to unlock growth from the existing install base beat smaller, you know, startup motion? Veronica Dasovich 7:30 Yeah, it’s a good question. Um, so I think I think ultimately, like Salesforce is still like the database of the customer. And, you know, when I joined, we didn’t have renewal opportunities, or expansion opportunities, we didn’t really have a lot of information about our customer in Salesforce. And so you know, similarly to that, that journey, it’s similar to the the company I just joined Panther, was similar size in stage two, when I joined heap as Series B, under 50 employees, you know, roughly 100 customers, and it’s a very similar lens that I’m seeing where typically, you know, rev Ops is kind of starting the, the Salesforce kind of new business motion, and looking at, you know, how we’re driving pipeline and our marketing activity, but no one’s really thinking about the customer database, and how we’re building a customer experience that’s like, digitally focused, and the tooling. And to be honest, it’s still like, not great for building a good customer experience that’s automated and using the technology and the tech stack that’s out there. So I mean, we’ve gotten creative, and really, I think just trying to test out a lot of different tech stacks to really find what works for us. So you know, for example, at Heap, we eventually started to use in app guides through our partner app Queues, we did a lot of AB testing with guys just to make sure that we weren’t like creating a bad customer experience for the customer. And that, you know, really was more of like a product and customer success relationship. It wasn’t really a Rev ops, and CS relationship. And there’s a lot of different tools that I could talk about. But that’s, you know, just one example, where we kind of have to approach everything a little bit differently in CS and have those like cross functional tech stacks worked out with your with your cross functional peers. Taylor Kenerson 9:31 That’s really important too. And where you’re at now with Panther, there’s almost so similar to your journey with Heap. So can you talk about the lessons you learned from heap and how you’re being now proactive in combating some of those challenges with Panther? Veronica Dasovich 9:45 Yeah, yeah, no, for sure. I would say the first is honestly I touched on this a little bit, but I think since I’m kind of an operator at heart, I really focused most of my first 30, 60 days here on understanding the state of the tech stack, you know, everything from our customer database to what we’re doing within the product for the customer, how we’re tracking data on our customer for analytics. Interestingly, at Heap, you know, we used to keep, because it’s an analytics platform. So, you know, thankfully, Panthers already using an analytics to when I got here, but, you know, there’s a lot of security measures in place that made it hard for CS teams to use the analytics data that we even we’re tracking. So trying to figure out, you know, what’s our path to getting customer data access to our teams, and then kind of building out like cross functionally, a roadmap and a, you know, a grounding around what cs ops really means and what it is, rather than trying to do that, you know, two years into the job. And I think that’s what happened at Heap where, you know, I knew is important, but I didn’t push for it as early on. Whereas here, I can see the writing on the wall already, like, we need to see us ops now. Even if we’re still, you know, focus on new business, that doesn’t matter, we need to build like really start building this experience. Now, it’s a lot harder to kind of come back from that later in the journey. So yeah, I think that’s, that’s really a big lesson learned, Salesforce is important to keep clean, it’s very messy platform if you don’t fix it from the beginning. So that’s also a big area of focus for me in my first 30 days. Adil Saleh 11:38 Very interesting. So talking about Panther, like you’re working with security data, that becomes critical, you got to make sure that all those DevOps team has pretty much on top of the integration and onboarding, I can assume that you would have a lot of solution engineers, maybe a few of them starting to, you know, make sure they integrate, implement all of those systems with that those critical data points. So how you are ensuring a successful onboarding experience of Panther I know at the same time, and in the startup series, it seems to be you got to make sure that you’re taking care of the bandwidth, you’re not, you know, making these leadership or investors see, to be investing a lot in the tech stack, you got to cut off and make sure you optimize your bandwidth, the same time as cost. So keeping that into notice how you guys are making sure the onboarding experience becomes as seamless as possible at Panther? Veronica Dasovich 12:38 Yeah, it’s a great question. So one of the one of the draws I had for joining Panther, in also, I saw this a bit at Heap, as well, where the customer is usually more technical and at Panther much more technical, or our end customer is a security analyst for the most part, or security engineer. And our product as a result of that is also it’s an enterprise notion. So you know, our ACV is fairly high. And we don’t really work with commercial SMB customers. But what drew me to the CS team that’s in place, when I joined is that we have a Solutions Engineering team that really is is not only just focused on supporting customers pre sale, but also post sale. And it creates a great customer experience for the customer, where you’re introduced to the technical success contact from the beginning of your POC, and they stay with you through your engagement as a customer with Panther. And I think it really does drive trust in the relationship, there’s only so much time you can also spend with people. And our customer is, you know, I’d say like very technical and does not want to, you know, as much as we’d like them to or, you know, before COVID wants to talk a lot. And so it’s important that like we build those relationships in the beginning and don’t create a lot of handovers that can be a bit messy from a technical perspective as well. You know, just trying to document different detections that we help customers set up and any onboarding sources that we pull into the platform. But I think it also has really helped us focus on actually building a product experience that doesn’t require as much documentation. So we also have an LKR this quarter on the product side that we’re helping support from the CS side to improve our onboarding experience and making that extremely seamless and smooth. And then RFCs are really there just to support the customer through that experience and there’s not as much you know, I guess like handful waiting to be had It should be more of an intuitive experience. So you know, it doesn’t mean CS is not important. But cs will just have a different role in that kind of a sales motion. Adil Saleh 15:10 Got it, Got it. So mean, when serving enterprise businesses small to mid scale and Rose, they have like, of course talking about data, they have all diverse kind of use cases and, you know, infrastructures, they are pretty much different than the customers that you’re going to have like, exceptional experiences. So how you guys combat during the onboarding stage? How big is the onboarding team? You know, what are the key standardized operations? Have you said to be able to combat all these unique exceptional experiences? Veronica Dasovich 15:45 Yeah, yeah, it’s a good question. So, you know, I would say, also is my day 75 at this point, and, you know, not making too many drastic changes to the existing way that we’re supporting customers. And also, it’s not broken. So we’re not focusing on fixing it. But I, you know, in addition to the SCE, our customers do have a dedicated CSM. And they’re introduced in the onboarding, and they really help customers from like a value success plan and ongoing relationship standpoint. They’re not technical, like our SES. So our CSM is are seen more as like a relationship, point of contact is the AE no longer helps support the customer on like that more high touch proactive basis after the initial sale. So I think, you know, I think with the touch points, we have, like, it is important that we’re documenting what success looks like what kinds of data sources that that the customer like wants to bring into Panther so that in the future, we can help, you know, ingest those sources. But at the end of the day, like security teams and security products are fairly complex, and you don’t really buy a security product like Panther, which is a sim, until you like have a business need. And so that does help us a lot in our onboarding where there’s, you know, there’s not a lot of question around, like, whether or not you know, they should connect data into the platform like they have, they’ve identified that in the POC process. And so that’s really why I think, you know, the POC in enterprise, like, it’s really important to nail that experience upfront. So that are put on quote, onboarding feels a lot more natural, and, you know, for the customer to get value. Adil Saleh 17:38 And best part is that on their own dip, you know, POC, that on the customer side, they have, they are also technical and you have solution. And so they’re talking their own language, so they get the implementation and and best part is it’s a must to have to not not nice to have to so people that decide buy into this si em software, they know that they need it. And there’s a lot of product stickiness, to to post onboarding. So now Grindr, LTV, that is something that we talk too much. We spoke to HubSpot team team at Gong, all these leadership. They are working really closely at a scale to build systems operations, maybe several teams around it that work on customers on the revenue coverage side. So how are you guys are planning on? I’m sure it’s not something that you know, you have to mail it at this stage. But what are the plans that you guys are cooking? Veronica Dasovich 18:34 I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear the first part of your question. Adil Saleh 18:36 LTV part like growing the lifetime value of these customers post onboarding, there’s a product stickiness, of course, it’s more of a usage based model that have more licenses, the more users or as I assume, looking at the product. So how your customer success core customer success team is working around the around growing, growing the lifetime value of the customer unlocking growth and making sure you know, they expand? Veronica Dasovich 19:04 Yeah, that’s a great question. So also, what’s interesting about the enterprise motion that we’ve built at Panther, is that usually also with security teams, as you can imagine, there’s, you know, many different people that own different technology and parts of the customer data experience that they would want to get alerted on and create, you know, their threat detection and response strategy around and that’s really like where Panthers squarely focused. So we do support customers, like HubSpot, you know, that are, you know, at scale, very large amounts of data, like terabytes a day. And it’s important for us to see data as a way to help us improve the customer experience in a proactive manner. I touched on this a little bit before But I’ll just go into a little bit more detail when I joined, our analytics group did not provide access to customer success on how customers were using the product. And, you know, ultimately, it’s fairly common in the industry for analytics data on customers to be available just for their own data set and their own customer base as a way to again, just support their use of the product to help them get more value. So that was actually a hurdle I had not anticipated having to go through. So me and our head of securities, we’ve had a lot of talks and conversations. And so we’re in a good place now. So as you know, our CSMs, like use that data as a way to understand where consumption levels maybe are trending, not positively. So maybe we’re under their allotted consumption that they purchased. And that’s an opportunity for the CSM, to create a, you know, a proactive stance with their customer. Maybe there’s some data sources they talked about in the beginning of the the onboarding, you know, that we can kind of pick back up that conversation and priority. But it also is, is helping us have those kinds of conversations with our product organization, for customers that may not want to send more ingested ingestion into the platform, because just of the costs of having to send more data into Panther. And so we’re actually creating some product features that will help a lot with this. This quarter. So we have some filtering features that will help you, you know, build a more scalable data ingestion pipeline into Panther. And we do think that that will actually drive expansion revenue, even more so than it has today. Because then customers will, you know, have a healthy amount of data that they’re sending in and, you know, exploding their costs, which happens very often and consumption base, right? Adil Saleh 21:59 Yes, yes, absolutely. Thank you very much for clarifying that all one more time. I know you. In the beginning, you touched on this in this too. It happens in in a data platforms, it happens a lot, it’s something very, very normal, you got to make sure that you are facilitating your customers to use efficient data and the data that they need. And that’s what they’re paying for. They’re getting charged, they have certain thresholds that they need to meet. And then everyone knows they need to pay more if they hit that threshold. Same goes where, you know, a lot of services or services, like AWS that people use in their server side developers team, that happens there, too. Now, as a VP, you go to the board meetings. So what kind of questions they you know, not normally they, a lot of these investors are looking at someone with your background, but he did that, as can manager, you retained that amount of, you know, net renewal revenue. So what kind of expectations they have from you. You just joined? So I’m sure the the you gotta have these conversations. We’ve been to the board meetings. Veronica Dasovich 23:05 Yeah, yeah. We actually had our board meeting last week. Yeah, I mean, honestly, I think I think customer success goes through a lot, a lot of scrutiny, especially in early stage startups. You know, Customer Success is a revenue driver, and we contribute more than a third of our new ARR through our customer success organization. And like reiterating those kinds of points is very important with the board just to kind of ground on like, what’s what reality looks like, before I joined, we didn’t talk about expansion versus new business. So this is the first title like we kind of separated out that conversation. And yeah, I mean, I think ultimately, because we have an enterprise motion, we don’t have a services SKU and we don’t charge for services at this point. And I think that that’s an exploratory conversation that, you know, anticipated what happened with the board, but also an area that like, I think CS is kind of getting a lot of pressure on because there is all this pressure around costs. And cs can be seen as costs. But it’s, you know, important. We have a great customer experience, especially with security teams. Our customers need to trust us and we are available 24/7 help support them, like more than, you know, a normal SaaS product. Like, you know, it’s an and I think like healthy, healthy debate around, you know, charging for professional services. I think also just the outlook around the net retention view for the year was really helpful, and a grounding conversation to have with the board on just, here’s our outlook around gross revenue retention, net revenue retention, like here’s the perceived, you know, gaps in our pricing and product strategy that will achieve our our expansion and retention goals. And, you know, digging into key accounts was also an area that I focused on. And I think I think that really helps just to give the board like kind of a reality check of like, Hey, here’s the accounts, we were at risk a year, and here’s our practice plans to, you know, help support those customers. Adil Saleh 25:17 Yeah, great. Thank you very much, again, for answering this. And one last question before I set you free. That’s also very interesting for our audience, too. So you’ve done it at Heap at the same level, same stage, different technology, different segments that you’re serving? What, who amongst those was easier? And why? Veronica Dasovich 25:35 A great question, I honestly think that it’s easier to focus on one customer segment, and really like nail that experience before doing too many other experiences. So I honestly looking back at my time at heap like I I’m really happy I had that experience. But it was really hard to have a consistent experience across all those different types of customers, many different verticals. And really what that did, you know, multiple times in my time there is just made the customer product roadmap changed frequently. And that did cause you know, some, I think, some churn, we could have probably prevented if we had more focus on who our core customer was, and, you know, the tech stack that that customer segment was using. So that’s something I’ve been taking with me and my experience here at Panther. Because you know, in the long run, right, three, four renewals down the road, what’s going to keep them here, if we’re building for a different customer, they’re not gonna stay, there’s many companies that are comfortable moving software products, even after that long of an investment. So I think that, honestly, was probably a lot harder from that perspective. And it just changes the profile of the people, you need the collateral that you have to build. So there’s a lot of other factors involved as well. Adil Saleh 27:06 So you said Panther, is relatively easy, it’s gonna be easy, or it was easier back in the heap. Veronica Dasovich 27:15 And it is proceeding to be a little easier. Then he because of the focus on, you know, just one segment, one segment of customer. And, you know, frankly, again, a more tactical product customers have a little bit more of an investment in in getting in adopter working as partners. Adil Saleh 27:35 Yes. Yes, exactly. But on the flip side, you don’t have you don’t get to have a lot of sales models, just like you had back at heap or SMB segment. And then you’re scaling. You have like standardize operations, your policies and take care of some good, big enough book of business so that you don’t get scared of the kind of numbers that you achieved there. How do you see that? Veronica Dasovich 27:57 Yeah, yeah, no, definitely. I mean, it is a longer sales cycle. We just built a free trial product actually the quarter before I joined Panther. Oh, you know, and so there’s just some new new avenues to helping customers through our customer experience, which, which I’m sure will have their own set of challenges. But you know, we’re kind of building more for that enterprise motion. And so services, again, is an area that will we will be exploring and looking at a lot of our competitors have a service services model. Services. Okay. Yeah. Well, that’s not something we have now. But you know, I think like the way of the future, again, I’ll say this, again, is the product is working well, you don’t need to pay for services so much. And we’re going to try to build a good customer experience that our customers can use without having to pay for services. And that’s, I think, just honestly, the way of the future. But you know, there will still be enterprise customers that want to pay for services. So we’ll have to care for that. Adil Saleh 29:03 Absolutely, absolutely. So it was really, really interesting. This talk and your energy was infectious. And the way you posed these questions, I’d love to thank you very much for sharing the time from your schedule. And you can be a huge resource of knowledge for our audience once this episode is live. Veronica Dasovich 29:22 Thank you. I appreciate that. I yeah, I didn’t really enjoy the conversation. I felt like the questions were really on point and, you know, put me on the spot, which is great. It’s I mean, yeah. Taylor Kenerson 29:35 Thank you, Veronica, so much. Enjoy a beautiful day. All right. Thank you. Thank you. Adil Saleh 29:58 Thank you so very much for staying with us on the episode please share your feedback at adil@hyperengage.io We definitely need it. We will see you next time in another guest on the stage with some concrete tips on how to operate better as a Customer Success leader and how you can empower engagements with some building some meaningful relationships. We qualify people for the episode just to make sure we bring the value to the listeners. Do reach us out if you want to refer CS leader. Until next time, goodbye and have a good rest of your day.

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