Episode No:55

Scaling Customer Success for Growth at Arkatechture ft.

Judith Bernholc

Head of Customer Success, Arkatechture

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Ep#55: Scaling Customer Success for
Growth at Arkatechture ft. Judith Bernholc (Head of Customer Success, Arkatechture)
Ep#55: Scaling Customer Success for Growth at Arkatechture ft. Judith Bernholc (Head of Customer Success, Arkatechture)
  • Ep#55: Scaling Customer Success for Growth at Arkatechture ft. Judith Bernholc (Head of Customer Success, Arkatechture)

Episode Summary

We’re excited to introduce today on the show Judith Bernholc, Head of Customer Success at Arkatechture, where she talks about her unique journey to sales and customer success. She shares how her approach to CS has evolved over time and provides invaluable insights into the customer journey at Arkatechture. Judith also gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how her team operates and offers up some amazing tips on how to measure customer value among other key factors. Listen in to learn more about Judith’s approach toward CS in determining specific outcomes!
Key Takeaways Time
Judith’s Journey to Customer Success 1:57
How Judith Started at Arkatechture 7:39
The Customer Journey at Arkatechture 9:57
Measuring Engagement and User Adoption 16:58
Measuring Customer Value 19:23
Scaling the CS Team 22:43

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Judith Bernholc 0:02 If a customer’s achieving the ROI they expect it to, if they’re getting the value they want out of the platform, they naturally want more people to get on it, they naturally want to integrate more systems to it. 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 0:35 Hey, greetings, everybody. This is Adil from Hyperengage podcasts I have my co-host Taylor Kenerson. And a very special guest, Judith. She’s a Head of Customer Success at Arkatechture. Prior to that, she’s been leading a regional sales team as the sales manager at Tableau Software. They’ve gotten pretty big in the past seven years. And, you know, it’s a pleasure to have you. Thank you very much for taking the time. Judith Bernholc 1:00 Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. Adil Saleh 1:03 Love that. Okay. So, you know, as an individual, you know, you’ve been in the customer facing role for like more on the sales side, as it says transplanter for quite some time, it’s almost, I would say, 7, 8 years, in the last from, you know, as a marketing intern, a dose and then you move towards the Associate Program, and then, you know, you served a bit as a sales representative in the public sector, then you kind of switched towards the commercial territory, and then moving towards sales enablement, working with Tablaeu for about five years, almost five years. Could you tell us a little bit about your thought process throughout this journey? Right, from the internship? And how did you see yourself shaping as a sales individual? And then, you know, you know, how it led to the customer success in the last one and a half years? Judith Bernholc 1:57 Yeah, absolutely. So I think so I studied advertising in college. And I wanted to be Don Draper, just like sit in a room and come up with like, the, the slogan, then when I graduate, or when I was starting to graduate, I realized those jobs didn’t really exist. They probably did, but not for someone right out of college. And I was looking for something in technology as I was getting closer to graduating Appalachian State. You know, we were the world was changing a little bit more, we were using our iPhones, apps, things of that nature. And I think we’re still in that text, kind of save the world kind of mentality that now we’re like, have, you know, is it right, but I think that was really inspiring, and just showed me, you know, bringing internet to different places, like there’s just like, a lot of inspiration around that. So from there, I ended up going to a career fair, where I met the folks at Lenovo. And it was a really cool opportunity, because it was like a new graduate program. So there was a marketing aspect of it, there was a customer support aspect of it, and then there was a sales aspect for it. And I liked it, because it was a lot of training. To get you up into the point, I also was excited about the marketing portion of it as well. So when I first graduated, I was thinking I’m probably more advertising, probably more marketing. And this is an opportunity to kind of see that from a large hardware company, you know, doing leveraging technology across the globe. When I got into it, I realized that like when you’re the seller, and and you’re working directly with customers, you’re, it’s what makes the company function, everyone inside of the company, whether you’re customer facing or not, is there to serve the customers to either grow revenue or keep customers, that’s why you exist. So I found it really exciting to work within just directly with the people we were trying to impact. And I kind of lost whatever negative connotations I might have had about sales. At graduation, when I started, actually, especially I think working in the public sector, we’re selling computers to local government, as well as K to 12. So there was also like this little bit of a bigger mission around, we’re bringing technology into schools that kind of opened my eyes into like sales is not selling something that people don’t need. It’s solving a problem. And this problem was a really cool one to kind of get into and see how we could, you know, get Lenovo into schools and why they would choose Lenovo for their kids versus any other technology or hardware platform. So that was the evolution from there. Then I can talk about how I went to Tableau and all of that, but that’s how I was like, Okay, I think sales is where it’s at for now. And I really like working with customers because that’s where it lives. That’s where where the company thrives. Adil Saleh 4:56 Absolutely, absolutely killer really wanted to hear that about sales. But it’s more about problem solving less about, you know, just taking a product and handing it over and making a transaction. Judith Bernholc 5:07 Yeah, exactly. Taylor Kenerson 5:08 Yeah. Can you dive a little bit into that Judith, and how your background and sales really influenced and reshaped maybe how you approach your customers? Because you saw first the dollar sign? And then you kind of uncovered? Oh, like, there’s relationships here. And there’s value beyond just trying to sell something? Judith Bernholc 5:27 Yeah, absolutely. I think like, that always felt weird to be like, okay, like, my goal is to like, hit this quota, right. And I think what really brought me to realizing how you actually sell is to solve a problem is when I moved over to Tableau, because it is a analytical platform for data analytics and visualization. So you get on the phone with the customer. And data can be a part of any single problem, right? You’re leveraging data for all sorts of decisions. So you don’t jump in and just show how you can make a bar chart or a pie chart or whatever you’re jumping in and asking questions around. What are you trying to solve today really trying to understand where data could potentially help? And I think it was through having those good discovery questions that I found myself being more interested in solving the problem and seeing the results of solving that problem. And that’s where the best sales would happen, when you’re concerned about that. The rest kind of flows, if you’re on the phone, and you’re concerned about how can I get this product in their hands like by next week, you’re gonna have a smaller sale, and the customer is not really going to be able to solve that problem. And they probably won’t renew or what have you. So I think I also just get really interested, I learned about a lot of different industries. So it was exciting to have those deep conversations about what people are doing on a daily basis, and feel like I was helping when I was like, Oh, let’s see how we can use Tableau to help you visualize that, etc. So that’s kind of where I really worked on my discovery skills, just because Tableau is such a dynamic product, it fits within whatever business problem you’re looking to solve. And that’s where I found my energy having those conversations. Taylor Kenerson 7:10 And it goes back to the point where sales, it’s about listening and hearing what’s actually going on and less about, you know, talking and trying to pitch and sell and more about what you’re understanding your customers, their needs, their challenges, and then how you can serve that up with, you know, obviously, the, how dynamic Tableau is. So can you talk about a little bit about Arkatechture, what it is and what the CS around Arkatechture looks like? How big is your team and dive a little bit into that? Judith Bernholc 7:39 Yeah, absolutely. So architecture, how I found architecture is there, also a partner of Tableaus. So it’s a data consultancy group out of Portland, Maine, and I really just kind of bonded with people over there. And they launched a product called Arkalytics. That’s basically a full data platform for credit unions. And so from talking with the folks over there, I was excited about the opportunity to move from sales to customer success, and kind of see the vision of solving this problem all the way to fruition. Especially because I was a small medium business, there wasn’t really like existing relationships that I would carry on from year to year to year, it was a little bit more like territories change. So you sell it, you cross your fingers, you hope they use it, you hope they’ve solved their problem. And I was looking to kind of see those problems all the way through. And I was I was brought in because Arkatechture had a pretty good customer base, they were starting to grow. And what they really wanted to make sure is that their product was evolving, their support team was evolving, and that we were continuing to solve the customer problems that they were looking to solve from the onset of all of those initial customers. So I was brought in, I was head of customer success, but also the only person in customer success for my first I don’t know, nine, nine or so months, and then hired my first customer success manager, I think about eight or nine months ago. And we’re a team of two, but we just span across all of the different functions that customer success can touch. So our mighty powerful team have to kind of working with customers but also internally. Adil Saleh 9:24 Very interesting. Very interesting. So could you walk us through a little bit on how customers perceive value or the product, and but as the customer journey look like at Arkatechture, mostly, you’re serving in the SMB mid market, I think teams with data management and all of that. So how diverse kind of experiences when it comes to onboarding when it comes to, you know, value realization when it comes to making sure they adopt to the platform, and you’re done doing the necessary customization. So can you walk us through a little bit on the customer journey side as well? Judith Bernholc 9:57 Yeah, for sure. So every customer will join us at a different phase in their analytical journey. And when I think about what Arkatechture provides, it takes the management of all of these platforms and we create data definitions to allow end users at the credit unions to make better decisions or not have to spend half their days writing reports. We put it all in kind of one, data lake house for everyone to leverage. So I think you can say, okay, like, how much time did they save? You know, all of those kinds of easy metrics? Not easy. But those initial metrics? Like I always start when a customer on board with Arkalytics, to say, All right, what reports are taking forever to pull together that your team could be better utilized doing something else? And so that’s what we start with? And then from there, it’s okay, what are your strategic goals for the next year? Now, what can we be using data to help solve those, and so then it becomes Ra, we’re looking at more specific strategic reports than just operational. So I think it goes from operational to strategic, and then to across the organization, and then leveraging predictive analytics, all of that. But sometimes you just want to start with the quick wins. And we might have customers coming in that are already set up there and need more help. On the strategic side, it really depends on when they come in. But that’s where I always start them is where can we find some quick wins, time that is being spent elsewhere? And then how can we translate that to how you can refocus and really focused on what your priorities are for the credit union? And less about how can I get this report out by this time. So moving from operational to strategic, and then to predictive, hopefully, Taylor Kenerson 11:44 you talk so much about smaller team, and having only two people touching all of the customers and everything that’s going on? Can you walk us through how you’re doing that? What kind of strategies you’re implementing how that journey looks like, and also kind of tie it back to your experience at Tableau in the sales aspect, because you do have that perspective coming into it. So you understand that CS is about, you have to drive the bottom line at the end of the day. And regardless of the value that you deliver on the happiness, there’s an aspect of ROI, and what does that look like? So can you walk a little through that? Judith Bernholc 12:19 Yeah, definitely. So team of two, but we also have, you know, different functions of the business that are talking to customers as well. So we have an implementation team, we have a support team, that sort of thing. So what we’ve done is we’ve set up, you know, primary and kind of sub primary because it wasn’t like, this is your book of accounts, this is my book of accounts, and we just run after it. It’s a team effort, because we’re a small team. So if someone’s out or needs assistance, the customer should know who both of us are and can get help from both of us no matter what. So we have primary and kind of sub primary, everyone’s involved and engaged. And then it’s also about internal collaboration and communication. So as Head of Customer Success, I try to take on a little bit more processes behind the scenes, things that we can do across teams, and then work with Jacob, who’s my CSM around, okay, how can we bring this out to the customers, or he’s been really focused on scaled customer success, like recording videos, getting more knowledge content out there, that sort of thing. So we just split up the duties based off of like, okay, I’m going to tackle this problem internally, you’re going to tackle this problem externally. And we’re just going to make sure that we are sharing our notes as much as possible. I think from a revenue perspective, that’s it naturally happens, right? It naturally happens if a customer is achieving the ROI they expected to, if they’re getting the value they want out of the platform, they naturally want more people to get on it, they naturally want to integrate more systems to it, all of that. So I think if we’re doing the right things by the customer that follows and it and it happens so much more naturally than it did when I was in sales, where first you’re trying to get them to believe you’re trying to make them take the jump, now you’re in, it’s a little bit easier for you to then get them to take the next step and the next step, as long as you’re making sure that you’re not ignoring the things that are going wrong, that you’re addressing all of their problems. So I say address problems first. Because you’re not going to get any more revenue from that customer if you’re not doing that. And that means securing the renewal all of that securing the ARR. But then next, what else could they be doing that’s going to provide value. The cool thing is with customer success, we don’t have for now at least quarters that we have a quota that we need to hit. So we don’t need to impose a timeline of some sort on to the customer. We’re really working at their pace, which allows us to make more natural kind of upsells cross sells and things of that nature to hopefully help them achieve those goals. We make that upsell and cross sell. They have to use it Otherwise, they’re not going to do any more. So like their success? No point you have to be ours. Yeah. Adil Saleh 15:05 Exactly, exactly. You got to make sure they’re pretty much stick to the platform and consistently using your service. And, and on your side. On the flip side, you guys are evolving with their goals over time and successfully. So now, you know, it seems like it’s more of a platform, is it a core SaaS platform where people log in and, you know, then you try to sort of implement their based on their use cases? Could you tell me on the user experience side of it a bit, when it comes Judith Bernholc 15:37 There’s different types of views, depending on the type of user that you’re you are. So there’s a front end where your server set up with reports, as like, you know, as an end user, you might only log into the front end, see reports, see how your branches are doing at a credit union, that sort of thing. But then there’s also power users that have access to the back end, that they’re able to help take the data that we’ve conformed and put into a data lake house, and build some things custom. So there’s kind of two ways of looking at our platform, one as an end user, where your surface up reports, and then one as a power user, where you’re taking advantage of what the data lake houses that we have for you. And you’re building out specific, more curated reports for your credit union. So there’s kind of two sides to the experience Adil Saleh 16:25 Got it. So when you talk about power users, so how you guys are staying on top of their activities inside the platform. Like, I’m not talking about technology, it’s like, what is your way of staying on top of the data? You know, when it comes to usage, their activities, their health? Of course, that drives retention, eventually, so how you guys are staying on top of it, and how, what kind of standardized processes and maybe sort of metrics or indicators, you have to indicate these opportunities as well as those? Judith Bernholc 16:58 Yeah, so I think the power users are the users that I talked to the most, they’re the ones that, you know, are spending most of their time in the platform, leveraging it every day, mate. And if we see any of that fall off, that’s a red flag. But really, I would say, the biggest part of adoption, and maybe some of the red flags that you mentioned, come from They’re the only people accessing it. Right? If it’s just the power users, we’re not spreading out, you know, why are they not comfortable sharing it out what they’re doing to other folks? How can we measure, you know, bringing on new teams, because they’re kind of like the champions, they’re either going to feel comfortable or not comfortable getting more people added to the platform. So that’s where it’s really important for us to listen to what power users feedback is, implement that feedback, and then encourage and try to find ways to bring out, bring other users onto the platform to get value. And if they’re not bringing those folks on, then that means there’s something we need to do to make them feel more comfortable to bring those folks on. But there, I’ve created some metrics of like, you know, an engaged user is someone that logs in this amount of times per month, etc, etc. But you, that’s going to be an overall health score. I spoke with my CEO about this, he was like, hey, if I was a user of our platform, and you know, and I use similar platforms here, internally, I’m logging in, you know, once every two months, I wouldn’t look like an engaged user. But someone’s sending me information from these places all the time. So it’s understanding that even if you have super high adoption, and people logging in all the time, you also need to make sure that the C suite is getting that information, that they’re also seeing the value, that’s not going to show up on a dashboard, typically. So you’re not going to have a CEO as like the top user, or spokes in the C suite, typically as top users. But you still need to make sure that those folks are engaged. So that’s a little bit more qualitative. Adil Saleh 18:51 Let me I’m pretty curious on this, like, let’s say, of course CEOs and C suite out there that seemed makers, they made the decision in the first place and handed over to their team. But of course, if they see their team is leveraging and you know, receiving value out of the product, or its how is it possible that it’s it’s just about a CEO, but not the team that fused it that is actually going to use a platform that are going to be sort of an end consumer? So could you give us a touch more on this? Judith Bernholc 19:23 Yeah, I would say every, like, if folks are logging in and finding value, that’s great. folks might be logging in and not finding value. And that’s when the CEO is not, is thinking there might be and it’s anyone in the C suite, if if it’s not contributing to an overall goal, if it’s another tool that people are logging into, that’s still not a healthy customer. Right. So I think one is do you have adoption, that’s kind of step one. But step two, is that adoption leading to those outcomes? And is that something that the C suite is involved and engaged with? Adil Saleh 19:55 Yeah, absolutely. So that is that is why that is why It comes right it becomes really critical to, you know, have an information chair that is pretty much seamless between the sales team that, you know, whenever customer shares their goals, from the product, what they want to achieve. And then that gets translated into the success support, you know, across the team to make sure that throughout the journey of the customer, you are ensuring the success of their goals, and it is tied pretty much to the goals that they shared on day one. So how does that information gets translated across teams? Judith Bernholc 20:31 Yeah, I we have a sales CSM handoff. And we actually usually get involved at the tail end of the sales cycle just to kind of get acquainted, because we’ll be the face moving forward throughout implementation, we get their initial goals, and sometimes they can be really broad, we really just want to be more data driven, right? It’s so hard to measure like, Okay, did we check the box there or not? So then from there, it’s up to customer success? To learn specifically, what does that mean for each department, what specific outcomes they’re looking for, and keep tabs on that on a quarterly basis, or a yearly basis, whatever makes the most sense, because the business direction may change, or like those tactical outcomes, becoming data driven, will probably never change. But how you measure that and where it shows itself in different functions of the business that might change. So I think it’s on us to kind of get the immediate want, what made them start looking and then eventually purchase? But how can we go a little bit deeper through their journey to start to create metrics to value that on a more consistent basis? And that’s hard part sometimes, yes, Adil Saleh 21:37 It is it is because, you know, a lot of times, like the goal is that shared six months back, I no longer say they did customers evolved over the time as well. They’re, they’re doing the chain management, inside the operation, whatever might be the case. So that’s, that’s interesting. So now, you know, having thinking of a scalable model, two years, three years down the road for your success team, are you trying to have some sort of technology around your theist operations that can automate most of these standardized sales? Let’s say you have like 100 customers that have similar journeys they have on the onboarding stage implementation stage, adoption stage, or maybe some of the things that you can, you can have some sort of digital touch on a scalable model, I’m sure to CSM serving 100 150 customers is it’s something that’s, that’s yeah, it’s important to scale. Yeah, you got a plan. So what do you think about it, like as a head of CS? Judith Bernholc 22:43 Yeah, I think that we have to have two types of models with all of our customers, right. And we need to have a scaled success model where we’re making sure that there’s enough information at users fingertips to be able to get up and running with the platform, and they’re not searching for answers. So that means a good knowledge base. That means good training videos, that means good enablement. Certain morning, right? Yeah, exactly. Or we send out you know, like monthly emails, you know, a little bit more like we push it, but we’re getting knowledge out there. And then there, there still needs to be, I think just what the nature of the product that we are, we still need to have a little bit of an understanding for each of our customers, you know, depending on how large they are, how complex they are, you know, we might have more goals or less goals, but we still need to make sure that we’re capturing those. And we’re checking in on a regular basis. That might be different than other SaaS programs where you kind of plug it in. And as long as they’re working on it, it works. But because again, data spans so many different use cases, we should be having those metrics for every single one of our customers. Now, how often do we need to get in a room and work through those together? Or how often can we have that conversation? And then they use our training, materials and engagement to get there, you know, that just depends on the customer and where they are in their journey and how complicated their size, Adil Saleh 24:01 they are complicated complexity and all of that. Great, great, so you got to make sure that you have sort of fabric touch moving on as as a scalable model. Taylor Kenerson 24:12 Can you dive a little bit into you know, we talked about scaling the CES ops, but how about like in terms of scaling the CS, team. So what is like the culture you’re trying to align with the bigger culture? And what does that look like? Are you looking for any new positions? You could drop that here too? Yeah, we’re like, you know, what is anything around that? Judith Bernholc 24:30 Yeah, right now, I think we’re really focused on the sales side of things. And once that grows, CS we’ll grow with that. The coach and so I think eventually, yes, we’ll we’ll be hiring. We don’t have an open position right now. But throughout the year, that will definitely become a need. I think as we scale, the customer success function, I think it’s, it’s going to always be focused externally, but also internally, we have to be the voice of the customer to the rest of the team. So when I think about scaling our organization, I’m thinking about the ability to jump in with customers have good conversations, challenge them be challenged ourselves, and then take those challenges back to our internal teams, make sure that we know how to work with product support, etc, implementations for the ultimate customer experience. So I’m thinking, when we scale, it’s as much about the customer as it is about making sure that our company is growing in the right ways and stays customer focus. And that starts with our team. Taylor Kenerson 25:26 All right, Judith, thank you so much for all of your valuable insights. We so appreciate you. And we can’t wait to jump this episode. Adil Saleh 25:34 Yeah, absolutely. And we can make this job, we can make this a whole lot easier for you, because one of the platforms that is absolutely monitoring for the startups, this technology that can help you stay on top of data and have sort of on hybrid approach, and get all of your signals pretty much trigger to save like 30 40% of your CSM time. And bandwidth will definitely get back to you and you give it to us as users is no cost involved. So you could give the feedback and maybe you grow with that platform. And they also incentivize all the startups that are being the early works. And I think this is something on top of mind, this is something that makes you your product qualify for having sort of a hybrid approach. Judith Bernholc 26:17 Awesome. Great. Taylor Kenerson 26:18 Thanks so much. Yeah, very nice. Adil Saleh 26:23 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 and 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 out if you want to refer any CS leader. Until next time, goodbye and have a good rest of your day.

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