Episode No:62

Strategies for Building and Scaling a Successful CS Team

Sarah Wood

VP CS, Cascade

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Ep#62: Customer Success Insights: Strategies
for Building and Scaling a Successful CS Team ft. Sarah Wood (VP Customer Success, Cascade)
Ep#62: Customer Success Insights: Strategies for Building and Scaling a Successful CS Team ft. Sarah Wood (VP Customer Success, Cascade)
  • Ep#62: Customer Success Insights: Strategies for Building and Scaling a Successful CS Team ft. Sarah Wood (VP Customer Success, Cascade)

Episode Summary

Welcome to today’s episode, where we have the privilege of speaking with Sarah Wood, VP of Customer Success at Cascade. Sarah shares her career journey and provides valuable insights into various topics, including scaling and improving customer success, investing in a new CS solution, optimizing the customer success team’s role, and maintaining customer success. With her vast knowledge and experience, Sarah offers a unique perspective on these critical areas that every business needs to succeed. Get ready for an informative and exciting conversation that will leave you with actionable takeaways!
Key Takeaways Time
Sarah’s career journey 1:07
Allocating revenue for customer success and revenue teams 5:49
Focus in terms of scaling and improving customer success 9:31
Sarah’s approach to investing in a new CS solution 14:54
Sarah’s vision for the role and optimization of the customer success team 20:34
Key factors in maintaining customer success 34:20

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Sarah Wood 0:01 Customer Success is not like one person’s one person or one functions, you know, responsibility. It is the responsibility of everyone within your business. Taylor Kenerson 0:13 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. Hello, Hyperengage. My name is Taylor Kenerson. And I’m with my co host Adil. And we have a beautiful new guest on today, Sarah, she is the former VP of global CS at Hopin, and now the VP of CS at Cascade. Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining us. Adil Saleh 0:48 Thanks for you, Sarah, for taking the time. Sarah Wood 0:51 Yeah, happy to be here. Taylor Kenerson 0:54 So you have a really impressive career, Sara. So can you take us a little bit down a rabbit hole of how these different roles have shaped your approach? And where you’re at right now in this moment? Sarah Wood 1:07 Yeah, I think like one theme that’s been true, you know, from the beginning and throughout, is the idea of sort of continuous improvement. And I wouldn’t say that I’ve, you know, had a specific goal in mind. And I kind of often make the joke that, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t ask for this to be in my current role in physician, in some ways, obviously, a lot of the demands that come from that. But, you know, my early career, you know, my first several jobs I was, you know, I would say the kind of first customer hire at really small startups, you kind of hit that critical mass in terms of having enough customers to sort of require a dedicated person. And so I did that, at least, you know, three or four times, I felt like I had kind of hit the limit of what I was going to learn through, you know, a playbook that was largely created by me. And that really drove me to envision, I wanted mentorship, I thought I had a sensor that was pretty good at what I was doing. But I wanted to have peers and benchmarks to understood, you know, to understand where I kind of stacked up around others. And so I think, you know, to make that leap, which wasn’t a small leap to go from, you know, tiny startups to then a series C stage like hyper growth, you know, more than a billion dollar valuation SaaS company, and it was really my, I think, hustle, my focus on continuous improvement and curiosity that helped me make that leap. And then, you know, in the four years that I spent at InVision, I spent time as a enterprise CSM managing some of our largest customers like Amazon, Hulu and others that come to mind and, you know, left InVision, after having built and led a dedicated renewals function, a scaled CS team. And I think it was those experiences again, and sort of my willingness even to move into sales, briefly, to try new things that qualified me for my next opportunity at Hopin where I was originally hired to build and scale a dedicated renewals function, again, at a kind of critical moment in Hopin’s narrative where they’d acquired you know, 1000s of customers in ridiculously short period of time and kind of were realizing, Oh, my God, they’re all annual contracts. And we don’t have anyone or processes or anything in place to think about how we do that. And we’re three months out, and that’s when I came in. And over time, again, those same themes around collaboration is even one that I haven’t mentioned, that’s been a big theme. But, you know, being curious, like understanding the needs outside of my role, helped me then to kind of make the leap to lead our customer success function, because so much of the renewals function was influenced by the activities and the processes in place on the CSI that came from a customer success background, was already kind of driving thought leadership in that area to sort of support my own function and my own team and that sort of created a really natural transition from my role to kind of grow to not only oversee that retention and dedicated renewals team, but also that full customer lifecycle including, you know, expansion QBRs, and all that, you know, value focus areas. That’s come in. Adil Saleh 4:28 Very interesting, very interesting, like, customer success for you in a nutshell, you know, including experiences that envision hopin and cascade all together. What do you think that is different in terms of the segment of customers you guys served at one company you were more towards like renewal? They were they had a big division on the renewal side they had some setups segment of customers that you do working hands on with a bunch of people under your you know, arm and then at hopping, you were also, you know, leading global, you know, customer success team with with all sorts of segments, segments, maybe their betters SMBs. Some startups that are also, you know, trying to build communities using hopping for it, you know, having integrations like stream yard and then cascade platform that is emerging right now. And you also taking care of CSI operations. So how in terms of customer segments, how do you in a nutshell, you can, you can give us an overview of how you learned our over the period of five to six years in all these, these companies that were small and envision when you took on? They were not as big as they are now? And what were the key learnings in terms of, you know, serving different segment of customers? What are the key ingredients? You gotta take as a VP of CS? Sarah Wood 5:49 Yeah, great question. And there isn’t a magic answer. I think this is the question that, you know, customer success and revenue teams will debate forever. And ultimately, in my opinion, the answer comes down to your business and the level of complexity. Within your product, you know, how much effort is required to get your customers to value or at least those first indicator indicators for long term success and value with your product? How large is are your use your average deal size? How much automation Do you have already built in to your commercial processes around renewals I’ve been in like two totally different scenarios at Hopins and InVision where we had no concept of an auto renewal we had an auto renewal clause in our contracts that like maybe people would bring up in as a you know, last minute method of combating churn notice, to Cascade where we have the opposite situation where all of our customers auto renew, like, and whether that is like charging to a credit card, or it’s just generating an invoice like that blew that kind of blew my mind coming in, like I’ve now in two experiences implemented an auto renewal process, and, you know, super compressed timelines to longer timelines and seeing the benefit of that the scale and the velocity that brings to your organization. And I’m now in a world where I’m looking at our enterprise, you know, our renewal process, which is true, or somewhat consistent for our self serve customers all the way through to our highest spin enterprise customers. And I’m looking for ways to introduce friction, to at least be able to like have a conversation when a customer is looking to cancel or move away. And so I think that’s just like one specific example, that highlights some of the nuance that comes with different businesses. And I think that, you know, for some companies having a dedicated renewal function makes sense for us at Cascade right now doesn’t, because we’re solving a lot of that through automation. And I think when you look at the core pillars of customer success, you know, whether you’re directly or indirectly measured by that it’s, you know, driving value for your customers, so that retention is performing high year over year, you know, a critical element in that happen is implementation. And depending on your product, maybe that has to be a dedicated function of its own, or maybe that’s a 60 minute training that your customer can attend in a scaled setting to get to value, it really varies on the the roots of your company, is it plg? Is it you know, quote unquote, plg? Or is it. So those are some of the like, things that I’d love to consider. But it, you know, is your business’s focus right now growth? Is it retention? those I think, are also key indicators on where you want to allocate revenue in terms of, you know, specialization and focus within some of those tenants that CS and customer teams are typically responsible for. Adil Saleh 8:51 Absolutely, very interesting, because, you know, it is important for CS team to make sure how differently the customer is perceiving value out of the product. So then you got to map the journey. And I would be more interested in first knowing how you guys are both kind of formation you have across the CSM, like you’ve got onboarding managers, as incentive model, so you gotta have like, just CSMs taking on, you know, a bunch of local businesses that they need to look after daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis. And then some of the high paying customers you might have might have account managers, like, could you tell us a bit about the team formation at Cascade? Sarah Wood 9:31 Yeah, at Cascade, we we don’t have segmentation. So cascade is and you know, early stage startup, we are a Series A company we have, you know, a little over 100 employees, we have an incredible roster of you know, fortune 500 logos to count as customers but at this point in time, you know, we our primary distinct distinction is between our self serve customers and our enterprise customers. I think you know, again, answer to some of question is we just sort of talked about in the future, we’ll probably look to introduce additional layers of segmentation. But at the moment, I don’t think we have this case to do that. But one of the things that ties back to your earlier question around scale and customer success, I think that one of my observations, you know, throughout my experiences, and one of the reasons I was inspired to kind of take my career to a smaller series, a company was to sort of look at some of the things people and companies struggle with in those later stage. Phases around like, renewal automation, efficiency drivers. And another big category for that is sort of this, I would say, like, you know, reliance, typically, in startups to kind of throw humans or rely on one to one interactions as the core path to unlocking value for your customers. Adil Saleh 10:51 Do more with less, Sarah Wood 10:52 yes, and everyone is trying to do more with less at the moment. And so that was one of the things I’ve been really hyper focused on, you know, been at Cascade for four months, it hasn’t been, you know, a huge amount of time yet. But in that time, we’ve introduced two key roles by taking kind of existing headcount that we had in other areas and repurposing it towards a customer education role. So looking at, you know, what is the onboarding process, we’ve typically found success in delivering to customers to get them to value can that be done in one to many settings? Can we get creative with things like office hours with set topics, and then also a programs rolling programs is nebulous by design. You know, one of the programs that is that in this person scope is educational initiatives that are scaled, but also looking at how do we create scale and efficiency for our CSMs, our CSMs own renewals today, you know, I have them sending notices, hopefully, 90, 60, 30 days before renewal. But what’s our opportunity to automate that? How much time will that save for our CSM space for them to go be thought partners to their customers, one thing we did an InVision when I first moved into leadership, I managed our scale team. And my CSM had 200 customers at the time. And that was a significant increase from that segment and what they’d been responsible for in the past. And they were no longer going to have the time to in space to really focus on educating those customers one to one. And we introduced a tip of the month program, where as a team, we aligned on a video, a script, a topic and through Gainsight, at the time was a tool that we use, were able to kind of get a personalized walkthrough of a specific feature undiscovered feature, new feature, whatever that might be, and get that in our customers inbox every month. And our customers love that. And I think that those are the opportunities around scale, which is just to think outside of the box and try to uncover those aha moments for your customers identify, like, pain points that are consistent for all or lack of adoption opportunities. And understanding the patterns. Yes, yeah. Yeah, and find repeatable and sometimes scalable ways to at least get them 80% of them that message? Yeah, Adil Saleh 13:11 absolutely. So I’m looking at Cascade team, like your team post sales team as a digital CSI operation. And when it comes to digital CES, you gotta be really smart with, you know how the information from sales to CES gets Hands up, hands up, and then hand it over to in the way that they understand and been big and take action. Secondly, all the information coming from from of course, the CRM, the building, the communication, like for the support from the support team gets in a unified or centralized space where they can visualize it, they can take action on daily basis. So how does that come into play that one part and then information from sales. Third is when it comes to you know, post onboarding, making sure you’re absolutely on top of the product platform use it as a CSM, making sure okay, how what feature they’re most using, we’re where things get getting complicated. So customer education is also what you mentioned. So how you’re sending systems around customer education at that point during the adoption phase. And when it comes to making sure we retain all of those, those customers in the installed base as a CS team, what kind of operations have used it around, you know, making it more digital more filtered more, you know, more sort of a triggers and you don’t have an expectation, you know, getting a right on top of that customer to help them retain and then we talk about expansion themselves. So just give us a quick overview of how does that you know, in a digital motion works, you can call it field, you can call it self serve a lot of it. You get lost in translation, even when we say it as a season. Sarah Wood 14:54 Where should I start? That was a lot um, I think like maybe one of the first questions you want me to answer At the moment, like our CRM is HubSpot, and so all of that information that you mentioned billing info, you know, pre sales notes, you know, the customer success manager notes at the moment. We’re doing all of that in HubSpot, before I joined, we had been using a CS solution. It hadn’t, you know, the company chose to move away from that. And in the future, we might, you know, I suspect that we’ll revisit that. But at the moment, I’m kind of focused on like, back to basics and making sure that we have the right data integrity, that we have the right foundational processes in place so that when we invest in a solution, again, that we’re positioned to hit the ground running and really, like, amplify that, to kind of go back to your point around digital, CS, you know, our enterprise CSMs. And just to be clear, so I lead our customer success team, or our customer org, which includes our enterprise CSM, our customer success engineers, and our customer support team. And so they’re sort of everyone in that team plays a really critical role in supporting the experiences of our customers. And so, you know, one thing that I’m, you know, striving to do is to scale our integration expertise, from one customer success engineer to our support team so that we can, you know, scale integrations, which are shown to drive stickiness and retention over time as one mechanism for doing that. You know, a question I’m asking my team all the time is like, how do you scale yourself? How do you scale the work that you’re doing? That doesn’t mean, make it one to many, but at least, how do you put a system in an operation plan behind the scenes to make this easy to execute for yourself. And so all of those teams play a critical role there. On the CS side, one thing we’ve implemented is this idea of an automated health score. So that based on indicators in the customer, usage and activity that we know, can, you know, flag for us without, you know, manual intervention that, hey, this account is at risk, it needs, you know, some eyes on that. And that happens at any point in the customer lifecycle. Thinking about ideal state. We’re really working on that implementation process at the moment. And again, trying to make that truly rinse and repeat and repeatable. And, you know, I have this aspiration of, you know, taking what I’ve seen in renewals, which is that within 90 days of a renewal, you know, exactly the status of a renewal, you know, the opportunity stage that it’s in, you know, if it’s at risk, taking that kind of playbook that’s been applied to commercial experiences, you know, for all time, and apply that to onboarding, like, Are there phases of onboarding or their deal stages for onboarding and dependencies and risk indicators that can help you move throughout that. And again, through setting up your operations and systems for that empowering a better bird’s eye view of like, what percentage of our onboarding customers are stuck? What percentage of our onboarding customers are successfully completing that in 30 days, 60 days, whatever your target is, when I think about scale, I think, to your point around data, so that you can zoom out and see and spot exactly where your problems and sticking areas are, and then, you know, create the space and bring the group together to figure out how you solve that. I’m not sure that exactly answered all your questions, but that was the first few things. Adil Saleh 18:21 And this Yes, and in a startup like this, like setting a seed to Series B, you’re also thinking as a team, or as it from a commercial standpoint, as well as from the business standpoint, like cost optimization standpoint, as well, like, you got to make sure that you are keeping your operations in a way scalable, structured, automated as much as we can, as long as we are delivering the value that customer perceives out of product, the soonest. And making sure we are keeping an eye on the bandwidth, as well, because it’s not easy to raise your next plan, it’s not easy to you know, burn the existing funds you have in the right way in a more strategic way that adds value to the high level, you know, on the revenue side as well. So on the bandwidth It is also important for for small CSA teams growing up to make sure they do more with less in the way that they’re also taking care of the data retention. So you know that that can be a challenge, you know, and you’re also thinking that you know, you don’t you don’t want your team to juggle around different CRMs different dudes as you got rid of some technology that see a specific to their loads around their preaching about data centricity. They’re clean Are you having centralized source of data source of truth for customers testing is but on a ground level, you got to make sure that you you are making sure you’re not just disturbing their workflow, as long as things are seamless and you’re serving the end goal, which is which is to make sure you retain earnings. Spend your install base. That’s the biggest goal of customer success team has been, you can think about more things. So in the future, the you’re setting the baseline pretty strong, making it for scalable Cas, just like your your you’ve experienced back in envision, and then back on top, and how do you see it? Like, what kind of changes? Are you trying to, you know, having a foresight on on the coming? coming years? What kind of changes you think you should predefine? And you have pretty much preset inside your head? Sarah Wood 20:34 Yeah, it’s a good question, I think, you know, to what you just alluded to, like Cascade and where we are in our journey is that CSM has have done, they’re kind of the, you know, what’s the expression, jack of all trades, master of none. And so, and I talked about before that the customer team is multi discipline. And so in order for them, I’m really pushing them to be more focused on how they use their time. And we’re always going to offer one to one high touch relationships, it’s the nature of our Cascade’s ideal customer profile, and the accounts who will buy enterprise contracts. For me, it’s around how do you take, I don’t know 70%, of where you spend your time today. And, you know, build trust in our support team, you know, and make changes on our support team to support actually taking some of that break, fix kind of technical questions, you know, other resources that are scalable community, knowledge bases, all of that the idea of I would say those scalable resources is to meet customers where they are, and give them the tools, they need to be self sufficient, so that, you know, in the moments, they need to talk to your CSMs, that conversation can be, hey, I bought this product to see this outcome in my business. Here’s where this is going, well, here’s where we’re stuck, you know, how can you advise us on how to get, you know, to either implement our workflows better, or to do things differently, so that that value comes to life? And so to talk about future state, one of the things, you know, that I’m currently considering, you know, in light of Cascades, unique, you know, details as a business is like, do we need a dedicated implementation function? Because I’ve been doing some sort of analysis on where we spend our time. And so in the future, again, with this focus, that I want my CSM, to be advisors, thought partners, you know, truly working with customers to understand why they bought the product and what they need to do to bring those results to life, you know, in addition to kind of looking to take on Route some of the historical support for enterprise customers to our support function that’s growing and taking on more responsibilities. But how else can we maybe you know, create a repeatable play for implementation based on the hours that our team spends on that today, and that also limits context switching, I’m a big fan of creating and what my mantra today and 2023 for my team is focus, accountability and process for everything. And so that people aren’t context switching, they’re not going from an implementation call to a renewal conversation, to a, you know, at risk, you know, I’m not seeing value from this. And that’s difficult for people to do, and it’s exhausting. And so a lot of the work that I’ve been doing in the time that I’m here is based on what I’ve seen work well at past experiences and taking those like broader learnings and applying them to the specifics of cascades business and our customers to ultimately drive you know, better, you know, sort of yeah, like I said, focus process and accountability that I think we’ll see in our business outcomes and our customer happiness, and in our employee engagement. Taylor Kenerson 23:37 I really love that mantra, focus and kind of Yeah, I love that focus process and accountability. Because, you know, you have so much going on you say your your CS team there jack of all trades, but you do need to be specialized and focus in certain areas, when it comes to certain instances, certain experiences, you have to lock in and really drive, you know, those that key engagement. So how do you use data and analytics to empower your CS team to you know, be a jack of all trades, but on another note, also say super specialized focus on what is at hand? Sarah Wood 24:12 Yes, some of this is like enabled by the business. And some of this is, you know, enabled by CSM, like one of the things that we that we did on the business side to try and drive this focus was look at the existing enterprise customers, which includes, you know, eight years Cascade, which you know, is a bootstrap startup, we’ve been in the market for a long time, you know, took on funding only for the first time in the last two years, but come from those roots. So we have customers who’ve been with us for a long time and seen many iterations of our plans and our pricing. And so one of the things that we’ve done and I sort of enabled from a business standpoint is kind of this idea of a high touch and low touch model even within those enterprise. That book of business, so it’s not true segmentation, if you will, but there is explicitly like tagged and housewife so they can see who are my high touch clients. To remind low touch clients, and that specific activities and areas of focus, you know, go into that I think the guidance I give my team is to think about, you know, success for our customers can be measured in a lot of different ways. But ultimately, right now, my team’s performance is going to be measured on gross revenue retention, and net revenue retention. And, you know, great advice that I got early in my career is like, how do you get to 80% of your target with 20% of your accounts? And so I’ll look at creating, you know, forcing functions for our doing account prioritization is like a four box exercise, you know, who are your invest accounts, who are your risk accounts, who are your nurture, or maintain accounts, and then really, like, be ruthless and helping the CSMs figure out where they can spend their time that’s most impactful to those to the numbers per se, and it’s giving them permission to say no, and in some cases, I’m like this, you know, this might not be, this isn’t the experience perhaps this customer has received in the past. I’m confident though, through some of the programs, we’re building, you know, scaled office hours, you know, weekly enablement, sessions that these customers have avenues to go to, to get help, they just might be powered through our customer success team, rather than through you as an individual. And a lot of this has changed management. And so that is sort of how I’m from a business perspective creating avenues for the CSM is to, you know, safely prioritize, or deprioritize specific work in their book of business. And ultimately, for them to be more efficient things like health score, like working in preset to define what are the events in the product or the insights in the product from a data perspective, that flagged and account might be at risk or indicate that they might be primed for an expansion, I think the like, ideal state next iteration of this is that we have a CS tool and you set up triggers, and they get an email or a CTA in the inbox saying, hey, this has happened. So they don’t have to go look for it, and preset, but for us, and at the stage that we’re in right now, we are doing the analysis to understand those kind of aha, golden moments for our customers create easy ways for the CSM to access and leverage that information. And I think our next level of maturity will be to automate the process by which, you know, they’re guided daily on where to spend time, actually. Adil Saleh 27:21 So right now, you’re pretty much bound to first analyze the customer journeys. Once you’re done, then you’re gonna You think I’ll think about, you know, building systems and automations around it, maybe introducing platforms that are dedicated to achieve that goal. Right. So, by the way, I’m following their image for 30 days, the CTO of HubSpot for quite some time. So they have recently launched a chatbot that AI you familiar with? It just showed a demo with you? Sarah Wood 27:49 I’m not, Im gonna have to learn more. Adil Saleh 27:53 Yes, so there may she shared a demo two days back about how you know the marketing teams, the sales team support team can use their CRM now you can communicate with HubSpot CRM, they have intersected the data points from chat GPT. They’re built on top of chat giving since two weeks back to activity open source, they’re happier. So now they’ve intersected all the data that they have trained for all of their customers on top, using energistics. And data points and warehouses for Chat GPT. And now they’re giving a monitor to their customers for support marketing, and, you know, sales use cases. So do look at their LinkedIn or maybe YouTube. So to find the demo video that’s dedicated for only HubSpot customers. So we’ve had the senior leadership at HubSpot also come and spoke about it. And now they’ve done it because that’s, that’s for the first time. And then yesterday, Salesforce also launched a platform for their Salesforce CRM. So now you’re able to communicate with your CRM, as as a marketing leader as a sales executive, you are trying to communicate with with your CRM, giving them different tasks that are taking like 1520 minutes of your time, getting fetching data from different different places. So that’s very, very interesting for all it’s a big move from the HubSpot team. And they’ve been working for quite some time on this. Sarah Wood 29:17 I love that I actually had you know, I was gonna mention I listened to the episode of you know, about a month a month and a half ago with Jonathan Corbin and was really inspired to hear that at HubSpot. They use HubSpot to power their customers that’s team and that was inspiring to hear and you know, demonstrated that for the moment like we can make this work in light of, you know, wanting to be really frugal and thoughtful about where we allocate resources into what you just mentioned. Like I think one thing that you know, I’m kind of always on a soapbox about which is that like Customer Success is not like one person’s one person or one functions, you know, responsibility. It is the responsibility of everyone within your business and in today’s environment. You You know, the the cheapest revenue, per se is the revenue that you already have in the door. And so creating alignment across your go to market team, which is marketing, sales, customer success to drive processes, collaboration, understanding towards the singular goal of Yes, expanding your install base through new customers as well as expanding others. But the kind of lifeblood of that starts with starts with your customer base. And I think something that we struggle with as go to market teams, I think a lot of people are taking massive, you know, we’ve we’ve lots of point solutions that cater to sales, to marketing, and to CS teams, we now have platforms that aggregate all the needs of customer success needs or marketing needs, or sales needs. But we, you know, there aren’t very many, you know, I can think of one company off the top of my head that’s looking to really be the connected workflow for go to market teams, which I think is a really interesting opportunity, especially right now, where go to market teams more than ever are going to have to be ruthlessly aligned on retaining and expanding their shared customers to drive success and retention, to kind of, you know, power people through the current macro economic climate and the pressures that we’re all under to reach profitability faster. So that’s awesome to hear. Adil Saleh 31:19 Exactly. That’s why a lot of, you know, business operations are moving towards like, PLC to community led growth, as well. You know, this has been this has been very, very successful in open source platforms, like for developers, or tech teams, and dinners, but now it’s becoming a new norm. investing into community led light, more of the startup like a you know, as they are only as big as 50 6070 people less than 100. And they’re trying to hire Head of Community. They’re trying to initiate take some initiatives like building a Slack community closing that slack communities where customers are integrating other customers, and this is getting network effect. So a lot of reburied, much tied in a b2b space is tied to having the right follow product market fit, then first building the right product, and then achieving a product market fit as soon as possible. And then, you know, working closely with your customers the whole time. Yeah, as you mentioned, it is, you know, it is in an economical economic work, we’re in raising funds is not easy. Growing teams is not easy, you got to make sure that you have do you have good amount of funds capital in the bank as a business to run that it takes for a marketing team to run, you know, because you’ve got competitors that are very rough, 100 million plus, let’s say they’ve got funds around pretty big funds. So you cannot compete without having these, you know, network effect, and, you know, community word of mouth, you know, running these sessions, I’m sure you also familiar with event happening first week of April, John decent, one of our very mentor as well, as you know, our closest community member, most recently, we found that he is trying to initiate as successful as your partner working with seed, seed level businesses, startups, you know, on the post sales journey, then helping them get funds in. So that’s all about, you know, customer success. So I would recommend you if you could spare time, I’m sure it’s not easy to fly from Florida to San Francisco, but it’s happening on April 6 at Taylor. Is that April sixth or fifth? Taylor Kenerson 33:36 I believe it’s the sixth on Thursday. Adil Saleh 33:39 April 6, yes. Sarah Wood 33:41 Awesome. I’ll check it out. Yeah. Taylor Kenerson 33:43 And on another notes, I’m really glad you brought up that CS is not just the job of the CS team, it’s actually the element of CS and delivering value to customers should be ingrained in every single person that touches the product or touches the customer. And it’s really important that you educate not only your customers and your CS team, but also the other functions within the business on the value of CES and what that even means. So can you dive a little bit on this education aspect of things and how you go about educating maybe the other functions of the business and also the CS team as a whole? Sarah Wood 34:20 Yeah, absolutely. And there’s a lot that goes, goes into that. I think the one thing I’d say is that you don’t do it once and it’s not a one and done. It’s like as a leader, it sort of constantly sort of committing to be on a roadshow, almost of the, you know, being the advocate for this. So one thing we did recently at Cascade is we have a weekly all company all hands and this week, we just did a customer team takeover. We spent some of that time reviewing through a day in the life of every role that supports customers and how they’re different. Again, diving deep on that focus, who is accountable to what and what are the processes that support this and how do you engage with that? And we did a session on sort of the current market, how that is creating this, like exciting year of customer led growth and how all of us can play a role in furthering that position. We talked about trends that we’ve seen, you know, across the business, and how that’s informing some of our initiatives or past initiatives, you know, I think, defining your ICP as a business, and not only looking at new business trends, but also the customers that retain over time, is something that’s really important. And that can inform your sales team on who are the customers that you should, you know, look to acquire, because if we know that, you know, this industry tends to retain for four years on average, versus this other industry who retains for one or two, you know, you as a co owner in the business are also motivated and should be motivated to go after the one that will retain for four years. I also think it’s around creating feedback loops and systems to surface where there’s friction in the onboarding process. And again, I do think that a lot of companies and this is part of why I was excited to go back to a Series A is that in those early stages, it’s easy to throw people at problems like, oh, the customer doesn’t understand the product, let’s hire a CSM, and let’s hire another CSM, rather than saying, Where are they getting stuck? And do we have the data to reveal to us where they get stuck? And do we have a research team? Who’s looking to understand that? And can we solve that in the product. And I think that a lot of what we’ve talked about today is what I’ve seen in these later stage companies who have maybe had a lot of capital from day one, as they’ve been able, they’ve had the luxury of being able to throw people at challenges. And some of the most exciting, innovative work that I’ve been a part of, and that I’ve seen happen, comes in sort of moments under pressure, where we have to do more with less, which is painful. But the most incredible input comes from those moments. And so a lot of what I’m looking to do is like to do that earlier in our journey. And so the relationship with product is really important. Like why do we rely on a person to do this, and, you know, some products are just higher lift, they’re more complex, they require technical integrations, some of that is supported through native integration, some of it isn’t, you know, whatever that might be. But there’s always opportunities to accelerate adoption, and usage and early time to value up to a point. And even if you’re making improvements, so that the customer can do 80% of it themselves, rather than 0%. You know, you’re still creating your your then creating focus and, you know, a really clear call to action for the person, whether it’s an implementation manager, or CSM to come in and help kind of get that customer over the finish line, rather than holding their hand from start to finish. And I think that was a trend data shows that a lot of customers, you were the era of TikTok and YouTube, like people want to be self sufficient. And I think there’s this idea that like, customers who spend a lot of money, they want to have a dedicated person, if you have an incredible support team where they have access to the help, they need the avenues to escalate problems. And if you have CSMs, who are available to really be thought partners, you know, the basic things of how to use or why to use, you can productize that or package it in ways for people to go find it themselves. And, you know, these days, people are more interested in getting the help when they need it. And, you know, through their own devices, basically, Taylor Kenerson 38:19 it’s all about like how you serve it. And you brought up a really good point, too, that sometimes the question is not why did the customer churn but why are they saying and you have to continuously analyze that. And sometimes it is going back to your ICP and reviewing that and looking over like, is this the actual customer that is giving us the most value for the effort we’re putting into that. And sometimes those that that conversation can be difficult, especially with every other, you know, aspect of the business and organization also sitting at that table. Because a lot of functions have to change over over that question. Sarah Wood 38:53 It’s such a good point. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about, like people, you know, talk about clothes loss reasons, right? That’s like an early thing, and people will come in and implement this. And what about closed one reasons? You know, that is something I’ve been actually considering implementing so that we have, like, reportable trackable insights into they’re not gonna be perfect. They’ll probably be overly simplified, but at least to get high level trends on not only you know, where we’re losing customers, but why, you know, the why the customers who choose to stay with us why they stay. Taylor Kenerson 39:22 Amazing, Sarah, this was a great conversation. We can’t thank you enough. Thank you. Adil Saleh 39:26 So you’ve got so much to offer Sarah Wood 39:30 thank you. I appreciate your time. And thanks for inviting me on. Taylor Kenerson 39:33 Yes, thank you so much, Adil Saleh 39:35 no less than our pleasure. Great. Great. Yeah. Thank you very much, sir, for taking the time out of your schedule. And we shall meet another time that the week where we’ll have more topics to explore with you that you’ve got loads of information that our audience would love at any point of their session. For sure. So for today, I think this is pretty much all have a good rest of the day. Sarah Wood 39:57 Thank you. Adil Saleh 39:59 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 any CS leader. Until next time, goodbye and have a good rest of your day.

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