Episode No:67

Revolutionizing Customer Success for Startups

Marc Ray

VP of CS, Dozuki

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Ep#67: Revolutionizing Customer Success for
Startups ft. Marc Ray (VP of Customer Success, Dozuki)
Ep#67: Revolutionizing Customer Success for Startups ft. Marc Ray (VP of Customer Success, Dozuki)
  • Ep#67: Revolutionizing Customer Success for Startups ft. Marc Ray (VP of Customer Success, Dozuki)

Episode Summary

We are joined by Marc Ray, Vice President of Customer Success at Dozuki. In this episode, we will be discussing various topics including the evolution of Customer Success, Dozuki’s target companies and how they help improve processes, the framework at Dozuki, the tools and tech stack used by Dozuki, onboarding and content development, and so much more. Stay tuned to gain insights and knowledge from Marc’s expertise in the industry.
Key Takeaways Time
The Evolution of Customer Success 3:02
Dozuki’s target companies and how they help improve processes 10:28
Framework at Dozuki 15;14
Tools and tech stack at Dozuki 19:31
Onboarding and content development 26:19
Advice for startups 28:03

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Marc Ray 0:01 If you're having a lack of adoption, you need to look for those places where your customers are stalling out. And if you're seeing continuous patterns of that, that's a gap you may need to fill or go find a partner to fill. 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. Hello, everyone. So nice to have everyone listening. Today. I'm with my co host, Adil, and we have Mark, the VP of Customer Success at Dozuki. Thank you so much, Mark, for joining us today. Marc Ray 0:47 Oh, thank you for having me. I'm excited too excited to chat. Taylor Kenerson 0:50 Amazing. Just take a little dive into your why into getting into CES and how that journey kind of took off and look like from the very beginning. Marc Ray 1:02 Yeah, it's it's sort of, you know, I always, I always tell people or whenever I'm in an interview process, I feel like I've been in CS, my whole life, work life just wasn't called that right. Like, I have a background in consulting, whether that was rolling out large, like IBM ecommerce rollouts, or working a lot with the digital transformation on the Atlassian platform, as they were like booming, and really coming in many, many moons ago, I won't share how many years ago ran a web development firm, right? So I don't want to date myself. But all of those were outcome focused, right, that's the crux of what customer success is, is helping customers achieve the outcomes of why they engaged you or your product, right. So kind of at some point, I also did, which made sense sales engineering, so built and run sales, engineering, and also kind of was always brought into that side of it. At some point, when customer success was really becoming a thing. And I was looking for another opportunity, I started applying for roles because I thought that, hey, this is this is a natural extension of, of what I've been doing. Just maybe the focus a little bit less in my past on like the retention, like actually managing the renewals, process and so forth. But that was just more like the tack onto it. The rest is almost like that natural progression. That's why I think the customer success world has like a really good pool of talent, even outside of CS because the motions are similar in other roles. Taylor Kenerson 2:33 I love that you were kind of initially at the forefront of CES saw it as an opportunity as that extension of your growth in the kind of where you were initially. But like you said, it kind of was a slapped on term that was like a very new thing. So because you're able to see it from the beginning, can you kind of give us your point of view on how its transformed? And where you see it, you know, going in 2023 and beyond in the future? And then we'll loop back. Marc Ray 3:02 Yeah, I you know, I'll give you my two cents I don't you know, whether whether people agree with it or not. And for for context to like I've worked in startups, or I've worked in private equity backed companies, which kind of still then start up that same startup motion, because they're PE backed and they want to see some level of growth, obviously, not usually not looking for unicorn growth, like a startup. I think when it initially started, people had to figure it out, like anything like product, formalized product management, as it exists today went through the same thing. It used to be, you know, JAD sessions. And gosh, I forget all the acronyms around requirements docs, right? Well, ces had to go through the same thing, it's, it had to become this thing where we know we need customers to be sticky. We know we need to train them, we need to onboard them, we need to tie their outcomes to the execution, we take a long as much of a prescribed customer journey as possible, and how we engage them, and we need to measure it and figure it out. And so I think a lot of what you saw in the beginning, was people who sort of figured out like the major milestones of a customer journey and the major goals, but then a lot of folks haven't really come together to figure out how do I execute this, whether it's in different verticals, or whether it's by different business size, or you know, the difference I always say is like, DigiKey where I work, we're pretty high touch enterprise, like I always say, we're like, we're like old school customer success. I love it. It's a great like, I'm loving being where I'm at with this versus like, say product led growth or some of those other motions, that are these sort of processes that are maturing out right of, of this great experiment. I think you probably had a few companies that were truly doing customer success. It served as the bedrock right, like almost every formalized process came out of some company right? Agile and some of the product management philosophies have all spun out of either good Google or IBM, or some of these others, or even some of the smaller players in the market. And so I think what you're seeing now is that crux of a maturation where there are some prescribed models, but then there are also methodologies for application of those models in customer success, based on you know, whether your high touch mid touch, you're looking at, you know, what we call tech touch, or self service. And you're seeing that take place, and you're also seeing the same language take cold, right, and you're also seeing the agreement among the industry that not everything is one solution, right? Like, we all agree sales motion is not the same for every company. Right? So the framework, you know, around, you know, managing pipeline, and all of that pretty standard, right? For a lot of companies. But the actual nuance between those stages, and what you're executing within them is different and the same as applying now for, for customer CES. I think what you're seeing too, is also a, hey, we've had this great experiment, let's understand what works, right? We can't do it all, we can't boil the ocean, we can't roll out six different programs at the same time within an organization. So like, what's going to work? How do we get down to the basics, you know, I joke with my team, sometimes when I joined companies to say, we're gonna, we're gonna put like a controlled burn on this thing to figure out and flush out everything that is not providing value that takes up resources, and leave just like the the true pillars within the force that we need to build here. So that we can make sure that we're delivering not only the right value for our customers, but let's be real about customer success, it has to be an organization that recognizes the revenue that were protecting, and the resources were taken up. And so there's that, you know, revenue side of customer success. And there's also the resource and cost side to customer success. And so I think we're starting to see, I mean, great, there are some people out there that have connected these dots for a long time. But I think the general breadth of customer success is you're starting to see that where it's like, hey, we have to recognize that we're revenue for a lot of CES revenue responsible, we have to make sure our processes deliver, but it can't be a buffet of anything we want to throw at it, we have a cost to deliver that. And so I think you're starting to see that you're seeing some of the books come out that have like really good playbooks on how to execute this, you're seeing some great courses, we talked about pavilion, right before we started this, like there's some really good courses that are laying those foundations out. The last thing I'll say, and then I'll be quiet as I think you're also starting to see a much more formalized approach and seriousness around seriousness of CES and having a seat at the table within an organization being board facing reporting to, you know, either the CEO or others. But also, you're starting to see customer success, and the other teams all work, I think, much more aligned. So marketing, sales, and others. If you're not, then this is your cue that you need to be. Adil Saleh 8:11 Absolutely, I second that. And that's when all of this technology comes in place like to be able to, you know, work async as like, across different teams sharing information, you need to make sure you have the right systems in place to ensure that level of success and scalability. When it comes to, you know, working across teams, and making sure everybody is of course, in line sales is reliant on mostly the STRS, the lead generators, then, you know, success is reliant on sales, you know, success is now working closely with the product team. So it's sort of an ecosystem. That's why you know, all of these technologies, the software that you see, dedicated software's they come into play. So talking about digital transformation and knowledge base management, we've seen a lot of technologies, a lot of platforms around it. So how do you see the Zuki comes into play, like in terms of marketing, market positioning, addressable gap it had initially when you were working at the GTM, or the GTM, front in the beginning, and now at this point, during this segment of customers, which is pretty much sometimes more of an enterprise clutch, sort of motion? How does that differ from the GTM, you made sure this is the right positioning for your product for the platform. And then these are the right customers, and then you worked on on the processes and what kind of post sales journey that also includes their onboarding and retention or adoption. So I would appreciate if you just walk us through briefly with all of these components that, you know, made you as efficient as you are today. Marc Ray 9:48 Yeah, yeah. And for context, I've been went to Dozuki, about seven months. And I solved it all now. Just kidding. We have like, we have a tremendous tremendous go to Market team. I know a lot of people say this, it sounds like looks, I'm truly privileged to work with the leaders that I get to work with. Because I tell you, if you're the lone person solving everything that you just discussed, that's stressful. First of all, like, we know, we are pretty well focused, and we talk about it all the time. But like, for us at the Zucchi, I can give it in context of Zuki. We know our target audiences, like we work a lot with manufacturers, so we can we work with some companies that don't really manufacture but due process, manage repeatable process management, and especially as you're trying to do that knowledge management at scale. So you could think of, you know, companies that deliver things to your house that need to be set up, right? I mean, so we do work with some of those, but specifically companies that make things or have repeatable processes that both they're looking to, not only that are optimized, you know, is there a lot of waste that's happening? Or do they have turnover because of employee retention? Because employees just don't feel like they're learning or have a growth path? Excuse me. There's other ways that we help those companies. And so at the Dozuki, we sort of say, Okay, who are our target audience, right. And we really focus on that, right, we don't try to cast a Super Wide Web, because any company, right, not only you can sell them, but then you have to serve a sum. And that's when things become readily apparent. And in particular, you brought up that customer journey, right customer journey, we are high touch, right? I like to joke that Dozuki. And there are a bunch of platforms like this, if you don't go through the digital transformation part, right, if you don't bring your content into it. The same can be said of other last seen as a group that I work not for Atlassian, but did a lot of consulting on their product. Just because you bought the software doesn't mean you're going to be agile, right? With Atlassian. So you had to bring that content to it. And you had to bring the refinement, and you have to bring in the same as with Dozuki, you have to have a team of champions, they have to have a goal as to why they're doing this or goals, right? And working backwards from that goal, we have to set up a an achievement path for them, how can we help you achieve this goal. And for many companies, and especially with Dozuki, that means digital transformation, it means moving from word PDF or something and Bob or Sally's mind, right? It could just be tribal knowledge or, you know, group knowledge that has to be captured. And so there has to be a clear plan to get there. That's why at Dozuki. We said we're not only high touch, we have customer success, we have customer support, we have technical account managers that can help us build sometimes, sometimes you need someone that can help wrangle things via API, you know, and really help customers get there. We also have a professional services team. Because what we recognize in our particular industry that we serve, is, I would say this is every industry, right? Like there's so many professional service teams out there. If you're a company with a SaaS product, and you your only option is to hope and pray your customers figure out there own adoption path, then you're going to be doing, you're probably going to be seeing a lot of churn, a lot of delayed adoptions, a lot of contract extensions, a lot of hey, it took us six months, can we not pay for those six months? Whereas we recognize that upfront, we try to head it off upfront to recognize, hey, do you have a plan for your transformation? You don't great, we've got some plans we can give you do you have the effort you don't great, we've got a professional services team that can help you with that. That's what we look at, you know, from Dozuki, in terms of helping our customers achieve success, and these are the programs that we're investing in and building out and really to refining, for instance, our professional services team has a pretty clear mandate about the things that we do and the things that we don't do. Part of that has to just come from we need to we need to build a culture of sustainability. Right? When a lot of times early in startups, you have to kind of do one off things or you have to experiment you have to figure it out. But at some point, you got to figure out what's sustainable for you and sustainable for your customers and sustainable for your employees. Right, because you can't have teams that are just jack of all trades. So sorry, it's probably a little bit of word soup there but I hope I hit on target a little bit but Adil Saleh 14:32 you're absolutely you absolutely did. Talking about your professional services. Of course, you have you have contractors or you have full time people behind like on the facing services and because the service can change, you know, it can have range of different you know, use cases different problematic, you know, processes that you need to fix, because since you're working in manufacturing, that's pretty large scale enterprise sometimes and They have different kinds of challenges. Firstly, analyze them sit with them had the right people to, you know, to get the right answers. And then you know, what kind of framework you have around the team? On the professional services? One? Yeah. Marc Ray 15:14 So we we basically, you know, I, I would say where you know, nothing in terms of like a formalized like framework, but we know what services we have to do in house, all of our team members are full time, they are absolutely full time team members, we do work with partners that can provide specialties at scale. Because we are a SaaS company, right? So any lot of SaaS companies, right, you're not looking to have a bench of people just sitting around, right, that are costing money, and you don't know, right? But we are also, we do realize that, you know, especially right now that this, this sort of time period is an experiment to see what our capacity projections might look like. And like any company will scale appropriately with the right full time to Dozuki team member, we, we like team members, we like people that are invested into Dozuki invested in their career here. However, we also realize who we are as a company. So that means if there are partners we have, and especially some of those partners have a skill set and a depth they've developed over the years, we're not going to go try to replicate that, what we're going to do is partner with them. And where we provide our expertise is where a lot of our customers need help is we know how to manage that journey. So we can whether you want to call it project management or other facets of it, we're extremely good at that. And that's what we're bringing to the table to our customers, whether it's us in our professional services, or it's a partnership. And what it comes down to is, you know, can we, you know, roughly can you afford to do it right, it really just comes down to margins. Luckily, being a SaaS company, we're not, we're not, you know, you you're not confined to trying to grow like your PS margins as exponentially or like you, it's just not a top end goal for luckily for our board to say like, oh, you know, we want to see 20 million and PS services this year. Because, again, our core business is SaaS PS is there as a customer accelerator. Adil Saleh 17:21 Got it. I love the model. And, you know, having the right pool of partners always help, you know, you have like the kind of second absolute. So it's also about like, what kind of challenges your customers are having. And if you have a smart pool of partners that are smarter than you, they have better resources and capabilities and the team on their business, you can absolutely have trusted partners on the line and you know, get that problem that's, you know, creating a roadblock. Yes, relationship sorted. So what kind of partnership Do you have, we can definitely talk about this, because a lot of sass companies, a lot of service base models that are find to partner up with tech companies like yours, they will listen to you, and then they can reach you reach out if you can be of any partnering up position or anything. So you can you can go ahead and let us know also about that at the end. Right now. I mean, you're a team of around 80. And how big is your team as a VP? Like, I'm just talking about post sales operations? Marc Ray 18:25 Yeah, it's actually a great question. We just had some new folks join. I think we're roughly like, 18 post sale right now. Between between 15 and 18. Okay, and, yeah, that covers, okay, customer success, support for professional services, and our technical support or team. Adil Saleh 18:44 Okay, so there is a technical account manager, there's support team, there's a success team. And then there's, you know, professional, it's more of a consultation team that provides professional services provides consultation that some so talking about success team that measures the success and adoption and retention and all that part of what kind of technologies have you had in place for those, of course it is at then the SAS platform. So you need to make sure you stay on top of there. Your customers activities, like weekly, monthly, and how do you basically monitor those stats and metrics to gauge the health of an account? How does that process and what kind of technologies if you have any incorporate? Marc Ray 19:31 Yeah, so again, I've been here about seven or eight months. Somebody kids month math in my head. Yeah, so actually, actually, I'm going on right on eight months. So we're sort of you know, the technology is we've gone a little bit back to basics, right? We actually are very fortunate to have some very talented folks within our squad that right now for our analytics. We are We're using some internal tools to pull analytics out of our database. And then using I think it gets now Looker. But it used to be Google's Data Studio that you can throw at. Yeah, so we use Looker, to do our product analytics and build out dashboards, we're iterating fast through those. I'm a big fan of at this stage and a company you need to prototype. Right. So for us to like invest in a technology or platform means I know the requirements I have of that. I don't know the full requirements that we need for an analytics platform. And right now, Looker's version that literally, it's the version that comes with our Google, excuse me subscription for Gmail, and drive. And all of that is proving to be extremely useful. Starting to run up a little bit of a wall where we need to put a database behind it and such. But every startup or every private equity backed firm, everybody, every company I've worked for, at this stage, sort of like, Hey, let's go back to basics. Because we can prototype in Excel, we can prototype in Looker, we can prototype in Airtable, I can't prototype as much in something like, you know, a bigger maybe BI tool or implementation because now I gotta start to get requirements around data warehouse and some of those other features which encompasses a wider audience. So similar to our Salesforce, some of the changes we're making right now, it's less about me and my particular needs, it's more about like, How can I prototype within my team, so that I can then build those requirements that I can then bring to the table with the other teams for the bigger system. Same with the CMS platform, we actually turned one off or turning one off, we have actually engaged some some some of the top ces platforms out there. And then we sort of put things on pause after where we sort of started taking apart our customer journey. And we realized that, hey, like, we could go get a platform, it could be wonderful. And it would sit there similar to like, someone getting Dozuki and not putting their content in there. We're not saying Adil Saleh 22:11 Absolutely. you got to make sure that you have rights and processes beforehand to be able to get implants platforms like Atlas Gainsight. Clang, there are loads. I'm sure you were talking about one of them. So what this was a real challenge, right? So you you make sure that you need to have all the data sources, data pipelines, pretty much built to make sure you once you integrate that platform, your post sales operations, specifically, customer success team has that data data populated and insights triggers, you know, that drive action for them. And that's the real use of that ces platform. So now you're using Looker alongside as a CRM using Salesforce and Looker indicates all of those triggers. And you know, polls noted for Zendesk. Okay, great. Great. So how does your onboarding we Marc Ray 23:02 we did acquire a Pendo. So that is another pen that we're rolling out for? Yeah, right. Yeah. So we're looking at how can we do. So Pendo is great, because we we also have this thing where we, you know, we might get a customer, but that customer has potentially hundreds or 1000s of users, and you can't expect your CSM to train all of them. So or you have turnover, or somebody joins and they're pretty swift, and they just need to know, right? How to do certain things. So we're looking at improving our inap experience. And that, that learning that that, you know, I think we can agree is in the world is that a lot of people don't learn by going to help sites, short videos, or inept or just in time information is what they want. They want that self service, I want the answer. Now, I don't want to email your support. So that's another area we're looking to improve. And then once we have all this sequence, which we're literally actively doing this right now, the CES leaders and PS leaders, and I kind of lock ourselves in a room and rebuilding this customer journey. Once that's done, then we sort of reengage with the platforms to figure out the requirements, and which ones are going to provide us the right solution. And we can bring the analytics to it also, which is another key. And again, part of that is we're high touch enterprise, right? Like we're not, for the most part, we're not going to send someone an email to start their onboarding and have them click near the app to get there. It's it's a little bit different. If you're like product lead growth or absolute something else where you want to have that triggered in app experience. Adil Saleh 24:34 Thatis what I was thinking more of like, how does your onboarding look like for a CSM or you have definitely a tech team as well that can do the onboarding. Initially for customers that that are not that tech savvy. So you have your technical team that the hardest you onboarding applied for enterprise. Marc Ray 24:52 Yeah, so we're pretty fortunate when it comes to the technical that's actually usually not the case. We do You know, if people want to do integrations with other platforms or things like that, we'll bring in our technical team occasionally. And there's like a workflow tweak or something. So we'll bring in the technical team to see what they can do via API. Sometimes there's some analytics, we plug in BI platforms, things like that, onboarding for us. So it was mostly training, and content development. So our system is dependent on people putting their content in. So people have those, whether it's work instructions, or processes, or data capture forms, or things or courses and training in the system, so that they can then roll that out to their team. If they don't have that in there, the platform doesn't really provide a lot of value. So it's about the onboarding is, yeah, it's about connecting. How do we what is the path to get them there? Adil Saleh 25:45 Do you take all the knowledge base capture all the information necessary information at the onboarding stage, to be able to, you know, better leverage this platform going forward? And then, you know, what's the next point for if I'm a customer, I have, like these three learning trainings to go through cross these teams, I add, you know, I give you access to all those data, data points, all of these. So how does that work for my team? Like my team? does? Does it get like all the notifications when they need that training? Are my customers how does that work? Can we just extend more? Marc Ray 26:19 Yeah, we we, you know, we work with each customer on their unique onboarding. So a customer may have, you know, we have some customers that may only have, say, 20 guides, but they'll get 1000s of views, 1000s and 1000s, we may have a customer that has 1000 guides. So what we do is we look at, you know, how do we sequence getting that content into our system? And at what point can we start training, right, because it usually is an apt guide, 1000, it's usually a guide, 10. And then we could start training, maybe a specific team. So usually, we try to look for those like almost ways that we can package up both the users and the champions and the content into sort of discrete milestones. And then those milestones usually just involve content training, and tracking adoption. Because again, we're for some of our customers, it might take a year for them to fully transfer all their content, because again, it could be a screenshot of a, you know, cricket PDF, or it could be a well formed Excel file, or something we can import just really depends. Adil Saleh 27:20 It depends. So based on the use cases, you're going to devise action items, and training and management, deliverables for your customers. Great. So by the way, you spoke about professional services, what is that? A few things that you would need people to hear if you can provide something and information and guidance, any networking, any kind of help that the startups would need? Or some of the services modern businesses, business owners, they listen to this podcast, any of the professional services that you would need for your customers? You can speak it out right here, so people can reach your, they'll find you once we publish this episode on. Yeah, yeah. Marc Ray 28:03 I mean, I would say, you know, if there are is anybody in our field that's looking to do digital transformation, we're not only the platform or the provider, right, we can help you achieve that. I wouldn't say it's some advice for startups, if you're having a lack of adoption, you need to look for those places where your customers are stalling out. And if you're seeing continuous patterns of that, that's a gap you may need to fill or go find a partner to fill. But if you just leave the gap there, it's always going to be there, right? It's always going to be there, you're never you're not going to hope it away. So you got to find a way to chip away at it. Don't Don't boil the ocean, right? Don't go but hire 10 people in your CFO is going to be wondering what's really going down there. But really figure out how you can chip away at it. And and, you know, if it does mean hiring 10 people great, you got a business plan for it. But otherwise, you know, there are ways to chipping away and figuring out how you can accelerate your customers journey, even when you don't have that control within your software. Usually that comes in the form of partnerships and services. Taylor Kenerson 29:06 Great, amazing. Cool stuff. Mark. Thank you. Thank you so much for your absolutely sharing so much. It was an incredible conversation. And I'm so excited to go live with this soon. And yeah, just thanks so much. It was amazing. Marc Ray 29:20 Thank you for having me Adil Saleh 29:22 Nice meeting you. Thank you so very much for staying with us on the episode, please share your feedback and 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 qualified 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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