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May 25, 2022 45 min

How to Improve Customer Success Through Proactive Engagement

The goal of every customer success (CS) team is to ensure that you drive value for your customers over time and help them to get the most out of your product. How can CS teams think ahead, help their customers to succeed, and avoid churn?

In this week’s episode, we have an engaging conversation with seasoned CS expert Mark Stagi (VP of Customer SuccessAvoma) about why proactive engagement should be the top priority for CS teams across the board. Mark also discusses the mistakes to avoid, the importance of using a “strategy first” approach, what metrics CS teams should be paying attention to, and what steps they can take to be more proactive with accounts.

https://youtu.be/pqQikNTKASs

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Mark explains why proactive engagement should be a top priority for CS. [1:37]
  • Some of the common mistakes and misconceptions around proactive engagement in CS, and how to address them. [6:55]
  • Putting in tools and technology too early
  • Generic outreach that’s not adding value
  • Not asking questions about the who, why and what
  • Mark shares a story of how he turned a situation around where customers were planning to churn – and what he learned from it. [12:25]
  • Mark shares some steps that CS teams can take right now as part of their proactive engagement and the quick wins. [27:46]
  • Map out the customer journeys (including those outside the CS scope)
  • Understand what value means to customers
  • Get to know every different persona within the company
  • Some metrics that CS teams should pay attention to when it comes to proactive engagement. [35:59]
  • Companies & links mentioned in this episode:

  • Mark Stagi on LinkedIn
  • Avoma
  • Click here to access the episode key takeaways.

    Transcript

    SPEAKER

    Christian Klepp, Mark Stagi

    Christian Klepp  00:00

    Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp. Okay, welcome, everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. I’m your host, Christian Klepp. And today I’m joined by someone on a mission to take the customer success practice to the next level. So coming to us from San Jose, California, Mr. Mark Stagi. Welcome to the show, sir.

    Mark Stagi  00:46

    Awesome. Thank you, Christian, for having me on the show. Super happy to be here and looking forward to the conversation.

    Christian Klepp  00:53

    Likewise, Mark, and you know, I’m really looking forward to this discussion. And before we start, shout out to your buddy and my buddy too, Yaag, thank you so much for the introduction.

     

    Mark Stagi  01:02

    Yes, yes. No, that’s awesome. Cool.

    Christian Klepp  01:05

    So yeah, let’s, let’s kick off this conversation Mark. And I’d like to go back to a recent conversation that you have with your CEO Aditya, and it’s on the modern SaaS podcast. So you, you were talking about what CS (Customer Success) teams need to do when a big account churns. Now, when you mentioned something like that, it kind of sounds like a little bit of a reactive approach, or at least that could be viewed by some as such. So talk to us about why you think proactive engagement is the way to go and why that should be a top priority for CS.

    Mark Stagi  01:37

    Great. Yeah, no, and you’re totally right. I mean, when you do have something that happens, where a large account already churns, you’re really in, in reactive mode. And that’s the mode that you should be in a few percent of your day as a CSM (Customer Success Manager). Really, what a CSM should drive towards is how do you act as a strategic adviser to your accounts? How are you putting playbooks together that are going to be proactive in nature? How do you stay ahead of the curve? You know, and when I think about it, the goal overall of a CSM really should be, how are you driving value for your accounts? How do you know what value means for them? And then how are you working as a partner with them, you know, week over week, month over month that continue driving more value over time. And that really comes from a lot of proactive playbooks that you should put in place. And like I said, making sure that you’re, you’re always ahead of the curve, you know, what the customer needs are before they really do, and you’re working with them hand in hand to achieve their business goals.

    Christian Klepp  02:46

    That’s absolutely right. And I’m just gonna play devil’s advocate just a little bit, right. Cuz I mean, I totally hear what you’re saying. But just break it down for us a little bit what you mean by, you know, adding value, because, you know, everybody talks about adding value. And more often than not, a lot of people don’t actually define what that what that means. Right. So yeah. So yeah. Could you elaborate on that a little bit further?

    Mark Stagi  03:10

    That is a great question. And I think that really is the start of when you’re building a CS organization. So you’re at a company that’s smaller, and you’re building out your CS org, one of the first things that I think you always should do is really have a crystal clear definition of what value means in a tangible way for customers. And again, not getting into the clouds of oh value means we’re going to save you time. Well, every software is trying to save people time. But what does that mean, in in measurable ways? And then what does that mean for different personas at the company? Because I think, you know, one thing that is, is just interesting to think about, you know, when you look at your customers, you’re gonna have a lot of different personas, you’ll have end users, you’ll have managers using your system, you’ll have an executive that’s in the system, potentially, and depending on their persona, value to them will mean different things. So it is one exercise that I’ve always went through to say, what does that mean, to whom and when, and defining that so, you know, really getting into the weeds. And then once you’ve defined that, making sure that again, it’s measurable. And you can put that into a playbook. So for example, one company that I was at in the past, we had a tool that gave a pretty measurable ROI (Return on Investment) to our customers, and especially to a finance team where we could show them the penny of how much money we can save them. And that was a key part of our value pillars. Now there were a few other pillars that we came up with, and this was part of a whole study that we did, we met with a lot of our CFOs (Chief Financial Officer), we met with a lot of our Finance leaders that were our customers, we dug into, you know, how would they at renewal time really measure what the success is? What ROI are they looking for. And then with that, we created these three key pillars that were pretty much consistent across the board with our customer base. And, and then we rolled that into the sales process. So sales starting to speak in those languages of these three pillars. We rolled that into the CSM onboarding process, we rolled that into the CSM QBR (Quarterly Business Reviews) process. So we were always talking about, here’s the value that we know you’re looking for, here your goals aligned with that value. And then here’s how you’re tracking towards that. But again, I think it has to be measurable. You know, and it has to be really clear, you can’t have these vague statements that you know that you’re defining value as or that won’t hold any ground.

    Christian Klepp  05:52

    Absolutely, absolutely. And going back to what you said, it has to be linked to this problem of this challenge that you’re helping customers to address versus like, versus the company saying, Well, we’re adding value because of these product features. Right? Because you get to bit of that too.

    Mark Stagi  06:10

    Oh, yeah. Yeah. No, it always has to be measurable. And then that should align with the product roadmap that you’re building out, as well, like, once a new feature is released to your point, you know, you should know how that will impact the value to your end users, and how that’s going to,  how that’s going to manifest more value for the economic buyer of the account? And how are you going to translate that into like real ROI savings for them?

    Christian Klepp  06:36

    Absolutely. Right. And you brought up something which I thought was a great segue into the next question, which is common mistakes and misconceptions that you’ve seen when it comes to the topic of proactive engagement. And they’ll talk to us about goals and how they should be addressed. And I’m sure you will have no problem answering that question.

    Mark Stagi  06:55

    Yeah, yeah, no, I think I think there’s a lot of misconception when it comes to how do you be proactive and, and where I’ve seen it start, you know, is in talking to other people in the industry. And, and also, as you know, I’ve been at a few high growth companies interviewing lots of people in the CS space. I think one, one real common area that it can start with is this concept of, okay, we need to be proactive. So let’s first put in some tools and technology right away. And people will run to, you know, grab a tool and say, what do we need to solve for? Well, we need to make sure customers are logging into our system, you know, we’re a SaaS based system, and we’re selling by seat, we need to make sure people are logging in. So let’s put a bunch of automation in where if people don’t log in, after two days, we’re going to send them an email from the CSM. And it’s going to say, hey, we need to talk, let’s talk about usage. And let’s make sure that you’re on the right path, or we need to check in, you know, and they send these kind of generic too, which is another topic of outreach that, you know, isn’t adding any value, it’s more of coming from a sense of worry or concern. And I think the problem is, you’re really looking to solve a very complex problem with technology in a super simple way. And what I think people need to do instead is first start with asking a bunch of questions around the who and the why, and that what you know, because even a simple thing with logging in, again, you would, you would think at the very beginning that of course, if you don’t log in, you’re not driving value. But again, I’ve seen at many different companies, that really is not always the case, when you look at it through the lens of the persona. So if you’re looking at the lens of you know, someone who bought the tool, maybe it’s a VP of sales, it’s the VP of marketing that bought a tool, and you know, in that case, they’re never going to log in, and they probably shouldn’t log in. So, again, I think you need to start with kind of the why, start with what are they trying to accomplish? And what is that value? So once you identify those value, key pillars that customers are looking for, then you work backwards from that and start to figure out what should the strategy be. And once you have this strategy baked out, then you can look to tools and process and you know, technology to help with that. But I think a lot of times lately it’s almost backwards where people look to the tool, and they just say if I get that it’s going to solve my problem. But it actually hurts a lot more than then then it really helps. Because again, they’re you’re sending out things to people without the right context. You’re kind of taking this almost like spray and pray approach to just saturate your user base with communication. But you don’t really fully understand what should they be doing when they do log in? And how can you help them to hit their key business goals and objectives?

    Christian Klepp  10:08

    Absolutely. I mean, I love how you brought up that issue. And we’ve all seen that with this constant obsession with, let’s add as much to the tech stack as we possibly can. And let’s just in the, in the absence of an actual strategy, or an actual understanding of the user journey and the user experience, let’s replace that with technology. Yeah, and I mean, I don’t want to like hang anyone off to dry here, but like, just try going to a bank. Right, or calling a bank? Oh, yeah. And see what kind of see what kind of sequence they put you through with the with the, the automation and the pre, the pre-recorded messages and the AI and all of that, right. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be using AI, there’s a there’s a time and place for that for sure. But it’s this whole is this whole notion, and I think that’s what you’re getting at is this assumption. They’re working… they’re assuming that that’s how the user behaves. Right?

    Mark Stagi  11:08

    Oh, yeah. No, it is you’re right. It’s based on a lot of assumptions. And it’s based on, you know, kind of taking some ideas in a closed room and saying, Oh, I think this would work. And, theoretically, hypothetically, it should work. And again, there’s nothing wrong with having a hypothesis, I think a lot of what you should do in business is very scientific. And you’re running a hypothesis, seeing what works and what doesn’t. But what’s missing is looking at it through the customer’s lens, and seeing again, tying it back to what’s the impact to their business goals, what’s really going to be the impact to, you know, the ROI that they get from the tool. And once you put it in that perspective, a lot really does change. And you’ll realize that, Oh, we’re having people go through all this automation, and all these hoops, but it’s not really adding anything to them, you know, they’re not more productive with your tool, they’re not going to get more value out of the tool at the end of the day, you know, their ROI isn’t stronger, because of some of this automation that you’re putting in place, and you’re not going to help them to get there typically.

    Christian Klepp  12:12

    Yeah, that’s absolutely right. Okay. So talk to us about a CS challenge that you and your team have managed to solve in the past 12 months, and just talk about one particular case, if you can.

    Mark Stagi  12:25

    Yeah, no, there was one customer that always comes to mind, because it really is a very memorable story, which most customers are where you have someone kind of on that ledge that you need to bring back. But it also I think, goes to this proactive versus reactive conversation as well. So I remember years ago, we had a customer. And we were going through… I was at a company, we’re going through a lot of growth. They had signed on, they had went through a very simple onboarding. So the onboarding, at that point wasn’t really fully baked out yet. It wasn’t consultative. We didn’t have a distilled view into like, what value means. Yeah, so the onboarding was pretty “Point and Click” almost like a checklist item of onboarding that we went through. So we did some training, we show them how to use the application, we got things configured, and we handle the basics, but didn’t really get into… Why did you buy? what are your business goals? And, you know, so we started the relationship off on the wrong track in that sense. And from there, though, they had been a customer for a number of months, I believe, about eight months, at the point, when I really started to get involved, they started to see some small bugs with the system. So you know, again, they ran into a few things that most companies are going to go through when you’re in software, you’re going to have bugs, you’re never going to have a completely bug free environment. And these were small, but at the same time, they kept happening continually. And it was a distraction. So even though they were getting some value out of the tool, since we never had these proactive value conversations with them, what they were focused on, and what was just right in front of them was a couple of these little bugs. And with that they started to get this perception of this tool is giving us no value at all. And you know, we should probably cancel because it has bugs, it has issues, you know, and again, if you’re not having this value driven ROI conversation with them, they’re going to focus on what’s straight in front of them. So I remember they were at this point, they continue to bring it up, they were getting angry, they started to say, hey, maybe this is not the tool for us. And they had a renewal coming in in a few months. So they were I think about four months away from renewal. So what we did is we said, Okay, we need to first flip the conversation completely on its head. We need to go out and meet with the customer too face to face and sit down, acknowledge, yes, there’s, there’s bugs, here’s what we’re doing for that. But turn the conversation right away into, let’s bring you back to the point of sale when you purchase this product. Why did you purchase the product? Does that still hold true? Yes. Okay, how are we hitting those key goals and objectives? Well, once we started to unpack that with them, we realized that we were providing a ton of value to them, we were saving them a lot of time, we were saving them money. And their team was so efficient, they were able to repurpose some of the people in the team for different projects. And there was all this value that we had provided them. We didn’t as a company communicate to that, that to them at all. And, you know, again, we really missed the boat with this, because we were in this reactive phase, we were just getting these calls once a week that there was an issue. So once we sat down with them and said, Hey, first we take full ownership, there’s, there’s some issues, there are some pain points that you have, we will resolve those. But let’s talk about why, again, why you purchased and what that looks like today. And how can we make that even better? So they had these business goals that we pretty much were hitting already, and they just didn’t think about them? And we if we’re not telling them, they’re not gonna go out of their way to say, Oh, how much value are we really getting from this? How much time savings do we have on a per person basis because of the software, they’re not going to do that homework, you know, that’s your job as a company to show them. Here’s the value that we provide. So when we flip that on, on its head, everything changed. You know, and we put together the output of that, as we said, Okay, we now know where we sit, we’re giving you a quantifiable value that hits your goals, but let’s exceed that, how do we partner with you even stronger, to make this business case, even better? What are some other things that we can do for you that you might not know about that will continue to strengthen this, this business case and this ROI. And, you know, with that, we were able to expand the offering. So we went from someone that really was frustrated, I mean, and to be honest, more frustrating than any customer I’ve ever seen. Whereas when I remember myself, and the CSM went into their office, the first thing that they said to us before we could sit down when we went to, you know, hey, great to meet you in person, this is the first time we’re meeting, the first thing out of their mouth was this was the worst decision I’ve ever purchased in my life in my career, and we will definitely cancel. And again, we haven’t sat down yet. And I said, Oh, okay, well, I’m here to make sure that by the end of these next couple of hours, you know, this is changed. And we can really turn that around. And again, we did and it was great to see after we change the conversation into what your strategic goals are, how do we measure that? Where are we at? How do we move forward and drive more and more value. They purchased a couple of our other products that we had, they became a speaker at our conference two years later, which was so cool. So I got to sit down with her at a fireside chat and have her tell her story about the value that we are creating. But again, it really, you know, they got to that point, because we did as a company, a very poor job in showing them how they were doing against their business goals. And we were just in this reactive, you know, mode. And then after that, again, we started to do quarterly business reviews every single quarter with them that were very data driven. That always started with the why, you know, every business review would start with, as a reminder, here’s what you bought us. Here’s that value you’re looking for. Here’s how we’ve done in the last quarter. And then again, how do we continue to increase this quarter over quarter over quarter? So you know, you look at this as the best decision you’ve made in your career. Not the worst, the worst decision.

    Christian Klepp  19:10

    It’s a great story, man. And uh, you know, kudos to you and your team for you know, let’s let’s use that analogy turning the ship around, right, like, because that could have gone down really fast. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Had you not done something. That’s the challenge.

    Mark Stagi  19:30

    Ya no. And again, I think it really does show that, you know, when you are in this reactive state, you’re really letting the customer control their journey with your business. You’re putting them fully in the driver’s seat, and they don’t know your business. They shouldn’t know your business. They shouldn’t be responsible for saying, Oh, here’s the ROI that I got out of this solution and here’s why it’s so great. You need to guide them on how to measure that, what that even looks like, how to improve that, you know, you are their strategic adviser, and you’re here to increase the business value that they get over time. So you know, but that all comes by being very proactive, looking through their data, and having a clear story on what that data means.

    Christian Klepp  20:18

    Absolutely. And it goes back to what you said earlier. I mean, like, you know, whatever you say, you know, be in the driver’s seat or use a consultative approach. Right. But I think what you’re also alluding to, which I totally agree with, by the way, is you use, it’s not just necessarily that you have to work harder, you have to, you have to use a different approach that requires a bit more time. And it requires, it requires having those conversations with customers, you know, it’s instead of just, you know, as you alluded to, just going through this checklist, okay, on boarded them done and dusted.

    Mark Stagi  20:51

    Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah, it’s a, it’s always a journey. That’s very long term. You know, and I think that’s what also drives business value, that will be for our company, right. So for us, that’s what builds a really good, strong business is thinking about, how do we get this customer to get more value from our solution over a one to three year period? You know, not… How do we solve their need today. You know, and again, then you’re in that reactive approach, and you’re just trying to, to solve a small problem, or you’re, you’re distracted by the little things that, in the end might not be as powerful as a really large initiative that they might be able to take advantage of.

    Christian Klepp  21:39

    That’s absolutely right. This is something that we discussed in a previous conversation, but it’s also something that other guests have said on the show, when you’re talking about technology, what’s the best approach? And they’re always talking about strategy first? And then that technology? So what are your What are your thoughts on that?

    Mark Stagi  21:57

    Yeah, no, I agree. And you’re right, we hinted at it earlier. You know, I think technology is great. For sure. I personally love technology. I have since I was a kid, I am a complete tech nerd in so many ways. You know, but alone, it’s just a vehicle. And, you know, again, if you are relying on that, to solve all your problems, you’re going to miss why do you even need to solve these problems? What is the impact that these problems are going to make? So, you know, I think you always have to start first with your goals. What is the strategy look like? Build out the playbook that you have, and the playbook in a sense of, you know, what are we trying to accomplish? So playbook isn’t just, oh, I need to send this again, automated reminder to a user who hasn’t logged in to get them back into the tool. The playbook is, okay, we need to see customers using our tool that are these personas, they should use it in this way. The value that they’re going to get when they use the system is this. And how can we then devise a flow that’s going to speak to them at the right place at the right time. You know, but I think it really does start with first having just this, this broad view into, into what the journey of the customer is going to be? What are your goals? How do you put together a journey that will help them hit your goals? And then you layer technology on top of it. And yeah, there’s lots of cool things you could do with AI for sure. I mean, there’s, there’s so many tools that we do have. But again, I think it can be a distraction, because they’re shiny, they’re new, they’re cool. You know, they can solve a problem. But, you know, you got to make sure you know what, you’re what you’re trying to solve for first before you implement them.

    Christian Klepp  23:57

    Yeah, absolutely. Um, you just made me think of another question. So like, you know, clearly people are obsessed with, okay, let’s, let’s use the newest tech, right? Or let’s use this kind of software, because, you know, everybody’s using it, and it’s gotten great reviews. But do you also think that there’s probably another layer to that and what I mean is like, the layer or people are not just obsessed with technology, but they’re obsessed with scaling at all costs, where the problem lies as well.

    Mark Stagi  24:27

    Yeah, that’s actually an interesting question. I think that’s part of it. But I think I think what also might be, you know, happening is people, you know, people can get this false sense of security and, you know, think that by being busy, because the downside of technology too, is it. It takes a lot of work typically to set up. It depends on the tool that you’re that you’re installing, but you know, Many SaaS, software’s will take you two or three months of time to set up. And, you know, I think that there can be this, this, this trap that people fall into, that says, Oh, if I am, you know, I’m a new Rev Ops person, I’m joining a company, or I need to install these 10 things, and this is going to take me, you know, 10 months to build out. And at the end of the day, I’m accomplished, like, I’ve done a lot. Because I’ve, I’ve put these 10 tools in action. When again, I think that’s like the opposite way that you should approach it, you should say, as a Rev Ops leader, how can I come in and add value to my company quickly? Value, a lot of times, is not being busy implementing other tools,  not being busy putting a lot of these other things together, it’s like, really diving into the problem. What do we need to solve for Rev Ops? Well, you know, you might be able to get by with using Excel and a few other simple tools, versus this complicated tech stack that you can put together and focus more on the details of the problem you’re trying to solve versus, you know, this rat race of you’re implementing a new tool every month. I mean, it can’t just get into this thing where again, I think it’s like a false sense of accomplishment, or value you’re providing to your company. When you know, in the end, the results might be pretty, pretty, pretty small.

    Christian Klepp  26:29

    Yeah, well, absolutely. And that’s, and I think just to add on, it’s so you don’t end up being busy. troubleshooting and firefighting right?

    Mark Stagi  26:39

    Yeah, yeah.

    Christian Klepp  26:40

    Cuz that can often do that.

    Mark Stagi  26:42

    Yeah, the bigger the tech stack gets, you know, that can eat up so much of your time. You’re right.

    Christian Klepp  26:49

    Absolutely. Absolutely.

    Okay, Mark, we get to the point in the conversation where we talk about actionable tips. Right. So now, let me just set this up. Let’s, let’s appreciate that. Not everything can be done overnight. Right. Some of this will take time. What are some immediate steps that you know, you’ve put into place? And you know, through your experience? What are some steps that CS teams can take right now as part of their proactive engagement with the council quick wins and the low hanging fruit?

    Mark Stagi  27:46

    Yeah, so I think there’s a couple of things that that a lot of companies, especially if they haven’t built out a fully fully matured CS team, so you know, this might not apply to people with a CS team of 60 to in the hundreds. But as you’re getting started, I think there’s two things that everyone can do one is just take a lot of time, and write out and fully map out what that customer journey is, including things that are outside of your scope. It shouldn’t be what you have ownership with, within CS, it should be everything from how is the SDR (Sales Development Representative) team doing outreach? How do inbound leads come in? What type of content marketing is delivering? You know, what is that whole journey through the customers lens from introducing the brand to the customer to them renewing, them growing over time? And I think that exercise is something that can get glossed over many times, but it provides a lot of value. And that feeds into Okay, here is my strategy now. Now that I know this whole journey, how can I improve upon the different stages within the journey? So I think that’s one key. And then I think the other thing, though, we touched on earlier, it is really thinking about talking to customers and understanding what value means. So it goes back to your original, your original questions. But I think there’s a lot of… just a lot of strength that you’ll get from taking the time to say, for… and by persona. And depending on your, depending on your software to it could also not just be by persona, it might be by segment. So you might want to say by our enterprise customers versus SMB (Small and Medium sized Business) customers or industry, but taking a look at by persona, what does value mean to them, why, how you can measure it, how you can start to get that data in the hands of your CS team, so they can have deeper data driven conversations. Those are two things that I think are really like fundamental, especially with just setting a good foundation for growth in the future. If you do those two things early, that’ll produce a ton of results for you.

    Christian Klepp  29:59

    Yeah, and all those sounds really great tips. Yeah.

    Mark Stagi  30:03

    And then and then real quick, too. I think the other piece around low hanging fruit that sounds really simple and it’s funny for me to say it but as I was thinking about it, one great low hanging fruit is again, take all the technology and everything out of the way. Look at your top customers that you have and talk to them. You know like that is the best low hanging fruit – Get to know on a personal level, your top, whatever it’s gonna be your top 100 customers, get to know every different personas within the company. So your VP of sales, you’re your sales manager, your sales rep out there in the field, have conversations with them. That is like the simplest low hanging fruit. If you don’t know everything about those people, and again, I always say you should stalk them in a non of course stalker way, in a way that’s coming from like the heart, it’s coming from the right intent, the better you know them, the better you can actually take care of them, the better you can provide them with more value. But you should you should know everything about how they got to the point where they’re at in their career. What are their career goals? You know, it’s not just about your software, you’re selling to people. So the more you can get to know those people, you know, the sales manager wants to be a VP of sales end of year. Well, how can your software help him to get there? You have someone that is an AE, and she’s like, I want to be a VP and X amount of years. How can you help her get to where she asked through your tool. So I think just that simple fact of, you know, or if you’re a CSM, that’s going to a new role at a new company, pick up the phone and start talking to people get to meet them in person, if you can, if there’s an event where 10 of your customers are like, You should be at that event, getting to know who they are. And that’s like one of the simplest things that anyone can do.

    Christian Klepp  31:56

    Great tips, great tips. And I know you said it sounds so simple, but in reality, it’s interesting to know how not everybody does that. Right? Like they, it sounds like table stakes, like go and talk to your customers, but they don’t. But I wanted to go back to something you said I think was your first tip about taking the time to write and map out what that customer journey looks like. And I’m curious to hear your take on this. Like, do you feel that sometimes where it tends to go wrong, when it comes to customer success is because people are so I guess the operating term is working in silos so they don’t, they can’t see it, like from a holistic point of view and capture the entire, like the ecosystem in its entirety?

    Mark Stagi  32:42

    Yeah, yeah, oh, yeah. No, no, I think you’re spot on there. You know, you really need to look at it through the perspective of, you know, the, the wider kind of business vantage point, how all these things play together. And, you know, if you’re looking at your silo only, you like the best, the best example is, there’s all these handoffs with the customer, you go from the sales process to then implementation, well, that’s a really simple process. And it’s only one step away, the more steps you have to, the more removed you are from sales process, the worse things can get. But you know, right there, you should have a seamless, beautiful customer experience, right? You should know, if you’re on the professional service side, onboarding, whatever it’s called at your company, you’re getting a new account, your goal is to take them, to get them to use this solution to get to know their business goals in the first month, whatever your onboarding goals are, you should know everything about their journey so far, you should know how they spoke with the SDR team. You know, ideally, you should be able to hear snippets from those conversations and things like that, you know, so you can have a really deep understanding of that voice of customer. But you should for sure know, what they’ve went through, how things are positioned, that will put you in a place where you can have the right impact in your conversations, and you’re not… And again, if it gives you the ability to have a great customer experience, because you’re not repeating yourself, you know, you’re not asking a bunch of irrelevant questions, you know, you come in and from the customer’s point of view, it just… it looks like a lifecycle that’s all streamlined together. It’s all one company one voice you know, it’s not these fragmented, like, Okay, now you get moved over to professional services. Now you get moved over to CSM, now you move over to support, and every way along the line, the customer is like jolted you know, going, Oh, I gotta repeat myself. This is terrible.

    Christian Klepp  34:55

    Oh, we’ve never experienced that before. Mark, come on. (laugh)

    Mark Stagi  35:00

    Yeah, and it’s a hard problem to solve, you know, too. I mean, that’s why not every company has this amazing end to end experience. You know, it’s not easy. It needs to iterate over time. You know, there’s, there’s a lot to that. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of strategic thinking, which goes back to you know, the whole topic today. You know, you really need to take time to look at the whole picture. And, you know, devise a seamless journey. And, you know, I think sometimes with the day to day hustle that people have that just gets put on the backburner, and it never gets done.

    Christian Klepp  35:39

    Yeah, well, absolutely. Absolutely. On the topic of things that can be measurable, all right, like metrics, but let’s focus on, you know, when it comes to proactive engagement with accounts, what metrics would you recommend that CS teams pay attention to?

    Mark Stagi  35:59

    Yeah, yeah. So this is, this is always tricky. Because I really do believe that it depends so much on your company. And your goals. What I would say, though, is one thing that I’ve done that’s worked well, in the past is, you know, first start with having a good understanding of all of the different events that are happening within a customer – from, you know, how much time they’re spending on certain features to what features that they are spending time with. So I think, you know, unfortunately, there’s no like silver bullet of look at this, like, some people say, oh, yeah, NPS look at NPS? Well, again, lots of reasons why I think that’s the wrong approach. I’d love NPS for a little bit of a pulse. But depending on who you’re giving the NPS feedback to, and a couple other things, that’s still not going to drive the right proactive measures for you. So I think you need to start with looking at – on a persona, what are they actually doing. And based on that, come up with some hypothesis on how you think certain things are going to be more impactful than others. And then though, it really it really goes into having a very scientific mathematical approach to doing some regression analysis and seeing based on that, what really is driving the right behaviors. And it even goes to like a growth mentality that a lot of growth teams do. You know, one thing that I remember, years ago, I was at a company that was a CRM. And we went through a process where we, we identified for the key end user, what were all of the actions or events that they would do within the app. And it took us time again, this took us months. But the output of that was super interesting, because we were able to see that it wasn’t just people that were logging in for five hours a day that was important, it actually was one simple thing, if they would go in and connect their email to our system, which then automatically would ingest email and put AI and all these things on top of that. But if they would do that, and if they would do that within the first six hours of having the account set up. So it was very, very fine tuned, that drove hundreds of a percent of increase in growth in these accounts, and much, much less churn. So you kind of have to get to that level, though, where you take a look at everything that they’re doing, you do some regression analysis to say, Okay, what does this one event mean? If people are doing this, do they grow as a company? Or do they turn as a company or, or contract as a company, and that I think will get you to some metrics that are going to be really, really important. And that will drive a ton of change at your company. But you kind of have to go through that exercise. You know, again, I think you could point to usage, NPS other stuff. It’s just gonna get you chasing your tail. You know, and it’s not going to make the impact that you want. You got to kind of do this regression analysis to know what truly is important.

    Christian Klepp  39:19

    Yeah, no, absolutely. Absolutely. All right. A status quo and we’re specifically talking about CS here that you passionately disagree with, and why?

    Mark Stagi  39:35

    Yeah, it’s funny, I was having a conversation with someone the other day with a with a sales leader and we got on this topic that that is a kind of common topic sometimes with sales and CS, which is who owns the customer. And I have a very opinionated point of view on this topic. But you know, first I would say, even the words you know, that you use are so important. And, you know, I think when you present that question, Okay, who owns a customer’s sales? CS? is it marketing? Is it whoever? The word owns is the worst word to use anyways, because no one really owns the customer. You’re partnering with a customer. If you really would think about, you know that that term, you could say the entire company, though is vested in the success of the customer is, I think a better way to put it that everyone plays a part in the success of a customer and the success of our company. But, you know, then when you break it down further, you know, again, I think it’s not really a question around ownership, it’s a question around who is the driver, because you do need a driver, you can’t have multiple people that are trying to drive a car, you’re going to crash, you know, if I’m on the steering wheel, and my wife next to me is handling the gas and the brake, that’s probably going to be a recipe for an accident to happen in a car. So you need a driver. But even there, I think sometimes people will think about that question in too simplistic of a term. And they’ll say, oh, yeah, okay, you need a driver. So then sales or sales will kind of drive it, there’ll be the quarterback of the account. And, you know, again, I think you, you need to really look at what are you trying to accomplish, and where within… it goes back to the journey, where within the journey is the customer? You know, so the way that I think about it is, you have multiple different quarterbacks at different times of a customer’s lifecycle. You also have times where you’re playing offense or defense as well. And that’s a whole different thing. And, you know, if you use football as the analogy, yes, there’s a quarterback that quarterbacks only an offense. Well, there’s a whole position of defense. And at the same at a company, when you’re engaging with an account, you might be on the offense, in some ways. And at a certain point in the journey, it might make sense for the CS person to be that quarterback. But then other times, it makes sense for other people to play a supporting role, or if you’re on defense for other people to lead that defensive initiative. And I think you, you just have to look at it through the lens of – here’s the journey, what makes the most sense, to drive the right strategic value to this customer at this point in the journey. And then you figure out who are the drivers or who are the quarterbacks or whatever term you want to use. But I think there’s so much of a negative kind of consequences that can come with a really simplistic thinking around, oh, yeah, I own it. And it’s my responsibility, and nobody else does. You know, it really, I mean, it can also just create a super bad culture, there’s a lot of other things that I think are negative about that. But at the end, you know, the customer is the one that’s not getting the right value, or they’re at a disservice. Because you’re you’re trying to control something that you shunt at the at the wrong time, if that makes sense.

    Christian Klepp  43:15

    Absolutely. Makes sense. And I think it reminds me of this whole like saying, right, there’s, it’s, it’s not black and white. It’s more like shades of gray. Right? Like it’s not such straightforward for an answer.

    Mark Stagi  43:28

    Oh, yeah. Yep. Totally. Totally.

    Christian Klepp  43:31

    Fantastic. Mark, thank you so much for coming on the show. I mean, this is such a great conversation, um, quick introduce yourself, and how folks out there can get in touch with you.

    Mark Stagi  43:42

    Awesome. Well, thanks again, for having me. This was a great conversation. So I can be found anyplace on the web. Right, right now, I’m the VP of Customer Success over here at Avoma. You can reach out to me always via email just mark@avoma.com, which is super easy, avoma.com. But you can find me on any of the key networks out there. I’m available on LinkedIn. You can find me on Twitter at just MarkStagi. Again, mark with a K. Stagi is my Twitter handle. But reach out any any way. I’m I’m one of the very few Mark Stagi out there. So which is the good thing. My name is unique. It might be hard to pronounce sometimes for most people, including myself, but if you if you Google me, there’s not many other people out there. So easy to find me and always happy to engage with any people out there in the community.

    Christian Klepp  44:42

    Fantastic. Fantastic. Once again, thanks so much for your time. Take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.

    Mark Stagi  44:50

    Awesome. All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.

    Christian Klepp  44:52

    Bye for now.

    Mark as Played

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