The Digital Customer Success Podcast

Building Effective Customer Scorecards with Jeff Beaumont of GitLab | Episode 004

July 04, 2023 Alex Turkovic Episode 4
The Digital Customer Success Podcast
Building Effective Customer Scorecards with Jeff Beaumont of GitLab | Episode 004
Show Notes Transcript

If deep intel on how to develop a Customer Scorecard is what you want, then this interview with Jeff Beaumont will deliver! Jeff is someone who has spent a lot of cycles thinking critically about the topic of health scores and digital CS in general...we are the lucky ones who benefit from the knowledge he's attained.

In this episode, Jeff and I discuss the anatomy of digital motions, his key takeaways from Pulse '23, strategies for building effective customer health scores, scoring frameworks (PROVE & DEAR), among other things!


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The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

And it's encouraging because if we think about Digital customer success, we're not just thinking about, okay, let's put another CSM on it, but it's thinking, gosh. To be successful with Digital, you have to have exceptional operational rigor. And once again, welcome to the digital Customer Success Podcast. I'm alex Turkovich. So glad you could join us here today. And every week, as I seek out and interview leaders and practitioners who are innovating and building great scale CS programs, my goal is to self educate and bring you along for the ride so that you get the insights that you need to evolve your own digital customer success program. If you want more info or you need to get in touch or sign up to get the latest updates from us, go to But for now, let's get started with today's show. Oh, boy, do we have a show for you today. And a very timely conversation for me because we're in the middle of rebuilding a health score in my day gig, and so I gleaned a lot of phenomenal insight from our guest today, which is Jeff Beaumont. He recently made quite a big splash at GAINSITE Pulse and has the more I talked with Jeff, the more I realized how much deep thought he puts into everything that he does and all of the information that he gleans from various sources and just the emotional intelligence with which he operates is phenomenal and has a lot of great insights around HealthCORE. So, obviously, we spent a ton of time talking about health score. So if you're in the process of building your first health score or you are rethinking your current health score and how it might be more effective and how you go about implementing it, today is the show that you're going to want to listen to. Please enjoy this conversation with Jeff Beaumont. I sure did. Well, we are live. Jeff Beaumont, it's a pleasure having you on the podcast. I really appreciate you joining. I think I've seen stuff from you in the past, but where you caught my attention was all of the post Pulse buz. Because apparently the session that you ran this year at Pulse and we're now, what, two weeks past Pulse or something like that, there was, I guess, a line to get in and lots of intrigue, and everybody was posting about it and raving about it after the fact. And so I was like, yeah, we got to have Jeff on the pod. So I really appreciate you being here, and I would love to start out with kind of the obligatory what's your background? How'd you get into CS question. But I did notice that you do have a background in finance and accounting, and I think you spent some time as a CPA as well. And I would love to kind of start off with what was that early life like for you? And then, how have those experiences translated into kind of your career as CS. How has knowledge of the finance world informed what you do on a daily basis as a CS leader? Got it. Yeah. Alex, first, thanks for having me on the podcast. Really excited to be here. Background on myself. I grew up as an entrepreneur. As a kid, I was the one before Amazon was a thing. My family, we read a bunch of books, and it was one of those where we would go out, we would go to library sales, we'd go to garage sales. There's actually a whole industry around schools getting rid of their old books. You going through them, buying whatever you want. So we had what we called the at home bookstore. This is back in like 94, 95. So maybe Amazon's already in existence. But that entrepreneurial spirit got me into thinking about business. So at school, I was trying to figure out what to do because I'm practical. So it was A, okay, well, I need to do something that is actually going to pay for it. So got a degree in accounting, and then after that, I was like, well, what do I do with that? I guess I go into accounting. And so I was a CPA for seven years. Learned a lot about white glove treatment of clients. How do they're spending a lot of money? They're professionals. They run their own business. They run their own nonprofit, big organization, corporation, whatever it might be. They care, and they need your product. That is only done annually. They get a big invoice from their CPA, and they get one little product, and it's a piece of paper. And so that piece of paper has to be perfect. And so that taught me a lot about white glove treatment. That taught me about making sure things are right, because I made plenty of mistakes in those papers. One, a client actually pointed out that I spelled principal wrong. I spelled it like the school principal instead of a principle of life. Classic blender. Yeah, that one was a little bit embarrassing. And that taught me to pay attention to sweat this small stuff. But that background, those seven years of being a CPA taught me, like, how to take care of customers, how to do a great job, how to be focused, how to be meticulous, how to focus on the ROI, the results. Because a company at the end of the day, needs to earn a profit. Otherwise they have to go under. They have to sell themselves, they have to file for bankruptcy, whatever. So I connected everything that I did to how is this company going to drive bottom line results. And so going into customer success, how I did that, a friend of the family was starting up a risk assessment software company back in 2010, 2011. I stayed in touch with them and joined as director of support in 2013. Moved in and said, hey, we should get ahead of this churn issue by being proactive. And in 2013, that was still kind of revolutionary. Customer success wasn't as much of a thing then. In pockets it was, but not across the board. You couldn't go like a degree in customer success back in the day. Yeah, you couldn't do that. And then the idea of creating an onboarding team and all of that, some of the big multinational companies had that, and they had relationship managers and all of that, but they weren't thinking like we do nowadays, whether it's digital customer success or an onboarding team or your dedicated CSM. And so we got into that, and so I just had a blast with that. And I applied a lot of the principles of everything that every conversation I have with the customer, they need to see value. Because I had that principle from my CPA days, where whatever thing I give them, and it could be a support ticket reply, it could be a phone call, it could be an email, it could be an in person meeting with the customer. Whatever it was that had to have value for them, that had to help them, they had to be able to walk away saying, what I just invested was worth it. And phone call, they didn't pay to talk to me on the phone. They didn't pay to send me an email because they already paid for the service, but they paid with their time. So they had to walk away saying, okay, I'm going to write an email to this company. I'm really busy, I just need to know this thing. Why do I even have to bother with her? This should just be intuitive with the product. I shouldn't have to do all these things. I wanted them to walk away with a wow moment and with going, okay, that was worth it. And I really like this company and they provide an exceptional service. So that's what mattered to me. The other aspect I should add in is that I was and am raised by a family of teachers, both my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles on all the sides. So it's just in my blood. It's in my blood to teach, to help, to encourage, to build up, and to make others successful. So I think between those two converging points, it got me there. Yeah, it's interesting you say that, because I think there are a lot of CS. First off, everyone I speak to has found their way into CS, right? Because of where we are in the kind of lifespan of CS, it's still a relatively new Ish thing, especially like over in Europe, where there's some catch up being played, but you kind of find your way into CS. I have a degree in music. I did a lot of L and D stuff and a lot of enablement and those kinds of things. And teaching, like you said, that enablement pedigree. I think that's something that a lot of CS folks kind of share with us. So I think you're in good company there for sure. One of the things that I like to ask all of my guests is basically their own elevator pitch, if you will, of digital CS. I did stalk you a little bit on LinkedIn, as you would, right, and I saw this bit in your about paragraph that I felt was actually very good and apropos, and I wanted to just read it real quick before you kind of give your own elevator pitch. But I just thought it was poignant. And really there's some truth here. So you wrote it's not people versus processes. It's both. Being all people or all processes only gets us halfway there. Invest in lightweight, scalable processes so that they don't get in the way of your employees, but support and retain them and customers too. I thought that was on point and we might as well use that. But I'm curious if you have maybe since you wrote that, maybe a different opinion or what your own elevator pitch, so to speak, of digital CS would be. Yeah, on that. That really gets at the heart of there's a mindset of we have to have a process for everything, and we have to have everything buttoned down and nailed down. And then there's a process of, hey man, chuck the process out the window. Let's just go with our gut. And there's really a third way, and I don't want to say like, it's a balance or anything, but there's really this third way of saying if we allow process to just build on top of each other, that's when you have so much red tape. That's when you can't do anything because you're just curtailed by all of these rules and regulations and everything else. And it's like, well, why bother? I can't get anything done. It's going to take me all of these it's going to take so much time just to write an email because I have to go through five chains of approval. On the flip side, you can't really scale well without process. But at the end of the day, what matters most is people. There's a cliche of people are our most important asset. Well, they are, but let's live that out and let's make sure that we give our people autonomy, empowerment, that we care about them, that we take care of them, that we're encouraging them, that we have their back, and then let's build in process where it makes sense. And lightweight is going to be good because process is only as good as the people you have, and a person can make something really great, but you also need to for scaling out, you really need both. So that's what that one's about. In terms of the elevator pitch, gosh, I would say that customers really need to quickly so if we think about the problem statement, customers need to quickly and effectively learn a software tool, adopt the software tool. And it could be a service, too. It doesn't have to be a product. Sure. And grow. And so if we think of what does learn mean? Learn typically means I'm understanding something for the first time. Maybe I'm signing up for a new software, maybe I'm learning a new module, something like that. Adopt, it means I'm incorporating it into my behaviors. I'm taking that on as a habit. We've had all these books on books on habits, the Atomic habit and this and that. There's a whole bunch of other books. There's one by Chip and Dan Heath as well, really good one. And adopt is all about incorporating that into our habits, our rhythms. So that, yeah, I might learn something this week, but if this is Friday and I learn something and then I go through the weekend, I might forget about it on Monday and I haven't adopted it. And then grow. Grow is a sense of, okay, I've learned a software, I'm good at it, but I can stagnate. So if we think of we're talking about Digital. So if we think of a game site, a Tatango, a salesforce, even Google suite like Google Docs and Sheets, and whatnot if we don't grow with all the new features? Not that we need to know everything, but if we don't continually grow, we're going to be stuck. And in a couple of years we're going to say, yeah, that software is not really good because our mentality is what that software could do a couple of years ago instead of what it can do today. And so if we think of learn, adopt, and grow with the various products, services and philosophies, okay, so that's a problem statement. Now? What is Digital Success? So because of that, with that as a premise, digital CS helps that through automation, through one to many initiatives. And this one might be, I don't know what people think about this one, but omnipresent connectivity so users and consumers can learn and adopt at their own pace, their own way, and they can be in control. See, we need all of that. We need them to be able to do things through automation, one to many initiatives. Think of email in, app, notifications, community, also things that I can go to, like a stack overflow or something and be like, I don't know what to do, or chat GPC maybe, and say, how do I do this or how do I do this or I'm having this problem or whatever. I was just trying to get a robot vacuum, set up a new one, and it just wouldn't connect. And so I had to go on the forums and try to figure it out. Well, it was late at night, I couldn't call a phone number, so I just went on the forum. So I was able to solve my problem on my own. And then it turned out to be a really screwy thing that I could only connect at 2.4 instead of 5 GHz. Go figure. Interesting. But it's like those little nuances that got me hung up that almost made me return the robot vacuum because I was like, it's not working, I can't figure it out. It's just going to be easier for me to return it. And then the company would have lost out on that money, would have lost out on a customer. I probably would have told others like, oh yeah, don't buy that one, because I couldn't figure it out. And there was some technical glitch. Instead, the form helped me figure it out. Now we use it, everyone's happy, we have clean floors. So that's an example of digital customer success. It doesn't necessarily have to just be that they're blasting me with emails or that there's some inapp process or anything else like that, but it is that users can learn and adopt at their own way. So I use forms or sorry, their own pace

when I was ready, after 05:

00, when I had some time at my own pace, at my own way, and being control of how I wanted to learn and frankly, what I wanted to use it for. Yeah, I love the word omnipresent that you used because I guess you could misconstrue that as creepy. Like Alexa is always listening. Or sorry if I just triggered your a, but I was thinking about the robot vacuum, and I was like, okay, well, maybe a few years from now, how interesting would it be if you could just talk to your vacuum cleaner and it would basically scrape all the forums for you and tell you exactly what the issue was? Right. Who knows, we might get there. That's cool. I really dig what you said, and especially putting it in the control of the customer because so many times I think that we feel like we have to control the journey. Like we have to drip feed this content at this time based on what other customers are doing. There is some semblance of that, especially in onboarding. You typically want your customers to follow some trodden path, but at the same time, you need to be there when it really counts too, for those moments. I dig it. Yeah. And on that I agree. I should counter some of what I said. It's at their pace and put them in control. But it's also at the same time I was following a set of instructions of how to set it up. I wasn't trying to set it up myself. They had said, here are the six steps to set this up. And then they said download the app. And then the app guided me through and said, hey, do this, then this, then this, and this. And then it gave me the error, like, couldn't connect to your WiFi. That's when I went to the forum. So there's still that the company is telling me what to do and when to do it. But there are times when I need to be able to take control and say, I'm not going to do this now. I'm not going to set up when I'm going to do this or that. I could set up a schedule for the vacuum. Well, maybe I didn't want to do that right then and there, but that's when the company can come back and a week later check in and send me an email or send me a call. You didn't you haven't set up any schedules yet to really get the value out of your vacuum. Here you go. And so there still can be where the company comes in and kind of helps reinforce. But there's a balance we shouldn't just hold to a rigid. Like, you have to do this by this date because everyone's different. Everyone has their own schedules. People go on PTO, people have busy weeks or light weeks, or they say, hey, I'm going to work on this on Saturday instead of during the week. Exactly, yeah, makes perfect sense. So speaking, the digital so obviously you presented at Pulse. This is now three weeks ago or so as we're recording, and unfortunately, I didn't get to make it this year. But really from what I got of all the things I read and saw, is that really the theme of Pulse this year was all around digital, and it was very much focused on scaling digital programs, et cetera, et cetera. And I was curious to get some of your kind of hot takes, having been there on some of the trends that you heard about and just your general takeaway. Yeah, it was good. I think the biggest thing for me at these conferences is just that we're there in person with other people. And you know what? People are three dimensional, and that's really cool. And sometimes when we're on zoom calls or whatever, we forget that the past couple of years or a few years or whatever, of COVID I think has hammered that home to me. Before that, I was like, oh yeah, we'll go to this conference and we'll learn about this content. And then every conference or every time I'm together with other people now, it's just like, this is a miracle. We're here together, and there's people, and we're not behind computer screens. And so as trivial as that may sound, I think that was one of my biggest takeaways, is that, gosh, having been told for over two years that we can't do that, gather mass gatherings, and then to be able to do that is so incredible. Additionally with that is additional to getting together with people is rubbing shoulders with others, asking questions, building relationships, going to some of the discussions and presentations and just going, okay, that's how other people do it. Or some of the things that my team and I came away with were just the sense of because when you go to a conference, it's really tempting to say, the grass is greener on the other side. It's really tempting to go to a conference and think, oh my gosh, I suck. I'm so far behind. I'm a terrible person. I'm not good. I'm not driving results. One thing that was encouraging was the openness that my team had and I had of saying, you know what, here are some things that we aren't doing that we should. Here are some things that we're doing. Cool. We're on pace. And here are some things oh, wow. Like hearing from others. Like we're actually ahead in these areas. So something a takeaway I had and a takeaway that I hope that other people kind of apply when they go to conferences like this, is to bring make up like a balanced scorecard when you come back and you say, all right, what are the things that we're not doing well that we need to improve? Okay, let's write those things down and let's talk about them. Some of these things maybe we should prioritize and do soon. Some maybe we save for the future quarter. What are the things that we are doing that are actually going, wow, oh, well, this where are the areas that maybe we're ahead? Because anytime we compare ourselves to someone else, someone else always has a strength that we don't have, right? Yeah. And so we can just compare our weakness to their strength. Well, compare it holistically and look at everything. And so I think that was one of the helpful pieces. Because, again, going back to the premise is you go to a conference, and a lot of times you go, wow, that was so invigorating and exciting to be with people and RA. But then in the pit of your stomach, you're like, oh, man, I'm not doing what I should be doing. So that would be an encouragement to everyone. There was one session with Kelly Capodi, the chief customer officer, and then Alca, the CFO at Gainsight, and they just talked about how do you pitch customer success to your CFO, how do you pitch it to finance? And there were so many good takeaways. I mean, a lot of it is going to boil down to put it in context, that your finance person is going to understand. Build a relationship with your finance person. Focus on running pilot programs so that instead of you going to your finance person, your CFO, and saying, hey, I want millions and millions of dollars to run this big old campaign and say, Whoa, hold on. Or maybe it's hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands. Instead of that, say, hey, I have this goal. I think we should place a big bet here before we get there. I want to run a pilot program. It's going to cost this. Here's the outcome that I'm expecting with it. Here's how I'm going to measure it. And then here's when we will know. It's going to take me three months or six months or twelve months or whatever, and then we'll know. And I want to be able to bring you back these results. It's going to cost this much. If it's successful, I would like us to pursue this bigger goal and expand it out this way. Are you on board? That is so much different than just saying, hey, I need money to be able to do this, because I think it's cool and because it's going to matter to the customers, and it's like, okay, yeah. But a lot of things that we could do are going to matter to customers. So if you get a chance, go back and watch that presentation. By the way, all the presentations are on the Pulse website. They're all recordings, and you can take a look at them. So I highly encourage you to watch that one. It's the one between Kelly Capodi and Elka. Cool. Yeah, that was a really big takeaway. That was a very helpful one for me and for others just to take notes and go, okay, let me just write down and take screenshots of every slide that I have. Yeah, that's cool that you can get a hold of that's cool. Well, I'll have to check. I didn't realize that the recordings were live already, so definitely have to go dig into that. One other takeaway. Sorry. No, sure. I was surprised at how many presentations, how many breakout sessions were around digital success processes, operations, et cetera. There's so much more of a focus on operational rigor than on not that there's anything wrong with this, but then becoming a better CSM or whatever, it was balanced, but in years past, it was all about how to be a better CSM, how to do this, how to run this thing with your customer, whatever else. And this was way more holistic of, hey, there's going to be operational pieces there's how to train your CSMS there's, how to train your customers there's, how to have this presentation with your customer. There's the one on how to present to your CFO to get resources or to just give an update. So that was a big takeaway of a shift in mindset of how we as an industry are going. And it's encouraging because if we think about digital customer success, we're not just thinking about, okay, let's put another CSM on it. But it's thinking, gosh, to be successful with digital, you have to have exceptional operational rigor. So that was my last take, and. I love how the narrative seems to be slowly shifting, especially around digital, from this notion of digital, CS is like automated stuff for your lowest tier, your tech touch customers, and it's very much evolving. Rightly. So into this notion of, yes, we need to do some digital outreach to customers, but it's also the automation and the optimization of your internal processes to help your CSMS that you do have be as effective as possible. And I thought that was those are the trends that I think are emerging right now that are super healthy. Just saying yes, 100% agree. Your session, as I said in kind of the opening, your session at Pulse garnered a lot of interest and a lot of reaction. Like almost visceral reaction, I would say on LinkedIn, just from the comments that I read, it's like, wow. So I would love for those that weren't there or maybe haven't watched the recording yet or people that won't watch the recording but need a Cliff Notes version of it, can you give us a rundown of really kind of what you went through and what the purpose and the takeaways were of your session? I'll give three takeaways, actually. First, I'm going to start off with a question, which is what are you trying to solve for? So when we think about a health score, that can mean a lot of things. And in the presentation, I started off by saying, what are you trying to solve for? Are you trying to measure the customer's happiness? Are you trying to measure if they are delighted by your software? Are they satisfied with your software? Are they a churn risk? Are they likely to expand and churning and expand are kind of connected, so we can maybe bucket that as one. Are you trying to measure product adoption? Because where we get in trouble with a health score is when we ask the wrong question and apply different answers to it. Think of all the times that we've had internal confusion within our teams and someone says, hey, imagine this scenario. A VP comes in and says, hey, what's the health score on that customer? And then the CSM replies red. What does that tell you? What does that mean? Yeah. The VP goes, oh my gosh, we got to do something. Okay, let me go and call them and raise a bunch of flags. Well, wait, if that means that is the customer happy with us, that's a different action that I need to take than if they haven't adopted the product or if they're a churn risk. Even if you had a score that told you absolutely for sure, if you don't do anything right now, that customer will churn out their next renewal. It's all different. Know what you're looking for, know what you're trying to ask, because that's going to be the thing that's going to drive it. And so the takeaways really are actually, I'm going to throw in one other that I added. And this is anytime you build something, it's a team effort. So don't try to go it alone. Don't try to do it on your own. You are going to feel isolated and it's going to be really tough. And great things are done through cooperation, collaboration, teamwork, relying on others and building on the shoulders of giants that have helped you and your. Comrades that matters. So the three takeaways, I would say, are going to be lead with why? To create clarity for those you lead. So again, that goes back to that. What are you trying to solve for? Because if everyone has a different definition of what the health score is for, you're just asking for trouble. Absolutely. Lead with Y to create clarity for those you lead. Number two is great frameworks. Frame your work. And that'll make sense if you watch the session. But make sure you have a framework to drive forward where you're going and then bring, align and then make sure you align everyone to that. And then the last takeaway and this one won't make as much sense, but we are apologists to build confidence. So an apologist is not someone who goes out and says, hey, I'm really sorry, it's an advocate. It's someone who speaks up. It's a word that goes back to the slave trade where apologists were those that advocated against it and said, hey, we need to change this. We are part of a movement to make this right. And so apologist has a deep emotional connection of change and of advocacy and of care. And so we are apologists to build confidence. Is this idea of our roles are building confidence in others? Because if you think about it, I'm in CS operations. What do I really do? Do I build systems? Yeah, kind of. Do I build processes. Yeah, sort of. But I'm really building confidence in my sales team, in my leadership, in others, in the things that we built. That's the actual outcome, that's a result is that someone can go into a system or into a tool or read whatever I wrote or a team wrote or whatever and go, oh, okay, yeah, that makes sense, I'm good to go. And then they go on their way. Think of like if they don't have confidence in it, then they're going to sit there kind of cross armed and say, oh, I don't know if I can trust this. I don't believe it. You know what? That's cool that you believe that. I don't trust that. You just hit on it. That's why we're apologists to build keyword. On there is the trust. And I was chatting with someone else about the fact that so many times in CS we are the users and we intake data from other orgs and other places and use them for whatever, for scorecards, for inputs into blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But so few CSO orgs, I believe, build upon that and build data that can then be utilized throughout other areas of the organization in a meaningful way. Part of the reason I was so excited to have you on the cast is because I feel like you're doing that right. And what you just mentioned is very much an example of that, where people come to CS, they want the insight so that they can then action on it in a way that gives them confidence that they know exactly what the outcome is going to be. Yeah. In the talk that we had, I offered that a synonym for trust is actually confidence. And it's the CSM having confident CSM or sales rep or whoever, whoever we serve, whoever we're working with. And honestly, at the end of the day, it's a customer. It's all of them having confidence to be able to take what it is that we build, say, do, share, whatever, that then they can go run with it, and they can feel confident about what they need to do. So if it's a health score that the CSM feels confident to share that with a customer to know exactly what I need to do, maybe it's a red health score, and that means that the customer hasn't adopted the product. I need to call that customer because they haven't adopted that product, and I know where I need to go because they haven't adopted this part of the product and I need to run this playbook. That takes a lot for a CSM to have confidence to do all of those very specific things. It's also confidence from a digital customer success standpoint, when we tell the customer, this is what you need to do at this time, I need to have confidence in that robot vacuum, the app, saying, hey, go do these things, and then when I get an error, what happens to my confidence in it? And then I have to go into the forums, and then it's like, OOH, now it's a little shaky. So confidence matters in all respects, whether it's with customers or internally. But that's how I see that affecting digital customer success. Yeah, truth. Hashtag truth. I want to dig a little bit deeper into the scorecard element of things, because, look, everybody has a different scorecard. Everybody has different data. Everybody has their own set of circumstances. So we won't get too much into the weeds here. But there are some basic elements right there's predictive elements. There's kind of these reactive elements. There are engagement metrics, there are adoption metrics, all kinds of things that make up a typical scorecard. I'd like to get a sense from you, though, on that balance between predictive of an element. Let's say we really want to get a sense for if this customer is going to be a churn risk. What is the balance between predictive analytics and then the analytics in the scorecard that then inform you on how to react against that? I don't know that they're mutually exclusive, but again, it still comes back to what is it we're trying to solve? So start with the end in mind. What do you want out of the scorecard? If you want it to predict churn, if you want it to be predictive and maybe less, maybe more actionable, less actionable, who's going to use it and why? For us, we have it and I'll just speak from our experience at GitLab, we have ours that measures product adoption or sorry, let me go bigger. Is the customer getting value out of GitLab? So we have a framework and we'll get into this in a moment maybe. But the framework is called is an acronym called Prove. And so it stands for product, for P risk outcomes. Voice of the Customer and then engagement. So Prove and then the idea is prove value to your customers. That's the way to think about that. Gainsight has a really good one called Deer Framework. There's other frameworks as well. So it's not so much that Prove is necessarily special. It's a memorable way of applying that and knowing what is the point of this whole framework. And so with Prove, it's there every time that we talk about it and we make a change. And so as we're building something, our question is, okay, if I add this metric, if I remove this metric, if I establish the threshold this way or the waiting like this, does this help us get better at proving value to our customers? That's the result we try to drive. And so we go, oh, well, gosh. To prove value with something like Product Adoption, we need to kind of be really what we're looking for there is to make it actionable for the CSM or for digital customer success. So we need a flag that comes up and says customers been in the software for 30 days and hasn't done X, Y or Z, they haven't adopted this use case or they haven't done this. And then that's a good warning for the CSM or trigger for digital customer success. Maybe we send an email, maybe we do this, maybe we do that. And that's how we think about it in terms of what does this thing actually need to do? And then the CSM can create a playbook, call the customer, work on that and say, hey, who do we need to talk to in your organization to help you adopt this part of the product? Because we look at all of our other customers and the really successful ones, the ones that are getting tons of value out of this, adopt this part of the product between 30 and 45 days. And so that's how we think about it is we want this thing to be actionable. But going back to your point of, hey, if this is for churn, maybe there's less of a focus on actionable and it's more on predictive. We would much more slant toward we would rather know that a customer is likely to churn nine months out than we would like to make it actionable because you might need to play with those two. So it really again goes back to what are you trying to solve? Nothing worse than having a customer with a nice, healthy green looking scorecard telling you they're about to leave, may or may not have happened. We kind of danced around. We've been dancing around this the whole time. But when you're going through this exercise organizationally, to start to think about how you're going to measure customer health, I think you said some very smart things about engaging cross functionally, engaging leadership in other areas in the process. So that there's broad buy in and they know you're not just building it and throwing it over the fence and then expecting everybody to understand it. Right. But I guess from an operations leadership standpoint and just your team, is there a mindset that you're trying to build when you go and tackle some of these projects? What is your kind of, I guess, battle cry with your team when you go into this kind of stuff about how to go about approaching it? I'll give four points, and I'll try to keep it concise. One, what are you trying to solve? Two, what's your framework? Three, how are you going to develop alignment? And four, what's your documentation? And then you go back to the beginning and you say, what are you trying to solve for? So what are you trying to solve for? We're trying to solve for customer for health score. You're trying to solve for product adoption or Churn. Okay, cool. What's our framework to get us there? How are we going to think about the things? What are we going to measure? What's most predictive for Churn or what's most specific for helping our customers adopt and what matters to adoption? Alignment. Now that we have that, do we have that alignment with our stakeholders, with the VPs or whoever to make sure that, yes, are we aligned on this? Is what we're trying to solve? And then documentation, make sure you document it because guess what, again, going back to if you have a conversation on Friday, maybe you have a long weekend, you come back on Tuesday or Wednesday, or maybe that other person comes back and you say, okay, cool, we talked about this thing on Friday. Now let's go. And then they're like, whoa, when did we come to that conclusion? And you're like, oh my gosh, we just talked about this on Friday. So documentation is going to be your friend because then you can say, hey, okay, so this is what we documented last week. We said this is the purpose. This is who's involved. These are the stakeholders. Maybe you have like a racy model for project management. You have this, you have this. Are we good? Thumbs up. Cool. Document it and then you can go back to that. So those are the four pillars, I would say. I love it. Short concise. I mean, we could go into crazy detail on all of those, right? And then there's probably an iterative element of that too. You do it. You analyze kind of the efficacy of it, and then you kind of go back and do the same thing, right? I'm making assumptions here, but I'm assuming you've probably talked to other CS Ops leaders and you've kind of seen maybe some that have done some cool stuff and then others that have kind of made some blunders or kind of missteps along the way. I was curious because the audience here is a mix of people who are probably well established in CS, in digital CS, but then also there's a lot of folks on who are just navigating this for the first time. So I'd love to hear from you. What are some of the common blunders that you've seen out there, specific to scorecards that people often kind of step. In, I would say asking the wrong question. Yeah, what we've been talking about. And even actually, we don't even get it right all the time, most recently. So a few months ago, we had an internal team meeting, and we were pulling up some new metrics. And then one of the people on the team who awesome, smart, capable, knows their stuff, I've been working with this person now for a couple of years on this project, said, hey, we should have this metric, but what we really care about is churn. And then in my gut, I felt like, oh, no, I don't think that's why. But I couldn't remember why. It wasn't until the next week that I realized I had slapped my forehead and I realized, oh, that's because if we incorporate this metric to measure churn, we're tearing apart the foundation of what we're trying to build. So it's not just what's the initially when you start, what are we trying to solve, but it's continually and that goes back to documentation. So that taught me, like, okay, I went back to our external handbook. By the way, our GitLab handbook is online. Anyone can Google it all. You got to do like Google GitLab customer health scoring, and you can see all the framework and everything else. You don't even have to yeah, it's all public. We'll go to the show notes and. We'Ll link it there. Okay, thank you. Yeah. So this person suggested, hey, we should have this measured churn. And it's like, well, we already have this other score that measures churn risk. It's propensity to churn. Let's go back to why we have a health score, and that is what is the customer's adoption. And so that's something that we need to keep going back to and make sure that, okay, do we have this? Another one is boiling the ocean, like trying to build build the most elaborate health score right away. Or maybe say, hey, we're going to add in all these measures. Just start with one start with something simple like the CSM's risk assessment. Just say, hey everyone, here's what we're going to do. It's going to be really simple. It's even going to be in a spreadsheet. We're not even going to stick it in salesforce or the CRM. We're just going to make it super lightweight in a spreadsheet and then on a weekly basis, go in and do it. You can only do that for your bigger accounts. You can't do it for all the small ones, but at least you can get started and solve it for some. You can't be all things to all questions. So I think that's where it comes down to start small iterate through it, and then there's a number of other blenders as well. But I'll stop there. Sage Advice. Sage Advice. You guys are obviously GAINSITE customers. I did see that you are a fellow GAINSITE NXT certified admin. But what else is in your tech stack? What does your tech stack look like around GAINSITE? Salesforce is our CRM. Not that, GitLab, actually. We use our own tool. We dog food our own tool. So we use it for issue tracking, epic creation, project planning, all of that internal communication and work on what we do. So that's a core piece. And then there's going to be other things, the normal. Like it's not really digital, but Slack, Google Suite, all of that. In terms of other tech stacks specific to digital, I would say we have our GitLab forums, but it's also one of those that we've been spending time exploring. Like, all right, what does community look like? How do we do that? We actually don't really do as much in app because we have so many customers on on premise or on premise. And so that that creates a that creates quite a dynamic there that. So if you're an all SaaS customer or all SaaS seller, great. You can do a bunch of really cool in app things. But we're trying to figure that out to support both our SaaS customers and our self managed customers. Yeah, that's difficult. We're in that same boat too at Snow. So super fun as we kind of round out here, one thing I'd love to get some insight on is who are you following, who are you studying? What books have you read recently that you really like? Kind of around that vein of digital CS. A few podcasts. One is called they said company formerly called Nuffsed. They've got a really good podcast and they go through digital. They go through customer Success, through Operations, a whole bunch of other really good things. There's another podcast called Operations with Sean Lane. He's over at Drift Cool Saster, the podcast. And then there's customer success strategy with Neil Zinjay. I recommend that he gives a really cool, more philosophical view of how things are working and interviews a bunch of people. A couple of books I'm reading right now, not necessarily customer Success related, but one is called actually, I think I have it right here, the Tyranny of Metrics. This is what the book looks like. It's a really good book. It's kind of agitating to read sometimes or Cringing. So it's about ways that we misappropriate metrics to use as a club and beat others up with how we game metrics in society, in different industries, and we say, okay, well, that's a metric, then I'm going to game it. We're going to make it look really great. It's in law, politics, health care, all sorts of places. So it's just a little bit cringey like, oh, yeah, that's right. I've read news articles on that. And now it's all tying it together metrics. And so the bottom line of that is metrics aren't a one size fits all. And then there's another book I'm reading, and this is very so not customer success, but just where I'm at right now. It's called Parenting from the Inside Out by a psychologist called named Daniel Siegel. Again. Not a CS book. A good one, though, but really good. Psychology to better understand and explore what triggers us as people and how to process it to overcome. So I think it's still helpful from a customer success standpoint because it helps you understand yourself. It helps you understand how triggers like where some of these triggers come up with your customers and why things happen. And for any parents out there, personal. Development, man, that's good stuff. Yeah, I read that as well. That's an interesting one. So that's a hot take right there. Before we wrap it up, I'd love to kind of get a sense for what you're working on, where people can find you and engage with you and all of that good stuff. Yeah. Thank you. I have a blog, You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. I've been exploring a few things like that parenting book that we just talked about, just how to be a better parent myself. You can obviously tell I am one. I've been trying to read up on Chat, GPT, AI and what that means for our future. So I think what I'm wrestling with is it's hard to see where it's going to take us, given it means so much more than just helping me do my job faster. It's not a spreadsheet that just helps me calculate something faster. It's not a copy machine that just allows me to take a piece of paper and just multiply that by ten times. It's not a multiplication thing. It's a different paradigm. And that's where some people are saying, oh, man, it's going to change the world. Maybe it is and other people are boohooing it, but it's a different paradigm, and I don't have a framework on how to think about it, so I'm excited and nervous about it all at the same time. So that's a topic, of course, digital customer success. Another one that I've been spending time thinking about is just the overall structure and organization and KPIs for customer success and customer success ops. Other than gross and net retention, what are the right metrics for CS ops or Sorry for customer success inclusive of CS ops, what are the ways that CSOPs can align to that. How do we create vision and mission to really align everyone? The past year in tech has seen a lot of implosions and other problems, and a lot of us are probably feeling defeated and down. And so how do we not just make a rally and cry and try to go, hey, everyone, feel better, but actually make a meaningful difference in people's lives to not just act like we care, but show that we care? Because it really is from the heart. So that's what I've been exploring lately. Fascinating. I feel like we're going to need you back for a part two at some point, especially the metrics piece that's super interesting and obviously generative. AI we're at the infancy of something, for sure, and a lot of people are like, you and me are wrestling with what that really means. But I super appreciate you spending time with us on the podcast today, and I hope you've enjoyed your time as well and can't wait to have you back at some point. I have. Thank you so much for having me on. Thank you for joining me on this episode of the Digital Customer Success podcast. If you like what we're doing, or don't for that matter, consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. You can view the Digital Customer Success definition wordmap and get more information about the My name is Alex Turkovich. Thanks again for joining and we'll see you next time.