Joel Passen might not be your go-to guest for a Customer Success podcast as he has spent the majority of his career leading revenue teams. But after just a few minutes of discussion, you quickly realize that Joel intimately understands what it takes to deliver on the customer journey and value outcomes for customers post-sale.
In this episode, we discuss how he and his team at Sturdy.ai are helping their customers prevent churn with data and AI driven intelligence. We also get into the weeds about data in and between systems, CS' position within organizations and delivering customer value digitally.
Enjoy, I know I sure did!
Joel's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joelpassen/
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The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic
We still need to fix the plumbing. Yeah. I don't I don't need any more apps -- Right. -- personal grid. I need plumbing. 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 digital customer success.com. But for now, let's get started with today's show. Welcome to this episode, episode 10 of the DCS podcast. so glad to have you back. every week. As you know, I try to interview a variety of different people that are in some way either directly or tangentially involved in digital customer success. And, through the course of these conversations, I've spoken with not just leaders, but practice nurse, operations, folks, admins. and and I I I I really set out to try to capture it. as many role diverse people as possible, for the podcast. Today is no exception as we are speaking with Joel Passen. who is the co founder of Sturdy AI. Sturdy AI is a pretty unique platform onto its own, and we definitely do talk about that but another reason why I was looking forward to this conversation is because Joel isn't a CS lead per se. Joel is a revenue leader. He's he's, his history is in leading revenue teams and has definitely been involved in a variety of different businesses. and so he's seen a lot, and he's seen a lot of what works and what doesn't work. And So in our conversation, we talk a lot about data. we talk a lot about data between systems. We talk about, you know, the the place of CS within various orgs, delivering customer value digitally and a whole bunch of just really solid nuggets that I think you'll get a lot out of. So, please enjoy my conversation with Joel Hasson. I know I sure did. Welcome to the podcast, Joe Passen. I first learned about you, from the lifetime value pod Cast. It was an episode with Brian Hall, who sang your accolades. I don't know if you know this, but he's like, yeah, Joel's doing some really cool stuff with sturdy that has CS, you know, broad CS implications and whatnot. And I I think what part of the reason why I wanted you on is, you know, because of that, but then also you don't have a CS background. You know, you come from re the revenue side of of the house and, you know, we've been very focused on CS folks and leaders and operators and all that kind of stuff, but, you know, it's always great to, I want as much kind of role diversity as possible, on the past. And so, you know, you, you have a, an extensive sales background. You sit on tons of advisory boards. I noticed as well, and currently cofounder at Sturdy for, I think, 3 years now. I wish. So, Yeah. Welcome to the podcast. I'm really excited for our conversation today. Well, thanks, man. Thanks for having me. and thanks to Brian Hall for, you know, discovering me. I mean, maybe maybe you should get some sort of, like, agent spiff or something like that or some sort of what? Maybe the royalties for all the money that you're paying me, Alex. Yeah. if Brian Hall sends into this, I'll, I'll cut them in. Yeah. The the the 50¢ is in an envelope on the way. Thanks. Maybe I know. Or -- You something. I don't know. I don't know. So, you know, at first, before we get into the, you know, the nitty gritty, I I'd love to get a little bit of, you know, your origin story, if you will, just so everybody knows, you know, who you are and kinda what brought you to where you are today and and whatnot. So, you know, enlighten us. Absolutely. Well, again, thanks for having me. it all started in Cleveland, Ohio. on the sun, the 216. No. I actually got, I started my professional career, actually, sort of accidentally starting a recruiting firm. having realized that I didn't want to be a professional bartender or drywaller in a ski town in Idaho. fell into it. I started my first company, which was a managed service provider for recruiting in 2008. we sold that off private equity, several years later. And, I started inside of that company, and this is kind of a theme, I think, through my professional career, we started building technology in that business to optimize our own infrastructure, like things that, you know, we had juicy problems that we wanted to solve and quite frankly, at the time, there wasn't a lot of, like, tech to solve it. Like, this is -- Yeah. -- this is during the ASP time, not SaaS land. So we started, building this product to manage our business, we didn't end up selling off the intellectual property. We kept it. So in 2009, I walked two doors down. from the company I had started and left, put up a little Xeroxed at the time, like handwritten logo that said Newton on the window and rolled my chair into the other room with, my co founder, Steve Hazelton. And, we built that business. We bootstrapped that business completely. Never took a dime outside funding, at Newton. built it up to about 37100 customers had a a nice eight figure exit to, the 4th largest payroll provider in the United States called Paycor in 2016. A little known company called Paycor. local paycor. They have a stadium now. They didn't have it. It wasn't Bob had a cool part paycor, by the way, on a side note is they do payroll for a bunch sports teams, and I'm a sports fan. So -- There you go. Yeah. -- it was, this was before they had Paycor Stadium and lovely Cincinnati -- Yeah. -- hosting their not so lovely Bengals. Well, you know, I have a lot. I have a I have a lot of relatives in the Cincinnati area. And, yeah, it's it can be painful at times. Well, as I mentioned, I'm from Cleveland, which, you know, slowed capacity and and many other things. It's sort of a factor of sadness. So Cincinnati since Cincinnati Bakes makes Cleveland look pretty good, man, in any event, address. So I spent a little bit of time with, Paycor, as obligated, learned quite a bit. And then, I joined a company based in London called Beemery. and, ran global revenue for them. So I've always sort of been at the intersection of, the product and the output of the product and then the the commercial side of the business. so, typically that involves some sort of customer success or account management. I think I started back when it was customer support. so I'm dating myself a little that's my background. So I started starting in 2019. We've raised a couple rounds of funding. I run the commercial side of the business, again, and, Yeah. Now I'm here with you. That's awesome. I would could you, I I'm gonna get into more kind of CS topics here in a bit, but Give us give us a little bit of rundown of of sturdy and and what you're, you know, what you're trying to I guess what you set out to accomplish and and kind of, you know, what your what your big hairy goals are. Yeah. Well, I would say first that if you kinda take the comment, not in vain that we were trying to solve problems that we had as operators. So this being my 3rd startup, my 3rd company, that I started, but I've worked in others. And, as you mentioned at the top, I've invested in, and I'm an active advisory board members and others. I think, the problem that we're solving and sturdy is really, taking all of this unstructured data that flows into your business. If you think about it, it's pretty amazing. like 90% of the data that businesses modern businesses collect today is unstructured. Yeah. Unstructured data is dark data. It's usually just gobbling good. It's like oatmeal. and we're not using it. So companies are running customer success. They're running account management. They're running sales. They're running all of these different business functions on telemetry based data. that is great and helps, but informs only, you know, 60% of our decision making. I mean, it's so small And so what we set out to do was, answer the questions why? Like, what what next and why? And so sturdy fast forward has become really the way we describe it in layman's turns. It's a check engine light for your products and your users and your customers. So we call it check engine light for the business, and it discovers critical signals. There's 30 language models in the product that discover critical signals signals and all this unstructured data. And then we have this data find people who need to see it. across different teams. It's an it's an amazing thing to think about because the amount of ratty data I've dug through just to get some semblance of an insight with maybe 50% confidence. And what I was looking at is like too many to count, and and, you know, having those those insights on hand is is valuable, obviously, not just from a CS perspective, but just teams in general from, you know, from C suite down. So that's awesome. Yeah. It's, you know, the thing that I tell people kind of in a weird space because we started this company in 2019. And AI is kind of on a j curve. Right? It's like sturdy.ai is our website. I think we started the company astirtyai.com. Oh, yeah. And at one point, we took the AI out of it. So we didn't like push people away. Interesting. And so we were folks that had a problem. Like, we wanted to solve this problem just so happened that language models and, you know, i e ai, was a way that we could start to solve the problem at scale. And so we were kinda hiding the fact that not hide it, but we weren't we weren't an AI forward, like, wearing your face or AI. now that world is sort of understanding that AI is more than just a possibility. It's It could be the next epic in sort of the tech, you know, world. Right. And then, you know, by the way, I'm not sure that it's serving us any better to a certain extent because people are it's really confusing out there, but, I always like to say that we were a bunch of people trying to solve a problem just so happened to be used AI instead of a bunch of AI people trying to look for a problem to solve. Oh, interesting. I like that. Yeah. Yeah. It's it is interesting to see where all the, you know, language models are going and and who's implementing what and and the fact that you guys have been I think that is fascinating that you had to drop the AI because you're you're kind of, you know, you needed to track folks into your business. And now, you know, it's like, it's all the rage. It's all everybody can talk about, and we're like, stop already. Yeah. We might have lost people early on on this pod if we're not careful. We're just I know. I know. Right. Yeah. I, like, I don't wanna hear anymore. Like, of a GBT. It's like politics season, man. Mhmm. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's it I I heard somebody make the the analogy to to crypto the other day you know, just just AI is, you know, is the crypto of today, which I don't really I don't I don't buy that for one second. honestly just because the, you know, the it's it's real. That's fun. Yeah. And it's In this essence, yes. I think on the hype, I would agree with the person that you heard that from. I would agree, like, on the hype bandwagon or the hype you know. it's a little deafening. I mean, you hear a lot about it. you know, and I think that's because it's gonna be very pervasive. I saw the other day. I think somebody was, like, messing with product hunt, but, they have a ai blockchain crypto startup out there. And I was like, I looked at it for a minute. I'm like, at first, I was kinda disgusted, and then I'm like, good on you. I mean, that is about as I mean, the name of the company is cliche. no, it's okay. But the Yeah. I mean, it's in that sort of hype track. You gotta be low care. Yeah. It's funny. Even if even if It was a real thing. It'd be interesting, but as even as a joke, it's phenomenally interesting. Yeah. you know, one thing that I've, I I like to ask all of my guests kind of at the outset is, for a, for a bit of an elevator pitch of, of their interpretation of digital customer success, because it does mean something different to everybody depending on your background and where you your from and what you do and all that kind of stuff. So, I I'd love your kind of, you know, 10 second elevator pitch. Like, what is digital CS? Yeah. I tried not to get too prepared for this, you know, like I gotta figure given that it's the title of the pod and, of a passion of yours, but I look at it like, I come, I put, I think, just because of my, my lens into the world these days professionally. I think this is a data driven approach. the server customer is based on specific variables like product mix, like segmentation, like the stage they are in their journey. So I don't over complicate what I think is DCS. Like, it's a data driven approach to managing your customers at scale. Yep. Mic drop, like, hard hard hard stop. Yep. Yeah. And, we, you know, we did we did chat about this was it a week ago? I don't know. The weeks kind of flow together. and, you know, you, you brought up some interesting points in our, in our initial conversation, just around, you know, the fact that, you know, the tooling is evolving, and especially in CS, the tooling is evolving, the tooling in CS I think has always been a little bit behind where it is in sales or in marketing or whatnot, but, you know, it's, it's, it's getting there. And, and, I'd love your kind of input intake on what where you see kind of operating models as teams and as organizations going as the tool tool sets and, and, you know, generative AI and the, the collective intelligence of it all is, is evolving. Yeah. Okay. So not to Yes, too. Yeah. Not to dissuade that. So I think what's made all this possible, by the way, I'm on this big, and I'm trying not to be on this bandwagon on the pot, but I think it's worth mentioning. Mhmm. And if you if you think about my simple approach to DCS, right? Like, it's a data driven issue. It's data. Well, the modern data stack, if you know anything, you know, what I'm talking about, like, modern cloud data warehouses, you know, cloud based systems, cloud storage, plus processing power. Like, we're kind of there. Like, the modern business is a has a modern data stack. Like, we're not using a much relational database I hope or not. Like, a bunch of relational databases and running our businesses on, you know, proprietary ERP systems. Like, all of this stuff is now data can flow between these cloud systems pretty pretty effectively. Sure. And storm effectively. That's the good part. I think the modern enterprise technology stack though that layers on top of the modern data stack, needs to evolve, and I think we're getting there. I think we're going the right direction, I think it actually is a laggard. Like, instead of developing, like, we're developing all these silos and tools and engagement systems and onboarding systems and all these things sit that are sitting in their own lane, and I think that is actually the hindrance it's the obstacle. It's the speed bump for broader, DCS or digital customer success maturity, frankly. And so, you know, yes, the processes and people that we use to organize these things, I think will mature as well. I think we're screwed a little bit on we're still creating silos and we're still creating point solutions. And I until we make them all kind of talk together like the modern data stack has, done. I'm my thesis is like, we got a little ways to go. I couldn't agree with you more. I mean, This is a an an incredibly minute example, right? But I think, yeah, I think it it, It's indicative of kind of the larger issue that we have in general with all these desperate platforms that are we're trying to get to work together, but they kinda don't work together. Is you know, we were importing some, some CSAT scores from one system to the other, and one system sorted as as, you know, like a you know, like a a text field, and the other one stored it as a number field. And so you have to do some data transformations in order to get it into the right data. Like, it's that kind of stuff that you need like the operational prowess and the human behind it for now, anyway, to be able to to handle those things and and I I see that evolving completely over the next decade or so, obviously. I hope it's sooner than a decade. You know, I read this article, there's a guy named Ken, so it's k e n n. His last name is. So Google him. I think he's, he's at Smartsheet as a corp dev personnel, but he was a venture capital prior, his smart techy, product key. But, you define some of these terms. What you just described is called data munging. Yeah. It's really gross term. Yeah. Like, kinda kinda yuck. Totally. But I think for folks that it it's it goes back to, like, all of this data and is in a different format, and they're in different systems, and we're still using humans now. So if you think about building a digital customer success team, you could go to Peter and crew at ESG and they can give you all this great advice, by the way, and they're great. Yep. it's, you know, not even a shameless plug for them. They know what they're doing. They can help you with segmentation, honestly. And I'm not getting paid, and I'm not giving any of my core loyalty, Right. I'd also say Brian Hall has thoughts on this as well, but more to the point you can put all these different types of people with different skill sets in place, but you're still going to need a big fleet of data engineers if you're gonna make this work. And so I think there's we still have infrastructure problems to solve, and a lot of it is around data normalization and transportation, transformation. So pre processing data you know, getting it all from these systems and in all of the models that it's in and then pre processing the stuff, flattening it out and then being able to use it in tomorrow's AI, you know, because we're everything shifting. that's the holy grail for me. That's, like, the stuff that I read about and look about, look at, and, like, if I want to invest I think about it like the plumbing. We still need to fix the plumbing. Yeah. I don't, I don't need any more apps, personally. I need plumbing. And that's what the modern data stack is. It's like plumbing, just modern plumbing. It's like going in retrofitting a house that you bought on a flip and saying, we're gonna put some good piping in here so it doesn't freeze, that it gets the waste out, that it gets clean water in. Like, we need to think about that in the same way of the modern like engagement stack that we're using for digital customer success specifically because it's so important to segment your data for DCS, like that that's the key, I think. I'm preaching, but to get the point. No. Yeah. It makes sense. And you need to find the people that think the plumbing work is sexy, and they wanna work on it. Plumbing's never sexy. if there's a reason that, like, you can't get a plumber to come in. If you blow something out in your house in Austin, right, You gotta wait like a week for somebody to show up like a plumber because it's not sexy. Nope. It's not. It's not. You got one of those. it's all the rage in in us. I gotta ask you this. I'm gonna put you on the spot. Sure. Sure. the cooling pool, you know, where you go out and buy one of those big -- No. No. In fact, we, we made the conscious decision to not be in Austin. Just, you know, we're we're, like, well north of Austin. And nothing against being in Austin, but it's like, you know, I, I want some space between the houses, and I, you know, but no cooling pools. Nope. That's not not part of the equation here. I'm taking a survey every time I talk to somebody in Texas, he got one of those feed things. They put on ranches. I'm not, you know, grew up in more of an urban area, but for everywhere, man. Yeah. Like, and the the, the ice baths too. That's -- Yeah. -- that's the thing. It's like an Northern California thing. You sell a house now got like an I've got the ice plunge. You gotta have an ice plunge. The ice plunge and the lap pool where you just swim against a non existent current. we we talk so we we've talked tooling. We've talked data. We've talked, you know, plumbing. so some interesting digressions there. I want to get into your mind a little bit with regards to kind of the place in, of CS within kind of modern org structures, right? Cause CS you know, the the proliferation of chief customer officer is a is a relatively recent thing, right? We've seen in revenue organizations. We've seen CS in product organizations and whatnot. and, and, arguably, CS is a big part of, you know, the renewal cycle with renewals teams, even within CS or within sales teams and, and wanna say, I'd I'd love your kind of take on, you know, what what in your head is best in class from an an org structure perspective? So I think Well, the first comment that I would make is that CS at large, traditional CS at large, account management, post sales operations. focus on the customer. I think that that belongs in a revenue org. if we all can sort of coalesce around NRR and Doctor being our North Star metric as subscription based technology businesses, which Probably most of our audience here. Sure. Most of that we know and and where you and I work in our worlds. That belongs in a revenue organization. And by the way, the CCO or CRO, that dynamic will that that still needs to to work out. but I think that the new age CRO and will own from cradle to grave the revenue cycle or new new age CCO, whatever that title emerges as or however that shakes out. It's a revenue job. I do have the caveat though. I think that digital customer success should fall under a product person. Yeah. VPO, VP of product management, I think more and more, I just read a survey. your listeners can listeners here can kinda check it out. G2 crowd put out something about how people wanna buy software. They wanna buy tech. They don't wanna talk to, Joel Hasson you know, 17 years ago, selling software at a demo and, you know, or even today, right? Like, Sure. We don't get time for that. I wanna hop on another Zoom. Right? So I think that a lot of this, you know, you know, as long as we're not afraid to, throw around cliches in this podcast, like, the product led growth stuff is real. And, but it's also the buying process that leads people into those types of products. And I think DCS is like a huge, elephant in the room when it comes to, you know, if you're gonna have a product led growth motion, you know, form has to follow a function. Right? Like, you gotta -- Yeah. -- service for this one. So, I think that belongs in long winded, but I think traditional motions absolutely fallen revenue. I think that DCS needs to partner with a product owners. and needs to either be tightly coupled or under their work. It's interesting because, you know, as you were saying that, it's like, in a lot of ways, product orders have been doing digital CS for a long time with, like, product tours and in app engagements. And that's, I mean, that's Digital CS, right? It's it's the automation of frequently asked questions, and it's the automation of things that, you know, humans shouldn't waste their time doing, instead humans need to actually focus on having high value interactions and all that kind of stuff. So I think the handshake is the key. Yeah. So where do you transition? And I don't, I don't know if you'd maybe touching this with other guests. but for me, in the DCS, there is a transition point where somebody is growing, you know, the usage is up into the right. They're consuming more data, whatever it is that you're selling them. the value. They're showing you value. Mhmm. At some point, it does make sense to make a handshake. That's cool stuff. So maybe that's the bridge, the glue, and there's somebody that sits in that, like, a program director between DCS and traditional revenue post sales motions, but I think the modern, I think what we're gonna see is in a modern sapp. As we mature, SAS has gotten pretty ubiquitous, right? We We've kind of had the same org structures in a lot of our companies, you know, 10 years ago. It's like, we've got to have the growth team. Right. Call them different things. Call them what you will. do think some of these functions are gonna change a little bit though, and the skill sets change a little bit, and they'll be a little bit flatter top of the the triangle. Yep. Yeah. I'm, I'm, right now, I'm seeing a, a surge on, on value, you know, like, yep, not customer success managers necessarily, but customer value managers where they're focused on the outcome and they're focused on the know, the actual what what outcomes do you wanna drive with the customers, and it makes so much sense to me. Not just because my 9 to 5 is go into that model too, but I just I'm just seeing it all over the place. Sorry to interrupt. Oh, no. No. I was interrupting. I mean, I look at one of the I worked with a woman at Bemry. Her first name is Bailey. She like, I would request her if we were going into a big account because she could be the representative for delivery. Right? Like, she was like like a solution consultant upfront. knew the product really well, but understood how we were gonna deliver it. And her career just really good at that. Like an IC. Really good at it. but, is that Miro today in a value group? And it's not a presales value consulting group necessarily. She works with her customers to, like, her whole days people extrapolating value. I'm sure you live that. You live it. but that that's real. So I do think that a lot of these function and by the way, it's based on data. Yep. Like, 90% of their motion is based on data that they already have, and then crafting the strategy to deliver. Yeah. The data and the indicators and and, you know, the cleaner that stuff is, the cleaner your emotions can be. Sure. Faster they're gonna need the value. Look at companies like Seismic that are growing, they bought less than Lee and their CRO and president Aidan talks about. The number one thing in sales kickoff this year is just like, we are focusing on delivering customers value. Yep. Everything else we do is about, you know, and it's like, you hear big companies that are successful. And by the way, people like I mean, they're users like them. I mean, they're pretty nice. They're a good company. it's a pretty pervasive message. Yeah. It's a good That's a good trend in our industry, but let's not just sell them stuff. Right? Still giving them some value is probably the more evolved message there. The other thing that I I personal pet peeve of mine is like, let's make this as sticky as possible. Like, I I get the concept. Like, But that's, you know, like, how about we just focus on value outcomes and and focus on the customer actually getting a return on their investment? It doesn't, you know, stickiness is a part of it. Sure. But, like, let's, let's focus on the outcome. Well, yeah, and that starts in product and then carries through through sales. I mean, company on the SaaS maturity curve underneath the covers a little bit, that's a That's a messy line for a lot of companies still. it's not a direct line to value. No, it's not. It's a byproduct. of value. Yep. who, not who? What have you seen, others do horrifically raw, like, what are some of the blunders that you've encountered in people trying to stand up digital motions? We've talked a lot about data. We've talked a lot about how that informs what you're gonna do. But, like, what are some things that you see people doing on a repeated basis where you're just like, ugh, cringe factor? Yeah. Well, the funny thing is if you think your date, you know, you're not ready. maybe you've heard this. You're not re we're not quite ready for a digital yet. Yeah. Just not there yet. Why aren't you there yet? Oh, we don't have all the data or our data's a mess. Hey, join the club. Exactly. You're already in the club. You already qualify. everyone's data is a total shit show mess. That's the way it works, man. I mean, goes back to the modern data stack stuff that I talked about. Like, our enterprise data management, it's sucky. Your Salesforce hygiene sucks. If you have Salesforce, your Salesforce hygiene is bad. 100%. Sorry. It just is. Yeah. I've never met a clean Salesforce instance. Like, nope. That makes sense. -- is great. No. It's not. Yeah. Well, that's why you have, you know, so many, Salesforce contractors out there. Yeah. I mean, oh, wait, HubSpot's no different. It's all the same CRM. Let's let's be fair. Fair. it's it's CRM data. so answer your question specifically, the lack of segmentation tearing, personas, really impacts the journey for these customers. So the first thing that I see people blonder on is, like, you don't experiment because you don't think you have the data, so you just give up automatically. You don't even try. It doesn't even go down. The second thing is you mess up because you're not willing to do the hard work, which is the segmentation, the tearing, the personas, and all these, you know, the product mix and cohort analysis. Like, you just gotta go there. I mean, if you want to be competitive, you have to go there. I think the next thing is actually for me, and I've been on the other end of this a user as a consumer of SAS apps is like the pithy brainless content that I get. Yeah. like, let's I could be more, scientific and probably more, I could aggrandize my answer further, but honestly, I get a lot of bad content, and it, like, turns me off. And I know what they're doing. Like, someone thought it was a good idea where how long I've been a customer to send me an email about something that's silly. Yeah. And, you know, I actually opened some of this stuff. I mean, maybe I'm a bad person because of it, but, like, I'll open it and be like, what are you doing? need help? Yeah. yeah. by the way, I've seen some good stuff where it's like usage based emails, like if I'm using some like, I think Calendly does a pretty good job because I'm a I use Calendly all the time. Mhmm. I was a late adopter, by the way. Yeah. Oh, why? But, they they do a good job. Like, I turn on features and add stuff and all of a sudden, like, some other, like, some tips show up, and I'm like, oh, snap. Like, that's pretty good. It's well thought out. It's not just blindly, like, shooting out stuff all over the place. Coming off the back end of a CSP or, like, some email sender thing. Right? Email Blaster. reverse leaf blower. I think that the other thing is with DCS is the inputs are a little messed up. don't think we turn over enough cards with surveys. I think you get a little bit of fatigue with customers. I think you get skewed data over the people that are either fired up or people that you know, you'll miss the people that are disengaged, the people that you really actually want to build a journey for, the people that are probably the biggest subscribers of the things that you want to pump to them. they're they're quiet. They're not round. so I don't think that we do a good job of that stuff. I think in app is a little tiring sometimes. I ignore it. surveys, I'm never gonna take one. Sorry. Yep. I mean, it's a it's a balancing act with all this stuff, right, because if you do it too much, you're gonna overwhelm me buddy. And if you don't do it enough, then you're, you know, you're remiss. You're remiss, but then, you know, if if you if you do it, but you're you're blind to your tone blind, you know. Yeah. You missed the mark, and so people are just gonna filter you out of your are there their inbox? Here's another mistake that I see. is that they that people do it. Companies do it. They collect some information, and then you do nothing with it. which I think is like a like an unspoken problem a lot of times. Like, it's almost like, oh, we did this MP, like, just not to pick on MPS. I'm not gonna get into that, but, We did this survey, and we do it twice a year. I'm like, great. What'd you get out? It's kinda the same last year. But what'd you really do with it? Wow. Why are you doing it? like you're not doing anything with it, like really significant, then you just don't do it anymore. Like, it's a lot of work, and it sucks. Yeah, the value in NPS isn't the score. You know, it's the comments that you get, but it's only really valuable. It it's like that's one level of value, but then if you actually, you know, like, follow-up with the comments that you get and engage your customer and like, hey, we're listening, that's like, woah. Dude, you send somebody with, like, a half, like, you know, somebody who was, like, a really good BDR that didn't wanna go and grind anymore, but it's really good people and like has heard all the objections, like that's the the ideal person. You call them like some disarming title. Yeah. And send them back in to deliver a message that like we heard you and like actually, hey, that's actually on the roadmap. We've got a little bit of a pattern recognition that, like, other customers want to export reports to X, Y, and Z. like, we got you. Just wanted to follow-up and let you know if you ever have any questions, let me know. Listen, if I get one of those emails, and I'm jaded and cynical and old. I'm all those crusty. I get one of those. I'm like, cool. Like, I like you guys. I'm not gonna chop you when I do my review. Like, you actually are like, someone's alive in the box. Yeah. Let let's let's actually talk because you didn't send me this email about a feature that I already have. You know, I'm using that. Yeah. Exactly. I'm already there. Yeah. So I think it's I think, you know, it comes back to it. And I hate to beat the data drum, but it honestly, like, people really mess up their, like, the if you get your data right, It's just like marketing. Like, let's just let's just, like, call space spade right now. Like, if if you have shitty marketing data, you're gonna have shitty marketing outcomes. Understood. If you have shitty customer data, you're gonna have shitty digital success metrics. Sorry. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. And then the question as well, if you have shitty data, are you going to clean up that data? Well, the answer is yes, you should, but no, but the but the 2 often, it's like it's not my problem or I don't wanna get into it or I don't know, I think it comes back to a lot of leaders. You don't they don't understand what it takes to do that. and so they don't wanna do it. But they'll apply pressure somewhere else because that just seems like something that's outside of the round, especially if you're a commercial person and you're not a data person. that's where you have to be, like, kinda intellectually curious and go find, like, listen, if you don't have this, you're the the definition of a leader, if you don't have that skill set, Go find someone that does that you can trust and start working on that problem. Right. Exactly. That's half the digital customer success. I mean, that's is your data. That's the plumbing. It's gross. Yep. Absolutely. Man, couldn't have said it any better myself. Sweet. You don't need me on. I'm gonna I'm gonna hang up now. You can finish up the the episode, the podcast. What, you know, as as we kind of start to to wrap things up here, I would love to get a sense on how you keep your finger on the pulse, so to speak. What what do you what is your what is your Diet consists of of, you know, podcasts, YouTube, books, all that stuff. I have 2 little kids. So my reading it in the evening is like, fantasy fiction to like an eight year old. Yep. but in my day job, Alex, which I think is your way you're asking, is I read a lot of the, I read a lot of AI stuff just by the very virtue of, like, that's my job. but I mentioned Kenso, Thomas Tungzen, is a is a VC at, theory, used to be a red point, super interesting stuff, kind of macroeconomic trends too, which I I think is really interesting. I read the power and prediction of disruptive economics of artificial intelligence recently. it's not as bad as it sounds. It actually is pretty interesting in if you're scared of the future, like, you wanna dispel, you wanna understand, like, really where this is going and you don't want, like, the doom and gloom of, like, whatever media outlet is in your ear that day telling you you should fear the beast. I think it could give you a well rounded perspective. I I'm I'm gonna interrupt you there because I love that so much that, you know, there there is this this fear like AI is gonna take over. We're gonna see robots and all that kind of stuff. And I mean, sure. Maybe, but, you know, understanding this stuff is the first first place to go if you don't if you're afraid of something, like go learn about it. Develop that opinion and, you know, if you wanna be afraid of it, that's fine too. I don't think it's gonna take a lot of people's jobs. I think if you have an informed understanding of how you can leverage do your jobs better, then it's just another tool, just like anything else that we've had in our lifetime that has made our jobs easier. Like for me, you know, onto college, there was no internet, man. There's no evil. Yep. My first job as a recruiter had to stand up backs on my desk and a phone. Yeah. in a used group, a used net. so I think, by the way, like, people that got really good at those jobs early on that techno, you know, as technology evolved and e email came around. You embraced it. Yep. Got an understanding of how to use it, like, it's really helpful now to be able to send an email. Exactly. You know, I reread about some of these, like, despot leaders in countries that don't use the internet or a computer, and you gotta kind of wonder a little bit. but those are the things that I look at. So I like, I follow a bunch of people on sub stack. I I go over to product on every now and then. I mean, there's some cutting. You get to see like, if you just look at it for, like, a half an hour a week, you can kinda see, like, some trendy stuff that's going on. And every now and then you pick up a little tool like gamma. Have you seen that? No. and, like, you wanna create a presentation super fast using AI, like, gen ai. like type a couple of bullet points in there, put your profile or your LinkedIn profile, and it creates a little like, it it can create like a, you know, imagine if you had to still do a QBR or something. And you can put some notes into something, and it popped out a presentation into a format. It's amazing. That's cool. I'll check that out. I looked at stuff like that. Yep. Yep. That's, that's helpful. We'll obviously drop all the links down in the show notes, but I'll definitely go check that out right after we hang up. You haven't? Have you read the checklist manifesto? I don't think so. No. Yeah. You you don't have to read the whole book. Go get the go go to Amazon and read the excerpt. Sure. Yeah. It's like this guy is a surgeon. And he writes, like, why, you know, you think about airplanes, you think about surgeons. They're they have one thing in common, right? Like, they're fairly error prone. Mhmm. Things that they're doing, but yet the errors are pretty minuscule and you get the concept because you're nodding. Like, So we talked about like and I talk about this with CS people every now and then. They're like, but I know, man, I need some playbooks. Oh my god. I need playbooks. We need to get playbook management in here, like, you need to get some people some scenario training and give them a checklist like a like a pilot that go through and it doesn't have to be that complicated. They have brains. Yep. And they can do this stuff, but they just need to check off these things so they don't make errors. and I think the checklist manifesto is a really cool book and one of my former, CEOs probably one of the better things he did for me it's by this guy, atul Guanda, and like I said, he's a surgeon. And by the way, it's an entertaining read. So read that. Sure. Yeah. And, and, and, as you were describing it, I was like, yeah, some some some bells went off because somebody else was talking about the checklist manifesto as well because it's like, seriously, like, you know, but it goes back to, like, the digital CS, the the whole reason for digital CS in general is because, you know, we, we don't wanna take people's gigs. We don't wanna, you know, automate till, you know, to death, we wanna make the customer experience good and seamless and informed and smart, but we also want to make people's lives easier. So when you were talking about playbooks, it's like, yes, provide a checklist, but then also, like, Here's some email templates that you can fire, customize, and fire off, and, and all that kind of stuff. Like, let's just take the guesswork out of it for a second here. I agree. And I think that, one of the subjects that doesn't come up is DCS is like, is it gonna replace people and it will to a certain extent, perhaps on the early career side, replace some people. It may. You may disagree. Like, as an operator and a guy that, like, runs a company, would I have to be cautious of spend? Yeah. I mean, digital, when I think about think about it from an operator's lens, would I rather have something run digitally well? that requires fewer people that is, like, my one of my highest items on my operating expenses. Yep. And so I'd like to get it right. And by the way, I'd like to hire other people elsewhere here. Right. or I'd like to optimize what we've already done with people. And I think that when you hand offs and the transitions in the margins, from DS to, to a human touch, there's not enough of that going on in these companies. Like, you can't just go all digital, and you can't just go all high touch. Like, it doesn't There's a blend. Yeah. And there's there are jobs there for people, but Sure. I need less of I need less of certain types of people. Yeah. Well, it reminds me of office space, you know, I talk to the customer. So you actually take the specs from the cuss well, no, my secretary does that, but That's not I don't touch it, but -- Oh, man. Well, look, Joel, I've I've really, really enjoyed our time together and appreciate your insights. And, you you have a lot of, you know, really intelligent smart things to say about it, and I hope you come back at some point. But, you know, what Where can people find you engage with you and and and help you out? well, I'm I'm really easy to find. So you can find me on linkedin. it's more of my mode than that's my only real social outlet these days, but I'm Joel at sturdy.ai. email@example.com is where you can where I spend my days. if you wanna help me out, clean up your data. Making it. do yourself a favor and me a favor and everyone else around you a favor and manage manage your data. I appreciate you having me. It's, real privilege beyond these things, and, I love what you're doing. So thank you. Cool. Thank you. 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 word map, and get more information about the show at digitalcustomersuccess.com. My name is Alex Turkovich. Thanks again for joining, and we'll see you next time.