The Digital Customer Experience Podcast

Nick Mehta and Kellie Capote of Gainsight on Digital Customer Success, the State of CS & Diversity in Tech | Episode 012

August 22, 2023 Alex Turkovic, Kellie Capote, Nick Mehta Episode 12
Nick Mehta and Kellie Capote of Gainsight on Digital Customer Success, the State of CS & Diversity in Tech | Episode 012
The Digital Customer Experience Podcast
More Info
The Digital Customer Experience Podcast
Nick Mehta and Kellie Capote of Gainsight on Digital Customer Success, the State of CS & Diversity in Tech | Episode 012
Aug 22, 2023 Episode 12
Alex Turkovic, Kellie Capote, Nick Mehta

Immerse yourself in an enlightening conversation with the dynamic duo, Kellie Capote and Nick Mehta, CCO and CEO (respectively) of Gainsight! Discover the unique blend of cross-functional relationships and a growth mindset that has driven Kellie's fascinating career trajectory. Get an exclusive peek into Nick's rise from a bio chemistry major to where he is today. Together, they explore the challenges and rewards that come with a customer success role, emphasizing the importance of harnessing passion and data-driven problem-solving.

We then venture into the world of Digital Customer Success, where Kellie and Nick offer valuable insights on how leveraging technology and self-service capabilities can enhance customer interactions. They also delve into how Gainsight implements in-app walkthroughs and engagements to guide customers effectively. But the conversation doesn't stop there. We also explore gender diversity within customer success, and how Kellie and Nick have fostered growth, innovation, and a seamless customer experience within their teams.

Lastly, we discuss the importance of diversity and career opportunities in the workplace. Learn from Kellie and Nick about the potential pathways available for underrepresented backgrounds, from CSM to VP, CCO, CRO, CEO, and board member. Hear their advice on how attitude, initiative, and flexibility can make you stand out and accelerate your career growth. We wrap up the conversation with a focus on the vital role of customer health scores in digital success. Listen in as we discuss how both quantitative and subjective data can provide invaluable insights for businesses. Don't miss out on this enriching conversation loaded with insights from tech, business, and beyond!

Enjoy! I know I sure did...

Nick's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickmehta/
Kellie's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellie-capote-6541a939/

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Kudos:

  • Okta
  • Concur
  • Mews

Support the Show.

+++++++++++++++++

Like/Subscribe/Review:
If you are getting value from the show, please follow/subscribe so that you don't miss an episode and consider leaving us a review.

Website:
For more information about the show or to get in touch, visit DigitalCustomerSuccess.com.

Buy Alex a Cup of Coffee:
This show runs exclusively on caffeine - and lots of it. If you like what we're, consider supporting our habit by buying us a cup of coffee: https://bmc.link/dcsp

Thank you for all of your support!

The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

Show Notes Transcript

Immerse yourself in an enlightening conversation with the dynamic duo, Kellie Capote and Nick Mehta, CCO and CEO (respectively) of Gainsight! Discover the unique blend of cross-functional relationships and a growth mindset that has driven Kellie's fascinating career trajectory. Get an exclusive peek into Nick's rise from a bio chemistry major to where he is today. Together, they explore the challenges and rewards that come with a customer success role, emphasizing the importance of harnessing passion and data-driven problem-solving.

We then venture into the world of Digital Customer Success, where Kellie and Nick offer valuable insights on how leveraging technology and self-service capabilities can enhance customer interactions. They also delve into how Gainsight implements in-app walkthroughs and engagements to guide customers effectively. But the conversation doesn't stop there. We also explore gender diversity within customer success, and how Kellie and Nick have fostered growth, innovation, and a seamless customer experience within their teams.

Lastly, we discuss the importance of diversity and career opportunities in the workplace. Learn from Kellie and Nick about the potential pathways available for underrepresented backgrounds, from CSM to VP, CCO, CRO, CEO, and board member. Hear their advice on how attitude, initiative, and flexibility can make you stand out and accelerate your career growth. We wrap up the conversation with a focus on the vital role of customer health scores in digital success. Listen in as we discuss how both quantitative and subjective data can provide invaluable insights for businesses. Don't miss out on this enriching conversation loaded with insights from tech, business, and beyond!

Enjoy! I know I sure did...

Nick's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickmehta/
Kellie's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellie-capote-6541a939/

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Kudos:

  • Okta
  • Concur
  • Mews

Support the Show.

+++++++++++++++++

Like/Subscribe/Review:
If you are getting value from the show, please follow/subscribe so that you don't miss an episode and consider leaving us a review.

Website:
For more information about the show or to get in touch, visit DigitalCustomerSuccess.com.

Buy Alex a Cup of Coffee:
This show runs exclusively on caffeine - and lots of it. If you like what we're, consider supporting our habit by buying us a cup of coffee: https://bmc.link/dcsp

Thank you for all of your support!

The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

Speaker 1:

Nick, do the shoes match the shirt is what I want to normally, actually, you know what they do.

Speaker 2:

They do. I was going to say normally I'm like doing these calls without these shoes on, so I'm going out today, so I actually have some, some cool shoes that match it.

Speaker 1:

And, once again, welcome to the digital customer success podcast. I'm Alex Turgovich. I'm 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 digitalcustomersuccesscom. But for now, let's get started with today's show. Welcome to episode 12 of the digital customer success podcast. It's great to have you here.

Speaker 1:

There are a handful of people that I'm sure you would agree with me could be classified as customer success royalty, and the word royalty can come across as elitist, authoritarian, generally not kind of a friendly term. However, the reason that I would classify Kelly Capote and Nick Mehta of Gaines site as CS royalty isn't because of exclusion, it's because of inclusion and it's because of their approach to the CS community and their willingness to jump in and help and be part of the conversation and, in a lot of ways, own the conversation goes without saying. I'm very excited for today's episode where we talk with Nick and Kelly about digital customer success, of course, but we go beyond that a little bit. We talk about revenue ownership and CS. We talk about diversity and tech. We talk about standing out in the job market and it's a really cool conversation and I'm not going to stand in the way of you and that conversation anymore.

Speaker 1:

So I hope you enjoy my conversation with Kelly Capote and Nick Mehta of Gaines site. I know I sure did. Hey, alex, hey, how are you Hi there, can you hear me?

Speaker 1:

Hey, yeah, I can Nick how you doing Doing great Good to see you, good man, look at that shirt.

Speaker 2:

Always yeah.

Speaker 3:

Try to bring it fashion is always fashionable, always fashionable.

Speaker 1:

I know y'all's time is, you know, super, super valuable and I want to you know. Thank you guys so much for taking the time out of your day to join me. Are y'all in your, in both of your home offices?

Speaker 2:

Yes, we are.

Speaker 1:

We actually only have home, so we don't have any offices in the US Y'all's office home offices look better than most people's office offices.

Speaker 2:

Oh, kelly, look at that. Kelly just built a new house, so she's super.

Speaker 3:

I just moved in like a week ago, so I appreciate that, and Nick had a little remodel of his office.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's right, You've got the wood paneling. Gives you nice like 70s 80s.

Speaker 2:

Exactly what I'm going for. Good.

Speaker 1:

I'm glad I think both of your histories and journeys have been relatively well documented, but I do want to dig in a little bit here before we get into the crux of digital CS and all the fun topics we have for today. And Kelly, I want to start with you because you, you have what has been described and could only be described as kind of a meteoric rise right Into into where you are today, and I mean, is it, is it? Was there something in the water at Penn State or or like, how much of it do you attribute to? Because I know you've said before in previous interviews that it's like you know, you, you you attribute a lot of it to cross functional relationships and just having that quote unquote bulldog mentality. But how much of this is, you know, just growth mindset and just attacking versus. You know just you being you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I first of all I love the the background details you have on Penn State and all the fun stuff.

Speaker 2:

I you know I, by the way, kelly, I didn't want to interrupt, but was not something in the water right. Penn State is something in the keg tap right. Is that the appropriate?

Speaker 3:

It's not in the water, it's in the keg. Yeah, exactly More realistic.

Speaker 3:

But, yeah, it's a combination of both, right, I think. You know, from my early days even you know, growing up from a family perspective there's strong work ethic. That's been, you know, in, you know, just instilled in my, my DNA and my mindset. But truly, when it comes to, I think, GainSight and my trajectory here, first of all, I've had amazing leadership and folks like Nick and our former CCO, but I'm also very passionate about it. So it's something I wake up every single day and like it's not just a job to me, like I get excited and I get to problem solve and I get to help trailblaze, like what's the next iteration of customer success. So it's always felt fun.

Speaker 3:

In general, I love new challenges and I get bored very easily, so I'm always proactively seeking out like the next thing I can go do or you know a process I can help tweak or, you know, evolutionize for the business. So I think it's it was really just a perfect intersection for me of, I think, some of my strengths, which are relationship building and cross functional relationships. I am very data driven. I like, even when it comes to customer success, bringing that different mentality of making it more data driven right and kind of metrics oriented, and I think that was probably a big piece of my brand here at GainSight in terms of really helping to scale the CS organization as we had to really put some like a blueprint in place.

Speaker 2:

Can I just embarrass Kelly more and just answer it please?

Speaker 2:

Please I think Kelly does amazingly that I think really are critical for an ACCO just awesome performance orientation, because it is a performance job. I think that's like where people miss it, where they think of it as like a service job, but there's like numbers to hit. Number two is like strangely like excited about challenges, like you said right, so runs into the fire instead of running away from it. And then third is just like awesome, awesome communication and leadership skills, Because obviously you're running a big team how do you bring them together? But also you're like you're running a customer community. How do you bring that customer community together? Kelly's definitely like the voice of the CCO community and that has a huge impact on our customers.

Speaker 1:

So yeah for sure, and I think you also mentioned an operative word there which is fun, like, I think, if you're having fun doing what you're doing. It's a lot easier to kill it than if you're just like grinding away.

Speaker 3:

And it becomes a passion, not just a job. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Well, speaking of which, nick, I wonder how much, so what? I'm curious what the decision making process was from going from a biochemistry undergrad to computer science, because those two aren't in the same ballpark, really. So what talked me into like 20 years years old, nick, and what you were doing back then? What led you to those? Yeah, back in the 1950s?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, my. So of course I always knew my destiny was in customer success, right, Alex, that's the answer I should say Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

The truth is it was really that like a question was how long could I go disappointing until I disappoint my mom? That's basically the question. So my mom wanted me to be a scientist or doctor, go to college. I really like computers and programming and I like business. My dad was actually a business too, but my mom really wanted me to go in science. So I was like, okay, I'm going to do biochemistry, continue the roots that I'm going to be a doctor or researcher someday. And then you know. But I got into college like one year I was like I actually don't, I don't love this stuff. I still finish my bachelor's because I was already half in there. But then I kind of ended up doing a master's in computer science like at the same time.

Speaker 2:

Now funny story is I saw my mom over the weekend and she constantly brings up why I didn't go into science all the time. And we have a like a family friend, actually my daughter's girlfriend's mom, and she works at Genetek, which is like obviously a big biotech company. And I was like, oh yeah, linda works at Genetek. My mom was like so excited. And then, and then Linda, our friend, says, oh yeah, she has a PhD actually in molecular biology. So super, you know science. But then my mom was like what do you do at Genetek? She's like I'm actually a lawyer and my mom was so disappointed.

Speaker 3:

So just put it in Linda too, not just me.

Speaker 2:

She's disappointed in Linda. If she meets any of you, she'll be disappointed that you're not scientists. So that's a very long answer, but the honest truth.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's amazing. Well, it served you. I will say it served you well and yeah, of course, you were predestined to be in CS. I think a lot of us are right, because CS is relatively new and 20 years ago we didn't go out to get our undergrads in CS, and I know there's now programs that are established around the practice, which is super exciting, and I think there's two things that probably are true for Kelly and myself and probably yourself and others, which is, like I like people, so you probably can't do CS if you don't like people realistically.

Speaker 2:

But then number two is I like new things. So if you like I was actually at, like you know, at our pulse conference and like we're talking about us doing the keynote and I talked about you know growth mindset, you're sure you know what that is right, or you're always open to changing and growing and like I think if you don't like changing and growing, you would hate this job Because it's so new and every year somebody's like what's the point of CS? Like what's the ROI? Why should we do it? Like every most companies it doesn't happen to Gaineside, obviously, but most companies, like the CS leader every year has to sort of redefine the role and re-advocate, resell the business, resell it like internally and externally. And if you don't like that, like the constant change, you would hate this job right.

Speaker 3:

You have to go do something much more established, you know.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely when my mind goes now is do you I mean, obviously, as Gaineside, you know being a CSP and being there for CS professionals? You folks tend to be and I speak, you know, I speak about this being a customer, because I do look to you guys for examples, do you feel a lot of pressure to be kind of the poster child? And how much do you carry those pressures into your decision making? Kelly, you can take that one.

Speaker 3:

I get this question all the time, like I'll meet new executives and they're like no pressure, kelly, you have to like you have to see at like the CS company. I'm like I got enough pressure already so I'll put it.

Speaker 3:

But no, I think it goes back to like I love problem solving and that pressure actually gets me excited and motivated. But it's something you know, it's a guiding principle that I share with my organization every single time I meet with them. Like we have to truly like, if we're gonna go out there and kind of trailblaze and help folks understand like what's the next best thing, what do you need to do from a prescriptive perspective when it comes to customer success? Like we need to truly genuinely be doing those things ourselves. So I like to say drinking our own champagne.

Speaker 3:

So we think about, you know, even digital customer success, right? Well, if we're gonna go talk about it, we've got to be embracing it and putting those putting things into practice, so they're not just empty words. So, again, that's why we're always constantly like, if you look at my priorities and things for the year, there's always ones that's like elevating our own CS organization so that we can be that great thought partner to not only just our customers but the industry at large. Cause there is no doubt in my mind that when we're doing these things ourselves, we're that much better at really locking arms and helping other people navigate these situations as well.

Speaker 2:

And then the only thing I added, alex, is like, if we want to be the role model for CS, part of that is being open, that like we're gonna get some things wrong, right, we're gonna evolve Like it's not, like we're perfect, like cause, there's no way to do it right, they can't be perfect. And so I think, like an example of that which probably ties to the theme of this podcast is early on we do a pyramid that says, okay, you have a high touch, mid touch and digital, and digital is like your small customers. I think we all know now digital is a strategy that can ply up and down.

Speaker 1:

Not a segment.

Speaker 2:

Right, not a segment. And so I think that's the kind of thing where like, yeah, we will get things wrong too, but then we'll like try to learn and get better, and I think every CS leader has to have that mindset that you will get things wrong.

Speaker 1:

So much of being in CS is like knowing how to fall on your sword. Yes, totally.

Speaker 3:

Cause there's definitely experimentation that's gonna happen. And pulling that thread a little bit further, nick, you know, I think we've also gotten really good at saying, like this isn't all coming just from us, like, if you think about polls, like it's about building a community around this, and that's why we've really been leading into community as well, to bring these folks together based on their stages and their shared experiences, because then it's even that much more robust to really really help them along the way.

Speaker 2:

And that's a good point, kelly, too, cause I think you know we are learning from our customers and then we're also like humble with our customers that sometimes we do fall on the sword. Alex, to your point, like actually it was just funny, random thing I was talking to one of our like new prospects and like their long type customer for the past and she came into this company and they were using another CS platform and it was a good platform Actually, somebody I respect. But she said that like that company had an issue and there was a problem like a survey went out to all their customers, accidentally, something like that and those mistakes happened. But she said the issue was the way that vendor respond. Like it wasn't actually that the issue happened. It's like owning up to it yes, this was our fault. Like, yes, this is what we're doing to prevent it, versus, like you know, blame shifting, you know. So I think anyone that's good in CS, like, is able to be humble enough to own the problem.

Speaker 1:

We all know we've sent the wrong email to the wrong person Everyone has done that Dear first name or whatever like dear.

Speaker 3:

That's the worst your part just drops.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, sending exit interview emails to customers who haven't exited Super fun.

Speaker 2:

That's a good one to leave, that's it.

Speaker 1:

And so you know this is the digital CS podcast. One of the things that I am trying to do is I'm trying to connect with everyone, right From the operations person to the systems admin, to the marketing person, to the digital CS in the field, to the executive level, and I want to pull together kind of this holistic view of you know what is digital CS, because it means a little bit something different to different people, depending on who you talk to and what they do on their functional lives. And so I'm building this definition of digital CS Wordmap. It's going to be on the website. I would love for you guys just your elevator pitch on what is digital CS.

Speaker 2:

All right, Kelly, you answer this question every day. Why don't you go first?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'll go first. So I love that you're doing this. I can't wait to see the final output of your word cloud. But when I think about customer success, let me start by saying I'm incredibly passionate that digital customer success is going to be like the next frontier of customer success, and I think it's grounded in the fact that this is how you're actually going to deliver the experience that your customers expect.

Speaker 3:

So this is it's not. I mean, there are certainly internal benefits, right, in terms of scaling your CS organization, but really for me, what I get excited about is it's leveraging, you know, all the technological advancements that have happened and kind of meeting the modern area of customer expectations to deliver them that personalized experience based on the persona user point in time through all these different omni-channel journeys. So for me, it's about kind of staying current with the time and extending that experience to all users, not just that core set of stakeholders that we have the ability, you know, to engage with with just a CSM. So CSMs don't go away, but we're going to be able to augment that relationship and kind of give it digital superpowers, as we like to say. Nick.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that. That's. You know, when at Pulse I talked about how, like this thing, we put up a long time ago this equation that was like customer success, cs equals getting your customers the outcomes they're looking for, what we said CO plus giving them a great experience, CX so that was sort of like a simple way to talk about it years and years ago and you know, we kind of put a little D as the exponent to make it even nerdier. Like digital superpowers, like Kelly said.

Speaker 1:

I love that.

Speaker 2:

And I think the like thing that I think about there, which fits what Kelly said, is Part of it is scaling more efficiently. Right, because obviously you'd love to have CSM be able to reach more accounts and things like that more self-service but part of it, I think what Kelly said so right on, even if you're CSM and you have one account, you cannot connect with every user. There's no way those users could be really influential. Frankly, those users may not want to meet with you. The CEO of the company or its user receptor does not want to meet with the CSM, like when I times that 10, right. So this idea of more stakeholders that Kelly talked about, I mean every CSM wants it. They don't want to be single-threaded, but you can't do that just through one-on-one video meetings, right? So I think it really does change things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love how the conversation is changing. Even when you think of previous Pulse conferences, they were very focused on CSMs and career and CSM growth and things like that, and it's still focused that way, but it's focused, in a way, to how can we operationally make the CSM more effective and what they do.

Speaker 3:

It's not more with less, it's more better, more better, more better huh, I think very often it can get kind of stuck under this umbrella of like, even though we have to skill, which is great. That's certainly an added benefit, but I think it's also more effective, right? Because then your CSMs can focus on the high-value activities that they really need to be doing in a human-led way, and we need to kind of learn from our B2C experiences and how everything else in our life is so personalized and that's what's kind of transferring over to the B2B world, and if we don't get ahead of that, I think we're going to get left in the dust, so to speak.

Speaker 1:

For sure. One of the little motions that you guys have that I recently had the pleasure of experiencing was I logged in. This is shortly after I got my level three cert or whatever. I logged in and it popped up. It was like, hey, where can we send your shoes? I'm like, what are you talking about Shoes? I was like, wow, gainsight has an awesome swag budget, that's so great.

Speaker 1:

It was like one of my favorite little things because it's like super random, super timely. You obviously know who I am from a persona perspective because your systems are tied together. So as a practitioner, it was also interesting to think about kind of what lies behind that, and so I'm curious if you all have some favorite digital emotions that you've seen recently that kind of resonated with you, whether it be your own or somebody else's.

Speaker 3:

Yeah Well, first of all, I'm so congrats on your level three and the little pop-up For me.

Speaker 3:

I definitely geek out on a lot of the in app, in product walkthroughs and engagements. So you just alluded to one. I mean the probably the most common one that you see as customer onboarding, which is great. Something that I'm really excited about and we've started doing internally is this notion of outcomes at scale. We talked a little bit about it at Pulse, but when you're not always in a named CSM type of model, right, how can we still understand what our customers care about and then very intentionally curate a journey that's relevant for that persona and what they're trying to accomplish? So we started to spin up in app engagements. When a customer comes on, they're able to self-select right, what are their key goals, and then we can come back, check progress and then we send them based on that data point. We send them to the relevant events and webinars and the right areas, the platform, et cetera. So we're still experimenting and obviously evolving that as we speak.

Speaker 1:

Like everyone is.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but it's been really cool to see just the level of throughput and how it's been working so far. So that's my favorite, because I think that's the next big thing. We've talked about outcomes for a long time, but then everyone's like, okay, that's great, but how the heck do we scale this so really understanding how that can work end to end? So, again, we can then make sure our customers are empowered and unable to go do it as well.

Speaker 2:

And I think, if you like building what Kelly said if you look at the whole customer journey, you can build digital in every part of it. And we actually luckily had Pulse very recently. So we do these things called Game Change Awards, which are like people really innovating. And you look at everything from onboarding where we had a couple of customers like Sam, Sara and Alterix both had this awesome onboarding process where they have a lot of small customers and they send them through onboarding and basically, if they haven't achieved certain milestones, then humans are reaching out and it's very sophisticated about like sending videos and training and sort of a lot of stuff before a human has to reach out. And then you think about adoption right, that's probably the one that people do the most, where you think of like in-app guidance and all that kind of stuff. There's so much you can do there.

Speaker 2:

Kelly talked about the whole process of just how do you drive outcomes, which is so important. Then you talk about renewal. One of our customers jammed for a long time. They've had this thing where they look at customers that look like they're like very high likelihood renewal and they actually send them to like a renewal portal, right, Like where you sell servers. And then you look at the experience side of it. Right, you talked about your shoes thing, which is a cool example. Another example that we've been doing internally is just which customers can review us on G2 or, obviously, in-app surveys, which, by the way, in-app surveys plus email, you'll absolutely like double your response rate. We saw that internally, right. So you look at the whole journey and it's like digital should be built into the entire customer journey.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and in a relevant way tracking outcomes and doing so in an interactive way. I think that's a real innovative.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's very innovative.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, that's super cool. That's super cool. You guys speak to a lot of C-level folks, obviously, whether it's pre-sale, post-sale, recovery, renewal, whatever the flow is. I'm curious to get a perspective and maybe a current state of what does some, what do a lot of C-level executives currently kind of get wrong with regards to digital CS. Like, what is the opinion that you routinely have to dispel?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'll give you my point of view. I think we're still getting some organizations over the hump. That digital customer success it's not just a segmentation strategy for your long tail of customers, like they think, oh well, we can't touch those customers and great, that's a good experimentation ground, right To do some of your A-B testing and learnings, but really still educating folks that folks that this is a segmentation-wide customer strategy, that should really be a critical strategic program for your business that's going to help scale your organization and ultimately drive better outcomes and an experience for your teammates and your customers. So really educating them through the lens of investor, customer and teammate success in terms of the broader business benefits that a program like this can provide.

Speaker 2:

I love that, and the only thing I'd add in is what happens a lot of companies, especially as you get bigger, is you have somebody working on, let's say they call it, digital customer success, but it's mainly automated email journeys and maybe humans reaching out if they haven't ever tuned a mouse. So a very common use case with Gainsight, right. But then you have a separate thing happening in the product team where they're doing an app guidance and things like that right. And then you have a separate thing in the support team where they're thinking about how do we as a community deflect support? It's very common use case as well, right. And you might have a separate thing in marketing where thinking about how do we email customers about upsell and so on, and the thing is they're all digital, but that's just a terrible customer experience Foggy pockets of stuff, foggy pockets and most companies end up doing that.

Speaker 2:

So the second thing I would add to what Kelly said is digital needs to be a multi-channel strategy defined in one cohesive way around the customer journey and what the customer's objectives are. Right, it can't just be a bunch of silos, and most companies today are a bunch of silos. Of course, that's a little self-promotional, because Gates and we're trying to solve this, like we now have a community in an app and email. But I think it's like the way that has to go, like it's crazy, right, and what happens right now is that digital becomes very ineffective if it's a bunch of silos, because the customer gets an email from marketing and there's a separate one from a sales person, a separate thing from CS, and there's like an in-app that's not a coordinated with that at all, and so then basically they all look different there.

Speaker 1:

And then people Totally.

Speaker 2:

But what happens? We tune it out as humans, right? Like you go to some web pages and like there's like 15 pop-ups that are like different ads, or like you just completely tune that out, right. But you think of something like social media in line advertising and social media where it's super targeted, right, whether it's like an Instagram or Facebook or TikTok or whatever, and, honestly, like I bought a lot of stuff through those because they're actually like highly relevant right, maybe even the shirt, I think, possibly and so like that's the difference. How do you get to a point where it's like super relevant, you're not just spamming your customers? And today, I'd argue, most kind of digital stuff, because it's not integrated, is spamming the customer.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I completely agree, and it leads to just crazy disjointed programs. Totally and also In effect, yeah, yeah, and you're getting all this amazing input and then it's not connected in some way on the back end and then your customer. It's like the equivalent of like GDPR. Allow all cookies, kind of pop-ups, right.

Speaker 2:

Just allow on every single website you go to. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Seriously Well, that leads me nicely, thank you for the segue into my next question, which is around org structure. Nick, you celebrated the fact that there are so many chief customer officers being promoted recently, and especially among women and Kudas to you for kind of calling that out in your keynote and whatnot. But where when do you see orgs evolving as more and more customers and just companies are gathering around the fire side, so to speak, of the customer journey? Right yeah, is that changing the landscape a little bit?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. It's funny. I talked about this at Pulse. I'd love to have Kelly share, maybe, the real world of her experience, because your org is expanded. What I shared at Pulse was, like you know, in the old world, right, you had like product marketing, sales and like what you might call support or services. Right, Right, and what a lot of companies did was they built like a new function called customer success. And that new function was like almost like, okay, we're going to solve all the problems, you guys just keep doing what you're doing and we're going to solve all the churn and retention and all that kind of stuff.

Speaker 2:

And you know most CS orgs in like five, seven years ago they had some impact. But usually the leader quickly figured out that if we don't align all of that journey together, it's not going to scale, it's not really going to have the impact we want to. You just can't do it as a silo. And so what most people did was create some kind of like a chief customer officer and put kind of quote, quote, quote, post sales roles I think post sales kind of a dated term, but you know we'll go with it and they put like services and support, customer success, training, community digital programs, operations, all under kind of one leader, and that was sort of what I call kind of like the CCO, like first iteration, how do we create that integrated org?

Speaker 2:

And then, finally, enough, right before this I was talking to one of our customers that's like a big, big SaaS company and like the person was running CS and he's actually moving on and like now they're merging CS and support services. So this is happening like all the time, right and obviously again. So we're trying to kind of follow that and be like okay, we'll connect training and support and, you know, community and all that together, customer success. Now there's a front cutting edge which is okay. If we're doing all that, you know, maybe we should move things like renewals and upsell and maybe even like some part of pre-sale, so you have like a continuum from like what the customer sees to what they get and Cal. You maybe can talk about your org's evolution, because I think it's a good example of that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I guess, keying off of what Nick just mentioned, so I've been in the CCO role game site for two and a half, two and a half years plus. Now it's flying by.

Speaker 3:

Nick, and so originally you know, my, my charter is kind of your traditional, we'll say post sales org right With.

Speaker 3:

Basically I had I had four key pillars the CSM org, the services org, the support org, and then we do have essentialized ops and that's actually where all our scale programs run out of. But more recently, as we were kind of, you know, designing the org of the future, we actually have brought the account management team under the CCO remit as well, so that team is responsible Basically that brings over renewals and expansion end to end, which it's been amazing I mean, we're still pretty early days with it, but just the level of collaboration, especially when you think about organizations like where we're at and we have different products right now, and just that collaboration and account planning that needs to happen and making sure that you're having the right resources and the swim lanes defined. It's been a really, you know, exciting kind of, I guess, marriage, so to speak, between the two organizations and for me it really helps me kind of shape and define every piece of that customer journey from beginning to end, which which, again, I have like more things I can go figure out and solve.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think that what's really really cool about that? I mean, first of all, Kelly committed to doubling the cross cell number, but on top of that which was really cool, no, I mean obviously incredible confidence, because Kelly is such a performance or leader, and I think that's the only way that this works for CCOs if they can show they can own, you know, like a big number like this. But a couple other things that I think like drove it for us. One was, you know, as I mentioned, we ourselves are becoming a multi product company and so cross cell is actually super important, right, and it's not just like the organic upsell that comes, but like cross cell, so like the team that's doing the cross cell being underneath Kelly's huge.

Speaker 2:

But then you look at the renewals and, like you know, a lot of companies have like CSMs and renewals is like totally separate orgs and you know they end up like not aligning as well. But from a customer perspective it's all like a continuum. They're not like, oh, is this the CSM thing or this is like all tied together, and so I'm super, talk to this guy or this guy this person, this person right, and I'm just about the collaboration between, like, the groups that's going to come out of that, you know.

Speaker 2:

So that's, that's just another thing, which is just like more seamless customer experience, more cross cell and obviously all under a leader who could really drive performance and double the crossover.

Speaker 3:

So I think those barriers, nick, like as hard as you try, I've just like what people feel like are, you know, incentive and stuff that don't match up we can really bring it together under one, you know, North Star mission, which is, which is good.

Speaker 1:

It's staggering to how many CS orgs are resistant to owning revenue. Yes, in a way, like it's, it's, it's a thing, and you know, I think you find similar kind of similar situations with support, for instance, where some CS orgs own it some in some it's a product organization. There's those little exceptions that are all over the place and everybody does it slightly differently, which is interesting yeah it's funny too.

Speaker 2:

I think this resisting revenue is a real career opportunity for people, which is like a couple of things I'd say. Number one you don't want to be in an org that doesn't tie to a financial metric. That's just not good for your own career, especially in a cost cutting world right. And number two is like I think there's this story that people tell themselves that if I own revenue, I can't be aligned to the customer's needs, and I'd argue it's the opposite. If you're, if you're owning revenue and you're most people that like own revenue, like care about the customer too, and there's a win-win. You know, when Kelly's team gets customers to use our digital hub or PX in product technology or other things, like it's helping the customer, it's not hurting the customer, right?

Speaker 2:

This is right where I think there's this big problem in CS where people think, like revenue is not aligned with the customer's needs. And I'd argue, if you truly believe that, like, if your company sells more, it's not like you should go to a different company, like you should be in a company where you are proud of what you're selling and it's actually helping the customer.

Speaker 3:

Well, and the way I articulate that, like to the team, is like think of it as a value journey, right, and we constantly have to push them up that value journey, maturity curve and as they climb that journey, like they're going to want to do more use cases and that's how expansion happens. So it's actually helping them as they're achieving more value. It's a win-win partnership, right, and the business is getting more revenue in return. So I think it's a mindset shift that a lot of people don't understand how those two things can.

Speaker 1:

Imagine that tying product solutions to intended out customer outcomes. Why is that such a novel idea? No shade at Dell at all, but I worked some time at Dell and I remember there was a point at which, like the consumer, sales folks were incentivized to like attach printer cables and stuff like that. I was like you know what is that? How is that?

Speaker 2:

Printer cables. I like that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like stupid stuff like that. So back on, kind of back on the leadership front, we see, and there are a growing number of women in leadership positions in CS now, which is awesome to see, but I would argue that it's probably, you know, as with most things in terms of diversity and equity, it's we're not, we're not there yet. And I've had, you know, the great pleasure of interviewing a lot of, you know, women leaders in CS, which is awesome, that's awesome. But I'm curious to get you know your take on the current state and also you know what, what you know proactively, we can be doing to, you know, to continue changing that in CS.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I love that question. First off, I'll start by saying I think, comparatively, like customer success as a profession is in a better spot than some other you know profession. So I get to meet with CS executives day in and day out, which is part of what energizes me about my job, and I'd say it's almost like equally probably females and males that I interact with. I think it's at the C suite level, like at the VP level we have a better mix Totally.

Speaker 3:

Start to climb to the C level. I think that's where there's still some inequity that we need to solve for. So you know, I know I've personally I'm involved in like several different women in CS groups and I think part of this is just coming together and kind of teaching others and how they can elevate themselves. How do they have that conversation I just presented at one Deloitte host last week. It's called Amplify. You know Women in CS. So I'm seeing more groundswell and energy happen there where, proactively, the women in CS are kind of locking arms to really keep this, this movement going. But I think it's also people like you know, nick Humblebrag on you but it takes men as well. It can't just be the women. It takes, you know, amazing leaders like men who have a commitment to this right To really drive that type of change and thankfully, you know we're seeing more and more of that show up. But, nick, would be curious from your perspective because you've done a great job at this.

Speaker 2:

And I don't need to.

Speaker 3:

Sometimes I take it for granted and then I talk to other women who are struggling to get to the C-suite, or they're like the one female in the C-suite as well. What's the problem? Totally so curious what Nick would add to that you said it so well.

Speaker 2:

I think part of it is like it's not like a I mean, honestly, people, all this position is like a training or development thing. It's honestly just like opening your eyes, like there's a lot of very talented women out there. It's not like a, especially you think about customer success. Oh my gosh. Like you said, at the VP level there's so many, and I have found the same thing where, like at the very top level, it seems to be like not as balanced. I haven't done a formal study, but we did look at the CSM population this is a couple of years ago, alex and it was like 50-50 or something like that. It was like extremely balanced, but it felt like the further up you go, it was like less balanced. And I think it's just like part of it's opening your eyes and be like, actually there's a lot of talent inside our company. Sometimes, by the way, it might be like saying, hey, do we need to go outside or can we promote one of our VPs? Honestly, that's what happened to Kelly, right, and so I think some of it's just like being aware of the talent you have or the talent that's out there.

Speaker 2:

I think the other thing that's kind of cool, is it's sort of. Maybe a segue is. This is then elevating the diversity of management teams and boards as well. And I think to Kelly's point. It's like this whole idea of the one woman or anyone that is like the one of their group, that's like different than everyone else. It's not like a super sustainable situation. So you know, for example, gates, I was super fortunate to have a number of women management team and, honestly, each of them got there on their own merits and what you know wasn't anything specific but sure, just a better balance as a team. Then, right, so part of it is you can't ever solve it with one.

Speaker 2:

But what's kind of cool is, well, as women and other people from underrepresented backgrounds go kind of move up through CS, it's because CS is becoming more important. It's naturally then taking them to other roles. I mean, literally right before, like this morning, we had like one of our customers who was like an early CS leader at LinkedIn, raleigh Saxena. She's like now CEO of a company, right, I showed it at like Pulse. All of these people moving from CS to like CRO CEO, and a number of them were women, right, and it's just like that path from like CSM to VP, to CCO, to maybe CRO and then CEO. That's a legit path. And, by the way, then like board member, I have, like CCO, friends who are on the boards of companies right, public companies. So you look at that whole continuum, it's there for people. Now it requires you know leaders to like open their eyes and then honestly, like you know people from underrepresented backgrounds to go when they see that opportunity, like Kelly did, to go run after it right, yeah, there's an empowerment piece, like you're saying.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, to not be afraid to go for it Totally yeah. The working mother to also helping people like other people really have If you can do it all you just have to figure out a way to kind of situate it and make it work.

Speaker 2:

And actually it's funny because this is where I think, not everyone companies different, but I think, like the remote work model does allow for not just women, anyone that has things outside of work to like actually be able to do a little bit more of like I'm going to pursue my career and take care of kids or aging parents or somebody else. Right, like you can do both. It's still hard, like we're all multitasking and it's really hard, but I think it's actually like more doable now in this new world. Yeah, I totally agree.

Speaker 1:

I totally agree, and on a, I suppose, somewhat related note for those that are just now entering the workforce, it is unprecedented times right Now. I think, in order to try to get a gig in tech or anywhere really. And I'd be curious as to you know what advice or what guidance you, you offer to to, to folks who maybe, just you know, fresh college grads, are looking for their first inroads in as a CSM or or anything really.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I can start.

Speaker 3:

You know, for me this was, I guess, hammered into me early days in my career, but it was always like attitude and activity and I think that translates to what we like to say at Gainsight, which is bulldog mentality.

Speaker 3:

So I think, you know, especially in a world in which you really kind of need to create a name for yourself, and usually that's through some level impact that you're having, really taking initiative and ownership of things that you're doing. So when I reflect on my career, it's not just like he's saying, oh, like this isn't working, but like, oh, I see an opportunity, like taking gaps and turning them into opportunities and I was waiting for somebody else to do them. Like, take it by the horns, go do it. It's going to, it's going to be self serving for you and your role, but then it's going to have broader impact. I think those types of things really show, you know, leadership, whether you want to stay as an IC or, like you know, transfer into a formal leader, like that's the type of thing that will really help you stand off From the crowd, in my opinion.

Speaker 2:

I love that. And the only things I'd add in are like I think, if you're fortunate enough, like be able to work at a company that has a great training program, even if it's a bigger company, like you know Cal, you were already early on right and he has like a great training program and it's sort of like one of those companies that people are like okay, if they work there, they're really been developed a lot. I think that's huge and that's a I mean you did that. And then like another one that, like I've thought about, is, you know, just yet to be flexible, unfortunately, like, especially in this economy, like you can define your perfect spec but realistically, like it's so competitive, so you know that might mean starting at sales or an SDR.

Speaker 2:

By the way, there's some people, a lot of people, in CSM that started in more like service industry, like, let's say, hospitality or whatever, and those skills are actually quite valuable. And, by the way, right now, unfortunately, tech's not hiring much but hospitality is hiring like crazy, right, crazy. It's tough, you know, like not everyone that aspires to be in tech was like thinking about that. But honestly, you can move into those companies, you can move up really quickly and then sometimes you can break into tech, right that kind of thing happens. I think that's an opportunity as well.

Speaker 1:

And then the line.

Speaker 2:

Oh sorry.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, good, I was going to say your point about hospitality is spot on because one of my previous companies, you know, we served the hospitality industry, primarily restaurants, and we've hired 70% from the hospitality industry.

Speaker 2:

Totally.

Speaker 1:

I never had to do any customer service training, because those folks know how to work for tips and get stuff done and achieve customer success.

Speaker 2:

And a lot of CS organizations. If they're sell to verticals, they hire from that verticals. I think that's a really good generalizable point. The last thing I'd say is I think that you know the one of the challenges is if you know what everyone else knows, you're not that different. But if you know something most people don't know, you're actually quite different.

Speaker 2:

So a simple example of that now is if you're like super deep on generative AI and like you go into your interview, you're like, hey, look, this time we're using generative AI to contact customers or whatever. You're going to stand out in that interview. So what, I would if I were somebody like trying to break in. It's like what is the cutting edge and how do you get to that cutting edge so that everyone else doesn't know it? You know and that's something that I don't think enough people lean into and unfortunately, if you're in a situation where you have time which you know, I feel for people that do when they're looking like that's the time to go like get super cutting edge, so then you look really differentiated to that employer. Yeah, by the way that resume.

Speaker 1:

You're looking at that profile image. You're looking at generative AI.

Speaker 3:

Alex. One last thing I'd add, especially for CS professionals, which goes back to probably the commentary we were having earlier, is like I teach my team, like I look for adaptability quotient.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's it.

Speaker 3:

Call it like yes, is ever evolving. You're going to have good days, you're going to have really hard days. So is there a way that you can demonstrate that you're versatile and kind of even keel? You don't ride the highs too high. You don't ride the lows too low, so those are your best, like CSM, cs leaders, et cetera. So adaptability quotient is the other big one for me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you have those really horrid calls. You got to be able to roll into the next call, totally.

Speaker 3:

Nothing else. Yeah, what's the next best thing you can control? That's what I tell the team. That's right. It's not perfect, but what can you control?

Speaker 1:

Exactly exactly. We're going to take a quick left turn and then it'll be time to wrap it up. I want to get your hot takes on customer scoring, customer health scoring and whether you prefer, as an executive, walking into an account, looking at a gain site you know 360 summary or whatever. Do you prefer to have your health score be as predictive as possible and give you you know as much kind of forewarning into an issue, or do you prefer to have a customer score that provides all the details and gives you all the nitty gritty about where the issues are, and or is it a combo of both? Like what's your philosophy and your personal preference?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I can start. So I think the key component for me as a customer health score needs to be actionable, Like it's great if you're like, oh, it's green, but like I need to understand the components so I know what to go do about it, Right. So for me, customer health scores, I always say, is like the compass of the business. So I want to know how it's trending, but I want it to be an early warning system, but one that's actionable. So we have a I'm sure you've heard it, Alex but we have a you know acronym we call Dear.

Speaker 3:

That's for the outcomes piece. So that's the more objective side of our scorecard deployment, engagement, adoption, ROI. So the activities my team is doing are then feeding what I think of as like the leading indicators, which then I can constantly be controlling or running plays against. So that way the lagging outcomes turn out in the way that we want them to be. So to me, the health score is really the compass that kind of connects what's happening and what are the high value things we're doing. How are we trending and tracking, and then ultimately that's going to drive the retention, expansion, et cetera.

Speaker 3:

So it's a blend of like some level predictiveness, for sure, using data, but there needs to also be some subjective inputs too from your CSMs and surveys and things like that. So it's a good combination, but I like to have enough detail or granularity where it at least tells me what I need to go do about it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think I like that, oh sorry, go, alex, go go.

Speaker 2:

I believe the thing I'd add, in which I, because, like Kelly, summarizes so well in terms of the quantitative, now, if you're saying you're about to go meet a customer, there is the subjective side, and this is a total shameless plug, but it's.

Speaker 2:

I think actually you could do it in a lot of different ways with Gainsetter, without which is like you have so much data about the customer. That's sort of like you know who are the key people and like what are the goals and like what are the recent issues we've had. And so we built something called CheechEat which basically takes those top questions and like amazingly I'm still blown away that it like works. It uses GPT you know the GPT type technology and like scans all the data against. That, gives you like this summary and it's like I wouldn't say it's a hundred percent accurate, but it's like 99% accurate, 90%. And so, whether you're doing it that way or some more manual way, like you do need to understand some of the human dynamics, who are the key people, what's changing Some of that isn't always in the health score, so to speak, right.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, I can't wait to use CheechEat. It's going to be good. I like to. I like to coach my digital CSMs. Actually, as the health score is basically your departure point, it's like you go, you get some sort of indication, you need to go look at the health score. What's the departure? Where do you need to go from here to? Like some further investigation or whatever. But yeah, that's cool, I like the blend.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, and I think obviously as you get more digital like if you have to do digital tiers you're naturally going to have to rely on the data, even that much more right and the predictiveness. But that can you know. There's some variance across the segments.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, as we start to wrap up, I would love to first off get a little bit of an insight into each of your content diets, so to speak. What are you consuming to keep abreast of things that are happening? Podcasts, books, whatever. Nick Nick, we know you wrote a couple of things but, maybe some things besides that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think, like LinkedIn is actually super valuable because you get to like scan things, like from a business perspective. Twitter is good too, or you know Facebook threads or whatever, but like I think LinkedIn is really good for staying on top of just business stuff and also just like your clients and what's happening. So I find that to be very valuable. Podcast-wise, like I should bring up my app, but I think you know, all in podcast is quite good in terms of just like what's happening in technology. They're kind of funny. They're a little self-absorbed if you've listened to them, but it's actually quite good. There's some like VCs and stuff like that on there. I think that's a good one.

Speaker 2:

I think another one, if you want to stay on top of the cutting edge, is actually the Lex Friedman podcast, which I love, which is Lex Friedman's like a you know a computer scientist at MIT and he somehow was able to interview Mark Zuckerberg, elon Musk. He gets everyone on there and right now he's a lot of good things about generative AI and where it's going. So I think that's another good one I'd recommend. How about you, kelly? What do you read? What?

Speaker 3:

do you read? Yeah, so I've been. I guess, from a podcast perspective, a lot of the same, probably outlets that Nick just mentioned. But from a podcast perspective, the one that I've been listening to recently is how I built this oh, I've heard that's good. Yeah, yeah, I just I just started getting into it, so not too many episodes deep, but it's fun to kind of hear more about the journey of some of these companies and the behind the scenes stuff. So if you're into that, then check it out.

Speaker 1:

One that's been coming up a lot with guests recently and I've gotten into as well as my first million, have you?

Speaker 3:

Oh no, I haven't, but that sounds I'm like I heard millions, I'm in, yeah.

Speaker 1:

That's incredible. They publish three times a week, which is insane, but it's some really amazing stuff.

Speaker 2:

The other one I've heard really is really good is the digital CS podcast, Alex.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

That's a big one.

Speaker 2:

That's a must listen.

Speaker 1:

Next question is your opportunity to shout some folks out. I know you we already kind of talked about a couple during our conversation but who's doing really cool things in digital CS right now that you want to give some props to?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean I feel like Nick grabbed onto some of them, but I'll tell you some other, like, I guess, larger name ones Octa's done. Octa's been a trailblazer for us for a long time in terms of really kind of pushing the curve and just being very, I guess, ahead of the game with respect to digital. So they have a whole team and strategy built around it. I always get inspired when I join their EBRs. And then Concur is another good one as well. They've had incredible success in terms of digital EBRs and all these things and actual quantitative impact back to the business. So those are two bigger brand ones to call out.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the only other one I'd add in I mean there's so many, but like another one that comes to mind is one that a company probably not most people know about, but it's actually Decent Size, called Muse MEWS and it's like the hospitality technology company for Europe, so maybe similar to the field you used to work in, but they built a big business in Europe. What I love about them, and actually some of the companies Kelly mentioned, is like there's companies that's leading into the future of technology. I'm sure you have those customers, alex as well, where they're not afraid and they're not like oh, we don't want to be early, they want to try. They have all the game side technology, they're tying it together, and I think they're just customers like that that are the ones that make the future. And there's other ones that are like it's okay no disrespect to them but they're like okay, I'm going to wait for the third version of it and to each their own. But I think those people that do lead into the future are the ones that we all follow.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly Exactly. That's awesome man, amazing. Well, I am very appreciative of your time. I know an hour isn't easy to come by, and so thank you for joining, and it's a pleasure having both of you on. You asked great questions. Thanks so much, alex. 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 show at digitalcustomersuccesscom. My name is Alex Turgovich. Thanks again for joining and we'll see you next time.