The Digital Customer Success Podcast

Digital Customer Success, Laughs & Banter with the Incredible Kristi Faltorusso of Client Success | Episode 021

October 19, 2023 Alex Turkovic, Kristi Faltorusso Episode 21
The Digital Customer Success Podcast
Digital Customer Success, Laughs & Banter with the Incredible Kristi Faltorusso of Client Success | Episode 021
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Wow - what a fun one we have for you today. Kristi Faltorusso certainly needs no introduction. Aside from her resume being a mile long, she currently leads customer teams at Client Success AND runs her own consultancy.
 
But what I like most about Kristi is her massive contributions to the CS community and the fact that she's not shy about sharing her opinion on things.

It's always fun speaking with Kristi and while we did talk about some great CS related topics, we also talked about other stuff - which I mostly left in...cause hey...why not!?

A few topics discussed today are:

  • How Kristi is currently re-tooling the team structure and mission at ClientSuccess with a focus on three key areas: Onboarding, Technical Resources & Customer Education
  • The importance of talking with customers about your re-designs so that you're not doing it in a vaccuum.
  • Why digital motions tend to fail: additive vs. subtractive building
  • Unique take on finding existing SaaS tools within your organization
  • Data management & cleanliness

Enjoy! I know I sure did...


Register for Alex & Kristi's ClientSuccess Webinar on the Symbiosis between Human and Machine here: https://www.clientsuccess.com/resources/clientsuccess-webinar-series-featuring-alex-turkovic-director-adoption-programs-at-snow-software-and-host-of-the-digital-customer-success-podcast

Kristi's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristiserrano/
Kristi's Website: https://www.kristifaltorusso.com/
ClientSuccess: https://www.clientsuccess.com/

Resources:

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The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

Speaker 1:

Are you really going to make me talk about customer success stuff?

Speaker 2:

I think so I mean all right all right, all right, all right. We can make it a two-parter and just make the first one bullshit. I mean, it's just CS bullshit.

Speaker 1:

See, and then you can put them together and then tell Josh that you stole the entire framework of our CS and BS podcast.

Speaker 2:

And, once again, welcome to the Digital Customer Success Podcast with me, 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 scaled CS programs. My goal is to share what I've learned and to bring you along with me for the ride so that you get the insights that you need to build and evolve your own digital CS program. If you'd like more info, want to get in touch or sign up for the latest updates, go to DigitalCustomerSuccesscom, and if you have a question or commentary to be used in an upcoming episode, call us and leave a message at 512-222-7381. For now, let's get started, and welcome to this episode of the Digital Customer Success Podcast. It is episode 21 and I've got a treat for you. Today we're talking with none other than Christy Falterusso, who really needs no introduction. She leads the customer teams at Client Success, but you see her all over the place, including the BSNCS podcast, with Josh Schechter, mickey Powell, john Johnson and the gang. Well, that is the gang. She's got her own thing going at ChristyFalterussocom and we spend a lot of time today. Well, we kind of talk about CS, but then we talk about a bunch of other stuff. We had a lot of fun and I think you'll have some fun listening to it as well. If you're listening, quote unquote live we are releasing at an odd time we're releasing on Thursday, usually released on Tuesdays. That's because I wanted to put this out prior to a client success webinar that I'll be hosting along with Christy next week on Tuesday I believe that's the 24th where I'll be talking about the symbiosis between digital customer success and humans and how humans and the machine work together. So there'll be a link down in the show notes for that for you to register, and I would love to see you there. But for now, please enjoy this conversation with Christy Falterusso, because boy Asher did what are you drinking? What are you drinking?

Speaker 1:

So I've decided that everything looks better in a wine glass and, as somebody who no longer drinks alcohol, I have all of these wine glasses with no use, so I use them for everything. This is an iced coffee. This is an afternoon iced coffee with a little bit of a French vanilla creamer. Fat free, sugar free. Sugar free, not fat free.

Speaker 2:

I dig it, I dig it. You know, I had another idea for brand placement the other day, because I was. I was doing some editing and I was taking a drink of coffee.

Speaker 1:

Oh, the bottom of the cup.

Speaker 2:

Bottom of the cup, Like I don't want to sell yeti right.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. Okay. So Rod Cherkis, who wrote chief customer, the chief customer officer playbook, he sent me a Yeti mug with my favorite saying on it, which is it depends. And so he sent me a custom for Christy Yeti mug and I loved that. And then I was like, ooh, I should just get a black one with my name and like logo on it because, to your point, every time I used it it was a great conversational piece. But I guess having a fun saying is probably cooler than just having my name because people know, would know who I am anyway. Anyway, go get yourself a branded mug.

Speaker 2:

I'm still trying to. I'm just trying to come up with some fun stuff. Like you know, when I go to like Paul's or CS 100, I want to have like a shirt that's like kind of tongue in cheek, kind of self-promotional.

Speaker 1:

I have a notebook about this.

Speaker 2:

Super funny.

Speaker 1:

You do. First, swag I have because I'm designing swag to sell on my website, so I have tried to come up with some like witty, humorous things. One of my favorites and I'll say it here and if someone steals it I'll know where they heard it, especially if we're using this great D roll somewhere but it's a shirt that says I'm an, I'm a 10, and the bottom is a little NPS like scale, but the NPS scale is like really small, so it just looks like someone saying I'm a 10.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So that was clever, but I have a standby. Or you could be like okay, hold on, I have so many good ones, it's like I'm a seven, make me a 10 or something. It's like how do I get to a 10? Oh my God, becky, look at her NRR. Which was like a front and back. Okay, you know what? Whatever they're not. Not every idea can be a great idea. Okay, some of them just have to be good. I had one that said aggressively helpful.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I like that.

Speaker 1:

Then I had the customer success. Yeah, aggressively, helpful, aggressively helpful, trusted it. Right, how good is that? I'm aggressively helpful.

Speaker 2:

That's good, that's good.

Speaker 1:

Trusted advisor loading like a loading thing because you can't decide when you're a trusted advisor.

Speaker 2:

I've given this some thought.

Speaker 1:

I have, I have a. So anyway, I won't tell you all of them, but this, like I have a, this little notebook here, these, this is my, the small version is my idea book, and then I have a big version of the same book, which is like my notebook but, this is the idea book. So the small one is where I jot down all the little random things that enter my head, which? You'd imagine would be fuller, but my head's pretty empty these days.

Speaker 2:

Minded mind. You know, mine's just like on Apple notes. It's just like full of like random things that I think of when I'm running or whatever it's like. You know it's like yeah, I think it's lost in there If it goes in the notebook. I feel like it gets done.

Speaker 1:

But I like some of my ideas. Like I said, they're not all great, but like the, it depends would definitely be one, and I think about that as like a dad, like the, the dad cap, like not a trucker hat, but like the dad cap, and it just says it depends. And I feel like, if you add of customer success context, I think it's still funny and witty and could mean a lot of things. So I feel like I'm going to, I'm going to run with that.

Speaker 2:

I mean that can apply to everything in everything.

Speaker 1:

Cause it does, but it does all of these things will have like my little logo, like really teeny tiny somewhere, so it is contextually relevant.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

So I'm super excited to open up my e-commerce store and sell all my swag.

Speaker 2:

So good, I'm glad you're doing that yeah.

Speaker 1:

Cause I have nothing better to do with my time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sure Total world domination. You're, you're, do you do so much stuff? I don't, I still. Well, we talked on the phone the other day Like I don't, I don't know how you do it. Well, hey look, we're going to. We're going to actually talk about some stuff. Um, if that's cool with you, but um and I promise you I'm not going to ask you the oblige obligatory background. Uh, you know, question like where you came from, because people can look at your freaking LinkedIn and see my long list of stuff that you've done, like it's, it's like stupid. I was scrolling and it was like a joke, like one of those money Python sketches where you like keep, keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. I was like Jesus. Anyway, I do want to ask you about um, because I should. I feel like I should call you professor Felt to Russo. What is this adjunct professor thing that I saw on there? What is that?

Speaker 1:

Okay. So this is actually super cool and definitely underrated in my profile for sure. So before I got into customer success, I did marketing and digital marketing, specifically search engine optimization. Like that was my forte and I went deep in that. Like I was like and this was another totally male dominated space which I think made it easier for me to transition to tech but totally male dominated I became like a strong female voice and expert in search engine optimization. Long story short, the university that I graduated from, long Island University, liu post, which is about half hour from my home. I stayed in close contact with the head of our program in the media arts department and a couple years back they approached me and asked if I wanted to teach a course on search engine optimization and digital marketing at an accredited university. And so me and Perry Drake, who is a gentleman who taught over at NYU, we were the first two professors in North America to teach at accredited university digital marketing and search engine optimization. So I am super proud of that. I did it for four years, so four different semesters. I loved it. It was an elective class but my students, they took it. They learned a ton, in fact, many of my students, one of them I hired who worked for me for like two years, but I follow all of them on like social media. They're all married and have kids now, which is super cool Because I'm like, wow, I'm old. Okay, that's cool, yeah, so I got to teach at a university for four years, like in classroom too like not even like Zoom BS, like virtual teaching, like I got to show up once a week three hours every Wednesday night and like mold young minds.

Speaker 2:

I'm just going to call you professor from now on.

Speaker 1:

I think that that is way hot, so I'm into it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I taught high school percussion.

Speaker 1:

That's cool, I think any listen I think teaching anything is super underrated and I think anybody who is forced to teach anybody anything, especially children, and we'll say anybody under 25, deserves some accolades.

Speaker 2:

You know, what's crazy about that is like those kids are now like married with children and jobs.

Speaker 1:

And I'm like it's terrifying how old.

Speaker 2:

does that make me? Okay? You want to hear something?

Speaker 1:

even better. You want to hear something even better. So at least those were college kids. I also taught at my church, so I was a catechist. So, if anybody who's not Roman Catholic, I was basically a religion education teacher at my church, so preparing students for their sacraments, and I taught seventh and eighth grade.

Speaker 2:

You know what, just you know what just went off?

Speaker 1:

It's a test.

Speaker 2:

It's that national.

Speaker 1:

Hey, why don't you shut it off like I did? You're slow.

Speaker 2:

We just captured history, so this is a test of the national wireless emergency alert system.

Speaker 1:

The purpose is to maintain and improve alert warning capabilities. Well, great, Good job guys.

Speaker 2:

Wow, okay, yeah, both my friends Listen.

Speaker 1:

Story interrupted, I'm going well, you need less phones first of all. Like this isn't.

Speaker 2:

Tell me about it. Tell my work that yeah.

Speaker 1:

Okay, all right, I'm going back. So I was a catechist and taught at my church. I taught seventh and eighth graders. So I did it for four different years. So I taught seventh grade. Then I taught them again in eighth grade, got them confirmed, sent them off into the universe, went back to seventh grade, taught them in seventh grade, brought them to eighth grade again, got them confirmed and sent them off, and in fact I was three different kids sponsor in their sacrament of confirmation. I don't know.

Speaker 2:

It was so special.

Speaker 1:

I'm like that's so cool that they liked me enough, or they probably didn't have anybody else, but regardless. I was chosen to help represent them in the church and I thought that was so special. Anyway, those kids, those kids I also follow on social media and they're also married with kids. So talk about old. They were babies when I taught them, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I don't know what to do with that stuff Like it's, it's scary, it's it's awesome because you get to be, you know, part of people's lives that way. But, holy moly, it's also scary, terrifying.

Speaker 1:

Terrifying.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if you know this, but on the website, on the digital CS website, I've been collecting everybody's little definitions of what digital customer success is, because everybody has a different take on it, right, and so I've building this word map. Everybody's definition is on there, so you can go peruse all the 18, 20 episodes or whatever that are on there now. And I would love from you just your quick elevator pitch, Laman's terms what is digital CS to you in your mind?

Speaker 1:

Customer success motions delivered through technology.

Speaker 2:

I'm leaving it there.

Speaker 1:

I'm not giving any more words.

Speaker 2:

I think that might win the award for the most concise. I'm not sure. I wanted to use as little words as possible.

Speaker 1:

If if. I didn't win. I'd like a second at that. So you come back to me. No, I think. I think that's a good thing.

Speaker 2:

I yeah, I think you might have gotten it, but it's. It's concise and highly accurate as well, Right, Because a lot of people get into the weeds Because it can mean so many things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm not here to like dissect it, you're just delivering it through technology. Ha ha, ha ha ha. You're very clever. It does depend, but we're going to say customer success delivered through technology.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I like it because it's true.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean there's a lot of definitions that talk about, you know, the customer experience and using various things and automation and stuff like that. And then there's like the internal thing of making CSM is more efficient and all that kind of stuff, but in the end of the day, it's emotions delivered through technology.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's, good. Oh yes, nailed it. Let me know if I win something because I'm also super competitive. If the universe doesn't know that about me, I want to put that out there.

Speaker 2:

Because you win. You win one of these Mike square thingies. How about that?

Speaker 1:

I need to order my own, mike square thing. I'll just place my hands beneath for my own branding purposes, and I might just put my logo at the bottom of a mug too.

Speaker 2:

You could put your logo and then client success logo and have them both be there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I could also just start having ads float behind me right as a background.

Speaker 2:

I can find those in. That's not a problem at all, right.

Speaker 1:

Right, and I can also have like a ticker at the bottom. I can run.

Speaker 2:

I can sell ad space yeah. I do need to pay for, like you know, podcast hosting too. So, like you know, see, let's go.

Speaker 1:

That's the thing we should have, like tickers and banners and fly ins and definitely disruptive commercials. So if we can get those two, that'd be great.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, let's do that. I want to talk a little bit about client success and your role there, because you, you know you lead essentially the entire post sale motion. If I'm not mistaken.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you are correct.

Speaker 2:

At client success, which is phenomenal, and I also know I think you talked about this recently somewhere, I forget where that you're kind of going through this process of figuring out what the next phase of post sales going to be at client success, and I would just love to get a little peek into your brain of you know where you're going and what, how you're thinking about that.

Speaker 1:

You're literally peeking in at the most optimal time, because it's all I've been talking about the past two days. Cool, and you probably got wind of this, because I did like a LinkedIn post on it, because yesterday was officially 90 days till the end of the year. There's nine, now there's 89 and like actually it's like it's like 88 and a half, because today is like over.

Speaker 2:

Not amazing. Yeah right, we're done Okay so there's that okay.

Speaker 1:

So what's going on at client success? So you know, for anyone who is not familiar with client success, let me do a quick like plug there. We are a customer success management solution, so we help customer success teams manage from new to renew that entire post initial sales cycle. That said, you know we're small, growing company and, like many companies, this year the economy has not been kind to us and, like a lot of tech companies, we've been struggling right in sales retention growth. And when I look at it, the cool thing about what I am seeing is that our customers aren't leaving because of our product, they're not leaving because of their experience. They're leaving because they're they're experiencing their own constraints because their own business performance. So, thematically, I feel okay because it's not, it's like it's not me, it's you, it's like you know. That's a better storyline, like when someone breaks up with you, it's not you, it's me. So I'm okay with that. But that said, I don't get to hire more people. I don't have expanded budgets. I don't have more resourcing to staff with I, you know our sales team. While they're not out there crushing it there, they're still selling like we're still growing from that standpoint. So I've got to figure out how to do something different with what I have. You will never, ever, ever hear me say do more with less. I think that is a BS Line. That's out there, that's set by 20 people. I'm not gonna do more with less. I'm not gonna try to keep doing more and piling more on my team. What I have come to recognize is that we've got to drive a very specific outcome for our customers. We've got to find a creative and new way to do that. So here's where I'm at. I'm breaking down all of my teams. I oversee success, services and support. I am no longer thinking about it in those three cohorts. I am thinking about it through the lens of what people do I have in my organization and I am doing a complete skill and will assessment. So one of the exercises I went through yesterday with my team is I Created a slide for each person on my team and it was a four box and it basically said what do you love doing here at client success? What do you love less Doing a client success? What do you think you're really good at and where do you feel like there's opportunities for you to learn and grow Based on the work and the scope of the work that you're doing today. And what that allowed me to see is like what people really enjoy and what they're really good at now. In a lot of cases there was overlap there. I mean, I think it's easy to say right, if I'm really good at something, I probably enjoy that because I'm really good at it. I don't like to do the things I'm not good at. That's just, I think, human nature. So what I found, though, is that nobody on my team loved and was good at the same things, which is ironic because they're all playing the same role today. So and this is just for my CSM specifically so let me just be clear, right? So, for across all of my CSM's, they all are supposed to be doing the same work and delivering a consistent experience for my customers, but all of them said I like doing certain certain things and I'm good at certain things, and no, three people Boxes said the same thing. Okay, great. So here's where I'm at. I'm breaking everything into specialty roles. We're moving away from a traditional, standardized, just everyone gets a customer success manager plan, and I'm where I am doubling down on is three things. One is onboarding, so I will give a hundred percent of resources into onboarding. We are going to design onboarding 3.0 at client success. 2.0 was pretty epic, but 3.0 will be the most Personalized, customized, tailored, accelerated experience, like talk about white glove to the nth degree. Cool but accelerated. Accelerated, and that is that's the important thing here, right? Whereas, like most onboarding programs that we've seen, especially in the CSP space, one, most CSPs don't even give you an onboarding manager. Ironically, a lot of them have a self-guided, self onboarded experience which sucks and our customers are very vocal about that. A lot of them never get the product fully stood up right, so it's shelf wear, it's never being optimized, it's ends up being garbage. They replace it with something else down the road. I will not let that be the case. If I can't win anywhere else in the CSP space, I will absolutely win in the experience and ability to drive real, quick value from our software. So I'm going hard on onboarding, like Everything is going up there. The second thing is Technical resources. Now we do not have a technical product by any means, meaning like. I think you know, when I joined client success, somebody trained me how to use the platform and I like got it up and running into all these things and I was like hey bye. Yeah super easy for anybody who has any Technical aptitude. This is not like. You're not coding, you're not. This is not technical.

Speaker 2:

Doesn't require that love like a site where you need we need a team of admins, right yeah?

Speaker 1:

I'm not going to In curse here, I'm not gonna should talk anybody, so I'm not here to to like say anything about any other solutions. What I will say about ours is that it's pretty easy, straightforward. You don't need technical resources, you don't need admins. But if you want to integrate certain things, there may be some level of complexity there, and we do have a part of our product called revenue manager, which does allow you to manage the entire commercial Aspect of your business in our solution. So you don't need to worry about going to Salesforce, you don't need to be in your CRM like you can do everything like ops management in Client success, which is super cool. But because no two companies manage revenue the same way, it gets a little yucky. So I am doubling down on technical resources to make sure that all integrations and technical configurations are Buttoned up tight, perfect. Because guess what, if you cannot trust the data, you will never trust our solution. I will never give my customers reason to doubt what is in their platform. They need to be able to trust it through and through, all day, every day. Put those numbers in front of the board, no doubt. The third thing I'm putting forth a lot of effort behind is Designing a more comprehensive education program. Now, education is not just on our platform, it is on the industry, it is on trends, it is on best practices. What I've learned a lot about our customers is that many our first-time customer success leaders many of them are challenged with Designing new customer success programs that they haven't done before. They don't know how to do it, they haven't faced certain challenges. They need resources that they can turn to, they need a friend, they need an ally. In fact, most of my customers come to me with problems and projects that have nothing to do with client success, but like hey, christie, have you seen this? Have you done this? What are other customers? How should I approach this? Let's brainstorm, and I love that for them, but I want to design more Content to help support them on that journey, because it is not just about getting my platform set up and running. It is about them being effective and managing and designing the most optimal customer success program for their teams and for their businesses, and I want to be part of that journey. So we are gonna go hard on education and that's gonna be in platform, it's gonna be all new content and it's gonna be through our community which we built this year, which we are gonna go big on in 2024. Everywhere and anywhere that we can design this, it's gonna be tailored to our customer base. Now I'll continue to give thought, leadership and content and boot camps to the broader community, but my customers, they deserve a little extra right. They deserve something special for coming on board and being part of this journey with us the client success and so that's what I'm committing to giving them. So that that's what's going on here. It is big, it's disruptive. I love it and I've got 40 40 Customer interviews scheduled for the last two weeks of October, because not only am I designing this Progressively and thinking about what I have, what I need, I want my customers to validate it. I want them to tell me that they feel like this is a good idea, that they're gonna get what they need, that this is gonna help support their journey. Because I think any CS team who is designing anything and not Talking to their customers and not getting them to validate it, what the hell are we doing? Then we are not in the customer business and I will not. I will, I will only. I will only do what I say. Right, how can I talk that I'm the customer success leader at a customer success product if I'm not Conversing with my customers about the changes we're about to embark on.

Speaker 2:

Totally yeah, it's like. It's like making decisions, you know, blindfolded it's not cool so. I want to unpack this just slightly Because I love so many things that you just said. The first one is something that's very near and dear to my heart. It's something I used to talk about quite a bit when I was, especially when I was in learning and development and stuff, which is the career sweet spot, which is essentially the combination of what's you know, what does the company need, plus what is somebody's career goal, plus what is somebody's passion. Like those things intersect and it's crazy powerful like you can get exponentially more productivity, upwards momentum and just just in general, like good juju from your team members, if, if that has paid attention to and implemented. So I love that. You kind of you know, put those things together as you were.

Speaker 1:

So, like I put this in front of my team and I'm expecting, like worst-case scenario, right, like everyone's anything about shit crazy. Like I don't want to do this, I think it's a bad idea. I just want to be a CSM. Leaving alone, what I found is that everyone on my team loved this. It was refreshing. It felt like it opened up new opportunities for them. They wanted to focus on things that they really loved and they were good at. It felt like it was designing a new career trajectory for them in it, in an organization that is pretty flat right, I don't have 30 layers of leadership not everyone's gonna have a path to that but I can get creative with titles. I can get creative with scope of work, roles and responsibilities, and so, by introducing this idea, I saw a new level of excitement and energy in my team that I hadn't seen in a while because people were feeling burnt. That's all and this was like I think that the coolest thing for me as a leader is to see. It's like you know, it's like giving your kid a present right, like in their eyes light up and they're so excited. I saw this new energy and excitement from my people when I said you're gonna help design what your career looks like here and this one change could actually set you up to go do something huge in the future. Let this be the springboard. Does something more awesome in the future. But this is something our customers need. You need and the business needs.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that kind of stuff isn't easy, right? So Kudos to you for like doing that, because it would be much easier just to say, okay, this is your role now and this is this team and this is what we're going to do. It's a lot harder to then build contextually around the team and the resources that you have. So, yeah, it ain't easy, but it's super cool. The other thing that kind of came to mind is I feel like Greg Danes would love you for everything that you just said, because all this kind of metrics that he puts out and all those things, it's like. It's like you know, you hit on a lot of them and I think onboarding Donna Weber would love you too. Like onboarding is like such a hugely important thing. It sets the tone and so many of us get it wrong. Like it's just you know. So I love that you're doubling down on that and the integration bits because data I could just go on, we could go on and on, but we only have like an hour.

Speaker 1:

But I felt like those three things made the most sense for me and for my customers and I was like these were all duh things, by the way, so these are not like. I didn't have some epiphany where it was like, oh my God, nobody's ever thought about these three things. But what I like about the direction that we're headed is we're putting the right focus and the right energy behind it and, hopefully, the right tracking mechanisms to measure its success and impact. But we started to see where we did this in bits and pieces, the success we're having. So being able to do this at scale, feels like it'll translate to significant business impact, which is what we're excited about.

Speaker 2:

And the simplicity of it is what I really like, because you're essentially saying these are my core problems, this is how I want to go solve it, and I'm going to make sure I'm doing it correctly as I go.

Speaker 1:

And let's be honest, right, I'm going to do it incorrectly a lot.

Speaker 2:

But I'm confident I'll get some things right yeah, yeah, well, I feel often. So we all do, I think, but I think you know successful folks do. One of the things we talked on the other day about was this whole combo of digital and human and how, you know, a lot of people think it's like either or, and a lot of people think like, where are you going digital and these digital things are just going to run over here and then your humans are still going to do that, whereas, you know, I think you and I share the belief that they're, they should and are deeply intertwined because your digital motions yeah, you can automate some stuff that you know that takes some of the mundane out of the day to day, day to day task. But, at the end of the day, I strongly believe that any digital motion that you put in place needs to make your human look good, needs to make the people that you have on your team, you know, be able to build rapport quickly with customers, make them look, you know, look and function at a higher level than they did before. And so I'm curious, as you're, as you're kind of building this out and thinking about it what, how are you, how are you thinking about, you know, kind of the back end of things and what, what kinds of things you want to automate or have automated?

Speaker 1:

All right, I'm going to start a little bit higher and then I'll get down to the specific question that you're asking me here. But one of the things that I've seen most CS leaders. Why they are failing in trying to make this transition into introducing digital components of their program is because they have designed initially for a white glove model and in order to back into something that includes a digital experience they're removing right. So you're removing things and your customers feel that right, like I was getting this and now I'm not getting that. You were doing this and now you're not doing that. And what I have decided to do with this new design is design digital first and only introduce human engagement where it adds meaningful value to the partnership.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So in this case, my customers won't feel like they're losing something. It will only feel additive. So this way I'm designing everything for our entire customer base and then breaking down into my segments, as opposed to designing for my highest segment and then trying to figure out how do I appease all of my other customers?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we'll figure that out later.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, which is a crap experience, and so one of the things that we're doing is we're going through the entire customer journey and experience and mapping out a digital first program. Right, like, what are all the things that we can use based off of our tech stack today, or some additional affordable technologies that we can include that will help us be more efficient or allow us to deliver X experience? Right, because we know there's certain things that we can do to get our customers from A to Z that do not require human engagement right, or any manual work. Right, great, let's map all of those out Now where we don't have things, where we do need to do or complete something. What does that look like? And then how do we design that across all of our segments? Because, as much as we'd like to say all customers are created equal, economically that doesn't probably apply. So how do we do this in the most efficient way that is mutually beneficial? By adding people where it makes sense, and so that's my new design strategy, and so there will be a lot of automation. The cool thing about working at a customer success platform company is that I get to drink my own champagne, and our platform does have automation. It's got a lot of cool functionality that allows us to scale, so we'll be using our software. We've got really cool things that we're doing with Update AI. We've got cool things that we're doing with Intercom. We've got a lot of cool products in our suite. We don't have the full gamut. I don't have everything at my disposal. I don't have endless budget to go buy tech, but I promise you there is nobody quite like me who knows how to make something out of nothing. For example, I built my entire onboarding portal on Google Sites. I get no more compliments on anything that I've ever created than this Google site that I designed for our onboarding portal. It costs us nothing. Well, I've got a Canva subscription and Dave pays for our Google licenses, but that's it.

Speaker 2:

Who doesn't?

Speaker 1:

With Canva and Google Sites. I built an epic portal for my customers to allow them to choose their own adventure. Great, you want to move along through onboarding with somebody or independently. You want to know what to do next. You want to see the deck? You want to watch the videos? It's all there for you. You need guides, you need tutorials, you need best practices, you need templates. It's all there in one spot, easy, in a guided experience. Now we're going to double down on that this year. But I did that for free. It costs no money. I did it nights and weekends. It was like my pet project and I love it so much.

Speaker 2:

So you know people out there who are screaming.

Speaker 1:

I got no money. Trust me, where there's a will, there's a way You'll get it done.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, absolutely. I think there's a real tendency to just jump towards tooling right away. I think this is a topic that's been beaten to the ground. We may not go too deeply into it, but the fundamental thing is like, look around and see what you have and then, to your point, google Slides, whatever it is, or Google Pages there are ways to do the things that you want to do without investing really heavily. And also, do you have the data that backs that up too, and are you prepared to get into that? But I think the thing that, fundamentally, a lot of people miss in getting into that is like well, what's your goal? Like, where do you want to go with this whole thing? Because, okay, you can build this stuff and you can, you know whatever. But like, where do you want to go? Like what, at the end of the day, does you know at least a V1 or a good result look like, and what problems are you trying to solve? And then you can figure out what the tooling and the data needs are.

Speaker 1:

Hey Alex, I'm going to give everyone a pro tip here. So I worked for a company we were in the SaaS apps space, right, right. So SaaS apps space, so it was SaaS apps management, it was Better. Cloud was the company and basically they help IT companies manage all of the SaaS applications that the company manages, including shadow IT products. So things that you're you know you are using, paying for yourself or independent license. It's not a contract with the company. Anyway, we did an analysis in companies and this is probably like two years old now. The stat maybe three years old, but at that time companies on average were using for the company, 250 SaaS products. Yeah, so here's my pro tip Go to somebody in IT and ask for a list of all the products that your company is using. And I tell you to do that because you would. You'd be amazed at what is available in your company already and probably to add a license is not going to break the bank. But when you think that you need to go buy a completely new solution, that's where things get costly. So if somebody is using, if your product team is using product board, great. If they're using intercom, great. You know what you can use those things to your advantage in customer success. So go find what other tools and technology are being utilized by other teams. Ask them for a demo, get some understanding of what it is. Go research it yourself like a big girl or boy and go figure out is this something I can use? Is this something my team and my organization can benefit from? Because I'll tell you. For people that are like, well, I don't have money and I can't go get this, I can't go get that, I'm like I guarantee there's five, at least five other products in your company that you can use creatively to like. Find some hacky way to get that done. So go pull that list. That's my advice to you. That is your Q4 little piece of gold, that's your nugget. Go do that. I guarantee you find something cool.

Speaker 2:

Brought to you by KristyFeltercom.

Speaker 1:

Correct, yes.

Speaker 2:

It's good. I love that. Do you have somebody looking after your data, Like who? How does data hygiene work at client success?

Speaker 1:

That's a mean question.

Speaker 2:

No, we don't have it All right.

Speaker 1:

So one of the things that I feel like, if you are a leader and in your organization you have like a data scientist or like a data a data engineer or just somebody who like is over your data governance, Go love and hug them, Go take care of them, Like those resources are not. Those are a luxury. That is a luxury resource. That is you know and they are Special people doing, they're doing. They're doing the Lord's work. Let me just tell you I don't have, I don't have a data person any longer. That was something I had at other companies. I don't have that here. Client success, but we manage all of our data through client success and through some BI software. So, like we have a good handle on it and because we do have strong governance around data coming in and out and how we use it, it's, it's maintained, it is accurate and current, which is all I could really ask for, right.

Speaker 2:

Is that it's correct and it's up to me, I do.

Speaker 1:

I feel like I am light years ahead, I feel like I'm a very progressive person having access to this quality data. Yeah, but that is I mean. Listen, I harp that like that is I tell my team every day I said, if nothing else accurate and current, all the time, like if your data is not accurate and current, I don't want to hear it, I don't want to see it Like you are damaging our business, Like we can't operate If you're not helping maintain that and everybody in this company is responsible to contributing to accurate and current data.

Speaker 2:

I love that, Christy who who are your biggest mentors, Taking a hard left here.

Speaker 1:

Oh man, it's interesting. I would say like at this point in my career and at this stage in my life, I have more friends than mentors, and what I mean by that is the circle that I feel like I've built, the professional circle for I've built for myself. I feel like, while they're not mentors in the traditional sense of like me going to them, what's like this is my network right, if I have a challenge or I'm trying to solve for something, they are who I go to. If I need an idea, if I, if I need a shoulder, like, if I need validation, if I you know these people, that is my sounding board and I would say like, if anything was close enough to that, it would be that. And so I'm going to put Jeff Brunsback, jane Nathan, miranda Dekansky, jeff Kamundzarek, josh Schachter, mickey and John Johnson like. So my CSNBS guys, they get a shout out there. Dave Blake, probably my closest ally and friend and, as the leader of client success, like he and I work so close together, but he is probably the closest thing. I would say I have a mentor because he definitely he checks me, because he can Right.

Speaker 2:

Like he can.

Speaker 1:

He can tell me when I'm being bad. He can tell me when I'm being good. So he, probably more so than anyone, probably plays that role, and then I can tell you this is going to come out of left field, but my husband, my husband is a brilliant, brilliant person, and I don't mean just like book smart, but like he is, just like he knows me. So when I need help or I need guidance or I need direction, there is nobody better equipped to help guide me than him, and he is the only person I trust to tell me the truth. Now, not that I don't think that anybody else will, but you know, when you have that level of safety where you feel like you can say anything good, bad or otherwise, like he calls me out right, like if my idea is garbage, if I'm trying to do something that's not going to benefit me professionally, personally he's like don't you know, don't do it, don't you know? This is what you should be thinking about. So he probably is the biggest influence in my life, but my circle of professionals is pretty epic. I think I'm very blessed to sit alongside and ideate with some of the folks that I've just rottled up, and now that you and I text Alex because we're besties, you're like, clearly elevated to this elite category of friends and allies on this inner circle. So welcome. Enjoy the ride.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, I still feel you just hung that on at the end there just to make me feel good. But thank you.

Speaker 1:

Why I plug this. In the beginning we were just talking about our new elevated relationship and how we've taken it to text messaging and it's real. I think the next step, though, I'm going to tell you, is social media. So, like, once you become friends with some man on social media, I feel like then you're, then you're starting to see their life, that that becomes real.

Speaker 2:

You really do. You really do. You know it's so funny Like LinkedIn is definitely part of my life. Instagram was part of my life for a while. I'm a consumer of a lot of stuff, but, man, I just got out of the posting game. I think something happened when my son was born. I was just like you know what Priority shift a little bit.

Speaker 1:

And that's fair. You know, what's interesting is like. I feel like of the past five years, this year I've probably been the lightest on LinkedIn posting, but I feel like I've been distributing value in other channels and maybe I've just pissed off that the LinkedIn algorithm sucks now and I like feel like I'm just throwing things into the ethos and praying it's so bad, like, let's just. Let's just have a moment of silence for how bad LinkedIn algorithm is, because it sucks yeah it's like the worst.

Speaker 2:

That's our observance.

Speaker 1:

But it's the worst, Like I don't know. There's so many people I don't see and hear in my feet and I know that they're spewing gold and I'm missing every day. Every day I have to go and like make sure I'm following people and make sure that, like I don't know, I'm like on an all day, every day, checking it out because I'm going to miss something, because it sucks so bad. So, anyway, I stopped posting a lot, but I feel like I've been doing more podcasts, more written content. I produced my customer success course this year. I built my new website, like I'm trying to find other avenues to distribute content and amplify my voice because, yeah, I feel like LinkedIn is just nobody's friend.

Speaker 2:

Well, and you don't want to depend on one thing, right, you know, to grow.

Speaker 1:

I think that diversifying the mercy of LinkedIn.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Speaking of your website.

Speaker 2:

I feel like you're probably a practitioner of like atomic habits, because I think you know you were talking about somewhere else that you you've been like running every day, or at least exercising every day, for like hundreds of days, which makes me sick, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm at 379 days today. I'm sorry, 279 days. I set a goal at the beginning of this year to make sure that I close my Apple rings every day. So for you guys that are out there that don't have Apple watches which shame, especially if you have a Samsung watch shame, shame. But if you have an Apple watch, then you know that there's this concept of there are three rings and there's like a stand goal and exercise goal and like a move goal, and so I made a commitment to myself to close my rings every single day for the entire year, which means I need to exercise every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. I need to make sure that I'm burning X amount of calories, but I have to set to my limit and my stand goal, my skin goal, is 12 hours, so make sure that I'm moving for at least a minute, 12 hours a day. Right, that's the concept there. I also gave up drinking, so I no longer drink alcohol. My husband and I gave that up together and I've been running a lot more. So, in addition to my regular exercise, training for races, so, yeah, like I am crazy, yes, which atomic habits comes into play, because if you don't have structure and accountability for every minute of your day, you won't be able to get all the things done.

Speaker 2:

Well, and I think I think you're you know the the volume that you've, you know, just really produced over those last you know little while even, is phenomenal between the website launch, which I do want to talk about. Actually, like you know it, there's, there's a lot of cool resources on there and you've got a little e-commerce action happening and you've got a little consultancy happening on the side. What's what? What are your next steps? What are your goals with that?

Speaker 1:

So, for anybody who's been following me for a while, I I initially started with trying to build a different brand right like I had created like see us real simple, and then keeping see a Simple, and I was like trying to focus on like creating a brand, because I thought that's what I needed to do to build a website, and what dawn on me is that duh I am my brand. I don't need a different. I need a different voice and need a different logo or label or whatever it's Christy Like, I am my brand, this is my voice. These are my thoughts. So I I decided to kick all the other websites because they were trash, and design my brand under Chrissy Fowler, so comm and start producing and sharing my content. Yeah, right, and feeling like I had a safe place to put the things out that were important to me. So, yes, I built an e-commerce store on there so you can go buy all my templates, which I'm adding to all the time. I'll start rotating in and changing which templates periodically will be offered for free, like right now I have a downloadable I think it's like 150, which is I think it's more than like anything is closer Like 200 questions that, as a leader, you should ask in the interview process. Like that's a free asset on my website, but I'm gonna start swapping that out for other free templates. But I'm adding to more templates there. I started doing some consulting. What that really is is for companies or organizations or leaders that want to Brainstorm or ideate. They can book time with me and get that scheduled. Obviously it is at a cost it's not free, but I've been taking a lot of people up on. You know they're interested in having conversations and I, you know, I felt like for a long time I was doing that for free, which I love, and I love the idea of giving back, and I still do a lot of that. But I Also need to be thoughtful, right like my time is valuable, and what does that value cost? I think I've, you know, priced it pretty conservatively, but so I started doing that. And then the other cool thing that I am launching that I'm getting very excited for and I am timing this like Oprah, but you know how Oprah has her favorite things that she does usually right before the holidays. Well, christie is going to be launching Christie's favorite things and it's gonna be my favorite people to follow, my favorite Podcasts, my favorite blogs, websites, things like that, consultants, my favorite resources for hiring and recruiting, so all the different really cool categories that are available for customer success. I'll be featuring a bunch of my favorites, which is like my stamp of approval, which means nothing, but I'm gonna pretend like it does my stamp of approval, validated, tried, trusted resources, put it out there and that'll be Christie's favorite things coming to you this holiday season.

Speaker 2:

Mmm, I love that so much. You know, one of the things I did on the on the website recently was to Basically compile all of the resources that people mention in these interviews into like one page, because somebody was like, hey, I don't want to dig through your show notes, I'm like that's valid, so you know. So basically it's, you know it's one page and you get everybody's kind of hot take on like what are they're paying attention to? What podcasts are listening to, what books do they like, what you know Communities are they in, and all that kind of stuff. And so you know, as we kind of start to round things down because it is getting towards the top of the hour and you are Crazy in demand and valuable, what, what can we add to the list? Besides, you know Christie felt her suit calm that that you pay attention to on a regular, maybe a sneak peek of your list.

Speaker 1:

Man, I Hate these like on the spot questions. Okay, probably, probably, probably, it's gonna be a list of a bunch of books on there as well. I'm gonna throw a book out there that I think probably has been mentioned before. If it hasn't, that's crazy. But the hard thing, the hard things about hard things, and that is a book that I I read early in my tech career that I kind of like. It put a lot of things in perspective for me, especially as a leader, and like making hard decisions and the hard work that we do, and like being in the position to have the privilege to make these hard decisions to drive businesses forward. So I really liked that book. I'm gonna tell you the other thing that I've been starting to pay more attention to that I probably hadn't before Ready cuz. Nobody's gonna expect this totally ready. Bloomberg. I've been paying attention to the economy. Yeah, like a more than ever right, like what here's? Here's a pro tip again for all you leaders out there If you're not paying attention to the economy and like following this a little closely, what the hell are you doing? Because you have to be on the pulse of this. I think it's impacting so many different industries and guess what? Your customers work in different industries. It's not just about tech. We are all going through it. We are in the thick of things, but you are probably Navigating and managing and working with a ton of different industries out there in your customer base. So for me, I've been really paying attention to that. Now I will say I have a competitive advantage because my husband my husband works for a hedge fund, so I do have access to Bloomberg Terminal in terms of like articles and data that they are pushing out. That is not accessible in an unpaid model. But, man, I'm learning a lot. The good news is that things will get better next year, but it's going to be later next year is not going to rebound overnight for us, especially in talk.

Speaker 2:

I have to say I'm starting my. My spidey senses tell me that there is. There is a thaw coming like I. I feel like. I feel like we're on a bit of a rebound. This could be wishful thinking, but I'd like to think that you are correct.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I like to, okay, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna take your spidey senses and like, double down on that, like, and tell you they have been validating that for you. So your spidey senses are correct. Like I said, we are seeing a change, right, like we, the Fed that listen, I'm not gonna get into all this stuff that we could have raised rates again. We didn't. There's a, there'll be another opportunity will probably raise one more time this year, but then we will start to see ourselves get back to normalization of things. Things will come down, but for tech it's just gonna be a bit before we feel any relief. So that is that. That's a sad reality, right? So it's not gonna be like yay, 2024, here we go, economy's picking up, everyone gets jobs again. Like no, but it will get better next year for folks that are struggling and suffering. Stay strong, it will. It'll be better.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, cuz there's a lot of folks out there right now that are, that are struggling. But, you know, do what we got to do, keep the people strong and keep the community.

Speaker 1:

I have a very I have a visual of like Mrs Doubtfire Running across the restaurant. If anyone remembers the movie Mrs Doubtfire, if you are not old enough to know Mrs Doubtfire, shame, go watch it. Where she he is running across the restaurant going help is on the way, like. I kind of feel like that is the visual, like things Will get better. It's coming. Winter is not coming, although winter is coming, but it's not coming. Help is coming. It's gonna get better. So everyone needs to just sit tight.

Speaker 2:

I love it. We're out of time, but I want to thank you so much for spending the land on a super sad Spending last hour with me. Where can people find you? Engage with you? You know, send you some kudos and send you some gift cards.

Speaker 1:

Gift cards for cheese. Best place find me LinkedIn. You can go find me. Do a search for Chrissy Fowler so you can also head over to my website. Chrissy Fowler, so calm, if you are not a client success customer and you think you might want to be, you can go over to client success com. Happy to engage with you there as well, talk to you about how we can help you manage from new to renew. But those would be all the best places to go in and connect with me.

Speaker 2:

Amazing. Thank you, I appreciate the hour.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, alex, love it.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the digital customer success podcast. If you like what we're doing, consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. It really helps us to grow and to provide value to a broader audience. You can view the digital customer success definition word map and get more details about the show at digital customer success com. My name is Alex Turkovich. Thanks again for joining and we'll see you next time.

Digital Customer Success Podcast Conversation
Teaching Digital Customer Success
Strategizing Specialty Roles for Client Success
Emphasizing Client Success and Education
Designing a Digital-First Customer Success Strategy
Data Management and Mentorship
Building Personal Brand and Content Distribution
Connecting With Chrissy Fowler and Customer Success