The Digital Customer Success Podcast

Applying Common Sense to Digital Customer Experience with Rob Zambito of Success Scaled | Episode 045

March 26, 2024 Alex Turkovic, Rob Zambito Episode 45
The Digital Customer Success Podcast
Applying Common Sense to Digital Customer Experience with Rob Zambito of Success Scaled | Episode 045
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Invariably, when you speak to someone in CS about Rob Zambito, the first comment that almost always comes back is, "He's a good guy".  ...and I couldn't agree more.

I wouldn't say that I've known Rob for a very long - but the time we've spent both on Zoom and in-person has always been extremely high-quality, funny, impactful, personal and full of great questions.

This is the same approach Rob takes with all of his clients at Success Scaled, where he advises seed to B-series companies on CS strategies. He asks A LOT of questions and puts together a good picture of current-state before digging into solutioning.

This is also what makes him a phenomenal guest for this episode of the show because he has seen A LOT of stuff work - and a lot of stuff not work!

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How his background in ‘consumer psychology’ has helped him in his CS ventures
  • The parallels between the hospitality/service industry and being a CSM
  • Using the ‘lunch break test’ to help identify what should and can be automated
  • CS teams, if structured correctly can and should be catch-all
  • CSMs should know about any interaction their customers have with the company - tickets, ideas submissions, community events, course completions, etc.
  • Part of the digital remit should be focused on providing CSMs with easy access to customer data & telemetry for use in engaging their accounts
  • Onboarding is an amazing first place to focus on digitizing as it is the most formative stage of the journey
  • Rob’s approach to providing guidance and feedback to his clients in a productive manner
  • Successful onboarding will have customers ready to expand immediately
  • Approach your daily routine from the standpoint of scaling and making your everyday more efficient
  • Don’t wait for leadership to design your own efficiencies as an IC
  • Setting aside an hour per day to hone in on work that is meaningful to you
  • Incorporate celebration into your digital flows
  • Leveraging user data to really figure out the opportunities that exist within a customer
  • Set the right expectations early when implementing digital motions
  • Don’t build a community until it starts to build itself.  Communities can swing wildly between ‘crickets’ and ‘group think’, so building them must be done so cautiously

Rob's LinkedIn

Podcasts:

Shoutouts:

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:

It's also the title of your next ebook, the lunch break test.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's good. Just I like that. Just kidding, but you can see the next ebook, as if I've written one already. I do have ideas for one, but look, we all have drafts, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we all have drafts that we may or may not get to. Yeah, and once again, welcome to the digital customer success podcast with me, alex Trokovich. 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. For now, let's get started. Yeah, greetings, and welcome to the digital customer success podcast, episode 45, which is crazy getting closer to 50. So glad you're here, glad you're here every week. I love return listeners. I love all your feedback and your comments and your reviews on Apple and Spotify and all the places and, of course, youtube. Um, great to have you back today. Um, I've I had a lovely conversation with Rob Zambido, who runs success scale.

Speaker 1:

I always have to think about it. Is it scaled success or is it success scaled? It's success scaled. Um, what you go should should go check out his website and whatnot. But Rob is um one of those lovely people in the CS community that just everybody.

Speaker 1:

When you mentioned Rob Zambido to people, um, invariably the comment that comes back at you is what a good guy Cause he is. Uh, rob's a great guy. He's great to talk to, crazy knowledgeable about CS. Um also is a very kind of vulnerable forward person. He's not afraid to kind of tell you the mistakes he's made and share you know some of the things that he's learned from those mistakes. Um, so we talk a lot, obviously, about digital CS and digital motions, but we also get into kind of career tracks and career advice and, um, you know, building community and those kinds of things. So lots of great talking points in this episode with Rob Zambido.

Speaker 1:

I hope you enjoy it, because I sure did. Well, it's nice having you on the podcast. I know it's been a while coming. In fact, we tried to record in person at the CS festival in Austin. That failed miserably due to multiple circumstances, some within our control, some outside of our control, um, but we made it and we're speaking now, which is great. You're one of my favorite people in CS, um, I can say that cause it's true.

Speaker 1:

Oh, but I'm real happy to have you on the show and, uh, you know, looking forward to this convo.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, me too. Um, I thought you skipped, uh, one of the our initial time that we were supposed to speak. I thought it was so ironic that the host of the digital success podcast uh had to cancel due to an onsite, and I was like that ironic. But yeah, I also would have thought it was ironic if we recorded in person in a way too right, I mean.

Speaker 1:

I know. Yeah, like we were even joking about doing it like in in the car or whatever. Yeah, wow, um, that's a well, no, no, no, no, no, yeah, I guess I'll just podcast my mom. That's the promo clip right there. Yeah, there you go, like you just couldn't find a good place to do it, so whatever.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I hope people are listening audibly, because if they watch the video they'll see me turning beat red right now.

Speaker 1:

So that's good, good stuff. So go to YouTube and watch the rest of this episode. Yeah, um, hey look, I want to. I want to turn back the clock a little bit. Um and um, I want to. I want to learn more about your degree in psychology here and kind of what led to that. And then I want to know if kind of has that, has that kind of okay? I want to know your transition into CS, but then I want to know like, has your psychology degree helped you in any way professionally?

Speaker 2:

Yes, definitely, and I think it's not in the way that people expect. Um, I actually chose to study psych because I initially wanted to study philosophy and I kind of recognized that I wanted a more scientific way to view the world, and psychology, as opposed to philosophy, allowed me to tackle the big philosophical questions, um, while providing me a more scientific framework and a research methodology to approach those questions. Um, and that is so similar to a lot of the work we do in customer success Right, I mean, it's not even just the um, the extent to which we sort of recognize the implicit heuristics and biases that customers and we ourselves take into customer interactions, but also to establish, like a, an experimental framework where we can A B test different situations like customer situations, like, for example, you know, in my last job, last full-time job, we uh, I guess I technically still have a full-time job, but it's my you know what, you understand what I mean.

Speaker 1:

I'm working for myself.

Speaker 2:

One of the coolest things we did was an experiment where we were A B testing. We were like A, b, c, d, e testing, uh, different sequences of emails that we can send customers to promote their engagement and measuring the success against those, and I don't think that's an exercise that I would have been able to do if I didn't have a background in in specifically consumer psychology was what I studied most.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. So you know, basically applying the the scientific method to your email testing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Having a little background in statistics and, uh, research methodology Certainly doesn't hurt.

Speaker 1:

No, yeah, that's cool, that's real cool. Well, and then, you know, one of the other things I wanted to ask you about is is is related to kind of a a thing that I don't know. I maintain, I maintain that everybody, at some point in their life, should work in hospitality in some form or fashion, whether it be restaurant or hotel or whatever, like some kind of, you know uh, public facing thing. You took that to an extreme and, I think, opened and ran a chain of restaurants, if I, if I have that correctly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So when I graduated college, my instinct was, especially after failing out of the interview process and self-sabotaging out of the interview process for all the sleek, cool consulting jobs and banking jobs that my friends were getting. Um, I was like this isn't for me, I need to start my own thing. And I decided I'm going to start a food business called Fruzzy. Fruzzy was like a fro-yo, made only out of frozen fruit.

Speaker 1:

Um.

Speaker 2:

I started it with a guy who had a restaurant and then we partnered on the restaurant. We scaled up the restaurant from one location to four locations in seven months, which was way too aggressive. So I mean talk about burnout. Uh, I was working like no shortage of a hundred hours a week and eventually had to leave, but not without learning a thing or two about. Uh. Well, actually that was where I first became fascinated with customer retention.

Speaker 1:

Mm, hmm.

Speaker 2:

Um, that's before I ever, long before I ever heard the term customer success.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I was fascinated with retention, um, and obviously the things that lead to it, like satisfaction and engagement and all that stuff um in a restaurant setting, right, right, um. So I've often told new CSM people knew to CS that you can learn most of what you need to know on customer success just by envisioning the best waiter or waitress you've ever had. You know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's. That's crazy wise because, um, you know, in that kind of a role you have to be able to read the room, you have to understand, you know what level of service your customer wants and needs and you have to be you know. I think the best waiters are the consultative ones that can, you know, they can really help you along that journey. Now, you know, maybe not at McDonald's or whatever, but you know, if you're going, if you're going to go get, you know, a really lovely meal, kind of the. The service is part of that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Someone who can guide you on the menu, guide you on your experience, make recommendations as to like what wine pairs with what dish, and you know that kind of thing is that's. That's an exceptional experience in my mind, and that's not that different from what we do in customer success, guiding our customers toward the, you know, sometimes opinionated, yet sometimes correct ways to use our product.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly One um I I was really looking forward to this conversation because you know we've we've talked on the side quite a bit and and I know that you have um some wonderfully unique um, I guess, opinions opinions is a weird word to use, but more um just takes on CS in general and you know how we should navigate this landscape of CS and whatnot. And you have this wonderful combination of, like you know, strategic, kind of unique out of the box thinking with just tactical, like this is what you need to do XYZ framework, blah, blah, blah, blah blah. So kind of applying that to our topic for today, which is digital CS, I wanted to get your take, as I do with all my guests, of you know what. What would be kind of your elevator pitch or your, um, your definition of digital CS if you had to describe it to somebody that had no idea what you were talking about.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So if I assume that person is in customer success, then I would describe it as it's really a set of strategies that leverage automations and data to promote customer value, with the ultimate goal of renewing customers at a high rate, expanding them at a high rate and turning them into customer advocates. Um, and the way that I actually described it to someone was like think of, like, the customer success that you could do in your sleep, right? Or you know, the lunch break test is a test that you can talk about, like, if you can do customer success while taking a break, right, what does that look like? Well, it looks like automations. It looks like, you know, it looks like in-app workflows. It looks like well-leveraged learning management systems and knowledge bases, things that help customers self-serve. Those are all customer success motions. They just aren't ones that necessarily require a face in front of a screen and hands on a keyboard and a person in front of a computer at that very moment.

Speaker 1:

That's also the title of your next ebook, the lunch break test.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's good, I like that. Just kidding, I like to see the next ebook, as if I've written one already.

Speaker 1:

I do have ideas for one, but Look, we all have drafts, right, we all have drafts that we may or may not get to. Yeah, that's cool. I love that definition. And yeah, the lunch break test, that's a good one, because it is the stuff that you, you know A might have to do on your lunch break because there's no one else doing it or the automation isn't in place. And really where your focus should be as a CSM is having those valuable conversations, not, like you know, pulling reports and doing all that kind of fun stuff. So you know we didn't really complete the journey, but you founded Success Scaled a few years ago, really to help people along those ways and along those, you know, along that journey to really scaling out teams and being efficient and those kinds of things. But was there like an initial problem that you were trying to solve, or you know, and has that changed over the years? Or was it more kamikaze, like, hey, I'm a CS consultant?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, it has not changed over the years, and I trace it back to a series of observations that I had at different SaaS companies that I think customer success teams were not really built in very successful ways.

Speaker 2:

What I mean by that is and I think there's still an extent to which this is very true today I think a lot of customer success teams emerged out of different business functions whether it was support or a sales function or an account management function or whatever and there was a period of time where I saw customer success teams spinning up where, like founders and CEOs and C level people were saying like well, I don't know what this customer success thing is, but I know we need to have it, and you know that was like when money was flowing and you know the venture world was really nice to all of our companies and everything like that A few years ago in particular, although I feel like I've seen a few of these cycles now over the last decade or so.

Speaker 2:

But I think that the way customer success has been built has often been a very administrative function at some companies and a bit of a catch all at many companies, and I have a very like controversial sort of opinion on this in many ways, where I love a customer success team that actually can catch all as long as it's done with your charter and a clear purpose for the organization. So basically I guess like to answer your question. The problems that I was trying to solve, the tactical problems were like broken onboardings broken, or like high churn, lack of expansion, lack of advocacy. But when you really trace back why those were happening, it's because most of the time the customer success team was built, you know, in my opinion, suboptimally from the start, and that's why I usually target really early stage companies to work with seed through series B to help them get the foundational playbooks and proactive motions down and digital motions down so that they can be really effective at their jobs.

Speaker 1:

So I don't want to go back to kind of your controversial take there for a second, because I agree with you, you know, I think, I think, I think that there is this sentiment I don't know if it's protectiveness or if it's maybe ego or something like that but there's this sentiment that, hey, my CSMs should really only be doing this stuff and they shouldn't be doing, you know, wrangling support tickets and things like that. And while I certainly agree, right, your CSMs shouldn't be frontline support and shouldn't be triaging technical issues and shouldn't be doing all that kind of stuff, I do think and I'm curious if this is kind of what you're getting at I do think that they should be the conduit through which some of those things start to get solved, especially if they uncover those things. But you do that by having automations in place and by having killer cross-functional relationships, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and I like that you tapped into cross-functional relationships too. The reason why my opinion on this is often controversial is in large part colored by my background, which is, you know, I went from really scrappy restaurant where if you said that you weren't going to wash the dishes or something like that, you'd get fired right Like to then, you know, working in SaaS where I carried a lot of those really scrappy principles and I worked in very lean environments where, like, I never had the privilege in my background to say, oh, I'm not going to touch those support tickets, like that's not right, but I had to find scrappy ways to handle them.

Speaker 1:

You're like let me at them. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2:

So I have strong principles around or values, I guess around this idea that there's no work that we're too good for in customer success, and I often see the term strategic used as a crutch to avoid work when I actually think, like support is strategic, just by a different definition.

Speaker 2:

So I don't mean that CSMs should be doing support with the majority of the day In fact, I think the minority at best of a CSM's day should be spent on that. But I do think that analyzing support trends is a really critical part of churn prevention, expansion of, frankly, just like making a good impression on your customer right, because if they don't think that you have a pulse on what their support needs are, well you know you could lock selling them on more stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And especially knowing you know, like the types of cases that they've been entering and are reaching, like you know, if there's a lot of training related tickets, hey, guess what?

Speaker 1:

they could probably use your training subscription or whatever that is, or some consultancy hours or something like that. You know it's like it's that kind of seller mentality where you're constantly looking for sure opportunities to increase, you know, revenue and all those kinds of things and expansion, but also you're just looking for opportunities to help the customer help themselves and to be better. And I think you know not only support cases but, like you know, knowing if your customer is submitting ideas into the ideas portal, you know, like stuff like that, like knowing how your customer is actually engaging with the systems around you, is so critical because otherwise you're just flying blind.

Speaker 2:

Well, I love that. You added that there. I had a conversation on LinkedIn recently, which you know those go. But the conversation was you know why should a CSM never be owning tickets? And I was like, well, this might just be a matter of verbiage, but in my language even feature requests are tickets right.

Speaker 2:

Anything that's submitted to the product team, the engineering team, the vehicle by which it gets, there is a ticket and I like that. You added the feature request example. Some companies, some teams don't call it that. I mean, I personally do, but it's kind of semantics at the end of the day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it is. I mean at the yeah and at the end of the day, you as a CSM, you have kind of this fiduciary responsibility to just know what's going on, so that you can walk into those conversations knowing what's going on and so you can advise appropriately. And I think to me anyway, that is one of the golden areas for a healthy digital program is if you can provide all of those things and those insights and that knowledge on a like a silver platter to your CSM so they don't have to go dig in prior to the meeting. They can, you know, just go look for five minutes and get a lay of the land for what's been happening the last month.

Speaker 2:

And I love that you said that too, because to me my first interactions with digital CS did start in support, where support rolled up into CS. And you know, in that environment there was no escaping support, or at least there seemed there didn't seem to be and I had to start finding ways to automate delivery of both support and onboarding materials to customers, because the volume was just more than any one person could handle. So that was kind of an entry point to then learn, well, how do I ultimately automate usage monitoring and satisfaction monitoring and how do I automate my, like, non responsive customer playbook and my renewals workflow and my upsell workflows and that kind of thing? So that was kind of my entry point.

Speaker 2:

Yeah to a whole world of digital post sale engagement.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it is a whole world and and that is one that I feel like you do a really good job on advising, and I think you know, going back on what we were talking about earlier, is you currently advise like seed through be series, companies and and Just picking up on one thing that you said, which was that you, you know you really like to lead with digital in in those conversations, because I mean, I think goes without saying that leading with digital is a group you know helps you build that strong foundation for growing on.

Speaker 1:

You know the teams on top of it and whatnot, but you, one of the very common questions that I get quite frequently is just where do I start? And and my answer to that is, well, it depends. But yeah, I mean, you know, I do think that you know there there are some kind of commonalities for where people should start. You know down digitizing things and, and so I wanted to ask you if there were like Some trends, some common things that you're typically advising, you know, especially a new client, to to look at, to go down to explore in terms of digitizing.

Speaker 2:

Sure, absolutely yeah. In my experience it's almost always on boarding the onboarding process. As opposed to the other domains that I would say, like I do have in the back of my mind, or like Customer health renewals, chair and upsell advocacy support all of that's in the back of my mind, but onboarding is usually the the key place to start, for a couple reasons. Number one it helps you triage the most what I consider to be the most formative, the most important part of the customer journey. But number two is that, like it, it's not an unsolved. I mean, there's a lot of companies that have figured this out in really elegant ways around Building out automated onboarding programs, building in-app workflows, building learning management systems and knowledge bases around those learning management systems that can guide customers at scale in a really effective way at a really important point in their journey.

Speaker 1:

There kind of is no more important point. Yeah, onboarding and and it's also one that's Very commonly messed up yeah, I guess for the lack of a better, better word, you know it's like Pre-sale to post-sale Handoff into onboarding. You've got a nice you know Journey, your customer knows exactly what to do and when to do it, and your teams are all aligned. That's it's.

Speaker 2:

It's hard, it's really this is not me challenging you, but I have sure worked with CEOs who have challenged me on that and said, rob, we can afford to do bad onboarding, we don't care about onboarding, we just care about whether they renew. And that is an always an interesting conversation to have a very early stage companies that may be thinking like what's the least we can do that can get customers activated and engaged and happy enough to renew. I'm like man, that's kind of Doesn't exactly get to the core of what we're trying to do here, but I mean it does.

Speaker 2:

But yeah maybe, yeah, not not in the most effective way.

Speaker 1:

That's interesting and I love being challenged, by the way, yeah, but you know that that is an interesting thing to field and and I mean, I suppose there's a there's, there's some semblance of truth to that, like you know. You get them in and you get them chugging and then you move on to the next or whatever, and and you, but you're just, I mean you're prolonging the pain, yeah, for teams after that, right, right, yeah. No like what's? What's your feedback on when you hear that like how do you approach that?

Speaker 2:

so I Think you might remember from the presentation that I did, I had to learn the skill of challenging myself to agree with people when I disagree with them, to start, and Really understanding where they're coming from with this sentiment. And usually where they're coming from is a Really strong revenue focus and I like that. So, like usually in having that conversation, I'm like okay, I see what you mean, I Agree with you that, like, at the end of the day, the renewal and Expansion dollars, those are the things that matter most, those are things that drive, like the financial outcomes of the company that we need, you know. And then I often share. Well, I have a very permission based approach in the workplace. I usually ask permission to sort of share my experiences, not just in the workplace but I'm facing conversations too Sure.

Speaker 2:

My experience is usually basically say like okay, so I've seen this before and I've seen also how it's like really expensive to try to unwind what was an improper onboarding process or I can see how that just sets us up for an uphill battle. The most effective example that I had at this there was one company I worked with. I credit the team for really strong execution on a lot of what we talked about, but basically by I mean they were dealing with upwards of 8% churn every month and.

Speaker 2:

We ended up by fixing the onboarding process and then a lot of other you know processes that came afterwards. We got them down to sub 2% monthly churn, yeah, and so I really credit them, for I mean they also built a solid product in addition to a really good execution on the playbooks that we discussed. But the onboarding process was so obviously the core reason for the financial outcomes that the C level executives really cared about. Yeah, and on the surface.

Speaker 1:

You know it is. It is. There is a cost benefit. You know where it doesn't make sense to like Invest in an onboarding team and a platform and an X. You know an experience and I think, on the very high level. You look at, okay, this is my ACV. You know why am I gonna plunge a chunk of money on the front, you know, to prolong my, you know my break even on this. You know, on this account.

Speaker 1:

But that's exactly what the point is is like, you know, you want to make sure there's a break even, first and foremost and then you know and then from there, like you know, I mean that's the nature of a, of a SaaS renewal business as you count on that, those renewals to keep, you know, to keep that revenue growing.

Speaker 2:

And in particular I mean most of the models I work with our land and expand models when good onboarding motion will get the customer expanding by the time they finish onboarding.

Speaker 2:

That's really cool, I mean. That was another controversial opinion that I held at one point was that, like I was like I Bet this is when I was, you know, back at one company I was like I bet we can get customers expanding before they're even done with onboarding. And yeah, my reaction to myself and my colleagues reaction me was like this seems a little crazy. Like they just bought the product. I don't know that they're gonna want to buy more, but I was like no. But I also see the fact that, like when they're in their most formative stages of their customer lifecycle, that is when they're most curious, most intrigued and and most actually willing to Step out of their comfort zone of the products that they're trying to learn and they're familiar with and ultimately buy these additional products. Yeah, it was like super cool how we ultimately aligned incentives At that company and then a couple other companies after that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's really cool. Yeah, onboarding matters, as Donna Weber would say. I want to get a little bit more tactical, maybe, because one of the things that I want to make sure you know we do in every single episode is just provide Massive value and provide, you know, tips and tricks for people who want to go do stuff. You know, and I think one of the one of the way, one of the areas that we tend to kind of overlook sometimes is Kind of Leaders.

Speaker 1:

We tend to overlook kind of middle managers and even individual contributors a lot of, a lot of times, because it's seen that like, okay, digital is like this program you have to do and it comes. You know it's like your CSP and all that kind of stuff. But you know, at the end of the day, there there's things that like Individuals can do to help drive their own efficiencies and things like that. And have you, have you kind of seen Some of those things at play? Have you advised on some of those things? Like what, what do you do to drive your own efficiencies? Like, what are some of your kind of hacks, your digital hacks, that anyone can kind of go and pick up and do?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I've seen this a lot and I actually take it really seriously right now because Burnout and customer success is maybe worse than I've ever seen it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah so much that, like I've heard people you know, some mutual friends of ours, even say that customer success as we know it today I just can't continue existing, not in its current state. Yeah, so the the thing that I used to do, the tactical advice that I suppose I would give, like Someone who's looking to manage a bigger book of business, maybe grow in their own personal scale and ultimate even into leadership, is I Used to, no matter how overwhelmed I was, I would try to do two things. One, I would set an hour a day Before I open my email, before I open Slack, knowing full well that I was gonna walk into a bunch of fires. I would challenge myself for an hour a day to just think about how am I gonna scale this thing. And Second part of this is that I would ask myself okay, you know I'm.

Speaker 2:

I had a funny interaction with a customer, with a CEO, once you know it's my first time doing onboarding, and I was like I am so overwhelmed and he was like well, how many customers are you dealing with? I was like six. You need to deal with ten times that man. And so I felt so embarrassed at the time and the next day I said to myself okay, what would this look like if I ten X the number of customers that I had? How would I manage that? How would I possibly manage?

Speaker 2:

them and I started finding all these pockets of inefficiency, for example, like if I was saying the same thing over and over again. I was like, wow, this could definitely be done by a training video. And Guess what this? This training video can be automated based on every single new user, you know. Login.

Speaker 2:

Or sign up flow or something like that. Or cancelation, though. Right, like I've had this conversation a million times, negotiating with a customer on their price, but they're looking to cancel over, like what, if I automate that, and that was one of the best like things that I did for myself that I would recommend to anybody listening to this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean like it's amazing. I've done this a couple times in the past where I've taken like a week and, throughout the week, made a very conscious effort to just like write down all of the things that I did at least twice. Mm-hmm, right, same action, did it twice, wrote it down, you know, maybe even keep a tally mark on there. And it is amazing, like throughout a given week or maybe maybe a month, whatever it is, how many of those things on the list that you will see that you're like well, okay, what could I do about that and what could I do about that? And and I think there's enough like free tooling out there, like if you're CSM.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and you're doing this for yourself. There's enough free tool. I mean, loom is free. You know there's some free stuff out there, like, yeah, you know there's things that you can do, and I think I think for me that's that is also. It weaves into a bit of career advice that I like to give folks, which is to say, like you know, if, if there's something that you want to go do or test or or you know Inefficiency that you see that you know how to solve, for let's go, frickin, do it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, show your leadership and say, hey, check this out, you can, you could do this for the team and leaders. Frickin love that, because it's not. They don't have to waste cycles Brainstorming on stuff and figuring out stuff. I was like, hey, here's a solution. Okay, you know, let's go implement it and that's. You know it ups your game as well, because then all of a sudden, you're out of. You're out of tactical land and you're into strategic land all of a sudden, right, and your scene is a strategic player and stuff, and so I don't know.

Speaker 2:

I don't know where I'm going with that, but I love that. No, I, I. I agree with you. I think the hard thing is like most people listening to this might say that sounds great. Where am I ever gonna find that time?

Speaker 2:

Yeah exactly, and so my challenge to most CSM's that I work with is Look, even if your work has to take a backseat For an hour out of the day, that will be the hour best spent of the day. Yeah, if you really put your mind to achieving a specific automated deliverable, or at least a step in that direction, by the end of that hour.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's amazing what you can do in that hour, you know. I mean, it's also amazing how many TikTok videos you can view in an hour. I know that's a danger, it's a danger, but you know, if you're concerted and focused and I would also challenge leaders in that front, like you know be proactive and have your team block an hour on their calendar and there's like that's your time to do what it is you need to do, to like do something different.

Speaker 1:

You know, don't care what it is, do something different if it's related to the gig and it's related to efficiencies bonus points, you know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, no, and I think actually even getting on a group call together, or even if it's just at the beginning and the end of that hour and just saying here's what I worked on, is a really good way to build mutual accountability within CS organizations.

Speaker 1:

Mm. I love it. That's good stuff, Nuggets of goodness, Are there. So back on the programmatic front, are there like digital motions that you've seen that you really like, either within one of your clients or like out in the wild?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, this is my favorite question that you ask, because I actually, when I saw this question come up, or when I heard it come up in previous podcasts, I dug up a document that I have, dating back to 2016, that I have. It's called model onboarding programs, and it ended up capturing all sorts of different stuff, not even just onboarding, like product led growth motions, cancellation flows, like I don't know if you've ever tried to cancel an Amazon membership. They put you through hell. I don't recommend that. By the way, I hope I don't get you sued by Amazon.

Speaker 1:

No, amazon ain't listening to this podcast. I'll tell you how much.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, so I actually dug up that list and I have recent additions to it, like I was. I don't know, have you used superhuman? It's an email automation tool. Their whole value proposition as a company is to make, to give you the best email experience that you've ever had. So what they do in their onboarding flow I mean their product is largely based on keyboard shortcuts, or at least that's what I've been educated on so far by their. They have this really elegant product led motion where every day, you get a tip and you can try it out right on the spot and you get immediate feedback from superhuman as to if you're doing this correctly or not, and you also get congratulations too, which doesn't hurt. Love. That it kind of reminds me of yeah, I got.

Speaker 1:

You gotta celebrate.

Speaker 2:

I know right, it reminds me. So the first time I built out an LMS, a learning management system, what I remember, I thought it was such a fugazi. I was like, and I put a certification at the end. I was like, congratulations, you completed our online university. And then I thought it was crazy. Until I saw a resume come back and it says like I'm certified in your software. And I was like what, what?

Speaker 2:

And a customer also got a resume that said like oh yeah, I'm like certified in this software and I was like people are actually taking this seriously, Like I thought this was just a joke. But what's the certification? It's not just you know, something made up anyway. It was so cool, though I mean honestly, and that university still exists and now it's actually made a meaningful dent in people's knowledge in the industry. Yeah, I'm so proud of the folks who I worked on that with and who we built that out with.

Speaker 1:

That's cool. That's cool. Yeah, I just looked up superhuman and I have heard of it before, mainly because their marketing tagline is just you know, it's very simple, it's the world's fastest email, which, okay, cool, I'll bite Fastest email experience ever made. I'll have to check it out. But yeah, I think it's so important to celebrate those wins, like on a user level. You can capture the user and say, hey, you did something really good and give them an ad-a-boy. It doesn't cost you anything really, unless you like incorporate swag or whatever, but it's very powerful moments.

Speaker 2:

Can I tell you about another cool one that I ran into.

Speaker 1:

Please, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

This one was interesting. You're a Notion user, right. Uh-huh yep, so Notion released. Q&a have you heard about this? So turns out that's an upsell, at least for the organizations that I'm a part of.

Speaker 2:

And I thought it was interesting because it was like there was a pop-up told me about Q&A and I was like, do you wanna learn more? Do you wanna sign up? And I was like, okay, cool, we've sent a notification to your administrator that you're really interested in this. And I was like, oh wow, look what they just did to me there.

Speaker 1:

Like I thought it was really clever.

Speaker 2:

It was really cool. I felt a little bit played. I respect the game.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm, yeah, props, props. I think there's all kinds of really interesting ways that people can leverage the user in that level, you know, because if you really know what your users are doing and what grade out links they're trying to click on and stuff like that, like it can tell you a lot about you know. But that's where CS and digital CS again it's that cross collaborative thing you gotta be in lockstep with your product, or to put some of that stuff in.

Speaker 1:

You gotta be in lockstep with your marketing organization to just coordinate on that, Otherwise you just fall flat on your face and send out unsolicited kind of stuff and it's really messy and gross, so yeah, super hard.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, the relationships with product that most of the companies I work with are usually usually product saying. We can't help build CS tooling because we're really busy working on other stuff and the CS marketing relationship usually doesn't exist. So I'm really happy you called out both of those.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean there are a few people I've talked to where they have those things in place and it's just a wonderful thing. Miro is a company that is really good at cross collaborative work and in product stuff, which is cool. The only thing that I like better than learning from my mistakes is learning from other people's mistakes.

Speaker 2:

You know I'm a fan of this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I wanna learn from some of your mistakes and what are some of the things? This is gonna open the vulnerability box here. But what are some of the boneheaded things that you've done because we've all done them and that you've learned the most from?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no tons. I mean, I think you know me well enough to know that.

Speaker 1:

I love. That's why I asked you a question.

Speaker 2:

It's so cathartic to me just to talk about how I've messed up and for anyone who is at the Customer Success Festival that we were out shout out to the Customer Success Collective. By the way, know that my presentation was all just me pulling up true old emails that I used and how bad they were, and everybody just basically threw on Some doodles. Yeah, it was great. It was such a disaster, delightful disaster. I've made a number of mistakes. I think the LMS example is a good one.

Speaker 2:

That taught me basically, when you're introducing digital motions, set the right expectations early, well in advance. Because what I did is I just basically ripped out all our in-person training and said well, guess what, you've got videos and you've got this concierge service from a CSM who didn't actually know what to do with their job. And customers were not happy because they were promised even on-site visits from the sales team, classroom training and stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Big miss.

Speaker 2:

So set the right expectations is one thing I learned, and learned to frame that to the positive Like one of the things that I often do when introducing digital motions is framing this as supplementary to the services that customers are getting, and complementary to the services that customers are getting. It's not a reduction in service, as long as you believe that to be actually true. Right Another mistake I've learned is be really, really cautious when trying to build community. So that was like my entirety of my last job. Basically, was building online communities, and they swing in two widely different directions.

Speaker 2:

They're either like complete crickets- no one's talking or it's complete group think and you're just. Your brand reputation is getting trashed in a community of people who are all having common issues and that's a very difficult and expensive. It's expensive on both sides to either promote engagement or to manage and moderate engagement and I see a lot of companies say like, oh, we should just build a community. But they don't really fit a lot of thinking into, like what that actually requires to.

Speaker 1:

And what it entails. Yeah, and they think, like you know, somebody from a frontline and support person can just manage the whole thing, it'll be fine.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it can be very overwhelming very quickly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah and that I think it's interesting that you know, the group think thing is almost as dangerous, I would say, as the crickets community example, because I mean crickets community it's does never great, you know it's like okay, our customer base is super unengaged, but you know, the group thing thing can actually be. I've witnessed a couple of places where there's been like actual like harassment things that happen. Oh wow, community, and it's like not, not good, and obviously you know at that point you have to like kick people out and you know that whole thing and it's not.

Speaker 1:

I don't know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, no, it's not. It's it's. It's dangerous at times, most of the time. Basically, my rule of thumb for communities is don't build a community until it builds itself. Oh, good yeah, and what I mean by that is like you'll notice, when people start organically forming communities around your product. Maybe it's like a Facebook group or something like that.

Speaker 1:

I was going to say once there's a Facebook group, you know you need to build a community.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, then get ahead of it retain them getting control of it. You know, allocate resources to it, but most of the time like using it prior to that, using a community prior to that, to me is usually not affordable For most early saved companies.

Speaker 1:

Hey look, as as we kind of start to wrap things down because I can't, we're just time flies. Yeah we talk, but do you want to understand what's in your content diet? And I also want to understand who is doing cool stuff in digital that you may want to call out.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think there's. So there's a lot in my content diet. It's most. I'm going to give you examples of things that are not customer success, because I feel like that, Sure, yeah my experience and customer success is most enriched by actually like content from other domains. Yes, Lately I've been binging a lot of sales podcasts, so one is called 30 minutes to Presidents Club.

Speaker 2:

Cool really good one and it's it's a lot of content that's geared toward young sales people and those are the skills that I think actually help customer success people most Sure, because most CS people I know they haven't invested or they haven't been able to invest. Yeah, I'm in learning sales skills and I'll forget that at the end of the day, we are selling renewals after all.

Speaker 1:

That's right.

Speaker 2:

And up selling digital products.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Revenue builders. Do you have your check out revenue builders?

Speaker 1:

No.

Speaker 2:

It's another podcast out there. I would say it's, you know, nothing like the digital CS podcast, really, no, it's. It's like a. It's a popular sales podcast and they've just started now Doing some customer success content as of like a week or two ago. Cool, yeah, yeah, I like that one a lot. There's also this, this podcast I've been listening to you lately, called the economics of everyday things.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's just it's from Freakonomics Radio. Okay, yeah, I love Freakonomics. Yeah yeah, and I I love like unusual verticals, like and understanding the economics behind, like ATMs and car washes and junk mail and personal injury lawyers and all that stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, how do you afford all those billboards?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah so yeah, but yeah, I mean, those are some of the things I've been checking out lately.

Speaker 1:

Cool. I like the sales tangent because, yeah, for two, for two reasons. I totally think you're right that those skills are transferable. I also feel like a lot of times, the the line between a really effective seller and a really effective consultant are they're like almost non existent, because the thing that those two have in common are the ability to ask stellar questions. Yeah, totally. Totally yeah, yeah, the end of the day you want your CSMs to be consultants, so yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That's what I like about this 30 minutes of residence club podcast is that they've just got really easy playbooks, actionable playbooks. I would say they're not necessarily easy. They're actionable books that, like you could try out work tomorrow and you know, whatever the setting is, whatever the task is with a customer, it tends to work pretty effectively.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, cool. How about shout outs You're so, I mean, you're so well connected and everybody said what I don't know about that Shout out, let's see.

Speaker 2:

So I couple people who I really appreciate their work. One I mentioned burnout, and I have a colleague friend based here in Boston, Ryan Johansson, and he recently went off to do his own thing building a consulting practice around managing burnout After his career customer success. So he mostly oh, wow, yeah, it's really, really legit and it hits on to me like one of the things that matters most in my own personal line of work too. I kind of describe my line of work as like I'm like a CSM for CSMs. Yeah, Actually, we both know Mickey Powell and the thing Mickey and.

Speaker 2:

I said repeatedly, is that like the world is just a Russian nesting doll of CSMs, like we're all just CSMs on CSMs on CS. You know, like my wife's a therapist, she's a CSM, a waiter's CSM.

Speaker 1:

That's right.

Speaker 2:

You know my my my accountant is a CSM. We're all just CSMs.

Speaker 1:

Different CSMs. Yeah, exactly, yeah, I love that. That's great Cool. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So my friend Lauren Solonichro as well. She co founded a community called Women of Customer Success. And I think that's a really cool community. I'm not a member, if you couldn't guess, but she's organizing a conference soon and I'm super stoked for what? She's been able to do building really meaningful connections and connecting people with cool opportunities and jobs and that kind of thing.

Speaker 1:

Cool. Well, obviously people can find you on LinkedIn, but you know website like where else can people reach out to you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sure, so website, if you're the go to successscalecom or robzanbetacom, either one buscsscalecom too, in case you want to check that one out.

Speaker 1:

Do they all redirect to the same place?

Speaker 2:

That's the same same terrible website, yeah, but, but yeah, that's an easy I mean, linkedin is an easy way to reach me. Hello, at robzanbetacom is my email, and I mean I I've been thinking about introducing just some casual office hours for anyone that wants to join. Cool and ironically, a role, jokingly calling it jam with XAM. But nice, that's a, that's. That's a, that's the total joke.

Speaker 1:

The XAM Jam.

Speaker 2:

The XAM Jam. There you go, that's it. No, it's, it's on. I'm kidding. I don't like anything that's branded with my name really.

Speaker 1:

Robzanbetacom. Yeah, well, I know that.

Speaker 2:

So I started that years ago. I was like well, it's available, I got to take it. Well, there's two other guys named Robzanbeta out there. One is some guy in Rochester and then one is a corrupt Montreal politician. And I know that corrupt guy is going to take it if I didn't. So I don't want it to be a corrupt politician. I think he's corrupt. Rob, if you're listening to this, I know we haven't met. Please don't send anyone to hurt me.

Speaker 1:

Totally corrupt. Cool Well, thanks for the insights, thanks for the laughs. Always great chatting with you and can't wait to share it with everybody.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, my pleasure. Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it and love what you're doing for the customer success community.

Speaker 1:

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 digitalcustomersuccesscom. My name is Alex Turgovich. Thanks again for joining and we'll see you next time.

Digital Customer Success Podcast Episode 45
Digital Transformation in Customer Success
Importance of Onboarding in Customer Success
Efficiency and Automation in Customer Success
Lessons Learned From Email Automation
Building Digital Communities and Sales Skills