The Digital CX Podcast

"Your First" Digital Customer Success Motions with Stijn "Stino" Smet of Whale | Episode 053

May 21, 2024 Alex Turkovic, Stijn Smet Episode 53
"Your First" Digital Customer Success Motions with Stijn "Stino" Smet of Whale | Episode 053
The Digital CX Podcast
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The Digital CX Podcast
"Your First" Digital Customer Success Motions with Stijn "Stino" Smet of Whale | Episode 053
May 21, 2024 Episode 53
Alex Turkovic, Stijn Smet

Send us a Text Message.

Matik's Scale + CS Virtual Conference: https://bit.ly/scalecs-aturkovic

In this special edition, Alex sits down with Stijn "Stino" Smet, Head of Customer Success at Whale.io, the host of *two* customer success podcasts, and all-around loose cannon.  He joins Alex (in his studio!) for a very special joint episode of their podcasts to discuss career journeys, getting started with a digital practice, and more.

The “more”:
00:00 - Where to start with digital
03:35 - Your First Digital CS Experience
07:12 - The Core of a True Digital Team
10:44 - Meeting an “Idol”
14:15 - Transitioning to Digital Customer Experience
18:03 - Quick Wins in Digital CS
21:28 - Being Ahead of the Curve with Digital Customer Success
25:11 - Stino’s Famous Playbook
28:38 - Achieving Revenue Growth
32:14 - “Light” Success Services
35:40 - Creating and Tracking Campaign Metrics
39:04 - Reviewing and Iterating on Strategies
42:36 - The Sweet Spot
49:48 - Laser beams and confetti
53:40 - Shout Outs

Enjoy! I know I sure did...

Stino's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stijn-smet-%F0%9F%90%B3-330435a9/

Shoutouts:


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

This episode was edited by Lifetime Value Media, a media production company founded by my good friend and fellow CS veteran Dillon Young.  Lifetime Value aims to serve the audio/video content production and editing needs of CS and Post-Sales professionals.  Lifetime Value is offering select services at a deeply discounted rate for a limited time.  Navigate to lifetimevaluemedia.com to learn more.

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

Support the Show.

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

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

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

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

Thank you for all of your support!

The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Matik's Scale + CS Virtual Conference: https://bit.ly/scalecs-aturkovic

In this special edition, Alex sits down with Stijn "Stino" Smet, Head of Customer Success at Whale.io, the host of *two* customer success podcasts, and all-around loose cannon.  He joins Alex (in his studio!) for a very special joint episode of their podcasts to discuss career journeys, getting started with a digital practice, and more.

The “more”:
00:00 - Where to start with digital
03:35 - Your First Digital CS Experience
07:12 - The Core of a True Digital Team
10:44 - Meeting an “Idol”
14:15 - Transitioning to Digital Customer Experience
18:03 - Quick Wins in Digital CS
21:28 - Being Ahead of the Curve with Digital Customer Success
25:11 - Stino’s Famous Playbook
28:38 - Achieving Revenue Growth
32:14 - “Light” Success Services
35:40 - Creating and Tracking Campaign Metrics
39:04 - Reviewing and Iterating on Strategies
42:36 - The Sweet Spot
49:48 - Laser beams and confetti
53:40 - Shout Outs

Enjoy! I know I sure did...

Stino's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stijn-smet-%F0%9F%90%B3-330435a9/

Shoutouts:


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

This episode was edited by Lifetime Value Media, a media production company founded by my good friend and fellow CS veteran Dillon Young.  Lifetime Value aims to serve the audio/video content production and editing needs of CS and Post-Sales professionals.  Lifetime Value is offering select services at a deeply discounted rate for a limited time.  Navigate to lifetimevaluemedia.com to learn more.

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

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

Alex Turkovic:

If you're having a retention problem, if you have a churn problem, that's where you need to start, buddy, and once again, welcome to the Digital Customer Success Podcast with me. Alex Cherkovich, 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 and once again, welcome to the Digital Customer Experience Podcast. My name is Alex Turkovich. It's so great to have you back.

Alex Turkovic:

As always, we've got a little bit of a different episode format for you today. Before we do that, though, a little bit of a reminder. Last week I talked briefly about it. I'll be speaking at MADx Scaled NCS Summit. That's a virtual summit coming up at the beginning of June. There's a link down in the show notes or the description where, if you're one of the first five people to sign up for it, you will get a $20 Uber Eats gift card, because who doesn't like snacks when you're attending a conference? Right? But anyway, check out the guest roster on this thing because basically, the who's who of customer success is going to be taking part in the event. So it's definitely one not to miss. So go sign up for that.

Alex Turkovic:

As promised, today is going to be a unique show. I've never really done an in-person interview. It's all been virtual and recorded and all of that stuff which you know comes with its own set of challenges. But I wanted to jump on the chance of having Steno, who you probably well know in CS circles. He is a massive presence on LinkedIn and one of the true, like real, voices in CS lives. It, breathes it and is crazy passionate about it.

Alex Turkovic:

Anyway, he was in town, he was in Austin, and I was like, hey, we should meet up, we should, you know, grab some food or whatever. And I was like, well, we should record an episode of the podcast and we're actually going to dual release this episode on each other's shows, since he has a wonderful podcast as well. And so, you know, the topics are, yes, digital related, and we get into some of the theme of his show, which is my first, so you know your first time doing something, and in this case, first. So you know, your first time doing something, and in this case it's, you know, your first digital motion. But we also talk a little bit about some of the things that he's doing at Whale digitally, including these very intricate playbooks that have a lot of definitions for what should be done in certain scenarios, for what should be done in certain scenarios, which I find absolutely fascinating. So, yeah, join me for this episode with Stino. He's, you know, we're sitting on the couch right behind me and you know, just chatting, I hope you enjoy it, because I sure did Well, ooh.

Alex Turkovic:

How are we going to intro this?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

It's a special edition.

Alex Turkovic:

Right, I guess it is a special edition. Yes, dino, we're doing a joint show.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

We are Apparently we're doing a special edition. It's your first dot, dot dot, the Digital CS podcast mixed up. That's right. So we're doing your first Digital CS experience.

Alex Turkovic:

Something like that Podcast. Yeah, exactly, I'm very excited about that. So you have some stuff that you ask on your show and I have some stuff that I ask on my show, and so by the end of this, we're just going to be asking each other each other's questions.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

And I think eventually we will go down a rabbit hole, like I'm doing a lot digital. You're first and I will ask you, like how? Because you're the master you are, you are the only one that I think that gets digital done in your way, and I think you're paving a path for literally everyone, and I think it's a very new profession or a very new category of of doing cs. I've been doing that for the last six months to a year almost so, thanks to your brilliant stuff that you put out there. So I want to talk about, like my first, but also then, how you get to the point where you are now, which is basically undefeated. You are, you are basically like the prince of digital CS, or the king.

Alex Turkovic:

I should put that on my LinkedIn While Steno said I'm king. Steno said.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

You are.

Alex Turkovic:

If there were Greek gods, you wouldn't be God of digital Well but you said something interesting, which was that you know, digital is like in CS, is like this new thing and whatever, and yeah it is, but I also feel like it's like CS kind of maturing and doing what marketing did 20 years ago and doing a product did 20 years ago, 100% finally doing it.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

But I think also, economically speaking, a lot has changed because companies have grew, grown, grown, grown over the years a lot. So I think they had a feeling that they also could hire a lot of people. But I think with like last year, with, like, the business landscape not being that good anymore, a lot of revenue getting lost and it's getting harder and harder for companies to retain revenue or be cost-efficient. So a lot of layoffs are happening and I do think that people or business owners now have the feeling that a lot of the jobs that they hired for are basically a one-man job spread over three, and especially with digital. Yeah, it is more efficient working that way, I would say I have the feeling that you could cater to a lot more customers when you're going into the digital way road down the road.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

But then again you need to have someone like maintaining it, because I do have the feeling right now that a lot of business owners or like ceos or founders, have the feeling that they only need one person for the digital approach, because they're like, hey, it's sufficient, because we automate everything. But that's the thing. Though you're, you're, you need someone that takes it out, that builds it, you also need someone to maintain it or a team that maintains it and builds it together. So in that sense we're again tipping over the scale. We're just hiring one person to do them doing a two-person job. So it's from one extreme into the other. It is.

Alex Turkovic:

I mean a few years ago I think the common thought was let's just put some junior CSMs into this digital role and they're just going to handle everything. And it's matured a lot over the last five years to where sure you might have a scaled team that does the outreach and does mean a pooled model or whatever it is. But I think the core of true digital team is like your program managers that are like, yeah, figuring out what digital motions you need to put, put in place and the data analysis behind it, um, but then also you know, like your admins and your ops functions. There's a lot of ops over yeah 100 and that's um, that's still a mystery to a lot of folks. I feel feel like to really solve for that.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah.

Alex Turkovic:

To your point how do you maintain a digital program?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Also just finding the right tool and the people, and the people Like juniors can't, like you said, juniors don't necessarily know which tools are on the market, so as well it's also, if you picked the wrong tool, like, how do you go about that? And like juniors, are not the best way, I think now, because everyone is going on that digital route, because bringing in a lot of customers is very hard to Like, do that white glove.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

CS kind of kind of stuff Total. So they are putting in less money into CS teams because they have a feeling like, hey, you can have like 500 customers and do just one strategy, which is totally not the way to do. That. It really works.

Alex Turkovic:

It totally works. Do that.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

If you're a founder and you want to, you have 500 customers and just have one cs person team. Go for that.

Alex Turkovic:

No, no so, um, if you're watching this on youtube which some of you do, I know some of you do, not everyone does you'll see that. Um, we're in my normal recording place, definitely not Steno's, because you're doing like this world tour of you're doing an American tour right now.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I'm feeling a little bit like Beyonce. I'm doing I don't know how many states, but I do know I'm doing 21, 14 cities, 21 customers In three weeks yeah, three weeks in a zillion different time zones. I have the feeling he's exhausted, like if you're watching this and you're still like triple chin, it's because of all the chick-fil-a I've been aiming.

Alex Turkovic:

There are bags under my eyes because I have no sleep, but you were kind enough to visit us here in austin and you have a couple customer visits, but we had we shared dinner last night. Super cool to have you in town, thank you so much.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

The hospitality you always say, like tax and hospitality isn't matched, and I do have the feeling that I've experienced that in the best way possible, thanks to you as well. So no, thank you for having me. I'm having applause so far.

Alex Turkovic:

So for the listeners of the Digital CS podcast, who may not be familiar with you, and then we'll do the vice versa. Who are you?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Who is Stino? Who is Alex? I would say Stino is the head of customer success at Whale, like the fish. I work for a process management and training tool. I live in Belgium, that's why there is a thick accent as well. I'm in basically a walking encyclopedia everything Real Housewives related. I've been in the CS game for eight years already now, and last year as a head of customer success. So I've been leading a team which is shit scary as well. But now I'm very grateful to be here, very grateful to be a customer success manager as well.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

It's uh taking me quite to a lot of places. I'm meeting wonderful people like yourself, like my idols, I would say for people that really helped me in my career putting content out. So thank you for like it's meeting an idol. Like yesterday didn't tell you that, but like you were, I'm picking you up and I was like stressed the fuck out because I was like I'm meeting one of my idols so normally.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Like I quit smoking a couple of months ago, but I smoked like three cigarettes yesterday before you picked me up because I was like so nervous, like it was kind of a first date kind of thing. I was super, super nervous because I was like what if he doesn't like me? Stuff like that. Like it's like meeting your idols for the first time. And again I have a short list of really meeting people in real life. And your energy is even more amazing in real life. You're already illuminating online, on LinkedIn, in your podcast and all the stuff that you put out there, but seeing your energy is literally staring at the sun. So thank you so much, jeez.

Alex Turkovic:

Okay, well, that's your quota for, like, compliments for the show I'm.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah, I can't help it, but there is a little american like living inside of me nice little american living inside that's.

Alex Turkovic:

That's the quote we're gonna pull out for the yeah they're into a little american living.

Alex Turkovic:

Well, cool, I mean, I feel much the same way, honestly, because if you're not following Steno on LinkedIn or wherever, the one thing I really appreciate about what you put out there is just yourself. It's unapologetically yourself, and we talked about this a little bit yesterday. Like you know, you, you said basically you don't care, but also I feel I was thinking about this and actually I feel like it means that you really care. Yeah, you know what I mean in the end. Yeah, because, um, you're just you yourself.

Alex Turkovic:

Your content is on point, you're not afraid to speak your mind and, and I think there's so much to learn from you and what you put out there, because you're just. You know a lot of people have this kind of facade and I think this is relevant for, like, personal branding and LinkedIn stuff too, but I think the way you go about working with your customers is probably a lot the same way. Like you're just yourself, you know what you see is what you get and and I think there's there's a genuine nature to that, to where a customer feels like instantly comfortable in that. And I'm just speculating, but I have a feeling that's kind of. Thank you is.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

That's your quota for compliments today. So who is alex? Um, I think the majority of people already know you and follow this podcast, but for the ones that maybe follow me and don't know you like who. Who is alex?

Alex Turkovic:

well for um. Your first dot dot dot audience, dot audience. Alex Turkovich hosted the Digital CS Podcast. But I like to call myself a professional mutt. I started in music ages ago. That didn't go so well and found my way into corporate learning and development. That morphed into customer training, customer facing training, leadership roles in L&D and customer training and then that got slowly got into professional services and led some onboarding teams and some, you know, ps, pnls and stuff like that.

Alex Turkovic:

And then over the last few years I've been just really focused on CS and digital CS specifically, because I guess my passion is around just CX in general that customer experience, because I've dabbled in various kind of sections of CX and so I think digital is an awesome way to put all that together, because you got to have the content, you got to have this. You know the services knowledge and the deep technical knowledge, but at the same time, you got to know where your customer journey is and you got to know what to program behind it and whatnot. And so the reason I started the podcast about a year ago was just to share what I was learning and share my own experiences, and it's been cool so far Awesome.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Like I love what you said about it's not like digital CS. I do think the term is a little bit wrong, because if you're going digital, that means that indeed, like, like you said, it's the overall experience, like the cs window is more like the content wise right, like we want to get them on board, we want to give drive value, but how do we do that in a digital way? But it's also how the customers experience it in a way, because I think, like what was your first strategy going into CS? Because I like digital CS, because for me it was a shit ton of emails and that backfired a lot, because clients don't read emails that much anymore. So I want to hear about your first like strategy?

Alex Turkovic:

That's a good question. I'll answer it a couple of different ways, because the first one is like what was my first go-get? But I realized one of the things that is crazy obvious to me is that, like there are zero organizations that are built exactly like the next right, yeah, 100%. And so I get this question all the time, like where do I start what? Where should my first kind of digital motion be? Right, so, but for me personally, um, the first thing was really around templatizing stuff.

Alex Turkovic:

You know, like getting templates in place that not only we could send out on an automated fashion, but if an account is csm owned, um to get the csm to actually send those out, um, instead of. So, you know, a big part of digital for me is is is obviously segmentation, but not just customer segmentation, not persona segmentation, but also, you know, is this a csm owned account or not? If it is, let's not send the automated email, let's have this csms, modify it and send it and those kinds of things, but in that process you're helping the csm out. Yeah, you know, so they don't have to write the email, they just have to, like you know, fire it off and personalize it a little bit.

Alex Turkovic:

Um, you know that that was kind of one of the really early kind of quick win things that we put in place, and I think if someone asks me where to start, my advice is always look for the things that people are doing over and over and over again and look for the things that our customers are calling in to support about over and over and over again. And look for the things that our customers are calling in to support about over and over and over again, because those are the things where you know those are the quick win things. So if you focus on those and, yeah, you may not have like all the tools yet, you may not have like all the data that you need yet, but if you get scrappy about it and you know, do something in terms of like emails or in-app or whatever that may be, um, you can start to like really quickly. Yeah, have some quick wins.

Alex Turkovic:

Maybe do some see that in action in terms of ticket deflection and stuff like that, um, and, and I think it think those quick wins are important because it allows you then to do some things while you're focusing on the bigger strategy, because you're going to want to build a team around it, build some processes around it, build some tools around it, but you can't do that unless you've started somewhere.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah 100%. And I was going to ask Indy, where are you focusing on with those templates? But, like you said, just look at your day-to-day stuff. What is the stuff that you lose a lot of time.

Alex Turkovic:

Yeah, and I mean that's not to say that there aren't some commonalities. I mean, onboarding emails is an obvious thing that almost everyone does, right or wrong. There's some great examples of onboarding emails. There's some horrible examples of onboarding emails and I've probably sent both of those. That's an obvious one. But also working with the product team on release notes notifications or getting a process in place for outage notifications, that's a huge place where you can add instant value.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

That's true.

Alex Turkovic:

I'm really looking at support metrics and if there are a large percentage of customers that called in about a specific issue, that's where you could throw a couple of team members or even BDRs into the mix and say, hey, can you call these folks and just make sure they're okay? Like digital doesn't mean like just one part or or.

Alex Turkovic:

It doesn't mean just like email or just like push notifications. It means use the digital resources and tools you have around you really to make your humans effective in reaching out at the right time 100 and I do think, like for a long time I had the feeling that digital cs was an automated playbook.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah, like I think. If you're, like, if you would ask me last year like, hey, what is digital or digital scale cs for you, I would have said like automate, like an entire automated customer journey from onboarding to adoption, to like value realization, stuff like that. But indeed, like you said, it's much more than that. It's like building in the triggers as well, like I think a lot of companies and a lot of companies and a lot of csms that are maybe watching this podcast, everyone in a way is already doing digital cs, maybe not at the scale that you want, but like just already building in those alerts of like hey, the health score has been decreasing, or this feature, or this client isn't using this feature, that good, that is already digital, maybe automated, but it's digital.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

So I think the biggest misconception around digital CS is I think it's well. For me it was that everything should be automated, and that's not well automated, as in communication towards the client, and that's not the thing. It's much, much more than that. It's like making your life easier, like with the stuff that you normally would check in manually, like pulling those lists and then checking out who is doing not so good. So yeah, in that sense you really helped me, like understanding what digital CS is all about.

Alex Turkovic:

So one of the questions that I ask all my guests on the Digital CS podcast is what their definition of digital? And you just gave me the definition from about two years ago for you. What would you say?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

it is today nowadays I would say like Digital CS is a way of being ahead of the curve, like a little bit I would say I would be being a fortune teller. Basically is what digital cs is for me right now being able to spot the red flags way before they happen. Like you know, I always made a comparison, also to my founder. You know, when there is like an earthquake or like animals always know like five minutes before something is going to hit Dogs start howling, like with the eclipse as well.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Last week you saw birds Like the eclipse wasn't happening for another 30 minutes, but it was already starting. You can see it like with your eyes. The birds already flew away and you like for 30 minutes straight you didn't hear a peep. So in that sense, that's for me, it's what digital cs is all about knowing that something is going to happen before it happens. So, whether if that's a churn, whether if that's an expansion or an upsell or cross or whatever you want to name it, whether if it's like it's really predictive, I would say digital CS.

Alex Turkovic:

I think you're saying that digital CS are the animals of the CS community Basically.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

But good animals, not bad animals, I don't mean in a. We're the dog of CS, working like a dog Day in, day in the out.

Alex Turkovic:

I want to dig in a little bit more on what you said around kind of your use of digital, specifically, I think, as a CSM, because the misconception for a lot of people is that, especially as a CSM, like oh oh, this digital thing is just here to replace me, this ai thing it's here to replace me. It's dangerous, let's not do it. I don't know. There's a, there's fear around it. And then the other bit of that is a lot of csms who may be working in an environment where there isn't a digital function or an ops function feel like, well, we don't have digital, but that's horseshit because anyone can start on their own with their own thing.

Alex Turkovic:

So are there some examples of what you're doing at Whale? That kind of fall into that category of scrappy CSM-led digital?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Well, the thing is, I think, first of all, no one should be afraid from ai or digital cs. That's bullshit, you're not getting replaced, it's just another. I think now it's a really good opportunity to scale yourself in it, because or scale yourself in it the reason why is because there aren't many around that have a lot of great experience or like, yeah, experience into that field. So I think within this and like the next two to three years, organizations and companies will actively hire that people that have done it already before. So I think if you, if you have a really good interest in to that entire digital piece, like really skill, scale yourself, like, try it out, fall flat on your face, pick yourself up again, because in in the next three years, it will be, I think, the next role people will be looking for. But again, it's not about, like replacing csm, because I'm always the first one to say that white glove cs and digital can go hand in hand. There are people that say that White Glove CS is dead Bullshit, because otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here and touring the entire state around the United States. But coming back to your question, I think what we've been doing digital-wise is that, again, I'm a very good fortune teller when it comes to my customers. Very good fortune teller when it comes to my customers.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

We, for people that are familiar with health scores, I think we have a global health score that like really builds up out out of all these different like sub health scores. I have like don't say it's the right way, because I do have the feeling it's too much, but I think I have over like 14 different health scores that build up that global health score. So I'm very good in predicting, if one, because a lot of like I will. We work in three big chapters when it comes to features. So I have a chapter for documenting, a chapter for training features and then a chapter for measuring features as well. I know when some of the sub health scores goes up, they're moving into a different phase. If something goes down, I always uh know, uh, if something is going like shit is going to hit the fan. So I would say that is the first that we've done um, and it's actively building upon and automated playbooks. I would say we have a beast of a playbook.

Alex Turkovic:

You were telling me about this last night. I was like holy cow of a playbook.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

what we've done basically is we cater to a lot of industries. We have people in medtech and construction manufacturing, basically everywhere you know you name it, we have a client that is active in that industry. The thing is we are just a team of three meaning and we have over 500 customers and I always said like I don't want my book of business to be larger than 100, but that's the case now. So what we've done is really building out a playbook for people that didn't purchase Success Services, so that's something that they go.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

With Whale, you're able to purchase Success Services, which means you have dedicated CSM, and when I first started out in Whale, we only had 100 customers and I was like, yeah, whether if you would like purchase it or not, like I will be your CSM. It was my first experience in like hey, you don't get a CSM and you get a CSM, because at my previous companies everyone had a CSM. So it was very hard to wrap my head around that people did this self-onboarding kind of thing. It really blew my mind that it exists. Well, I knew it existed but I never experienced it from a CSM point of view. But now I couldn't do otherwise, doing that digital route as well.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

So we've built a beast of a playbook where we not only segment our customers in persona, we also segment them in industry and we also segment them by size. So if you're in healthcare and you're like 20 people, you get a completely different set of communications if you were in construction with over 100, because we really took our data, also the digital piece, of course. We really took our data and really searched for industry best practices, benchmarks, stuff like that and then threw that all together into one big automated slash health score playbook with over 450 scenarios and the turn decreased and we upped our net retention MRR with was it 15%? So we went from 95 to 110 in a quarter Crazy.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

With that playbook yeah, with that playbook. And we even brought in more expansion revenue than sales. So until this day because I checked this morning we brought in more revenue than sales. Until this day, because I checked this morning, we brought in more revenue than sales. And I know I'm the first to say that I hate people that are like oh my God, we went from this to this percent by doing X, Y and Z, so it works for me. I'm not saying it will work for your company, but if you're interested in how I did it, more than happy to jump on a call Because I'm not saying that that's the way to get to that point. It worked for me. On a call, because I'm not saying that that's the way to get to that point. It worked for me, it worked for Will because we were that kind of a business. But it's fun. It's fucking amazing to say that we brought in more of you yeah, yeah.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Fuck you, zylf. I'm sure they're not looking. No, they're not listening to this at all. Sorry Will, I love you Gary.

Alex Turkovic:

But I do want to dig in on that just a tad, because A what does that playbook look like? Where does it? I'm a CSM. I have a customer in this industry. This size health score of this, whatever. What are my outputs? Is it a tool? Is it a spreadsheet? Is it a thing? Yeah, the thing is also I don't think, or whatever Like what are my outputs?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Is it a tool? Is it a spreadsheet? Is this a thing? Yeah, it is a tool, like the thing is. Also, I don't think you can really do digital, but correct me if I'm wrong. I think it's very hard to do digital if you're not having the right tools in place. Yeah, I think digital starts with first, a lot of customer data, so, whether you have panel, segment or any other tool that tracks that. Then again, we have a cs tool in place which is called justify. I adore that for the life of me because, again, it isn't maybe the shiniest tool out of the bunch, because you have a lot of great cs tools and I've worked with a lot, but they do literally everything that I need. You have a lot of people that hate their cs tool for some reason, but I fucking adore it. It's my Bible, it's first thing that I open, it's the last thing that I close and they're able to do literally anything that I need for my customers. Did you hear?

Alex Turkovic:

that Custify. You need to sponsor Steno's podcast.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

No, but it is like again, it's not. It's not the most prettiest tool at all. It's very black and white and they can use some like upgrades. Yeah, and that front for me I'm for my customer or for the real customer base is literally everything that I need when it comes to digital, like the data is coming in very nicely. Playbooks are very easy to build. Yeah, the data is coming in very nicely. Playbooks are very easy to build. Yeah, it's really easy to build in digital test strategy for us that way, Cool.

Alex Turkovic:

So playbooks are great. They offer a really good framework for what should and shouldn't happen, what should and shouldn't be sent, or whatever. What percentage do you follow the playbook? 1,000% be sent, or whatever? What percentage do you like? Follow the playbook one thousand percent? Or or do you, you know, give your team a little bit of leeway to say you know, use your best judgment depends, which is the most common phrase in customers.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I love it, christy likes that phrase like for really the clients that don't have any, any, any, any success services, it's like really restricted, it's like you don't have any wiggle room at all because I don't want my team to lose any time on that one.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I also have, like you know, this is something that my founder doesn't know so I have, like this twilight area, which I call light success services, where I'm like, hey, for some reason, we hopped on a call, the energy was great and we worked with them on on a certain support issue, for instance. Or we hopped on a call because they had a pricing question. If we had like a really personal call, um, and you're like, hey, you're doing good, let me, okay, let me do something in return for you because I like the energy is great, like I like I don't work in what you, your numbers are good, your metrics are good, so then we we put them in something that we love to call light access services, and then that wiggle room starts. It's not that you can do a full blown success services, that not, but yeah, I'm still a sucker for intervention.

Alex Turkovic:

You know, like if a customer doesn't qualify for a full-blown CSM, they got themselves into trouble. They need a little bit of hand-holding to maybe get them out of trouble, or they're having a hard time getting to that next increment in value, value. Yeah, I'm a huge fan of having resources available that like can take an account for like I don't know two months, yeah, and just jump in and help help.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

you know, keep champions accountable, stuff it's huge yeah, it is, it is, but again, I think it freed up a lot of our time. I would say it really freed up, freed up a lot of our time, so I would say it really freed up a lot of our time. So now all of us have a book of business I think about 200 customers and only 20% are high-touch. So that white-glove approach, so, yeah, I would say it's the best win for me and my team. When it comes to that. Talking a little bit more about, like that metric tracking, because I think it's like the cornerstone of digital cs. Like what would you say are the cornerstones? Like, hey, your first time, not even the first time csm, or you're just interested in like making a first digital strategy. Like what would be the cornerstone that you really need to have in place to even think about a strategy like that?

Alex Turkovic:

I think about it in three ways. The first is like your classic CS metrics, right, so NRR, grr, gross retention, all that kind of stuff. Like of course you're going to want to measure your digital segment, if you have a digital segment on that and it's an indicator, I think you can bucket health score into that as well. The other thing I like to look at so this is kind of category two is marketing metrics, because you're sending emails, you're doing campaigns, you're doing stuff like that. Like let's take a book out of marketing you know the marketing book to say, okay, what's my click rate, what's my open rate? You know, like, what does engagement look? Like? Let's do some ab testing on some emails, like let's get marketing with it. And then the last thing is kind of that bespoke um area where you know you've identified you want to go do something digitally.

Alex Turkovic:

Hopefully you've done that with a goal in mind, you know let's say you want to reduce the amount of training related calls to your support team, for instance. What was your first goal?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Huh, what was your first goal?

Alex Turkovic:

It had something to do with ticket deflection, for sure. If that is your goal, then if you can come up with a metric, this is where you get to get creative with the metrics. If you can come up with a metric that says, okay, I implemented this motion or this campaign and I have campaign metrics around that. This is the ultimate kind of metric for something that I want to increase or decrease or whatever. You can turn that into a ratio.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Okay something that.

Alex Turkovic:

I want to increase or decrease or whatever. You can turn that into a ratio. So, like of all of the opened emails, those particular customers, we saw a decrease in support tickets around training, for instance. Right, so you can get really granular and say, of the customers we sent this to, these people clicked on this email or opened this in-app notification or whatever they engaged with it. And those that engaged with it, we saw X percent improvement or decrease over the ones that didn't. So it's like you get to make your own metrics.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Really that's interesting, and what I hear most of it is that you don't need to start your strategy at the beginning of the customer journey.

Alex Turkovic:

No, no, no, no, no. You just yeah, no, no, no, like, um, I mean if, if it's, if it's easy and convenient to do it. Of course you know, but don't don't get into this linear mindset where, okay, I need to start at the sales just to post sale handoff and then I need to do my onboarding emails and then I need to do this, and then we got to get ready for the renewal. If you're having a retention problem, if you have a churn problem, that's where you need to start, buddy.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

But let's start at the beginning. But I think there is where I really fucked up, because I thought you needed to start at the beginning. I think a great lesson and a great topic that you touched upon. I like really fucked up, um, because I thought you needed to start at the beginning. I think a great lesson and a great topic that you touched upon, like really look at what you're struggling right now. Like goal setting, I think is very, very important to gather with, like setting up those metrics, because also now, that's a good tip.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Like I keep forgetting. Like okay, you have this entire email flow, or like entire communication, whether if it's like push notifications or email, or like carrier pigeon or smoke signals, like I don't really care on how you do it. What kind of pigeon? Like I don't know, are there different kinds of pigeons? I think so. I don't know. Just a normal venetian. Yeah, the venetians are sassy, just like me. Um, no, like it's really good, because I often forget about the marketing metrics kind of thing.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

It's good indeed that you start from your customer data, that you have your goal in mind, but indeed, like especially the first time that I ran a campaign or sent like an email sequence. I never revisited it really, like you said, what is the click rate? What is the open rate? What is it that you are trying to accomplish? Because you have that goal in mind, like, hey, I want to diminish churn, reduce churn. I've built this flow, we'll see what happens. But I think a lot of people fall short when it comes to following up on that Set it and forget it. Yeah, 100, so how would you say you have done your first strategy, you have your metrics in place. You, um, like you did everything. Like, how would you do a follow-up on that? Because I think I'm I'm very not good at that um, well, two things I'll say.

Alex Turkovic:

The second is kind of related to what we're talking about earlier.

Alex Turkovic:

But first, I mean, I think it's healthy, on a quarterly basis, okay, just set yourself a time frame whether it's every month or every quarter, every half year of reviewing what it is you're doing, because, um, you know, the more you build, and then just move on to the next thing.

Alex Turkovic:

Then, all of a sudden, you look back after a year or two and you're sitting on. All this stuff that may or may not be working is confusing the customer. I think it's healthy to go back every once in a while and just look at what you have in place to make sure that, like, it's doing what you want it to, yeah, and if it's not, don't be afraid to change it. Yeah, don't be afraid to change it, and I mean I'm throwing it away. Throw it away, like, if it's not doing what you want it to, then then throw it away. The other thing that I was going to touch on that's related is going into something with a goal in mind and really, for your first motion, spend some time with your executives and really understand what they're struggling with.

Alex Turkovic:

Because if you can show that you have had a positive impact on whatever it is they're struggling with, you're going to get much more leeway down the road to get tricky and try some cool stuff. If you, you know, focus on something, that's okay great. But you know it's not really, it's not really resonating with your executive team, you're going to have a much harder time adding headcount to your team, adding tools to your team and all that kind of stuff Versus if, right out of the gate, you pick something that's top of mind. You have a clear goal in mind, you know how to measure it, you do some stuff. Whether it works or not, you're doing stuff and then eventually you'll find that recipe to where hey look, I've made some great improvements on this. We've seen, you know, turn reduction, whatever it is, they're gonna be like great. What else can you do?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

That's the kickoff of your career, that's right.

Alex Turkovic:

But I admittedly that's one of the biggest mistakes I've made is just operating in a vacuum trying to figure out is this the right thing? I think it is.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

We're just going to do it instead of like asking your peers, asking your leadership, that's so funny that you're doing that, because I, whenever, like my founder is like, how are you doing it? And like, wherever the order wind blows, basically, so no, yeah, I'm like still in that. Yeah, but no, that's really good, like a really good tip. Like keep iterating on it and indeed, like don't be afraid, if it doesn't work out, to just throw it away, like I've. I've learned that along the way and I don't think it's only applies to digital. Like, if you're doing stuff and building stuff and it isn't working out, like don't Throw it away. That's right.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Or a throwing away profession. No, what would you say would be the main traits of a digital CSM? Or, just in general, if someone is interested in digital CS, what would they really really need? They were like hey, this is me like. How would you describe? Like yeah, it depends.

Alex Turkovic:

It depends if you're watching. Uh, it depends. I think, again, the assumption has been in the past that you just throw some junior people into a digital team because it's the lowest segment that you know, whatever.

Alex Turkovic:

Whatever you want to throw at it, it's like they can build templates stuff like that yeah in reality, you know, to have a really well-rounded digital program, what you're going to need on the team is someone who can live in the data, really understand your customer data and can fuck up a pivot table Like no, but I mean seriously, you know, if you have somebody who can correlate two data sets and look at usage versus engagement in community and like those kinds of things, like that's magic.

Alex Turkovic:

One of the things that I've published a couple times is this I call it the digital cs sweet spot, which is like this intersection of data with automation and customer journey. Okay, yeah, because any one of those three, if you don't really have it well defined, it's going to be hard right, so so I'd say, first and foremost, like, have somebody that can be really in the data. You're going to be looking for somebody who thinks programmatically and can almost operate in a product management. The things that I've done in the past as well around this is like operating sprints, like how can we build this stuff in an agile kind of manner, and that gets into CRM, csp, administration and all that kind of stuff too.

Alex Turkovic:

So it's not just about okay, yeah, you need some customer-facing people that are good with customers.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

No, you need that.

Alex Turkovic:

But you need that support on the back end. Whether it's the same team where you divide into different teams that share the load, it's totally irrelevant. But you're not just going to be looking for a CSM. You're going to be looking for somebody who's in the data, who can think programmatically, who can think outside the box and think about the customer journey as a whole.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah, 100%. And I do think if you love working with customers, maybe at the end digital is not maybe your end stop. Yeah, I mean absolutely Like I love sitting in the data, don't get me wrong. But if someone tells me like you need to stop speaking to customers by the end of the day, I'm like fuck it, I'm gone. If it's only data, end of today. I'm like fuck it, I'm gone. If it's only data and that strategy, I know.

Alex Turkovic:

The thing I would say about the customer-facing element of digital is that whoever is engaging the customer on the back of a digital motion has to be a strategic-minded person, because you're going to encounter all kinds of different scenarios. It's not just here's the next QBR renewal's coming up. You know that stuff is crazy important and takes a certain skill set. But what you're going to encounter is like oh, I got an alert for a red health score, let's figure out why it's red. Or this customer just responded to a survey and they gave us raving review, let's get this over to marketing, for you know advocacy stuff. Or this customer responded and they hate us, let's engage them with a plan. Like the scenarios that you encounter are just all over the place. So it's like that cross between a support and account management mentality.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

True, it's very interesting, it's niche, it's niche, it's niche or that everyone's using a big don't quite like put a term on it.

Alex Turkovic:

Niche. This podcast is very niche. It's a wonderful guy. It's a wonderful guy. By the time we publish this, it might no longer be the Digital Customer Success podcast. It might be the Digital Customer Experience podcast.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

My God, I'm on the first episode. Maybe Well, on the first special edition.

Alex Turkovic:

It's the special edition, for sure.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

It's the perfect way to launch a new brand.

Alex Turkovic:

What have we not talked?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

about. I covered mainly everything you, everything, your first, I would say, like, I think the main things that I took away from from my point of view, from like the, your first dot show, I think if you want to grow in that digital, is that you're indeed like, very like, you get loose on data, that you are like-driven, that you love sitting in pivot tables building them, all that stuff. That's already one of the traits that you really need to possess, basically, and that you don't need to start from the beginning, basically of your customer journey. And what I really really loved is that you said like hey, just look at your day-to-day job and it can go as simple as what is the most repetitive task or the most repetitive question that you have, whether that's building a support article for it, whether it's building just a small campaign targeting those customers that have the same data on that aspect of a feature, for example. And I think the most eye-opening well, not eye-opening, but the most like that we need to keep into mind is the marketing metrics aspect of it.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Like, don't be afraid to look at the metrics, because it can be that your idea is like oh my God, this is insane. We're going to do that. You're building it out. You're building up this momentum, this enthusiasm, and you get all of this amazing energy seen coming into life. But if it doesn't work, like don't beat yourself up for that. Like I've done that too many times where I was like on this high and then seeing the metrics and then going from that high, super, super low and you're like what am I doing wrong? But you're only getting better in digital if you're trying out stuff falling on your face, picking yourself up, iterating, so to your point, like set yourself that time frame of picking up a playbook or a metric or some of your strategies again and see on how they're performing. So yeah, I really loved it.

Alex Turkovic:

I remembered one thing I wanted to say specifically. Well, I think for Because again it goes back to this whole thing of CSMs a lot of times feel like they can't operate digitally without a digital team or something like that, and I think the sooner you can get a hold of AI tools, the better. And there's some specifics that are interesting to me at the moment that are probably worth sharing. One is, I mean, everybody knows about ChatGPT. They have a $20 premium version where, if you pay for it, you get GPT-4, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Top tip though Microsoft Copilot is free, GPT-4 and you can do images out of there too. Crazy, useful Tip. Number one. Two if you're not recording your calls and putting them through GPT or recall summaries, oh, we have balloons.

Alex Turkovic:

We have balloons everybody. I don't think we could really like that tip. I don't know.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I know why Like it's a new Mac setting, if you're doing this, you can't balloons. And if you're a thumbs up, is it some? Like normally it would do it, yeah, yeah. And then you have this cool one. Give me a second. If you're doing boards, you normally would get like laser beams and the couch that is insane, though, and now you have confetti as well. That is this normally. Does it want to?

Alex Turkovic:

no, oh, balloons, we got balloons again. We're learning so much digital stuff.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

The thing is I did that the first time when I was with the customer. I was like you have two, like something with two or like a thumbs up, and the first time balloons were popping up and I was like what is going on?

Alex Turkovic:

so I should probably turn that off anyway chat cpt as I was saying, microsoft copilot is free.

Alex Turkovic:

It's got all that stuff, great. The second thing is call recording, update, ai, fathom is another one that's really good. Um, I love update, yeah, because it's csm focused. But if you're not set up in a way within your I don't know work ecosystem to to have gpt give you call summaries, figure out a way to do it, feed those transcripts into gpt, whatever it is you got to do because it saves you so much time in the. In the follow-up to that um, one we talked about last night was a tool that I love called Gamma, which basically is GPT slide creation. So like, if you want to make a quick PowerPoint, you can get your brand style guide and all that kind of stuff and you can, for instance, feed it your call summary and it'll create a PowerPoint deck for you.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I need to see that.

Alex Turkovic:

So, like there's tools out there all over the place, you could even create a song for your customer with Suni I don't know if you know Suni, suni, suna, suni, I think it's Suni you give it some prompts about what style of music and it'll pump out a song for you. There's all kinds of cool stuff out there. So my point is, as a CSM don't wait for a digital team to start operating digitally. You can do it today.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I'm still stuck on the song AI. I'm doing that for every client that I'm visiting. Next you should. I will be like, hey guys, let me make a song.

Alex Turkovic:

Yeah, we can have it. Create a pop song for the washing machine industry. That is insane, totally do it.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I will. Oh my God, oh my God, I need to do that. Clients are going to love me.

Alex Turkovic:

So, anyway, that's what I wanted to say. It's like your first doesn't have to be, you know, your company's first. It can literally be go create some templates, go, go, crazy Go nuts Go crazy.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

So where can people connect with you?

Alex Turkovic:

LinkedIn or digitalcustomersuccesscom. You are on TikTok as well. I am on TikTok.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

What's some great tips.

Alex Turkovic:

It's just your name. It's just my name.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Just your name. I find you creative. What about you? You can find me only solely on LinkedIn.

Alex Turkovic:

basically, cs wise, you can only find me so um, I mean there you're 10 000 plus followers. How many? You have a lot of fans.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah, it's been booming. I have I think, I don't know, but I think 12 k. Wow, ish. I don't know why I do. No, but I honestly don't know why I do. I'm a loose cannon.

Alex Turkovic:

That's why.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I'm a loose cannon when it comes to that. I know LinkedIn will be great. Do you want to give any shout outs? Do we have an hour? Because I will shout out literally everyone.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

No, shout out to you basically again, you hit your quota already. No, no, I can go over it because I don't give a fuck. No, thank you just for your hospitality. I think your brain is super. I'm jealous of how your brain works. Basically, really, it's illuminating talking to someone who knows that much about digital.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

I also love your journey. As you started this podcast as well, you said like hey, I was just starting it out, just putting content on what I was doing, and so people could get, like give you feedback or give you new ideas on moving, moving forward that way. So, and also like I think your energy is one of the greatest energies out there. So I want to compliment that as well.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

My other idols I love like I always say they're the goddesses or like the muses of of customer success, like christy shout out to christy girl you are all like and then erica, anika, diana, dylan, prashant from from dublin a lot, a lot, a lot of great people. So if I didn't name you so sorry, you were in my head but there were just too many people to name, like everyone that literally helped my career. I think everyone that I follow on linkedin helped me to get where I am Everyone that is putting out content really helped me, getting me where I am today on this couch, which I if you told me that last year I would like laugh in your face but, like, fast forward to a year. A lot of people laugh in my face. I'm here, I'm sitting in Austin on a couch with Alex.

Alex Turkovic:

It's good stuff. It's been fun watching you do the US tour. For sure you've been posting at every corner. I'm so glad you decided to join us here in Austin yeah, thank you so much well, I will now search for a pool and relax. The heat is real does your hotel have a pool?

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

yeah, okay, the heat is real, people, it is real. Run, run, run away, run away. No, no, often it's been great, but it's. I always forget, like, how hot it gets. Really it's. We're not used to that temperature in Belgium at all. It's warm, like it's. Maybe once or twice a year it's kind of hot, but it's really. But I'm glad it's not humid at all because, like Houston last year, yeah, Houston's gross.

Alex Turkovic:

What the fuck. I love Houston. Houston's a great town, but your humidity is gross.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Yeah, the humidity was crazy. I Houston's a great town, but your humidity is gross. Yeah, the humidity was crazy. I was like what's happening here? Normally my hair is pretty straight unlike me, but my hair is pretty straight but when I jumped off the plane in Houston it started to curl up and I was like what's happening? That's funny. What is happening here?

Alex Turkovic:

On that note.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

On that note, on that note, it's just hot. It's just hot, just like this episode of this podcast.

Alex Turkovic:

Yeah, mutual podcasts. Hope you enjoyed it. See you later, see you soon. Do we get the balloons going? How do we get the balloons going? Nope, yay.

Stijn "Stino" Smet:

Balloons.

Alex Turkovic:

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Digital CX Podcast. If you like what we're doing, consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. If you're watching on YouTube, leave a comment down below. It really helps us to grow and provide value to a broader audience. Value to a broader audience. You can view the Digital Customer Success Definition Wordmap and get more information about the show and some of the other things that we're doing at digitalcustomersuccesscom. This episode was edited by Lifetime Value Media, a media production company founded by our good mutual friend, Dylan Young. Lifetime Value aims to serve the content, video, audio production needs of the CS and post-sale community. They're offering services at a steep discount for a limited time. So navigate to lifetimevaluemediacom, go have a chat with Dylan and make sure you mention the Digital CX podcast sent you. I'm Alex Trukovich. Thanks so much for listening. We'll talk to you next week.

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Digital Customer Success Explained
The Importance of Digital Tools
Digital Customer Success Metrics and Strategy
Digital Customer Success Tech Tool Tips