Achieving your customer's business outcomes. Develop advocates. If your renewal was up today, would you renew? Solving for in-person events again. Design your customer maturation model. Onboarding 2.0. Introducing automation. Confirmation bias. Inversion. 80/20 principal. Figure out your balance between capturing wallet share of your customer base and new logo acquisition.
Here’s what Sean MacPherson said about Kristi:Kristi Faltorusso. Someone I don't know personally, but I feel like I know her personally because she gives so much back to the CS community through sharing her playbooks, is Kristi Faltorusso over at ClientSuccess. Her focus on showcasing how customer success is a revenue driver and how CS leaders can get to the level of other leaders in an organization is spot on. She's given back so much to the CS community and leveled up so many leaders in the last several years. And honestly, she's one of the top CS leaders in revenue operators out there!
What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?
I oversee the customer experience teams. I run customer success, support and services. Three main ways that we're converting that into revenue:
1) Achieving our customer's business outcomes. So, for our organization, keeping our customers satisfied with a value prop of what they came into the business with, helping them achieve that. That helps drive retention and net revenue retention as well. So keeping them, and growing them.
2) Developing advocates. It also helps facilitate developing advocates. Our customer success team really fosters the relationships. Again, going back to the value prop of helping our customers achieve their goals, allows us to develop advocates who are, hopefully, out there in the wild selling our product behind our backs. Telling their peers, their organization, why they need to have us, the value they're getting from us. That's a huge proponent of how we're thinking about that.
3) Industry thought leadership. Our team spends a lot of time really honing in best practices, understanding the shifts, the market landscape. And we do believe by selfless giving, by just sharing those thoughts and insights, that we help elevate the community as a whole, hopefully that education and enablement will bring folks back when they're ready to purchase. We think about that as a full lifecycle in terms of how we're driving revenue for the business overall.
What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?
I wish I only had three hard problems, but three that we've recently solved for is:
1) Solving for in-person events again, at scale, in the community. I think everyone is generally very excited to get back in person and spend time together. Especially in the customer success community, where folks are generally pretty close. But, getting in person is really important for a lot of individuals. Now, we're still navigating some of the changes in the landscape. We still have COVID issues and concerns, people with compromised immune systems, who are still hesitant to get out there. But, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what is the best methodology for us to do that and how we should be approaching it. For us, it's been a lot of these little in-city location events, and we've found that folks feel safer, they feel more comfortable coming together in these smaller cohorts, in their areas, as opposed to flying somewhere, going to larger events where they just don't feel as safe. So, we've seen tremendous success with really focusing in on these smaller, intimate setting events in the locations where folks are.
2) Empowering our technical support team with better access to customer data to help them prioritize their efforts. In customer experience, we know how critical the customer support experience can be, how impactful positively, how impactful negatively, it can be if it's not executed well. We've spent a lot of time making sure our team in the customer support organization, not only has access to really smart, intelligent customer data, but understands what that data is telling them and how to use it to prioritize their efforts. This ensures that our larger customers, customers who are at a point where maybe there are some challenges they’re overcoming, they're getting the time and attention that's necessary to help keep the momentum going. To get things back into a good place. Also, with customers who are extremely satisfied, how do we continue to build on that momentum? But, that prioritization based on data has helped us deliver a better experience overall.
3) Education and enablement for both the community on customer success thought leadership, as well as ClientSuccess as a technology. For us, we believe that rising tide lifts all boats. How do we make sure that we're educating the community around customer success best practices? How to go into an organization and execute? How to get buy-in? Things of that nature. Not super intuitive for everybody. For a lot of leaders, they're a bit newer. So, we've really focused on helping them understand: how do you do this? How do you do it well? How do you execute flawlessly? And then, obviously for our customers, how do they maximize the value of ClientSuccess and figuring out, again, how do we train and enable at scale? Education and enablement has been a big focus of ours and we've had some really great success with some core programs.
What are 3 roadblocks that you are working on now?
I also wish I only had three roadblocks, but, three things that we're really doubling down our efforts on:
1) Designing a customer maturation model that translates against people, process and technology, to guide our companies through their own journeys. I think a lot of technology providers would assume that the customer journey happens with you. It doesn’t. It's happening with, or without you. Technology is one component of a customer's journey. So, we talk about it, you know, our partnership through a customer life-cycle lens. Customer maturation is really critical because we want to help customers identify where they are, but more importantly, what do they need to do to get to that next level? So really designing something that we feel like is helpful, it's engaging, and designs a map for our customers to help them advance their program in their organization.
2) Onboarding 2.0. Any company, especially in the SaaS space, understands the impact and the value, of a very strong, well-executed onboarding program. We're really focused on designing this 2.0 model, which is designed through a customer lens and highly flexible. So instead of us creating a checklist and saying, “here's everything our customers need to do in onboarding,” because, who are we to determine? We now take their consideration of what they're focused on. It's all built around their goals and then helping them design programs and parts of the products that help support the execution of that. Helping them get faster time to value.
3) Introducing automation into our customer lifecycle. We like to think about this as augmentation. Now, we're not trying to move to a fully digital landscape where we're only supporting our customers through technology from a push motion. We want to find out: what are the ways that we can really help our team drive more time and attention around the things that are gonna be valuable to our customers? Reducing administrative overhead, communication, but also helping our customers get access to things at certain points in time that are going to be critical to their success. So, that automation in our life cycle is going to be a pretty big project for us.
What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?
This was a fun exercise for me to go through.
1) Confirmation bias. This one is important. I've been a customer success leader for about 10 years now, and I have some preconceived notions of what works and what doesn't work. And, I've got to check those. I can't depend on what I know to be true because every thing depends. It depends on the market, the customer, the product. And so, really trying to protect myself from that confirmation bias where I'm going to over-index on the way things always worked. Or, what I've seen success in. Really understanding ways to challenge that thought process and be more successful in my own right.
2) The inversion mental model. This one I liked because it's super easy to understand what success looks like, but it's hard to design programs that help you get to a state of perfection. It's almost impossible. So, this allows me to understand, “Well, what do I want to avoid? What are the outcomes that we want to prevent from happening and designing something that really helps us avoid failure?” It has helped us figure out a way to progress in our process evolution and not strive for perfection. So, that's been really helpful for us. It's just kind of flipping it on its head and thinking differently about it.
3) Pareto’s Principle. The 80/20 Rule. I think a lot of people are familiar with that. 20% of the work generates 80% of the returns, all of those things. Trying to focus on the things that have the most impact to our business and doubling down our efforts and our focus around that.
So those are three things that I think not only myself, but our team, is really starting to hone in on is how do we think about things through those lenses.
What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?
1) You definitely got to figure out your balance between capturing wallet share of your customer base and then new logo acquisition. I feel like there is a very disproportionate focus around new logo acquisition, and people don't really focus enough on how do you grow your customer base. Speaking to customers in a different way than you speak to your prospects. It's not the same messaging. The same things don't resonate. So, really focusing on that. Growing your install base and new logo acquisition, finding that balance there.
2) Doubling down your focus on your ICP. I see folks that really are trying to boil the ocean, eat the elephant, give me an analogy, it feels similar, right? You're going to go after too much. It'll bring you to revenue, but you're going to see greater churn. You're going to see your product roadmap evolve in a way that's probably not going to drive a lot of value from your ICP. So, just focus on who your core ICP is, and really focus on selling to them, keeping them, and evolving your product to support them long-term.
3) Leveraging your customers to help sell your product. I think we all understand the power of advocates, but we don't leverage them enough. What we've done at ClientSuccess has really helped build our customers into our sales engine. Help them share their stories, their successes. Get them out there in the community advocating for us. In a realistic way that ties back to the successes that they've had, but nurturing those stories, curating those individuals, and making that a core part of our program has really helped us bring in more visibility, more leads, and then obviously convert to more revenue.
What are 3 question that you love to ask and why?
1) How does customer success play a role in your evolution, in your business? First question. I'm going to go to my customers, because that’s where we spend a lot of our time. So questions I love to ask my customers: I want to understand how customer success plays a role in their evolution, their business. As they think about go to market, how are they leveraging customer success to drive their business forward? I always learn a lot about where customer success sits in their their organization, the value prop, the buy-in, cross-functional support. So just understanding what role it plays in the longevity of the company helps me understand and learn a lot.
2) How do you feel about our partnership? Good question that I always ask: “How do you feel about our partnership?” I know that that sounds like such an obvious one to ask, but for me, I want to know how they're feeling. Capturing sentiment and feedback at any point in the customer journey and experience is super critical. So for me, asking something like how they feel about that is really important. Because I can lean in, learn, and hopefully drive some action as a result.
3) If your renewal was up today, would you renew? Anytime I'm engaging with my customers. If your renewal was up today, would you renew? Because at the end of the day, we're in a recurring revenue model. If my customers do not feel confident in continuing that partnership, I have to intervene immediately. So I almost always have to ask that.
Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?
1) Jay Nathan. I'm going to start with my buddy, longtime friend, Jay Nathan, who is the Chief Customer Officer over at Higher Logic. Jay has a long-standing career in customer success as a practice, as a profession. He's not only been the Chief Customer Officer at Higher Logic. Before that, he owned his own consulting firm where he was working with really large enterprise organizations, helping them understand how to build, how to scale, power their customer success business. He is a tremendous resource to our community. Somebody who I think your community would find a lot of value in, as well.
2) Kristen Hayer. My next recommendation would be Kristen Hayer. She is the co-founder and CEO at the Success League. She is somebody else, again, in the customer success space. She's doing a great job really breaking down how to educate, and enable, in customer success, for practitioners, folks that are building out their programs. She helps to not only educate and enable, but really build out her consulting practice, as well. Where, again, she's a long time player in the space. She has a lot of history and that legacy knowledge of the customer success evolution, what it's looked like, and the impact it has to business. As well as getting buy-in. I think she does a great job of helping organizations find their voice to get organizational support around customer centricity.
3) Maranda Dziekonski. My dear friend Maranda Dziekonski over at Swiftly. She's a Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly. She’s somebody else with over decade experience in customer success, sales, account management, right? She does a great job of understanding the nuances of commercial motions and how that benefits customer success. You don't need to play it safe. You can sell, and be in customer success, really well and drive a lot of value for your customers. So, I think she has a unique kind of mindset around, ”How do you do it? How do you do it well?” And not being afraid of taking in all those metrics into their business.
So those are three people. I could probably list a dozen. But I definitely think that your community would benefit from learning from all three of them.
Work with Kristi → ClientSuccess is hiring!
Connect with Kristi → Kristi Faltorusso on LinkedIn
Kristi’s Best Practices → keepingCSsimple.com