Change the Game in 5 Minutes: Marissa Barcza Shifts the Focus from Reactive to Proactive Image

Change the Game in 5 Minutes: Marissa Barcza Shifts the Focus from Reactive to Proactive

Welcome to Gainsight’s  ‘Change the Game in Five Minutes’ series. In this interview, our CEO, Nick Mehta, speaks with the Senior Manager of Scaled Customer Success at Adobe, Marissa Barcza

Marissa focuses on strategic ways Adobe can be more efficient and effective.  Her team manages nine B2B products across 4,500 accounts in the Americas. In the past year, she has seen an increase in small and medium-sized businesses’ interest in all products, especially e-commerce. Read on to see how she thinks about scaling enterprise products and customer success for small to midsize companies, including some that are just starting to sell products online for the first time.

Nick: Let’s start with an icebreaker. What is your game of choice if you want to dominate your friends or family? What’s the one you go to?   

Marissa: We’re a big Rummikub family. It’s a tile game where you rack up your tiles, rooted in a mix of rummy and mahjong. Like many others, by staying home with spouses or partners, I wanted a two-player game that we don’t just figure out how to win all the time, and Rummikub continues to be a consistently fun and challenging game the last nine months.

Nick: That’s awesome. I’m going to have to learn how to play it! Now let’s talk about Adobe, which is well known for going through digital transformation culminating in a subscription model. What role did your team play, and what changes did you have to make to your strategy and processes?

Marissa: The growth in our subscription business creates an opportunity for more SMB companies to harness the power of enterprise products. Many SMBs want to expand their online presence with digital transformation. These businesses are interested in Adobe because of our trustworthy, enterprise-quality products; however, most don’t need all that comes with an enterprise license. As a result, the customers we work with tend to be aspirational, a self-service, scrappy group. So, we provide them with the correct license to meet their needs, and afterward, we determine the right level of customer success.  

Nick: Makes sense. I imagine that since you have a product in the e-commerce space, you’re dealing with a lot of growth overall because more companies are trying to sell online. And due to your customer’s aspirational natures, you are trying to help them reach their goals?

Marissa: Exactly. Our customers want to sell online then capture and maintain consumer attention. They want to understand how they can lean into the marketplace style of selling, similar to Amazon, which has become the consumer standard. (They want to create a marketplace where consumers can buy a lot of different things, one that offers free shipping and provides customers with choices for delivery from access points, in-store, curbside, or at their home.)

We are trying to help our customers achieve their goals, and we have been able to do this by addressing questions by engaging in channels that work best for them. For example, we’ve seen great success in delivering different scaled events like webinars that expose our customers to our products in different ways and for different target personas. One type of webinar is office hours, where product experts run online demos in a live environment to show daily users how to use our products. We usually spend time answering questions about functionality and edge cases that they can’t quite figure out from existing documentation. 

Nick: Which of these tools or initiatives were you able to launch at scale to help educate customers about your products?

Marissa: Apart from webinars, we introduced a new role called an Onboarding Specialist whose primary purpose is to set up accounts. This role has provided many internal benefits, including the reduction of support tickets and other administrative work. By introducing this more junior administrative position, we have also elevated the role of a CSM whose first conversation is no longer about who the right contacts are and if their names are spelled correctly, but rather about understanding a customer’s business objectives and the right strategies to reach them. The CSM can also highlight Adobe’s role in helping meet those goals. This new role has been a massive game-changer for us and has attracted more senior-level CSMs to our team. They also want to stay longer because they can develop their careers and focus more on strategic conversations instead of administrative work.

Nick: That is a great initiative. A client will form an impression of their CSM based on their first interaction, and if that interaction is about correcting the spelling of the word or something along those lines, they will never think of their CSM as a strategic resource. However, clients sometimes get confused when companies introduce them to multiple people in different roles. Have your clients been able to understand each person’s role and who to contact in different situations?

Marissa: Yes, we’ve been careful about that. We’ve made sure they understand who to contact by introducing the CSM by name on the first day, but they don’t meet just yet. Clients first connect with their Onboarding Specialist, who answers all the basic questions and then transitions off the account by doing an informal email handoff to the CSM. 

Nick: You mentioned seeing a lot of success by engagement with customers where they are. How did Gainsight technology help as you tried to scale and meet your customers in their preferred channels?

Marissa: First, we used Gainsight to deliver personalized launch and welcome email campaigns. These not only greet and educate customers but also include surveys asking for critical account information. We then send non-responders a reminder to fill out the form, and all of this helps create accountability with our customers early on. We also use Journey Orchestrator to drive awareness of our webinars. What’s been helpful is we’ve been able to identify various personas at our accounts and use those to target different people within the account with different types of webinars. Gainsight also allows us to close the loop after a webinar. We look at attendance and send targeted communications and other engagement opportunities to those who have expressed interest by attending webinars.

Nick: Adobe has a very metrics oriented culture. How do you talk about the results of this overall program that you’ve driven?

Marissa: You’re so right! Adobe prefers show-don’t-tell results, and luckily we’ve had many great results to show. 

Webinars: In 2019, we hosted one webinar for customers, and in 2020 we hosted twenty-six.  We saw significant momentum with a gradual but steady increase in overall engagement and attendance. We also looked at the account knowledge rate, which helps us track if anyone in an account opens an email. For webinar-related communications, the account knowledge rate was 89%. 

Naturally, we had to wait and let accounts go through the renewal process to see how webinars affected renewal rates. We then reviewed 12 months worth of data on webinars and saw that of those who engaged directly with a webinar,  96% renewed! We learned that accounts who are self-selecting or getting encouraged by their CSM to attend these events are the ones that have the highest health scores and are the ones that we should target for any cross-sell or upsell campaigns.

Onboarding Specialist: We piloted the administrative Onboarding Specialist for only one product because of resource constraints. However, this allowed us to test the theory to confirm it would positively impact customer satisfaction and health scores. It also allowed us to identify headcount requirements to ramp up across the whole business in 2021. 

Nick: I like how practical you were and just said, OK, well, let’s just break it up into different pieces and run some experiments. How did you identify webinar content that was going to move the needle and get product adoption? 

Marissa: We host various webinars, including monthly office hours, for our more scrappy, self-sufficient user base. We keep them intentionally casual with a couple of slides and spend most of the hour facilitating customer interaction with a hands-on demo. We also ask attendees to submit questions when they register, which has increased attendance rates because customers know we will answer their specific questions during the event. 

Another webinar series we feature is what we call “Commerce and Coffee.” The topic is typically a specific trend in the industry and product uses to lean into that trend and grow your business. 

Finally, we have our quarterly webinars based on new releases. These are targeted at leadership and executives to help plan out how they will implement new releases into their workflow and strategy. We usually get Adobe executives to participate in these webinars. 

I think the variety of webinars has helped us identify topics and how we target attendees.

Nick: So, to summarize, you have an aspirational customer base who is scaling rapidly, and you are using Gainsight Journey Orchestrator to provide the customized content they need in the communication channels that they prefer. This allows them to quickly learn how to use your products to drive business growth. Thank you for sharing your GameChanger insights today!