Friday Tracks and Takeaways When Lightning Strikes Image

Friday Tracks and Takeaways When Lightning Strikes

If you tuned in to Pulse Everywhere Day One or Day Two, you might have noticed that we’re big fans of “Lightning Round” questions. We even had Mindy Kaling do some word associations at the end of her session!

For the final day of Pulse, we took that one step further and had a “Lightning Round” day of sessions. The 15-minute and 30-minute sessions allowed attendees to soak up every last bit of knowledge. The themes today centered around Human-First Customer Success and Transforming Customer Centricity. Read on for an even speedier download of today’s content.

Human-First Customer Success

The Key to Customer Success: Leadership with Jay Nathan, Chief Customer Officer at Higher Logic and Co-founder of Gain Grow Retain at Higher Logic.

  • Major Takeaways: Every CS professional needs to be able to ask great questions. Asking questions allows you to have better, more contextual conversations—but you need to ask the right ones. There are four types of questions (based on the book Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar Shein): humble, diagnostic, prompting, and process-oriented. The results are increased engagement, increased productivity, and better solutions.

Your Customers Need You to Put Yourself First: Listen to Them! This session was led by Violaine Yziquel, Sr. Manager, Customer Success at Slack and CEO of Customer Success Network at Slack.

  • Major Takeaways: You can’t help others if you’re not in a position to help yourself. So prioritize your needs just as much as your customers’! Ask yourself questions like, “What is that I value?” Set goals around what you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs. You’re the leader of your own work-life.

Human First in CS Starts with Yourself, Not Your Customers starring Lauren Costella, Vice President, Customer Success at

  • Major Takeaways: Customer success does not start with the customer, it starts with the customer success providers. Shape your CS practices by expressing your defined core values and living your authentic truth (your “brand”).

Grow Your Personal Brand in 30 Minutes a Day or Less led by Brandon Cestrone, Founder at CS Insider.

  • Major Takeaways: Your personal brand matters. Get started by analyzing, planning, creating, measuring, and optimizing what your idea of success looks like. Utilize LinkedIn and use photo/video to polish your social media presence.

Team Up with Sales to Drive Revenue with Kristen Hayer, Founder & CEO at The Success League.

  • Major Takeaways: Sales and Customer Success relationships can be filled with friction. But both teams should be working together to drive more revenue than attacking the customer base separately. Create alignment to generate more revenue for the organization, stronger partnerships, and provide a smoother customer experience.

Outcome-Based Selling: Expanding Accounts Without Compromising Your Trusted Advisor Relationship starring Aaron Thompson, Chief Revenue Officer at SuccessCOACHING

  • Major Takeaways: Outcome-based selling is the future. It begins with identifying and developing outcomes. There are three whys: why us, why this, why now. You must also validate and verify outcomes. That is part of the consequence of outcome-based selling—proving it.

How To Hire A Customer Success Manager The Right Way with the amazingly talented Irit Eizips, Chief Customer Officer at CSM Practice.

  • Major Takeaways: Optimizing your CS applicants pipeline in a scalable manner brings the best to the top. You need to know what type of CSM you should hire for your organization. In the process, have a good assessment of the CSM skills during the interview process.

ONE Powerful Word That Can Transform Your Customer Relationships with the incredible Nils Vinje, Founder and CEO at Glide Consulting and 30 Day Leadership

  • Major Takeaways: If you want to start a REAL business conversation, feel good about the value you are delivering to your customers, and have a sense of relief that you can position anything with your customers, there’s one word you need to start using with them. Nils shares what this word is and how, if you use it, will put you in a tremendous position of authority. It’s a simple and effective change that will alter how you interact with your customers forever!

Turning Customer Interviews Into Tangible Features featuring Mike Belsito, Co-Founder of Product Collective and Organizer of INDUSTRY: The Product Conference at Product Collective

  • Major Takeaways: Customer interviews can reveal things that no survey or quantitative research really could. But it’s really important to go deep with these interviews. It’s less important to ask people what they want. Instead, we should be discovering the push, pull, anxiety, and inertia. You really don’t need to do hundreds of interviews to find data points that you can start to take action on. Even in just a few interviews, you can have enough to start experimenting with new features.

The Fate of The Customer is the Future of Product Management led by Carlos González de Villaumbrosia, CEO and Founder at Product School

  • Major Takeaways: We’re seeing five PM trends: salaries and hiring are rising, career paths are widening, companies are becoming product-led, tools are becoming no code, and lifelong learning is a must.

Actionable Success: How to Exponentially Multiply your Success with the Human-First Success Equation starring the Dana Soza, Founder and CEO at Customer Everything

  • Major Takeaways: There are three levels in CS orgs: the achiever, the friend on the team, and the power or the CEO. Each is driven by different things and motivations. It requires an understanding of each of these different drives to truly be human-first.

Is the Time Right for AI in Customer Success? Led by Bryan Plaster, CEO and Co-Founder at CompleteCSM and Dan Steinman, Member Of The Board Of Advisors at CompleteCSM

  • Major Takeaways: With AI becoming more and more prevalent, it will be easier to record all your customer calls. There will be NLP analysis of conversational data for more robust customer sentiment. AI will aid in digital coaching and mentoring, giving the CSM a greater EQ. AI will give a more robust sentiment score through the analysis of sentiment clues.

Transforming Customer Centricity

Exploring the Connection Between Customer Education & Customer Success co-starring Ruben Rabago, Chief Customer Officer at Intellum and author of “The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook” and Greg Rose, Chief Experience Officer at Intellum

  • Major Takeaways: “Customer education activates customer success.” Properly educating your customers will bolster your product adoption in a way that is inherently a one-to-many engagement or even better, an on-demand self-paced approach. You can ensure your clients are achieving their desired outcomes with your product or service by teaching them how to actually achieve those outcomes. The truth is, companies are good at creating content and bad at teaching customers how to use the complicated products and services that they sell. Helping the customer get to their goals won’t be enough. Deliver the right content or the right targeted training experience at just the right time that changes behavior.

Onboarding for Retention & Revenue featuring Dominic Constandi, VP of Customer Success at ZoomInfo.

  • Major Takeaways: Onboarding is the perfect time to understand your customer, to set clear expectations, to align with the customer’s goals and metrics to ensure they see success, and to empower the customer so they can take ownership right away. Onboarding is not a singular but a continuous mode of operation. Most importantly, customers should first experience value. However, there is a difference between first experience of value and total expected value. And value should be measured at each stage of the engagement/adoption funnel.

5 High-Impact Ideas to Level Up Your Customer Onboarding featuring Srikrishnan Ganesan, Co-Founder at Rocketlane.

  • Major Takeaways: If you don’t have the right level of customer transparency or visibility, you can’t hold customers accountable for the work they need to do. There should be explicit knowledge: data, information, documents, records, and files. There should also be tacit knowledge: experience, thinking, competence, commitment, and deed. Start the kick-off asking the customer to commit resources and time.

Why Customer Value Management Solidifies Customer Retention and Ensures Upsell with Sterling Cottam, Senior Director of Customer Value Realization at DecisionLink.

  • Major Takeaways: Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) are at negative margins until the renewal. Companies report that when they are asked for value analysis from their customers, they are unable to provide it. Three key phases for Successful Value Management.
  1. Define your baseline and transform outcomes into measurable objectives while defining the process for gathering inputs.
  2. Measure by aggregating inputs and actual results, compare actual vs. expected, gather proof points with case studies content and customer sentiment.
  3. Leverage by identifying roadmap initiatives, progress against them, identify whitespace opportunities and feed content to other business systems to enrich the customer.

What Customers Want: 5 Key Insights from Hundreds of Churn Interviews starring the incomparable Natasha Narayan, CEO and Co-Founder at IcebergIQ.

  • Major Takeaways: Customer relationships are a commitment and investment. In the early stages, set communication expectations, such as pre-schedule cadence calls and their goals. Unexpected changes, such as new pricing and packaging, need to be clearly communicated. The impact of Mergers & Acquisitions creates dynamic change. When you go the extra mile with clear agendas, direct access, and delight, it makes a material impact. So surprise them. If a breakup happens and a customer cancels, always leave on good terms. Today’s churn could be tomorrow’s return.

The Danger of Mediocre Support Experiences & How to Fix Them! Led by Adrian Speyer, Head of Community at Higher Logic.

  • Major Takeaways: A recent survey study from Vanilla Forums Research found that 77% of respondents said a brand should not bother if they’re going to have a poor customer experience when they need support. And what’s worse, 68% of respondents said that when they have a bad experience, their most common course of action is to tell their friends and family about it. Adrian shared four tips:
  1. Create a space for customers to connect.
  2. Staff it properly and invest in a proper team.
  3. Have a plan and related KPIs where goals and structures are known.
  4. Make it easy for them to use, find, and to join.

Bizzabo’s Customer Experience Strategy: Creating Economies of Scale with Ben Anthonisz, Manager, Customer Education at Bizzabo and Remco Devries, VP of Global Demand Generation at Gainsight

  • Major Takeaways: In this session, Ben and Remco talked about how the way to keep customers is to deliver an exceptional experience. And the key to that? Leveraging a customer community as a central destination to scale customer success. The most successful communities also operate as a knowledge base and center for feedback. Your goal should be to decrease the number of how-to questions directed at CSMs so that you can scale the ratio of CSM:ARR with self-serve answers, topics, and discussions.

CS Fight Club: The Things You Don’t Own End Up Owning You led by Alex Krug, Co-Founder and Peter McCoy, Co-Founders at Baton

  • Major Takeaways: “The first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club.” This doesn’t work in CS because what you don’t talk about you don’t own and what you don’t own, owns you. Customers don’t find value in things that are free. Difficult to maintain margin targets when services are constantly discounted perpetuates the myth that CS is a cost center. To solve this problem:
  1. Create tiers of service based on estimated hours spent. You must ensure that the differentiation is clear.
  2. Make paid tiers desirable by providing intended outcomes, more visibility, and ROI.

Building a High-Touch Engagement Model with a Horizontal Product starring Sylvie Woolf, Global Head of Customer Success & Solutions Engineering at Front

  • Major Takeaways: Your horizontal CSM can be trapped. If you can have a massive TAM, your customer experiences can become exponentially hard to scale. You have to balance a customer base that grows across a wide variety of verticals, company sizes, geographies, use cases, or service levels. A team, no matter the size and knowledge base, cannot scale at the same rate as customers. Horizontal companies often struggle with the trade-offs between high-touch/personal CSM and scaling to a broad/diverse customer base.

No One Cares About Your Go-Live presented by Jonathan Corrie, CEO at Precursive

  • Major Takeaways: CS is a key growth engine and if they partner with Professional Services (PS), then your company is maximizing ARR and building value around the outcomes of your customers. It centers on Customer Outcomes (CO) Maturity. The different stages during the growth of a business require different priorities, especially for onboarding, but it should still be built around value for the customer.
  • Accountability for COs is becoming blurred as there is a demonstrable rise in PS for onboarding and with the blurred lines between the PS and CS, implementations are getting more complex. The subscription model is now entrenched in most SaaS businesses and with this customer churn risk is increased. As a result, value during a complex implementation has to be more than simply “Go-Live”. Deliver standardized and repeatable processes, especially for onboarding. The impact will go beyond “Go-Live” events and affect churn, health scores, and LTV.

After The Final Session: The Working Parents of Customer Success Tell All with an ensemble cast starring Emilia D’Anzica-Managing Partner and CEO at Growth Molecules,
Sabina Pons, Partner and Principal Consultant at Growth Molecules, Evan Williams, Director of Customer Success at Nightfall AI, and Arjun Devgan, VP & Global Head of Customer Success at Amplitude.

  • Major Takeaways: For the final session, we follow one of the most dramatic times in Customer Success history—the Work From Home season. We all had struggles with remote work, but having children at homemade balancing work and homelife almost impossible. There is nothing like having a child enter a Zoom EBR asking for help on schoolwork. In this incredible gathering of CS leaders, they discuss the challenges, low points, and victories both with their customers and the mini-customers inside their homes.

And… Scene. Pulse Everywhere 2021 Comes to a Close

It’s been three days of amazing in-person and virtual presentations. Even those of us who weren’t in August Hall can still feel the energy from this week’s event! The best part is that all of the sessions and keynotes will be available to you on-demand. Click here to get access to the recordings.

We’ll see you next year, in-person at Moscone Center in San Francisco for Pulse 2022! Click here to get your name on our invite list and you’ll be the first to know when registration opens.