Welcome to another bitesize episode of the Precursive Perspective Podcast. This one is an interesting listen for anyone out there who is interested in the role customer success has on the overall customer journey, beginning from the sales process. Jonathan is joined by guest Amanda Berger, Chief Customer Officer at HackerOne, a cybersecurity company, specializing in attack resistance management. Take a look below at the talking points covered.
Improving the Transition of Customers from Sales to Customer Success
A smooth transition from sales to customer success is a great way to establish trust early on and ensure customers realize the full potential of a product or service. It sets the foundation for a positive customer journey, leading to higher satisfaction, retention, and potentially advocacy within the client base.
Jonathan: That's such an important area, the dovetailing between the commercial organization, the sales team, and the success organization. What have you done in the current world and maybe also in previous lives around smoothing out that transition? Because I hate the word handover. And no customer wants to be handed over. But how can sales and CS improve that transition in your view?
Amanda: I am like a religious believer that for big enterprise accounts, you can't do this with every account, but your biggest accounts that CS should be engaged during the sales process at a certain point. 100%. And I'm pretty scientific about it. I think it's about when you're 70% along the sales cycle, you're talking about actual solutions. I think the CS team needs to be engaged. We need to make sure that we're delivering on what's promised. What's promised is realistic. Also everywhere I've worked at the CS team was a huge differentiator, like a wonderful CS team that I think would only make customers feel like they're going to be in great hands. I think that's all super critical.
Jonathan: Yeah, definitely. We certainly do that.
Amanda: I also think actually customers genuinely do enjoy that as well. They feel like they're building a relationship sooner and there's that familiarity. Particularly if you can keep the consistent, like the person that was there pre-contract and post-contract in place. I think it's important because sometimes somebody's involved during the sales cycle that then passes it off and says, All right, you team, you got it. And so being able to report back to that person and having that relationship is pretty important as well.
The Importance of Prioritizing Your Staff
In the wake of the pandemic-induced shift towards remote work, a pressing question emerges: why has employee engagement taken center stage in organizational priorities? The seismic change in work dynamics has underscored the critical importance of keeping teams connected, motivated, and aligned.
Jonathan: Absolutely. And I know how passionate you are about your staff and people. I think people are our most valuable asset, they're not commodities. I'm glad that the world is tuning into this a lot more. I think the West Coast of America is one of the drivers of that, absolutely. We were going to talk a little bit about employee engagement in the new remote reality. The remote reality, it was new 18 months ago, and that staff engagement has risen to the top of the agenda. So why is that such a priority for you and your team? I mean, it's a bit of a vicious question, but…
Amanda: Well, I think as a company, people are the most important thing that we've got. And we are a company of connecting people to other people, so our own people are absolutely critical. I think it's important to make sure that we're creating career paths and possibilities for people. The world that we're in now, first of all, like the Silicon Valley startup, plus the whole hacker world, is pretty young in terms of there's a lot of people in jobs and who want to work in those jobs that are young. They've had one or two years of experience or one or two jobs. I think really helping them figure out where they can best contribute and developing them is such a wonderful thing. One of the things I really like about the late stage startup is that you've got change. You iterate and things change, so there's always new possibilities for what people can do. But you also have a little bit of money because you're a late stage startup and probably pretty well funded. It's a wonderful position to be in to realize that if you had a person doing whatever function, you function better, you function more smoothly, and then realizing that you have the power to put that in place and you have a perfect person who would love to do that job.
That's one of the most wonderful things about where we are today, I think.
How to Maximize Time-to-Value
When it comes to optimizing the onboarding process, there are pivotal areas that demand our attention. The goal is to expedite the journey from adoption to value realization. So, what specific aspects do you prioritize during onboarding to ensure a swift time-to-value? Amanda has the answers.
Jonathan: The commonality that we see across the market is just how can we create more consistency, make it more scalable? Like you say, you're dealing with 1,000 customers, that's hopefully going to be 2,000 customers and so on and so forth. So what are the things that you focus on during the onboarding phase to improve time to value? What do you feel like are some of those important areas?
Amanda: Yeah, it's interesting. We've done a pretty significant customer journey mapping project this year and thought a lot about how you start the journey. The first thing is identifying what journey your customer is on. What are they trying to get out of this? I'm sure this is true in every different vertical, but for us, some customers are trying to implement a program like this because they want their customers to feel safe and to differentiate from their competitors because they have so much security. That's one value we might map to, is brand trust. Other times the customer has been breached and they want to make sure that never happens again and they have specific areas they want us to focus on. That's another thing that we want to map to. Or maybe they've acquired a company and they want to make sure that they're secure. I think it's really understanding and aligning with the customer's goals in the beginning to make sure that we're delivering the success that they want to see and that we're very aware of what's driving this project and who we're working with to make sure that we deliver results. We've seen that be super critical and a super important part of the journey figuring out what boat are you even on?
The Changing Landscape of Customer Success
Over the past 18 months, the landscape of Customer Success has undergone notable shifts, spurred by unprecedented global events. These changes have had a profound impact on how businesses approach customer relationships and value delivery. Read how Amanda and HackerOne have had to tackle the new world.
Jonathan: Yeah. What's changed in the world of CS in the last 18 months, really? How have you seen it affect things?
Amanda: Yeah. Well, I think the first thing, and this is probably more of a startup thing, is that... Well, I'll start with one thing I loved about PS is it was very clear what people were doing. People logged their time. It was very clear if you wanted to say, okay, this is what we're spending time on. This is what we're not spending time on. The data was obvious. I think in CS, particularly in the startup world, it's less clear. When you are all in office together or you're traveling to customers together, you get some real clarity around that. But then moving to a digital world, it's hard to get that clarity. When you say things like, Well, how long does an implementation start? It's sometimes less clear because you're not logging those hours. You're saying, Well, eight weeks is our average time to value. But then you're saying, Well, how many of those hours in that eight weeks are you actually spending? It's less obvious. One thing that I've really found is that data and outcomes and being able to look at things analytically is more important now that we're not all sitting in a space together, knowing exactly what people are working on.
That's one thing. Then I think the last several startups I've been at, they were really collaborative, and so is HackerOne for sure. But there was a little bit of like, if there was a problem with the product, you just walk over to engineering or you just walk over to product. Maybe if they weren't all in the same building, somebody was and you walk over and you overhear things. You don't have that anymore. You don't overhear things. I spent a lot of time on things like Slack trying to virtually overhear to get a real sense of what's going on. There are definitely some changes, but I think you can still get to the same result. But I would say outcomes, data is more and more important and there's a more digital world.
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