Margo: 00:01 Welcome to Sales Leaders Talks brought to you by Callpage. This podcast is for sales and marketing leaders who want to lead their people to success, do more, better and faster each day. Our guests are experienced sales and marketing experts who share their secrets and strategies on everything from team coaching and leadership to marketing and sales tech solutions. Before we move forward, ask yourself this question, "Do you want to excel as a leader and help your company grow?" If your answer is yes, let's get started.
Margo: 00:36 Welcome to Sales Leaders Talks brought to you by Callpage. This podcast is for sales and marketing leaders who want to lead their people to success, do more, better and faster each day. Our guests are experienced sales and marketing experts who share their secrets and strategies on everything from team coaching and leadership to marketing and sales tech solutions. Before we move forward, ask yourself this question, "Do you want to excel as a leader and help your company grow?" If your answer is yes, let's get started.
Margo: 00:36 Hello and welcome to the Sales Leaders Talks. Today I'm hosting Susan Ostojska who is the Head of Customer Success at Growbots. Growbots is an intelligent platform that helps sales departments automate their outbound campaigns and provide sales representatives with the right tools and a contact list of potential customers available online. After a sales representative acquires a new customer the whole responsibility to retain this customer rests on the shoulders of the customer success team. Customer success teams help new clients achieved the first milestones and lead them to success so that they achieve their goals for which they hire the product. Today with Susan we are talking about the magic of churn rate and what makes customers churn and on the contrary, what makes them stay. So let's join this conversation.
Margo: 01:38 Hi, Susan.
Susan: 01:39 Hi.
Margo: 01:40 So today my guest is Susan Ostojska, the Chief Customer Success Manager at Growbots. Susan, could you tell few words about yourself, what you are doing for Growbots. How has your career unrolled over years?
Susan: 01:57 Sure. So I joined Growbots, uh, over three years ago and I started as a customer success manager. So I was the first customer success manager at Growbots. And I started building all of the processes then. So, we started in October 2015. The very first step was to simply launch chat on our app and be able to talk to our customers on the daily basis if they have any questions. But then we were adding more and more processes and hiring more people and yeah. And basically I worked as a customer success manager for over one year and after that I became Head of Customer Success at Growbots. So, uh, so yeah, over one year ago my role has changed and now I'm taking care of the team and we do both like support and success in, in our team. So that's what I'm doing on a daily basis.
Margo: 02:58 So Growbots is SaaS company. And in every SaaS company customer retention matters now more than ever. In some cases customer retention means 70 percent of the revenue for the company. How do you believe increasing resources that go to customer retention can help the company increase the revenue. How does it go? How does it look like?
Susan: 03:22 Yeah, of course. I think that all of us as businesses right now invest in customer success, so first of all, it's really important to take care of customers and treating them because as you've mentioned, usually it's like the main revenue of the company. Of course, if companies want to grow, they probably also invest a lot of, um, resources in sales as well because they simply wanted to bring more and more customers to grow. But someone needs to take care of these customers and retain them. So, uh, basically, um, I believe customer success is really important, especially for the companies that have high-touch sales process. Because if sales people are talking to customers and then after buying the customer doesn't have any customer success manager assigned, it doesn't look good and the customer can feel disappointed because he was taking care of during the sales process.
Susan: 04:23 And then he's ignored after the sales process. So in such cases it's really important and this is also the case of Growbots, but also there's so much competition on the market right now. They'll also, each company needs to find a way to offer something special. So for example, here at Growbots, we don't only want to just maintain this high level of help after sales. But we also want to be recognized because of the great customer success and support. From the very beginning putting customers first and to go extra mile very often for them sometimes even to do something for them, just to make sure they're happy. And they also spread the word about us. And that's also a great thing for the revenue because if they tell their friends about us, uh, they will probably come to us and buy our product. So, so yeah, so on the one hand, we, we not only bring this, let's say revenue from the customers that joined before, but we can also bring new customers just because of their referrals.
Margo: 05:32 So as we were talking before the recording, you told that basically everything has been already described on blogs anything on customer success is available online, but still something repetitive, some kind of generic content. So today we're gonna go deeper into a real case study of Growbots. Just to give some background of what Growbots is. Could you describe how this platform functions?
Susan: 06:01 Sure. So, uh, it's a sales automation platform. It's dedicated for outbound. So basically our customers can easily find new customers for them. So we have a database of over 200 million business contacts and our customers can search through this database very quickly. So they can, for example, decide that they want to find c-level in startups in San Francisco and they can easily generate the list of business contacts and decide who they really want to contact. The next step is to create a sequence of emails. So they are write sales email, but we always tell them to make them personal so it's not like a newsletter or it's not like a, this is the best offer for you, but these are usually the personalized emails, really good content for these prospects. So we always encourage our customers to put a lot of effort, both in targeting, but also in writing sequences because also cold mailing right now is really popular. So, uh, I can imagine that everyone is getting a lot of cold emails everyday. So somehow you need to show why the recipient should reply to you. So, um, so yeah, so basically this is how Growbots works. It just automates outbound and makes this process easier.
Margo: 07:25 So for a person who is working in sales, it might make a lot of sense to do this part of cold mailing and use Growbots for that. But for a person, even for a sales representative who is doing that seems to be quite difficult to understand how the platform works from the very beginning and the platform has its own peculiarity, has its own features, and you have to lead them to the success, help them achieve their milestones, uh, help them send over that first email and the main success, uh, to get some sales out of it.
That's the reason why they are buying into the idea of sending emails through Growbots. So could you describe how you are leading your customers to success? How does the whole process look like in your organization?
Susan: 08:21 Sure. So maybe I'll tell a few words about the sales process. So we have both the sales development team and the sales team. Our representatives are looking for customers for us. So of course they're using Growbots for this as well and they are making sure that we have the pipeline full of demos. And then account executives have these demos with the potential customers. Uh, they show them how the platform looks like and then they negotiate the deal. When the deal is signed, when the deal is closed, the customer is moved to their customer success team. So each account executive has one customer success manager assigned and the customer success manager gets introduction from the account executive to the customers. So, so this is the very beginning of the corporation and this is when the customer success manager learns about this new customer in his or her portfolio.
Susan: 09:17 So when the customer is introduced, then the customer success manager has to onboard him and there are a few steps. So the first step covers the email reputation. So from the very beginning we check whether our customers have a good email reputation. We check if they have all these are like DNS records to make sure that they will not be cut by this spam filters soon because I'm also the domain and their email must be set up in the correct way to do outbound and to be able to send more than a few messages a day. So this is the very first step. It usually takes just a few days to make sure everything is ready, but of course sometimes it can take longer if the customer doesn't have the IT team or IT admin who could, for example edit these records. So that's pretty challenging, because that's the technical part of the onboarding and that's simply difficult for people who are not technical.
Susan: 10:21 So, uh, so I think this is the product we don't really like, but this is the first step. So, so we quickly have it behind us. The second step is that our customer has to connect this email to Growbots, because they will send campaigns from Growbots. So this is also the technical approach and it's usually, yeah, it's usually just a few minutes. If it's more problematic than we involve technical people from our team as well. And then we are ready to start working on the campaigns with our customers. So it depends on the customer, but we usually invite them to the webinar, um, or they can just watch the recording of the Webinar, which covers all the basics of our app and after that they should be ready to navigate our app and understand where to find all the features. Uh, after that we usually schedule a follow up call, just a short call to answer all the questions and make sure that the customer is ready to start their first campaign.
Susan: 11:24 I would say that this is like a huge milestone to schedule the first campaign. When this is ready, then we can work on them on the quality. So of course we check what results our customers are getting and based on that we can also propose some feedback based on targeting and content. Also, if our customers have problem how to set up the right target for them, we simply ask them to describe who they are looking for and based on that, we create a target for them. And we are awaiting for the positive replies of course, uh, if they have in your first campaign, that's awesome. However, sometimes they really need to wait a few weeks for the first positive reply, but we try to keep them motivated and engaged and we show them all to value. We share a lot of best practices with them to make sure that they will, they will believe they sometimes just need to wait for their results.
Susan: 12:25 And then I would say that we showed them a more advanced features like AB testing to make sure that they can leverage the other results and we also suggest them creating more campaigns to do some experiments. Um, yeah, to simply see what's working and what's not working. And also our role is to maintain the usage of our customers. So because we are constantly in touch with them to make sure that the schedule enough campaigns, they're onboarded, it usually takes about three months to make sure that they know everything. We are not so often in touch because usually during the onboarding phase we are in touch with them like every week or every two weeks. So after onboarding phase we're usually in touch with them once a month and we send them best practices to inform them about the new features that we're introducing. We send them feedback as well. So yeah, so I think that's how it looks like in our company now.
Margo: 13:34 And what tools are you using within an app within Growbots platform to facilitate contact with you, with your customer success managers?
Susan: 13:46 Sure. So a dedicated customer success managers are usually in touch with our customers via email. So basically they exchange emails with customers or they call them or they schedule a call together. But inside our platform who have intercom. So chat and we also have inside our team we have the support team with four team members and currently they are available there from 9:00 AM our time until 11:00 PM our time. So we cover the whole EST timezone. So we are available there until 5:00 PM EST and we reply within few seconds or minutes. So when our customers have problems they can always write to us on the chat and we help them instantly. Uh, so that's also a good solution for them and they use it very often, so in the evening it's really hot on intercom, uh, but uh, but yeah, I think it's a great way of helping customers in going extra mile because uh, we can help them quickly and you know, most of our customers are in the US and we are here in Poland.
Susan: 15:04 So we usually check our mailboxes in the evening as well, but we are not so fast as chat. So we also even sometimes direct people to support and to this chat, because they can get help really, really quickly.
Margo: 15:20 So are, so customer success, customer success, you know a lot about your customers. You have gathered so much data. What kind of personas would you single out in that onboarding process? People who are not so active, people who are passive, vivid supporters of, of the platform, active users, how would you break them down into groups?
Susan: 15:44 I would say that um, yeah, for sure there are people who are active from the very beginning who start quickly and they use us regularly on a daily basis from the first days and these are our favorite customers of course – they are easy to work with. But they are usually people who have experience in outbound. So usually if I see that someone is using our app, he's like two weeks with us and he already has a few campaigns, it probably means that he had been using a similar tool before. However, we have also many people who are just testing how it will work with them and usually they are not so active at the very beginning and like sometimes they can be even afraid of using it. They are afraid that they will break something. They are afraid that they will send an email with either an incorrect custom fields or something. So these are the people that are usually pretty fresh to outbound. And yes, they usually start slowly and then they increase their usage over time. And I think that these are the main two groups of our customers - the one that have experience in outbound and the ones that are totally new.
Margo: 17:05 And who would be high LTV clients, the client that bring the least troubles to the table, who doesn't engage so much your managers and also who stays with you longer and pays you the most?
Susan: 17:25 Yeah. So probably people who have experience in outbound will stay with us the longest because even if they don't have results at the very beginning, they know that they need to wait because they already know how it works and that this is not just the tool that you use, but this is the whole company strategy. Um, so, so yeah, so they have the highest, highest chain chances to be successful in our app. Also, companies who have bigger teams, they stay longer because it's more difficult to simply change at all if you have a team. And usually people get used to this platform. So, uh, so, so they simply stay with us and to um, and here I think we have more turn in the group of people who is new to outbound because sometimes they think, okay, I will just try your tool and then we'll see if I have results and sometimes free months is not enough to get good results.
Margo: 18:20 And what metrics are you using to measure that your customer has achieved these milestones and is happy at the end of the trial period?
Susan: 18:30 So we have free categories of uh, of metrics. The first one is the general metrics. Of course we measure churn, we measure NPA, so we send this survey every three months to each customer. So these are the most like generic and popular metrics that everyone measures to be honest. Then we have separate metrics and we measure them by Intercom. So we checked number of conversation that we have, uh, we check the customer happiness, uh, so we check how they assess our conversations. We of course look at the time of the first reply, median time to reply in general. So, so yeah, so a lot of support metrics because we also put a lot of effort to support and we want our customers to be happy on the chat also I didn't mention but in terms of the general metrics, we also have Typeform we send to our customers after the second month and we ask them if they are satisfied with their dedicated customer success manager help.
Susan: 19:44 So basically we ask them questions: how happy they are, did they get helps with with the calls with the customer success managers. So this is also a good feedback for us, for the team and also we know whether the customer is happy or not. And then we have the product metrics and we check how often they login. We check how many credits they use. So one credit is one prospect and this is what our customers pay for. So you know, the more credits they use the better. We check how many users they add and how often they schedule new campaigns, how many campaigns they have. And we have tools like Mixmax will also have full story to see how our customers behave. We also have a lot of my tricks, uh, in Intercom because we have connected it to our app and we know what our customers do on intercom. And also we just use spreadsheets for many things as well. So churn is usually reported in our CRM. So, uh, so basically we don't use any advanced tools for that, uh, but the, um, but yeah, we have this, this kind of set of metrics that we measure.
Margo: 20:59 I understand. So you, you were with the Growbots from the very beginning when those processes were set up, and the success metrics in general.
Susan: 21:11 Yes. So Growbots was created a few months before I joined, but I was the first customer success manager. So yes. So I can say that I was from the very beginning in terms of customer success processes because before me, uh, just one of our founders was replying to our customers via email so that, that's how it looked like a, over three years ago.
Margo: 21:34 So how did you feel about the whole process of establishing processes?
Susan: 21:39 I think this is the best thing about working in startups also, this is why I wanted to work in a startup because you have impact on many things and you can simply bring your ideas and do what you want and try different things. So I think this is the best part of the job, to establish all the process to try new things. And even if I am three years who are here, it doesn't mean that all the processes are set up. Of course they are, but it will probably change them in three months. Very often, we review our processes, we check what's working, what's not working and we are trying to think. So yes. Even though I'm already for a long time in Growbots and there are new people coming in, they still also have impact on the processes. Of course we already know what doesn't work, for example. So we don't want to come back to these ideas. But in general we change a lot and really often.
Susan: 22:39 So you've probably come upon quite surprising answers from your customers. So probably they were given some interesting feedback. What was the most surprising and interesting feedback you've ever got from customers?
Susan: 22:56 Hmm. From customers. I think that's difficult to say. I would need to think more about that. There was a pressing thing in terms of the data that we had. So we, uh, our data science team, did some analysis for our team and we always said that it's better when our customers start really fast and they use a lot of credits at the very beginning and we're always happy that they're so active and uh, and you're starting so, so fast and everything he said within a few days. And he turned out that many customers who start really, really fast and they use a lot in the first two weeks, they churn. And we had to do hypothesis hypothesis for, uh, for that. So the first one was that they simply know that they will be with us just three months and they want to use us as soon as possible because they know their time is limited and does the second thought about, that was simply that they used us a lot at the very beginning.
Susan: 23:59 They didn't get any reply because we even didn't have had a chance to give them good feedback about your content and target. So they use a lot of credit. They really wasted them because uh, they decent poor campaigns and they got discouraged. So right now we know we don't have to rush so much and sometimes it's better to wait longer to start. It's better to give the customer an extension if they, if they need more time than to push them to send everything in first in the first month. And because this way the customer can simply send poor campaigns and achieve good results.
Margo: 24:38 Okay. That's great. Interesting. Uh, you, you will not read it in articles for sure.
Susan: 24:43 That's true. But that something that you also need to think about that sometimes. Maybe you know, it also depends on the Aba because there are some apps that you can simply use the same extent everyday, but if you buy three thousand credits, a draw was, it means that you can contact 3000 people if you generate all of them at once, uh, and she'll like pay for them with these credits, then you use all of them and if you want to use more and because you don't like the first ones then you simply need to buy more.
Susan: 25:14 Uh, so yeah, we had, we had such a case that our customer used older credits just with one export, so the export in all the data and they had them in a file and they said that they don't like this prospects and they want to get this credits again for free. So that was a really difficult situation and we finally decided to not give him these credits, but probably now we will think about this more and we would give him like a part of these credits to make sure that they will stay with us because this way they got discouraged, discouraged. So I think that this wasn't a good decision then.
Margo: 25:53 And the last question for today's interview, um, based on your own experience, what would be one thing that there is uniform for a real company that you recommend to every customer success manager?
Susan: 26:08 So I think that the mistake that we made and when I'm talking to other customer success managers, I can see that other companies make the same mistake a very often so they don't look at the data enough and they don't have enough data. So sometimes when you're a small company, a small startup, you simply have like a crm or use spreadsheets and you don't save enough data. And our problem was that we're not saving enough data and because of that we couldn't analyze this data later on so we couldn't, for example, analyze behavior of our customers, uh, from like high level perspective. And I think that now if I had to start a new team, then I think this would be the first thing I would think of. So to have a lot of data about customers to simply see what's working and what's not working. Because right now we still base very often on the gut feeling. It usually works, but if we had more customers, we simply need to data and more numbers. So, so I think that everyone should, should focus on data, um, uh, on the product usage and this kind of stuff to see what's working and what's, uh, what's not working and do have like the real reason to know that they need to change something.
Margo: 27:28 That's a great takeaway. Thank you Susan, for today's talk.
Susan: 27:32Thank you.
Podcast moments that will matter to you: