What was the biggest challenge in 2016 for you and your team at WalkMe?
WalkMe is rapidly growing, and we are now over 350 employees globally! As pointed out by our CEO in this post, http://blog.walkme.com/4-tips-to-maintain-company-culture-while-experiencing-rapid-growth/, we make sure to maintain the intimate “startup culture”. In this article, Adika points out 4 pillars that help us maintain our successful company culture while facing fast-paced growth:
-Recognize Employee Contributions,
-Maintain Stellar Hiring Standards,
-Preserve Company Traditions,
-Encourage an Open-Door Policy.
Another relevant article: http://blog.walkme.com/walkme-winner-2016-tmc-tech-culture-award/
Awesome to have you on for an AMA!
- With your time spent leading and scaling teams, can you explain the type of company culture that leads to success?
2. Are there any processes for growth you can detail that have worked for multiple teams?
3. What’s the most challenging aspect of your current role?
Looking forward to reading your answers!
- Similar to number #1, it’s all about company culture (and having a great solution while maintaining efficient integration between departments).
- I also believe in a cross-team alignment. A good way to do this is by having each team present a V2MOM to the company at least on a yearly basis so all teams know at least high-level what other teams are aiming to accomplish. This article by Marc Benioff may help with starting with your own personal V2MOM:
I create one, yearly, for my team and reflect on it quarterly, make edits to it and work from there. It is a living document that helps a team focus their vision, values, obstacles, methods, and measures. It is an amazing way to hold each other accountable, stretch your goals, be transparent and grow.
3. I love challenges! Being in a comfort zone gets old quickly. Being in Customer Engagement is exciting and for me an obsession that keeps me up at night.
With that said, the biggest challenge is building and scaling programs for customers and teams that will actually work. That means you have to re-evaluate your actions on at least a quarterly basis and fail quickly when some of your ideas don’t work.
Also, everyone has an opinion on your what you are building and your strategy. Be open to the feedback and take it as constructive not criticism. The best feedback is from customers themselves. Be honest with them and let them know you are trying something new and if they are willing to be part of the pilot. Most customers will jump at the opportunity and it makes them feel special. Of course, reward them with a small token of appreciation.
Thanks for doing this!
- I’ll begin with a more personal question – what advice would you give your younger self if you could?
- What’s your take on utilizing success stories as a marketing strategy, and what are some of the ways you do it at WalkMe?
I would love to be 25 again! Great question. In my 20s I only worked for one large publicly traded company – GN Netcom in Denmark. If I was to do it again, I would work for at least another large successful company, like today’s Google, Salesforce, Oracle, Workday, Facebook before diving into the start-up tech world. The experience you gain at large companies is invaluable when you transition to a start-up environment. The companies have tested programs that are working (or have in the past to get them to where they are) and that you can learn from.
I would also get my MBA at 30ish before having three children in my household! It was extremely challenging to go back to school while working full-time and trying to be a great mom! But it isn’t too late to go back so no matter what age, I still recommend it 🙂
- Your customer stories give your prospective buyers and partners valid reasons to believe in a product more than an actual example of what a solution can provide. I was at a conference last week where I disagreed with one of the speakers. Authentic success stories sell your product not what a salesperson promises them. People what to know how a product helped solve problems and challenges and made them look like a hero at their company. On our website, we have a “success stories” page, side-by-side with a “testimonial page.”
We make sure to keep the stories updated and constantly share them on social media, in order to best demonstrate our solution’s capabilities. I also interview customers often at events and share their stories in on blog page, blog.walkme.com.
Thank you for answering our questions.
In your opinion what are the biggest challenges facing customer success managers in early-stage startups?
Also, should a customer success team influence the sign-up journey?
- For experienced CSMs, joining an early stage start-up can be frustrating or exciting depending on his/her mindset and attitude. If you see your role as an opportunity to scale, strategize and be an integral part of growing a company then it isn’t a challenge at all. If you see it as an upward battle, then you will struggle in a start-up environment. Things break, there are bugs, processes are often non-existent and the vision may change more often that you are used to at a large company.
- Yes! The head of success should review the customer contract and have a section that outlines the success journey. There is nothing worse than signing up for an experience that turns out to be completely different than what you imagine. If the Sales and CS lead are aligned in selling and delivering the product, your customer retention and expansion rates will be much higher.
Forse sarebbe meglio parlare in Italiano?
Thank you for doing this AMA.
Could you give us a potential example of how a customer success team collaborates with a growth team to deliver explosive and sustainable growth?
Je parle français aussi bien mais mon italien est meilleur.
Back to the question 🙂
Using collaborative products are critical when talking about explosive and sustainable growth in one sentence!
It can be as simple as google docs, asana, and other applications that make collaboration easy and transparent. We use group Google Hangouts and Chatter in Salesforce as well. I also like having team Facebook groups to share fun experiences. It promotes a cohesive company culture as well which is important when your team is all over the world. I also attended several conferences this year that talk about this.
Here is an article about one of them that talks about being proactive in your strategy: http://successfull.walkme.com/top-3-approaches-for-proactive-customer-success-2/
Grazie mille/merci beaucoup Emilia Maria 🙂
Great to have you here!
1)How do you look at hiring? Can you talk about some of the mistakes you’ve made hiring (and also seen others make)? What have you learned about hiring A+ talents?
2)What are the traits a manager needs to bring out the best in their employees? How did you go about empowering employees at WalkMe?
3)How do you look at the competition, specifically when you’re going up against bigger, and better-funded competitors? How does that affect your strategic plan, if it does at all? What is your mindset when you go to compete against the 800-pound gorillas in your space?
- Hiring is a team effort. You need more than one opinion on a candidate. Also, sometimes you have to trust your instincts. No matter how good they look on paper or how highly they come recommended if your gut tells you that your interaction was off, then don’t hire them – yet! Ask them out for a coffee in a non-work setting where you can validate your feelings. It is better to take the extra time in making the hire than making the mistake.
Your A+ talent shows you results. They aren’t all talk so ask the candidate to prepare a presentation with your product (if they can access a free version) to see how they would present to your customers. This is a great way to see if they fit your culture and represent your company.
Also, don’t be afraid to hire people that are smarter than you. I see young start-up founders being afraid to hire more experienced people in the valley because they are afraid of others knowing more than them. This is the wrong strategy.
- Be transparent, be available and roll-up your sleeves. Go through the onboarding and ongoing customer calls with your team. You can’t build a program without understanding the customer needs and the current process.
- Competition is so healthy! My managerial accountant prof at St Mary’s showed us how the most successful companies list more competitors in their yearly financial statements than less successful companies. A good example is Salesforce. How many of their competitors can you list? They list several and they are very successful. Competition is good for companies and pushes them to make better products. I say “Bring it on!”
Hi Emilia – great to have you here!
What do you think the biggest misunderstanding about Customer Success still is today?
Why do you think that is the case?
Hi Anuj – Thanks for having me!
Many companies see Customer Success as a cost center. This attitude in my opinion and experience is wrong.
I think this is the case because it stems from the top. After all, CEOs have a board to report to quarterly. Many of those meetings are heavily focussed on CAC (Customer acquisition costs), churn, net revenue, renewal rates, and projections. When you factor in support, customer success, training, and professional services, suddenly the numbers don’t look as good. Being able to create a customer group that is an asset to the company and a team that will foster and grow referenceable customers, larger customers with more expansion opportunities (think cross-sell, upsell, renewals), and product evangelists are key to convincing your CEO and board that your team is not a cost center.
One of the ways to do this is to make sure you scale your team with tools to support your customers (so that your team isn’t a cost center). Now more than ever, customers demand your product to be easy to use but obviously, that is not always the case. Add self-service tools to your platform so you don’t have to keep hiring more people to make your product easier to use. Of course, I am being biased here with WalkMe as a digital adoption platform that cuts onboarding, training, and support costs by providing self-service support. If simple questions can be answered in the product, then your customer team can focus on supporting your customers with velocity and driving value from the products. Quickly delivering ROI is what your team should focus on, not answering simple questions.
Could not agree more about the customer success being seen as a cost center.
In my last company, not only did they not call the customer success team by that name (they used “customer support and “field support”), they moved these teams from Marketing (a profit center) to Operations (a cost center) which really changed the mentality from looking out for the customer no matter what to being more budget focused.
I have 2 questions for you.
- If you have to spend your day doing 1 thing what would that be?
2. What is your valuable activity in customer success and what takes up most of your time but yield little results but is necessary?
Wow, loaded question #1!
On a personal level, I would spend my one day learning something new and scary with my children and husband. Something to cherish forever.
On a professional level, I would relish the opportunity to spend a day on a learning adventure with our customers. I would want their feedback, share my experiences, and learn about their biggest challenges. I would then use that learning to create more value for them and write about the experience so more customers and WalkMe teams can learn from it as well.
- If your product isn’t intuitive, then you have to answer the repetitive questions over and over again as a necessity. This shouldn’t be the way. Having ToolTips and Walk-Thrus in your platform will eliminate this tedious work and create a happier customer team who can focus on growing the customer relationship and product value.
Thank you for doing this AMA. I notice that you guys don’t list pricing for your paid plans. Why did you decide not to list pricing and what is the typical buying path for an enterprise customer? Finally, do you typically bundle services with the software or is it a straight software purchase?
As a SaaS product that is in some ways not typical and that can be customized, we sell subscriptions based on a few factors. It would be challenging to list a price structure that fits all customer needs. The WalkMe editor comes with several solutions that customers can leverage all from one place. As a result, the editor is one product with multiple solutions included.
Hi Emilia, thanks for being on the AMA today. Which team at WalkMe does your team collaborate with the most and why? Thanks!
That is a tough question! I would say Sales. Sales and CS need to be aligned at all times. Product and Marketing are also critical teams in our roles and not to be dismissed as secondary. We work very closely with all teams.
Hi Emilia – Thanks for doing today’s AMA!
I’ve been a fan of WalkMe since it launched in 2012. I was intrigued that your authoring/editing feature was only available on Firefox (maybe it’s still the case today). I’d love to hear more about this decision. Was it a deliberate choice? If so, what was the rationale behind it?
Thanks for your great question.
Back in 2012, Firefox was the only browser that supported extensions at the level we needed so we chose to go with FireFox.
By Q3 we are planning to support the editor in all browsers.
**Note, the solutions that WalkMe provide do work in all browsers, however, the editor, to build the “walk-thrus” and other solutions are downloaded only in Firefox at this time.
Let me know if this answers your questions?
Hi Emilia – it does. Thank you!
What do you think are the biggest marketing challenges for professional services teams? How have you been able to address these?
- Facing criticism and complaints coming from existing customers, especially on social media and via surveys can be tough. I see them as growth opportunities.
- Maintaining honest relationships and discussions with existing customers is important. If you can’t be honest about where you need to improve and have an action in place, then the renewals and upselling/cross-selling opportunities just don’t exist.
What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding or misconception about NPS?
Some people say NPS is a waste of time. I disagree. I think to ask your customers if they would recommend you and WHY is a critical part of customer success. I suggest doing it at least on a yearly basis. Here is a good article the pros and pitfalls of NPS:
To all the Growth Hackers, Thank you for all your great questions!
I will check back in tomorrow answer any last minute questions.
Cheers to Customer Success – Emilia
Could you give us a potential example of how a customer success team collaborates with a growth team to deliver explosive and sustainable growth?
Here is a good case study to show how Bank of Montreal did this: Instead of developing their own solution, they focused on their core financial products and used WalkMe to optimize their UX. https://www.walkme.com/story/bmo/.
Also, check out my answer to Arsene Lavaux!
One more question: I’ve been reading about WalkMe, and I was wondering how exactly your product can be relevant to marketing managers?
This blog post explains how WalkMe is beneficial for increasing the conversion rate.
The post also explains how we used our own product to increase conversion rates.
One of the biggest challenges for marketers nowadays is recognizing their KPIs and keep improving them. One of the most significant KPI is lead conversion. Marketers want to increase both the number of leads and the quality of leads.
Bottom line from a more general perspective: WalkMe helps marketing and product managers boost user adoption and increase revenue by providing an engaging, effortless and personalized online experience.
Thanks so much!
Thanks for doing this AMA.
- Can you talk about some of the challenges of scaling businesses and how you’ve overcome them?
2. In your opinion what are things early-stage startups have to do to not only survive but thrive? Conversely, what do you see startups messing up that they can’t afford to, and how do they fix them?
Look forward to learning from you!
Change management is one of the biggest challenges. Introducing new business processes as your team grows can be scary for the early employees because it can suddenly feel threatening to have to be more accountable or change your behavior.
Another challenge is a longer sales cycle where many departments are required to collaborate across multiple platforms, time zones and cultures. To scale your business you need new and powerful business software. Getting people to use this software is often painful. We at WalkMe are in the business of helping smooth change management so we know that pain from our customers.
- Start-ups have to be willing to change quickly, adapt to customer needs, stay true to their vision, carefully select their first customers (don’t sell to customer needs you can’t meet!), create a culture of openness where it is okay to try new things and fail quickly and be willing to invest in the best talent. It is your early employees that will have the biggest impact on getting from Series-A to Series-B.
If you mess up, fail fast and try again. The most successful people don’t always get it right the first time. Also, don’t be afraid to say “I am sorry, I messed up. Let’s do this again.”
Could you talk about where you draw the line between customer success and technical support? Also, how do you manage this distinction as the company scales?
CS should be focused on understanding customer needs and then delivering value, business reviews, data, ROI. If the team does this, then revenue and retention, along with expansion opportunities are the natural results of their more strategic actions.
Anything repetitive or related to a product bug is best left for Technical support to answer. Don’t let your CSMs get stuck in these details.
What do you think are the top 3 biggest challenges facing customer success teams today?
How can they overcome these?
- Being able to understand customer needs and that means being a good listener. You have to anticipate what the customer is trying to tell you they need and then translate their answer into how your product can help them at velocity.
- Being able to learn new technology quickly and being adaptable to change.
- How to anticipate customer needs and deliver ROI with each touch point. If you are just having a call for the sake of a call, then best cancel the call. Pick up the phone when you have something valuable to share with your customer, something that will help them be better at their jobs.
Originally Posted on Growth Hackers.