Today, we’re talking with Guy to learn about how the world of customer success is changing and evolving and some of the key forward-looking trends in the industry.
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Meet Our Guest
CEO - Totango
Guy Nirpaz is a Silicon Valley-based Israeli entrepreneur and CEO of Totango, a Customer Success software platform.
A pioneer in the Customer Success field, Guy established the Customer Success Summit and is a well-regarded industry speaker and community contributor. Guy loves people and technology and has dedicated his career to improving the way in which business is done through innovation.
Check out the Totango's Executive Customer Forum
Learn, network, and share proven strategies for uniting silos and unlocking customer WOW.
Leave with the knowledge and network to instill a culture of innovation, transform your company with agile customer success, and create deep and memorable relationships with their customers.
Read Guy's Book: "Farm, Don't Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success"
Across entire verticals of the economy the new normal is the recurring revenue business. Charging customers on a monthly basis, firms with this model have to play by an entirely new set of rules, rules which generally favor the customer over the seller.
But this new model also opens up fantastic opportunities to provide and extract more value from the relationship as well. To create that value business needs to move away from a hunting mindset to a farming mindset. That change is the new paradigm of Customer Success.
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[00:00:00] Jason Whitehead: Hi everyone. And thank you for joining us for the next episode of the Jason’s take on really exciting to be here today. Today I’m here with my co-host Jason Noble over in the UK. Jason, go ahead and say hello.
Exactly. And we’re really excited today to be joined by one of the great leaders of customer success and the industry guiding near past, who is, is the CEO of Totango and most everyone knows of Totango. And if you don’t, if you’re new, you must be new to the industry. It is one of the leading CS platforms that, that has been around for a very long time.
Totango has done some great things in the industry. Brought together. Some summits is brought to you in a lot of thought leadership and has really been leading the. But moving the field of customer success forward. So we’re really excited to have guy here today and he’s going to share some of his thoughts up a forward-looking trends in CS and how to move, how the industry is changing and evolving and what we can expect coming forward.
So guys, thank you very much for joining us for excited to have you here. Thank you guys for. Yeah. Awesome. And also for those who don’t know, guy also is the published author of a book called farm don’t hunt, the definitive guide to customer success. And we’ll include a link to that as well in the show notes.
But guy, why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about your background and a little bit about Totango and just let everyone know how you got to be where you are.
[00:01:17] Guy Nirpaz: Sure, absolutely. I’m the founder and CEO of two tango. We started to tango originally in Israel in 2010. And since later years, we moved to headquarters in the U S and Silicon valley engineering in Tel Aviv and Ukraine from an acquisition of a company.
And we’ve been really pioneering this space of customer success, enjoying every bit of a moment because it’s such a. Good cause to a root for both what we’re doing, which is enabling companies to adopt customer success at any scale, small, medium, large and at the same time, seeing from the front row, how the, how markets are evolving into a digital center businesses, which leads to customer centered businesses and a lot of very interesting conversation, technological innovation.
So happy to share with you. We can talk about this for several hours about
[00:02:10] Jason Whitehead: absolutely. Let’s jump right in. Since you have been here from the very early days of the customer success explosion what would you say are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed over the past 10 years or 12 years since.
The tango and then let’s move on to what is coming down the pike and what’s new.
[00:02:26] Guy Nirpaz: Yeah. So I’d say that the first the first change is people actually recognize the words because when we started what are you guys talking about? Did you mean customer support? So I think we’re a little bit beyond that and I think customers started at success transitioned from.
Focus of core group of people that recognize that the companies need to invest in their in their customers and drive outcome for the customers from a. More of a that’s the right thing to do from a conceptual perspective to a company wide strategy where customer success is at the core of growth strategy customer success goes beyond just the customer success team.
It’s a, it’s an approach that the company takes. To drive everything grills by making sure that their customers are getting value from their products and services. And for that reason, they stay for longer and spend more money with them and recommend them. So I think that’s the major change. I’d say one, one more thing.
I think also the conversation has moved from what is it? To how to do it best. That’s you know, we’re moving from this idea of you gotta evangelize for it too. You got to deliver on the promise of customer success.
[00:03:39] Jason Noble: I love that. And I think it is, it’s moved now. Evangelizing, what we’re trying to do, there is a broader understanding.
There are still some organizations, including customers that don’t understand it. We’re all rural, still getting those feedback Africa. Your support, your sales. So you’ve still got that, but there’s far less of it. And I think it is it’s now, how do we actually prove the real volume of it? And how do we show that to customers?
I gave a big fan of you guys have known you guys for years. I’ve read your book. I. Kind of, what do you see as some of the big challenges for us in this industry? As we come into 2022, we’ve got this greater understanding. The technology landscape is great. There are a lot of providers out there.
Some really well-established ones like yourself, like Gainsight, like some other ones. But what do you see some of the big challenges for organizations as to how they, how do they demonstrate that value for customer success?
[00:04:27] Guy Nirpaz: So I think first it started with macro, right? We’re coming, starting like a third year.
On pandemic. And and I think clearly pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, digital transformation while teams are. Working from home while customers are remote. So a lot of the, let’s say early days of customer success with, physical meeting, wining dining, all of these aspects of caring for customers is no longer there.
And I doubt if it’s ever going to go back into the way it used to be. That’s it. So I think the first is you’ve got to deliver outcomes to customers in a fully remote, fully digitized environment. And one of the services digitize or the services physical, but th the customer experience is fully digitized.
It’s still the core of it. So from an implementation perspective in, in some sense it’s much harder to implement. Customer success across the company because of change management, because of, getting together, making decisions and execute can decide to go on execution path.
And but on the other hand, it’s even simpler. If you adopt fully the concept of technology that drives engagement, right? So w I think we’ve seen herself more so than ever before is is a technology that enables company. To implement customer success strategies. And as you implement customer success strategies, it’s never a one and done, there’s a lot of change that needs to be made first and foremost again, because the world is changing so fast and than ever before customer expectations are changing and also the learning is a mountain. Into like new realizations and new insights and that you want to implement faster. So that cadence itself, though, the clock is much faster.
So we see the role of technology provider to tango in the market is to enable companies to realize that. Customer success ambitions. And if you look today, it’s how companies implement customer success. What is the, what standard of what’s good versus let’s say even five years ago, it’s significantly better, right?
It’s like a, it’s a whole new set of experiences that are becoming standard. So I think even now it’s even much harder to try to cobble everything together. To hit a reasonable standard that your customers are, will actually appreciate and see that this is a value being delivered.
So I think the role of customer success technology as an enabler for customers with this strategy is becoming more and more important. And I think. For companies is basically you take advantage of technologies, take advantage advantage of principles and implement this very quickly. And we can talk about implementation momentarily, but I think from a very high level, his ability to change very quickly.
[00:07:19] Jason Whitehead: Yeah, that’s definitely a huge one in my business doing coaching consulting for the CSPs. And we specialize in the change management. That is really the area where we find most of our clients struggles. The how do we get our internal people to play? How do we change how we engage with our customers and move that forward?
It’s really a big challenge. No. I like what you were saying earlier about one of the biggest changes going from what is customer success to, how do we do it? And I’ve definitely seen a wide range of expectations with software vendors in terms of what is customer success? What do we actually mean when we say that?
What do we actually do in our teams? And I’d love to know from your experience having worked with so many customer or customer success teams, what are you seeing as the things that differentiate the companies that are doing it well, versus those. Yeah, not doing it well or doing it just, okay.
[00:08:04] Guy Nirpaz: The companies are not even doing it then just
[00:08:08] Jason Noble: talking about it, playing lip service to it.
[00:08:11] Guy Nirpaz: Yeah. So I’d say, while you were asking this question, what jumped into my mind? You know what they say about good design is a design that is invisible, that you don’t know that the design exists. I think it’s, similar fashion it’s customer success, right? When you, when a customer is buying or making a decision on product or service, I think their expectation is that they’re, the they’re going to realize the value of their investment.
As quickly as possible as efficiently and as effectively as possible without any friction, right? They don’t want to wait for anyone. They don’t want to ask anyone that just needs to work. And they want to, basically the question want to ask their vendor or even the community, how can I make more use of it or get more value out of it.
So I think good customer success or good customer journey implementation is. The dissipates, the next the next need, it’s proactive. It’s a very responsive, it’s very timely. And it’s very self-service and it’s in its nature because that’s what we all expect from our consumer experience.
Who is your customer success manager for you? That’s
[00:09:18] Jason Noble: lower slights like Netflix, apple, they, that they’re thinking about this, but very differently. And it’s in the product in the service.
[00:09:24] Guy Nirpaz: So I think in the brand, if we think about our companies as brands or you think about your companies as brand, the customer success is part of the brand, meaning that brand is focused on the lift.
The value identifying gaps in value, being delivered versus valid being purchased and and solving for that. Now I know that this is like utopia, so that’s going to break it down to one level, one level down, which is you’re ready to think about your customer journey, the digital journey, the customer experience, or the customer life cycle onboarding adoption, race comanagement renewal obstacle, escalation referrals, and.
Be really good at any part of the journey by continuously setting it up for sure. That’s important. And then continuously iterating and improving the performance of phone boarding and never be satisfied. Did measure always, experienced measure performance, right? know, Let’s take an onboarding as an example, Seth clear, critical goals for onboarding, which.
Immediate and time to onboard a customer, what is a reasonable timeframe to get them live? If it’s, project based onboarding or what is the immediate to get them activated, if it’s digital and boarding, it doesn’t really matter what should be the experience and what should, what is the definition of done?
What should be the right level of adoption as they exit on boarding or the minimum level of adoption is the exit onboarding and continuously measure ourselves against that and continuously improve the activities that you’re doing. That will involve a lot of automation that will involve a lot of a data-driven engagement.
Not like everyone gets the exact same content at the exact same time, just because people have different. But not only for onboarding doing this for every step of the customer journey. So deconstruct the journey, focus on one block at a time. And then build and optimize a great customer journey.
And that’s what I mean, really the operating model of agility is what differentiates the great from the rest of them.
[00:11:25] Jason Noble: How do you talk about value there and outcomes, but how do we make sure that we understand what value is for our customers and how do you measure it and measure it so that it demonstrates success to your customers?
Quite often is a tricky thing to do. And you’ve got, there are still gaps within the sales process where people are not capturing what they are, but we’d love your kind of insights to how you’ve seen work best.
[00:11:47] Guy Nirpaz: So I think there are like two, there are two let’s say two levels of language that you can work.
One is clearly, why did the customer purchase, what was their initiative? What was it about what were they’re trying to do, and then capturing that, and that’s super important, right? Capturing the reasons for purchasing and then making sure that as you go along with the customer journey, you co you have a cadence, whether it’s a QBR or whether it’s a different model to validate, is this still the reason why.
Is this still the objective of your initiative and how are we doing against this? And so that’s one dimension, which is very customer centered. The second one, which I’ve seen a lot of customers do, because, you can’t have a goal per customer, which is a unique, if you have a thousand customers or 10,000 customers or a hundred thousand customers, so there are some. Categorical objectives in the products and services that you’re selling. And you can allow for a love for the customer to choose you came for, you came to the tango in order to reduce churn or scale customer success operations, or get more referrals. But it’s not that you came to the tango.
We know that to record a podcast. Because of the time it doesn’t record cloth gas it’s doing something else. So this idea of scaling the objectives and selecting from a library of objectives and mapping every customer to, or every segment of customer to specific objectives also allows you to look at metrics in your products and services or even health, to determine whether or not those objectives are being met. And along the customer journey. Some objective and, some products are simple where they say it’s a zoom which I’m pretty familiar with. Your objective is to a rotten meat run, a remote meeting.
Okay. That’s that simple to capture, but if the reason why someone purchases zoom is. Do a an entire academy online, then the success of that is a little bit different. It varies. And I think the key is not being afraid of, setting up objectives right.
Or setting up customer objectives. I think a lot of people I think the reason they shy a little bit away from let’s be specific about objectives because Daniel. Very clearly say, are we meeting them or not? Then, people hate rejection. So if we’re not. Yeah, so
[00:14:07] Jason Whitehead: you don’t get anything.
So you’ve mentioned too, as we look forward to the future of CSS, the need for CSP, more agile and evolve quickly and be able to compete with, I also believe that as more and more software buyers get used to their vendors, offering different levels of CS support and services that they’ll start to look at that and you need to be competitive on the CS front.
When you think of agile CS what does that mean to you? And what specific things do you look at? And I guess related to that is, I know a lot of folks are looking at how do we automate as much of CSSP possibly can, whether it’s a low touch approach or other things in there. How do you remain agile when you’re trying to really bake in some structured automations as well?
[00:14:45] Guy Nirpaz: Yes, my, my background is, before I started to tank, I was like an engineering, right? The engineering and product. It was around the time where, you know, when I was there where the waterfall is transitioned into. Agile software development with iterations and spreads and, things along those lines.
And in the recent years, we’ve all heard about dev ops and, th the need to release to production. Most of our listeners, I’m assuming have some sort of a digital and software experience, so releases and released to production and iterations, and, thinking about the problem is the life cycle versus thinking about the problem is that.
It’s a one and done a one and done experience. And when you think about this. We are all developers. Now we use different tools, but we use digital technology to basically code document, but code in a system, what we want to happen, right? When you write the success, play into tango, which is who’s doing what, when like a workflow where, driven by data, it’s basically codifying behavior.
Last mile could be a person picking up the phone, calling the customers on, picking up the zoom and calling the customer. You get my point. So I think the same principle apply, which is you’ve got to incorporate change into your mindset. So it’s better to iterate very quickly and think about incremental releases of your program versus.
One and done to be able to anticipate change. It’s also working much better. It’s also this sense of accomplishment when you work on a smaller sprints. Things are moving forward now specifically about your question patient I think that, the way I’m thinking about this is that people.
NCS and people in the front office are intelligent and they want to do the work that actually brings their their best to the front. So they’re done with it. Don’t want to do repetitive work. They don’t want to, provide reminders to others. They want to be able to solve problems.
Brainstorm with their customers, takes things to the next level. From a program perspective or from a customer outcome perspective. So everything else that’s technology, right? That’s this is where automation comes in. So if you want another way to look at that there’s self-driving car, but the older modern cars have driver assist.
So all the things that you hate to do, look backwards when you pull back. You got a camera that shows you what’s around and you’ve got sensors that are telling you if you’re going to hit something cause you, as you’re pulling back and so forth. So we’d like to think about automation as surrounding so on one hand programming, right?
Defining the key dance and who’s doing what, when it’s documented there. Co-defined codifying the program. That’s from a program perspective and from a engagement or CSM lifecycle perspective is basically a surround a CSM with all the older technology that allows them to focus on what’s really important, which is problem solving.
And now analyzing situations, coming up with creative ideas, collaborating internally and moving the boat for. Which is not like mundane or repetitive.
[00:17:47] Jason Noble: I think it’s such a great idea that it’s something that I think we’re beginning to see more of, but there aren’t many people talking about agile customer success.
And I think to your point, it’s about change and being responsive to that change. So as it’s really great ideas, they’ve guy I’d love to talk about your book for a second. I, as. Love it, farm don’t hunt. I think for all of us in CS, it means that it really shows where the focus is. And with this, drive now for customer success, really to be the growth engine for business.
Can you just talk to us about what was your motivation to, to write the book and how do you see the farming versus hunting debate?
[00:18:22] Guy Nirpaz: But my motivation was I. I’d like to be lazy. I think it’s the most efficient way to do that. I think after repeating and we to mention the period in the market, though, for evangelizing, where you had to explain.
Many times why customer success and what do you really mean by saying this and so forth? We, I thought that the best approach would be to just, organize all my ideas in a book more specifically about the concept is this idea that we all think in metaphors and if we can introduce a new metaphor.
Into the business, right? The previous metaphor was old funnel, right? Everything is a funnel. And all you care about is putting leads or prospects at the top of the funnel them, and then closing them. And that was the metaphor in which companies operated on. And we had to look for a new metaphor that, which is the the tree that grows or the Grove that grows that you nurturing that you grow your oranges and once a year you pick them up, but you still need to nurture them because it’s not a one time.
Thanks. So we were looking for me and Fernando that helped me write the book for a very simple metaphor that allows all the other evangelizers of customer success to, get into their companies and basically explain the concept of lifetime value, which is it’s not. 90 days of cell cycle or 30 days or sales cycle.
And you’re done it’s the next three years, five years, seven years, 10 years of lifetime value and what you need to do in order to maximize this life, that value. And we are all, hopefully all of us are surrounded by trees and we understand how agriculture works and we we can appreciate that this model is a better.
Wait, if you the re the new relationship between companies and customers, especially in cloud digital, recurring revenue, lifetime. I
[00:20:09] Jason Noble: love that. Absolutely love that.
[00:20:11] Jason Whitehead: Yeah. I love the metaphor too. I, so having grown up on a farm, I can definitely relate to you though. It’s all. Yeah, actually I grew up on a dairy farm and I wrote my masters around introducing technology into the U S dairy industry.
And it’s just fascinating how technology changes even in an industry such as farming, but that’s a discussion for another time
[00:20:29] Guy Nirpaz: as well, too. So we’ve got something in common. I grew up on a farm as well, so I guess we need to look at their correlation between people that grew up on a farm and working in customer success.
[00:20:38] Jason Noble: Yeah. I wonder if we’re onto something here though. Yeah, absolutely. I wonder if it does change your mindset now, this is what we did with growing. Yeah,
[00:20:46] Jason Whitehead: absolutely. Got One of the things I’m curious about, and I can just listen to you all day, but the way things have changed into the industry and it’s gone from, what is customer success?
How do we do it better? But I think there’s still a lot of folks out there and a lot of organizations some new and some existing ones that still haven’t quite embraced or don’t even know what it is. If you’re talking to the CEO of a company. It doesn’t really get it. Doesn’t know what it is. How do you articulate what customer success is and really what they should expect as they go down this journey to really embracing a customer success philosophy and an operating model?
[00:21:19] Guy Nirpaz: Yeah you’re making a, actually two points. But let’s start with the first one. So I think anyone that looks at a business model for. Over several years very quickly sees the impact of retention or churn and growth, right? So you know, the number that covers them, both net revenue retention, which is growth minus churn is a very impactful metric.
And if you put this on a model business model and you just play with the numbers, huge differences between 95% net retention, which means that your customer base is shrinking. And you’ve got to fill in with new customers versus 120% of that driven retention, which our success is your sorry, customer base is growing.
So you got the growth from your existing customers, which are compound growth because it’s over the total customer base. So if, say one year, your customer base is a hundred million. So 20% and 120% in. $20 million out of that. And then another a hundred at 20% of the next year, it’s another another $24 million.
And if you add a new customers that came in, growth becomes exponential. So any CEO that looks at that business model gets it. I think what they need it’s a little bit more encouragement is that you can control it. You can make an impact. This is not. Happening, you can make it happen.
And the way to make it happen is to really carefully design customer journey and focus on every part of the journey because you’re losing some customers in onboarding. You’re losing some customers of not paying attention on the next 90 days. You’re losing some customers that have gone through change and you didn’t have the early warning system that detected those risks because you didn’t take the action on time and so forth.
So if you optimize. This journey by really boarding programs in place you can be very successful now the way, one of the other, I think elements that I feel has been slowing down with the market. Was that the perception that the customer success you’re getting started as super difficult, and I’ve heard this from many people, especially in the young companies saying, okay, I’m not ready for customer success.
This is it’s too complicated. I want to go small. And I agree with them and this is why, we’ve been on a mission for the last three years. To really simplify everything about customer success. So we deconstructed customer success into modules. We call them success box. We made sure that every successful comes with 90% of the content in it.
So it’s like plug and play. You download that. You make some customization for your business and you get going. You don’t need to do everything all in once, right? You don’t need to do the entire journey at once. You can start. At the most critical pain points that you have right now, whether it’s onboarding or customer 360 or detecting risk, and then add the rest of them.
And I really think that our mission, if we think about enabling customer success for the math. He is basically you’re reducing the friction for companies to adopt. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we released that a community edition, which is completely free. Our products have all of them have free trials that allow companies to start.
So small company can use the technical free for several months or several years until they hit the limits and all of that. Then the, in the context of there’s. Oh, the approach that many went to market with customer success was a very academic approach. So books, guilty as charged, books and courses and change management and training and so forth versus which is what we’re doing right now.
It’s learning by doing, because I don’t think it’s complicated though, the concept is not super complicated. You make sure that the customers get value and you’re going to get you’re going to get the outcome. So the complex is not complicated is where do I start? What do I do first? What do I tell my team?
It’s things along very kind of basic basic starting points. I think we’re going to removing friction that’s core to extend the adoption of customer success technology into the, the majority of the market.
[00:25:24] Jason Noble: This has been such a cool conversation, as we said at the beginning.
We could talk for hours, someone like you with the kind of experience you’ve got, what you guys do to tango. I think I’d like to give you one last question. What we always do with our podcasts, do what we call a bowl challenge question. The one I want to give to you is what’s the number one thing you’d like to see CS leaders doing differently now in 2020 is we’re going through all these changes.
We’re coming out of the pandemic, we’ve got the world, thinking about agile customer success, but what’s the one thing that you think people should be doing.
[00:25:54] Guy Nirpaz: Aim high as you can. Let’s get B2B experience to be as as good, if not better than B to C experience, right?
Let’s aim super, super high. There are no, today there are no limits. You’ve got the budgets, you’ve got the technology. You got the mind share of the customers. You’ve got the Mindshare of the leadership in the company. Aim high, go as high as you can from creating experiences to customers, prove out that, when you do it super well, it works exponentially well.
[00:26:26] Jason Noble: I love that. And that you’re so right. The experience thing. When we talk to everyone about the B2C experience and we’re all ultimately consumers, how is B2B providers? Do we meet that? And it’s not easy, but that’s what expectations.
[00:26:39] Guy Nirpaz: Absolutely. we see our mission as enablers for people to, whether it’s ideas examples, techno enabling technology, everyone should be able to create the Uber experience, the door dash experience all of these experiences in, in, in their businesses, because there was no there’s no reason, it can be done.
It has been done. Just believe that you can do it yourself.
[00:27:05] Jason Whitehead: It that’s fantastic, guys. Thank you so much before we go. We always like to invite our guests to give a shameless plug for your company or your book or any initiatives that you have or any resources you’d like to share, you think could help people out.
Let our audience know how they can benefit from reaching out to you guys.
[00:27:21] Guy Nirpaz: Absolutely. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I like to invite the audience to just try out two times and go to a website and sign up for. A free account. All of the ideas that I’ve discussed in this in this podcast, like the breaking down the journey into modules, we call them success blocks getting started super quickly and getting value to be able to sell to your organization or actually start engaging with your customer is all there.
So I hope that this experience is going to do the actual work. So all you need to do is go to detangle.com and sign up for to tango.
[00:27:57] Jason Noble: I love it. What a, what an intro as well, just come and sign up brilliantly. Easier.
[00:28:01] Guy Nirpaz: Exactly. Simple.
[00:28:06] Jason Whitehead: Thanks for being with us. We really
[00:28:07] Jason Noble: it. Great conversation.
[00:28:08] Guy Nirpaz: Really appreciate this for having me guys. It was a pleasure. Take care.