Justine Wares is the Senior Customer Success Manager at UserGems. She shares her wealth of knowledge having worked and left big tech during the pandemic to join a 10 person startup where she developed and currently runs their Product and Voice of Customer collaboration program. We were intrigued by her approach and the UserGems product itself.
For fun, Justine is an amateur crossfitter because “It brings me a little bit of joy to feel pain.”
What is UserGems?
Justine joined pretty soon after it started. UserGems checks companies’ buyers or customers for job changes and updates your CRM automatically. Having updated data is key for marketing and sales teams.
The current climate has made UserGems even more valuable. This service is especially helpful and relevant during a recession and when turnover is high. CS teams need to be able to stay in touch with their champion. If that champion moves on, this is a way to be on top of it automatically and easily to retain clients.
The high rate of changeover has been in place since the beginning of the Great Resignation through today’s recession.
What is Champion Lifetime Value?
This is a huge use case for UserGems. You want to retain your companies as customers, but your relationships with the champions matter. If they move onto a new company, knowing that helps you expand your pipeline with people that you already know!
Ashley Gerber mentioned this trend in our coverage of the Sales Kenes.
What can you do to prevent churn as it relates to the high rate of champion turnover?
Try to have more than one contact and person involved. You don’t want your company or service to be a one-person project. You don’t want to lose the relationship and strategy when a person leaves. You want to ask yourself, “How many people can I get involved in our weekly or monthly meetings about our product?”
CS and Product unite?
Justine has worked in different sized companies. In a smaller startup company, Justine felt that it was important to build in collaboration into the fabric and structure of UserGems early on to ensure that engineers can be certain of the customer’s wants and needs.
Justine got involved in product because she had seen features being built and roadmaps being set without the user perspective. It simply makes sense for CS and Product to collaborate intensely.
Justine established a monthly meeting where an engineer presents what is on tap and CS can respond with how they and/or the customer would view a suggested new feature or update. This meeting is especially critical because their product is not a product for software engineers.
The meeting is practical, but it also has built a strong relationship between departments.
How do you remove barriers to allow for more collaboration between departments?
It is relatively easy for marketing, CS and sales to collaborate because of a shared language and understanding of what is needed.
The challenge is bringing those who are customer facing with R&D. Justine suggests getting buy in from your VP of Product or Engineering. “You need buy in from someone that sees value in having their team talk to you. That is a barrier that is sometimes hard to break.” It is not easy, but it is worth it.
Once you have buy in, you need to learn the product language limits and possibilities of R&D. You need to make your asks in a language and tone that works for them. You will be most successful if you give feedback and applaud their successes and how customers are responding to their work.
Should Software Engineers and Product teams meet with customers?
Unclear! Best way to find out? Ask ‘em! Some may jump at the opportunity. Some may have zero interest.
Justine “left big tech to be able to have a bigger impact.” Why?
She wanted to have a bigger impact on product. She knew that the only way to get in the product game given her exclusive experience in CS. She figured out that by going to a startup, she would be able to pivot to a new role that would allow her to expand her skillset and impact.
Justine made it clear during the interview process that she wanted to broaden her experience. “If they don’t hire you, that’s not where you are going to get to that next stop.”
Should CS be salespeople with quotas?
CS should not have a sales quota. “CS should be like a strategic advisor.” Customers should be able to speak freely with CS without worrying about upsells, etc. There will inevitably be friction which may prevent that open communicative relationship, which can easily lead your client to churning. CS’ KPI is measured on churn.
Who does Justine follow and listen to in order to refine her talents and methodology?
For Sales: Kristen Connor from UserGems provides “Insanely helpful sales advice!”
For Product Marketing:
And listens to the Product Marketing Insider podcast by Product Marketing Alliance
Want to build a strong team and collaborate smoothly and easily with your colleagues? Get started as a beloved beta user!
Looking for more to listen to? Join Menachem Pritzker and Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, hard core Collabrians, as we drink coffee and learn from collaborative leaders in sales, customer success and account management.
Ready to get started? Customer Café by Collabria: Sales Collaboration Tips for Pros is available wherever you listen to podcasts.