Palo Alto, CA

Using product data to drive customer success

Play Video about Alicia Balance @Affinity- Using product data to drive customer success Video Transcript: [Music] welcome to founders friday uh this is a tell all for revenue obsessed folks and we invite experts who are responsible for driving revenue for their companies uh to share their experience uh and uh to educate as well as to entertain throughout this process uh so remember to share your secret sauce have your responses be punchy and have some let's have some fun With it which we are yeah my guest today is alicia balance director of customer success operations at affinity alicia brings over 10 years of sales and customer success operations experience at various speed companies she's a barian native she's recently moved to denver and is taking up skiing alicia thank you for joining us for this webcast today hey thanks for having me good to see you again good to see you Um so alicia last time we met was uh about a year ago uh that you were in a different company and you recently made that transition to affinity so tell us a little uh your you know tell us our audience a little bit about your customer journey and how you got to where you are today yeah i started in customer success uh with a small company called compass at the time i ended up leading a team there for a few years i did briefly customer success operations But the past four years or so i've been doing sales operations so sales operations at south labs and then um most recently when i met you i was at influx data managing not just sales operations but also customer success and so um i had a colleague who used to work with me at compass who's been at affinity for three years um the investment they've had in operations is really impressive and so i Just felt like this is kind of the best place to be right now awesome and you guys are doing great uh you know affinity you described to me as a crm for deal makers and so i'm curious who are these deal makers and why do they use their own system yeah good question um so our deal makers are venture capital firms private equity investment banking corp and biz dev um and they're really leveraging affinity for their deal flow pipeline Management um you know executive talent pipeline as well limited partners and so forth but the really powerful thing that affinity has is data automation and network intelligence and so when you think about the makeup of those firms a lot of what they do is really built off of networking and so affinity enriches that data and really provides them good insight into the strongest relationships they have across those organizations making it easier for Them to uh make those connections so yeah and you know it's amazing uh you've shared some of the growth numbers with me in the past about how the company's doing and i didn't didn't even imagine there would be that many deal makers out there i know it's out there but you guys have done a bit you know you've had a uh recent 80 million dollar raise as part of your series c uh you know tell tell a little bit of the Origin story for the company how did it come about and what's been the secret to its recent success so rayne should be started this company in 2015 and i think they had a really keen eye for just the power of networking in general right you take relationships with you from college to your first job and so forth um and so you know i think their vision which has remained true it's still a revision today but it's to create a world where People can fully cultivate and harness the network to be successful and that's still where we stand and they've built something that that fully supports that very cool and uh you know tell us a little bit about how your team supports the customer success organization as part of this growth process and what does that role look like uh and what does the customer success rule look Like at affinity yeah um so they're responsible for a pretty significant upsell number um and so i think supporting them means various different things we uh a have grown our team significantly with affinities growth which has been really exciting so we've had to scale our team which means at the beginning of this year we've really had to reallocate accounts to align with um You know realigning books of business but also regionally as well now we have like an east and west team um and then i think second to that is partnering with product and product marketing um you know really ensuring that the team has the resources and tools to show up to you know road map conversations really well prepared and just um really polished uh on those conversations got it uh and uh alicia you touched on Something pretty interesting and unique about the way that customer success teams operate which is the connection to the product team right so uh maybe share a little bit more about that right how does that connection play out and serving the customer better we don't often see that on the sales side when you're driving new revenue whereas on you know on expansion revenue that's clearly clearly important so how do you see that Play out at affinity for instance it's a really tight partnership um they are joining our meetings very regularly and giving us constant product um updates as far as the roadmap is concerned but i think also most importantly we're capturing a lot of that feedback from our customers directly in our zendesk but also directly to our customer success team and so we've got you know a pretty good loop of getting that Information back to the product team and making sure that we're prioritizing that effectively against our roadmap as well interesting so it's also helping drive the product roadmap company absolutely very cool yeah and uh you know i you know we talked to a lot of uh companies a lot of different teams and the role of data comes up uh in these conversations so i'm curious for a customer success organization what role Does data and some of the tools that are necessary to move that data around play in driving success for your csms in the organization yeah um obviously data is super important so we leverage lookers or bi tool we have tango as our customer success tool we use affinity internally for our own pipeline management um so yeah there's there's a lot of different tools and That we're trying to surface this information for the customer success team got it and uh so i'm assuming you're building out some metrics and dashboards et cetera and the kpis that are used to measure uh success for these teams what does that look like can you share a little bit some of the key metrics that help drive revenue and help manage the productivity of the csm organization yeah absolutely so our Customer success organization today is support we have an onboarding team and we have customer success so our cfms are really managed um or measured against renewal and net expansion um our onboarding team is measured on malub which is our monthly active license utilization percentage um i know it has to know that on a q test you have to remember that when you join the company yeah exactly um and then our support Teams really measured on their csats so we've got you know a 95 percent target for csat we have 75 percent um for malap and then um you know the the csm's really measured on on that renewal and net expansion so they've got some specific quotas and goals around that got it so three very distinct areas of measurement depending on whether you're onboarding or driving expansion with that account uh that's very cool um So uh now looking at the accounts you know what signals do you look for to figure out which accounts are ready for expansion you obviously have a pretty large install base uh so how do you how do you mine through that install base to determine which accounts are ready to move uh to uh to a deeper relationship with uh with your company yeah i mean again one of the powerful things about affinity is we're enriching Our own data so um part of that is crunch-based data pitch book data our own proprietary data um but you know an easy one that we kind of look for seed expansion for example is we can see from a firm how many total employees they actually have but how many licenses we have deployed and so um that's a great way for us to kind of target maybe other teams or business sectors that we just haven't yet penetrated um And then i think in addition to that you know i mentioned earlier like we also just have metrics internally to show what parts of affinity people have purchased um and being able to kind of love urgency if someone would benefit from affinity analytics or ado or adp or some of our other offerings got it got it um do you consider product usage at all as part of that equation so you know often we hear about companies And particularly b2b sas platforms that uh measure product usage data but frequently it sits with the engineering team to determine the product roadmap i'm curious if that relationship with engineering helps move some of that data into the customer success organization as well and how does it get used yeah i mean they've helped define a pretty good health score and our health score is really comprised of utilization time and product and list views which is a Function within affinity and so we're actually looking at that health score onboarding takes about 45 days and then once you're exiting that um that phase at that 45 day mark we're looking at that health score and we want to make sure that um you're at 75 or if not better um and so it's just a good measure for uh when we're handing off to the customer success team if there's any areas for them to focus in got it and uh are there any specific Tools that you use to measure product uh usage and you know how does that help uh drive some of the customers the three metrics that you just talked about earlier on the customer success side how do you draw that connection from from product usage data to those those metrics yeah so we use um amplitude to surface that information and then the customer success team is actually able to extract that and show up to these evrs with um you know having Really meaningful conversations about where they could be driving more adoption in the product um if they're under utilizing something or if you know there's an opportunity for expansion because they're just at full capacity so i think that's that's been a help that's a huge driver for them and alicia in our experience talking to other customers we find that uh product usage data typically remains locked with engineering teams so i imagine that your Team probably got involved with helping unlock some of that data for the customer success side what are some of the challenges that you experience when you're trying to do that and you're trying to move data from you know product usage data from engineering teams which view it a certain way to know customer facing organizations um i don't think that's been quite a challenge for us it's been pretty baked out and visible for the csm team but I do think you know across the board the thing that's challenging is consolidating data into one source right so i've mentioned we have looker we've got tatango we have affinity um and so as we continue to scale i think the thing that's going to become critical really quickly is how do we get that information visible to all of the go to market team and so it's definitely something that's top of mind and one of our objectives you know Especially in the first half of this year as we continue to grow got it uh yeah no you're right and uh you know the other thing that we kind of noticed is that when we talk to a lot of companies we see dashboards and metrics kpis et cetera that help you understand what's really going on in the business yeah but they're not that you you know we're all living in a distributed remote hybrid World uh employees are all over right how do you you know how do you drive actionability with the team right so what are some of the strategies that kind of help you uh ensure that the customer success teams are focused on the right set of priorities and that they're actually moving the ball forward uh on those things yeah um i know i'm gonna sound super biased but i truly do stand by the fact that like our customer success team is an Incredible standout team they're um so smart they're sharp they're polished resourceful um i think the challenge that we're going to have is preserving that culture and that talent as we continue to grow but as far as like driving action i think regardless of the function um having really clear tangible goals from the top down what's our north star what is my individual goal and how do i know that i'm that it's achievable i Think we do a good job of of a ensuring people understand what the message in and the intent is but giving them the tools and resources and showing them how they can actually achieve those goals is is incredibly important great great that's cool um so look you've had a pretty successful uh career and you continue to build your career in revenue operations um you know for someone that's just starting out in the Tech industry and someone uh and particularly women who are just starting out in the tech industry what advice would you have for somebody in that position um stay hungry and stay curious definitely be open to new new experiences um you know i think that if you could wear as many hats as you can like it's going to serve you well and i think Really the most important thing is like step outside of your own organization get to know the other departments understand how they function that's totally going to support any sort of change management that you're trying to to achieve and also i just think it helps build foster you know fostering better relationships within the organization and um the better you know the company the Better it is gonna it's gonna be for you to come up with solutions that make the most sense so yeah yeah that's great advice alicia thank you uh as always it's a pleasure to talk to you uh you've covered a lot of ground today with us and you talked about uh you know what it means to engage with a customer success team and drive expansion revenue with your customers with your account base uh what are some of the metrics That are important to measure not just the onboarding but also the expansion side of the business and then you know how data plays an important role in driving all of these metrics and kpis um so as always it's a pleasure to to connect with you i know uh you can do reach on linkedin would you uh is there any other way for our audience to reach out to you yep that's the best way i feel great i'm open awesome well uh thank you for uh for Joining us today and for our audience if you have any thoughts on data on metrics on driving revenue please do reach out to us we're always looking to continue this conversation outside of these webinars you can find us at and look forward to continuing the conversation and moving the industry forward thank you awesome thank you [Music]

“As far as driving actions, having clear tangible goals top-down, and understanding the intent, and the message is critical. Having the tools and resources, and showing them how to achieve those goals is incredibly important.”


Alicia Balance

About The Guest

Alicia is a customer success expert with over ten years of sales and customer success operations experience at various B2B SaaS companies. She recently moved to the industry-leading CRM for deal makers, Affinity, where she is the Director of Customer Success Operations.

Throughout her career, Alicia has been responsible for building and managing customer relations in various B2B companies such as Compas, Sauce Labs, Influx Data, and for developing long-term relationships with clients that are amongst the top technology providers in the world. 

Affinity is a pioneer in email management with its groundbreaking technology. Their powerful software can quickly analyze data points across emails, calendars, and third-party sources to automatically offer users the resources they need to organize and prioritize their work. Affinity uses AI to analyze the strength of relationships and helps find the best introductions. Plus, they offer a holistic view of your networks that updates automatically.

What We Cover

This episode discusses how to measure customer success teams’ performance using metrics such as expansion rate, growth rate and renewal rate, while emphasizing product usage data. Alicia walks through her methodology for determining which accounts have a more significant expansion and growth potential based on these metrics.

The companies that have the best customer success management teams are the ones who understand their customers and therefore know how to provide them with the best support.

Data is a powerful tool in Customer Success Management that helps keep track of a customer’s hosting or product usage data, service level agreements, and better understand the customer’s problem. In order to build positive customer relationships at scale, Customer success managers (CSMs) must be empowered with the right tools.

Therefore, the CRM platform must offer a range of features that help them monitor their customers from the initiation phase through the expansion phase. Alicia breaks down usage data, empowering teams with the right tools and resources to succeed. 

What You Will Learn

What is the role of data in customer success strategies?

How do you determine which accounts have potential for expansion and growth?

How to leverage product usage data to enable customer success teams?

How do CSMs overcome challenges in accessing product usage data?

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