• Diana De Jesus

Customer Success Leader: Tips From Kristi Faltorusso


Kristi Faltorusso is a servant Customer Success leader and not just with her team over at IntelliShift. In the Customer Success community, she’s given her time to anyone who wants to jump into CS, grow in their career, or need advice.


You can find her answering questions on LinkedIn along with Jeff and Jay from Gain Grow Retain or serving as a mentor at the Catalyst Coaching Corner.


In this recap, we want to shine a spotlight on her! We’ll be learning about her Customer Success tips she’s recently shared on a podcast episode hosted by the Customer Success Leader.


Who is Kristi Faltorusso?


Like many of us, she didn’t start her career in Customer Success. Kristi started in Digital Marketing (mainly SEO), she worked at agencies and then went on to own her agency and was also a university professor.


A common theme she found throughout her Marketing career was a software called BrightEdge. She went on to implement and use it at several companies and one day, she told the CEO at BrightEdge that if they opened up an office in NYC, she’d join them.


Fast forward, they did open that office in NYC and that’s how her career in Success began. She was able to transition into Success as a subject matter expert –– job seekers, take note. Not only was she familiar with the product, but she was also very familiar with the space so she was able to help people maximize their use of the product.


She worked there for 5 years and worked her way up to VP of Customer Success. She then went onto lead CS teams at companies like Sisiense, BetterCloud and now she’s over at IntelliShift.


Here are her 3 tips we’ll cover in this post👇🏽

  1. Tips on Change Management

  2. Tips on identifying customer behavioral triggers

  3. Tips on continued learning as a Customer Success professional



Tips on Change Management


For Kristi and her team at IntelliShift, they’re lucky that the product’s ROI is clear but of course, this doesn’t mean that the customer also sees the clear ROI. Kristi spends a lot of time educating her customers on how to maximize their ROI.


Customers know what they think they want your product and your partnership to yield for them but sometimes connecting those dots can be difficult. Here’s how she’s working around that:


  1. Trying to understand the difference between who is executing the work that they’re doing (maybe the person who is deploying the product) vs. who is the person who is making the decision to purchase the product. Understanding these two different roles, the gap between the roles and getting access to the right person is a big challenge she faces. She often finds they spend a lot of time talking to people that are using the product on the day-to-day. These people tend to be removed from the business goals and challenges IntelliShift is trying to solve. Her objective is to have access to the right person to gather their information/input and have the right conversations.


  1. Being able to get the right empowerment across the company to drive change management. Anyone in a Customer Success role needs to be an ambassador of change management. Your goal is to get a company to do something different from what they were doing before. You’re either replacing technology (they are learning something new so they need to change their habits and processes) or they never addressed it and now you’re getting them to think differently.

Since contracts at IntelliShift run from 2 - 3 years, 80% of the time they’re not getting to that hard answer during onboarding, it takes a bit of time.


Bypassing the roadblocks


There are always roadblocks (hi COVID) –– so she encourages her team to be agile in how they support their customers. Customer priorities are changing daily and we need to be nimble enough to change with them. Her goal is to prepare her team to deal with sudden changes and help their customers see that there’s another path forward.


Her secret recipe for this:


1. Make sure that the right relationship is established and that they understand the roles that each person plays in the partnership.

2. Understand the close alignment to their business and priorities. If they don’t align on this, it’s hard to move forward. People on her team tell her “we’re focused on project A” and then they say “well, the customer just told us that project B is the one they really care about now” so you have to pivot and push towards something your customers cares about.


3. Being big on transparency with customers. If they hit a roadblock, everyone in the partnership needs to understand what’s going on and why they’re not advancing. It’s not about placing blame, it’s about being on the same page.


Tips on identifying customer behavioral triggers


Let’s face it, we rely on a customer’s changes in their product usage but some behavioral changes that don’t fall into this bucket. Kristi shares some examples of a behavioral change that we should be aware of:


  1. Customers no longer speaking to us. If a customer was once very active in communication but they’re no longer speaking to them, this is an indication that something is going on in the account. One of the metrics she keeps track of is points of engagement, it’s something they call “high-value activity” or HVA. An HVA can be a call, video meeting, or an onsite. These are the types of touchpoints that are more valuable to the customer. They shoot for every 30 days but they’ve seen customers slip to 45 - 60 days and for many of them it’s because their businesses were closed (due to COVID).


  1. Removing assets - with IntelliShift, the customer needs to connect assets so Kristi and her team have used connected assets as an indicator. The minute they disconnect all of their assets, they removed a hardware component and now they’re not tracking. This could mean that they are looking at another competitor or maybe they’re being acquired and need to remove the assets or something else. Since there are many reasons why they would disconnect their assets, they use the information to understand what’s going on.

Tips on continued learning as a Customer Success professional


Kristi is a fountain of information, so where does she learn all these things to help her craft her methodology behind effective CS?


A lot of what she knows comes from her experience. She’s worked at several companies where she’s been able to get her hands dirty and learn along the way. But she’s also a big advocate for listening to other leaders in the Success industry so she’s constantly learning from podcasts.


LinkedIn is another place she gets her learnings from. People are often sharing their expertise and experience on LinkedIn and she’s all for following them (she’s also actively sharing 😉 -– go follow her). Lastly, she’s very big on communities! The Gain Grow Retain community is one she’s part of, they have weekly office hours for CS leaders and a forum.


Summary

  • Finding the “right people” to speak to an account takes time (sometimes past the onboarding phase) but it’s crucial to establish the right relationship with the right person.

  • Just relying on data around product usage can’t give us the full picture, we also need to consider a customer’s behavioral changes.

  • Getting our hands dirty is a great way to learn in Customer Success but you also have podcasts, LinkedIn, and an open community.

Shout outs

Thanks to The Customer Success Leader for hosting Kristi on their podcast! And if you want to hear more from Kristi, follow her on LinkedIn.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

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