• Diana De Jesus

Individual Contributor to VP of Global Customer Success

Updated: Sep 11

A lot of Customer Success Managers aspire to be in leadership.


So what’s it like to go from Individual contributor to VP of a global Customer Success team? What does it take?


Jo Massie’s story is one you’ll want to read about.


The Details


In this post, we are recapping an episode from The Customer Success Podcast with Jo Massie, the VP of Customer Success at Slido.


Jo Massie started her career at Slido, the polling platform for meetings and events, by forming a team in Taiwan. After a year, she transitioned to an Individual Contributor (IC) role within Customer Success. Now, she’s the VP of a global Customer Success team and she’s helping Slido live one of their core company beliefs: focus on the success of the customers and the rest will follow.


We’ve recapped episodes for The Customer Success Podcast in the past! The podcast aims to uncover the stories, perspectives, and best practices around the leading Customer Success programs. This episode is hosted by Ruben Rabago, the Chief Strategist at Gainsight.


Let’s get into our top 3 takeaways:

  1. Going from IC to VP

  2. Challenges with scaling a global team

  3. A customer-centric internal onboarding experience

Going from IC to VP


When Jo joined Slido as a CSM, there was no active CSM program.


The role of the CSM was an extended personal support. Jo remembers feeling like the function of her role didn’t make sense and started working with customers in a different way. She wasn’t alone on this journey, her teammate, who is now leading the Customer Success team was there for the ride. They were trailblazers that were trying to work differently!


This came with challenges of course because Jo didn’t know much about Customer Success as an industry but she admits that a lot of it came naturally. There are certain aspects of the role that are based around common sense like listening to your customers, making sure they achieve their goals, etc., and for her, it made sense.


Aside from learning about Customer Success and how to apply it Slido, another challenge was connecting with people who were at the same scale and at the same price point as Slido. She met a lot of Success leaders who were working with multi-million dollar contracts and there was only so much they could share about one another since there was little overlap.


She recalled the first Pulse event she went to in California. Everything was around getting your company on board with Customer Success and she realized that she wasn’t the only person having this problem.


Finding your network


Back in the EU, she joined the Customer Success Network where she met so many great people! She was able to grow and learn in her career and as a leader and immersed herself in the Success world.


One person that Jo specifically shouts out is David Apple, he previously worked at Typeform and now works at Notion. David significantly helped Jo a lot when she felt lost. His insights into the Success world and how to structure the team helped her become who she is today.

Challenges with scaling a global team


The Customer Success team at Slido is spread across the globe and with this distribution comes plenty of challenges.


Timezones & asynchronous communication


Timezones, Jo adds, is one of the hardest things.


when you have someone in Australia, EU and the US, it’s impossible to find the time for everyone to come together in a live meeting. Her team currently has one hour a day to get the team from Bali to the West coast on a call. That’s 11 PM in Bali and 7 AM Santa Barbara! But to Jo, the ability for everyone to connect adds a lot of value, especially around building culture.


With meetings, there’s a monthly town hall, this is where everyone from a customer-facing role (Success, Partnership, Sales, Support) comes together. They run parts of that meeting twice a day and they rotate the meeting between mornings and afternoons. The second session is for people who couldn’t make the first session, this gives them an opportunity to interact live.


Jo also leverages Slack heavily to make sure everyone is up to date. Around six months ago, they introduced a newsletter for customer-facing teams which goes out every Monday. The newsletter includes all key updates/information the team needs to know about before kicking off their week. The cool thing is that they also make room for fun things like spotlighting a teammate so that others can get to know them.


In-person interactions


Jo also relies on company off-sites which happen twice a year. Aside from company-wide, they also do team and regional off-sites throughout the year to build trust and unity. It’s a great opportunity for teammates to get to know each other outside of work and figure out how to collaborate better. It’s a big investment but the results pay off! These teammates tend to work more collaboratively.


When a new employee joins, they spend two weeks in Slovakia, the Slido headquarters. During this time, they get to know the company’s culture and it’s so much better than doing that remotely. There are instances where they have to onboard someone remotely but it’s best to do it in person. One thing Jo realized is that the employees that were onboarded remotely took much longer to get up to speed.


A customer-centric internal onboarding experience


And since we’re on the topic of onboarding, here’s one internal onboarding experience that comes straight out of customer-centric unicorn land!


For anyone who’s going into a customer-facing role––not just Sales and Success but also Product Managers, Testers, Marketing–– they spend their first 3 months as a functioning member of the Customer Care team!


After their first few weeks, most likely in Slovakia, they move onto the Customer Care team and by the end of their first month, they’re on chats with customers. Once they’re fully up to speed, then they start onboarding into the actual role they were hired to do.


This sounds crazy to others but Slido now has many different types of customers and what that time in Customer Care does is enable teammates to have exposure to customers through conversations around troubleshooting, Success, Sales, etc. There’s so much that comes out of these interactions that they learn really quickly and the value is much greater than they can gain in any of the other teams… This really pays off.


And this doesn’t just happen in onboarding, there is also a Customer Care rotation program in which everyone is invited to join for a four-hour shift to spend some time with the customers. Jo says this is one of her favorite times of the month because she has direct exposure to the customer.


So many companies talk about doing this but don’t actually go this far! Ruben says their commitment to the customers shines through in their product. Companies may touch on this here and there, they may have teammates shadow the Support team but three months of Customer Care? That’s commitment!


Value fit


Ruben also points out that it speaks to the individuals that are being hired. For example, A developer now how to jump into Customer Care for three months, that’s three months that they’re not spending doing the job they were hired to do. Jo says it’s not always easy but if that person starts fussing about having to be in Customer Care, it makes her question “are they the right person to be working with us?” /“are they a value fit?” And it says a lot around how they’ll succeed at Slido.


Summary

  1. The road from IC to VP = Prepare for challenges, learn a lot and find your network

  2. Global teams need a mixture of asynchronous communication and in-person interactions

  3. Any role that touches the customers (PMs, Marketing) should spend time with the customer support team during onboarding

Shout outs


Thanks to The Customer Success Podcast for hosting Jo on their podcast! You can go follow them on Twitter. And if you want to hear more from Jo, follow her on LinkedIn.


LISTEN TO THE EPISODE


 

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