Delivering an impressive customer experience requires influencing the customers’ perception of your company. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty. If they walk out from the interaction with your team feeling like their wants and needs weren’t met, then they’ll associate those negative perceptions with your company forever… and likely never return. In other words: if customers like you and continue to like you, they are going to continue to do business with you and recommend you to others.

On today’s episode of the Igniting Startups podcast, you’ll hear from two experts who are passionate about Customer Experience. Our first guest started his career as a software developer & systems engineer. Haresh Gangwani is the CEO & Co-Founder of Bolstra. Bolstra is a customer success work management solution that organizes and optimizes workflows through an agile framework enabling companies to prescriptively deliver a superior experience to their customers. Joining him is Yaw Aning, who got his start with the Orr Fellowship program and quickly became passionate about entrepreneurship. Yaw is currently the Co-Founder & CEO of Malomo. Malomo helps eCommerce brands generate more revenue and loyalty by turning their shipment tracking experience into brand marketing channels.

In this episode, Haresh and Yaw will discuss the importance of building a positive customer perception through the use of successful customer experiences. Along with company perception, they will discuss the importance of how companies are using the customer experience to grow their brand and build positive growth. Tune in for more! 

In this episode with Haresh Gangwani and Yaw Aning, you’ll learn:

  • How companies are personalizing the customer experience
  • Building a positive perception with your customers
  • How companies help customers succeed through great experience and product
  • Haresh and Yaw’s hopes for the future of CX

Please enjoy this conversation with Haresh Gangwani and Yaw Aning!



If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Haresh Gangwani and Yaw Aning quotes from this episode of Igniting Startups:

Links and resources mentioned in this episode:

Companies and organizations:

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If you enjoyed this session and have few seconds to spare, let Haresh Gangwani and Yaw Aning know via Twitter by clicking on the links below:

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For me, it’s how to build a positive perception with your customers.

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Episode Transcript

So if you think about the role of a customer success manager, I’ve been calling it a unicorn. They are a unicorn, they have got several hats that they wear and bless their heart for the job that they do.

Either powderkeg keg fans, this is episode 96 of powderkeg igniting startups the show for entrepreneurs, investors, leaders and innovators building remarkable tech companies in areas outside of Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today, we’ll be talking about customer experience, the future of the industry and how it’s continuing to evolve. But also just what that whole startup lifecycle is like with two amazing startup founders. You know, customer experience is your customer’s perception of how your company treats them. And these perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings that ultimately drive their loyalty. In other words, if they like you, and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you and recommend you to others for a long, long time. So we’re gonna cover a lot of ground today. And I want to just dive right in and introduce two great friends and guests on the podcast today. Our first guest started out his career as a software developer and systems engineer, then segwayed into business development of many of a few international organizations. He’s grown his current team from 2015, to where it is today, raising 1.5 million last year. Please help me welcome all the way from Indianapolis, Indiana, the CEO and co founder of a customer success work management platform, bolster, harass, Golani. Alright, thanks for being back on the podcast.

Thank you. Thank you much. Appreciate it. And it’s a pleasure. Absolutely. And

we’ll make sure we link up your past episode in the show notes as well. And then we also have another veteran of the show back back again today to talk about a company he was not working on, at least to my knowledge. Last time he was on the show. Our second guest started out his career within the aura Fellowship Program, which is a program I was involved in right here in Indiana connecting people with their first time full time career or full time job outside of the university with a high growth technology or venture associated business. He quickly got the knack for entrepreneurship, starting several companies, including the one he manages now, please help me welcome the co founder and CEO of shipment tracking platform for E commerce businesses. A startup called Momo, help me welcome Yao Na,

yeah, thanks for having me.

Yeah. Thanks for being here, man. It’s so funny that my, my intros are like, very much associated for like a crowd. But it’s literally just s3 sitting in here. Like, please help me welcome and I hopefully you’re at home listening to this and just clapping with your headphones. And I wanted to kick this off, guys. Just talking a little bit about your background, because I know you both have very interesting ways that you got into the startups that you’re running today. And yeah, I know, you just started this business, or at least announced it very recently raised a little bit of money here from some well known folks, which is really exciting. So I’m interested to hear kind of your backstory of how how it all got started. So yeah, do you remember your first entrepreneurial memory?

Oh, yeah. I, so I used to in school, I would old sorry, growing up, I would, you know, I was trying to get in everything I would, I would go to my parents and try to sell them the book that they buy me for, to read. And so yeah, it always felt like launching new businesses was in the blood of our of our family. And in my parents always encouraged me to go out and try to find something that I loved and was passionate about in entrepreneurship was one of those big things. So so yeah. I mean, I when I when I was graduating college, like you said, Matt, we joined our fellowship. And that was like the really, really great experience to figure out, you know, how do you launch a company from scratch? I studied engineering in school. And so I’ve had a lot of technical experience, but no, those the mechanics of how do you find a market? How do you analyze that market? How do you figure out what to build and produce a product that they’re going to use and love and pay for was something I was very foreign to me. So the Orfila ship was that jumping point to get a lot of that background and knowledge?

Well, and you mentioned sort of like, almost engineering what the market is, but I know at some point, you got to get feedback from customers or potential customers, which is a big, big piece of deciding whether or not to launch a business. And probably one of the biggest mistakes. I’m not saying you made this mistake, but one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen entrepreneurs make and I personally have made in the past is launching a business just based on what people are searching for this, that means this there might there must be a market for this and just launching it without talking to anyone about it. Have you in sort of your work and or fellowship and even mentoring some other people in the tech community? What are some of the other sort of common mistakes that you’ve seen people make or that maybe even you yourself? Yeah, and your earlier ventures

so I ran, I ran a digital agency called sticks and leaves for a number of years. And I think one of the biggest mistakes that people made a lot was they had this. They had this vision for their product that was like five years out from what it would what they needed to do today. Yeah. And so they always felt like whenever they go and talk to customers, they didn’t have enough. So they, they’d be like, Why can’t I can’t launch this because I don’t have this and this and this, and this, and this. And they got into this phase where they built so much. They took it to the customer. And the customer said this, the only this part is important to me, I know the customer would be like, well, that’s not important to me. And none of these other things are important to me. And so I think I think people get get stuck on the love for they have have the vision that they think they want for their product. And don’t take a step back and say, you know, how am I going to take step one, to figuring out what’s the thing that’s going to resonate with? With a broad group of people.

So that what does it what does that look like to you? Tell me how tell me about how you did that with myeloma? Yeah. So maybe you can even zoom out a little bit and be like, what, what problem did you first see?

Yeah, so so we with with sticks and leaves. So we we launched millimole, Autistics and Lisa, we spun it out as a new business. So it was a great, great thing to be able to do. Yeah, no, it was it was awesome. And, and we we worked with a lot of consumer centric technology companies like Double Map who I mean, they sell to businesses, but their end users are our, our consumers cluster trucks, same thing. We serve a lot of E commerce businesses. And one of the things that we noticed in the E commerce space was huge ship something to a customer. And that product may or may not arrive on time. And if it doesn’t, it, that customer ultimately blames you for that experience being poor, whether it might have been UPS or FedEx. So the brand for us had no control over that. So we thought that that was a unique problem to have, like such like customers, having a bad experience don’t come back to you. And ecommerce retention is incredibly important. Yeah, they spend on any

business really? That’s for sure. Yeah. But yeah, that you were seeing it in E commerce. Yeah,

a lot in E commerce. Yeah. Customer experience. And in today’s world, it’s everything with these brands. And so we thought that was a really compelling idea. We’ve had a lot of experience building tracking platforms in the past and, and thought that was good. But we also knew that we had to go validate the idea. Yeah, and it was really difficult because we as a as a company, we specialize in launching new tech products. I mean, we built 100, web and mobile products over the course of the business. So first inkling was well, it’s just gonna build them any prototype, and then show it to people. And we had to kind of take a step back and be like, what, what would we advise our clients to do if they were in our same situation we ended up doing was going out and kind of pitching this problem to brands that we were close with, or connected with, and got some feedback that yeah, this is a major problem. All of our customer support tickets come from a lot of these words, my order questions. So what we ended up doing was, instead of building anything, we told them that we had this technology product that we’re going to use, one of the things that we need, in order to implement it is we need login to your ecommerce systems, we’d log in, we manually grab all of their orders, grab all of the customers, whenever a new order was placed, we then log into an email marketing platform, and then send emails directly to the customers whenever their order status changed. And so we did that for I think 1000 packages before we ever wrote a line of

code. You did it all manually. Did it all mean what the software would eventually do exactly the unique part of the software? Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you weren’t like pulling up Gmail and writing, crafted email?

But I mean, it was close. Yeah, it

was pretty good sound pretty close. Pretty close. Yeah.

And so yes, we did that. And that’s what gave us this unique insight that ended up being like the bread and butter of our business, which is customers check tracking three to five times on average. And most brands are sending plain text emails that are not well timed. And so if they could harness that attention, and create a good experience for those customers, they’d be able to retain those customers over the long term. And so that was kind of the genesis of the business. Oh, that’s

great. Well, I want to I want to hear a little bit more what you learned since then, but first rush, I was hoping maybe you might share with us what your very first entrepreneurial memory was, or maybe one of the first Yeah,

no, thank you. I was the great commentary. Yeah. So I was listening to it. And I said, let me let me go back to when I actually stepped into customer experience. And it was back in the early 2000s. When I was working for a marketing technology company based out of Indianapolis, one of the few beautiful, beautiful exits that they have had, amongst other companies that have had out of Indiana share a premium was a huge success. Yeah, pretty much. I’m grateful to be part of a premium. So what happened there is we signed on a lot of big customers. And once the sale has And that contract went into a team of people, which was called extended services, also known as concierge services. These were the team of people providing ongoing engagement, value driven engagement to the customers. And lo and behold, we saw the subscription services revenue growing right at the same pace, but in some cases even faster than software sales. Yeah. And the value that the customers received, they kept, you know, staying with us, they kept growing with us and lifetime value went up

upgrading software packages to exactly right,

so it was all beautiful. But the need for Bold Stroke came around when after I left a primo, and became part of a software company based out of Austin, Texas, where I had a responsibility as a chief revenue officer. I had a team responsible for renewals and upsells. We were traditionalist, calling it account managers, but we really work customer success manager. Sure. And what happened is the metrics that plagues every executive, I was dealing with those metrics, which were going in the wrong direction, our churn was high. Yeah, I negative churn, which is upsell was very, very low. Our cost of goods sold were extremely high, and our gross margins were very low. So when you looked at the worst case, the only one metric that was really, really powerful was our sales metric acquisition. So we were built, bringing on 40 To 50 to 60 customers on a quarterly basis. But we were losing companies on the back end. So we had a leaky bucket problem. Yeah, at that point, was when I realized reflected back on the days when we were growing customers, without even a software technology. It was based on best practices, and good team of people. I said, Wait a minute, there’s got to be an answer to that. So I called my friends back from the old days of software artistry and a primo, we have to build the software platform got

the band back together. Yeah, seriously.

And they were they were so nice that they jumped in with me, to help me build what today is a software platform that’s geared towards customer success and customer experience, helping companies grow their lifetime value and retain them for life.

So I love that story. Because it touches on so many things. And one of the things that I think is so powerful about what you just shared, is the relationships that you’ve maintained along the way. And in a lot of ways, it’s a little bit of a history lesson of tech in Indiana. And I think it’s interesting, even for, you know, this has a pretty global audience. You know, we certainly have a lot of listeners in Indianapolis, but our second and third highest listen, you know, listener population is in San Francisco in New York, on the podcast, so for those that don’t know, the Indy tech community, the Indiana Indianapolis tech community, I think it’s interesting to note that most of these sort of like mid market type of cities like Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Austin, Nashville, usually can trace back to one or two, I mean, even Silicon Valley, you can trace all the way back to, you know, when silicon chips were being produced in Silicon Valley. So for those that don’t know, do you mind maybe telling the abbreviated version of what software artistry was?

Yeah, absolutely. And again, I smile every time I think about software, obviously, because that’s where you call it a seed that grew into a big tree, which it is now and there’s so many branches of it, and so many beautiful, lots of

acorns fell into this community. So software artistry, I joined

software artistry right out of college, and a couple of years I did at another company that I was a software developer at, which was based on Terre Haute, Indiana, came to Indianapolis.

Well, what was the what was the year? What about about what time? Yeah, I don’t know. Exactly. Oh, 9393 timeframe. So early on

and early on. And software artistry, had a product that sold into customer helpdesk as a helpdesk solution. So it was a call center. And we also had change management, as well as asset management solution. So it was geared towards it buyers. That company I was a software engineer, then we became a systems engineering team all the way to win that company got acquired by Tivoli, IBM. Yeah, so I became part of Tivoli group, Big Blue, Big Blue, that was great. And my my, my travels were all over the world. So I had I was a global SC for software artistry, and then Tivoli. And then I found myself to be in a very large company. When I joined software, artistry, it was amazing people it was a scale up company. At that point. I had just gone public. The first company to go public out of Indiana was suffering suffering. Wow. It was a tech company. It was a tech company and it was amazing experience and I didn’t know I don’t think I knew that. I didn’t know that first tech company there. went public in Indiana software artist eat nice wrt was the symbol.

I like it was wonderful. Well, and I mean, that exit has had huge ripple effects. Right, going into a primo going. I mean, I don’t know what company maybe that hasn’t affected in Indianapolis. But I mean direct connections Interactive Intelligence, those companies went on to interact intelligence got acquired by Genesis. Yeah, yeah made to manage. Yeah, that’s right. Right. That’s cool. I appreciate you recounting that. And we could probably follow that thread for the entirety of this podcast and a whole 10 episode series on that. But I think it’s interesting to point to that, because a lot of times, when you enter a new market, whether you’re graduating from college, or you’re starting a new office for your company, or you’re joining a new team and moving to a new city, a lot of times all you see is sort of what’s going on in the last six months before you got there. And what’s going on in that immediate moment. And you don’t always know that there are deep roots in any community, any local community, usually going back 2030 years. And those things can have huge ripple effects and the exits that are happening today. The big acquisitions that are happening, I know Brooke securities recently got acquired here in town. There are several others that are that have happened and are happening. No spoiler alerts on this podcast, though, stay tuned. Those are going to have huge ripple effects going forward as well. And so it’s it’s just cool to kind of point that out to listeners, because it’s fun. It’s fun in my role to be able to see a lot of that in indie, but also in a lot of the other markets like Raleigh, Durham and Denver. And I mean, the SendGrid acquisition now is, is big in Denver, tons of things happening. So it’s just kind of kind of cool to see. And yeah, I know you were, you’re in the banking world there for a while. Yeah. you mind talking a little bit about your work that you did with Citi securities? And maybe what you learned from from that?

Yeah, so excuse me? Yeah, so I worked for city securities is a boutique investment bank here in Indianapolis. And so I was on their corporate finance group where we did a lot of merger and acquisition advisory work for companies here in town. And so I joined the company at a pretty interesting time. 2007. So like, the market is just exploding. There’s like multiple dynamics where, you know, everybody’s looking for capital, but capital is dry. But then it’s also an opportune time to if you are capital rich, to make acquisitions and find those strategic partners to go out and work with

when you said exploding. Did you mean exploding in a good way, in a bad way? It’s sort of like it was good for city securities, but it was bad for everyone else. Yeah. Yeah.

That’s a great point. And so yeah, that that time was was pretty formative for me, like the first year for me was just drinking from a firehose, coming from engineering out of school, and then going into finance was kind of a new world. Yeah. So like, I could probably write a book around all the things I learned. But one of the things that I found pretty fascinating was just how, how crucial understanding, like more macro economic factors factor into businesses on a micro scale. So you look at, well, I’ll probably won’t name specific companies. But there’s companies using time when markets crash, they serve consumers, consumer spending dries up, their business has to adjust very quickly. And so we, you know, in the business, we were tasked with trying to figure out, well, what are the other markets that you can use to grow and find pockets of, you know, pockets of revenue that you can continue operating the business until that

storm? Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah.

So it was, it was a good time. And, yeah, that’s the time to kind of be there.

Well, that kind of plays, plays into both of you starting businesses and the customer experience space. You know, it’s an interesting time where it’s sort of like, there has been a boom in people adopting software and new technologies. And people understand that, like, it’s just as important, if not more important, to grow your existing customers then acquire new customers, if you’ve got a leaky bucket, you’re putting money into acquire customers, if the lifetime value isn’t there, and even if it is there, but could be 2x or 3x, what it is, sometimes even more than that, depending on what industry you’re in. That’s a huge opportunity. So So being in a market, I guess, is what I’m saying that is, is exploding in a good way. Expanding is probably a better verb, but here at powderkeg we love the word exploding. So expanding in a good way. is pretty interesting that you both ended up in that space.

Yeah, Apple, the example that you just gave, and we were talking a little bit about stats before. Yeah. It is amazing. How if if there’s anybody listening to this podcast, and it’s not thinking about having a create an experience of pleasurable experience with with value based outcomes for the customers, they gotta, you know, smell the roses because things are not good for them. Because right now as as the stats goes that 90% of the lifetime revenue from a customer comes post initial sale. Yeah. So what you get in the beginning is only 10% of the total revenue that comes throughout the life of the customer. And it takes approximately, there’s a rule of thumb that people have thrown some numbers 13 cents into retention, versus $1.25 to acquire a customer. So it’s like, Duh, why wouldn’t you focus your efforts into experience pleasurable experiences, but with outcomes, because experience by itself is not the full story, you got to deliver desired outcomes with good experiences. And that’s what you should be doing right now. And I’m glad to hear how things are happening and how this space is growing.

Yeah. Well, can you give us maybe the elevator pitch on bolster what is bolstered?

Yeah, so bolster is a software platform. And we have designed this platform for customer success managers, or people who are responsible for creating those outcomes for their customers after they sign on. So think about the steps that a customer goes through once you sign them on

whether this is probably more of like a b2b,

b2b, it’s a b2b. And so onboarding, training, business reviews, retrospectives, expansions, renewals, all of the stages of the customer journey that exists, post initial sale, we manage it through our software, and with automating playbooks that prescribe what needs to be done for customer success managers.

I love that. I love that. And yeah, you’re on more of the b2c side. Yeah. When you talk to customers today. I mean, we heard your initial go to market of you’re taking in, you’re taking in orders, and literally going into what did that turn into in terms of the platform? Yeah,

so the platform now it’s a we’re kind of like a data layer that moves data between siloed products. So we our initial platform connects into Shopify. So we grab order data from Shopify, we take that and we will send a tracking number to a carrier like FedEx or UPS that give us a real time stream of events happening with that particular package. And then we connect them to a company’s ecommerce platform. So you use that event data, then trigger emails to your customers, let them know where their packages and transit. And so and then once once they get that email, they click through and they get to a tracking page. And that’s we’ve been telling brands that’s a landed tracking page for you to build your brand. Yeah, what is the experience that you want to deliver to that customer at a moment when their emotions are very high, right, they’re anxious to know their packages are excited, you should be using that to communicate things that make them become a lifetime customer. And so everything that we’re doing is around customer experience. The interesting thing is we have we serve, we serve two masters. So like you said, we sell the b2b, but the end product that we have to build as b2c. And so we have to understand the dynamics around how do we make our customers successful by making their customers experience really great. And where do we invest our resources and energy along that spectrum to know, you know, what’s going to give us the most impact today? In the in the future with the business? Yeah,

absolutely. Well, so can you mind sharing maybe a story or two of some of the unique ways that customers have surprised and delighted their customers at that moment of like, Hey, where’s my package? I haven’t heard anything hit my doorstep.

So there’s a couple of ways. So one is, we can we can detect when a package is is going to arrive early or late. So I think

my dog can do that too. Seriously, he loses his mind every time, every time a package, it’s our doorstep. And sometimes I swear, it’s like 30 seconds before the truck even pulls up. I’m just like, how did you know that? It’s awesome. But he has enormous here. So I think he’s cheating. So sorry. No, no, I really took that on a tangent. Yeah. Happy to help. He is pulling in no revenue right now for the for the family unit. So

so I’ll give two quick stories. So like, when, when, when something arrives, late, for instance, like it’s all about, you probably know, would like, have a lot more insight in this. It like so much of managing successful outcomes is expectation setting. So it’s like if we set the expectation that the packages is going to arrive on this date and it changes I’m, there’s some anger there, right? If we didn’t tell you at all, and it just showed up, there might be less anger. But they still probably frustrated because they’re gonna wonder when the thing is going to arrive, right? So if we set the expectation, and we do not deliver on that expectation, and we don’t tell our customers, they’re going to be very frustrated. So having those like dynamics, and if we know something’s gonna arrive early, let’s let our customers know, because they’re probably sitting probably sitting in an apartment complex somewhere, probably gets stolen off their porch. So that anxiety is there. So one of our one of our not related to that, but a different, different customer story. We’re working with a cookware brand. And they were getting a lot of product reviews that, you know, people would I didn’t realize this, I don’t I cook but like, I’m not a professional means Yeah, I know what I’m making me macaroni. So apparently, when you put a pot on the stove, you’re not supposed to crank it on how you’re supposed to warm it a medium for two minutes. And when you crank it on high, to warm it up, you’ll burn the pan and it will it will become ruined. So they were getting a lot of bad product reviews that were like, Hey, you said this is professional chef quality pots, but they’re they’re getting ruined really quickly. And so they’re like, how do we figure out how to solve this problem. So we use the tracking page to deliver care tips. So there’s four tips around how to how to season your pots and pans, how to make different types of food, with different techniques, how to care for your cookware. So that tracking page gets incredible click through rate. So you think of like a Facebook ad gets, you know, a two to 3% click through rate. They’re seeing 16 20% click throughs on those care related items. And when the customer does that, when they go and look at those, those pages, they feel great about the brand, they get excited to use the cookware, and then they go through and make additional purchases. So it was great. closing that loop around that experience is really beneficial for the brand, because they’re delivering on education that helps their customers be successful. And it helps the brand get longevity with a customer and possibly more revenue in most instances.

Absolutely. I love that. Yeah, I need to buy some new cookware. So I need to get the name of that brand. I gotcha. Awesome. I think that’s what happened in my last set was I just, you know, Saturday morning, time to make brunch? Yeah, set it on high. I don’t want to wait for this thing. Exactly. Well, in a rush, I know you’re in some ways doing a lot of the similar things but but more on the b2b front and in helping people better utilize the software that they buy and b2b products that they buy. Do you mind maybe sharing one of your favorite examples?

Sure, absolutely. I’ll share two examples if that’s okay, I’ve got several customers. But I learned

something from every single example. So yeah, like, like that example, that you just shared? Yeah, I’m already thinking, Alright, how can we better help when when people sign up to be part of the powderkeg? talent, talent and careers network? Where they’re looking for the best companies to work for? You know, how do we immediately start kind of coaching them and giving them tips along the way? So yeah, every time I hear one of these, I’m trying to translate. Alright, how do I how do I apply this cookware example to powder? Okay.

So the couple of companies that I will talk about where we have engaged with them, and they are our customers, and how they are leveraging customer success platform to deliver value to their customers. One of them is a Chicago based company, they are global. And I remember that when we sat down with their steering committee that was evaluating a solution of software. Because the business of customer success, customer experience in a b2b environment is pretty high touch it’s human to human interactions.

You know, it’s a big business when there’s a steering committee to make decisions on purchases to

and trust me, I was in a bake off when that

was hopefully your hands weren’t burnt? No, no, it

was it was great. So we were sitting down and we said, Okay, first of all, what is I mean, you guys are growing. You don’t have a churn problem. So they said, We don’t have a churn problem. Our customers are there. So I said, Okay, if you don’t have a churn metric problem, what is the problem? Right? I mean, what are you looking at solution for number one, they said, well, we don’t have a churn, probably we have a negative churn problem. We want to grow our customers, expand our customers, and keep renewing the customer, our customers with more opportunities to sell. Alright, and it just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t happening. And and the reason why people weren’t leaving is because they had a really good software, but they weren’t necessarily growing their customers. Number two, when we found out Okay, what else is it that you’re looking for a customer success customer experience solution? And they said, our customer success managers who are the life blood of our company when it comes to delivering value to our customers and value for our customers. They’re living a life of a nightmare, which is friction that goes into going in six different solutions to find the details about a customer and So there is about six hours of prep time that goes into a one hour meeting. And right there, we need a solution that brings the customer 360 view, in one place for the CSM, so they can be effective and efficient in delivering them.

So what would be like an example of that? If you’re if you’re if you’re this big global b2b company, what systems would you be going into together? What kind of data?

Yeah, so the very first thing we did is we did an architecture diagram to see which systems are people going to Salesforce was one of the systems Sure, they were using NetSuite, which is an ERP system to get data about the customer there, there was another contract management system where they were looking at contracts about the customer that they wanted to have access to, they were then going into Google Sheets and smart sheets and post it notes and binders and their tribal knowledge to figure out what they did with the customer. Last time they spoke to so because the systems were so many, and they were silos, there were too many fiefdoms. And so the delivery of customer value was slow and not on time, and customer success managers ended up being reactive, rather than proactive in their approach. And that was the biggest need for them to look for Customer Success solution.

What Why do customer success? Leaders or practitioners need to be proactive rather than reactive? Yeah, I know that sounds like a dumb question. But that’s what I’m here for.

Yeah, yeah. No, no, no. Very good. So I will tell you that I get engaged in a lot of companies that have support services tools. Yeah, there are many out there that you call one 800 Support Desk. In a b2b world support is traditionally looked at as firefighting because it’s got you got a problem, your screens frozen, you got to call to make sure your system is back up again. And that’s reactive support, because you’re waiting for people to call you. Customer Success is proactive. And the reason why you need to be proactive is because you want to make sure that you leave the customer towards the destination, which is growth and retention. So you got to keep making sure that you don’t get a call from a customer that says, hey, listen, I bought your software. And yes, we high fived when we saw the demo, but the value has not yet been received by us. So the reason why Customer Success management team exists, is not necessarily for break fix, it’s for delivering ongoing continuous value from the time you embark the journey with your customer.

So in a lot of ways, it’s it’s similar to Hey, before you burn the pan, why don’t we be proactive and tell you how to use the pan rather than waiting till you get the negative Amazon review? It’s just the same b2c problem in b2b world in a lot of ways

I’d be I’d be curious to hear to like I imagine every every business’s growth drivers are a little bit different. So do you do you measure like, kind of brand pull in like very disparate data sources to measure those like, hey, we actually discovered this is a big, this is a big data point that says This customer is going to churn?

Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. Once again, to have a good visibility about the customer is also the manage the customers health. And health is not necessarily the temperature, it’s the signals that the customer is exuding from different systems that they’re using NPS systems are one of those right survey data Net Promoter Score. That’s where you get the signal from the other ones, our support desk, say, for example, you’re calling your customer support line 10 times in the same day, and all of them are saved one call severity one, that’s a signal, then again, I’m sending you marketing, communication, and you are not even opening my emails, or not even clicking into the links, but you’re deleting them and I’ve got a cookie that strike. That’s a signal. So those are some of the areas that you measure information from, and those are called quantitative measures. But then what our CSM is do with our software is also measure the engagement that they are creating with their customer meaning if I scheduled a meeting with my customer, as a CSM, for a QBR quarterly business review, and you decline that meeting, or the meeting stayed there for a long time, but you never joined. And I did not close that activity that I had created. It’s still sitting in my to do lane, or in my on hold lane. Well, that’s a qualitative measure of there’s something there’s a problem. So what we do is we marry the qualitative and the quantitative signals together to provide the measures that will be effective.

That’s phenomenal.

Yeah, I love that. I love that. Do you going back to net promoter score? For those that maybe you don’t know, net promoter score, and I’ve also seen some people, maybe not using net promoter score, the way it was initially intended to be used, and I actually I think we did that you know, Several years ago when we first started using it, how have you seen net promoter score be used most effectively, either whether it’s in your own business or in other businesses that you’ve worked with? Yeah. Maybe even start by just the quick flyover. Sure. How would you define net promoter score? So

the way we did net promoter scores is, we did it twice a year, we can do it every quarter net promoter score, but it’s asking the questions, how’s our engagement been with you? And would you recommend us to your peers, sure. And then we have a scale of one to 10. If you’re within the lower quartile, if you work, then you are a detractor. If you are in the upper, then you are a promoter. Otherwise you are you know, steady, steady flow.

And so detractor is going to actively, really, basically root against you spread bad.

Yeah, they won’t be advocates. If you’re looking for them, they’ll actually be the opposite. That’s exactly right.

Whereas a promoter, they’re gonna go out of their way. That’s exactly to say, you know, what, you need to

talk to this company, because we are very happy with that company. Yeah. Now, there’s a gotcha in net promoter scores are sat metrics, which is also another form of survey. They are lagging indicators. Yeah. Right. So if I did a net promoter score last quarter, and if I’m doing it quarterly, let’s say for example, my last quarters net promoter score that I’m looking at the through that lens, is through a lagging indicator. Yeah, what you need to do is pay attention to those because those are important. But I think what’s really important is, when you deliver the value, achieve a milestone, do a customer sentiment survey, right at that point. So you are now tracking the information real time. And you’re also measuring that against with other variables or other measures to give a true score.

Like that piece of advice. Anything you would add to that. Yeah, I

don’t think I could do anything better than that. That was, that was great.

Hirsch, is the Wizard of customer said, We need to get you a wizard cloak or something. Oh, it’d be pretty awesome. Well, as you guys have both grown your business, how have you been paying attention to your own customer success and customer experience? At Malambo? I mean, in the startup world, that can be a really trying time, like in those early days, when you’re literally working with customers, taking in data manually creating emails manually, you know, there can be some lag in value delivery. And so I’ve heard I’ve heard you mentioned, you know, setting expectations being an important thing in E commerce, I’m guessing that probably translates to your business as well. So

our, our our lead designer, she she comes into the office every day, and says we need to CSM because right now, it’s like, it’s kind of falling on her because she like most of the services work that we do is like designing out the emails and the tracking pages on behalf of our clients. Sure. And so she takes the brunt of like some of the feedback directly from clients. So no, as an early stage company, we live or die by our early cohort of customers being incredibly happy. Like they have to, like you said, harsh, they have to be promoters, even if they’re in that like that middle ground, they can that can be dangerous for us as a business because we’ve got to go to our investors in a prospective investors and tell them we’ve, we’ve found a group of companies, we’ve built a product, they’ve gotten ROI, and they’re super happy. And we know there’s a market, that’s there’s incredibly more that we can find that look like this. So we a lot of time, we spend a lot of time investing in just personal, like, I think somebody told me, Bill Godfrey said this, like he loves assurance services. Like if every month you’re providing a a like tangible service for your customers, that could be like a unique report, that could be insights that you can use. If you could do that every month along with the platform that you provide on a monthly basis. You kind of I wouldn’t say you put that on autopilot. But as an early stage company, you can get some assurance that they’re going to renew every month. And so that’s how we’ve been thinking about it, or at least because we’re like you met like you probably have a very limited team. So you you’ve got probably engineers who are trying to build the product designers designing the product salespeople selling the product, but who’s making sure that customers are great, like that’s probably false, everybody. You and everybody Yeah. But who’s like who’s the one that’s talking to those customers? Yeah, who owns it? Yeah. And usually it’s like, well, nobody nobody’s like defined as a person they should go to, to have those like qualitative conversations. So we’ve, it’s yeah, it’s it’s kind of like a mixed bag right now. But we’re very we’re trying to be very intentional, given the company and product we’re trying to build.

Yeah, it changed the game when Meg who was running content for us are like well, half of what we do is making sure our customers are displayed right in our content and are getting this ability. Were just like, you’re now the CSM. And that, that changed everything because she’s like, Okay, I own it. Yeah. And now I own that NPS score, which means I own this and this, and now she’s building the systems to make sure it happens, doesn’t mean she’s doing all of it. But everyone knows, you know, she in his running events, and Robert, on the product, and, you know, like, all of those things kind of came together once we defined it as a function. Yeah, but it took us a while to get there. You know, there’s that awkward stage where you got to figure out alright, how does this How does this get done? Yeah, that’s great. I love that, that that concept of assurance services, anything you’d add to that,

other than the fact that everybody in our console, we drink our own, I like to call it bourbon, rather, we use our own product, and one of the things that we have done is, first of all, to have a to deliver value, it requires human the communication, right, there’s engagement, that people are actually in the seat that are, they empathize with the situation, they are technically savvy, they understand the needs of the customer. And they have a mind, which is like, Okay, if I do this, I’m gonna get a reciprocity from a customer, which is in the term of growth. So if you think about the role of a customer success manager, I’ve been calling it a unicorn, they are a unicorn that several hats that they wear, and bless their heart for the job that they do now. So first of all, hire the right talent for the role, and then don’t put all of the burden on a CSM, because customer success or customer experience should not be considered as a departmental issue. It’s an enterprise wide philosophy. So in our organization, our marketing team has access to our software. Our r&d team has access to our software, and of course, our customer success managers, even I have access to our software. So if any measure dips, or goes sideways, or goes up, or any journey is delayed in their ability in our ability to deliver that everybody on the team knows about it, and they jump in based on our automated playbooks. So final point is the customer success should not be just viewed as a departmental thing, it should be viewed as an enterprise wide philosophy. I like that it’s good.

I’m taking away a lot from this conversation. This is great. Make sure the whole team listens to. Well, I, I could keep asking you questions about customer success. But I’m gonna pivot just a little bit. Because you both have your business based here in Central Indiana, you’ve both been involved with several companies here in Central Indiana. What is it about this particular market that made you decide, yeah, when I start this business, I want it to be here and not in New York or in San Francisco, or Toronto, for that matter.

You go first,

I’d be happy to go for me to make a decision why being Indianapolis and start a company in Indiana and Indianapolis is just one main reason and that is I’ve gotten a lot from Indiana. I am where I am based on the connections and based on the network that has helped me and my kids were born in the state of Indiana. And they went to school here. I love the community. I love the people. I’ve got great friends. Even in my competitive base when I was in the marketing automation space, and there was a lot of marketing automation companies that we were competing with, but they are awesome people. So given the dynamics of what it gave to me, I there was no other place for me to be at but yeah, that’s a great answer.

i Yeah, I’d love to echo that. So true. Indian has given me a lot I yeah, I was when I graduated, I was ready to go to the coast. So I thought that’s where that’s where product development new technology innovation happened. And and the or fellowship kind of sucked me in and it kept me here and and and then you very quickly build a network. One of the things I love about indie is every buddy is so accessible. Yeah, so like you can you can have, you know, a coffee with somebody who scale ExactTarget Yeah, scale, the PRI mill scale Interactive Intelligence, scaled Angie’s List. And then you can you can also meet with people on the front lines, who have to wade through the trenches in a lot of different problems. And select the accessibility and being able to just tap somebody when you’re going through a particular problem, Matt, I called you like three or four times and I was racing around. And like being able to talk to other CEOs who are at your stage or a little bit ahead of you. It just feels like I mean, I haven’t been in a lot of communities but this doesn’t feel normal or natural to me to have that level of level of access to some of these people. So yeah, Indian is great, and there’s a there’s a strong concentration and talent pool here. And then there’s like a secret weapon that I feel Like, I’m obviously biased, but the or fellowship, I think, is I don’t know how you replicate that. It’s

amazing. Yeah, it’s so unique.

It’s so unique. I

think the closest thing I’ve seen is Venture for America. There is a national program called Venture for America, but it’s not quite the same. You know, I don’t I don’t think anything that’s scaled nationally like that will have the same level of connectivity and uniqueness and value add that something built for a specific community would have. I agree that that was very unique. And I was only giving, sharing my experiences because I had been through it, and I would had been on the phone with someone you know, six months before having the exact same conversation. So I’m like, I gotta, I gotta share this knowledge. Yeah. And pay it forward. Yeah, exactly. It’s like, I don’t want other people to have the same struggles that I had. So it’s, it’s, yeah, it has been an awesome community. Well, I want to thank you both for sharing your knowledge around customer experience, the entrepreneurial journey. And coming back on the show, for a little bit more in depth conversation on this very much excited for your pitches on August 13. Here in Indianapolis downtown, all focused on customer experience, we’ve got both of your companies as well as Genesis presenting, we’ve got some VCs who are or at sorry, investment bankers, who are going to be advisors, we’re going to have some folks who are community leaders, some folks who are co founders of companies, giving feedback, and then we’ll even have a number of companies exhibiting there as well. So if you want to check that out, friends of powder, keg, go to powder, Or if you are not able to make it in town, and you’re in Australia tuning in, you can go to But thank you both, again, for being on the show.

All right. Yeah. Thank you very much. And I’m sure y’all will echo that what Matt, you have done in the team at powderkeg has done to help us not only build the foundation here, but grow, and what you’ve done for the community is amazing. And thank you, thanks for the opportunity.

You’re phenomenal advocate.

Thank you. Well, thank you both for the opportunity to do it. If I didn’t get to do this kind of work. I don’t know what I would do. Well, I really appreciate it. And I just want to say thank you again for tuning in powder keggers. I hope you walk away feeling inspired and armed with lots of insights. Make sure you follow both of our guests on social media. We will have that linked up in the show Just go to the most recent articles, look up this episode number episode 96. And you will find those and to be among the first to hear the stories about entrepreneurs, investors and other tech leaders outside of Silicon Valley. Subscribe to us on iTunes at Leave a review while you’re there, if you don’t mind reviews, help us reach more people. And at the same time. It’s just great to hear from you. So we might even call out some of those on a future episode. And until then we’ll catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups