fbpx

Faster is not always better: How Segment improved retention by adding friction to their onboarding process

Eleanor Dorfman | Head of Commercial Expansion at Segment

  • | Customer Success | Engagement | Onboarding | Retention | Sales
  • August 2019
  • EP23

Slower can be better

Why adding friction in the onboarding process allows Segment to deliver more value

Today on Churn.fm we have Eleanor Dorfman, Head of Customer Expansion at Segment.

We talked about Eleanor’s unique background and how she transitioned from a career in law to education and finally settled in the tech startup world.

Eleanor also gave us insight into how Segment planned their current onboarding process, how adding friction to their onboarding lead to higher retention, and the most surprising thing they found that caused churn.

We also discussed why customer retention is a team sport, and how customer success starts at the beginning of the sales process and not after a sale has been made.

As usual, I’m excited to hear what you think of this episode and if you have any feedback I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly on Andrew@churn.fm. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter

Mentioned Resources

Highlights

Time
What drew Eleanor to the startup world from her law and education background 00:01:50
Why Eleanor made the transition from Customer Success to a more sales-oriented role. 00:05:40
How Eleanor’s team go about increasing retention 00:09:45
How Segment planned out and created their onboarding process 00:12:40
One thing that Eleanor has today that she wishes she had started earlier when it comes to customer retention. 00:15:45
How adding frictions in the onboarding creates a better outcome for Segment. 00:17:57
The most surprising thing that used to cause churn on Segment 00:18:40
Things that Segment does to keep track of their “champions” within a client’s organization. 00:20:37
How Segment uncover churn and retention and other insights they manage to pull up 00:24:15
Data points that can be indicators of churn risk 00:26:36
What Eleanor would do to help a company turn their churn rate around 00:31:36
Metrics that Eleanor look at on a day to day basis to measure the expansion team’s success 00:33:45
What Eleanor wished everyone know more about churn and retention 00:37:15

 

Don’t miss our weekly episodes

A new episode every Wednesday. Subscribe to receive the latest episodes and exclusive resources

View Churn.fm's Privacy Policy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Eleanor Dorfman

Head of Commercial Expansion at Segment

Eleanor’s recommended resources on churn
What Eleanor is reading right now

About the podcast

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In the real world tackling churn and increasing retention is one of the hardest problems a subscription business faces.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.

Transcription

Andrew Michael
Hi Eleanor, welcome to the show.

Eleanor Dorfman
Hi, thank you for having me.

Andrew Michael
It’s a pleasure. I’m a huge fan of your current employer Segment. It’s I think it’s one of the biggest tools and we’ll touch on it in a second. But it’s the central like to any sort of data project, I think a company can take on, but just to, for the audience to understand who is speaking today. So Eleanor is currently the Head of Commercial Expansion at Segment. And Segment is a customer data infrastructure platform that allows you to collect in and control your customer data. It also allows you to integrate with all your favorite tools. So you can collect data and then send it out to all your favorite tools to make sure that you have consistent clean data throughout your tools and a consistent way in which you do reporting across the different tools that you use. So prior to that, prior to current role, she started out as a career in a law firm then moved into education at the end of you Department of Education, which she was a project manager. And then from there, she moved into a role into SaaS as a customer successes she joined delivering before becoming the Head of Customer Cuccess as a solutions Engineer, and joining Segment as Head of Customer Success and Operations. So I think I know you’ve had a very interesting career progression starting out at a law firm then moving to education, then into sort of the software world, like, what was it that drew you into customer success to begin with delivering?

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, so when I was at the New York City Department of Education, my my last role there was managing a middle school literacy initiative, where my team worked with underserved middle schools to use software to help improve literacy outcomes for kids and for students in New York City. And while working into a lot of data integration issues, and we had a hard time, connecting the source systems to all of the tools we were trying to use, and to keep the data up to date. And while researching a solution to that problem, I actually found a small startup in San Francisco called Clever, I was trying to solve that exact data integration problem for schools. And I was incredibly impressed with their focus and determination to solve the problem I had a lot of experience with. And so moved out to join the team is their first customer success manager, I have worked really closely with managing our relationship with principles when I was in New York. And so it was the most transferable set of skills for me. And when I got to clever, it turns that I fall in love with working on infrastructure problems, and working on problems that changed the way schools operated and companies operated. And I loved the customer success side of it, because I liked the relationship building, I liked the problem solving. And I liked the impact our team had on the company itself and as well as our customers, and moved over to segment because segment is similarly solving infrastructure problems and changing the way Come these operate. And those problems remain completely compelling to me.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, because I think if you look at it, the surface level, just sort of the different roles that you’ve had of your career, that is not like a super obvious connection, just not knowing what the companies do. But then when you see the underlying sort of challenges and problems that you’ve been solving throughout your career, like, it’s just so blatantly obvious, like how it was a good progression from one to the next.

Eleanor Dorfman
And it’s always been working on problems that changed the way cities operate, schools operate, or companies operate that that is what really keeps me engaged and excited at work day after day.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, it’s very interesting as well, like, I similarly, about six, seven years ago, I had a start up when we were building software. And we actually started to look into the public sector when it came to education. And just found that like, it was going to be very, very uphill battle to try and get anything into the public sector at that stage. And there was due to the infrastructure not being in place not being able to handle and all being sort of decentralized problem

Eleanor Dorfman
so very much very much that was I cover the problem Clever is tackling, it is one of the more one of the more challenging ones that exists.

Andrew Michael
Yeah. So maybe talk us through a little bit about your current role now, because I know just talking previously, you started out as in customer success as Head of Customer Experience and Operations. And now you’re the Head of Commercial Expansion, which is switching from the success to the sale side of things that Segment Why make the transition from success to sales? Or what was the motivation behind it?

Eleanor Dorfman
yeah, so a couple of months ago, I was working on a project to restructure our sales organization. Historically, our sales team focused on bringing in new customers, as well as renewing and growing our existing customer base. And we have a product that is very much designed for Lyft and expand in the way a lot of b2b, SaaS subscription models are, and we weren’t focusing heavily on the existing customer base, but we were releasing new products. And we were finding new ways to grow the existing customer base. And we decided to split that out and to separate out the sales teams and focus is one of our values. And that was really one of the motivators there is part of the sales team would focus on just net new customers, and then build out a new sales team that would focus on retention, as well as growing the existing customer base. And we did that so that we could increase the specialization so that we could put more people who were focused and who were experts and who are specialists on working with our existing customer base, and ensuring that partnering with customer success to really grow those customers and ensure that they had adopted seven and more successful with. And my experience has been purely on the customer success side. And on the product adoption and product and growth side. And to me, it seemed like a really interesting and natural next step to expand my experience on the sales side as well. And to tackle the problems I love, how do we change the way businesses operate? How do we change the way they use products from a new lens and on the sales side, and it felt like a great new challenge for me to tackle in my career.

Andrew Michael
It makes a lot of sense as well, I think like they even though they both sales when it comes to like bringing on new customers or expanding existing customers, the challenges and the focus and the interest of the customers are completely different, like new sales team coming in. There’s different challenges you need to meet and different criteria customers are looking for. But when someone’s already in the door, the leads a lot warmer, so you’ve already eliminated like a lot of the groundwork and really, like it’s focusing on how you can deliver value. So you can expand that accounts, I like to have that clear focus.

Eleanor Dorfman
I do too. And it’s been, for me, I have been on the customer side, I think about things from the customer side. And as we were building out this team, the thinking was that we wanted that DNA at the core of the team, someone who had been on the customer success side, who knew how not only the customer success, world operated, but we thought about things from a customer first mentality. And so what we sacrifice with me was someone with maybe the depth of sales experience, but I, I thought it was actually pretty cool of segment to say we want to bring in that customer centric side as we build up the sales team.

Andrew Michael
Very nice. Yeah. And it probably makes more sense as well that at this stage that it’s more of that balance, it’s not sort of the hard sales that you might get up front. But really like now you’ve already developed a relationship with customer, you Your job is to make them successful, but then also to try and expand that account.

Eleanor Dorfman
Exactly. And we partner very closely with the customer success side. So accounts will have the CSM, as well as a relationship manager for my team. And so it is very much this account team approach where we have different we’re swimming in the same direction, we have similar goals. But we have a different approach and a different way that we partner and make the customer successful and grow.

Andrew Michael
And I said you said as well, that’s like the team is responsible in for attention. So things like maybe you want to talk us through that a bit like how do you see how does the team seniors responsible retention, like how do you go about trying to increase that?

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, so the customer success managers, their primary focus is retention, and product adoption. And then my team sport focuses retention and expansion. And so we partner very, very deeply with the CSM on the retention front. And when you think about the customer lifecycle, if you think about it even at its most rudimentary level for us, which is onboarding, adoption and growth, onboarding, our solutions, architects are the leads helping customers design and implement their segment instrumentation. Adoption to CSM is the lead with support from my team, the relationship manager, focusing on use case adoption, understanding who are the teams, how do they use segment? How can we make sure that all of their key use cases are part of their segment implementation? And then that third stage of growth is where my team takes the lead, and focuses on Okay, what were we able to achieve this year? What are your goals for next year? How can segment help our those? And how can we make sure that every team that could benefit from segment is benefiting from it with the support of the CSM. And so the end of the day, our goals are that every customer renews and that we are driving those renewals, those commercial conversations. And then that we also have an expansion target, where we’re also focused on ensuring that every customer that would benefit from a new product or does has experienced some organic growth is using segment to power that so we’re very focused on both.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I think it’s very fascinating process because I actually recently been through this whole process with segment from the sales cycle to the onboarding, and now starting to have discussions around expansion and growth, because we’ve seen that at Archer. And I found the actually the onboarding process to be one of the best onboarding processes like I’ve had with any software ever.

Eleanor Dorfman
Can I write that down and tell our team?

Andrew Michael
you can tell them, and I think it’s a lot of it was to do as well with the tracking plan, and sort of the the process that that we went through with the team. So it was very structured in the sense that we had a central document we’re all working from, we had clear milestones of what we were trying to achieve. We started out with what the business goals were with this year’s team. So it was very, very clear, when we came to our CS calls and chats with segment that we had somebody on our side, there was extra support. And even still to this day, like from a support perspective, like from a customer success side of things like the team has just been super helpful when we’re looking at new integrations away to try and improve the product adoption within the organization. So and obviously, you’ve been involved in part of it from both sides now. And on the sales side. So just really interesting to see like, how, as an organization, have you thought about this whole process from beginning to end? Is it? Is there somebody who’s sitting into looking at this whole full user journey? Or was it sort of Okay, it started out as onboarding, we started organically splitting our different teams, or has this sort of been the plan from the beginning. And it’s just making sure that you had the right time, timing of it to split up the teams

Eleanor Dorfman
No, it has been an evolution. I would like to think it’s been a master plan. But it has been I think, anyone who’s in who’s been in a hyper growth company knows that you start out with the best of intentions, and then you’re just keeping your head above water. And I think, but what segments mission as a company is basically enable other companies to be customer obsessed, and we very much practice what we preach. And so what I love is customer success has always been very, very central to how segment operates and has been a very core part of the of the business. And so I think we had a customer success team fairly early, and brought in a senior leader of customer success fairly, fairly early. And it started out as just the SMS, who handled everything. And then when he came in two or three years ago, realized that we actually did have, you know, where our products that should be fit very sticky were infrastructure, where were the pipes that companies run on top of to use their data, and that we actually had a fairly significant churn problem. And he realized his first insight was that a lot of it was just no one ever got implemented, and that it’s actually fairly technically complex products that needs to be implemented while to be valuable. And his first major initiative was to build out that solutions architecture team, and to really try to nail onboarding. And to make that a key part of the customer journey. And, again, focus the one of our values very much started there. And I think he had a vision for where the customer journey was going, but wanted to start with just nailing that first phase. And so that team came to exist about two years ago, and has really, once that team when we designed how do we think about the tracking plans? How do we think about the milestones and then structured the CSM or around that. And then that became a fairly clear journey at the start with onboard a new start with understanding their goals. You focus on the technical limitation, you have a central document you’re working from you have us share to set of milestones. And then that’s where this essay comes in. And then it’s handed back to the customer success manager to focus on the adoption front. And then that was really where the focus was for the team on building that out over the last two years. And then once we started to make progress there and see, success is there. That’s when we move to the next phase. So we started with onboarding, then we’re thinking about adoption. And then with my team’s creation, that’s really when we started truly. And that’s three months ago. So we’ve really just started with the beginning of that journey of really thinking about retention from a commercial standpoint and expansion from international standpoint.

Andrew Michael
Nice. Yeah. What’s one thing that you said that you know, today or process that you have today that you’d wish you’d started earlier?

Eleanor Dorfman
Oh, everyone having a tracking.

I think it’s so interesting, because the one of the biggest reasons for returning the beginning was just never getting off the ground. And the hypothesis initially, I believe, was that it was just not having a technical resource on our end, to help. But what we actually have learned is that it’s twofold. It’s that the technical resource on our end is hugely valuable, because they’re just thinking about, they’re able to support the technical team. They’re deeply technical, they understand sentiment inside and out. And then but the other is that a lot of companies also wanted guidance on what to track. And that ensuring that there was intentionality for the customers on a lot of them, were just sort of getting started on this customer data journey, and helping support that intentionality. What should you track? Why should you track it? What should you do with the data is just as important as how you do it, and the way you implement it, and the why of the code, like the why was just as important. And I think when we made a shift toward meeting those roles, you said, the team sat down to talk about started with your objectives, and then grounded the technical decisions in that, I think that was a huge insight. And I think that, you know, had we had that from the beginning. But sometimes you can only learn by doing and by making mistakes. And so but I, that insight, is one that I do wish we’d had from the beginning, but I think is one that has been a powerful shift in our how we operate, and has been really impacted.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, and it first sort of makes a lot of sense that new companies getting off the ground, they’ve got so many other problems they’re trying to tackle and like implementing a tracking plan, or being able to start measuring customer events and data is, can be quite a daunting task, especially if you don’t have the resources expertise on board, or somebody with prior knowledge to do it for you. So you can see even just like having that support from segments side, giving you guidance in terms of best practices, and how you can go about setting up could definitely have a big impact.

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, and then you think about our and when we’re building up customer success, companies that on boarded, they they buy second, and they’re like, let’s get started, let’s get started. We want to start implementing this, let us put the tracking code in. And we very intentionally now slow it down just a little bit at the beginning to say okay, let’s be sure you know, what you’re tracking and why you’re tracking it and what you’re trying to do. And we introduce a little bit of friction up front, that has a huge impact on expediting things down the line, and ensuring their setup for success instead of correctly from the beginning. Because it is so much harder to turn that train around when they’ve already started implementing than it is up front before they started when we can really get started intentionally incorrectly.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I like that it’s sort of Sunday, a little bit counterintuitive, but installing a little bit of friction in the onboarding process to ensure that people get set up correctly. It’s something like I don’t think many people would ever consider like, how did you get to that insight and sort of say, Okay, wait a minute, let’s not allow them to install the straightaway. And let’s make sure they know how to do it. To begin with.

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, and the way to do it. And I think that’s the key. A lot of it is when we dug into when we started to do analysis of why we were seeing Sure, we realized a few things one product under utilization and never done it off the ground was the top reason. But the second was, and this was the more surprising one is where we’ve lost our champion, and where we are, like there had been turnover in the company. And no one really knew the value seven was providing and then we didn’t have a good answer for the value segment was providing. Because we’ve never had that discussion with them up front. And they were processing a lot of data they were using segment. But there was this lack of understanding on both sides about the why. And we realized it’s because we never did make the effort to do that documentation upfront, to socialize that within the customer to ensure that we weren’t just these pipes behind the scenes, but that everyone understood what we were doing and why we were doing it. And that was actually what led to that insight into realizing we should be able to answer that question. Our customers should be able to answer the question, there should be a shared understanding and a shared commitment to what that is. And we didn’t have that. And so we made that part of the process. And it’s, it has it has improved not only like the relationship side, but the tracking is cleaner. You know, now there’s a legend like we have a central tracking plant, we have all these things that have actually had all these downstream implications of improving the actual technical implementation as well.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, and I think that’s something we’ve actually talking the spoken about quite a bit is the internal champion living and I can definitely see that in the case with segment where it although at a service level, what it does is it takes really complicated topic, and it simplifies it completely for an organization unless you have somebody within their organization sort of championing it and explain to people and delivering the value, it’s very difficult for people to understand what it does and how it impacts things within an org. So how did you go about then. So one aspect was obviously the tracking plan and making sure that the company was up to speed and you had this document that you could then go back into the champion SV, but with any other things that you do around sort of like the champion management’s and making sure that you have at least backup or you keeping tabs and how things are going with your champions.

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, I just want you said just reminded me, my my last company was is fairly similar to segment in some ways in that its infrastructure, and it’s connecting sources of data to destinations of data, and there’s no visible, you know, it’s behind the scenes, and I had a co customer told me once when I was trying, I was asking him for help on how we could demonstrate the value we were providing and how we can make that more tangible for customers. And he told me that we were his plumbing, and his plumbers. And he was very comfortable knowing it worked. He didn’t know need to know how many times his toilets flushed.

Got it. We are to define different ways to demonstrate value.

But I think that’s at the core is actually figuring out how we demonstrate value and make that tangible when we are plumbing behind the scenes. And champions are a huge part of that. So we are just in the beginnings of really figuring that out. How do we track them? What are the personas of a true champion, how many champions doing need, what kind of things can we do for champions programs can be great for champions, we just launched a customer community called Segment Connect, exactly in that vein of champion building and finding opportunities for champions to speak at events and to, you know, get more involved in segment and finding ways we can support them and bring them together and build a community around it. Our user conference apps is a huge part of that as well. And we’re so we’re really just in the beginning phases of sorting to understand that but those are the two of the big initiatives we started. And then from the system side, from our and really trying to figure out how can we look at our data to understand what’s the right number? What are their roles, how can we ensure that are in touch with them are supporting them that their MPs is high? And so we’re starting to put that sort of infrastructure in place on our end.

Andrew Michael
Nice. And you said, like starting to look at your data and what you’re sitting on an imagined segment as well. You must have a pretty good data sets internally and using your tool effectively. We’re getting there.

Eleanor Dorfman
We the other day, I was like who’s segments champion of segment internally? Because then they’re on different answers. So we’re working on it. But I’m a heavy, heavy user of segment internally, I use personas, I do we do a ton of tracking in our online learning platforms, I mean, university, we do a ton of product adoption tracking, because we know that there are certain product adoption thresholds that increase the likelihood of renewal. So we do a lot of tracking and analysis there. We’re getting better and better users of segment out there, then as though we’re trying to be the best,

Andrew Michael
we want to be the best. Yeah. And when it comes to the data you’re sitting on as well I have you sort of uncovered any interesting insights when it comes to churn and retention, through the data that you collect, maybe from some of the integration tools that you have, or the specific event tracking that you do, Tony, like what has been some of the interesting insights you’ve been able to pull out?

Eleanor Dorfman
Ya know, so the, the tracking we do is the same as our customers really, it’s just on our customer journey. So we’re very, it’s just the first party data of how companies use segment and how customers use segment, we have jokingly, not jokingly very seriously, we’re trying to figure out where the product adoption metrics where you need to be at three months at six months at nine months, to be a healthy customer. And so we did a pretty deep research project and looking back over the last five years of customers who turned and who renewed. And we did find that there were very clear product adoption milestones, where you needed to be at three, six and nine months to be successful in terms of how many sources, you set up, how many destinations, there was an interesting time to how many sent us tickets you’d submitted, because it showed a level of engagement, which was really interesting, and our success engineering. Please don’t ask people to send in more. For no reason. But it was interesting, because it was product adoption. It was a combination of product adoption, and then engagement. And so it was Yes, you’ve implemented but also, have you logged in to the app at least once a month. Have you submitted I think it was 10 Zendesk tickets, a statistically significant impact on your likelihood to renew.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, that’s definitely an interesting one as well. Because often when you think about support tickets second, sort of in a negative context, like something’s gone wrong. But on the flip side is really shows that users engaged because they like care enough to actually try and fix the problem, or they care enough to try and understand more on how they can take advantage.

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, I meant when I go to someone’s, we have an internal dashboard that we built on top of segment that shows our customer dashboard that just shows everything, all the customer facing teams need to know about a customer. When I see a customer with zero results, then that’s tickets, I get nervous. I think it means their turn.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, and on on that as well turn risk. So like you said, you built your own internal dashboards on top of segment. When it comes to churn risk, what are some of the things that you look at and try to understand that you may be figured out along the way? Or a good indicators?

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, we look at the complexity of the data they’re tracking, and are they using segment we look at their sources. So where are they pulling in data from? How many tools are they using? We looked at are they have they set up a warehouse? Are they using segment with the data warehouse? We look at? Are they contract utilization, sort of, you know, a core KPI for Customer Success teams. We looked at our people logging in, are they interacting with the product? Are they have they unsubscribed from email lists? Are they getting on the phone with us? Are they engaging? And so it is, you really is a combination of product adoption and engagement.

Andrew Michael
Nice. And then from like a sales perspective, now that you’ve moved and sort of focusing on this expansion part and the team’s mandate is around retention? What are some of the interesting things that you’re doing from a team’s perspective? So when we talk about retention, are we talking about neta morar attention? Are we looking at that company and logo retention? As

Eleanor Dorfman
we’re looking at the revenue

Andrew Michael
Revenue side? And what are some of the interesting things that you think you’re doing it as a team that you’re doing really, really well on that side?

Eleanor Dorfman
Okay, I will be honest. So it’s only existed for three months. So I don’t think we’re doing anything really well yet. But we’re, I think one thing area we’re focusing on is the partnership model with this innocence. Okay, I think a lot of these, this team will sort of live or die by this partnership with the customer success award. So we sit with the CSM, you know, we make that very much part of the DNA of the team. We’re doing a joint account plans with the CSM for each of the large accounts. So we check in on them, we do presentations of them with the CSM and my team went to their peers, where we do best practice sharing where we poke holes, where we sort of challenge some of the assumptions you’ve made, we have just are starting to invest in a new tool we’re very by versus built. So we love tool. We, we just bought a new tool or a company called mightily that actually built on our built their integration on our Dev Center, so built on top of the segment. And so they’re built on top of segments. So they pull in segment data. And you can actually see those trends over time. And so that’s a new thing we just invested in so that the CSM and the relationship managers can see a roll up of their portfolio, see where everyone is in terms of product adoption and health. See MPs scores see we have these, this concept of an override risk, where we know if you do one particular action, that is a huge turnovers and it overrides everything else. So we’ve got those override risk built in that send alerts to the team. And we haven’t worked, we’re starting to build up more automation around it. But we are very focused on let’s try everything manually. Let’s do the 10% version. Let’s try it. Let’s see what works. Let’s iterate from there. So we definitely have this very build an MVP. Try it out, see if it works, iterate from there approach. So we are very iterative in how we approach building these solutions.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, but I love as well like how accompany both products of your platform. And now sort of like Inception that you starting to use this community. And so

Eleanor Dorfman
yeah, we were it was cool, because they built it really quickly. And so the dead center team was like, look at this cool product. They built it so quickly. I wouldn’t it was like, look at this cool product we could really benefit from

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I’ve actually noticed that being promoted inside the integrations section as well, previously. So that’s also like an interesting topic you mentioned previously is like the number of integrations a company has with your product. That’s like an indicator of as well as a healthy account. And it is,

Eleanor Dorfman
yeah, it is. And it’s yes and no because it Nothing is hard fact. But it is definitely directionally indicative that they’re using us more broadly, that we’re more embedded, that we’re serving multiple teams. When you have us integrated with a female service provider, then the marketing team is getting benefits from segment if you have an integrated with a data visualization BI tool, then an analytics and product team to be getting value from secondly, what it does is it shows that there are multiple teams who could be a champion and who are benefiting from seven and whether whether they know it or not.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, it’s interesting as well, you can understand some different segments and different target audiences, depending on the different integrations that are actually implementing as well. So I want to quickly have a hypothetical scenario now for you. And let’s pretend to you’re going to start a new role in a new company. The startups growing quite quickly, but they have a problem with churn and retention. And you get thrown into this, this company now, what are some of the things you would do in the first two to three months to help turn, turn turn and retention around if this has been your number one goal?

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, I think to start, I would want to understand it. I imagine this is most people’s answer. But I would start by analyzing why they turned interviewing the customers interviewing the CSM, looking at the data, was it an unavoidable churn with the company’s going out of business where they acquired where they, you know, completely avoidable churn? all the reasons were completely outside of your control, and I would focus on the avoidable turn, what were the one to two main reasons for churn from interviewing those customers from interviewing internally from looking at the data? And then I would tackle them one by one. And start with the biggest and product underutilization. Do deep analysis and customer interviews on what does it look like to have adopted the product? Well, how do we drive that? How do we demonstrate that to the customer? How do we show value? And start with that first generation

Andrew Michael
and start work your way backwards? And from there?

Eleanor Dorfman
Not to do it all at once? just super focused on what’s the top reason? How confident are we in that? How do we want to tackle that problem?

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I love the emphasis on focused as well, because too often not as well, we can maybe get carried away and see 100 different ideas and try to run with him. But really like the biggest impact comes when you have hyper focus and just nailing one thing, right? And then moving on from the

Eleanor Dorfman
data driven company. So we any experiments or anything we run, it’s what are we trying to achieve? What are the success metrics? How will we track that? How will we know? And then until we get that data we make that time we make decisions on how we’re moving forward?

Andrew Michael
Yeah, maybe that’s sort of like the the last line of discussion I’d like to go down is in terms of metrics and measurement yourself as a team now, how do you go about measuring yourself? Like what is success look like? What are the metrics you’re looking at on a day to day basis?

Eleanor Dorfman
I am looking at now from my side, and very much looking at who’s up for renewal this month? What activities simply engaged in where what stage? Are they in? What’s our plan for the account? And where are we in that plan? And so now I’m very, very focused on that side. Our success team and the scaled success team and is very focused on there looking at NPS, our success engineering team was looking at CT scores, factions course. They’re looking at retention, and they’re looking at product adoption KPIs.

Andrew Michael
Okay. And the retention sort of metric because this is one of those ones that crosses over many different teams like, Is it really like the main metric that any specific team is looking at? Or is it sort of the responsibility of multiple teams within segments? is,

Eleanor Dorfman
it is the primary responsibility of the customer success team? It is their primary metric, I should say it is our secondary metric. Okay,

Andrew Michael
or primary metric? And how it sort of is that? Does it work within segment? Because obviously, I think like with Turner retention, it’s influenced by so many different aspects and changes within product can have an impact bringing in the wrong leads from marketing or sales? Like, how is customer success, ensuring that the work that they’re doing is the work that’s actually moving the needle?

Eleanor Dorfman
It’s a great question. I don’t actually know how to answer it, I can tell you that customer success, retention is absolutely a team sport. And I think it only we can only move the needle on it when everyone in the company feels responsible for it. And so I guess it’s a little bit everyone in the company does absolutely feel responsible for it. And it is the customer success team and my team that is accountable for it. But I think one value it isn’t, it isn’t one of our core, you know, values, but ownership is very important. At segment, you own your outcomes. You you own your numbers you own it isn’t other teams fault isn’t circumstance, it isn’t the leads from marketing or the product family, that is your responsibility. And I think that really is just a core part of who we are, how we operate. And every team it is, it’s interesting, it’s never even occurred to me that that’s a problem. Because every team is so committed to retention product, we have weekly meetings with our monthly meetings with product, when we’re focusing on some retention things, that product team will come on and talk to customers, they’re hungry for customer feedback. The marketing team is very supportive of the sales team. It’s, it is very much a team sport. And so it’s this sort of line between responsible and accountable. And while we’re accountable, I do really believe that everyone feels responsible.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense as well. I mean, just having that clear ownership as well help sort of drive the discussion and making sure that it stays top of mine amongst the team as well.

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, no, it’s it’s very core, it’s we talked about retention, we think about retention. It’s just part of all the conversations, it’s, you know, in a SAAS subscription model, you can’t grow customers that you can’t retain and retention is hugely important for b2b and it is a huge priority for us.

Andrew Michael
And you can’t build a business without. Cool. So maybe like if you want to just have one last question for you then as well. And maybe, what is one thing that you think is not being asked or talked about enough when it comes to turn retention that you wish I could get more attention to it?

Eleanor Dorfman
Look, we are getting a lot, I can tell you, my last company, how I felt about this and and that churn and retention starts, it isn’t just a post sales thing. It starts at the beginning of the sales cycle. And I think that’s something we’re starting to talk about more something. I’m seeing Customer Success teams and companies talk about more as Customer Success doesn’t start. And retention doesn’t start when the deal is signed, and it moves to a post sales team. It starts with Are you selling the right type of customer? Are you selling the right type of value? Are you selling the right package? Are you selling a reality versus the dream? And I think segment is actually things that about that a lot, which I love. But it’s something that I think a lot about. Because setting customers up for success happens with the very first phone call with an SDR?

Andrew Michael
Absolutely, we we spoke about this in a previous episode of steady from close. And a lot of times when it comes down to like sales, people maybe not having the confidence and sort of trying to please people coming through the door with everything as opposed to really like knowing your product, knowing who the audience is, and knowing who’s going to get the most value so that you’re making sure you’re only driving sales and leads in through the door that are actually going to be long term customers that stick around.

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, and I think the customers will stick around or they are the ones who will help design your product. Because they’re the ones who push the boundaries of it. They’re the ones who are giving feedback. They’re the ones who are discovering use cases you might not have even thought of. And so it’s just when you bring in the right folks that the downstream implications are just massively positive and massively impactful because they shaped who you become as a business.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, this is all because it’s something you often like overlook and the signals that you get in terms of feedback and like product requests, if you’re not getting it from the ideal customers and the people that are going to be sticking around for the long term. And you should bring in the wrong people getting mixed signals that can definitely send your product in the wrong direction as well. So when in fact, everything,

Eleanor Dorfman
when the right customers were like, Hey, this is how we’re using excitement. I didn’t make fun of a lot because I’m always on when I’m on calls with customers and asking questions about how they’re using excitement and how they think about data was like, That’s so cool. We’ve never thought of that. And what an interesting thing you’re doing like but so awesome, how you’re pushing the boundaries of what we can do. And it’s because it was the right customer profile and the right stakeholders, and we sold them the right thing. And I think there’s always going to be it’s always a melting pot. But it is really cool when you find a customer who pushes the boundaries of how you think about your own product.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, it is awesome. I think segments is one of those tools that allows you to do it. Because I guess I mean is the plumbing that goes underneath everything. But it’s one of the things that connects everything together. So that opens up new opportunities all the time. And that guy that cnet’s internally, as well, we’ve started like brainstorming and coming up with ideas of new cool ways that we can connect our tools as a result of using segments. So

Eleanor Dorfman
it’s an infinite number of use cases, I have some new folks on my team, who are like every customer call is different. And that’s what makes this fun. And that’s what makes this challenging. And every day is different because every customer, there’s just an infinite number of use cases, we can power and we certainly have best practices. And we have a ton of internal thinking on the use cases and how we think about that. But customers are constantly pushing that. And it makes every call different in every customer different and it makes being on the coastal side really exciting.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, it can definitely see that. And this color itself has also been really exciting. It’s really been interesting to learn, like how Segment itself is thinking about the challenge internally. So I thank you very, very much for joining the show today. I want to definitely keep in touch as well and hear some of those interesting use cases to see if we can implement them ourselves. And just thank you very, very much for your time. But just for the audience as well. Like is there any way that the audience can keep up to date with you or the work or anything that you’d recommend that definitely check out before we do?

Eleanor Dorfman
Yeah, I would definitely say check out segment tonight if you aren’t a member of it already. And I’m more than happy. If check out you know our website and said what university which is our online learning platform. And then I would say if anyone wants to reach out to me it’s Eleanor at Segment dot com, E L E A N O R.

Andrew Michael
Very cool. Well, thanks very much. It’s been a pleasure having you today on the show and wish you best of luck now as you build out the new team and start to tackle retention from the sales side now and expansion.

Eleanor Dorfman
Thanks so much, I had a blast. It was great talking with you too. Thanks