How Pipedrive built a Customer Success team at scale that helped drastically decrease churn

Jeff Heckler


Global Head of Customer Success


Jeff Heckler
Jeff Heckler

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Jeff Heckler, global head of customer success at Pipedrive.

In this episode, we talked about how Jeff went from being a numbers guy to a career in customer success, how Pipedrive’s CS team scaled from 15 to 55 people in just 18 months, and how the team is now structured.

We also discussed the functions of a Customer Success operations team, the engagement and growth team within customer success and the populations they serve. We then dove into KPI’s, key metrics,and how their team is empowered to drive success.

Mentioned Resources



From a numbers guy to a career in customer success? 00:02:07
How Pipedrive went from 3% to 100% customer success org. 00:08:13
The structure of Pipedrive’s CS team. 00:10:22
The functions of a Customer Success operations team. 00:12:51
Two different CS groups serving two different populations. 00:17:05
How Pipedrive’s measures success and is the team empowered to drive success. 00:21:19
Customer Success + Sales ar Pipedrive: How it works. 00:26:01


Andrew Michael: Hey, Jeff. Welcome. 

[00:01:26] Jeff Heckler: Thank you, Andrew. We're really happy to be here. Thank you. 

[00:01:29] Andrew Michael: It's great to have you, uh, for the listeners, Jeff is the global head of customer success at Pipedrive, a sales, CRM, and pipeline management platform that serves over 95,000 companies.

Jeff started his career as an analyst and went on to work at companies like SAP, Accenture, and Stanford healthcare. We served as a senior manager of BI and director of business intelligence. Jeff is also a founding member of Grain Grow, Retain and Practical CSM. Two great communities to help customer success, practitioners and leaders grow in their respective roles.

So my first [00:02:00] question for you, Jeff, is what made you make the switch from being the numbers guy to Korean customer success? 

[00:02:07] Jeff Heckler: Well, I, I, it was by accident. Like almost everybody that gets into customer success. Right. Um, so I, and I love data, so that's no, you know, of course I spent most of my 20 years in business intelligence and half of that with CS and business intelligence.

Uh, but it, it started off accidentally. Oh, I had, um, but about a dozen years deep into business intelligence and delivering customer facing, uh, product, um, in deliverable. Uh, for both startups and large companies, as you, as you mentioned. And I, uh, joined a company called snap file and I was going to bring analytics and a front end to what they had as a electronic document storage for three different verticals.

Um, and then very quickly. Uh, getting to that, getting in there, um, we realized that we were doing an excellent job with the technology and, [00:03:00] and, and the ICP. But, uh, after that, we weren't, um, learning more about our product from the customer, uh, experiential standpoint. Uh, we weren't really helping them, uh, to do the, the, the effort and the services needed to, to uplift.

And so we looked at a professional services angle and started to do some of that. Um, but then I, and this was shortly after I moved out to Palo Alto. I had some, uh, important conversations with some people that were talking about customers for life programs. And so that really intrigued me. I came of course from a professional services, heavy background, and I learned very early on, um, that, uh, if you, if there's closer, you were to your customers, the more you'd learn yourself, uh, for your profession.

The more rewarding. It is really that's the biggest driver, uh, and the more you're able to help. And so the closer we got to our customers, uh, at stat file and the more, uh, more work that we did with them directly, uh, enabled us to build [00:04:00] products, to, uh, build, uh, a tighter, uh, roadmap for ourselves, uh, but also, um, drove value for our customers and as a startup.

Um, not just the value, but the referential abilities to build on that. We're huge. And so this customer for life thing that started, uh, kind of as a, as a hot, a whisper in the Silicon valley, uh, really took hold for me. I really, I got it. I meant, I understood it. I made total sense to me. And so, um, that's uh, that's where it got rolling.

[00:04:31] Andrew Michael: Okay. Yeah, it's interesting as well. Like how big was that startup at that stage now? How many people, when you joined. Five five. Okay. So really it's more solid. And I think this is definitely like an interesting thing I've noticed as well. Like even coming from my experience, working at Hotjar that very early on like data and analytics and BI, uh, is not going to be the most helpful.

I think when you are that small and you have like a limited number of customers to learn from, because ultimately you're getting [00:05:00] false signals and the most powerful. I think to begin with it, really just getting those customer insights, speaking to as many customers as you can. Um, very cool. So that's how you, you made it and then today, now you're currently at Pipedrive.

You've been there for about a year and a half now. Um, what's been like your biggest surprise since joining pipe drive. 

[00:05:21] Jeff Heckler: Gosh, um, well, in, in a year and a half, there have been, uh, many, uh, so we've had, uh, no shortage of, of change. Um, that has been wonderful. Actually. I know it wouldn't be a lot of people's cup of tea.

Uh, but the amount of change that we've gone through in 18 months has been, um, quite miraculous. Um, so. Uh, gosh, um, the people. So we w you know, I first talked about my team. Um, we've scaled from 16 to, uh, we'll be close to about 55 shortly. Uh, we're bouncing five new hires, uh, next Monday, which a mixed, readily excited.

Um, so it's really about how we've been able to build a team at [00:06:00] scale. That's been cohesive. That's been fun. Uh, that's been, um, continually growing and promoted. I've had a lot of internal promotions, um, how they've been able to, to, uh, pivot themselves professionally. Um, and you know, all through this little thing we call COVID, um, it's, it's been nothing short of miraculous.

And then you can talk about the other things that have been surprising. Uh, we just have our third CEO started this. Um, and all the things that you get to learn through different leadership changes. Um, I'm reporting to my fourth, um, individual, myself who, uh, as a CNN executive, uh, at the executive table, which has been great.

Uh, so we're learning from all those different individuals and management styles and, and, uh, what they, uh, attract to as KPIs and okay. Ours has been very enlightening and educational, um, even where I am here, you know, 20 plus years in. Um, so that's been great. And then the acquisition from Vista. So we went from.

No, I got here. It was about a 625 [00:07:00] employees. And then we were acquired last November, and that changes what you're able to do, uh, how you're able to, um, get things done in the market. Uh, the level of conviction that your customers, uh, can have a greater scale. Um, so you start your conversations. And, um, now we're gosh, about 825 employees.

[00:07:46] Andrew Michael: Well, uh, that definitely sounds like a lot going on in the space of when you're the one thing I'm interested. You mentioned like you grew the CST and from 16 to 55 people, I think that's like no [00:08:00] easy feat, like to get done. How have you gone about, and maybe let's start off. Like, what was the motivation actually to grow the team, uh, that quickly to that size?

Like, what was the opportunity. 

[00:08:13] Jeff Heckler: Um, so I, it comes back from what I learned a long time ago when I, I came into the software industry in 1998, by again, by accident, um, is that it was the right thing to do. So, um, from an, from an number of stamps, Uh, when I came in, we were serving about 3% of the total customer or account base, uh, which was still about 3000 accounts.

And then rounding those numbers. It was about a $25 million in revenue. Um, which about 30% of all revenues, a little around there. Um, but that was very small, right? So if you want to do the right thing for your customers, you have to find a way to serve all of them. All 100,000, uh, at scale. And, um, and not in what I don't like [00:09:00] as a term digital first, maybe digitally supported, digitally enabled, um, but not digital first.

Uh, or digital CS, which also drives me quite mad, but anyways, so it was, um, it was about doing that and then having the, the management and the individuals that came before you in the CS department also, um, wanting that for our customers, for our company and for our careers, uh, how let's see how we can tackle this thing.

Um, and so that was, uh, how it started. And so, um, and we can get into this if you'd like, but just as a, an a brief note. So you knew. Uh, at the point where we're only serving 3% of our account base, uh, it was one dimension and it was the classic CS model of account management, 200, uh, accounts per portfolio, um, you know, in, uh, a dozen, uh, or less than that customer success managers.

And, and you have that model. Now it's much different. We have pooled success teams, customer success teams. We have an operations. Of half a dozen individuals. Um, and [00:10:00] we have a lot of other things that have gone on in there, but that's a quick overview of the why and a little bit of that. 

[00:10:05] Andrew Michael: Yeah. I want to dive into that even more than as well.

So you went from three 70, 3% to a hundred percent as a customer success org. How are you doing that? And what is that like interaction with your customers look like? Um, what does the structure and the makeup of the team. 

[00:10:22] Jeff Heckler: Sure. So, um, if I, if I looked at an org chart, you, um, when I first got here, you'd basically see, uh, one, one group in a straight line down to another group.

And that was, you know, you have your management functions and then that goes down to the one to many CSMs today it's much different. So the first thing that, um, you have to do it at any place, um, whether and the magic number is somewhere around six to eight CSMs. People start thinking about ops. I say zero to one.

Uh, CSMs, you start thinking about ops, um, uh, CS operations. Um, if, if we record this on video, I drew out a mug that says I heart CS ops. Um, I am [00:11:00] very fun. Um, and when we were lucky to, uh, we had some great people that came in to join CS operations. So that is the first place to start that you can do anything.

Uh, that's, it's pretty obvious, but it needs to be said it needs to be emphasized that when you bring it in. Um, and also the platform, the tools we, if you ask our friends at Vista, they will tell you, we probably have one of the largest tech stacks that, uh, at least 15 different tools that we use to, uh, pull off at Pipedrive.

And so. Um, we, and in there is our own platform. So, uh, when I came in and we had a platform, um, and no, no fault of the platform, we just weren't ready. We didn't have defined processes. We didn't have workflows. Our playbooks were a mess. Um, we did, we did it. We, we didn't have customer segmentation, the maturity that was necessary.

Um, and at scale, we still didn't know enough about our customers and about their journeys. Um, and that Allstate started with analytics. Um, and so it was about getting operations team in, um, that [00:12:00] operations team. We can talk more about them. They're rounded out, uh, in a number of different models or, um, roles.

Um, but that allows us to expand. And then. Uh, we have two more additional teams that are, have been added to customer success, to Pipedrive, and those are pulled CSM models. Um, and they have two different they're two different groups can serve two different populations. Uh, but that has been key and they have been delivering phenomenally.

Um, I'll give you a metric that a couple of our, um, individual contributors on those on those team, uh, give us back 40 X on, on costs. And so that's been very eye-opening and available as to, to scale. 

[00:12:36] Andrew Michael: Wow, that's incredible. Um, I wanted to ask then a little bit more about this, uh, the CS ops role, and you mentioned there's a few different functions that are prayed within it and to get things set up at that scale, what are those functions?

Um, maybe you can run through them with us. 

[00:12:51] Jeff Heckler: Sure, sure. I'll just go through the position themselves here. You have your manager. Um, and so that's somebody that had a deep background in business sense of about 15. [00:13:00] And some account management experience and then some CS hands-on experience, uh, herself. And so that was, uh, an in pipe drive.

So it gave us a good running start, right. Somebody who knew the tool, uh, we use customer success or our customer service platform is a pipe drive. And so we use that as our CS platform, so that gave us a running start. Um, and then you have, uh, system and operations individual, so responsible mainly for tools.

Um, and, uh, to make sure that we're administrating those correctly, we own them ourselves. Um, it's not out of another organization. They need to sit with us because we are, um, you know, we're moving at the speed of the business, which is quite quick, and we're moving at the speed of our customer population as well.

And so in order to do that, you need to own them in house. And so we do that, um, along with the, uh, assistant project manager, we have a data analyst and so. Um, although Pipedrive has an, a phenomenal and very large VI team, which is also another reason that I, I, I really appreciated coming to Pipedrive is that, um, in [00:14:00] order to run some of the things that we need to do, uh, for example, we run a lot of our own marketing campaigns within the quarter, uh, depending upon how our business is operating as a CS business.

So we run our own analytics to figure out what cohorts of customers we want to engage with. Um, and so we can build our own campaigns. Uh, we have our own internal trainer and that trainer, uh, is, uh, is for our own internal product. So as our product develops, which is like quite a high rate, we're going multiproduct, um, right now.

And so, uh, that's been, uh, necessary and also for skill and professional development. So, uh, things like negotiations, uh, contracting billing and all the things it really takes to round out a CS individual. Who covers everything from the moment the customer goes live, um, and their, their life cycle with us.

Um, we also have, uh, an intern, uh, model. It means a lot to us as Pipedrive, um, that we give back to the communities, um, of which we, uh, are [00:15:00] established and really came from. So there have been two locations in Astonia, uh, both in Tartu and in Holland that, um, have come to mean a lot to us over the past 10 plus years.

And so, um, it's helpful, uh, for us to, to, you know, to be able to provide that, um, in a. It gives us a lot of intrinsic reward. So that's, that's a part of it. Um, we have an admin who keeps a lot of our internal systems organized. So we have a lot of materials, uh, in our own, you know, CS hub and, and different, um, uh, reservoirs and no other admitted it, but it holds that we need to keep maintained.

And so that individual works on that. And then, um, Gosh, I, I think that's about it, but I'd love to say that we have many more. So those are, those are the main rules that we have operations. 

[00:15:46] Andrew Michael: Well, um, so it's like almost like a full fledged operations team for a company, but just serving CS. within Pipedrive

[00:15:55] Jeff Heckler: That's absolutely correct. And if you want to look under the hood of what may be next, [00:16:00] um, I would say for, for teams like us, um, I would say a CS marketing. Um, so I've, I've written about this, um, and talked about this in other platforms, um, marketing for CS owned by. Budgeted within CAS is the next, next thing that I'm after.

[00:16:17] Andrew Michael: Yeah, we, we, this has been a theme. That's come up on the show. And especially when it's more of like a low touch model where it's a blurs, the lines between, is it marketing or is it customer success? Uh, that owns this and sometimes you have like customer life cycle marketers. Which tend to like overlap with a lot of what customer success does.

Also. It's always interesting to hear how different companies choose to structure these roles and position them within the org. Um, so you, you mentioned you have then two different groups serving different populations, um, one to many, uh, sort of model, a pooled model. Sorry. Um, how has that set up work and how are you able then to serve like the a hundred thousand customers and produce like a [00:17:00] consistent experience?

[00:17:01] Jeff Heckler: Sure. So the it's first it's kind of customer journey mapping. So we have gone through that quite rigorously to, um, quite some painful detail, um, uh, on, uh, on a new basis, but all of that work and effort, uh, pays off. So we, we actually go through this, um, uh, with sales and with, uh, other stakeholders across the company.

So. We understand all the touch points from the moment that a customer hears Pipedrive and they started a search. And if they come into organic or paid, uh, we understand what brought them to B and then we go from there and we draw out the experience. So, um, for us in customer success, the two teams that we have, one is called growth, uh, and the other team is engagement.

Um, so I'll start with the growth team, uh, the growth. Uh, established, uh, about a year ago now, uh, last summer. And that is for customers that have, uh, basically three things, uh, that bring them into life. If they're not an assigned account with a customer success manager, they're [00:18:00] unassigned and they're experiencing one of three things either.

Um, we noticed that there's a consumption gap. So going through analytics, we noticed that they're not using full features of their plan. Um, maybe your usage patterns are odd to us for whatever manner of reasons. Um, we want to get them with some education. So we'll do that through a number of different, uh, digital, uh, enablement strategies and channels.

Uh, generally one of them also could be escalation. So. Uh, a particular technical issue, um, or there's another really compelling event like billing or something like that, that, that we, uh, will engage with, um, from a member of that team live. Um, that could be a another one and then the expansion. So this is a company that either, um, raises their hand and, and self acknowledges that they are an expansion of opportunity or through our analytics and profiling and data.

We have this, uh, profile of the cohort that they're looking to expand. And so again, we will lead with, um, potentially some marketing [00:19:00] collateral, but it's about getting, um, somebody, uh, to help them navigate those, those waters. So that's, that's the growth team. And then the second team is the engagement team and the engagement team does a number of things.

Um, first, uh, one of their ideas. Is that they have a fast track onboarding. So it's about 30 minutes with new customers who again, fit a profile that they don't have an assigned customer success manager. Um, but they have the profile that fits that they could be a potential customer that we want to drive through, uh, all of our teams up to a larger opportunity for us.

And so that Fastrack onboard. 30 minutes with an individual from our engagement team works, walk them through here's pipe drive. Here are the fundamental foundational principles to using pipe drive in here, all in the enablement channel and get them up and running established. And the other things that they'll do is they own all manual billing, uh, that needs to be administered.

They own some of the other escalations that are more able to be handled, uh, on a, just a one-time turnaround. So, uh, customers that come in for any sort of [00:20:00] reason that they just need live, help, that doesn't fit a support for. 

[00:20:04] Andrew Michael: Uh, and then are you not having a dedicated customer support and everything's in the pool fashion, or do you still have accounts where they have a dedicated customer success manager?

[00:20:15] Jeff Heckler: We have just under 4,000 accounts that have a dedicated customer success managers and then within those teams. So that's our named account classic CSM model. Those are segmented further. And so you have three different groupings within that team that, that tier as well. So customer success managers atPipedrive.

On average 200 accounts and that's about 2.25, uh, ARR per CSM, and they're within their portfolio. They'll have, um, basically a pyramid of, of three different tiers of customers that they'll engage with. 

[00:20:48] Andrew Michael: Very cool. Um, and another question comes to mind then is also you you've scaled pretty rapidly, 16 to 55.

You've gone from 3%, a hundred percent of customer [00:21:00] base. How are you measuring the ROI? And obviously coming from a numbers background in business intelligence, i assume there is different ways. You're trying to measure the performance of the team, but how are you actually trying to measure the impact that the team is making?

What are some of the metrics that you're focused on as a team and how are you empowering the team to move those metrics? 

[00:21:19] Jeff Heckler: Sure. Well, at a very high level, uh, we are measured, uh, by performance from our company standpoint on a revenue baseline to net new revenue. Uh, inclusive of con you know, uh, expansions, uh, cross sell upsells minus contraction, churns. Um, so there's a total number on that. And then, uh, total, uh, logo. So logo churn, uh, quarter on quarter and that's um, uh, what, two of the major metrics for the department and the key metrics for the named accounts team they've accounts team also has accelerator.

Based on a new product. Uh, and also, uh, other senses, if we're, um, let's say incentivizing monthly to [00:22:00] annual contract, uh, conversions. So that's, uh, for that team, um, the other two teams are simply on, uh, the net new that is brought in by those teams or the growth and the engagement team. And then, um, what will be next in line, uh, hopefully will be for the operations team to have.

Uh, three, uh, KPIs, uh, for, for them to be recognized as well on how each of those three teams is doing, uh, as we build better baselines, the engagement team is new as of March the 15th. Uh, so we're still looking to, to gather database line, uh, for that team as well. Um, and then from there, uh, you know, from a budgetary standpoint, looking at total.

Uh, and then, you know, percentage, uh, uplift from that, because of course we were very, uh, uh, happy in order to be commercial facing. And so have those responsibilities. Um, some of the other things that we measure is the churn year on year decrease. So we've decreased that, uh, year on year by nearly 7%.

Uh, [00:23:00] some of the other numbers are that they have 5% on a, a month on month running average that we have for that, um, number, uh, the seat upgrade numbers that we look at a more granular. Uh, as well as, uh, the retention efforts and how much is brought back from save, uh, save, uh, campaigns or win-back campaigns.

So there's some other metrics then of, um, of course we have some rudimentary and we're working on more. Uh, how does customer success affect, uh, Excuse me, uh, referrals and the lowering of CAC for, uh, our marketing, uh, how we lower volumes and increase, um, the, the, um, the integrity of, of customers that are coming to support chat, uh, as well as telephone support, um, and some, uh, LTV metrics that were, uh, like to get a better grasp on it.

[00:23:48] Andrew Michael: I'm just saying, and you started off though with net new revenue. Um, and this is probably not a one I hear very often, I think when it comes to customer success itself, and it sounds [00:24:00] more like a sales room. Cause you mentioned obviously expansion being one. And I think that's very typical, uh, with customer success, but what are the areas of focus are like the customer is responsible for increasing revenue.

Um, and, and how are you measuring that as a whole? So I'm assuming that it would be. If a company is on a monthly subscription, let's say call it 10 K if somehow they increased 11 K that one K would be counted as part of their net new revenue. Would that be it or it's including sales as well, new customers?

[00:24:30] Jeff Heckler: No, that's it. So it's, it is kind of, so if we have a customer success manager, let's say they have account a a, and that uplifts, like you said, from 10 to one. Um, so that's net new. And then if that account a, uh, brings in another account with us, um, and from another division or another pair, uh, child company, then that would be net new as well, as well as a net new logo.

So we have that, uh, as well. Um, all of those of course get rolled up into the total from the baseline. Um, but we are getting better at measuring what [00:25:00] is, uh, the contraction and churn, uh, both in plan and seats versus what is net new, both in plan and seats and expansion into new accounts. Um, and then additionally, we, I didn't mention, we have accelerators, um, or maybe I did mention, we have accelerators around new product, uh, as well as incentivizing behaviors for, um, uh, there's a method monthly, the annual plan.

Um, uh, I know there are initiatives that we're wanting to map to corporate, um, uh, goals and initiatives. 

[00:25:30] Andrew Michael: Well, and then in this model then as well, It feels like the customer success is really trying to drive sales to some degree as well. Do you not have sales team members then involved in any of these conversations or is really purely like your CS team, for example, the case where you gave bringing in a parent, like a parent company, bringing in other child companies in and things like that, is that purely like customer success driven or is there a partnership with sales?

How does that [00:26:00] relationship. 

[00:26:01] Jeff Heckler: It's purely customer success. So, um, I've been a part of a whole different types of models. And we, you know, uh, I know that, you know, there are a million different ways to build customer success. We all know that, um, here at, at PAC drive, there is a definitive line in the sand, um, or, uh, however you want to use the, the, the metaphor.

Um, the sales operates in their world and we operate an hour. So the net new customers. Uh, and sign up is from a sales activity. And then that gets handed over upon paying, uh, from trial to pay conversion to customer success. And then from there, it's all customer success driven, uh, renewals, expansions, uh, and everything in between.

[00:26:41] Andrew Michael: Yep. I see pros and cons with both sides, uh, of it. I think if anything, maybe from a user perspective, for me personally, like thinking back to like products had been involved in the buying process and then working with customer success, it always feels a bit disjointed when you. Have this back and [00:27:00] forth, Doug.

Okay. Now your Neil's coming up. So I'm going to get the account executives to start speaking, to, to discuss your renewal. And then I'm going to come back and take over as the CSR team reps. I'd probably swing more towards this model, but on the other side, I also do see the idea of having. The customer success is really being purely focused on the success and removing the sort of revenue discussions, uh, off the table.


[00:27:25] Jeff Heckler: and to get into that just for a minute, I mean, we can talk about this for a long time, but then, then it, it, it, it brings it, there's two things that come in there. Right. And the first one is the philosophy. So what is the philosophy of your team? And if you're bringing in the right people and hiring to character, um, and having a growth mindset, Then you get the right individual there and if your comp plans are correct, then you have a base that works with the accelerators that don't drastically change that environment, but then get individuals to focus on, you know, the nature of some of the conversations.

Um, and so [00:28:00] that. And how that changes is, you know, of course, you know, uh, according to what the company wants. Um, and then also, so it's always, but it's always about the customer experience for me, that's the most sense. Um, but then, um, you know, then from, you know, the other side of the same coin as you, uh, demonstrated for the earlier example is you have customers that say, well, I know you're also getting comped on the performance, so I, you know, I'm not sure.

I additional seats or paid for a plan that is outside of the reality of, of driving gap value and outcomes for me. And so, um, it's, it's that balance, but if you're, if you're having a team that's geared and coached, mentored, um, and incentivizing the right manners, then, um, those, um, those areas will, will hopefully take care of themselves as you mature as a team.

And so those are the overall. 

[00:28:50] Andrew Michael: Yeah. You mentioned about those accelerators. Do you want to talk through that a little bit? How it works, how that comes into part of your incentives as well as the team? 

[00:28:59] Jeff Heckler: [00:29:00] Sure. Um, so I was working with finance, um, and their business intelligence team and corporate business intelligence to say, you know, what are our corporate goals and, and how do we break those down?

So what's been really a wonderful at pipe drive is that the leadership team and the executive team has our company goals. We break those down into what our goals for revenue. Then, uh, further with my management, break those down into what customer success owns. I break those down into what the teams own, and then we break those out within the teams, into geographies.

And then from there, uh, to the, uh, associate the level, uh, the senior and the principal, uh, at, at all of the teams that we have. Um, and so the, the beauty of that is that at any given point in time, based on the conversation you're having, um, as an individual contribute. Being measured by those performance metrics.

You can draw a line from your level, all the way up to what the corporate objectives your objectives are, of which there are three, uh, and you know, where you stand, uh, in, in driving value and outcomes and opportunities. [00:30:00] And so, um, you know, more nuts and bolts about it. Some of them are, have strict dollar amounts on them.

Um, uh, for those behaviors, some of our percentage. Of of the behavior. Um, and then we're talking about actually getting more new ones so that you're incentivized on the PR uh, different percentages and escalators on discount differentials. So, um, you know, you're, you're, you're helping your individuals become more disciplined and the customers more accountable and disciplined to, uh, how you, um, level the playing field.

[00:30:32] Andrew Michael: Makes sense. And it sounds like you've got a really good structure in terms of metrics, analytics, like good, solid, like KPI tree. I was just envisioning in my head a trickling down from the top where each person in the team understands and clearly can see like how their work is impacting all the way up to the top three.

You mentioned top three metrics. Like what are those? 

[00:30:51] Jeff Heckler: Uh, from the corporate level there's there's ARR. Uh, so that's, that's very simple. Uh there's there profitabily. Um, pretty, pretty simple on [00:31:00] that. And then, uh, for each team there, um, depends on what the team is, but then we have a third which is around the employees.

And so, you know, one of the numbers I'm very proud of is in November of last year, our, our employees. Uh, EPA, we call it NPS. Um, for customer success was at, um, 25, um, or 22. Uh, it was in the mid to low twenties and now it's at 77. And it would be interesting if you could do that with like, you know, 15, 20 people we've done it with at that point in time, over 35.

Um, so to, to give, uh, an environment that comes from the company down to customer success and give people a place. And that was by building. Career paths and doing number things for the team to help enhance their journey. But you know, through this call, we talk a lot about numbers and business, which is vitally important of course, but then it's about the team and the employees as well.

So I just want to try it. 

[00:31:54] Andrew Michael: Yeah, that's very cool. Uh, and like how you've adapted, like the NPS [00:32:00] EPS, uh, but, uh, very cool. Uh, nice. So I see we're running up on time. I want to save time for question. Ask every guest that joins the show. Uh, let's imagine a hypothetical scenario now that you joined in your company.

Turning our attention is not being great. And the CEO comes to, and she says, Hey, Jeff, like we're only to turn things around. Uh, we have a short window. We have 90 days. We need to make a dent in now churn. Uh, you're in charge. But here's the catch. You're not going to give it to big allowance away.

Everybody says, I would look at the data, try and understand the biggest problems I would speak to the customers. And then I'd start with those. You're just going to wing it. And you're going to pick one thing that you've seen. That's been effective in reducing churn in the past. And that's going to be the playbook that you run with.

What would you pick? 

[00:32:48] Jeff Heckler: Um, having a cadence calls with every single leader in the company as churn is a, a company, uh, Whatever, [00:33:00] whatever adjective you want to put down that we want to put on after that. So churn is owned by the company. Um, the, the classic mistake is thinking that churn is owned by a singular function called customer success.

Uh, churn is related to your ICP. Churn is liberated to, uh, your marketing or references and churn as you know, how your sales, uh, if you have deal desk, if you have a customer advisory board, if you have proper feedback loops with product, um, churn is. Is it a company problem? So it would start internal and there, we can scale it out, but.

Yeah, that's my playbook. Get everybody in the room and, uh, make sure that we're, um, focused on, on product. 

[00:33:44] Andrew Michael: I think for me, like after all this, all these episodes, I think for me, alignment is definitely number one on the list is that you cannot. Make an impact and make a dent. If you don't have everybody aligned and everybody like understanding what the problem is and how the team will [00:34:00] go about collectively solving it.

And I mentioned to you before the show that we previously made a mistake, um, when it had Hotjar by putting together churn team, thinking that we would get together a group of individuals from around the company to try and solve this challenge, when really it needs to be something that comes from the top down, it needs to have alignment from all the exec members in the company.

Everyone on the team needs to understand like how they're all has an impact in how it plays it. And that only comes from communication and speaking and educating the team. So, yeah. 

[00:34:28] Jeff Heckler: And ownership, you know, I, I firmly believe that every team should have a lot of teams across the company. We'll have an uplift metric.

It hidden somewhere in their, in their performance. Uh, but you have insurance. Why, why are we, we can turn out a product that brings in a lot of, um, uh, trials, but if they don't stick and pay for three to five years, what's the point. Um, and so, you know, you want to see that owned across the board, but you absolutely, it needs to, it's tough.

[00:34:54] Andrew Michael: Okay, last question then what's one thing that you know today about training and retention that you wish you [00:35:00] knew when you got started with your. 

[00:35:02] Jeff Heckler: Oh, gosh, how, how vitally important operations is. Um, and that it, it that's, that's the first and foremost, and then, um, that's, you know, that's strategic. Um, the other thing is, um, though it's age old, it's all about the customer.

I mean, if there's one thing that I wish that everybody could hear that here's out of my mouth every day, uh, to anyone I talk with it's customer, customer, customer. It cannot be said enough can not be a play. It'd be just, um, that, and that's what brought me here. I mean, I, I learned that a long time ago by accident as well.

Um, and by having some fun and, and, and making progress and helping people do their jobs, um, it's about the customer. 

[00:35:45] Andrew Michael: Fair enough. Great way to end the show is any final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with, like anything they should be aware of or kept up to speed with you? 

[00:35:55] Jeff Heckler: Um, well, they, you know, happy to connect with everybody on LinkedIn and, [00:36:00] um, and it's all about the community and customer success.

Um, and also, you know, not just breaking down the silos as I hold a bi-weekly series with my team, from other teams that accompanied with, uh, in my own hands, breaking down the silos series in Pipedrive, but customer success, we see customer success in SAS, of course, but I have friends that operate in customer success in education.

Um, you know, if you have a custom. You should have a customer success program. Um, and then the, sky's the limit from there. And it's the best profession in the, in the world. You learn everything about your company, everything about your customer, um, and you get to do everything. Uh, so many different things in the day.

So, this is where I'll be customer success, whether it's a SAS or, or selling hotcakes, I'm here. 

[00:36:42] Andrew Michael: Very cool. Well, Jeff, it's been a pleasure having you today. Thank you so much for joining and, uh, wish you best of luck now. 

[00:36:49] Jeff Heckler: Andrew. Thank you so much for the time and opportunity. I look forward to speaking with you again soon and visiting you in Cyprus whenever I can.

[00:36:54] Andrew Michael: Yup, absolutely. 


[00:36:57] Jeff Heckler: Cheers, Andrew. Thank you.


Jeff Heckler
Jeff Heckler

The show

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 this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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