How to build a churn crushing Customer Success team, like Salesforce and Google Cloud.

Wayne McCulloch


Global Head of Customer Success


Google Cloud
Wayne McCulloch
Wayne McCulloch

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Wayne McCulloch, Global Head of Customer Success at Google Cloud (SaaS).

In this episode, we talked about the evolution of Customer Success at Salesforce, the greatest challenge Customer Success reps face and Wayne then shared his biggest learning moving into the Customer Success industry.

We also discussed the importance of data when it comes to customer success at Salesforce, and dove into how to build a CS framework to reach a Salesforce or Google Cloud level of sophistication.

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 Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.

Mentioned Resources



The Customer Success Evolution at Salesforce. 00:03:53
The biggest challenge in Customer Success 00:07:90
Wayne's biggest learning going into the Customer Success industry 00:08:53
Data and Customer Success at Salesforce 00:12:08
How to build a Customer Success framework for a successful CS function 00:16:48
When should a young startup get started with a Customer Success practise 00:25:07


Andrew Michael: Hey, Wayne. Welcome to the show. Uh, 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:01:25] good day, Andrew. Good to be here, mate. 

Andrew Michael: [00:01:26] It's good to have you for the listeners. Wayne is the global head of customer success for all of SAS products, Google cloud, and the author of the seven pillars of customer success.

Uh, Wayne is also an advisory board member of several startups and has held executive roles at companies like Looker, Salesforce, Genesis, and IBM, but perhaps the most impressive thing I spotted on his resume is he is also an Ironman. So my first question for you, Wayne. What was going through your mind and the last five kilometers, like roughly three miles when you were racing.

Wayne McCulloch: [00:01:58] Well, I'll look, I don't want to get too [00:02:00] graphic. It wasn't a really good race for me. It took me well over 16 hours, uh, stress practice and the like, look, I didn't really want to do it, but my wife really wanted to do it. And so I'm like, Hey, let's do it together. Uh, turns out that she's way better at this than me.

And she's gone on to do many, many more. Uh, but anyone out there thinking of doing an iron man, I highly recommend not to do it. That's it? It was painful. 

Andrew Michael: [00:02:23] Yeah. I think that's a great, great, great support is all like, I think my wife, she really wants to go skydiving and it was our plan, uh, to actually like, I was actually planning to propose to her after we skydive and I come really, really.

Scared of this sort of stuff like that. I never wanted to do it, but I thought, let me just do it and actually went through with it. We went to Dubai of all places, like supposed to be one of the best places in the world. And we paid for everything we're at the place and like getting ready to go. And we were just before the one just before.

They called everything off because the weather was bad. And I was actually just like thanking my lucky stars. Like in one way, [00:03:00] duck was, it was really bad that this surprise got ended. But I think the thought that counts, you know, so 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:03:06] very lucky. 

Andrew Michael: [00:03:08] It's nice. So, uh, obviously let's shift focus. We're here today, obviously shut about your experience, your past.

Like I mentioned, a few amazing companies that you've worked at, and I think one thing that stood out to me as well as like, given your time at Salesforce as the SVP of customer success group, I think, um, In the context of customer success as well, there are really sort of one of the forefathers and thought leaders when it comes to setting up the practice.

And I'm interested in just sort of starting off there as well, because I know you've, you're an author now as well. You've written the book we're going to, we're going to chat about that in a bit, but the, what was it like in those days, like, uh, at Salesforce joining, like how far along had the customer success practice come, uh, at Salesforce?

Like what were some of the things that were happening when you joined. 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:03:59] Yeah. [00:04:00] Yeah. Good questions. Um, let me go back just one step before and sort of say, you know, going into Salesforce. Um, I was at a point in my career or I I'd spent my life really working in the world of education training certification, uh, for software vendors and all about getting adoption of the technology and really thought that that was meaningful work because helping people be successful using the technology.

People's careers, their jobs, that's the, the way they get promoted. And so it's kind of important. And so I've always had that viewpoint and it wasn't until I got to Salesforce that I realized that this is whole bigger world around making people successful with solutions and especially in the cloud. And so this notion of customer success became a great interest to me.

And so I really wanted to become a student of customer success at the company. Maybe accidentally created this movement. I are through necessity of this new business paradigm. And so, um, for me looking at what they established even today, [00:05:00] like, you know, nearly a decade later, even today, I think the sophistication they had then.

Well ahead of most companies today, from what I've seen and interacted with, with my peers in the industry. So, um, I would say that obviously customer success is ever evolving. I think we've moved from, in, in the early days of you've read the story of Salesforce. It was all about firefighting, right? How do we, how do we keep a customer happy?

How do we plug the gaps in the product? They're playing a quasi support role there. They're just doing whatever it takes. And I call that in my book, CSM one daughter, right? Like firefighting. As we've got better at communicating with our product engineering design teams and sort of saying, Hey, look, if we did this and this and this, it would make it easier for the customer.

Then the CSN world started to shift and move and transition into more of a value type role where we're looking for, how do we get value? How do we expand value? How do we create advocates because of that value? And the CSM sort of movement went into two dot. Oh, and I saw that, um, you know, Salesforce was kind of [00:06:00] already nearly a decade ago, moving into that three Datto, which is where CSMs become more strategic advisors.

Like they know that. They know the product. They know the industry, very industry focused, suddenly they became. Transformation people like this is how you can reach, like, change the complete way, the workflows in your organization, where, how you approach certain challenges using the technology. And so you saw this evolution and I came in at that CSM to Datto's starting to move to three Dodd, just the early days of 3d.

And I would argue there are some companies out there still at one daughter, right? Oh, what? The CSMs are just firefighters, like stop, save the customer at any cost. Like I see that still, too. Yeah. 

Andrew Michael: [00:06:44] Uh, and I think that's sort of a sec, the 1.0 23, it's almost, maybe, even in the sense, like from listening to the show and other guests that it's a natural evolution of starting success of the company as well.

I think the beginning, because often like you resource restraints, you don't have, [00:07:00] uh, enough people to fill all the gaps and you're really just doing the firefighting to be in it. So naturally you start off one point. Oh, but interesting. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:07:09] Let me just say it. It is always that case in customer success.

In fact, it can never have enough people because the only thing that truly scales is technology people don't scale. Right. Um, I use the example in the book. If I have one customer paying $20 million, I can put a CSM on that. No problem. But if I had, you know, 200 customers, totally $20 million, I can't hire 200 CSMs.

So what I do, I start putting multiple customers. On a person. So they can't spend all their time with one customer. And then what happens is I keep getting more customers and it's getting expensive layers of management. Suddenly I'm asked to say, well, you only get a customer success manager when you spend a million dollars.

And so there's a whole bunch of customers that don't get anything. So then we create digital customer success and tech touch. Right. It will never scale. And that's one of the challenges of customer success that we have [00:08:00] to move away from, which is a, just a people driven. And I know there's some great stuff happening around digital customer success right now, and, and using technology and innovation to do that.

And I think we need to, you know, continue to accelerate that there's always a need for high touch CSMs. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. The challenge is you're always, you always never have enough resources. That's the challenge in CSP. Yeah, 

Andrew Michael: [00:08:22] I think in a lot of ways, it's very similar to supports as well, where you just literally need the people on their new tools and news way to automate things and, uh, uh, definitely be introducing steps, but ultimately it comes down to people still.

I think things are definitely changing lucky. So, um, so you mentioned in the beginning, You came from a different background in joining, uh, before you joined Salesforce. But I think very, very related, uh, the way you described as well, coming from education, helping onboard customers and educate them on the use.

Um, What was it like making that transition? So as an outsider from the industry is saying, okay, [00:09:00] let me get into customer success. Like, what were some of the biggest learnings that you had in the beginning when joining, like, what were some of the things that you sort of like maybe had your own preconceived conceptions of what it was gonna be like to start a, in a customer success role?

And then what, what was proven wrong to you? Like what did you think there was completely different? 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:09:18] Um, well, first of all, um, the first thing it's Salesforce that I was. Amazed with was the use of data. So I've never seen a function that was so honed in on data, creating data-driven decisions, that, and the data literacy of the customer success organization and their ability to embrace a data culture in order to service, a customer was like nothing I've ever seen and still haven't seen that level of sophistication.

So one of the challenges as someone coming in who's brand new is I'm looking. Almost like best in class at that time saying, well, this is how you do it. And so of course my next few roles that I had is [00:10:00] chief customer offices and several other companies. I don't have an army of data scientists with 10 years of algorithm, you know, adjustments and understanding I'm coming in and saying, oh, I've got a spreadsheet.

Here's my customers. We kind of rank them from, you know, what they spend and where we think their sentiment is like that there's a big gap from that to a Salesforce. So in some regards I was kind of spoiled. It's almost like my first car was a Lamborghini. And then as I'm getting older, I'm now moving down the stack as far as like, you know, well sort of.

Probably on a scooter at some point. But, um, so I was a little spoiled, but for me it was just this, um, fascination of like data can drive so many insights to then know what the next best step is as a CSM, rather than gut-feel or experience because product market, customer, everything's always changing.

And that's what makes customer success so unique as a challenge to solve the way we go solve it is not comparable. But the challenge we're solving is complex. If that makes sense. So that, that to me was one of the [00:11:00] fascinations that I'd never seen, maybe, maybe a sales, a well-tuned sales org, and a marketing, you know, their MQL and the funnels and this maybe using data that way was probably the only other group I'd seen that really was leveraging data in a way to make decisions.

But this was, this was something beyond what I'd ever seen. 

Andrew Michael: [00:11:18] Yeah. You mentioned a few different, interesting things. I want to dive into this topic though, a little bit deeper as well. The, the notion of using data and customer success and really being effective at it. So I think we touched on this a little bit before the show that, um, typically like their, their responses, like they'd, one-to-one personal touch, but, uh, having the data can sort of prevent so much, uh, so much of that.

And maybe talk us through a little bit about the Salesforce setup that interested you so much. And you mentioned like a lot of different data points, like. Yep. How was the system set up? How is it being used? How was it being maintained and how like were CSMs influencing it themselves as well? Because I think, uh, [00:12:00] dealing with data requires, like you said, level of sophistication level of understanding, like what was the team like, uh, that put this.

Wayne McCulloch: [00:12:08] Yeah, I think, you know, it starts with the data science team, which does a lot of work because, because we're in the cloud, that's the advantage, right? When you're born in the cloud, all the data is available to you to understand what's happening in your customer base. And, um, in my book I mentioned something called a change journey map.

So we all know what journey maps are. And we, we talk about them when hopefully we do them because understanding moments of truth and, and, and when we need to show up for the customer. I think Disney said it like no one owns the customer, but someone owns the moment. And so when you map out that journey, you know, who's got the ball at each touch point, um, that's helpful, right.

But a churn journey map is just as helpful, which is let's go back and look at every customer that. And go find out why they did and don't use the data that the sales team or your CSM team put into Salesforce. Like they didn't get value. Uh, it was too expensive, a fan and a bit of PR like not actionable, right?

Like, [00:13:00] so for me, I recommend bringing in a third party, go do a full interview. You get a massive readout of data and people's personal feelings. If I reach out to a customer and say, why do you. I'm probably not going to get the honest answer, right. Either they think I'm trying to get back in, or they don't want the CSM to get in trouble.

Cause it wasn't really their fault. Like there's lots of things. But when a third party comes in, people unload, like it's amazing. The insight and vulnerability they'll have with exposing all the problems they have with your product. So once you have all that data, you then can start to look at the trends and the patterns and start to find the correlations and data analysts and data scientists are great at starting to put together.

Like correlation and causation. So as an example, um, a customer doesn't log, any support tickets, is that good? Or is that bad? Well, it depends, right? That, that data point on its own means nothing. It's just an observation, right? If they are a brand new customer who just onboarded yesterday, probably a bad thing, but they're not.

You know, exploring and running into challenges. But if they've been with [00:14:00] us for 10 years and have a center of excellence, then of course they're gonna have no tickets because they've got it. They know how to go manage it. So the data science starts there, but what the data science does is it creates the flag, the trigger that says, Hey, there's a potential problem here.

Here's a playbook on how we've solved it before. And give that to the CSM and the account team. That's where the human element now comes in because there's nuances that data can't pick up this personalities. There's, there's things that the data is not telling you. So as a CSM, you take the playbook, you look at the situation, you then have to work out how to.

Deliver that playbook for success. And you might deliberately change the playbook because that specific example of in that customer requires a nuanced approach. And so that's why having the human human element is so important with the data, which means. The CSMs need to be able to interpret the data, read the data, have that data literacy, but be able to apply that then in an empathetic way to the customer, [00:15:00] that's the genius of the CSM is, you know, on their own gut feel, you know, doing the Flybuys and that doesn't work, but giving, arming them with the right data and then that they can then apply their knowledge experience, understanding that's where the magic really happens.


Andrew Michael: [00:15:16] I love that. And I think this is definitely one of the weaknesses I've seen under this themselves. I cannot say it just purely analytical and focus, building out reports or doing analysis is if you don't have that close touch with the customer and you don't have a good understanding of the pain points and the problems, it's very difficult to empathize and you can easily.

Points in the data as well. Uh, but having like CSMs that are speaking to customers all the time, uh, with the data and analytics available to them to really understand what's going on and then having the foresight, or maybe having had that conversation with the customer to really understand the why behind the what's going on.

Uh, and I really love the loss factor that you mentioned as well as like, uh, A trigger gets sent off that there's a problem with [00:16:00] this an account, but not ending with a trigger, like you firing off the playbook of how to. That problem within the account. And I can see why you're saying the levels of sophistication is just like next to none there, because that does take time and take years, or sort of repetition and practice and figuring things out for sure.

Wayne McCulloch: [00:16:18] Absolutely. And that's why I say it's like start today. Like, if you want something like that sophisticated, it takes years. And so every day you don't start that journey every day, every day, you delay bringing on data sciences, data analytics, It just puts you much further away from the goal. And so, yeah.

So my advice is always like start today on that journey. 

Andrew Michael: [00:16:40] Where do you get started? What are the first steps that you would on? Let's say like, I want to get to Salesforce level of customer success. Uh, what are my first 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:16:48] steps? Yeah, there's probably a bunch of other people where we were more well-versed on at least how they did it, but for me, um, I think about.

The customer [00:17:00] success organization itself as a framework that you need to establish. Um, and this is why I wrote the book because if someone who comes from customers, some, someone who comes from a great company like Salesforce and looks at customer success and looks at how they've created that, that machine.

And then you go to a new company. You're like, oh, I don't have any of those assets. I don't have playbooks. I don't have data to anatomy. But you try to take some of the things you've learned and applied, and it doesn't really work. And so you're like, well, how do I, how do I structure an organization that doesn't have the data?

It doesn't have the background. Doesn't people don't know what we do and what we stand for. And I realized that actually, we need a common framework to build a success practice around what you do inside that framework is totally based on your company, your experience, your, so I put it in this, in this example, I'm giving you the blueprints to build a house, but you get to decide the carpet, the paint furniture, but you still going to have a great solid house.

And a lot of [00:18:00] people, including myself, when they pivot in or start building a customer success function. They're trying to build a house and pick out the tile and put a TV on the wall. And it's just, it's just, it's really complex. And you might get a great TV and you might get the best paint you can buy.

But if the wall's not there, it doesn't matter. And so I think the framework's really critical. So to answer your question, um, think about it as a framework for me, I have a seven pillar framework that I use and the first one is operationalization. So before we get started on anything. We need to know how to create customer experiences and outcomes in a repeatable way at scale, that approven to, to provide the, um, you know, those, those outcomes.

And so for me, operationalization is critical and there are 10 tools that we always have to build in his success organization. And these 10 tools is what operationalizes the business, and then on all the other pillars that tend tools, support those pillars. So for [00:19:00] example, understanding the moments of time.

Building playbooks, having a customer health school, building a customer risk framework, customer success, plan segmentation, voice of the customer, QBs, uh, customer delight and metrics. You got to nail those 10 things now. Yeah, you can do three of them and still have a successful CS function. But if you can go, if you can put those 10 things in.

And it can start really simply using Google sheets or something. You don't have to have a sophisticated platform. Like you can just get going on all those 10, um, that's what is needed in order to create a sustainable customer success organization that gives you a narrative to talk about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, because that's something that's still alludes.

Some people. Experienced around customer success. Other executives, we never needed this. Why do we need this? Now? I've already got sales and I got support and I got services and I got training. What's this other group just, you know, confusing. It really helps you have [00:20:00] those conversations, but more importantly, it helps you really focus in on how to have an impact on kids.


Andrew Michael: [00:20:04] we definitely touched on this specific topic a few times on the show where the more experienced leaders really understand the need coming into your company to really set sort of the tone for what the customer success team is about why they exist, why they here and what their main role is. It's clear to the rest of the organization.

I also love your, uh, your point that you made well, People coming from companies like Salesforce or where there's a larger sort of level of sophistication coming into maybe younger companies with a little bit less than perfect data and not the right infrastructure. You can't just like take your cookie cutter model model and apply to another company.

One thing that worked the previous and things. So that's why I really love your analogy now of the house in the sense that like, this is the framework that you can work within, but then it's really up to you to sort of figure out what's going to work for your plan. What's where the where's the TV going to look good in the living room?


[00:21:00] Wayne McCulloch: [00:21:00] and what size, 

Andrew Michael: [00:21:02] what size? Nice. Um, and this framework then as well, like how would you go about starting? So you mentioned that there was 10 things on the list as well. And. Try and put these in the show notes as well for the listeners off nerds. And obviously we recommend them to read the book. Yeah. W we'll have a link to that.

Um, but yeah, you mentioned sort of getting started with all of them. And I think this is sometimes a little, like for me, when you said that, like immediately the word focus came to mind as like, how can you like, uh, be focused in both anything like effective, if you you're spreading yourself thin. Maybe talk us through that as a challenge in the beginning, like, how do you recommend, so you recommend that you need to have the foundations, you need to have these 10 sort of tools in place.

Um, what's the best way to go about it. Uh, and you mentioned some things like just starting in Excel, like really simple, really basic, but, um, yeah, 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:21:55] so, um, If I'm starting a new role in customer [00:22:00] success, either as a head of customer success or chief customer officer or whatever, the first 30 days is spent talking to the customers and.

Bringing in a third party to talk to all the customers that left. Yeah. I always recommend that for any leader or any person, whether it's an established and mature function or not, because that's going to tell you yeah. To really clearly with some of the major gaps and problems are in your organization, that helps you determine which of the 10 tools.

You got to go focus on first because you don't need all 10, as I said. Um, but if you understand that there is a big gap in customer experience or in how we service a customer in onboarding as an example, then what do we need to do? Do we thinking about onboarding playbooks about onboarding, measuring health of an implementation around onboarding.

And again, you probably have data scattered throughout your organization, the services team, or a partner or the support. They all [00:23:00] have data points about what's happening at any one time. And so being able to bring all that data together, whether it's manually by sharing. Yeah. Google sheets in a Google drive or whatever, or it's a sophisticated tool that you buy from one of the customer success platform vendors.

It doesn't matter. Understanding where the pain point is, where does the data live and bring it together and you can seriously, um, I was talking to a company. It was like, Hey, how do we get started with playbooks? And I'm like, well, you know, do you have a shared drive or some kind? Yep. Well then here's a template and I have, you know, templates in the book.

Like here's a template, you can modify it any way you want to make it yours. And then just have everyone use that template in a shared location that everyone can add. Really actionable, really simple and easy to do. And it starts the process. A playbook is a living document. It's always changing and evolving, but it has to capture some key things.

Like what's the activity, what's the trigger who owns the [00:24:00] deliverable. Um, and where's the asset live real simple stuff. Like couple of columns in a spreadsheet. That's how you can get started. It's not, it doesn't have to be super sophisticated and daunting. You just have to stop over time. You just build bodies of knowledge, you prove value, you get funding, and then eventually you invest in more sophisticated systems and, and, and then you get to a Salesforce one day or, or Google cloud or whoever you're trying to emulate.

I have to plug that. Yeah, it's pretty cool. But, um, but ultimately just getting started with the tools you have is really. It's my message. Doesn't have to be perfect. Doesn't have to be pretty. Yeah. Yeah. 

Andrew Michael: [00:24:39] And I think sometimes all we over-complicate things and just getting started is the most, uh, the biggest step you can take.

Yeah. When do you take that first step then? So let's imagine you're a very early stage company. Um, when would you say would be the right time to start this and cause you mentioned coming and joining us like the chief customer officer, obviously at that stage, like the [00:25:00] company is quite a bit further on, but when would you recommend like a young startup getting started with the customer success practice?

Wayne McCulloch: [00:25:07] Um, yeah, that's a great question. So, um, I I've actually read. Other people's thoughts and opinions on this matter. Um, and it's interesting and, you know, I see this all the time. Someone solves a problem. Yeah. And they're like, this is how you do it. And everyone who's new is like, okay, that's how I do it. And then they do it and it doesn't work.

And that, that was me to a T like leaving Salesforce, going somewhere, actually as a chief customer officer, one of the groups I had to really establish was the customer success function. So as a CCO of support was known, services is known. Training's known in CS, was new. And one of the really interesting things.

The things I would just, oh, I've seen this work before that it's real easy. Here's how you do it and it doesn't work. Um, and that's why I'm like start now, like start early. Don't wait for perfect. Just go try something because every iteration teaches you something about the product maturity, the [00:26:00] marketplace, your customer, your company's appetite.

Get behind what you're asking for, like building your relationships with the product team, with sales and marketing. So, um, but to answer your question specifically as, as soon as possible, like if you're a $5 million ARR business, you should have a CS person there, like already. So it's not a 10 or 50 or a hundred or 200, it could be 2 million.

The second you have customers, you've got to start putting the customer in the center. And, and it's kind of easy in a small company cause everyone's like, oh, we're all about the customer. Um, but it was really funny. It was, you know, not that long ago I asked the leader of professional services, are you really customer century like your org?

And they're like, absolutely. We live and die by the customer. Like getting them up successful live. That is what we live for. We are customer centric and I said, well, cool. What are your measurements of success? Uh, revenue, margin, and utilization. Which one of those is just talking to the customer. They were all [00:27:00] internal operational metrics.

That's how they're judged on their performance. And so why aren't you measured on time to value retention and we still. Like the old days, like we still run businesses, uh, posts for sale, like the old days. And we haven't adjusted, even though we say we're customer centric and we care about customers. I'm not saying they not in that example.

I'm just saying that the way we measure them and show success is not about the customer and that should happen as soon as possible. So when should you get, start, get started when you have a customer just not doing it, like just practice. Yeah, absolutely. It doesn't, again, it doesn't have to be sophisticated.

People can mostly have these crazy tools. It's just, just start thinking about it. Cause the sooner you start, the more knowledge you build, which creates the data models and things of the future. That'll drive massive success at scale. If you're successful as a company and you get 

Andrew Michael: [00:27:50] it right from the beginning.

Cool. Uh, I see we're running up on time. Seven questions for, uh, last couple of questions. Uh, obviously I mentioned it to the bottom of your show. I asked this question to every [00:28:00] guest. Um, let's imagine a hypothetical scenario now that you joined in your company. Turner attention is not doing great at this company.

And, uh, the CEO comes to you and says, Hey, Wayne, we really need to turn things around. We have 90 days to do it. Um, and you're in charge. But here's the catch. You not going to tell me that you're going to go and speak to customers and understand the pain points and then trying to figure out from there, what's the most important thing, cause this is what everybody said to the first a hundred times asked this question.

So we've changed it a bit now. Uh, so let's go. Uh, the, the pointer with us is like, what's one thing that you've seen work effectively that was able to curb churn in a short period of time and something actionable that the listeners can maybe try and see if it works with their business 90 days. Yeah.

Wayne McCulloch: [00:28:52] Yeah. Yeah. So that's a, it's a tough question because the reality is.

[00:29:00] You should never let it get to that point. Like I shouldn't be under a 90 day time limit to go solve a problem, but I get the spirit of the question, which is the first things we do. Well, obviously, who are the customers that. Uh, renewing in the next 90 days. Like if we got to impact the next 90 days, let's look at them.

Um, depending on what the cust, the CEO, whoever cares about the most is it, is it retention dollars, retention, logos brands, whatever. So you just, obviously you've got to know what that is. What are you really looking for here? What does success look like? Um, my favorite CEO ever worked for Tom Hogan, he always said, what does success look like in the parking lot?

You know, when you go outside and I'm like, well, we, we rarely stopped at ask ourselves that question, but identify what success looks like in the CEO's eyes. So really clear and articulate that back and hear it back. Right. Okay. So that's, that's what we have to do. Who are the customers that are now in play to enable us to reach that success metric.

And then, then it's start to drill down in to what do we know about each of [00:30:00] these customers? Where are they on their journey? Like what data do we have, whether it's support tickets, escalations problems, issues, challenges, or in some cases advocacy. One of the things I love, which we always forget about is advocacy about customer.

Or the best sales knows that getting great case studies and use cases and referrals helps them sell what we sometimes forget is those great customers help us retain like, and so starting to connect, I have two customers in retail. This one's having amazing success. Great speaks at our conferences, writes blogs, love them, gonna renew in front of us.

Okay, get that customer to talk to this customer. That's not happy in trouble, poor NPS, which is a horrible mint metric, by the way. That's what I can do a whole show on how stupid that metric is, how great our customers, um, on this success journey. But, but go talk to that cus start to bring the customers together because you've creating community.

You're creating connections. You're showing that you care that this customer is not having the [00:31:00] success that this one is. And you want to share that message. That to me is how you're going to have a short term thing coming up with like, oh, we're going to add some free service. I'm gonna throw in free training.

We're going to get a bunch of those things. Don't really work. It's putting it because you've. 

Andrew Michael: [00:31:14] Yeah, I love that, uh, antidotes as well. Like definitely like you said, we definitely, when it comes to customers, we look at the success and religious focus on more like how can we promote that to serve ourselves, but really like what, this is what you're saying in some way you are serving yourself at the end of the day, but serving your customer first by putting them in contact, like getting them to share best practices together.

And, uh, I love that last question. What's one thing that, you know today about churn and retention that you wish you knew when you got started with it.

Wayne McCulloch: [00:31:46] Uh,

I would probably, well, there's a lot of things popping in my head. I'm going to say that the thing that was most enlightening for me was [00:32:00] don't, don't just look at NRR net revenue retention as a metric of success. Don't forget about poor little grr sitting over here. Gross revenue retention. Because I've been in companies where NRR is amazing, and that is a great metric it's used when you want to go public.

It's used to tell people like we're growing like gangbusters. Even if we sell no new customers, we're going to grow. I get it. And that's awesome. We should maximize that, but it hides what's happening underneath. I'll give you an example. 10 customers paying a hundred grand a year could leave, but one massive customer buys an extra 2 million in our house through the roof.

Your grr is falling. And the reason why that's important is grr is the retention of your existing customer base. And that's what it cares about. And that is how you grow in the future. So if you're losing 10 logos every quarter, Because, and you don't see it because you're only focusing on the net [00:33:00] retention, like these big customers that making skewing the data, your future success, your future growth, your future sales opportunities for new products, new services, new advocacy, ideas that come in that create the next idea that puts your company ahead of the pack.

Those people leaving. Take that to your competitor. And so I wish I understood better and not just sat back and said, Hey, we're in world class in our era, we're doing amazing. We're retaining and expanding. And then you look at the grr number and it's done is declining. We showed you that sooner. I could have saved a bunch of customers.

I think if I had recognized. It's really 

Andrew Michael: [00:33:35] interesting this concept because it's almost as well, like the, the other inverse as well, when growth is doing extremely well and how it mosques the churn problem. This is similarly like how it's marked skinning a growth problem by having net positive retention.

Yeah. Very cool. Um, well, and it's been a pleasure chatting to you today. Uh, is there any final thoughts you want to leave the listener's worth anything they should be aware of for your work? Keep up to speed with [00:34:00] what you're working on. 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:34:01] Yeah. Um, I want to speak directly to those people that have made that just pivoted to their career.

Or, uh, thinking of coming in, this is the most amazing profession to be a part of. It's also comes with some frustration because it's new, not everyone knows what it is. Not all the metrics are clearly defined and every company has a different view on what the team does potentially. Um, and so we, as a profession need to be better at articulating frameworks and missions and visions and metrics, but for those people that are either new or coming in.

You know, take the step, take the chance to go do it. If you love working with customers, but you hate having a, a quarter, if you love helping customers, but you hate the fact that, you know, you have to go to other teams all the way to answer. Like, if you want to own a relationship, you want to own success.

You want to feel the ups and downs, um, in a community that is the most helpful community and sharing knowledge and supporting each other that I've ever been a part of go do it. So, you know, Aye. Aye. Aye, aye. Personally, for me, I'm so happy [00:35:00] that I've changed my career. I'm evangelizing to all my peers that came from the education space.

I'm like, this is the perfect next step for you. Um, but yes, I, my advice is just, just go do it, just jump in. Like we need, we need the help. We need more people. Um, and we need future leaders. And so coming in from sales or support or consulting or wherever you're coming from, um, take, take the chance.

Andrew Michael: [00:35:19] Awesome. Yeah. Thanks so much, Wayne. Uh, it's been a pleasure for the listeners. Like I said, we'll have all the show notes and we'll have a link to a Wayne's book as well inside there for you. Um, thanks so much for joining us. I wish you best of luck now going forward. 

Wayne McCulloch: [00:35:33] Yeah. Thanks a lot. Andrew had had a lot of fun.

Cheers mate. Cheers.


Wayne McCulloch
Wayne McCulloch

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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