CX Insights

CX Insights Episode 1: “Building high-performance Customer Success Teams” with Tyler Wonderlic

Tyler Wonderlic is Vice President of Customer Success at and he joins us on the first episode of CX Insights.

CX Insights is a new online show where Customer Experience leaders and experts share insights and expertise to uplevel our CX game.

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Tyler is an innovative Customer Success leader who creates strategic alliances to effectively align with and support key business initiatives.

Passionate about optimizing the customer experience to drive key business results.

Builds high performing customer-centric teams by hiring, developing, and motivating skilled professionals.

Here are some of the highlights from this episode:

  • Customer Journey Map
  • Operating Model for Customer Success
  • Building High-Performance Customer Success Team
  • Customer Lifecycle

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Our guest for today’s episode is Tyler Wonderlic,  he’s the Vice President of customer success at Balto. Tyler, welcome to the show. Thank you. Really appreciate you having me. Absolutely. Tyler. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Yeah. So,  again, the name is Tyler Wonderlic.

I’m vice president of customer success at a company called Balto.  we are located in the St. Louis area,  You know, personally,  I have an 18-month-year-old son, so I spend a lot of time with him when I’m not working. but when I am, especially in these times of COVID, it’s, it’s, you know, a lot of working from home, also, you know, really what my, biggest passion is, in the workplace is innovation.

So one of the things that, that I really enjoy doing is innovating in, our customer success profession and the customer success team, previous to joining the customer success. I was in sales and marketing, and a lot of those skills have been super transferable over into customer success.  and I’ve been in the CS field now for just over seven years.

Awesome. Tyler and we’re gonna get into that a whole lot. first, tell us a little bit about Balto. What do you guys do? what is real-time guidance? I saw that on a website. What does that all about? Yeah, totally. So, Balto itself is a very innovative solution and we’re providing, and scaling that innovation in a world that.

it hasn’t really focused on a broad change and that really is in the call center space. So, we work really well with, B2C, call centers and we provide real-time coaching or real-time guidance. essentially, you know, effectively what we’re doing is we’re helping agents in real-time, identify the best things to say in their calls.

So, as you know, calls, specifically with customers can go a whole bunch of different ways. Oftentimes you pick up the phone, and in a call center. And, it’s very unexpected about what you’re going to hear. And what Balto can do is it can quickly analyze, what’s coming in from the consumer and, you know, quickly directly tell you, what it is that you should stay back and really how to optimize for that sale or how to optimize for that customer experience.

Very nice. And is Balto like, are you guys geared to serve the enterprise market? Are artists also going downstream and turn mid-market SMB, etcetera? Sure. So, you know, we’re kind of a little bit in both, but, Balta works really well in the enterprise. specifically due to the nature of,  enterprise customers have lots of linear, a one to many type sale events where.

you know, things do become a little bit predictable, and it really is about, you know, high value, high transactions. So that’s, that’s generally where we see, you know, the largest ROI with our customers. That makes sense. And do you guys operate in like political or industry verticals, like say healthcare or insurance or finance?

How does that work? Are you guys focusing on specific ones? Yeah, we are. So, you know, we, we really do the most work in healthcare, insurance. we do work in retail, also with cable, you know, I think the, the broadest. segment of our customer base today is in the healthcare specifically in the healthcare insurance world is just exploding right now because of COVID and other things.

There’s a lot of focus there from an industry standpoint. So that’s awesome. Tyler, why don’t we pivot a little bit into customer success and sort of given sort of this lay of the land you’re guys are serving enterprise. You guys have a, you know, a product that is basically sounds like AI driven, provides a lot of intelligence to your contact centers.

how do you guys go about , figuring out what’s the customer journey , because you can have like really large customers, large contact centers, interested in your software. Maybe they need to integrate yourself, their, your software into theirs. It’s kind of sounds complicated to tell us about  , how do you go about the customer journey?

Yeah. appreciate the questions. So. What, what, what we really like to focus on within our customer journey is, making it as easy as possible. You know, I think one of the, one of the beautiful things about customer success today is, you know, really the nature of customer success is building out customer focused journeys.

And, you know, often journey is somewhat of a buzzword, but I,  actually really enjoy it because it makes us take a step back and think about, how our customers are working with us.  throughout the entire lifecycle. So for, for Balto in particular, we, you know, we really like to plot out where our customers running into trouble, where we oftentimes running into issues.

And then how do we. and to your point exactly right. With new technologies and new softwares, things, it often gets pretty complicated, especially when you’re working with multiple tech stacks, new products, you know, Baltimore works very closely with, telephony systems and CRMs, right?

So as those change or as people are using them even slightly differently, we’ve got to have our finger on the pulse that we can quickly pivot so that our customers have, you know, no hiccups in their experience. Yeah, very cool. You know, one thing that’s intriguing to me in your model and tell me if this is wrong or right.

Which is, when you’re approaching the customer on one hand, you have sort of, the buyers of the software are people who are kind of writing the check if you will. Right? So on the other hand, there’s people that are. They’re responsible for any grading your software into their overall stack. So let’s call it a tech team.

Right. And then there’s probably a third group of people who are like the end users who are actually using Balto for kind of their customer calls and trying to optimize the experience for their customers. So it sounds like you have three sort of big stakeholders in a company that, is that a fair assumption?

Absolutely. Yeah. I guess to make it. Super simple. It really is, you know, executives oftentimes,  you know, there’s, there’s a champion from that executive group. the second is the managing group, right? The people that are actively, you know, digesting those insights and then, you know, figuring out the best ways to scale that in the organization.

And the third, really is what we just call the agents. the individuals that are using the product on a day-to-day basis. Got it. So it sounds like your customer success leaders in those organizations, people that are representing you, your CSMs. We’ll have to do a fair amount of acrobatics to take care of three pretty important stakeholders and take care of the customer journey to get them to value quickly.

So tell us how’s that working? I can tell you how it worked and why we changed, because that, that is a very, solid point and one that we’ve struggled with, for, for a little bit of time, when I first got the Balta, which is it’s, it’s a lot and you know, the role of customer success in general right now, you know, you look around at different job descriptions and, customer success managers are asked to do a lot of different things, right?

Where many. Well, you know, multiple hats, oftentimes there’s a sales component to their job,  a technical component, you know, service component. You can keep going on and on. But, for us, what, what we do is, you know, we identify what, what the stakeholders really need to be successful. and then we figure out where should that responsibility live?

and at first, you know, when, when teams are starting to scale and teams are really starting to kind of own the principles of customer success, that’s often owned under one roof and under one team and oftentimes one person as it relates to the account. but what I, what I find to be really valuable actually is specialization.

Right. And that specialization is, really focusing on, on, you know, those core areas of value for each person. And, and what I mean by that, as an example is the agents that use our products.  what we find that they care most about, ultimately is fast response times, right? And they also care about the product working, obviously, and the third is, they want their voice to be heard.

And so. I can’t expect my customer success manager to be able to spend all of their time with that population. So in turn, what we found to be really successful is, you know, having, sort of those, you know, most important metrics owned by our support team. So our support team really, under customer success has led the charge in agent adoption, and agent satisfaction.

And that’s a metric that we’re actively tracking. and, and measuring to ensure that our agent population is, you know, extremely happy with the product. And that’s a very interesting angle on specialization of customer success. So it’s, does it also mean that you are hiring, CSMs that have a certain type of experience, like a call center experience, or maybe even some industry vertical experience?

There’s, there’s definitely some industry vertical experience. And, you know, I assume that, as Balto continues to grow and, you know, just for the record where we currently have, 12 individuals on our customer success team spread out amongst customer success, managers, technical success managers, and support.

and,  you know, we’ve hired a little bit for industry experience, but, so far to date that hasn’t been like a core principle of hiring. I would say, you know, the core principle of hiring for us and, and really the thing that,  I tend to look for when hiring is curiosity. I want people that are very curious and innovative, willing to learn, because you know, this industry much like many others is, is rapidly growing.

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, tolerant, you and I were chatting a little bit just before we started recording the show and how you guys are growing. you know, interesting to see how even like a, a little bit more complicated model in your case, especially with B2B contact centers, et cetera, but you can actually scale customer success that you would in that scenario.

can you touch upon how you guys are building out your customer success team? It sounds like there’s hiring going on, but tell us a little bit about kind of what’s sort of the top process and what’s, what are you guys doing structurally to go from a small customer success team, doing interesting things to a, robust customer team, a customer success team.

That’s helping really large customers. Sure. you know, as a company we’ve grown about 350% over the last seven months. so it is both been a challenge, and, just as exciting, with, with that sort of growth. So it is it’s really. It’s it’s made it so that we have to think extremely strategically, as we bring these customers on, because you know, the worst thing that could happen is we bring on a new customer and we’re not able to give them that same level of either white glove treatment or, you know, really, really deep, care and emphasis on that customer journey.

So. What ultimately, what we had to do is, as I mentioned, you know, kind of break out into three separate specialized functions and those three functions are the customer success manager function. Right. Which really, I just, call our proactive customer engagement, you know, otherwise just CSMs. the second is our technical success managers, and the third is our support team.

our CSMs are really obviously responsible for the proactive engagement, being strategic partners and thought leaders, heavily influencing decisions and helping customers to get the most value out of also the product, our technical success managers. the reason why we had to build, you know, that, that grouping and that specialization is we identified.

due to the complex nature of the Balto products, putting more emphasis on, you know, integrating our solution and ensuring that we’re running into hiccups. when, when they’re up and running, that that’s been a huge, huge lift for us or our technical success team. and the third is our support team.

And as I mentioned, you know, they’re heavily focused on rapid adoption, heavily focused on, you know, all of the reactive stuff that comes through, you know, really being that dial tone when customers are calling in, to facilitate those reactive conversations, that our team can become more proactive.

Got it. I really love that model because you got to CSM. I got a TSM and then you’ve got the actual support folks and they are the three sort of teams are working in harmony to produce. the outcomes in the Valley for customers. are you guys automating a lot of this? Are you guys semi-automated early in automation, kind of, where are you guys in that journey?

Absolutely. We’re very automated as it relates to data and collection of data. Right. And so that’s, that’s helping us to, influence decisions, prioritize customers. we haven’t done as much automation, with say the one to many approach really kind of in that tech touch sort of environment as some people call it.

but what what’s interesting right now, because we’re experiencing so much growth is we’re putting it over emphasis on white glove treatment and, white glove treatment oftentimes means less automation. You know, the automation can. Decisions, but, you know, my customer success managers, the general rule of thumb that I look at is between one and 1.2 million of ARR per CSM, on, you know, the types of accounts, right.

That’s just kind of a, an interesting baseline. we’re about half of that per CSM right now. So that’s so half, you know, over the top white glove treatment. really great customer experiences, and our customers can feel that Balto as a partner is right now. So that’s so half,, you know, over the top white glove treatment. , really great customer experiences,  and, and our customers can feel that Balto as a partner is very engaging and very on top of what their business is doing.

Totally makes sense. And quite frankly, the white glove makes even more sense, given your, go to market a four-year product.  can feel that Balto as a partner is very engaging and very on top of what their business is doing.

Totally makes sense. And quite frankly, the white glove makes even more sense, given you, go to market a four-year product.  And your customer base, which is, tends to be sort of high in the enterprise area. And so Tyler, what does the tech stack look like? Do you guys use massive CRM platforms? Do you guys use a small tool for some automation?

Like what, like all of the above kind of, what does that look like? So, you know, Salesforce, obviously as, as our CRM tool, also internally, we’re using some internal data tools, nothing proprietary by any means, but, to rapidly collect that data. the one tool though that we’ve, that we’ve brought on,  in the past couple of months to really,  you know, where our mouth is on the white-glove treatment is actually a tool called the reach desk and reached us cause of sending plugs.

Similar to like San DOSO, and that actually has been a huge, a huge plus to us because we’ve been able to set it up,

engagement. Right. So one of the ways that we’ve been using reach desk is really focusing on,  You know, I’ll have a couple of different hypotheses. So hypothesis would be if, if we can get our customers engaged in Balto and using Alto more effectively, sooner, right. What sort of impact does that have on retention?

 referenceability, and obviously the, you know, all this would be that we would have,  you know, a great impact and we’ve definitely found that to be true.  so, you know, we’re doing a whole bunch of things like triggered campaigns.

 you know, we’re picking up on, you know, other special moments in the process to, to reward our customers,  through, you know,  adoption contests and,  all of these things together have increased.

Our engagement have increased our NPS scores, significantly,  over the past six months. That’s amazing. And you guys have been testing the hypothesis out. Obviously a lot of that is coming true and. You can continue to iterate on that as you go through sort of your customer journey. And like now you’re experimenting with an iterating on using a lot of tools.

What has been some of the interesting learning. So let me actually ask you a quick pointed question on that, which is, what is the hardest thing, the most difficult thing that you learned throughout this journey, which was, it was difficult to digest, or it was hard to understand, or you were like, I don’t know why our customers are doing that.

Or like anything that you felt was so difficult at least initially to understand. And then, of course, I’m sure you guys overcame that.  I, you know, I think the most difficult thing that I have found, and this isn’t just at Balto, but this is really anywhere is,  you know, getting ghosted on customer meetings.

And, you know, I talked to my team all the time about,  you know, Hey, let’s get all of the data together. Let’s create great EBRs executive business reviews. Let’s, let’s really be proactive in our, in our priors views. And, you know, especially with. Customer success managers that are relatively new into the fields.

 it’s  when you get to put all of these things together, but when you show up to a meeting and the customer doesn’t show up, it’s often a heartbreaking, right. And you’re sitting there you’re, you know, they they’ve put in a bunch of time effort to craft the perfect EDR, dag the customer doesn’t show up and it’s like disheartening.

Totally. Exactly. And so.  you know, I, I thought about that a lot. Like why, why do our customers not show up to meetings?  and, and, you know, doing a lot reflecting and also thinking about myself in the customer’s shoes.  you know, I started asking questions like, Oh, well, You know, do we not have great data?

Are they not engaged with our product? And ultimately what I kind of came to the realization too, is that,  customers aren’t showing up to our meetings, oftentimes because we’re not delivering them like extra value. And especially at the EBR level where you’re working with executives, if you’re not bringing in,  you know, really direct information that they can digest.

And bring,  you know, ultimately that can help them become better.  they’re not going to show up. They’re not going to spend their time.  you know, as you know, we only have so many hours in the day and you know, if I’m, being asked to spend an hour,  in, in a meeting where you’re going to basically show me graphs of how you’ve used it or your roadmap, like that’s, that’s not enough, right.

You’re pointed. And it has to be very pointed towards real business problems that your customers are trying to solve. Outstanding. I totally agree. And this is the part where, you know, CS really can make a huge difference or can be a complete problem because, and that’s the part of the, about adding value to.

The sort of the warrant that execs do in your, in your customer organizations. And that makes a ton of sense. So how have you been able to turn it around? Has it been like, Oh, we’re going to create more value, just show how the product is helping your business, or are you sharing customers like the success stories of some of the users?

How are you guys sort of highlighting those things? Yeah, we’re, it’s very. I mean back right there. There’s kind of two populations that we work with. There’s the existing customers that are used to working with, you know, your company in a certain way or certain method, and then there’s new customers.

Right. And so, you know, it’s oftentimes thinking through what do we want to do with both populations and,  You know, with, with the existing folks,  and the new folks, it’s,  setting a new tone and that new tone often comes,  you know, not necessarily starting at the executive level, but finishing at that executive level, right.

You want, by the time you get into an EBR,  you really want to ensure that your manager or your champion or the people you’re working with on a daily basis,  you know, feel excited about the value you’re delivering for them.  and the best way to do that is to, you know, ask great questions. So I find that in our progress reviews,  or just any times that that were,  you know, really digging into our customer counts, if, if you can really ask really great pointed strategic questions and understand what they’re doing as a business, right.

You’re going to get a lot of nuggets of insight.  an example of one of our, one of our customers,  the other week,  you know, our, our CSM, you know, she was doing an amazing job of asking very pointed questions and it came out that the customer of ours,  they’re going on this massive,  training,  adventure, where  they’re bringing in this outside training from to teach, you know, very pointed sales skills.

And those sorts of questions or those sorts of like answers of, you know, business priorities don’t come out unless you ask those right questions because oftentimes. Well in the weeds of talking about our product or, you know,  very support related tasks, like, is this working, do you have any more users?

And you know, those things will come, but you know, the opportunities that we have, especially with decision-makers to ask them about their business, their quarterly goals, their priorities, right. That can oftentimes lead into the way that we prioritize and position our product. Tyler. That is another great nugget right there, which is asking quality questions.

And the quality of those questions determines the quality of our EDRs, the quality of our interactions. Quite frankly, the quality of sort of our relationship with those customers. That’s brilliant. And maybe there’s something to be said and something that maybe the customer success leader, listening to this, it’s going to take your heart, which is like, how can I improve?

The quality of questions within my team. And,  that’s probably a really good exercise with enough itself.  Tyler, as we wrap up here,  you know, if you were to share one piece of advice to the listener was probably to customer success,  what would be that one piece of advice? I think my biggest piece of advice, and this is probably different than what most people would say.

but it would be innovate.  and what, what I mean by that is it’s not as simple as just, you know, create new things, but really innovate.  and the best way to innovate in my opinion is to understand the customer. And so it all kind of wraps with. You know, if you ask great questions, if you meet lots of people and you put yourself out,  whether you’re a CSM,  you know, a director of customer success, vice president doesn’t really matter.

But if you understand the customer base and you understand what it is that they’re going through, when they’re interacting with your business, innovate on that, ask questions about how you can be better, ask questions about what tools are out there to make it so that your experiences and your relationships can grow with these customers.

 and ultimately the results will follow from that. Right. Oftentimes,  we were so worried about,  retention rates and we’re so worried about NPS scores and these metrics that really,  oftentimes people from, outside of the CS world, judge us on. But if you really focus on those leading things, right, and innovate on how we can make those better, the results will come and I’m highly confident, awesome innovate.

Ask questions, listen to your customers. And a great experience. We’ll follow Tyler for folks to follow you. What’s the best way to, for them to follow your Twitter, LinkedIn? Yeah. On LinkedIn, obviously just search my name on LinkedIn. I try to post at least once a week and,  heavily focused in, on you know, similar sorts of topics around curiosity, innovation and such.

So,  yeah, it definitely looked out for me there. Awesome Tyler. It was so valuable for you to be on the show. Thank you so much. Have a great rest of the day Thanks. Appreciate it.