CX Insights

CX Insights Episode 6: Customer Success is a continuous initiative

Veronica Dasovich is the Senior Director, Customer Success at Heap.

Prior to Heap, she was Customer Success Leader at App Annie and Professional Services leader at IBM.

Veronica has worked with hundreds of technology and data leaders in product, marketing, sales, and customer success, from small and medium businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

She has a strong passion for building, growing, and nurturing relationships with customers, team, and peers.

Here are some of the highlights from this episode:

  • Customer journey maps and articulating customer value
  • CSM playbooks definition
  • Driving CSM compensation, effectiveness and productivity


Welcome to the show. Our guest for today’s episode is Veronica Dasovich, she’s the senior director of customer success at Heap.

Veronica, Welcome to the show.

Hi, thanks for having me. Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Yeah, definitely. So a bit background on me.

I started my career in technical sales at IBM, in their global technology services division. I moved into the start-up world thereafter at app Annie, which is a mobile intelligence platform based in the Bay area, working in account management. And there was an early Heap customer, focus on driving.

With the adoption of our customers through Heap data and in partnership with customer success, I fell in love with the product and made my way over to Heap. I was the first customer success hire and have built out the customer success organization. Over the past three years, Heap is now a series C, SAS product analytics company, focused on servicing a wide variety of customers and SMB mid-market and enterprise.

Awesome. That’s such a great story, Veronica. You were a customer and then you moved on to become a customer success leader at Heap. That’s so cool. I love it. Congratulations.  Tell me a little bit more about Heap. I understand it’s a product analytics company. Do you guys do telemetry? What are you guys into?

Yeah, definitely. So we are an analytics platform that helps product marketing and customer success teams, craft exceptional digital experiences that help with conversion and retention use cases. So we capture all behavioural data automatically with a single line of JavaScript, which is installed on your website or with an SDK on your mobile application.

And we provide you the tools to turn that data into action. So be that, how you’re going to drive higher conversion rates, how you’re going to, look at specific segments of your business and driving higher retention or engagement of your application. Great. So, it sounds super exciting and that’s something that.

You know, almost every company needs it. Whether it’s a SAS company or a company that has digital properties, products, et cetera. What have you? So that’s super incredible. Any, do you guys focus on particular customers, segments, like a large enterprise or mid-market or SMB? Or if you guys focus on any industry verticals in particular like tech or manufacturing, how do you guys work?

Yeah, definitely. So we, are very fortunate that we service, a very wide variety of customers. So anywhere from small-medium business to enterprise, we have a customer in that segment. We also do tend to see more customers in. E-commerce SAS and financial services, you think about like the acquisition funnel, right?

For converting customers from, you know, be that like a lending solution or, an e-commerce platform Heap is helping. Marketers and product managers, really optimize that experience. And then once you’ve acquired customers, you help customers, help increase adoption of their customer base.

So be that with, you know, maybe they want to increase the number of subscriptions for an e-commerce product, or if it’s a log-in experience in a SAS tool, we are helping our customers get a view into their customer journey. That is very cool. And it’s almost like inception a dream within a dream because on one hand you’re providing analytics and they’re using that to understand their customer.

So when you’re providing customer success to Heap in a way you’re providing customer success to their customers as well, it’s kind of a really cool concept in my opinion. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It’s funny you say that too at Heap. Our customer success management organization uses Heap more than any team in the company.

So we look at, you know, the dashboards that we have set up and keep like we’re really focused on like, what are the kinds of, queries that our customers are running? What reports are they saving? Where are we seeing new users out of the platform? There are just countless questions that we can ask from a customer success perspective.

That’s helped us be very data-driven as an organization. Very cool. Let’s dive into the customer success aspect of this. And, you’ve been with Heap for some time. You, you guys have a lot of customers in different segments. When you work with the team on, let’s say the customer journey map or a series of maps, what did you guys find?

Did you find like, Oh, let’s we can develop a consistent customer journey for, all of our customers Or did you see some variation there? How do you, how do you guys account for that, given that your customer base is fairly diverse and it’s across the spectrum? Yeah, that’s a great question. So I would say over the years, we’ve iterated on our customer journey many times.

But more specifically at the end of last year, we had a pretty big strategic initiative to document our customer journey and understand. You know, what, where are the gaps in our inability to service the customer from anywhere from the acquisition phase, with our marketing and our brands to driving brand awareness to renewal, in the customer success, customer journey phases.

So within that exercise, we tried to focus most on, you know, what is our standard customer journey, which for us is where the bulk of our Customer business is, which is our SMB and mid-market customer base. And then from there iterate up and down on, you know, what does that look like for our self-serve or based here, customers who don’t have a managed customer success team, or might not go through a formal proof of concept process, or trial with the sales team.

And then how do we scale that up with our enterprise customers? So what are those added touch points that, you know, only our enterprise customers will see so more frequent touchpoints in the onboarding, Pre success planning for quarterly business reviews, monthly check-ins, etcetera. So I think that helped us align, and also make sure that we are testing the customer journey with our core customer base.

Nailing that before we look at it, how are we going to adjust this for the different segments of our customers? Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And, accounting for that variation is always challenging. And Veronica, tell me a little bit about if the customer base that you serve and the customer journeys that you take them on.

Are they also sort of segmented by the size of the customer? For example, if you look at it as a pyramid, the top of the pyramid is like large customers, they will be high touch and the customer success plays. If you will, they’re more high touch. And, you know, there are dedicated CSMs versus their customers at the bottom of the pyramid who may not be large customers.

But they do need some help. And then maybe there are some electronic or digital ways of serving those customers. Tell us a little bit about what that stack Looks like. Yeah, definitely. So the way that we think about segmentation is really, and I would recommend it to anyone like doing this for your own.

Company to look at it from the perspective, like, how do you segment the customers based on like the core metrics that drive like pricing and also adoption?  So for us, those two levers are really the digital experience. So how much of the digital experience. Of our customers being tracked with Heap.

So if it’s, is it one application, do they have a hundred applications? And that has implications then for the potential users that we would be servicing. So if it is a small application and there’s maybe one or two product managers, then we would have, you know, a CSM that might have a higher book of business because they don’t expect to have as many touch points with those customers.

And can then also manage a bit more by exception, not having to be as high touch with every single customer. And then customers where we see, yeah, there’s a ton of applications. And, we would expect to have a lot more end users and we would need to have a CSM that is as more bandwidth to service those needs.

The way we look at it, kind of the base tier of our customers. So again, these are unmanaged, don’t have a CSM. We do have our solutions engineering support team, and we’ve invested a lot in our Heap University. So he’d be universities where. Customers can come in and self-serve on all of our education materials, and we’re always adding new content there and messaging that to that customer base.

So that they’re aware that, Hey, like there’s a new course that we think could be interesting to you, which is helpful for those customers. Especially as we know, education is extremely important, to getting success for analytics. And then on the flip side for customers where we have tons of end-users.

You know, CSM can’t get to all of them. So we also leverage university a lot for those customers. So we do also make sure to market that and bring that up proactively as a way to drive adoption with our biggest customers. Oh, very cool. And I love that concept of the Heap University and it sounds like on-demand Digital learning for end-users, whether those are basic customers or premium customers, that’s a super handy tool. And, it sounds like it’s been refreshed frequently. That’s commendable and, Veronica, as you were talking to, you know, one of the things that were, I was curious about is when, because your customers are using heat, a lot of them are end-users.

I would call it sort of the consumption area within your customer. There’s also the buying area within the customer, which is people who have decided to buy Heap and make sure that the investment that they’ve made in this purchase, that there’s a business value for them. And, I’m curious as to how does the customer success team demonstrates value?

Because at the start of the sales cycle, I’m sure, sales folks from your company would have approached the customer, promise them business value. And customer success team is now, responsible and accountable to make sure we are delivering, that value in many cases, meeting or exceeding the expectation that the customer has.

Tell us a bit about how business value is demonstrated to those customers. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And, I would say for, you know, since we are an analytics product, we do try to work with our customers to firstly, just understand in the onboarding process and even pre-sale, before we get to onboarding, like, what are.

Customer’s specific success metrics that they expect to see that aligned to their specific business objectives. At the end of the day, we see a lot of different initiatives from customers, and it’s really important that we are helping them achieve their own goals, not in the words of Heap.

So I would say we put a lot of focus on the success planning in the onboarding. We have a success planning, the only milestone where the CSM and the executive sponsor and the champion, even before starting implementation. Make sure to validate the success metrics that were discussed in the pre-sale process and then align on like, what are those baselines for success, not just for onboarding, but for the entire partnership.

What we do tend to see though is, there are, four main value drivers that Heap helps support for our customers. And we’ve built an ROI calculator that helps, drive. Some of those metrics into our quarterly business review process. And that particularly helps a lot for customers that may not know what their success metrics are, or they wouldn’t like to learn, like, how are other teams getting value out of Heap?

And like, what are other ways that we could be leveraging the platform?  So those are subsystems. Specifically on, improving conversion, improving retention. So those are the two main, business drivers that we see within our customer base and then, helping reduce implementation costs and reduce, the time spent on maintaining pipelines.  

So we have a product that basically can send data automatically into your warehouse as well. And there’s a lot of. The cost that customers incur to have to keep up that type of pipeline. And we’ve seen significant cost savings there as well. So it is helpful to have that as a tool kit for CSM celebrities with customers.

But again, we try to focus most on what is important to that specific customer. That sounds great. And it sounds like there’s a quantifiable value that you can demonstrate based on the combination of ROI calculator and the analytics and the heat tool, it is possible to have quantifiable value for most customers in most cases.

Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, I think what’s, what’s been really,  Common that we see is customers see a pretty significant reduction in engineering costs because we are a no tagging analytics solution. So we can migrate that work away from the engineering team and towards higher-value work for the engineering team.

So we see upwards of, you know, a hundred thousand to over a million dollars in savings, depending on the type of implementation because that tagging workers no longer. Part of a JIRA ticket process. So they can spend that time that those resources, improving the product, not just tagging the analytics behind the product.

Very cool. Veronica let’s shift gears a little bit and maybe talk about some of the guts of the customer success capabilities within Heap. One of my favourite topics is playbooks and, playbooks are a great way for any customer success leader to drive, processes, and workflows and, basically make things easier for the CSMs and for the customer, to get value out of the product.

And, how do you see Customer success, playbooks within Heap? Are they, are they defined? Are you guys, continuously updating them? How are they, how are they being used in the company? And give us a little bit of a preview. Yeah, yeah, definitely. So, we started this initiative last quarter too.

Document our core playbooks for CS. And I think what was interesting in this process is there’s a lot CSMs are doing behind the scenes and not necessarily sharing, with the rest of the organization. I think this is a great way for us to really align on like, well, how should you be spending your time?

And also where are the best practices that have worked well for you in driving adoption? So when we think about adoption, we think about it in two ways. One is on driving breadth. In the account. So we thankfully have a product where multiple teams can be using Heap anywhere from product marketing, CS, data engineering, and we typically land with one initial use case.

And so it’s important for the CSM to always be thinking about, well, how do I make, not just the product team successful, but. I do. How can I find a marketing team use case or CS? And then secondarily, we think about adoption in terms of depth. So maybe I’m working with a product team, but I only have two of the 10 product managers on the team using Heap.

Or, you know, all of the team is using heat, but they’re only using basic level features are not really advanced users. And there’s a ton of capabilities are kind of leaving on the table. So we’ve built the playbook cantered around those two paths. So let’s say, for example, a CSM is interested in driving, breadth of adoption.

They first need to be very specific on understanding. Well, I want to make sure that the existing team is successful. You can’t expand until you have a very good story to tell, right? So there’s certainly a lot of steps there that a lot of that has to do with the onboarding, but, you know, there could always be turnover and things that you need to do to make sure that that existing team is successful.

So we have playbooks specific to that. And then from there, like the CSM is kind of doing it. Getting a little bit more like the BDR sales hat on, right? So like, where is the area of the opportunity doing research, in Heath and some cases it’s seeing, you know, what are new rules that have been added in the platform are they’re like low hanging users.

I could. Reach out to that. Might’ve been curious about the platform, other research, and LinkedIn, or with the existing team, just understanding where else could he be a good fit for this company and the needs of their organization. And then once identifying that specific team, then we have built Email campaigns, content for those, specific use cases to entice those, teams to be interested in taking a meeting with the CSM and driving kind of like mini POC is right to do training and understand. Is there a good fit here? I’m glad that you are interested in this use case. Let me show you how some of our other customers are using Heap for your specific needs.

And then from there, I would say, we then, you know, penetrate, if the customer is excited and wants to move forward with using Heap, then, we kind of treat it like a mini onboarding, right? So measuring, what are the success metrics for this team? How are we going to be driving, their outcomes and, You know, what are some of the reports we need to set up to make them successful and ongoing management of that team from there on, so what we’ve done overall is documented these playbooks, at least for now in spreadsheets, until we nail, right? Like what are the playbooks that work at scale?

We’re not going to be automating, playbooks until yet until we have, we’re very comfortable with. The success that we’re seeing. So we’re doing a ton of in-call it like mini beta tests on our playbooks at Heap. Oh, that’s fascinating. Veronica. And it’s, it sounds like, you guys have done quite a few experiments, iterations, and the playbook got to a point where you can look at which like looking at the breadth and the depth to unlock more use cases for clients and customers.

Have those expansions resulted in additional revenue opportunities? Like for example, Oh, these playbooks have created like 30% more, you know, revenue for us versus just traditionally the way we were selling. Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, I can’t tie a specific, revenue metric per se, but I can say like the impact on our company’s growth.

We have. I mean, you just had our best quarter ever in terms of expansion in the company. And a lot of that is driven by customer success.  Cause these teams, when you think about, again, our pricing model, it’s based on how much of the digital experience are we tracking. So if. The CSM identifies, you know, a marketing team that could be using heat.

That means that he can get installed on their marketing website. And that drives up revenue for the organization. I think though, like a lot of the work here that we’re trying to focus on is driving higher adoption, which is the leading indicator for success. So I would expect to continue to see us succeed in our expansion targets for the coming quarters.

Oh, that’s fascinating, and congrats again on the best quarter ever for expansion. Thanks. Yeah, we’re pretty excited. One question on that, because you know, when it’s so fun to see when CSMs are driving that, level of expansion with customers, let’s touch upon CSM compensation and comp is, an interesting matter because of a lot of times there’s an operating model that comes into play like, Hey, how do we compensate CSMs versus sellers, or even versus support teams, etcetera. So how do you see CSM comp? Is there also an element of variable comp, based on expansion or productivity? Like how do you guys, compute that.

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I love this topic. It’s always different at every company. It seems like there’s, there’s just not a right answer. So again, go back to whether behaviours are trying to drive your specific CSM team. And how do you, you know, think about the growth of customers, and the targets that you have for driving up extension?

So at Heap, we have a model where the CSM, has an 80, 20, so 80 bases, 20 variable.  The weighted variable is split in half. Half of it is based on net retention and the other half is an adoption MBO. So for net retention, it is an individual net retention target, and it is quarter over quarter.

So the CSM has the opportunity. Within the quarter to increase their customer base, if they have some churn, then at least they have, you know, the expansion to hopefully offset. And then we use targets that are based on our expectations for that specific segments, SMB, even market, and enterprise.

And we find that this model works, for a lot of reasons. It mainly because the CSM,  is motivated to save churn and to drive growth. And I think that’s important because of the sales organization. To work closely with the CSMs need to have some aligned incentives. And the last thing we want is a CSM to not be motivated, to help promote growth in the account, right?

Like the CSM needs to be helping, the sales team identify opportunities, penetrate other teams that we could be in driving. More. The breadth of use cases in the account. So I advocate for that because I think it can be very de-motivating for CSM if they have no stake in growth.

And then for the adoption embryos, this is where we get to have a bit more fun, I guess, as a CS leads organization. So when we think about this, we have been, testing different.  MBO is related to adoption. I don’t like to have NPS or even specific usage metrics. Like, you know, the number of querying users tied with CSMs comp, because there’s a lot there that has nothing to do with the CSMs ability to service the customer.

A lot of that could also have to do with like the product feedback or, you know, maybe market dynamics. I’ve really. No say in like the CSMs ability to do their job well, and your customer that is using the product in a certain way. I mean, there could be so many variables there. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So we, we try to choose adoption MBAs that we want CSMs are really hone in on their craft and really think about it lesson like the, do it, do your job metrics like QPRs.

We don’t want to, you know, have that as part of the metrics. But for example, this past quarter, we have CSMs, digging into what we are calling use case plays, which are essentially specific best practices that we’ve seen our best customers use Heap for in getting customers to adopt those plays, where we see low adoption, a big reason why we’re pushing on this is that we know that there’s.

Explicit ways that we could be using our product and driving adoption that will allow us to actually scale those playbooks. So through this process, we’re super excited about this. We’ve now built up a library of use case plays that’s actually published, publicly, which I think is on our LinkedIn.

You can check that out. And then it’s now actually going to be also implemented in the product to help customers on a path to getting to the question that they’re trying to answer in a reduced time. So the CSMs have been making a pretty big impact and just even how the product is built through this adoption metric.

Oh, wonderful. Veronica. There are so many nuggets there. I love the focus. You know, driving certain behaviours in the CSM, the community also, very interesting and intriguing on the use case plays. And that could be a good lever. To pull in many ways, because, on one hand, it’s helping CSMs. And on the other hand, it’s helping customers and also in the product teams, they were really closing the loop with the product team.

That’s phenomenal. So, you know, what’s intriguing is in this journey that you had this far Veronica, ad Heap, you’ve gone from, you know, being a customer to. Starting to run customer success. And now you’re basically, optimizing a lot of the customer success plays. What has been the most difficult part of this, like things that, something that you had to overcome, and it was super hard and it could be like, I don’t know why the customers don’t get this, or it could be, Oh, the sales folks are promising too much to the customers or it could be anything.

What was the most difficult thing that you and your customer success team had to overcome? Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And this might sound contradictory to everything we’ve just discussed, but I think. I think ultimately what we’ve gone through to transition is, you know, our organization used to own commercials.

And I was always a big advocate of that. And the main reason why is because I think the CSM. Does help, you know, have the voice of the customer and the trust of the customer and the customer, you know, ultimately will renew and upsell if there’s a good relationship. Right. But it doesn’t position the CSM really as being the trusted advisor and the CSM then loses sight of adoption.

So I think over the past year, where we’ve had to kind of move out of that model is really hard to start to integrate sales back into customer accounts, transitioning CSM, student adoption, only a role where they really aren’t owning contracts. They’re partnering with a sales rep. But I think there’s been so much benefit in the process that has really allowed the CSM to be.

More strategic with customers, not having to say no. And also putting them in a position where they’re not really set up to be successful because they have to manage so much of the customer themselves. So I think, honestly, that was one of the most difficult processes I’ve ever had to go through of like transitioning the entire organization to now being a non-commercial customer success team.

Yeah, that’s insightful Veronica because having that clarity and driving that clarity in the organization is hard, but it ultimately leads to better outcomes. That was fascinating. Thank you for sharing that. As we wrap up here, here’s a question. If you were to share one piece of advice for the listener on customer success, what would that be?

Yeah. Honestly, I would say in all my, all of my time at Heap, I would start with a basic framework and playbook for how you ideally like the customer journey to look and document it and try to get buy-in on that customer journey to execute against it. As I mentioned earlier, there are so many different iterations we’ve gone through on the customer journey.

But one consistent thing is that we continue to look back on what we documented, how we execute against it. What are the gaps? How do we iterate and how do we improve? And I think that’s helped us get to the point where we are now, where we’re seeing a successful customer journey. And not having to kind of start from scratch each time.

Right? So it’s an evolving process and it should be something that you don’t just do once and forget about. Like, it really is a consistent and continuous initiative that should be at every customer success organization. There you go have at least a basic customer success framework and a playbook and iterate as you build that up.

Veronica. This has been phenomenal for folks to follow you. What’s the best way for them to do that? Twitter, LinkedIn, where are you at? Yeah, I am on LinkedIn. So you can find me on LinkedIn at, my LinkedIn is where you can just connect with me directly if there’s anything you want to discuss customer success.

Outstanding Veronica. Thank you so much. This is super valuable. Thank you again for being on the show. Thank you so much. Really appreciate the time.