Thanks to the Preflight community for inviting Dickey Singh for a deep dive into PLG and Digital Customer Success. With guests: Aron Lanclos (OwnBackup), Dickey Singh (cast.app), and Joy Shukla (Author of Customer Success Mindset)
Thanks to the Preflight community for inviting Dickey Singh for a deep dive into PLG and Digital Customer Success. With guests: Aron Lanclos (OwnBackup), Dickey Singh (cast.app), and Joy Shukla (Author of Customer Success Mindset)
Aron has been in leadership roles in Customer Success for over 10 years transforming some from perpetual to recurring revenue streams and building some from $50M ARR to ~$1B ARR. Most of his time has been in the data management space and Life Sciences industry.
He has an engineering background and a candid ability to be able to transform process and product into value and outcomes. Aron’s philosophy of “Personal, Proactive, and Predictive” resonates well with a human-first approach as he drives scale and efficiency in organizations. His prescriptive methodologies to build detailed customer journey maps and a “personalized journey at scale” allows him to always insert human elements into a structured framework.
Aron is currently the Vice President of Customer Success at OwnBackup, helping customers manage data and drive outcomes in cloud based solutions, and sits on the customer advisory board at Gainsight.
In his spare time, he loves spending time making memories with his wife and kids.
Please connect with Aron here on LinkedIn. He would love to hear from you as he continues to learn about what others are doing in the Customer Success Space.
Dickey Singh is the CEO and Founder of cast.app, an automation company that drives growth and revenue from existing customers.
Cast Digital CSMs generate personalized presentations and deliver and explain them to your customers, tying insights to actionable recommendations and advice.
Dickey was the founder and CEO of Pyze Analytics and Encounters before cast.app. Earlier, he was SVP of product, CTO, or a VP creating customer-facing products at several silicon valley venture-backed companies, including CustomerSat, MarketTools, and Vivotech, serving customers ranging from Apple, Google, Salesforce, SAP, MasterCard, Oracle, and more.
He has ten patents and lives in the SF Bay area with his wife, twins, and a 98-pound English Lab Elektra.
Jyo is an award-winning customer success leader with over a decade of experience in the B2B software-as-a-service space. She has spent most of her career helping start-ups and enterprises across the globe build scalable, meaningful customer journeys, and enable the best use of technology to drive business outcomes.
Outside of work, Jyo is an active advocate and volunteer for organizations promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as the education and professional development of women and disadvantaged youth.
She is the author of "Customer Success Mindset: Building Customer-Centricity into the DNA of your Growth Strategy," available for purchase on Amazon.
Note the computer-generated transcripts were slightly edited.
Usha: Hello everyone welcome to  is a community of Onboarding, Implementation, and CS and PS folks so we have folks across the post-sale spectrum and today we'll be talking about PLG I'll give you a quick definition and then move on to introductions, and then we'll jump right in um I think for me what PLG — I'm going to define — what PLG means to me and what I've come across in the community when I try to discuss it with people in the postals org that have a PhD motion right uh they've always said that product led companies prioritize Time to Value that's the first thing that I've heard everywhere and they start to create an AHA moment early in the customer success Customer Journey actually and that's how they get to the value faster and PLG has been product is the primary driver for acquiring and retaining customers and this strategy it's it can be called more than a strategy but it typically involves making the product the centerpiece of the customer experience and using that to drive the user engagement and growth uh think of it as a top of the funnel driving your sales and then driving your attention um so it's a pleasure to introduce to you all the incredible panel of experts we have today we have Aron Lanclos the preview of customer success at own backup we have Dickey Singh who is the CEO and co-founder of cast.app and we have Jyo Shukla who's the author and director she runs her own consulting firm for CX and digital transformation so welcome Aron, Dickey, and Jyo so great to have you here; thank you for doing this with us and uh we'll just start by knowing a little bit more about your journey so far and then we'll jump right into PLG
Aron: Perfect thank you so I'll start off and then hand it over maybe to you Joe but uh Aron Lanclos here nice to be invited to this panel and hopefully we can add some value to the group today I've been in customer success I would say for about 20 years of my career before customer success was cool and before the SAS Market was SAS uh taking care of anything from large customers in a paid four model all the way through uh creating digital content and kind of this plg motion so I have a lot of experience mostly in data management and IT software uh did a little bit of a stint in life sciences industry as well and had some software that helped develop some of our coveted vaccines so that was an interesting moment in my career but over to you Jo
Jyo: Thanks Aron hi everybody nice to meet you all, my name is Jyo Shukla I'm joining you from Sydney Australia today um so I'm the author of a book called Customer success Mindset and I decided to write that book because I am obsessed with the concept of customer success um so I my background is I started my career in IT Service delivery around 12 13 years ago and then I moved into customer success and I think like I said I've been obsessed with it ever since um after writing my book I started my Consulting Journey last year so now I consult with large Financial organizations healthcare companies and startups to help with internal change management to enable more outcomes for their customers better customer experience and product like growth so I think the the topic today is very close to the work that I do and um my passion in general and I look forward to having a fruitful discussion with everyone here today. Over to you Dickey.
Dickey: Thank you so much uh Usha Aron and Joe yeah my name is Dickey Singh and then I yeah I've been involved with customer-facing products for over 20 years and customer satisfaction overall satisfaction so every time Steve Jobs bent up the stage and say that Apple has you know 98 customer satisfaction that was a product that I created right so at a company called CustomerSat.
Today I'm the founder and CEO of a company called cast.app and Cast.app is an automation platform to drive growth and revenue from existing customers without expanding teams... so we automate things that matter the most to both customer success and revenue leaders — which is growth, revenue, and referrals and we'll talk more about that.
And growth is like driving usage, usefulness, and adoption of products customers are paying for leading into no-brainer renewals, up-sells, cross-sells, and referrals and I'm so glad to be here to talk about two of my favorite topics digital CS and PLG.
Usha: Thank you, everyone. for the great introductions, I think we can get started I started with what PLG means to me how I understand it so I think we can get started with how you all understand PLG and what Digital customer success means to you all from all the experience that you've had over the years
Dickey: I can give it a shot um you know PLG to me is um where the usage of the product drives almost everything else and by everything else I mean new customer acquisition usage of the product itself, the adoption, the retention, the renewals, and the expansion so key to that is the product should be useful and easy for the end user. Not easy for the CS Leader or not easy for uh the CIO or so... it should be easy for the end user and that inherently drives the adoption and usage There has to be some level of freemium model to it and as well as virality so when user users use it other users see their work and they get to use it more so everything is based on the usage of the product
Aron: yeah I agree with you Dickey and um I think for me the product blood growth is everything driven from the product perspective like you mentioned to drive outcomes for the customers and and to me it really starts with coordinated Communications um so everything that your company is doing in front of the customer to drive that customer experience needs to be coordinated and whether that's directly through the product or somehow indirectly related through some kind of product uh kind of Journey or expansion that experience has to be cohesive and consistent throughout that entire customer journey and I think that's where it starts for me is looking at it from that product perspective and how do you drive everything from onboarding and adoption to expansion all the you know through your product but also let let customers be part of something larger be part of the community when I say that I mean kind of that Capital Community where I'm talking about interact with other peers through the product how do we enable that how do we let customers actually manage their environment and their own profiles and personas of what they want to see in the product and it becomes that customized experience to that product that leads them back to wanting more out of your product and that's going to lead to adoption and the expansion obviously through different product sets through cross-sell and upsell opportunities so for me it's it's that same mindset but making sure that you enable that Journey holistically throughout the uh throughout the product so Jyo I'll turn it over to you yeah
Jyo: absolutely, I think, absolutely agreeing with you both and not trying to repeat what everyone said here absolutely agree with the discussion uh the definition here I think that one of the things one of the misconceptions that's floating around in the market is that plg is only for companies that would offer premium trials or a trial subscription sort of uh model but I think that the definition and best practice is that a product growth model gives us are equally applicable to any company selling Enterprise applications to their customers and that's why it's so important I think I've had conversations with the peers in the industry before where plg and customer-led growth are sort of as a chicken and egg situation what comes first what came first what should happen first um my view on that is that the product always comes first so plg comes first but when you complement it with a product with a customer-led growth model it enables this this discontinuous Loop internally within your organization and helps you connect with your customers better through better data better metrics just better everything a better experience for your customers and that drives outcomes not just for your customers but for your company as well in terms of you know an increased user base and expanded user base more referrals expansion opportunities and all of that
Dickey: And just to add one more thing we are looking at the broader definition of product uh not just like a mobile app or a web app uh you know Facebook or Meta would describe "you" as the product right because it's like free so um and so don't think of like product as something where we do monthly active users going to a SaaS application or monthly active users on a mobile application uh even if you take content and send it to the inbox of a customer or the into in their their [Phone] text inbox you are making your pro you're taking your product to them you can bring them into your product Or you can like uh take them to their products. So we're looking at the broader definition of the product.
Aron: over here yeah and I'll expand on that and say in today's economy obviously everyone's looking at how do we do this how do we do this customer experience in this product led growth at scale and that's really where the challenge comes in because in my world I don't back up we don't have a premium kind of service we have trials and and we have human-led approaches to that but once you get in the product it's what's that first experience look like in that first experience whether it's through a product or a human touch or it's a first training element all of those things need to be evaluated for how does that fit into our overall strategy strategy of product-led growth and how does that fit into the overall customer Journey because if you have a poor first experience that actually starts that whole relationship on a let's call it sour note and you're going to limit yourself on what the product can handle and one thing that I'll point out is if if you're going through the motions of asking yourself hey how much you know do I need to enable customers more through a lot of training or follow these training modules and then you're enabled in the product for me it's looking at the product itself saying is the product ready and every product's different I'm not going to you know debate that obviously and you have to understand the complexity of your product but enable the product itself to be simple where it needs to be simple and where you need human elements let's make sure those are scaled efficiently as well so I think that's very important in my world absolutely
Joy: And, I think Aron you bring up a very good point I think most companies when they look at enabling a digital led model for customer success into their product led growth model end up doing digitization but it's often done with the right intentions but done in the wrong way and that that leads to what I've in my experience very generic Outreach to customers Outreach that doesn't speak to them and eventually becomes invaluable I've personally experienced that with a lot of the products that I use where the intent is right but the communication no matter what the method of Outreach be is so generic that it doesn't speak to the customer so I think that one of the things and it's not that hard to do and we'll Deep dive into it as we progress this discussion is that how do you how do you enable a digitally led human supported model where people can talk to a human if they need to because sometimes you know we need to talk to a human being and you know automation doesn't do everything for you also remembering that the human brain is behind all the automation that's what drives the automation so how do you make it a digitally led but human first approach
Aron: I couldn't agree more and a lot of what we're going through that it's Own Backup right now through the digital transformation and that's part of the role that that I've taken on is to actually help that transformation so I'm glad you brought it up I know we'll dive deeper into some of those what specifics that I can talk about some of the specifics that we're looking at doing to help enable that Journey as well
Dickey: and yeah in the older days you know we had sales people knocking on doors and selling stuff right we don't do that anymore we advertise and when the customer sees an advertisement they come to us right so the same the approach can be taken with uh digital CS right you inform the users uh of like you know you share insights you share data uh individually like you you'd say different things to a c-level executive a different thing to an operator and a different thing to maybe a power user and when they have questions or something they can click a button and you can directly set up like calendly to talk to a custom success manager talk to a VP or talk to the c-level exec whoever they want so I think the same approach uh you know you communicate with customers and they can see this on their own time and then they come back to you so we are all in super agreement I was hoping that we will argue a little bit but not yet so well.
Aron: Dickey you bring you bring up a good point something again bit specific here something that we're working on that own backup that I think really relates to what you're talking about is um how do how do we stay personalized but at scale number one but specifically around like working with products and getting product feedback back to our product teams so that becomes even a product-led growth strategy or part of that overall strategy and today we capture it one-on-one with csms and it was a very human element and we're trying to do it at scale again building things like a community maybe you have up voting and things like that but something that's very important to me as I talk to customers is how do we close that Loop and I think no matter what product led grow aspect you're talking about you have to be able to close that Loop and again I'll use the word make customers feel like they're part of something larger because they want to feel like they're contributing not only to the product itself but to the company as a whole and helping through that digital transformation with you and customers are more than willing to meet their peers to talk about some of these ideas and actually share some of that so for us that product feedback that upvoting that that close using the loop and again even if you have that human element Vicky and say hey we're talking or chatting with someone that has a great idea and we we have to have a way to capture that we have to have a way to prioritize that with our product teams and most importantly again in my book have a way to close that Loop and share back to that customer base based on your feedback here's what we're going to do and here's how the priorities we're going to implement based on your feedback and I think that's very important to get them again talking about being part of something larger super exciting would you sorry
Dickey: Super exciting what you're saying ... you know closing the loop is key, so I'll take it a step further even if you do not agree with what the customer is saying, you still need to tell them why you're not going to do that or what they're doing, and maybe you're wrong maybe the customer will at that point when you're taking the feedback back to them and give you a use case where it makes sense to do that right so always never ghost your customers right always tell them uh you know why you're going to do something and when you're going to do it how long it will take you to do it or why you're not going to do something I think that I've learned that from experience especially you know helping customers like Google Yahoo Apple like you have to always tell them why you're not and they respect that they know on this okay yeah what if you pay you extra will you do that things like that uh come out of the come out of that very quickly
Jyo: I love that I think um I always say that in our profession there is no there's no no there is always a no but um and that's how we answer our customers um so I think that customer success professionals obviously have learned the artist saying no but this is not about that I think this back to your points Aron and Dickey I think this is about one how do we get started on an effective Digital customer success strategy and two back to your point Aron how do we enable that constant feedback loop so in my work that I've done with several organizations I've come to notice that there's really golden nuggets of customer feedback Beyond just NPS Beyond just interactions with customer success managers um I think what companies need to be able to do effectively to do this more effectively is enable that enable different teams to share that feedback from customers into a centralized location that not only gets delivered to product but also enables a conversation not just with customers internally as well so one of the companies that I was working with their sales people got a lot of good customer feedback about the product from their failed deals and that feedback when put together if it were put together would lead to a lot of good transformation for the product when you're doing the same thing with customers um in in you know um through your customer success or marketing teams or whoever's interacting with the customer two things could happen one is obviously it add good feedback for your product or good product ideas would lead to a good roadmap enhancements for your product any customers who have the wrong expectation of your product and expect something that you do you don't do or isn't the vision for your company is a chance to educate them as to how they could not only have the right expectations but also use your product better for what it's meant to do and not think about things that it's not meant to do so I think either way it's a win-win it's it's internally the leadership team should be responsible for how to enable that feedback to come in from different teams but part of it then gets discussed with the product team and how much do we discuss in brainstorm with your customers
Dickey: yeah and then whatever feedback you get you ask other customers like you know who haven't provided the feedback to see if that's useful to them uh you know you know make all your mistakes on paper napkins right because it's a lot cheaper to make those mistakes on paper napkins so yeah communicate with the customers get get you know get feedback ask other customers what they feel and then Implement into the product so
Jyo: and how does that most importantly making sure that that feedback doesn't go into a loophole it goes somewhere not just to enable good things for your product and for your but also for your customer outcomes so how do you feed that back into the enablement strategy or Digital customer success strategy your strategy for helping customers achieve that outcome that that should be the end goal that's what really closes the loop where does it go what do we do with it what did we get out of it and that will help you with more buy-in from your board your leadership get more budget etc for more software as you're progressing
Dickey: so Aron you mentioned upwards and downwards kind of thing right so uh say a little bit more about this because I personally hate it why because only the top few things get implemented and everything else that's so useful gets thrown away right so say more about what you were saying earlier.
Aron: yeah no you know I think I think it's uh Up For Debate and I've had those same same conversations with many people a lot of people don't like about downloads um I think number one it depends on the product and the complexity of the product number two it depends on the number of customers and it obviously starts back with even that customer journey and segmenting your customers into what really makes the most sense for that segment of customers so for us um at own backup we will have the option for our let's call it SMB customers to have a say through upvote cross vote and really even through the community to be able to peer Network to say what's working for them and and to Jyo I think you mentioned it sometimes the answer is no we're not going to do it any reason we're not going to do it is there's a better way to do it or there's an alternative way to do it that gets to the same outcome someone who once it blew you know we have to understand that we go from red to green to blue or just can we go from red to blue and a lot of times it's the same outcome and we have to understand that journey and ask a few more questions I'm a big believer in a customer Community where you can have those open dialogue and discussions but if you implement that at your company number one has to be very interactive and it has to be very meaningful uh you have to come back and close the loop and say what do these votes mean to your point Dickey if they're not going to do anything or mean anything then what's the point of voting and number two allow customers that have great ideas that don't necessarily get upvoted to have a say in some other form whether that's through customer advisory boards where you can actually have open dialogue at a round table I like having those type of discussions we invite a lot of customers back to our corporate headquarters and have customer days where we actually can debate some of this and say help us decide what the future of our product is and let's let's have let's have uh you know a positive disagreement if you want to think of it that way to help influence our product long term and again that all leads to the product blood growth strategy over time so it's a it's a mix for me um to answer your question and I think it depends on your overall strategy your product and the segments that you have at your customer base
Dickey: there was a there was an HBR study talking about customers who open the most tickets like influence the product the most right so and we all know that yes the number of tickets during onboarding should be at a certain number and they should start dropping after that that means the person has adopted the product right so those are the kind of things that are you know so but I still think like you know there are few people who will never complain never upward or downward and they'll just leave right so how do we get them into the mix is what I'm usually concerned about.
Jyo: Dickey because there's a focus there's always a focus on being unclean and green customers we often forget the quiet ones who are very important not just as customers because we want to retain them but also they might have golden nuggets of feedback that we missed because there's other noise there so back to your point Aron I think I have a love haterial relationship with uploading and downloading I love it because it gives you great feedback I hate it because it tends to create a lot of noise so I think it's how do you filter out the noise how do you build a strategy to filter out the noise and listen to customers who aren't talking as much as the ones who are making noise that's very important
Dickey: and my theory is you know if you're already doing uh you know digital is usually thought of like one to many but when you start personalizing it uh you can we can make digital one-on-one right like you're personalizing it for the power user you're personalizing it for the C-level user so you could ask those questions personally right and then you can collect it because a lot of people would answer give you the feedback one-on-one versus as not maybe in a group setting and then you can aggregate those questions and match it to the people who I guess upvoted a lot or so and then decide what to do well yeah it's not clear to me I'm still looking for like good answers around that so yeah I think I think for me too
Aron: and you mentioned a good point Dickey is you know you have to think about what's in it for the customer when you when you think about this product led strategy because it's it's great for the company obviously you want product that growth the efficiencies and all the studies have been done but you for me I sit down and spend a lot of time thinking about it what's in it for the customers and everything that we do as part of that product growth strategy um what what are the customers benefits out of it whether it's additional training benefits whether it's a peer networking because in today's world to our points especially with covid people want to interact with other people they want a peer Network they want to maybe Advance their next career or get on calls like this and really talk about what is the industry doing and share that kind of common knowledge so I think all of that is very important and I think that can that in itself can be enabled through the product that you know if we think about it whether the product is part of uh leading into a community whether you talk about um in product you have user personas and profiles that customers have to self-manage number one that's very scalable number two you can you can start matching up those profiles and personas and again customers want to feel like it's part of something larger and I think that for me is just so key right now coming off of covid and coming off of a younger generation of talent out there that grew up kind of on the digital world where they their self-help and they want that self self-help knowledge but uh to enable that next level and to get real world experience takes takes some human interaction and I think for some people it's a little bit uncomfortable that you have to pull them out of their cell and engaged get them to engage whether it's through the product or even in person
Usha: I think uh great I just have something to add the great points and again Joe on feedback so now uh are we differentiating between the post-sales feedback that comes from your customers because you also need to feed into your product the pre-sale feedback that you have because your sales is being powered by your product right and how do you do that when there is so much uncertainty over your customer Journeys in the PLG model so I think we need to touch upon that and yeah
Dickey: yeah what you're touching upon is being able to differentiate between uh the buyer Journeys and the customer Journeys right buyer Journey being um before they become a customer and then we talk about like onboarding is uh when they uh we've just become a customer right but if you look into it there's something called pre-boarding which is when they're about to become a customer you need to start communicating with like, e.g., let's say maybe that 80 chance of a customer closing you need to start talking to them so like hey look the CS team is like so excited to like work with you and here are the things that you would do once you become a customer like you know call it like pre-on-boarding or pre-boarding or any of those uh kind of things but the the feedback you want is from your existing customers give it a weightage you want feedback from those those like people who are at the last leg and also people who did not use you because they thought that the some features were missing or some products were missing or they have a cheaper version a way to like do certain things right so yeah all that feedback is necessary I mean and and and should be incorporated into your big picture of things
Jyo: Absolutely I think it goes back to something I just said earlier where feedback from sales on deals that fell through and did not happen can sometimes be golden nuggets of information to improve your existing customer journey and to improve your product so I think sales people usually they feel left out when it comes to the customer journey and feedback mechanisms because it's all related to what we now turn as for sales I think that you know this is where we need to blur the lines and encourage and welcome feedback from customers who couldn't be our customers uh where deals fell through or customers like Gary said in the chat they shouldn't they don't believe that they should need to talk to us quiet customers customers who don't make a lot of noise and sales deals that do not work do not happen are lost to competitors or just end up being that you know this product doesn't work for us there's a lot of feedback that comes from those little conversations it's how you capture it how you use it and how you enable I keep saying that customers and it's it's something that we all keep saying in the customer success industry customers exist is not the responsibility of just the customer success Department I think product Buys in on marketing buyers and Buys in on it sometimes what's left out is the sales all because they're so busy hunting and we're so busy farming how do we incorporate sales feedback um from customers who couldn't or from from our prospects or from from sales people in general into our product and customer success strategy I think it's something that the industry needs to start doing better in general
Dickey: yeah it makes a lot of sense
Aron: yeah I agree 100 and um I'm seeing a lot of talking to chat as well from from everyone um and Gary and Ellen there about understanding what uh what's important to customers and understanding as well as what you know some people want to talk to us some customers want to talk live to a human some people don't and we're trying to balance that right now at own backup as well trying to ensure that customers have the right means and method to to be able to communicate with us and again it starts the key to your point with the pre-sales or pre pre-onboarding and communication is key again when I call coordinated Communications from that handoff from a pre-sales motion to your CSM team or the implementation team and understanding what those expectations are reiterating those expectations from the buyer Journey to the customer Journey that's very crucial and really setting up both short and long-term success plans and that's for us that's very important and being able to track what success looks like to them and sometimes it's a financial aspect and what that value is and being able to capture that and being be able to deliver continuous value to those customers on an ongoing basis and again through the means for which they want it sometimes that's digital sometimes that's human and again being able to enable both for different segments of your customer base is is hard and you have to have that fine balance uh to be able to do it
Dickey: and I can what we used to do is like profile the customers so for an example a customer like apple would never uh talk about their stuff on a community right they would talk a lot privately they will give so many suggestions and all but they're never but Yahoo on the other side would not talk privately at all they would like put so many things they want people to be known hey this is this guy from architect from Yahoo asks this question so everyone should upload it right so different profiles different Customs but you have to work with both in my this is the key so
Aron: Jyo, if I can ask you how do you get how would you get started in building kind of this customer uh lead growth strategy our product led growth strategy sorry and what are some tactical things that you would call out to say these are things we can accomplish right away
Jyo: I think that, I am a fan of starting simple. Startups don't have a lot of budget often for you know fancy software complicated software how do we start simple with the things that we've got so I think three things that would go into complementing your product growth strategy with a customer-led growth model is things you've probably done already mapping out your customer Journey how do you how do you build that into your digital strategy so think about this um you know your gen the Journey of your end users how can you guide them towards their outcomes so things like sales serve onboarding uh could be a series of emails that's very simple to do doesn't require huge technology investment you know um if the model works for you we've seen automated renewals happening where in not so complicated situations and I think with personalized messaging one of the things that we've done in the past and this works really well for both the digital led customer successful a digital customer success model and um where you've got huge books of accounts for CSMs where they're managing many many accounts at the same time Europe record a video it ties into some of the work that Dickie is doing as well you record a video it's personalized but you only send it to those customers that the video is relevant to it takes five it doesn't have to be longer than two minutes shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to record but you you plan your Outreach to customers in a way that it makes sense to them but also in a way that speaks to them and gets them to respond to you I've had a lot of those quiet silent customers that wouldn't do a lot of talking don't have a lot of time always watching those videos because we get those stats even if they don't respond to us I think there's there's ways to gauge and measure Communication in a scaled model while keeping it simple it doesn't have to be very complicated so I think starting simple looking at three things that I'd keep in mind is your customer Journey your account segmentation strategy and the way that you're capturing customer usage data if you incorporate if you start by incorporating these three factors into how you're scaling your customer success program it's a great starting point
Aron: yeah so um
Aron: go ahead Dickey.
Dickey: Thanks. So I was just going to add that um uh yeah reaching out through like video it's yeah 6.5 times more effective than sending some some text right people retain like 6.5 times right but you know it doesn't scale that well I mean like if you have like a plg motion chances are you have like eight dollars per seat per month you have a lot of customers you cannot send that to so many and that's why people look at like automation products but the other thing I've heard is a lot of folks that use Bonbon and like tools like this to record they give up after three weeks four weeks right because it's it doesn't they cannot keep doing it perpetually right but yes video based presentations they make a huge difference right but uh uh but and you said something like keep it like two minutes that's uh that's the right number like we try to keep it uh 90 seconds and then we put a break where we ask the user what else they want to know if you don't ask the user after three minutes or four minutes they drop off but if you ask the user what else they want to know know after 90 seconds they will watch for like eight minutes nine minutes straight why because they interacted with your video platform and like you ask them what else they want to know but but again anything visual is 60 times 60 000 times better than like sending a piece of text that people have to parse and understand and read
Aron: kind of thing so it's it's funny that you mentioned that they came we're going through some of that transformation as well my motto is I go to customer success as part of this is personal proactive and predictive right that's where we want to get to and we've had some let's call it automations through our product Etc that said hey by the way you're at 95 storage usage right whatever that metric is and uh we you know if you really think about it from that perspective it's 95 good or bad because some people will be like hey that's great because I'm fully utilized and I I stay there and I love to be there I actually get bonus if I'm fully utilized above 95 and I've been there for three years so I'm not growing I'm not shrinking it's just where I've been and other customers like hey that's great and you know they need to buy more product or whatever it is so what we've started doing is doing a lot more trending of that data and becoming more relative to that customer so for example if they're growing at five percent a month and they have 20 left you can you can send a video or you can send a a nice graph that says by the way proactively you're going to be out of storage you're going to be out of users in four months and that gives the a little bit more you're not really trying to sell if you think about it you're actually trying to do them a favor saying we don't want this to cut off on you or we don't want bad things to happen but internally we're saying we're going to sell you more licenses because we don't want that thing to happen and we become that trusted advisor as part of that so I think trending and becoming more personal it is very important to your point and whether I think the visual aspect is uh has made a huge difference for us and we're continuing to invest in that as well
Dickey: we do the exact same thing uh that you just described for Pure Storage right we the the here is very similar like you're doing a backup data they're doing like SSD or whatever right so they're talking we show the trend lines like how we say like in three months you'll run out of this and they they said like hey if you want to buy it before the end of the year you get a five percent discount so all those things that they are baking in into their Communications the other thing that really works well is you know benchmarking without using the term benchmarking to your customers like you know you very quickly you could say that and obviously you need to do a very good customer segmentation for this to make sense like you would say customers your size are using 14 features you're only using 10. do you want to talk to a customer success manager to learn how you are so you know this is like a totally gamified system using benchmarking and all the stuff and we get like 97 click-throughs versus as four person when you just announce the product for example right because you compared you do renewals without using the word renewals you do upsells without using the word upsells you do benchmarking without using the word benchmarking right so
Aron: yeah someone mentioned using FOMO I was very impactful that's true yeah people don't want to miss out in today's world right yeah exactly uh Ellen did have a question in the Q&A I'll go ahead and ask it if that's okay uh and Jyo maybe I'll throw it over to you do you feel there are major differences in how CS operates in PLG led org versus a sales lead org there shouldn't be but there are I think when we obviously when we're working with a product like growth model the product is at this the is that front and center and that that's what drives the feedback loop that's that's what everything that's everything that we've been discussing so far in a sales led org unfortunately there ends up being you know not discussing the mathematics and the mechanics of it but I think there ends up being a lot of pressure on csm's upsell and cross-sell without the how without the outcome bit um like I said it shouldn't be the case unfortunately it is and I think that's why I keep saying that companies think that they have to follow a product or sales or customer-led growth model at certain points in their Journey there is no there is no reason why they have to do one versus the other in in a certain stage of their business Journey all these models complement each other they can coexist it's finding the right balance and how what works for you and on and for your customers that's what should be happening but like I said um unfortunately that's not the case in the industry and that's the education piece we had to take up yeah and product is at the center but even like you know if you take some good example companies of of plg like what comes to mind like slack uh data dog and like all these companies all of them also have sales teams right it's not that like you know they're not utilizing sales teams and there's a very good article by the uh growth plus sales I'm going to just see if I can paste it over here from a16z that kind of talks about like even if you're doing plg at some point in your stage you have to bring in like sales like you know uh and it talks about like resonance right sometimes you're if you're like going in a in a wave plg this SLG can cancel it out but what you want to do is so it resonates and like picks up the SLG and the plg uh kind of together so it's very important and again uh the word SLG or community-led growth or customer-led growth or human-led growth they didn't exist these phrases did not exist before the word plg right once we came with a product-led growth all these you know people oh but what about human that growth what about customers all these terms started to like come in effect but but it yeah plg is not the opposite of SLG right sales does get involved uh the only difference is the product is providing the the PQLs or or the qualified leads if I may uh directly in the product versus as having to go outside the system
Aron: so you know I'll comment on that too and you bring up a good point Dickey on uh again I'll go back to the word that I use coordinated Communications because if you have your sales team saying one thing or trying to sell product a and then the product you're really pushing product B you're all over the place as a company and you're getting nothing but noise quite frankly and people get distracted with that and quite frankly they'll start ignoring everything so I think that coordinated communication plan is very key and and strategic and for us I know we've started to pick let's call it coordinated topics on a quarterly basis and say hey and all of q1 we're going to focus on really these two items and we're in product whether it's through in-app messaging and pindo or something of that nature and then through the marketing websites we're going to have surveys around that same product uh and then we're going to Target customers that we think are good candidates for that product all at the same time so it is very coordinated and it's and it's a cohesive message which I think resonates well with customers as well and you start doing the videos with that Etc yeah I think today to your point I think we were on two different graphs and now we're trying to combine them to one graph and have make that resonate you know the Peaks and valleys a little bit uh what I call flatten the curve yep and I think
Jyo: keeping your eyes and ears open to the Indus industry that you're working in general the industry that you operate in so I used to work for a cyber security company not it's not always about pushing features through your messaging it's about listening to the industry what's going on so there's a there's a huge data breach going on and this is an example of one of the things we had done we not only reached out to customers who were affected by that reach globally the ones that weren't affected we just flipped the messaging to say what if you were affected and that that's something that that's not only going to work for your existing customers in terms of upselling and cross-selling them making this making sure that the ones that were effective not affected know that they have support but also it's something that works for your prospects as well so again going back to my point earlier how do you combine yourselves product customer outcome whatever that growth model and with what works for the industry you're in and for your customers and Prospects in your business so I think it's it's it has to be the right balance of everything yeah
Aron: and I'll just add one more piece to that I think the product is very important because products are uniquely different and for me changing roles here a few times over the last few years and taking on this role I can see night and day that certain products lend itself more to product-led growth and certain products don't and it's okay but to understand that is even more challenging and for your sales leadership team for your product marketing team for your marketing teams for your customer success managers everyone needs to come together and agree that this is the strategy that we can't have more product-led growth or we need less of it uh because not not a single solution is going to be a solve all for everybody because of that
Dickey: I agree uh but also matters um who your ICP or or the target profile is right in the case of slack it was like the users the power users who wanted to do collaboration right in the case of cast.app we sell to the VPs of the customer success and CROs and CCOs kind of thing right so it's it's it's uh can it be PLG uh portions of it can be but the you know the the we're talking about like customer data sharing it with your customers so in an earth yes and cannot just get started unless they are like blessed by the VP or CS or the CCO or telling them yes go ahead and like turn it out right so it also depends on on the product but the key thing is it should be extremely easy for the person who's using your product to like uh start using it uh you know we talked about Time to Value there's something else called Perceived Time to Value if you can show that there is going to be value sometimes better for a VP than the CSM right so you have to like work in both those angles and if you if it's very easy for them to use get their job done fairly quickly without a lot of pain you know the product will get adopted yeah the product has to be useful right that's a given but you know uh you can hire like 50 CSMs and the product is not useful they're not going to be able to drive an option right so
Aron: I'll comment on that Dickey and I came from a role and I won't mention companies here I don't want to get anything in trouble but yeah right but um I came from a role where it was hey let's have the product led growth strategy and oh by the way we're going to enable our customers in first time to Value all they need to do is watch these 10 videos I'm like wait a second if they're watching 10 videos do you really need it for you know in my opinion you really need to rethink your onboarding strategy and probably look at your product saying we're probably either trying to do too much or the product's too complicated one of the two is happening and you've got to simplify things and really get back down to the basics because again to your point people want time to Value extremely quickly they want to click a few buttons and if it's too complicated they're moving to something else these days especially in the SAS Market
Dickey: yeah I mean nothing wrong with those, uh you know self-guided resources and videos but uh you should not have to watch 10 of them you know exactly watch like two three four minutes or something get started and like you know when you get stuck same thing like you know this company called webflow which is challenging like a WordPress right and they're doing a really good job they've had lots and lots of videos and then they pulled all the videos away and that these created these templates right you start with the template what are you I'm a physician I want to create like a website for Physicians and all this stuff you pull in a template and everything is like filled in right so there are — you can figure out a way to make it easy for the end user and that's what you need to focus on essentially
Aron: I was gonna say you break it up into a smaller steps for values. So yeah.
Jyo: and I think it has to be it has to be the right combination of methods of delivery as well so if you've got videos I think it goes back to thinking about what the customer what not not what your products ideal onboarding mechanism looks like but think about it like the customer if I have to go ahead and learn how to use zoom and it takes me more than 30 minutes when I'm going to be sitting in on 30 minutes one hour meetings all day it's not a win-win for me so how do you combine yourselves a video as well but how do you combine those with virtual walkthroughs um you know and support on chat or a dedicated onboarding that you could by all means sell if the customer needs it offering more than one option letting the customer choose what works for them but most importantly thinking of your onboarding adoption whatever whatever customer Journey stage cycle Beyond just what you think works for your product and also thinking like the customer to make sure that it's not to harden them because we've got ideal if I've created Zoom I think you know it'll be very easy to use for me but if the customer has to spend 30 40 minutes using a tool like this it's not valuable to them so I think we have to think like the customer in those scenarios the time that it takes for them to learn that learn how to use your software accelerate to undervalued all those factors need to be taken into account
Aron: yeah for sure uh we do have another question in the Q&A if that's okay um I know we're coming down anybody has any questions by the way put them in the Q&A and we'll be sure to address them here but Steve had a question that basically says as part of plg do you find that users have an impression maybe expectation that plg means almost a no-touch approach from CS and that they're expecting a lesson level of support um and they expect questions to be answered on their own because uh it means a lot so to be able to uh to have a leaner CS team um if you don't mind I'll comment on that because I I actually did a survey recently uh owned backup and we it was part of our NPS survey but we also asked one other question about positives and negatives and what we would change and what do you think we should focus and one of the things was do you think we should build a community and invest more in plg in different terms and two responses did come back that said by the way that just means you're trying to lessen your support or you're trying to do self-help and you don't want you don't want us to have a CSM and for me um so I think to answer your question I think some customers won't have that expectation or that that knowledge or you know that thinking that that's the direction you're going I made it very clear um reaching out to these customers directly and I'm continuing to do so where it will be a fine balance are we trying to enable you for self-help the interest yes however will we always have a human element that you can always reach out to a human very easily with one click the answer is yes as well so we will have both approaches and we want to give again customers those choices of interacting with us how they want to interact with this and and again giving that option
Jyo: absolutely and I think I I love that point about having accessibility to a human when they need to have it that's why I think I love some of the other form of Czech support in in a digitally led model so that whatever the customer is doing on their own make it easy for them to find a human when they need to and I think that's not only important because your customers need human interaction every now and then it's also because like I was saying earlier it's humans that create these programs these these digitally led programs are not only created by humans they continually improve through your human interactions I think finding a way to ensure that customers know that a human is there to help when they need it but we also save them time through these self-serve models but also feeding back that human interaction into your digitally led model to make sure that it improves and customers stop feeling like you're you're cutting down on costs or cutting down on human support you know could be a factor
Dickey: yeah I think that is kind of solved right like what you are saying is we can we'll provide you 24 hours seven support even though the CSM is asleep you can still so you say like hey what is your question the moment they start typing their question address to your CSM oh your CSM will be available shortly but here are some answers Does this answer your question like Zenda sold it like a decade ago I think those are the kind of things people are putting in their product uh these days right like basically yes you have a face of a CSM you can click on and like start asking that question but the product itself is stepping in and answering the question right and if this still think that they need to talk to a CSM they do I mean we talk about deflection rates on zendesk and all those kind of things same thing is happening you wouldn't see us tools you know embedded inside your website inside your app so that's pretty interesting so
Aron: here's here's something that you uh you touched on Dickey and Jo both and it's interesting from my perspective again my philosophy recipe is we have about 6 000 customers plus or minus today you don't back up and every single one I try I I do send an email out to every single net new customer and I give them my direct email address and people like how are you going to scale doing that Etc and it's it's interesting to see that number one people don't think I'm gonna respond because I send out this this email and then they ask hey by the way do this or and I respond to them personally to every single one um it's really not that hard um now depending on the product and depending on the scale again don't get me wrong I get it everything's a little bit different but people want that human interaction and when they get it they're actually very surprised at times that they do get it so I believe that they should have access to me as well as anyone on my team and again if you want to have access to the self-help capabilities we're going to enable that as well and I'll keep talking
Dickey: yeah I mean the tricks of the trade are you write or converse you can use automation for what you're doing but write a conversational email don't make it like customer marketing or acquisition marketing with lots of graphics and all that stuff right make it very conversational like how you were right to a friend and without like you know put your look put your signature and all this stuff you can still do that and a lot of people do that hey I'm available here is my calendly you know just the fact that you're sharing that out people appreciate that right and I'm available to talk to you and then you can limit the time on your calendly to like maybe two meetings a day or something like that you know create one but it's a very good gesture to like have a VP reach out to uh to hey I'm available anytime you're you cannot reach support or you cannot reach your CSM right so yeah absolutely
Jyo: and I think we need to do away with no-reply email addresses at some point it's it's high time now and I love that you know Aron what you said about having personalized communication even if it's not coming from you because it's if you've got 10 000 customers it's not possible for the VP of customer success to write to each one of them but if if your marketing team helps look like that email is coming from you and they've got a direct link to access your calendly or respond to that email coming on your behalf looking like it comes from you I think those little things really matter in instilling positive emotions into the customer's mindset.
Dickey: I'm gonna push back gently :) and say that, base it on your segmentation. Regardless of what kind of segmentation you're using let's say you're using the ARR-based pyramid segmentation or using the needs versus risk kind of how are you segmented maybe eighty percent of the customers you provide that to there will be a few customers that are only paying you like maybe five dollars a month or something that you do not have time to like send and use send them resources just in time resources like hey click over here this that and then maybe not share a reply to so some some thoughts but yeah for them for the people who are paying you enough yes share your email as much you know as you can so
Aron: perfect well I know we only have a few more minutes here it's been a pleasure to to speak to everybody there's if there's any more questions more than happy to answer uh them um as we go along I know we all believe in this Dickey and Jyo and myself were talking and uh the team here before we started the webinar about uh personalization at scale and really that's the concept that we all believe in and that we're all pushing forward and I know that I'm going to stay connected with everyone here on this panel and appreciate the time and Dickey I may have to rely on you to look at the cast.app. Yeah and I was taking notes as well I was like taking notes while you guys were like talking so I always learn a lot from uh you know everyone who's in the industry so Aron: um perfect yeah so somebody joining yeah
Dickey: Miranda just put a note that Zendisk has a reply from that allows you to [select the sender] like our product also has the feature. We usually say send the email from the person that has the best relationship with the customer it could be the CSM it could be the account executive, it could be like the VP or CS talking to the C-level executive.
Thank you, Miranda for that.
Jyo: thank you and if you have a customer that doesn't like one of those people on the team that's something we've got to work on yeah
,: thank you thank you everyone thank you so much for joining us in the middle of your work day and if you are in the Eastern Time Zone I think you're almost done with your day right and happy holidays and uh great finds uh thank you to the entire panel and please do join pre-flight if you're not a part of it already we have we host so many other discussions like this but that's it for the end of the year this is the last one but happy holidays everyone and thank you so much for joining in.