Over the past several months, we’ve had the pleasure of conducting one-on-one interviews with leaders across the customer experience (CX) industry. Today we’re excited to continue our star-studded series with Daniel Haslam, vice president of client success at Nuvi.
Nuvi enables organizations to own their conversations across social media and the web through enterprise solutions for full lifecycle marketing — from listening and sentiment to planning, development, production, distribution, and analysis.
In part one of our interview below, Daniel shares how he transitioned from sports to customer success, why Nuvi takes a consultative approach with clients, and what a typical day is like for his team.
(Please note that the following interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
What is your background and how did you come to join Nuvi?
I loved athletics growing up but couldn’t play well. So I thought, “Okay, if I can’t play sports, then maybe I can work in sports through marketing or advertising.” That led me to become an advertising major in college and do a couple of internships at some local universities.
When I graduated from college, I got a job with a major league soccer team. The position was on the account executive side, so I was selling sponsorship deals, ticket packages, things like that. I found that I enjoyed the interaction with customers and helping them find value in athletics, in our brand, and in our products. But something I always wished I would have been able to do more of was on the fulfillment side.
So that’s when I thought, “Okay, I’ve really enjoyed the interaction with customers, but I want to figure out not just how to bill the customer but also grow and retain them.” That’s when I was introduced to Nuvi. I joined the team about three and a half years ago and have loved it ever since.
I started as a client success manager (CSM), receiving a very large book of small clients and working to cultivate a relationship with as many of them as I could. It really helped me learn more about the industry while helping our clients find as much value as possible in our products.
What is your current role at Nuvi?
My current role is vice president of client success, which means my main job is to figure out how to help us reduce churn as much as possible, as well as continue to grow our clients’ spend.
To achieve those goals, my team and I focus on usage. How do we get our clients using the platform more? Is that through features, use cases, workarounds — any type of strategy that we can provide to add more value to our clients.
We also focus on adoption. If we’re working with one person in an organization, and for whatever reason they leave, all of a sudden we’re fighting this tremendous battle trying to retain that enterprise customer. So how do we get more members of an organization to adopt the platform?
How is client success structured at Nuvi?
Our client success managers each own a book of business. We expect them to be as hands-on as possible, making sure that the client knows they can come to us with any questions and we’re going to help them in more of a consultant frame.
We obviously give our CSMs specific KPIs. We want to make sure that they do a quarterly strategic review, which is a phone call with our Nuvi champion or main user, as well as any other stakeholders who were involved in the original purchase decision. That way, the individuals who were involved with the purchase are reminded every quarter, “This is what Nuvi is. This is the value you’re receiving.”
We also task our CSMs with proactive communication, including at least one phone call and a couple of emails every month to make sure that we’re driving value, talking about all the new features we have, etc.
In addition, we expect CSMs to constantly be researching each of our clients and finding out what conversations are happening. For example, a Google Alert might prompt a CSM to say, “I just got pinged about a merger between these two companies. I’m going to reach out to them and see what monitors we need to set up.”
It’s that proactive approach that helps create loyalty in our clients, which in turn drives the business.
Is that consultant approach really driven home at Nuvi?
It definitely is. Even to the point where we sometimes call our team members “client strategic consultants” rather than “client success managers” because we want to make sure that clients know we’re just as invested in this partnership as they are.
One title we don’t use, though, is “account managers.” The reason is that account management seems to be more of a process-oriented role where you’re focused on checking a series of boxes — that accounts are updated, that accounts are renewing.
In contrast, client success is about making the client as successful as possible. And that could involve lending ourselves as an additional member of their team like a consultant and knowing their business a little bit deeper than a traditional account manager would.
One area where the consultant approach has a significant impact is with feature requests. I think when clients reach out to CSMs and say, “Hey, can you build this for me?,” the natural response is “Sure, we’ll build that.”
But using the consultant mindset, we instead say, “This sounds like a great opportunity. I’m excited to learn more about the objective behind what we’re trying to build. Let’s get on a brief call and walk through it together.” Then we’re able to be involved on the strategy side to say, “Okay, if we build this feature, what are you going to do with it?”
What knowledge are CSMs expected to have about clients?
We focus on three main areas of customer knowledge. First is customer obsession. Our CSMs need to be on their clients’ social pages, researching them on Google, reading articles about them, etc. They need to know exactly what they do, who they target, and how their business succeeds.
Of course, being able to set up our own Nuvi monitors to listen to what conversations are happening makes that research a lot easier. We have the ability to identify the keywords that are relevant to the client and track them automatically through our own service — the same service that we’re selling to our clients. But I believe that our team is so committed that it’s really an obsession. So they’ll use any and all means available to better understand the client.
The second area of knowledge is customer reflection. What I mean here is taking a step back to reflect on why did they buy our software, how are they finding success, and where can we provide value?
The third is customer direction. This area involves recognizing that the client may have purchased the product for one reason but there are also other opportunities to help them continue to grow and find additional value. We want to make sure that they didn’t buy us for a short-term project and then are going to be all done.
What does a typical day look like for a CSM at Nuvi?
It obviously depends on many, many variables. But I think the most typical day begins with first looking at who’s up for renewal in 30, 60, 90 days – making sure that each CSM knows which clients to focus on, the current status of those accounts, and the next steps to get them renewed.
The next priority is the proactive outreach I mentioned earlier. It’s saying, “I haven’t heard from this client in X number of days. I’m going to dig into their platform, find a couple of value-driven insights, and reach out to them with a report or something interesting to reignite the conversation.”
The third daily priority is follow up. For example, if a client had an outstanding software bug or feature request, the CSM would reach out to say, “Here’s the status and the next steps on our end. I will continue to update you as we learn more.”
The more transparent and consistent we can be, the better. We might not always have a positive answer; but as long as we’re giving them a response and managing expectations, I think that’s where we see a lot more success.
Stay Tuned for Part Two
You can learn more by connecting with Daniel on LinkedIn and Twitter or following Nuvi on LinkedIn and Twitter. And please stay tuned for part two of our interview with Daniel, as well as future spotlights on CX superstars.
Featured image credit: LinkedIn