Rachel: Well, hello. Hey, Felicia.
Felicia: Hey, Rachel.
Gemma: Hey Gemma. Hey, Rachel.
Rachel: How have you been?
Rachel: Good. I am so glad and for our lovely listeners, I want to say who we are actually speaking with you're speaking to the lovely Gemma esben euro VP of global success at decimal, also a former speaker. For our first virtual geek out sponsored by Facebook you did an incredible job, so much so that we were like, We need to get this person on the podcast. Thank you, mostly because they have a lovely accent, but also because we didn't want to hear.
Gemma: Mostly just the accent.
Felicia: Let's be real. It was a factor, but I don't know if Rachel told you this Gemma, but when you are doing your talk. We have a private Slack channel just for our ambassadors who are sort of like our supercharged volunteers. They were just living out their loved you so much. And they were like, oh my god, she was in my, in my group, she's talking to me, I'm speaking with her right now. Oh my God. Oh my God, she's connected with me on link. It's like a celebrity had entered the chat room.
Rachel: Oh, I will tell you it was so funny, because when it was happening and I saw that as well. I actually texted a screenshot and I texted it to Gemma, so she could see.
Gemma: Yeah, I was like, wow, these people are so kind, I should talk more often.
Felicia: So yeah, here we are.
Rachel: So we're doing it. So we wanted, we wanted to give all we wanted to make sure that the whole world heard your, your wisdom. So why don't we just start by learning about decibel and what you do. There
Gemma: So decibel is a startup slash scale up. You could now call us because we've got quite a bit of investment behind us and what we do is we provide a software that analyzes digital experiences so we can identify good experiences on a website and bad experiences on a website and give a list of things to improve on. Both website and app experiences so the types of customers that we work with are the ones that do a lot of transactions on their websites or apps. So British Airways Allstate Saudi Lego fidelity these kinds of really big global enterprises. And my team is responsible for helping them achieve their outcomes. So that includes a mixture of customer success managers as well as success planners trainers analysts people who are dedicated to helping our customers improve their websites with the type of intelligence that we're giving them.
Rachel: Love that. And if the company is based in the UK.
Gemma: Yes, so we originally were kind of created in London. We still have our head office in London, our US head office. However, it is in Boston and I moved over just over three years ago to open that head office for the US. And then we also have a couple of offices in different places like San Francisco. And Denver and we've got a new office in Madrid in Spain, which is a really cool sort of a tech hub over there. So you have green green green kind of across the globe. When I was there.
Felicia: It's amazing fun. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got to decibel?
Gemma: Yeah, so, um, my journey. Prior to decibel I had watched and other types of marketing software as a service not doing things around experiences, but definitely around the public relations and SEO and all that and all that kind of stuff where really you cared about what people said, and you cared about how many people came to your website as opposed to whether they stayed and actually had a good time. And I fell into that because, in all honesty I need to pay my rent and I just wasn't doing very well with my law career so I had gone to university in England and did a Spanish and English law degree which saw me also spent some time practicing in Spain, and then after that. Once you do your degree, you have to get additional training as a lawyer and it's super expensive. It's very competitive. And I did some of the training. I went to four different law firms and in all of them. I just felt like it was very much an old boys network. And it was painfully slow in terms of the pace of getting to the position that I thought I would be in as a lawyer, which would be consulting with customers and resolving issues. It was very much like that. You're in a room. Here's the bundles that you've got to go through literally like huge stacks of paper. You're going to go through that and you're going to present it to a partner who's then going to go and work with them and. And by the way, it might take you 15 years to get to partners level if you're lucky, so I thought, you know, man, I've put all this time into this thing that I thought was going to see me travel and spend a little time with customers and make money and wasn't doing that. So before I went into kind of the last part of training. I went and got a job working for a SAS business that was just advertising on LinkedIn for cold callers and I thought yes. Just go for it. And I got the job on the first interview and I stayed there for awhile and the rest is history. So yeah, I think it wasn't a traditional journey into SAS, but I don't think anyone has a traditional journey in SAS unless they were part of a Silicon Valley startup. Scene, which not many people are already well.
Rachel: You got to Boston.
Gemma: I did. I got to Boston and you get to Boston. And so we're decimal, actually. So as a result of working for decibel I would come and meet and help our, our US customers. And we spent some time at conferences in Boston to meet customers and at those conferences I actually met my partner .
Felicia: So fun.
Gemma: Yeah, so when, after I met Lauren. It was like, wow, how do I, how do I move to the US.
Felicia: I was fortunate you moved your job. Let's be clear.
Gemma: Well, yeah, Rachel. Rachel knows she's talking again here because you love the story, but I was able, I was fortunate enough to to kind of put the business case for having a Boston office together to our CEO and we already had some people working remotely here. So yeah, I was able to get the visa moved over and now on track for a green card when things get back to normal after a number of courses. Everything's on hold that way.
Rachel: My god. It's so crazy. So this wasn't one of the standard questions, but I'm just like, Man, if you like. You could write something on how you know how to win friends and influence people because making that case to set up a business in another country.
Gemma: I think it was , it was definitely good timing and luck as well. Yeah, I think, you know, some sounds corny, but if you really want something and you put it out there and you work towards it, you'll get it somehow. I didn't know it would be Boston right but I'm just fortunate that it was so.
Felicia: Well, was it was it that you were making the case to have it be any US Office or were you
Gemma: Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah, I know. The US is a lot bigger than
Felicia: An England.
Gemma: I have. Yeah, worked it out. Yeah, I think, I think the lucky piece was our technology, you know, whilst we founded it in the UK. It was and it is such a hit in the US. And I think, you know, Europe's in many ways ahead when it comes to website design and analytics, but they have a little bit more red tape around budgets, then what you have in the US. Where um you know there's there's a lot more. There's a lot more money than it has been today. So yeah, it was, it was, you know, one of those things where your personal objectives and your work. Objectives come together and I was fortunate to be in that position.
Felicia: It's so interesting. I said,
Rachel: Oh, go ahead.
Felicia: Go ahead. Unfortunately, I have, I have a personal question, feel free to say now, or we can cut this out. This is ever like, come up. If you are having a fight with your partner. We were like, I literally convinced open and frank country for you.
Gemma: Know it does it.
Rachel: They love each other. And they never find
Gemma: That we do love each other, but we do find that I would say, Actually, it's the opposite. I think because I had that motivation. I've worked harder than I ever have. I've always been a hard worker and. But I think when you have purpose and and you can tie that with your passion, you know, also having great results. You can go far, far beyond your, your expectations. So I actually put it down to the fact that I've been successful because I had that personal motivation behind it as well.
Rachel: That's such a great point. I hear so many people and the internet saying all the time like find your why, find your why and then that will lead to success and I'm glad that you're living proof of that. It's hard for a lot of people to find that why I guess we all just need to find that person.
Gemma: To be so upset that we like God. Like curry curry depended podcast.
Felicia: Let's bring it. Let's bring it back to the work a bit more so when you're presenting at our geek out. You are talking specifically about your talk title `` The Secret Lives of customer success managers and so could you maybe recap a little bit of that with us again here, especially for those listeners who may not have been at the Geek Out. So what is a CSM and how does one become a CSM
Gemma: Yep. So CSM can mean different things in different companies, but usually a CSM is responsible for doing three things for keeping customers by retaining customers. It's called but basically keeping them in contract. For getting them to use the product more in most scenarios. A CSM to work for a SAS product so logins adoption, that kind of stuff. And ultimately helping the customer grow and in that growth spend more money. Right now the big difference that you can see with CSM roles is really dependent upon the leadership in the business. So if the leadership sees the customer as an asset. Right. They will see all the growth side as being an organic piece of the relationship if they are reaching the outcomes. Then we earned the right to grow through making them successful and we're not you know just charging them more money for the sake of it. Right. That's the purpose behind it. What you can find in some CSM role. So is that they're given these growth targets and then everything else behind it is kind of a bit skew. So sometimes they can be a bit more salesy as opposed to success orientated. Other times they can also be a little bit more support based. So think of a reactive type scenario where there's an Issue, you have and you raise a technical ticket and then you have someone respond. In most cases, those are technical support teams, but in some cases customer success managers can do that piece. And I'm seeing that less than, less than industry because it is a very different type of skill set required, but, um, yeah. Ultimately, CSM is about keeping a customer relationship healthy and renewing it.
Rachel: So I did a little bit of research on this role and just because it feels like it's just been in the ether for the past couple years, and before then, it wasn't so I actually learned that this role has existed, you know, since the 90s. So it's been around for a while, but it's just recently exploded. Why do you think that is?
Gemma: So it has recently exploded. And I think that is to do with the fact that more and more businesses have turned to subscription based. Right. So if you think about it like big tech companies in the past like IBM. You would have to buy something and then install it, you know, even a day. Maybe if you use Photoshop you would like to buy the CD and then install the CD and then it would be out of date the minute you buy it. And if you take an example like a debut. They are one of the first moves to the subscription based service where now you pay a monthly fee. But everything's up today. So it's great for the customer and is also great for businesses because they now have recurring revenue. As opposed to just that like one off purchase of that big piece of software or CD whatever floppy disk. We could even say. And so it's really good. It's really good for them because it allows them to tell their shareholders, like we don't just have this one sale we have this recurring sale happening again and again. Again with the same customer and the risk, however, is that it does give the customer more choice because to move from one subscription to another is a lot easier than it is to have to kind of re-install something over and over again. So in the past customer success managers existed but they weren't as necessary because it wants your customer to buy you there were less likely to leave because it was a hassle. Now it's super easy to chop and change providers and therefore the customer success manager role is becoming more important because that recurring revenue that book of business is actually a lot bigger than the new business book of business.
Rachel: Yeah, everything I've read is that it's way easier to get new business from existing customers and from new ones. So yes, I totally get it.
Gemma: That's another piece, right, like the gross piece which is you can spend a ton of money trying to try to win customers when new customers. Oh, you could grow your existing
Rachel: Yeah, smart. Yeah.
Felicia: Yeah. That's great. And then, let's say that there are people out there who are listening who maybe are working in some kind of a CSM or related role. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to, like, level up? What are some secrets of success that you might be able to share with us?
Gemma: Sure. You know, I think there's some basic things that would apply to leveling up in any role that works here. So having great performance metrics, achieving them and having a great temperament. That's the most important thing. And, you know, if you can consistently hit your targets, whatever they are. And if you don't have targets, create your own targets and show them to your manager and show that you're hitting them. And have a good temperament. You know, when things go a bit South you gotta deal with it and you have to rise above it. And I think, you know, more specifically to the customer success world. There are so many traps that you can fall into that would put you in a bad headspace to deal with the kind of problems that your customers could face. So the biggest trap is probably thinking that the customer belongs to you. And that you're the only one who can make a difference for them. Hmm.
Felicia: Interesting. Do you find that there's ever any tension, where a CSM either in your own experience or in other roles that you've seen sort of almost becomes more pro customer side versus the companies that they're working for because I couldn't imagine, and I've never worked really in this role, but yeah, I can only imagine the temptation to sort of whether willingly or unwillingly just kind of be so focused on the customer that you almost start to work against herself, because it is still a business relation
Gemma: Yeah, totally. Right, absolutely. So what you've just described there Felicia is that we would call that going native Right. Where you say, why you think that you're basically you're the customer and the company you work for is you know, I think something to you and it's it's very dangerous because you can feel like that, you have to remember that no one owns the customer solely the business you work for the customer, right. The customer is that asset you they're not yours because you're the CSM.They belong to, in my case, I belong to decibel right
but in the same way you have to be flexible and adaptable enough to to effectively be part of the customers team so it's, um, it's easy to fall into scenarios where you're talking in blame, whether it's blame the customers not doing what they said they were going to do blame that someone else in your business didn't do what they said they were going to do. But what you have to do instead is talk in terms of optimizations for the future. So this is what we've learned this is like not gone so I'm going to be starting off about it, but his plan to improve it and it's just that continual view of how I can be solutions driven. How can I optimize how we can learn from this? sharing that with the other people around you will then help, you know, whoever's in your leadership position build set plays like this is what you can expect to go wrong. This is what you should be prepared to do. Yeah, it's just that recognition that they don't belong to you. It's not all on you, but in order to make them successful. You have to be willing to have hard open and honest conversations and continually look to improve their outcomes.
Rachel: It's really interesting because I would think that they would do this role, you know, you have to be very empathetic. Obviously, to the customer. But then, is there a fine line. So I wonder if some of the skills and traps have for this role like what do you think the kind of temperament is best suited for this role.
Gemma: Yeah. Empathy is huge, like you cannot be successful in this role, without being empathetic. So I think that's, that's one of the things that I look for in everybody I hire. I think you have to just balance that empathy with being solutions driven Right, so it's like you want to be empathetic but you don't want to be pitiful about the situation. You got it, you got to make a plan and move on. It doesn't work. It doesn't work. But you're trying right?
Rachel: Right and you and you also have to be a bit logical to, I would imagine. And I mean yes solutions oriented, but also to your other point about, you know, not being so empathetic that you're you're you've gone native. WhichI call it the normal. 'm going to rise up against the man.
Gemma: Yeah, I mean, you know, honestly. A lot of people I interview. They come and talk about the horror stories of why they want to leave their business. And I think if you are in a customer success management role and the company that you work for doesn't care about their customers doesn't see them as assets, then you should probably think about a new role because you're going to be unhappy. It's not gonna be good for your mental health. And you know like what goes around comes around. If you treat your customers bad you'll, you'll lose them. And you'll lose EVERYONE ELSE WHO THEY SPEAK TO so that's right, yeah.
Rachel: Yeah well said I've one more CSM related question before we switch it up a little bit, which is are there any. Can you talk about any sort of challenge that you've had with this role or that you've seen, I know you. I know you manage a lot of people as well, which is a whole other skill set. And if you could talk about that and sort of how you've overcome it, I'm sure. I'd like to, I don't know if anybody else wants to know, but I want to know.
Gemma: I'm sure yeah I can, I can definitely do that. So I think one of the, one of the challenges that we were able to overcome really successfully in decibel was actually moving to a customer success model, right. So, previous to what we have now. We used to have a model that was very sales driven; most startups have this. So when you're starting out, you're trying to get your product market fit, which means that your product fits and people can use it, you're going to sell to everyone and anyone once you get a good set of customers you then start to think about, okay, what are, what are the trends in these customers that make us make them or segment. How do we focus on that? In our case, it was the enterprise segment right now so we really focused on the enterprise customer and our challenge was, we had a lot of people who called account managers who were my team who were given a growth target. So then we had to move them on to a customer success model, which is a retention based target. So it definitely was a challenge. It was challenging going through and changing people's compensation plans and showing them kind of the long term vision and though, you know, you might not get as much commission from that one deal in the long term, you're going to get more from working better with your best team. So it definitely was a challenge going through that process. I think what made it really successful was just bringing every single person in the team into the vision, like if we want to grow this business. We can't just do it. You know, doing the same thing that we've always been doing. We have to look at the long term plan. We have to look at how we can really drive advocacy with our customers. And that's going to mean that we don't sell to everyone, all the time. You know, so I think that kind of culture is really understood in our business and it was hard to get there, but it it it just helps when everybody's on the same page.
Felicia: Totally agree so hard to say no. Especially short term versus long term and when you bring in commission and money gets complicated.
Rachel: With picking your vision. Yeah.
Felicia: Well, I was gonna say, speaking of complications. Just curious. I'm just curious, you know, obviously, the elephant in the room is coronavirus. And I'm just curious if that has affected anything in the way that decibel has been approaching the work or even if your customers. Have you seen any changes there, any shifts in terms of how you're thinking about everything, given our new world.
Gemma: Yeah, totally. I mean, we've definitely seen a change. You know, a lot of our customers are retail and travel and automotive, I guess, and no one's buying flights, no one's buying cars and not many people are buying clothes.
Felicia: Except for grant makers.
Rachel: As crushing it right now.
Gemma: By the way, some of them. I think I like taking the mickey as we say in the UK. I know I'm gonna need the sweatpants. But can you email me these offers like twice a week.
Felicia: Guys. Yeah, I get daily emails from Ann Taylor Loft and I have you bring myself to unsubscribe quite just yet. I'm like, I might still want some clothes from them eventually.
Gemma: I've been most impressed with the reformations emails campaigns over Rona, I think they're doing a fantastic job of not selling anything.
Rachel: What is the Reformation? Yeah.
00:25:40.380 --> 00:25:42.090
Gemma: There are, there were clothing brand. Really, really good job, but I'm
Rachel: Taking it down.
Gemma: We don't digress. So yeah, that there has been a huge change in our customers. You know, I think our main priority right now is ensuring that our customers are healthy. And, you know, a lot of that also means mental health. During this period, because a lot of those jobs or salaries are under threat and we know that we don't have a business if we don't have customers. So we're doing whatever we can to support them. You know, financially, in terms of contracts as well as also when it comes to professional services, we're going the extra mile, because when fortunate to be in tech and not to be as affected as a whole.
Felicia: That's great. I think it’s really interesting, from our standpoint, we're seeing that some of our partners and clients are sort of in the same boat where they're like, okay. We're all in this we have to support everybody and others are still sort of in the older mindset of this is our way or the highway, things are the same. Nothing is changing so I just find it really fascinating to see how different industries and organizations are responding and some slower than others and more quick and more nimble, but that's great to hear that you're really thinking about it from you know the support angle as opposed to just the the business side, which of course is as a default, but I think in these interesting times and challenging times we have to be thinking more holistically about it.
Gemma: Totally. Totally. I mean, we will come back from this. No one knows quite when but I think there was an agreement that we will so there's no point in putting too much pressure on people now.\] But, um, the, the, the thing that's affecting customer success management with rhinovirus is I think the inability to be face to face with your customers. Which is particularly in an enterprise framework is a big loss, right, because when you are face to face, and you're able to host a large go live celebration with a with a customer or host a intimate executive business review or data around it, you're able to get a lot of insights that you can't as easily get over zoom or phone calls or texts or slack or whoever else you're talking to them. So that's been a challenge for us and we are now looking at investing in different types of technologies to really help us create that red carpet experience online.nSo it's, it's quite exciting. There's not as much tech out there as I thought there would be for this kind of thing. But you know just basic things like QR codes in the middle of meetings so people can do polls and answer questions or virtual Uber eats gift cards, you know, based on participation and so forth can really help keep people focused when there's so much distractions. Yeah, chaos around.
Rachel: That's a great point and I totally agree with you. We've been looking at so many virtual solutions to build community. And it's, it is kind of startling how little there is out there, but it's also like, oh, I see that that's the next wave of innovation. So yeah, it'll be interesting to see what happens. And speaking of vision. So what's next for you. What's the big vision for you? personally, professionally.
Gemma: Wow, it's a great question. Um, you know, I think. Professionally I really enjoyed the world of customer success. I'm finding it ties up more and more with customer experience initiatives and I am getting deep into those so customer experience programs. Voice of Customer programs, something that I'm really interested in, and I think there hasn't been that much. I thought leadership around how customer experience ties in with Cs. So that's the kind of thing that I'm researching myself a lot and kind of writing my notes about and swapping notes with other people at the moment.
Felicia: Awesome. Very cool. So let's talk a little bit more on the personal side. So, given everything and all the craziness that's happening right now. What's your current favorite way to practice self care.
Gemma: I really am enjoying doing my home workouts, there is this free 12 week program on YouTube that I'm doing. And I just found it. It's been such a good mood and makes me feel like I'm owning that part of my day. It's, it's called the 12 week program by Heather Robertson. Managing a note. Yeah, it's, it's good because she doesn't talk too much and the music's good and I just like, I don't like it wouldn't train as bark at you. There's just complete silence. You know, it's just her, the music, the mat and that's that.
Rachel: Is it yoga?
Gemma: No, it's not really yoga, it's like hiit workout.
Rachel: Yeah. Have a good hiit workout. I did one this morning. I tell you, it is like a game changer from a mood perspective.
Gemma: Yeah, yeah. It really is. I'm also making sure I take lunch and at that lunch I call my family like wherever, wherever they all say yeah, I found like I've been able to keep in touch and talk to people a lot more than I usually would.Which is great. It's kind of weird. It's like yeah, right. It just brings people together and makes them spend a lot more time with each other, which is a nice outcome of it.
Felicia: Yeah, we're all we're all just didn't yet closer together.
Rachel: I call physical distancing, not social distancing. That's what I'm
Gemma: Yeah, totally. I think it's funny. Isn't it so I always talk about the matrix, which I believe it's like 20 years old now, dude. Oh, God. Oh, yes. But I feel like a lot of people. The usage of technology to communicate as opposed to, you know, being face to face is seen as like the people in the matrix, who would sit in those chairs and just like the video is healthy or against their will, were like hell dinner in a little alien pod or whatever. But actually it's not, it's not like that at all. Is it? It's completely different. We are able to be a lot more human with technology.
Rachel: I mean, Gemma, we don't know for all in the matrix right now.
Felicia: Some kind of simulation. Let's be real.
Rachel: And this is why felicia I are drinking wine every night.
Gemma: That also helps. Yeah.
Rachel: Um, so one of our favorite questions. We love to ask is what are you currently gigging out about?
Gemma: Money heist.
Felicia: What is money. I was any heist.
Gemma: It's the Netflix show about bank robbers. Whoa, it's the series, but it's in Spanish and
'm really enjoying it, because it's allowing me to pick up on some phrases that I completely erased from memory, having not lived in Spain for a couple of years now.
Rachel: That's next to it. It actually takes place in Spain.
Gemma: Yeah, it's a Spanish series, but you can watch it on us Netflix and you can put subtitles on as well. So it's pretty easy to find. But yeah, it's like binge watching for it now and it's fun, it's, it's pretty intense.
Rachel: And love that kind of stuff. I think foolishness too. Yes, definitely. Love it. It's going in the notes.
Gemma: I'm also kicking out about my houseplants. Getting serious.
Felicia: Plans were kind of house pins. What do you have?
Gemma: So I've got an English IV. Um, I've got a money tree. I've got probably like seven different types of succulents. I've got Thailand. Something I forgot the name of which is cool. I just called the missus Thailand, my wife, my plants will have names.
Felicia: That I have a plant, I have a Christmas cactus. I've had since before college so 20 plus years now at this point.
Gemma: Oh, wow.
Felicia: His name is Pablo.
Gemma: And yeah.
Felicia: Given my planted gender.
Gemma: I didn't say I have, I have to plot school. The lizards because they're identical twins. Oh, we just caught them bliss is.
Rachel: I think that's the door, Brian. Eiffel i'm curious though because I happen to know that you got your lovely partner, a wonderful gift. I think it was a game console.
Gemma: Oh yeah we bought a PS4.
Rachel: You bought a PS4 to deal with this insanity. Because also she works in
Gemma: Health care which is yes.
Rachel: Yes, a little stressful.
Gemma: So she's kicking out on FIFA. Okay, which is good, although when we play together I constantly let the team down so
Rachel: Did you play on the same team together?
Gemma: Yeah, you can do that. Yeah, you guys get together as well, but it gets a bit too intense. That's what we all do.
Rachel: See that so interesting because when so I love telling this story. Mark doesn't love telling the story, but early, early on when we first started dating we visited his parents. I think they had a week and we played tennis and we were on the same team and I missed, I missed the ball and he got and she got so mad at me for we doubled tennis. I was like, I'm never gonna be on the same day with you again. And but the reason why I mentioned this is it was so sweet, because I think we were talking and I think you were playing and you could you would stepped away and then all of a sudden you're like, oh, good job sweethearts
Gemma: Though I love that she won the Premier League or something. Yeah. That's a lot of games. That's a lot of games. Yeah.
Rachel: Look, I get it. It's rough times you have, you have to do things outside of the norm. I think it was a lovely gift.
Gemma: Yeah. Yeah, it was good. It is good. It's fun.
Rachel: So are there any things you would like to plug or share or ways that people can learn more about you and all of your loveliness.
Gemma: I'm, I'm, I don't have any plug, but I am always happy to talk about customer success so digital experience. So yeah, if anyone wants to reach out on LinkedIn. And I've got a whole bunch of documentation in hard copy and soft copy that I can share with people who are really interested, recently collaborating a lot with Forrester on two different reports around success programs. So yeah, happy to share
Rachel: That is awesome. Yeah, please send, send the links and we'll make sure to put them in the show notes.
Gemma: Will do.
Rachel: My favorite. That's my favorite phrase of the month.Put in the show notes. This was lovely. Thank you so much, Gemma.
Gemma: You’re really welcome.
Felicia: Thank you for your time. Thank you.
Gemma: It's been a pleasure.