The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

65. Product Usage as a Vanity Metric w/ Chris Hicken

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Product usage is a vanity metric.

 

Actually, product usage is just one of 15 factors that companies should use to build a picture of their organization’s health. These belong in four “buckets” that show what to track instead to create a risk profile for each account (likelihood to renew or churn).

 

In this episode, I interview Chris Hicken, cofounder and CEO at ‘nuffsaid, about what tracking product usage is (and isn’t) good for.

 

What we talked about:

 

- 4 main buckets: Customer Maturity, The Product, The Experience, The Pricing

 

- Why the CS leader should own more go-to-market strategy in the future

 

- Considerations for product-led growth, sales-led growth, and marketing-led growth

 

- Why free and freemium may not be a good fit

 

- Considerations for going up market from SMB to Enterprise

 

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review the Customer Experience Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Google Podcasts, and find more episodes on our blog.

Customer experience is about how a customer feels about every touch point with your company. The single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Product usage is a vanity metric. That's right, I'll say it again. Product usage is a vanity metric. That's an idea. Today's guest brings to the conversation here on the customer experience podcast, and he's got the UIUX and behavior testing background to back it up. He brings fifteen years of experience and B Tob Software as a leader, investor, advisor and board member with companies like STUDYCOM, get prime and test rigger. Most notably, he spent eight years as president and chief operating officer for user testing, where he developed an expertise in creating great experiences for customers. Now he's the CO founder and CEO of nuff said, a software company that's integrating all those inbound messages you get across multiple channels into one smart, customizable and AI driven view. Chris Hicken, welcome to the customer experience podcast. Thanks, Ethan. An honor to be invited. Appreciate it. Yeah, really excited for this conversation. Obviously that that idea of product usage being a bit vanity, you know. I've heard vanity metrics applied widely, but not to that, and so I'm really interested in your take on it. But before we get going, you studied engineering and computer science, but you say on your linkedin profile that you were born and artist. Tell me a little bit about that and like maybe how that set you up for success. Well, when I was growing up as a kid, I was constantly drawing, charcoal painting acrilics. I was mentoring with a guy from industrial lite and magic for a couple of years and when it came time to apply for college it I had to make a choice. Was I going to follow, you know, kind of more of a creative art, artistic career, or what I build, more of the Engineering Route? And I applied to about fifty. Half the colleges I applied for an art major and half I apply for computer science, and I just ended up loving cow polly so much, I ended up making the decision more on the school than on the program itself. So, funnily enough, I only did a computer science for about a year coming out of college, and so I guess I'm I'm trained as an engineer, although I've I've worked mostly as a business leader. Awesome. What an interesting combination of skills and strengths. Do you still you know, from I guess, a hobbyist view, are you still active in creating art? I do, but the way it my my I would say the outlet that I use the most for art is that I build and design websites for pro bono, generally for friends, family or nonprofit organization. So that's that ends up being my main creative outlet. It's awesome. I look forward to becoming friends. So we're going to start as we always start here on the show, which is your thoughts. Are Characteristics, are your definition? When I see customer experience, what does that mean to you? Chris? So, I might have a little bit of a unique perspective on this because I was president of user testing, which was an enterprise software company that helped generally large companies improve the quality of their customer experience on their websites, mobile APPS and towards the last few years that I was there, more and more in store experiences and I did a lot of reading and talk to a bunch of professionals in the space. And customer experience has a lot of different angles. You know some people. Is Customer experience the perception of your brand or is it about making interactions easy and simple?...

Maybe is it about customer satisfaction? I think we're getting closer for me. For me, customer experience is about how a customer feels about every touch point with your company. So it really is both pieces. It's emotions and it's the actual experience itself. And so when I say touch point, I really do mean every touch point with your company. So that means an advertisement and newsletter a customer more support chat. It could be using the product, it could be browsing the website trying to answer a question, it could be a store visit. So that's what I mean by touch point and the reason why the emotions so important is that delighting customers is the quickest way to earn advocacy and ultimately, loyalty from your customers. That's why I focus on the feeling part, and I think from that definition comes the tactics that you would use to to delight your customers. So that's where you would talk about things like communicating value or beautiful design or having a very simply user experience or one touch, one touch customer support, and so you know, after working with you know many fortune one hundreds on their their customer experience programs. I think this does the best job of encapsulating what most companies are trying to do. And, by the way, the companies that are leaders in the space are the ones that are truly our customers obsessed. So, without going into the details, no surprise. Companies like Amazon, like Microsoft, I mean they have very, very advanced customer research, customer experience programs and you see it reflected in the products. Yeah, really well done there. I think the reason here are so many approaches in definitions to it is because what you captured the essence of their that the way people feel across every single touch point or influenced by every single touch point. Just every single touch point alone creates so much complication and variants in the way different people in different seats in the organization view it in. So I love what you did there and and these thoughts and feelings are what turn into behavior, for starters, repeat purchasing or expanded purchasing or positive online reviews or whatever. And it's the end, it's a precursor to the stories that we tell other people in terms of, again, online reviews and testimonials and referrals and things. So really well done. Before we go any farther, I would love to spend a little bit of time talking about enough said. I think you all are tackling a really interesting problem and and I think what you share here will give some context as we get more into some of these themes around product usage. So what is enough said? And who are your customers? So I'm going to answer that question, but let me give you a little bit of context first. So the problem that I wanted to solve emerged as I was building user testing, and what I found consistently over time was that as we went from a five person company when I joined to a three four hundred person company when I left, people went from being able to focus one hundred percent of their of their daily worktime on the work itself to by the time I left, it felt like we were doing spending only a fraction of our time doing the actual work that mattered, and it was because of information overload, communication overload. We have so many APPS, we have to deal with, daily reports, newsletters, text best just coming in, slack channels we have to follow. And so I thought, okay, how are we going to this problem is going to get worse in the future. So how are we going to make it easier for a knowledge worker to focus on work that matters? And so we looked at different ways that you could use ai to solve this problem, to not only automate the work of knowledge workers but also to help them focus. You know, given fifty things, you could do it once. What's the one thing that you could do right now to move the needle in your job? And so, if you've ever seen the movie iron man, he wears that suit. That's like, you know, processing the world's information and synthesizing it and telling the main character what he needs to focus on. He calls that Ai...

Jarvis. So how do you bring Jarvis to knowledge workers? So that's that's that's the vision of where the company wants to go in the future and obviously you know we're relatively new company. We have to build baby steps to achieve that vision. And so the first product that we just released two weeks ago we just announced our funding, is a product that centralizes all of your work communication. So it pulls in anywhere we're communications happening, email, chat, SMS, Linkedin sales force, all these different places communications happening. So it allows you know. Once we have all that communication in one place and once we know who the important people are in your work life, we're able to do a really good job of prioritizing the communication in your life that matters. And so that's that's the one of our product which we just released, and then later the summer were bolting an ai onto that product and we're bringing in data from other parts of your work life. For example, maybe your your crm could be from your for example, if you're a customer success manager. It'll pull in your health score data, it'll pull and usage data. I'll pull in all these different forms of data and help you understand which customers are must at risk and, wit, where you should be spending your time today to improve the health of your overall portfolio. So that's what the company is trying to achieve. In those are first few steps to get there. I love two layers here in particular. The first one is the idea that you have a vision for using AI to put humans in their best position to be of highest value. And then to this idea of kind of persona based tweaks to this right. So when you sign up, maybe a new I'm imagining here out loud, so feel free to correct me, to redirect me. You know, as you bring on, say, a team of eight customer success managers, they're going to be set up maybe with a default setting that is different than, say, if you brought on some product folks or some marketing folks or some engineers as a team of people in and obviously then the AI will not only tweak and make that persona based default better and better and better, but it also probably get better and better and better by individual based on how they're interacting with the different messages from the different sources the spot on. So each ai that we develop be custom tailor to each functional role in in the company and one by doing that, will be able to understand not only what you do at work, but will know what your goals are, how you're measured in terms of success. And then we'll be able to prioritize work, data and communication. That helps you focus on the work that actually matters, on moving the needle. I love it. That's another layer that we've been talking about on the show. I've had a couple guests where we've had themes of this conversation, which is adapting your customers Kpis and success metrics and making them your own. And it sounds like you're doing that, or aspire to do that, through software. That's exactly right. That's the vision of the company. Cool. I'm excited for you. It's good. In a conclusion to this section, and I think we can all say that slack is not the email killer. It's just more messages that we need to put into one. Well, here's what I would say. I mean we adopted slack at User Testing and I think slack solved a lot of problems that we had pre slack, including making it easier for people to collaborate in groups, so you could create instant channels people could collaborate around topics. I think the easy keyboard shortcuts and the emoticons. There's a more emotional way to express yourself in writing. So I think slacked it a really good job of solving those problems. But again, the problem here that we're going after is we don't want to help people send more messages or connect more with each other. You've got lots of technologies to help you with that. For us it's about you got too much noise. So what are how can we help you focus on work that matters? It's good, yeah, same thing. It has a number of benefits, but again it creates some noise and distraction just like us. So channels. I'm starting to see this, at least in the initial launch phase, before you really make it Ai Laden, as really being the TAB killer. Enough said, being a tab killer in that you know, when I think about you know what you're talking about, to think about the...

...channels that I use, I think like it's multiple tabs in slack that that are all open at the same time. Let's get a little bit into product usage. Obviously you have a deep and unique per view into the way people interact with software. Talk a little bit about product usage and then maybe get into the vanity side of it, like what is the vanity aspect of it? So product usage was typically absent from custom under our previous understanding of customer health, and I'm going back probably six or seven years. This is pre gainside or to Tango Era Customer Success and account management. So the introduction of usage data in understanding customer health was really valuable. But I think as a as an industry, we've over indexed on the value of usage data and what we've what we found and from talking to a bunch of success leaders, what we found is that usage data is when it's binary. So when your customers are not using your product, they are at risk and they're unlikely to renewer. You're gonna have some ournial challenges. If the customer is using the product a lot, it's impossible that that day that insight isn't enough to help you make any kind of prediction. So usage is only helpful to the extent that it's binary. No usage, bad, lots of usage. Who Know those? And I think that for that reason it's very much of vanity, vanity metric, because so many health scores are driven predominantly by usage. But usage is one of fifteen factors that companies should be looking at to determine health and renewal risk. But that what we've all over indexed on on usage, and so for that reason I don't I don't particularly well, it's not that I don't value usage data, I just think of it as one of many elements that need to be considered as part of a overall portfolio health assessment. I love it. It it. As I knew that we're going to talk about product usage, I started thinking about like, okay, what if usage correlates positively with lifetime value or NPS or some of these other factors? But what you offered here just kind of unplugs that question, because the best follow up question now is, you know, if it's one of you know, a dozen factors or fifteen factors, what are some of the other factors that, if we were going to try to build a model that says likely to renew, what are some of those other factors that belong in the mix? Yeah, I won't share any any of the secret sauce, because I think this is some of this is the secret sauce of our company. But what I can do is talk about the categories that I think are leading indicators of health. And so the first bucket, I'm going to break it actually into four buckets, customer maturity, the product, the experience and the pricing. So those are the four being buckets I would break it up into, and within each of the those I've got a series of questions that I think are important to answer in order to to determine whether or not the account is at risk, for example under maturity. I would say one of the most important questions in that bucket is who advocates for the product? What's their authority and has it changed? Every customer success manager would love to have the answer that question. None of them do. But guess what? If you're if the advocate for your product is an individual contributor and there's only one of them, they could have all the usage in the world, doesn't matter. They could be the happiest cups customer in the world. But as soon as that as soon as that champion leaves the company, Boom, that account has gone. So it's another example of how usage is not a good indicator of risk, that the risk is actually quite high on a high usage individual contributor account. And so part of what we're you know, part of approaching solving this problem is looking at you know, I think I've got fifteen or sixteen different elements that I'm looking at saying, okay, if we can gather this information, both in an automated way through your communication, through surveys, through integrations with your...

...crm, can we build a picture of different aspects of the overall customer journey with your company and the customers overall engagement with your company to give you a true risk profile of each account. And so that's that's one of the I'll give you another example under the product. So I was one of the four categories. One of the questions I want to answer is does the product solve a severe, ongoing problem for the customer? Sham on us that we can't answer that question for every one of our accounts. If one of our customers feels like the product, the problem that's being solved is maybe ongoing but not severe, you potentially have some risk there because that customer might not feel like they need your product in the future to solve that problem. Maybe there are a good alternative workarounds or maybe it's a very severe problem, but once they solve at once the problem goes away and you don't need it anymore. And so again that's another example of a problem where if, if you can get if you can answer that question, you will have a much better insight into the actual health of that customer. Health is not a good word. The risk profile of that customer really really interesting. The severe thing, it just really rings true for me here at bombomb you know, we make it easy to get facetoface in places. Some of your typed out text, you know, because it doesn't communicate is clearly it doesn't connect with people and in ultimately, whether it's a minor conversion or a macro conversion, you know, the more personal you can get them more yes, as you're going to get ultimately, which is ongoing every time you click send. There's an opportunity to be more effective and more personal or human, but it's not necessarily felt in a severe way. It's interesting for our customers it's, you know, the ones who make it a habit are the ones are like, I can't imagine my life without it. I don't even they I don't know they would call it severe. It's really interesting as a challenge. What are a couple questions under the experience bucket? So okay, there's I've got four major questions here. The one that I'm going to bring up today is around expectations. So did the product and service match or exceed the customers expectations? And this is really important because the customer, you know, when the customers going through a sales process, there they have a certain expectation of what the product will be able to deliver and the problem it'll be able to solve. A lot of times the actual product itself does not match what was promised or sold as part of the sales process. So it's really important for you to understand really very early in the customers engagement with you, maybe that during onboarding, but maybe within three months of the original contract signed date, for you to get a good understanding of that customer how they expect, how the customers expectations match what they were sold during the sales process, and that is a very early indicator of whether or not a come a customer is likely to renew in the next nine months. I love it. That also gets to a theme on the show, which is making sure that sales and C us are on the same page with regard to what's being sold, how it's being sold, how expectations are set and managed. And you know, a disappointment is exclusively a function of expectation. So if you manage it well, you know you're setting yourself up. It's Cliche or try to say, but you know under promise and overdeliver. I might have an unusual perspective on this and that I believe that the success leader, Holly, is responsible for driving those conversations. The success leader is the main conduit, the main lifeline between company and customer and they need to be in a position. It doesn't happen in as much today as it should, but I think in the future customer success leaders need to be driving strategic and tactle con tactical conversations with their peers on eastaff around which customers do we need to target? What type of offering, what type of sales offering leads to the best overall engagement with the customer? which products and features need...

...to be developed based on what we're hearing from the customer base? And I think today generally, success leaders don't have the tools that they need to make to advocate for those positions, but I do think it is their responsibility to drive those decisions in organizations really, really interesting and I think you're right. I feel like that is the leading view and it's from the status quote to a better future, and I think it's probably one of the reasons we're seeing a lot more titles in structures around revenue in general that are responsible for the full customer life cycle, because you obviously, in a traditional sense, cs just takes whatever happens and makes the best of it. You know, yeah, we generated this revenues you you can do to keep it? Yeah, and I think actually I think the mistake. I think be a mistake to put it in revenue also, because revenue leaders, well I mean revenue later leaders generally have grown up within sales. So they're thinking, I've got a quota, I've got a number too hit, I'm going to do what it takes to hit the number, and they're less connected to the actual customer and revenue leaders more likely to make compromises in the selling process in order to hit their number because ultimately they're fired if they don't hit their numbers. That's all that matters. The customer success leader has the benefit of actually caring about the customer themselves. A lot of times they don't have a number, or at least they're there co selling with the sales team. So they have the benefit of drive that you could give them other metrics to drive towards that aren't about revenue. That allows them to really focus on what would help a customer be successful really good. So we've covered three of the four buckets. Might as well go for the fourth. What are what are one or two questions you really like around pricing? I've got three major questions that I ask with in pricing. Probably the one that's most interesting for today's conversation is alternatives. So do competitors offer more affordable alternatives? And the way that I think about answering this question, and probably enough set is uniquely position to answer it. We're able to scan all communication between the customer success manager, the Customer Support Team and the customer. So we're able to track mentions of competitors. We don't have to, it's not we're not we don't require the CSM to document anything. This is all tracked automatically and so we can see. We can see when a customer is asking a question like hey, I heard you know x company offers this feature or x company is offering the same thing for x price. And so it's important for for the Product Marketing Team within a company, but especially for the out of Cs us, to do the renewal to know what the real competitive landscape looks looks like, where the pressures are coming from, whether that's pricing or feature based pressures, and then they can then the company can proactively react to that rather than being caught off guard when they lose an account to a competitor that they didn't even know that they were in competition with. As part of a renewal conversation. It's good. I like this affordable alternatives because it really sets features on the side a little bit. I mean parody of course, to talk a little bit and you've been you've been in this space for years. Talk a little bit about product parity and maybe have you seen it at my impression is that it is dramatically accelerated. Would you say that that's true in your experience or observation? I'd say that's generally true. A lot of companies now are not trying to differentiate on straight features. They're trying to differentiate on quality of the experience that the deliver. So two companies might have identical feature sets but one is much easier to use than others. In fact, user testing was a well to leverage that differentiator between itself and other competitors in the space, because we invested so much time and building a really great experience. So, even though competitors could offer the exact same thing at a much lower price, the user testing experience overall was so...

...much easier to you. So I think there is a general trend towards looking for other differentiators outside of features in private spaces. It's good. So you are getting ready, even you're building this company. We're chatting a little bit about this before we hit record. I'd love to know your thoughts as you're you know you're in a where I'm going here is this product led versus sales and Marketing led growth conversation. That seems to be pretty popular to have these days. And obviously, if you're an established company with you know, let's just say, forty million R and you've been going to market for years and you know it'd be difficult to make a transition from one to the other. As an early stage and as you're putting this together, how did you think about about those two options? Are you doing a hybrid approach, like how do you think about product led versus sales led? Yeah, I think a product Le Sales let and marketing leaps. I wouldn't forget that option to and I think different types of companies are best suited for each of those three. The questions that I would ask before determining which strategy to go with. Our questions like how quickly can you deliver value and a self service customer experience? So if a customers trying it for themselves, how quickly can you get to value? How senior is the end user of your product? Are you selling into? This is an obvious one. Are you selling it too? SMB, midmarket or enterprise? How quickly? How much cash runway do you have? How quickly do you need to grow? I think all of these questions factor into which decision you make. And so when I was thinking about enough said, I mean ultimately we plan on selling into you know, we're selling an AI product for knowledge workers and ultimately we're going to be selling into a senior executive of each of each department. But the users will be predominantly individual contributors, and so there's obviously a path for us to build a product life of growth product, which is the one that we just launched a couple weeks ago, the inflow product. I don't like product led growth as the main driver of growth, and the reason why is product led growth takes a really long time to spool up. It can sometimes take three to five years before it's generating any meaningful revenue. Sometimes it could take ten years plus before you see, you know, all of these overnight success companies develop, when when really they've been to building a product life growth engine for ten or more years. By the way, I think a good example of that is qual tricks, who, you know, everyone knows the story. They exited for seven eight billion dollars, one of the biggest tech exits ever. And but the reality is, you know, Brian Smith and his dad started this company doing surveys for colleges twenty years ago, you know, and they've been stoking that product led growth engine for a really long time. So where I'm going with this is what I think for our company, and I would not advocate this for every other company, but for our company we're going to start with a sales leg growth engine in the early days to kick start early market adoption, to get customer feedback, to grow the company for maybe, you know, from its current revenue to, let's just say third somewhere between thirty to fifty in are and at that point, I'm hoping we're five or six years in, the product Leb growth engine has had enough time to Spool up and we can leverage the product Lib growth engine to dry future and a price sales. And, by the way, really when we say a product Le Growth, all we're talking about is who generates the leads. Are you paying product to generate the leads? Are you paying marketing to generate the leads? Are you paying sales to generate the lead? So I'm hoping that, you know, by the time we get to that level of revenue, the product will be mature enough where it will be generating a substantial portion of the inbound leads and we'll be able to at that point reduce or at least hold steady, our investment in sales. It's good. Sounds healthy and balanced. I like that. I like the way you describe the lead growth scenario. There's a WHO generating the leads. I mean it goes straight to the definition of it,...

...but I never thought about it that clearly before. It's interesting, I mean to your's your idea of like time to time to first value and can people realize it in a self serve Wy. It's interesting. In our space there's a lot more free and fremium than there was, say, you know, two, three more years ago. But it's interesting as I talk with with executives that are thinking about implementing a simple personal video strategy inside their organization, like yeah, I got to tell you we already tried video before. I was like that's interesting. Tell me more. While we used x company. I was like how, how did it go? Well, not well, because we're having this conversation now and it's okay, what kind of onboarding and training did you get? How? We didn't really get any. If you don't mind my asking, what do you pay for this and how long was the commitment? I was free. So this idea of like, you know, just throwing it out there doesn't mean it's going to stick, and that's part of probably, I mean for the for where it sticks and where it doesn't stick. That's probably part of like the long spool up that you describe. Is like getting that feedback, knowing what's working, knowing why what's working is actually working, which is the most important thing to know. It's it's probably a you get you get users faster signed on, you get email address as faster as what I should say, maybe in a freer fremium scenario, but it doesn't mean that it's going to stick Ethan. I love that example. It's really at the crux or the core of a successful product, Lib Growth Strategy. Product live growth only works when you can narrow your audience to someone who feels the pain, the pain that you could solve. They feel the pain really intensely and the product does a wonderful job of alleviating that pain. And the problem with Fremium, of course, is the exactly what you said, which is that anyone can try it. Most people have a terrible experience. They're going to go tell on social media, they're going to go tell all other friends. That's worthless. And now suddenly video, which is a very powerful tool to a lot of people, comes across as an ineffective tool when actually can be very effective. So I agree with you and actually for that reason I'm I think for a lot of businesses fremium does not make any sense, especially if they're using a product like growth strategy. Yeah, interesting. I I call it burning the field before anything's been harvested. That's right, like that's it. To replant this whole thing. Man. So before we wrap up here, and I really appreciate your time and your insights, I just want to hit one more thing, just based on your experience, especially as a board member, advisor and investor, and maybe even as you as you initiate this, this new effort. With enough said, talking about going from like down market to upmarket. I mean you covered like smb made an enterprise. You've probably seen people make transitions or start somewhere and wind up in another, in another kind of go to market position from a from a size of customer standpoint. What can you share with folks that maybe want to transition? Well, first read the book a crossing the Chasm, because I think it's a it's a good framework for how to think about the transition from, you know, SMB's, who tend to be more entrepreneurial and their adoption of products that can make decisions very quickly, to more mid market or an enterprise, is buyer who makes decisions a very, very differently and the proof points that they need to make a decision are also different. And so I'd say first read the book crossing the Chasm, because that will give you a good framework to think about how you're going to make this jump into more of an upmarket buyer. The other thing to think about is enterprise. So SMB sales. If you're doing SMB sales, they tend to be very transactional. The deal lengths, I bet you know, your deal cycles are probably thirty to forty five days. You're probably selling a product that's five to fifteen k a year. When you start talking about enterprise sales, it's a very different selling motion. So it's, you know, ninety, two, hundred, Eighty Day deal cycles. The deals are bigger. You've got three or four different key points of contact that you have to be in touch with in...

...order to get the deal done. So it really takes in a big investment in building a team around enterprise selling and one of the hardest things for CEOS to do in the early days is to make the financial commitment to build in the team. That's necessary because in order to do true enterprise sales you need to have account executives, you need to have probably some kinds some kind of solutions architect or sales engineer. You probably need need to have a legal team that's with a really sharp legal really good contract negotiator. You're going to need to have a security team that's dealing with security audits, and so the investment isn't twice as big. To do is to sell enterprise. It might be eight times or ten times bigger. And so I think just in terms of, you know, mentally preparing for enterprise sales, it's one of the pieces of advice that I would give. And also, you know, and this is another difficult thing for a generally the CEO to to stomach, is that the team that you built in the early days to deliver well on SMB cells is very unlikely to be the team that's going to take into enterprise. And that's hard because you've probably have key lieutenants, people that you really love at the company who have delivered great value for you. But unless they have a world class mentor, it's very unlikely that they're going to be able to learn about going from you know, for example, SMB focuses. Let's let's talk about marketing for a second. SMB marketing is all about content strategy and free trials and PR but when you start moving into enterprise you do much less content marketing. It's more about success stories, case studies, sales enablement for the sales team, account based marketing. It's a whole different set of skills that you need to on board into your company in order to make that transition. So, anyway, those are some some thoughts to you know, for for CEOS that are thinking of making the transition to consider before they make that decisions. Great recommendation and great caution there, and I I'll just button that one up with what got you here might not get you there. It might whether my God, and it requires a lot of a lot of training and adjustment really for everyone involved. This has been great, Chris. I Love I was excited about this, this conversation. It did not disappoint in any way. You're just a wealth of knowledge and I really really appreciate your time. But before I let you go, and because relationships are our number one core value here at bombomb and here on the PODCAST, I'd love to give you the chance to think or mention someone who's had a positive impact on your life, for your career and to give a shout out to a company that you really respect for the way that they're delivering for you as a customer. Huh, that's a great question. Can I ask first what the core value is. Yeah, it's relationships, just relationships. Yea. There is there like a bullet point of or a type of behavior that that you a spouse or that you advocate for, you know, in order to build relationships? Yes, I will read you a short snippet. Relationships, or the foundation of our business. Relationships are built about upon conversation, active listening and honest feedback. Our business is all about people and helping people reach their goals through building relationships. Well, thanks for sharing that. Our for first core value as also we build thirty year relationships. So good overlap there. So yeah, so let's let's talk about maybe I'll first talk about companies that I want to give a shout out to. The first one while we're doing a zoom call right now. So I want to give a shout out to zoom for couple reasons. One is, as the company has scaled rapidly on board of tons of new customers. They've gone IPO, the quality of their core service has not diminished at all and I'm just so thankful for that because we've seen other companies in the space go through similar transitions and it has not gone well for them. And so many thanks to zoom, largely, I think, probably because of Eric Yuan's obsessive customer focus. I mean he is one hundred percent all about his customers all day long. He wakes up every morning and ask...

...has senior staff to let him know what customers have said about zoom yesterday. That's that's what he's all about. So I want to say make a big, big shot out and thanks to zoom. That's the bigger company. The smaller company I want to give a shout out to is rippling. So we use them for while they are there. They are our HR HRIS system. They I feel like they've built a product in a way that has anticipated all of my needs as an early stage company. They you know, tax forms, insurance, asset tracking, payroll, all those things are built in and easy to use and integrate. So I want to say a big shout out and thanks to the team at riplaying. Really appreciate what you're doing over there. And, by the way, it's not just in the product. They offer self help tutorials. Their website experiences very intuitive. So anyway that that team is doing a really great job sounds incredibly valuable and probably, I mean this gets to the other, the other key factor. They're, in addition to product, party and we've been talking a lot about hyper competition and how much easier it is and how much faster companies can go. Starting today. I just think about you, know, you starting this company today, versus our cofounders starting our company, you and in two thousand and six, and what it took just to organize some of that legal stuff, that the TA tax documents and all that. It's like this idea that you can build a company to solve a very specific and acute problem like that helps all the other companies that sign on with them get to their market, get to their customers, get to their value faster and and unlike your founders, I probably have spent a grand total of forty five minutes dealing with all these tax and other forms. So very thankful that rippling has solved all that for me. That's awesome. That's great, Chris. I'm going to let you go, but before I do, if people enjoyed this conversation they want to follow up with you, they want to follow up with enough said like, where would you direct people if they want to learn more about what you're up to? The easiest thing is just too good enough. Saidcom, and you ffsaidcom tells you a little bit about the product. It's where you can go sign up for our current early access list. If you sign up now, we're basically committing to giving you a lifetime price point of ten bucks per person per month. So when we launched it'll be a higher price point, prior higher price point than that, but you can lock it in at a lower price for being an early and early a doctor of the product. And actually I feel like I feel like I should also you asked about someone who who had an impact in my life. To have time to yeah, I feel like I need to give a shout out to Ken Weller. Ken was the SVP of sales at best by and especial, actually during their big growth here. So that's when they went you know, they grew to twenty billion plus and sales. He was also the CEO of a company called the good guys. I don't know if you remember that business, but they were kind of like a electronics retailer. He ended up selling that business to Carlos Slim, but when he would do what he would visit stores. You know, you'd take this the head of sales would be one hundred percent focused on sales and sales improvement. But when Ken walked into the stores he would judge the quality of the store by the number of lights that were out on the ceiling. You know big buy. Best buy has these big warehouse like offices with no natural light, and so they took the time to invest in really a really nice lighting system so felt very bright inside the store. And so when he walked into a store and saw that a light bulbs out, he knew that the manager of that store was not obsessing about the quality of the customers experience. And so, anyway, I always thought I was fascinating that a guy like Ken was so focused on customer experience and so detail oriented that he noticed lights being out, and I felt like that was a good lesson for me about what true customer obsession actually looks like. So I thank you again. I really really appreciate that. Yeah, it's really good. It's a great story and it is I mean it's like overlooking the blocking and tackling I mean it's another thing...

...we've had on the show is just being slightly better than average almost all of the time. Is it gives you a great experience in and so when you start making exceptions, like I, maybe will get to that light sometime. You know, as soon as you start making exceptions, you're immediately out of the running for being slightly above average almost all the time. That's a great way to summarize it and a wholeheartedly agree. Cool, Chris Hicken. Thank you so much for spending time on the podcast today. Folks check out. Enough said. I assume that everyone listening to this faces some version of the problem that they're tackling out of the gate. Ai will just make it even smarter and better, and I hope you have a great rest of your day and I hope you have a great rest of your week. Many thanks, then. I appreciate the invite to join the show. Clear Communication, Human Connection, higher conversion, these are just some of the benefits of adding video to the messages you're sending every day. It's easy to do with just a little guidance, so pick up the official book. Rehumanize Your Business. How personal videos accelerate sales and improve customer experience. Learn more in order today at Bombombcom Book. That's bomb bombcom book. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Remember the single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit Bombombcom podcast.

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