The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode 113 · 11 months ago

113. Building A Customer Experience From the Ground Up w/ Eric Crane

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Would you gateway your product behind requiring anyone who signs up to have a 30-minute conversation with one of your two founders? As in, you won’t sell to them unless they agree to talk to you?

Eric and David did, and it utterly changed how they thought about value.

 

In this episode, I interviewed Eric Crane, Cofounder and COO at Flatfile, about how he and his team constructed a whole new picture of customer success based on customer experience and value. Eric talked with me about:

 

- The relationship between customer experience and customer success

 

- The impetus behind his conversation strategy — and its outcomes

 

- 2 new ways to think about the human/machine relationship

 

- What a COO in a SaaS company does all day long

 

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 success, kind of becomes amisnover because they refer to a part of their organization as customersuccess and whill. That is absolutely true. That's also. The ultimate goal ofthe entire organization is the success of your customers. The single most important thing you cando today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers,learn how sales marketing and customer success experts create internalalignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in apersonal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast, here'syour host beet and beaute finding the customers. You can serve best, removingsome of the friction around data management, building an experience fromthe ground up. That's just some of what will be talking about today with agentleman who spent time at bull story, lovely and enboy in roles related toproduct partnerships, marketing and advising he's cofounder in COO at flatfile. The Elegant Import Button Fr your webap serving customers like hub spot,toast, blackboughd and many many more and he's the host of the customersuccess leader podcast Eric Crane. Welcome to the customer experiencepodgast thank Seyo Te, really appreciate you, Hav Meon Yeah, I'mlooking forward to the conversation, I'm excited Abyu what you guys aredoing and to get going. I guess we'll start where I start with everyone whichis customer experience when I say customer experience. What does thatmean to you eric? I love this question because I asksomething similar on gcustomer success leader, really. I boil it down to justthe path to value, so it's a journey that someone's on is not necessarily apointin time or a single experience, but rather the amalgamations of allthese steps. aneone takes as part of a business and part of a relationship.Fat Ultimately leads them to realizing value that they were hoping to get outof that relationship cool. Do you have any thoughts on the relationshipbetween customer success and customer experience? I've had there are a couplelike differing mindsets around this in terms of o conversations. I've hadaround this because I've had a lot of people who are focused on customersuccess on the show. Do you have any thoughts about the relationship betweenH, two yeah? So I think, a lot of timescustomer success, kind of becomes a misnober because they refer to a partof their organization as customer success, and while that is absolutelytrue, that's also. The ultimate goal of the entire organization is the successof your customers, and so I think it's unfair to necessarily put all of theonus on of customer success onto your customer success team. They might bedoing particular things to enable ongoing successive customers, but thatdoes not mean that the organization should be ultimately aligned aroundthose customers achieving the value thet expected out of the product and,ultimately that's what leads to customer experience and, ideally, agood one yeah. I really like the way you shared that relationship and really,I think it's probably one of the reasons that customer experience isbubbled up in in the conversation feels like pretty dramatically over the pastthree to five years or so, and I think what it's trying to capture is: okay,we're not prepared to rename this part of the organization. This part still iscustomer success, but we're trying to to get above that in to blend your tworesponses there. What I heard is and feel free to correct redirector add toit that the experiences is what it feels like along the journey, andsuccess, of course, is the outcome that we want for R customers in general.Yeah absolutely- And I think the interesting thing about this is everycustomer define success in a different way, but ultimately you're going to geta bullian right. Did we get value out of this relationship, or did we not,and so customer success is guiding them towards that positive outcome, buttheir experience is just again at the end of the day, did I get this value,or did I not yeah, and I love it too? I...

...mean, I think, so much of theexperiences in expectation setting an expectation management, and you know ifI was expecting get a fifty percent lift, but I only got a thirty fivepercent lift. Even though your average customer only gets a thirty percentlift and that's more than enough for them, they still might feel like theyhad a negative experience or didn't achieve th the outcome. So itsexpectation means to be a big piece of that as well. For people who aren'tfamiliar tell us a little bit about flat file like who's your idealcustomer. What do you sal for them? What are you all trying to do at flatfile yeah, so you can kind of think of flafile like a bridge, and that bridgeis between sort of messy old, disparate fariont data and sort of the idealusable happy structure, data that we all want inside of our systems, and soreally the challenge has been historically that we design systems,usually things like sast businesses or enterprise software, with a particularway in which they use data. The IIT has to be structured a certain way. It hasto be formatted a certain way and what ends up happening is that that systemwers really well, but only when the datais right, and so, if you're, saying hey, we wantto move our organization from this. You know legacy system or this manualprocess into a modern software solution. The challenge becomes, how do we makethat transition without the pain of having to take all of the machinesrequirements and fulfil them as humans, and so really for us? We put the humanfirst and every experience that we do, because whenever data is changing hands-and that's generally, where we focus is okay, how can we ensure that the humanis but first in this experience, rather than the machine, and that was actuallythe impetus for us starting the business in the first place was thefact that we saw all of these data import experiences that wereessentially in exposure of an endpoint of someone's internal ETL system and ifyou've got a customer who is a teacher or firefighter and they're getting anarror message that says: Hey and sell see four hundred thirty seven. This isa bully and an IT needs to be a string. They're not gonna, have any idea whatthat neens and so what we then do. Is We patch that, with like? Okay, here'sa three page or ten page long, explainer article on how to do thiswork yourself, and we forget about the fact that a lot of times with softwareyou have to get data in before it does anything. So if you think about likethat, I forget, if it was Andresan or horrwints, he says software is eatingthe world right. Well, if softwer is eating the world datas what it breaksand if you can't take that first breath really effectively, then you're neverreally going to get to that point of value that you ultimately hope for andespecially not a for taking that responsibility and ofording it to acustomer and end customer who doesn't necessarily understand the technicalINS and outs of your system. Yeah Gosh, I feel like just the whole world.Around data is probably one of the biggest headaches for a lot oforganizations. I think you did a nice shob articulating it with the bridgemetaphor and when we walk this out of step further, when we start talkingabout Ai. Of course, tructure data and clean data is like ai is nothing without all of the datato train it initially and then to continue to teach it yeah and if youthink about the types of folks that our customers are working with they're, notgoing to be hanging out on Mechanical Turk, waiting for jobs to classify datareg I'l take an example. In particular, he've got a customer, that's in the RPsystem for emergency responders. It's like their software is being used inthe firehouse to track like inventory orders and like the amount of thehouses that are in that firehouse and well. A data scientist would have areally good understanding of the ideal structure and format of the data thatworks within that Erp firefighteris not really go. T have any idea about that,but they do know everything there is to know about Bir, hydrams and manholecovers and host fittings, and what...

...we're basically doing it in this bridgeis we're. Marrying the data expertise of our customers, who built thesesoftware systems and the subject matter, expertise of their users who knowexactly what their data means, but don't necessarily know how it should bestructured and formatted to fit inside of a machine really good, and I g thatbrings it back to the kind of the human first concept that you were speaking to.I'm goingto go out on a limb because I don't know the founding story here, soyou found o the company a couple years ago. I'm GOINNA guess that you're,probably like so many of the guests that we've hosted on this show, whichis you're, probably solving a problem that you were encountering yourself andthen realized that the problem was big enough and that your solution was goodenough for your vision, for an improved solution was good enough, like let's dothis for other people too yeah. My cofouner David likes to say herage designed his dream data import solution, which is really true.Actually, so we were working at Enboy, it's a workplace management softwarecompany. So we were all about making sure visitors and deliveries andmeetings were all running effectively and we just ran into this problem againand when I say again, I mean for like the everything everything time in ourcareers everywhere. We'd work. There is a challenge of getting data fromoutside of your organization into it and once again we ran into it an onboyand we said: Okay can we go find someone who's built? They drop in dataimporter for a B to b software product and were just shocked when no one hadthat everyone had developed it custom. It was either. You know a custom pieceof software, a bunch of scripts and internal team. Managing this or USputting the job on the CUSTOMR and saying hey here: Go! Do all this workbefore you can even see value from our system, and so we recognize thisproblem as data onboarding and really what the concept is there is that, justlike you have a customer, he need to train how to use your software tounderstand how to get value out of it. You also have to train their incomingdata on how best to fit inside of that software system, and so that was theoriginal premise of flat file is like Hey. If we can build this bridgebetween and customers, you arent necessarily data experts and systemswho know how to use data best. Then what we're doing is we're easing theoftentime's initial customer experience, but even o'm doing customer experiencesto enable them to get value out of that system. Love it. So, let's go intocustomer experience a little bit. So I read this line. I forget where I readit, but it was somewhere on on the flat file website or in your personal leak.dinorwhatever. It's flat file offers an elegant, easy to use experience thatreduces frustration and increases delight. So I've already heard youspeak to essentially the delivery behind this. But what I felt like whenI read that line was that I would assume that you're not large enough asan organization. You perhaps have a dedicated CX person with a title orsomething, but your culture and team and leadership a are hiding a tuned tothe experiences your costumers are having. So you know it's a cofounderwho appreciates the importance of customer experience and your team is expressing it in some ofthe outward facing stuff, even if it's not necessarily in that term, what aresome things you did early on whether they're practical, whether they'restructural, whether their process based or whether they're just kind ofephemeral? What are some of the things that you've done in the early days toreally make sure that your customers are having great experience,understanding you interacting with you getting involved with you purchasingfrom you and and and getting going well. I wouldn't necessarily call thispractical an so it takes a lot of time and effort, but one of the mostimportant things that we did as a business was, we actually prohibitedour customers at a certain point from selfserve ponboarding and paying for asolution. So what we said was no we're going to have a conversation with everysingle person who signs up, if they're willing to take it and they're going tohave to have that conversation with us...

...if they want to buy it, and what thatmeant for us was that we got to learn about all the unique and interestingways that our customers thought about value, that arour solutions provide andwe're also able to see gaps in the way that we deliver our solution to providethat value. And what that meant was there were weeks, especially at thevery beginning of this year, which is when we started this initiative I wouldbe booked and to end all day. Long. Thirty minute calls with folks hoadsigned up for flatfile. But what I got to do is I got to understand who ourcustomers were, what they cared about, where they were in their business andall sorts of information about how they perceived the value of what we weresolving for them and what we then did was. Then we took that and we did themore practical thing which has turned that into systems that could then scalewhether it was tiring people to have certain types ofconversations with those folks on the team or developing workflows andsystems and automation that could help guide accustomer through an experiencethat we knew was the appropriate set of steps for that customer along thatjourney to value. And so it's not a lot of borrowing that's happening here. I'mnot going to proclaim that we're geniuses who are reinventing everythingthat ever was done in technology and it's like the the Reed Offman LineRight, do things that don't scale and really we said: Let's do some thingsthat don't scale, so we can understand what the right way to do. It is, andthen let's Tak the learnings from that and then scale that into theorganization, so smart. I really really appreciate that. What was the trigger like what I assume that you were doingsomething different up until the start, F of two thousand and twenty and thenyou're like okay. We need to do this. What was this spark there? And I haveanother question to them really really interested in, but II know the sparklike what, in that moment, what occurred to you and your team membersat are like we need to change this yeah. It was really mostly a pragmaticquestion which we wanted to answer, which is, why do we see x company overhere, paying US three hundred dollars a month when we know that they're gettingtens of thousands of dollars of value a month? Out of this thing and thiesother customer over here he's trying to bargain with us for like ten bucks offa month, both of those conversations with those two types of customers wouldtake the same amount of time, but very different outcomes, and so he said,okay, we clearly haven't positioned the value o the solution, the right way. Wehaven't packaged it the right way. If these are the outcomes that weregetting and so really the impetus was like hey can we have a conversationwith every customer, so we can develop the system that we know can scale whatthe value or customers realize. I am I like one of the biggest advocates ofDalu based pricing is opposed to cost space or outcomes. Based, I mean valuesare part of outcome, but it's not necessarily just usage. It's what arethe other costs than the other value that are provided like improved inpsopportunity costs that you would otherwise. You know be sucked into dothis, this project of managing data onboarding, and so once weere able tohave those hundreds and hundreds of conversations over the course of a fewmonths. We had a much better understanding of how our customersactually thought about value and how to convey that as part of an experiencewhere we didn't necessarily actually have a real time conversation with them,it's great so that teas up my followup question perfectly, which is like howso you were obviously book back to back, but with hundreds of meetings I'm goingto assume other people are doing so. Who else was doing this with you? Andthen this is the big part of the question. How do you organize your learnings? Iassume you know in these thirty minute meetings. You're getting your know,you're, probably keeping notes like how do you blend your own notes together?How do you and the other people doing this like? How did you make sense ofall this supervaluable quality to feedback that you're getting from yourcustomers yeah? So it's Ealy more of a challenge, and I can't proclaim that itwas super scientific, but a couple of the things that we did was we wrote outstrategy documents. So when we went...

...into this, we said here is ourhypothesis hypothesis. Here are the steps that we're going to use to testthat hypothesis and then here are the actions that we're going to take as apart of this experience and then adjust an iterate those actions based on whatwe are saying from the market, and sometimes it doesn't make sense to puta ton of structure inside of these things, if they're so rapidly evolving.At the very beginning, for example, we had set some internal price pointsaround okay Wewe're, going to test out this offering at this price point, andwe have three conversations and customers a go: yeah, that's great yeah,that's Great Yeah! That's great, we said: Okay, we're getting zeroresistance on the price here, let's just bump it up right and it wasn'tlike some sort of systematizs thing it w ul just became brelly apparent earlyon the second part of this was it was really just me and David taking all ofthese conversations and the reason why I was because we both understand verywell how each other think how we make decisions and we Hav full byin into thestrategy behind okay. How do we define the value or customers? Think offlafile is providing, and so, as a result, it was a lot of effort for thetwo of us, but it made that decision making process an iteration processreally seemless and so be that other teammates going in and taking thoseconversations and having them. The thing is is that they might have bat aslightly different perspective. It would have been more lag time toorganize everything and that wasn't really part of our objective. Ourobjective was hey: Let's get to a decision fairly quickly, so at that waywe can restructure how we package our solutions, how we price our solutionsand even what solutions we do offer to the market. So I can't say that therewas not a lot of pain along the way because yeah there were occasions wherewe'd have a call with a customer and like we, you know, forget to take notes,because we ware so excited about the conversation I'm not going to rag onDavid too much, but like he shyes towards fewer notes. I shy towards morenotes and there's a middle ground there that we're able to reach in combinationand as far as practical tools and systems we set up. We actually didn'thave a crm at that point, and so what we did was we just built an air tablethat was like a crm that made it much quicker for us to react to all this. So,instead of having to configure workflows and journeys- and things likethat, it was literally just drop the notes in the crm we built that a littleform or you could put stuff in and tag different things on a customer and thenalmost on a daily basis. We would go in and review all the conversations thatwe've had throughout the day and say: Okay, do we? Are we ready to make adecision about which direction we go next with, thus really good? I love it.I mean you've qualified a couple of your responses. You know, as far aslike the payt, you know, wasn't: scientific, not genius, like you're, identifying a problem you'recoming up with a solution, you're developing hypotheses testing againstthem, organizing your thoughts, just even the idea that you and David weredoing them, because you knew each other well enough that when one of you sayssomething you know what the other person knows, what you mean with thatyou know just a lot of that unspoken benefits really really smart. I lovethe the problem solving there. Let's, let's go back straight to the customer.It seems like at some point in the process you came to understand. Youcould probably provide great value to customer success leaders. So what wasthe process? Like you know, in looking at an orrobviously, most teams within an organization areusing data at some level. Everyone wants it to be good and up to thesecond and clean instructured properly inaccessible. Even for you know theleast data oriented person on the team. What was the process of talking to allthese people? Looking at all your customer accounts, probably some otherfeedback sources. How did you identify customer success is a great place toreally grow quickly, yeah. So a lot of times when you arebuilding a system like this or building a company, you'll focus on like thewinners right. The ones who are like get the most value out of a solution,and...

...by talking to everyone that signed upit wasn't precluding just the conversation with the winners. It couldalso be people who are signing up for some sort of other reason and for usyou know we had this product that was largely geared towards product teams,and it still is. The FLAFFA portal is an invedable importan button that makesit really easy for your customers to Selfserv on board their data and everytime a PM or software engineer would sign up. We said okay, yeah. That makesperfect sense, but then also we'd see folks from customer success andservices and implementation team signing up for this, and we never had the conversation with them.They never would have really been able to get value out of the portal. Itrequires you to he's a Jaba script, library and embeded in a productsproduct page and define like some details, like Jason Schema around datarules that that the incoming data has to conform to, and so we took theseconversations with all these success folks and realize, like okay, they'reactually responsible for data onboarding to, but it's a differenttype of data onboarding. It is the onboarding that happens when a customerfirst joins in the organization right, hey. We sign this new customer, we needto get all of their data in and it's not necessarily just a thing that youhand off to that particular customer, and so these these successfuls are likesigning up and like trying to hack the solution so like they could use a coadsandbox to like solve this problem for them. But it was really hard becausethey weren't, you know they didn't Know Java scraft and we wouldn't expect themto, and so what they told us was. They said: Hey like we are responsible forthis problem as well, and so we said okay. Well, we have a solution for it.This solution just isn't quite organized the right way in order tohelp you as a customer success manager, and that was he the origin of the ideafor the FLAFA canciersh. So if you think about the portal, it's sort oflike te replacement for a selfserve spreadsheet, prep priht, so it's likehey, go download this template customer go fill out all the details. Hope it'sthe right format, upload it and, like you know, if you're lucky the date isgoing to get in the system, is not you're. Gonto get o o incomprehensibleemail. Thirty minutes later, like that's what Portalis solving for, andit's doing it really well. What we couldn't solve for was more for data.onboarding is a project. So hey we've got this piece of enterprise softwareand our customers coming from seven different legacy systems and we'rereally excited to modernize everything but o Wai we've got twenty to thirtyweek project ahead of us to like get access all the data, try to normalizeit customer feedback and where there are things that are missing, and hesaid: okay, Thas's S, the same problem, you abstracted just a little bit andit's exact same thing and we could use the same tech to do it. We just have tochange the presentation, and so that's what concierch is all about is sayinglike hey: can we take these projects and actually help you with a tool and asystem that can do exactly what the portal does, but in more complexscenarios or scenarios where there is like a cutover or a process for likeactually saying hey, okay, you're now onboarded your Datas in the system andyou can get value out of it really interesting. It makes me feellike some of these folks who are using concier are are getting a benefit thatI've heard express in a wide variety of ways, kind of like an Individua. It'slike an immediate benefit, you're, helping them look like stars to theircustomers, exactlyy less painful than some of theother things that your customers, customers have been through before yeah,one of the things those folks did for us as they put us in the shoes of theircustomers, and they said hey for our customers. They have to go, find a wayto extract data from a system and they have to send us that data extract, andthen we have to take that. We have to basically run excel macros on aworkbook that they sent us, and then we have to send that back to them, vaemail, and then they have to comment on...

...the places that we a highlighted andthen they miss something when they send it back. So then we have to go back andforth with them over and over and over again. Meanwhile, our desktop isgetting filled up with all these excel files and workbooks becomes a securityproblem. So then we say: Oh set up an SFTPSITE, and so he set up an SFTP site,and then you have to set up Hor minder system to know and a file lands inthere, and then you still have to notify the customer if you need anyfeedback from them in this process and so just ends up becoming this recursiveloop. That really, at the end of the day, one of the biggest painpoints toget experienced is just time to value it. Someone is signing up and payingfor this software. They have this idea of the value they want to get and withevery passing day that they can't see that value with their data. It's morelikely that they're going to be unsatisfied with their experience andpotentially leave absolutely because I'm sure that a selling point is not.You know a three week time to value pitch. You know and thats just goesback to to the expectation management piece like my expectation, is that insome reasonable amount of time- and I get to define what's reasonable unlessyou manage my expectations, you know yeah such a and it's such an importanttime in the custumer relationship, and I'm sure you see it in your ownbusiness as well, which is you know that first I don't know I mean itdepends on the nature. It depends on the nature of the business and thestructure of the deal, but I just generically speaking, you know thefirst seventy two hours after I swipe my car or signe. The contract is, likeyou know, that's the buyers, remorse window, so the the more pain you canremove. Ther, the better yeah, absolutely and also just not evenjust femoving the pain, but also lairy and comfort right when the customer cansee what's happening with that data that they censour way, and they canactually interact with that in real time and see you making it better andbetter. That also provides a degree of comfort for them doing like Hey, okay,I'm not forgotten about this is actually something that's happening,and it also gets tin excited instead about seeing that, as opposed to echecking their watch every five minutes being like allright. When is my stuffgoing to get imported? When I'm, I actually be able to use this thing, I'mpaying a hundred grandt a year, for so it definitely kind of helps reset thatparadigm to a degree good. Let's, let's just give a practical data tip, becauseeveryone listening interacts with data at some level. You know we. Obviouslyhygiene is a thing. You've talked a bit about structure in like lay personsterms. What are like one or two problems that you've seen or observedor heard about thet might be helpful for someone to like somethingactionable. Someone can do today to improve their data, their access todata, etcetra yeah. So a couple things here, I think,come up all the time and I'll use some very practical examples that are hopefully helpful. So thingnumber one is actually not even related to the data itself, but is related tothe person who's working with the data is t. You have to understand that ifyou hand someone what you need, that's not necessarily how they're going toperceive it so, for example, you hand them a template that has all theseinstructions on how to perfectly format all the data you're asking a human towork like a machine. So hey we need quotes around this this field in thecell in order to properly import it right. Poman might know how to do. CanCat functions and excel, but they might forget something. Maybe they had afiltered view on like humans are prone to mistake when theyre repeatableproblems to be solved. So just keep in mind that, like the more you ask humansto do repetitive work, the more likely it is that they're going to make amistake, and even if you say your flat file's, not the right thing for meunderstand that, like you're still going to run into those challenges withTA system where the human has to do the job. So that's thing number one noterBRAC TOR example. That's more on, like...

...the dataside, I love using dates as anexample, because it's something that's everyone gets machines, don't readdates like Human Sa, so UTC encoded time. FORMATT is pretty much a standardacross machines and I don't remember the last time I ever wrote OUTC andcoded daytime format, normalized around GMT in any sort of document orspreadsheet or other system that I was using as a human. And so you have tounderstand that, like there's a translation that has to happen a lot oftimes between what the machine is expecting and what the human has andit's not that the humanist rock like the human actually is probably the one.That's right and the machine is also right. The challenge is just in thattranslation, yeah, you get lost in translation, and this happens inwritten language just as much as it happens in data. Is You get this pieceof data? It's right from the humans perspective is right from the res. Youknow the providers perspective it's correct from the recipients perspectivein terms of like yeah, that's a dat, and I can know that that looks like adate, but then you make a decision based on that data and you get aspaceship that crashes into the surface of Mars right. So that's one of thethings that we try to Sel for is like hey. There is this translation problembetween how we is humans, think about data and how machines think about data,and you have to be first cognizant tof that and then second understand. Okay,what is the bridge between those two things to ensure that folks aren'tcrashing and burdon whenever they're trying to use that data in that systemtoo? Nice kind of mindset tips that are practical, well done, shifting hearsjust a little bit, and this is about your role, Chief Operating Officer,obviously cofounder. As well, you know a lot of the titles that we have todayare titles that people had decades ago but decades ago, as coo, as maybe youknow, managing facilities and distribution. Centers and other youknow physicalogistical things. You know flat files a distributed team, so therearen't really any facilities. Is it textack likewhat? Are you coo over what does that role meaninside a SASS company yeah, it's pretty funny, because it can really varybetween different businesses and I'm not going to say that our definition isthe right one. What's interesting enough is. If you look at my role fromthe outside, it looks a lot like what you might think of as like a CR chiefrevenue oncascer, which is a newer term to so I'm responsible for everything onthe growth and go to market side of our business. So thinking about like how dowe take what we're doing in terms of solutions and provide them to themarket to solve those problems and the flip side of that? How do we learn fromthe market about problems and make sure that we're delivering that to a team onthe product side of the business? That's actually building out solutionsto those problems, and so for me, like it's, you know things like managing asales theme and a marketing team and a customer success in customer experienceteam at at the same time, if you take it a little bit further up from that,it's largely about how we make decisions in the organization, and Iwill give equal credit to both myself and my cofounder David for this, butespecially as being a distributed team right now. We need to have a verystrong sense of how and when we make decisions and again to borrow fromsomeone else's playbook, we have this model called informed captains, soeveryone is responsible they're, the captain of a Little Shit in our ourfleet of flat fileships, and what we want them to do is be making decisions,but there's a prerequisite to making those decisions, which is that you beinformed, and you really get informed by two key things. The first is seekingdescent on decisions. So, like basically say: Hey, I'm not so serchcertain about this decision. I want to get some negative feedback. That tellsme otherwise, like is there a contrarian opinion that exists herethat is informed by intuition or fact...

...that I can use to inform my ultimatedecision here and t in the second is learning so once you make a decisionlearn from it. Most, decisions in a business are not a one way door. Youcan make the decision and you can say hey. That was not a good decision basedon what we learned and we're going to go back and do something different nexttime, and then that way you never really lose unless you're not makingdecisions, and so everyone in the organization is an informed captain andthey understand what they're responsible for making decisions on,and I love to use this example because we're on a podcast and I'm the host ofa podcast, and I will tell you that if we didn't have this model, we would nothave a podcast for flafile that we're running today and the reason why isbecause, like jk, who is our head of performance marketing used to work withYeall, he came to me the summer and said Eric. We should really do apodcast. I think that'd be great for developing awareness amongst thiscustomer success. AU Ience and I said podcast and beate te are normally thegreatest and like especially if you know like folks, aren't reallylistening to podcast, because they're so busy with customer issues, I'm notso sure. I've seen this flop one too many times, but that's my opinion and aweek later, she came back to me and he says: Hey Eric, we're doing a podcastand you're going to be the host thing S is, I didn't, have any empatissay no to him. He is the captain of making that decision, and I said, okay,let's go with it. Let's make sure that we measure the results and low and beold. We measure the results, and not only did it give us a significant boostin terms of awareness and excitement and interest in what flat file is doingamongst an audience that we knew would be interested in what we were providing,but also there were all these frenge benefits that we didn't even realizebefore hey, we can turn this into collateral, for marketing, to y run,campaigns on and also almost every single podcast episode turns into asales conversation after we stop recording because they're reallyinterested in. Why we're doing this? And you know what is behind alleverything at flafile? So, if we'd had that hierarchicale decisionmaking process, we would not have to benefit of that today, and so that'swhy I like to say, like we really try to demogratize thise decisions, say:Hey wially were only uncomfortable whenyou're not making decisions and not moving things forward, because theworst outcome, alternatively, is just that we learn so that hopefully kind ofdescribes a little bit, how we think about sort of making decisions, movingthings forward and ultimately hove. That helps a skill as a distributedteam, because you're not always going to be in the same room, and we want tomake sure that we keep moving forward regardless yeah. I like the empowerment,pieace, of course throughout the organization, really really importantand allows you to move much more quickly. The other thing that I reallyreally appreciate, n what everything we share there is the level of intent thatyou have in viewing your role as partly to manage this. What is typically justkind of a cultural aspect right like we learned to make, we learn how decisionsare made in the organization as we watch other people make decisions, andsometimes it's an explicit conversation, but the idea that you're taking it onspecifically within the context of your role and being very intentional aboutworking that, through with each person, I think, establishes a very strong,clear culture around decision making for distributod team really good. Iguess last question here before I teayou up for a couple of my favoritequestions on the podcast and Wer Youre right on the doorstep of it you're bythe time. This release is probably twenty episodes into customer successleader. What are one or two things that have surprised you or make you seethings differently, that you've learned from some of your guests as a host ofthe podcast yeah. So I think originally, we kind ofdesigned it around a very particular theme, and it was like this verystructure, inset of questions, and you know every time, someone answerssomething slightly differently and what...

I learned was just like: Hey, let'skeep it more open, ended than that a lot of times. What I'll do is I'll, say,hey a couple of the first questions might be the same, but then we're goingto go offscript and in fact I would provide guidance to guests. I had acouple of guests early on who joined the show and they had written out alltheir answers to the questions that I provided them, and I said that's notwhat we're looking for here if you're reading this is not going to feelnatural, it's not going to feel impassioned, and so what I said waslike: Hey, let's like reschedule for a later date, but's Ye. You can practiceand think about your answers ahead of time. It's good to have scratch noteson Lik gotws, some right here on the other screen bat, the end of the day.You don't want to be reading about this. You want to be actually sort ofportraying that is part of a natural conversation, so that was somethingthat I learned was like hey. You can have some structure, but you don'tnecessarily want too much tructure in your podcast because then otherwise,you k ow folks, will not necessarily come across as like an actual leader,and all of these folks definitely are leaders, and so I want to make sure topaint them in their best life by ensuring that they can feel like hey. Iknow this just like O, like the back of my hand- and I can talk about this froma position of expertise good. So if you are listening to thisepisode, which obviously you are because you're hearing me right now,you might also like a couple other episodes. We've done recently episode.Ninety seven was, with Bob Barry, he's the principal user experienceresearcher at answer, lab and he's the founder of the Human ComputerMastermind Academy, really sharp guy and he's actually right here in townwith me in Colorado Springs, and we titled that Episode Episode. Ninetyseven, how UX drive CX and the entire world economy and then a little bitearlier episode. Seventy eight with Pianka Jane who is the Presidentan CEOof a ring. They do a variety of work around data culture and dataliteracy.They have stuff. You can do yourself online, they do deep dive consultingand we call that one three ways to improve data. Literacy. Again, that'sepisode. Ninety seven, with Bob Barryan episode, seventy eight with Pianka Janeand I think, some of the themes we talked about on both of those werepresent here today. I've really enjoyed it, but before I let you go eric, I'vegot two of my favorite questions. First is: Who would you like to think ormention someone who's had a positive impact on your life for your career. I mean there's so many people that Icoand mention, but I think we're going to pull up one that came to mindrecently and that's Megan Kistello. So she was the o BP of services when I wasworking at crims on exagon. Actually, as a customer, success, manager andshe's taught me so many things about how to not just manage a team but to actually lead ateam, and in particular there are things that you do that I' never seenmanagers dogh before so, for example, if someone Li got like go in anotherpart of the organization, she would get the entire team together and say: Heysomeone Gott like go. I want you to understand this. Is You know part ofthe reason why ore as much as I can tell you about why they got let go andfeel free to ask me any questions and I'll answer whatever I can for you casa team, and it just was really like this nice bridge between like theefficiency side of business, which is like hey. We have to understand thatwe're all part of this larger sort of machine thats working together, but thesame time we're all people hay. We all have thoughts and emotions and feelings,and so that was one thing, and the other thing too was this mindset oflike letting me fail, letting me make decisions that wouldn't necessarilywork out. I remember my second week on the job I got flown out to La and waspresenting in front of the entire marketing team at Toyota, or at least abig chunk of the marketing team of Toyota, and I worked with large healthcare systems before, but not necessarily large marketing teams and I was up there andI was talking about the product and there was like an issue where, likewasn't loading and Refreshd, and I made...

...a comment as an aside that was like Oh inyea. By the way you might justhave to you know, do a hard refresh every now and then- and it wasabsolutely the wrong thing to say- did not give them a lot of faith in theproduct when it was the first time someone was publicly presenting it tothem, but she didn't just jump in and take over the rest of the conversation.She, let me finish it out and after it was done, she gave me explicit, pointedfeedback and said: Hey. You did Tis this in this wealth. These were thingsthat you didn't do well, and I expect to see these types of invermenprovements, the next time we go through something like this, and so that thatTrustin, someone's ability, but also willingness to provide feedback thatwould help improve my own performance, is something that I've carried throughthe rest of my career, really good. Two Things: I've respected about people.I've worked with before, and one of them is led to my the your kind of yourfirst pass on on what Megan taught. You was related to this philosophy that Ihave, which is share as much as you can as early as you can right like as aleader, you have to have some editorial judgment. You know you're facing thingsthat not everyone should have to deal with or even think about, but to thedegree that it affects people share as much as you can as early as you can,and that obviously requires some editorial and some discretion, butreally really good and sharing feedback to I've been. I'veworked for people who've both been on both sides of that ansis idea ofholding things back and then, like you know at some point, they toss off somefeedback on something that happened three or four months ago. A it's hardto relate to be it's out of context and see it's like Gosh. I could havecorrected that like in the meantime, anyway, really good. I appreciate thatvery much how about a brand or a company that you respect or appreciatefor the way they deliver an experience for you as a customer. I really reallydo love what segment does for us, they're very clear as to what they areand what they aren't. They say: Hey we're a great way for you to organizedata about your customers into a single place, so that you can then extend allthe different things that you do on a regular basis and I think theyre theirproduct direction has been a direct reflection of their listening to themarket like what I think about using segment three years ago. Therere allthese things that I wish segnent would do and flash forward to today andsegment does all of those things, and so, without even having a directconversation with me. They understood me as someone who cared aboutorganizing my customer information and automating parts of the customerjourney and like developing this scale within the organization, and they gaveus the tools ind the systems to actually be able to do that effectively,and so I just really appreciate their focus on the product, and I also justlove what they put out in terms of content, because their founders aregoing through a similar journey that a lot of others do, which is like. How dowe understand value? How do we understand how to sell? I mean when youhave four engineers get together to start a company et can be particularlychallenging almost daunting to figure out. How do we actually translate whatour business does to value in the market and there's a lot of reallygreat folks there really great post and content and information they sharepublicly about how best to do that. So not only do they help provide asolution that I really love, but they also back that up with just a ton ofinformation about how they got there in the first place that you can learn fromand apply is appropriate within your own company. I think it's one of thebest trends that I associate that that, with three seven signals I think inbase Kan like those guys, Jason, fried and Davin Hiamyr Hanson, I think, werethe first guys I personally remember documenting their journey and openingup how they got to where they are, and I'm so glad that so many people havefollowed because it's so helpful to so many people and it and it allows you tthe company to you to inder yourself to them or they are endared to you eitherway like you understand them better and you're more connected great responses.I appreciate it Eric if someone wants...

...to connect with you or they want tolearn more about flat file or they want to check out customer successfully orwhere some places you would send people to follow up on this conversation. Yeahfor sure. If you just want to learn a little bit more Bot flatfile hit ourwebsite hit the chat button, there's actually a button. That says I want totalk to one of the founders and I can't promise an immediate respons Ar. But ifyou leave your email, either myself or David will get back to you. Yeu canalso just it a Hallo at flatfile, dot, Io and then for customer success,leader just thatcom and you're, going to be able to take a look at all thedifferent episodes that we publishe. We do publish a new episode every week andreally excited to continue connecting with other folks in leadership andcustomer success, product and everywhere else do so don't hesitate tohit me up o linked in as well. If you want to make a connection and have ameaningful conversation always down for that awesome, Eric Crane spelledexactly how you would think and Goud get on that you are all by the way Eric.Thank you appreciate that yeah thanks for your time, clear, communication,human connection, higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits ofadding video to the messages Youre sending every day. It's easy to do withjust a little guidance to pick up the official book. Rehumanize, yourbusiness, how personal videos, accelerate sales and improve customerexperience learn more in order today at Bombamcom Bock, that's Bo, mb, vombcomfuck, thanks for listening to the customer experience. podcast rememberthe single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver abetter experience for your customers, continue learning the latest strategiesand tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visitBombomcom podcast.

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