The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 6 months ago

190. 3 Elements of Customer-Led Growth w/ Chris Hicken

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Product-led growth is a great strategy… for about 5% of B2B companies. The other 95% should adopt customer-led growth.  

In this episode, I speak with two-time Customer Experience Podcast guest Chris Hicken , Co-Founder and CEO at ‘nuffsaid , about the three elements of customer-led growth and their reliance on superior CX 

Chris talked with me about:

- What three things customer-led growth companies do

- Which of the four types of data to prioritize and why

- How the philosophy of customer-led growth originated

- What influence video has in creating value for customers

- How to start collecting data on customer value 

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

- ‘nuffsaid Magazine 

- Chris Hicken on LinkedIn 

- The Rule of 40 

- Dave Garr on LinkedIn 

- Darrell Benatar on LinkedIn 

- Gong.io 

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.

Start a program where you ask customers about the value that they're receiving along their journey. Full Stop. 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, back on episode sixty five of the customer experience podcast, we talk through the differences between marketing led growth, sales led growth and product led growth, among many other helpful topics. And our guest from that episode is back and today we're talking customer led growth. What it is, why it matters, the blind spot it fills in our use of customer data and the big gap it fills for healthy, sustainable growth. Our guests brings more than fifteen years of B tob software experience as a leader, investor, advisor and board member, including eight years as president and COO at user testing, which just went public a few months back. Three years ago he cofounded, enough said, and leads the team as CEO. With that. Chris Hicken, welcome back to the customer experience podcast. Amazing even thanks for having me back and also a huge thank you to you because you invest so much of your time and helping the community level up their skills and understanding of lots of different topics. But just want to start with that a deep gratitude for what you do for the community. That is very kind of you to say. It's an absolute joy to do. It's a privilege and it's shocking how little feed pack you get on the podcast format. You know, like I can see all the streams and downloads and stuff. I will get some direct linkedin messages. I always throw my email address out, which, by the way, for listeners, that's Ethan etch an at Bombombcom. So to get that feedback from you, Chris, and I really enjoyed our conversation. I really respect your view and I'm really excited to get your kind of the contextual basis for customer led growth. Like where are we in general? Why does this matter? Why is this better? How do we hybridize, you know, some of the emotions we may have now, including product letter sales led into customer led. But we're going to start, Chris, where we always start, which is customer experience. When I say that, what does it mean to you? Customer experience? Well, it's it's an interaction point with your customer and it's how they feel about it. So I think it's the simplest version of what I if I'm going to take a customer experience and get it to simplest components, it's just that it's some kind of interaction between you and your customer and also their feelings, their reaction to that experience. Really well done. I mean you got the mechanical side and you got the human emotional side, manic mechanical side being, you know, all these different touchpoints, analog, digital, human, bought whatever, and really it's that emotional residence. Totally with you on that. It's such a joy to ask that question now to I think, I don't know what episode this will be, but I've asked it over a hundred eighty smart people like you and and that feeling pieces is one of the key ones that emerge for me. That, prior to even starting the PODCAST, is easy to overlook. It's easy to get into systems and processes and sequences and all these other things that we're just really excited to be able to set up from an automation standpoint and a workflow standpoint and loose sight of what it feels like to either execute that system or process as an employee or what it feels like on the other side as well. Typically, I feel like this just kind of another follow up there. I feel like when we talk about growth and we're typically in the conversation of sales and marketing, and when we talk about customer experience, were typically, I think, because of its associations with service or customer success or some of these other things, it starts to feel like a postsale topic.

I expect you agree with me, but I think you maybe say something smarter about it than I would. Why is that confused? Why is that wrong? Why is growth everything and why is customer experience everything? If that's how you see it? Well, to the topic of customer led growth. I think it feeds directly from your first question about customer experience. So if customer experience, if you buy into the concept that you start by creating a journey for a customer which includes lots of touch points, digital website, chat, on boarding, etc. emails. Part of that is building the right customer journey. The other part is understanding how the customer feels about it, and you have to have those two things. So if we talk about, you know what is customer led growth, customer led growth is an operating mode where every one of the company is obsessed about the value customers receive from the product. And the value is for most comp for most people, values a feeling. Do they feel like they're getting good are you know, we measure using Roi, but most of the time we make decisions based on our feelings. So I think specifically a customer leg growth company has to do three things. Number one is that measurement piece that we just talked about. So you have to measure whether or not value was received, and that's kind of there's two parts. That one was the planned outcome achieved. So they bought your product or your service for a reason. So did they get out of it what they expected and to how do they feel about it? And you have to measure both. The second thing that customer like growth companies do is they make customer data king. In other words, customer data is prioritized as the most important information for making decisions around huge decisions, pricing, ideal customer profile, content, product, etc. And later even we can talk about some examples, but there are so many examples of enormous decisions that we make at the company that include no customer data and it's kind of mind blowing. So and the third thing is customer like growth. Companies make outside outsize investment in their customer teams. They don't think about their customer teams as overhead functions. They don't think of their customer teams as places where they have to squeeze every last dollar every year out of those teams. And so that's the that's the framework for customer leg growth and maybe in a moment we can talk about why this became a thing, with marketing, sales and product leg growth getting all the buzz. Yeah, awesome. Can you do me a favor, and it's a favorite really for listeners, because I was listening to this episode. Can you hit those three points one more time, just really quickly? Don't need to explain the but like, what are those three elements once more? Sure, okay. Number one, measure whether or not the customer has received value. Number two, make a customer data king, so prioritize customer data when making decisions. Three, make outside investments in their customer teams. I love it, okay, and it's all about creating that positive feeling, because we make most of our decisions emotionally, not really even consciously or rationally. Again, we're speaking majority and just a rope. It back to how I set that up, which was awkward. You know. This really is something that I was thinking about as you were sharing that, which is one of the reasons I needed you to recap those three things. Is that this the post sale information, all of that data, all of the story worries, all of the feedback needs to be looped back in two sales and marketing front side. So this really is and end growth comes from positive experience across the entire cycle and needs to be informed by the customer start to finish. Okay, before we get too far ahead, I'd love for people for context, because you're leading this customer led growth charge within the context of enuf. Said, share with people a little bit more about enough said. What are you all...

...doing? Who's your ideal customer and maybe what are some problems you solve for them? Sure, so, yeah, maybe a quick introduction. You mentioned before I was president and CEO of user testing for eight years before starting. Enough said, my experience there has heavily influenced my thinking around customer led growth and the gap that exists in the market place. I'm one of three cofounders and CEO of neff said, we are building. We have very ambitious a company vision, which is to centralize the world's work APPS and prioritize work that matters. We're kind of going after the problem that all of us at work are totally overwhelmed with, like way too much information, way too much communication, our Datas and ten different APPS. Will come into work every day we to check our email, our chat, our tasks, our calendar, our CRM, our ticketing system, our CS platform and for all of it. It's true for most of us in at least knowledge workers and are in our work lives. So the thought is, can we create a system that sits on top of all of your existing workflow tools and then use as intelligence to prioritize what work, what things do you have to do today that will actually move the needle for your job? So our initial you know, that's too that's too big of a vision for for a small, early stage company. So we're rolling out the initial version of our product specifically for customer success and the the MVP or the kind of the earliest version of our product includes kind of centralized inbox, like one inbox to rule them all, and it includes two other kind of feature bundles that allow you to make build a better case to product management on features that need to be built with data. And the other piece, I guess no surprise, we give you a tool that lets you measure how customers feel about their experience using your product. So that wasn't part of when we talked last time, Ethan, that wasn't part of our product offering, but it just became so obvious that it was, it was needed, so we built an added it to to what we're working on. Awesome. That's directly related to one of the lines I've pulled off your website, which is people decide to renew based on how they feel. Totally true. And of course the value equation is part of that. You know that affects the way that they feel, but it's some level value is is perception and another level it's realized. But I want to read one another line off the website and I love for you to kind of like speak to any of those elements to connect them to the explanation just provided. Enough said. Enables companies to increase net retention by measuring the value their customers receive, delivering actionable insights and csplay books when risks or opportunities are detected. Yeah, so it's it's actually the concept is quite simple and the concept is it's crazy to enough said, we believe that when we're trying to figure out whether or not our customers are getting value, we only look at internal data. So what? Most of our health scores are built off of things like product usage data or ticket resolution time or system up time, or maybe even it's the CSM's qualitative rating of whether or not the account is in good health. But no one's asking the customer. It's the operating room equivalent of a surgeon walking into the room, looking at the heart rate sensor and the blood oxygen level and then not asking the patient how they feel. It's crazy. That would never happen in a million years, but that's how we run our B TOB businesses. We look at all this data and no one asks customers how they're feeling. So the the the premise around this part of the product is we help define a library of questions that you ask your customers along the customer journey. Their customers that get really detailed about the actual experience they're having. How do they feel about the pricing? Where they oversold in the sales process? Do they feel like they're getting value? Did they plan on owning the relationship at the time of renewal? How do they feel about all the feature set, you know, the the breadth of the features? Has the product been reliable?...

So all of these and of course many more questions. But we alsose questions along the journey and the results are collided for you into a really slick dashboard that helps you understand how much real relationship risk is there and also, and I think we don't talk about this enough, how much opportunity for growth and expansion is they're based on positive response, as you're getting from the customer. Really good. I assume that you got behind this customer led growth philosophy because it aligned with your vision at some level. I'm sure they are broader historical context that will dive into him in a minute, but before we get there, just a simple question. Would you describe yourself and your team as pursuing customer led growth yourselves hundred percent, and I can say I can tell you the way that we implemented customer led growth on day one of the company. I was actually day to day two. We put together our core values and in our core values we tried to figure out how we are going to put customers at the center of our decision making, and what we end up doing was we came up with a one of our core values is all about how we make decisions and in that core value we rank the data that's used in decision making at the company and their kind, for kind of four types of data. There's personal opinion, team opinion, kind of credible external data and customer data. And in the hierarchy we put personal opinion at the bottom of the pyramid, meaning it's the worst kind of data. And actually no one's opinion, no individuals opinion, really matters that much enoughset including mine, the team's experience. We have more data points at that point. So the team's experience is more valuable. More valuable than that is adding more data points externally. So getting some credible external data and customer data is King. So any decision that's made at the company with customer data is the most. It's the most credible decision that's being made. Any decision that was made with less quality data can always be challenged with customer data. So we have a whole decision making process around that and we, as a decision makers, were always seeking customer data when possible to make all of our decisions. Love it. I love how tight all of this is in Jine, like all these themes and the way it's even being executed in the product itself. Mean, for example, a few minutes ago you said that you were equipping people on the CS side to make credible requests for product features and things, which is completely like. I you think about how a lot of that goes river, either overreacting to an account that maybe doesn't have now I'm tying another theme. which accounts have the best potential for UPSELL, Cross cell expansion or even just basically pretension. would be overreacting to a customer that doesn't even, you know, have a long term future with us kind of a thing. So it's all really tight. Love it. What we were talking before we hit record. Actually had a previous call last week. You're kind of giving me the context, because this term customer led growth was relatively new to me. I've since write a couple of pieces on it, including some stuff that you and your team have published. But for folks who are listening, give us like a really broad context, like what's going on in the world at large, Sass and beyond, or maybe just restricted to software, like what's going on that makes customer led growth in important conversation today when it feels like it's all about plg. Yeah, totally. Well, first of all, for people who are listening, you can't see me hold this up, but enough said. Recently published a magazine called with the the title of this issue is customer led growth. We actually go into this and in a lot of detail. But the quick summary For this conversation, Ethan, is I'm going to build on something you said earlier, which is we need to take a step back and understand...

...the motivations of the CEO and the primary responsibility of the CEO, at least in the eyes of their investors, is to increase the value of the company, Full Stop. And in the early days of SASS, investors reward of companies that grew very, very quickly. Out of that reward system came the sales like growth approach we're companies were willing to spend almost unlimited amounts of money acquiring customers. You know, if you look at sales, like growth companies are often time spending a hundred percent or more a first year revenue to acquire those customers. And also because it was this you know, acquire customers at any cost and for any reason, these companies tend to have much higher turn customer turn rates because they were acquiring anyone, anyone, anywhere, anything that they could acquire. They were they were doing that because that's what how they're rewarded. But then Wall Street realize, like, it's way too expensive to grow these companies. So there's a shift where Wall Street started rewarding companies that were growing more efficiently with much lower acquisition costs, and from that emerge this product leg growth excitement, right, which is all about, you know, kind of a combination of value delivered simply from the product plus network effects allowed companies to grow very quickly with minimal sales and marketing investments, and also because customers could try the product before they committed. In many cases, people who stuck around they already were getting value. So retention rates were quite high. Here's the RUB. Ninety five percent of companies will never be product led full stop, because they're missing the key ingredient that enables product like growth, which is you have to have a product that is stupid simple to use, where you can just download something and just try it, and you have to get a lot of value from the product with minimal effort. The reality, if we look at our SASS ecosystem of tools, we just don't. There's our tools are just too complex with their integrations. Has To work with our existing systems as to know stuff about us. You know, there aren't very many categories or products that you can build that are truly product led. So now we're stock right, because in Wall Street is rewarding companies who can grow efficiently, meaning low, low customer requisition costs, but also have this very high retention rate characteristic. So what? What? What are the other ninety five percent of companies do? And from that comes this concept of customer leg growth, which kind of borrows from the concept of customers getting value, but rather than doing it via the product, instead you're doing around an operating mode where everyone at the company is thinking about making decisions based on the value customers are receiving. We can think about almost like a forcing function to get to really good product market fit. So if everyone is if everyone is obsessed about the customer getting value, then we end up getting to a place where we're acquiring only the very best customers with the best use cases. That leads to much higher retention rates, that leads to much better customer advocacy. All of those things were higher retention rates. Customer advocacy leads to much lower costs of acquisition and, of course, retention rates end up being very high to so that's that's how we achieve the thing that investors are asking us to do without having a product led growth product, which the reality is almost none of us do. I think bomb might be an exception. You might actually have a real product like growth product, but not many companies can be can have a product like yours. It's really interesting. Do you just I will take that sideline for a minute and then I want to double back into the privilege that you have of starting a company and starting it with values that say, how do we keep the customer at the center? I want to own a pivot back to that in a minute to say so, for that sales led growth and company that's watching its CAC just creep and creep. You know, what are they to do and how do we start moving in this direction? But you...

...know, the interesting thing you said that the characteristics of plg being stupid simple to use and quick and easy to get value from. I do think there are things about what we do and our competitors and frankly, a couple of our key competitors that are sitting at one sitting on hundreds of millions another one sitting on tens of millions of dollars of VC. We're bootstrapped and so it's fun to watch this money pour into the space. It just validates the work that we've been doing over the past decade. But you know, a lot of them are taking that motion. They can be very easy to use. I think if you get a couple high quality video messages out the door that are truly in the right spirit, that are sincere, whether it's sincerely encouraging or great for whether it's sincerely cautious or corrective for somebody like that, like that this that's done well in the right spirit, you can get value back, and by that I mean replies that validate that this is a different and better way to communicate a synchronously in the channels you're already using, you ail, slack, linkedin messages, etc. The trick, I think, to Pelg in the space, and I'd love your quick take on and then we'll pivot back into sales led, into into customer led. Will speak to the ninety five percent. Is The human vulnerability required to do it. That there is a barrier there that is not in that technology can't solve. It's not a rational issue everyone might recognize, especially if you received the high quality video message, you like, Oh, this is actually better than if they had typed out five paragraphs, you know, in so many cases. But the ability for someone to do it cold, assuming that they should just be good at it, because, I mean, I talk to people on the phone. I'm on zoom calls. Why can't I do this naturally, like I think that's the barrier here around the like the dumb easy to use, like it's easy install a chrome extension, hit record, watch the countdown timer, but as soon as that Tiber like turns into a record and you're like Oh, and so I think that I think that's a little bit of the rub there. But you're right, we're somewhere. Were somewhere in that kind of like muddy gray area between obviously a candidate for that and definitely not a candidate for that. But so let's go back to the night of the persons coming up the real quick SASON. That's kind of interesting. First of all, I'm a huge, huge believer in the power of video, and here's why. Video get creates the ability to create empathy with the other person. You just don't get that in any of the other mediums. And so yes, it takes a little bit longer to process, but it's one of the key tools to get to that empathy which is so important, especially when you're connecting with customers. So I just want to like double down that I really like the power of video. But I also understand. I guess I didn't think about that, but it's true. Even for bombomb which is literally can click a start a video with the click of a button, there is the stage fright thing that happens for humans where they don't know what to do and they want it to be perfect and they have to rerecord and then like oh my gosh, what I do? And so so, yeah, I understand. Yeah, that it would present some challenges for true product led growth. Yeah, and you know, we try to do things like hey, you know, we see that you've rerecorded a couple times. Wanted to give you some encouragement, but it's like you can't argue, you can't rationalize your way into someone feeling comfortable doing this. So it's really interesting. The ninety five percent, let's assume that they're in some kind of a sales letter, marketing led or blended sales and marketing led growth model. How do they start moving in this direction, toward customer led growth? Yeah, probably. I mean, frankly, it's going to have to start with the CEO and the CFO, because they're making decisions about how the company is investing its capital. And if you're someone that wants to convince your CEO to move in a different direction, start by pointing them towards the rule of forty. That might be the single most important metric in Sass right now for determining companies value. So the way that the rule of forty works is you add together your year over year growth rate, which is a percentage, plus your ebitda percentage, which is kind...

...of, let's call it, your profitability percentage. When you add those two together, if it's over forty, then your company will be considered a very healthy, sustainable long term business by most categories of investors. When you have a very, you know, sales led very expensive growth model, what ends up happening is, yes, you're able to grow, but every additional dollar yields less in return on the growth side relative to the expense. So you can see the growth rate goes up but the expenses are going up at a much higher rate. So for the CFO and the CEO, one of the best arguments to make is like look, one of the easiest ways for us to grow our revenue more cheaply is to look into our existing customer base and look for ways to grow and expand there. That can be through just gross retention but maybe, more immportantly, how to do cross cells, up cells and make sure that customers are getting more value. And you know, most companies are only spending five to ten percent of revenues on customer success. So even adding an extra one or two points of investment there could yield huge results in retention rates. Fact, there's actually a very strong correlation between retention rate and enterprise value. I'm just going to take a little side side tangent here. Bessemmer did an analysis that looked at, I don't know, Forty Public Sass companies and at compared the company's retention rates versus enterprise value, and what it discovered was that every point improvement that you make in net retention rate is about a point seven x increase in company value on average. So that means if you increase your net retention rate by three points, you increase your company you double your company value, two x improvement. So they're just are very, very many places, a seat as a CEO or CFO, where you can invest cat capital and get that kind of return. So if you want to move your company away from sales life growth to more of a customer like growth model, it just has to start with the company reevaluating the best places to invest capital to drive company value. And Right now, as far as Wall Street and private equiting VC are concerned, that is driving up making huge improvements in your overall retention rates. So really the call here is to get honest with ourselves, look into our customer data, look into our customer base, find the best customers, learn more about them, get into deep relationship with them, look for potential to expand those accounts, get referrals and or seek other people like them. Well, let's actually simplify this even more. Okay, please, to launch customerlood growth for your company today. Start a program where you ask customers about the value that they're receiving along their journey. Full Stop. That's it. Just ask that question about how much value that they're getting. That can be asked over email, it can be asked live and in person, it can be asked in APP via a pop up, but just make sure that that question is getting asked. Don't be that surgeon who walks into the operating room and fails to ask the patient how they're feeling. Don't be that person. So that's the quickest way, because what you're going to do is you're going to start to build a database of responses of how customers are feeling. You'll get to you'll I'll be able to cross reference that with what you use. Case they bought your company, for size of company roll, who bought it. So it'll become clear really quickly where you're getting the best hits in terms of value and where the best customers are. I love it. You've actually now specifically said two of three words I wanted to talk about in particular. It's your Eva Model, empathy, value analytics. You talked about empathy and the in the ability to use video to convey...

...that even in, you know, digital channels, but I'm sure you'll talk about it in different context. Value, just refer to you refer to it off the tap as well, like where is the value really coming from? And then analytics. Just share a few words on the EVA model and it's applications. Yes, so the EVA model was born out of the path that most companies have to take to get to true product that, excuse me, true product market fit in and so in order to get to true product market fit, you need to do the three things that you said empathy, value and analytics. Empathy is about discovering customer problems. That's where you fall in love with the customers problems and it's where you discover the best use cases for your product. So the best ways to uncover or create empathy amongst the entire companies to do things like live interviews via via bombomb, do user tests, listen to gong recordings, set up a customer advisory board, all those things are ways free to create empathy for the problems that customers have. Value is about measuring in, you know, quantifying the value that customers are receiving along their journey. So this is where you, you know, I just talked about this, ask structured questions along the customers journey. How do they feel about pricing? Where they ever sold in the sales process? How much value the receiving? Does the product have all the features that you need, that they need to solve their problem? Has the product been reliable? How do they feel about the service that they've received from support and customer success and Professional Services? So the second one, value, is about quantifying the customers perception of value. And then the final one is analytics. So you have to look at the data to quantify what customers actually do, and for that you can look at things like your product usage data. You can look at seat license usage. You can look at how quickly customers are paying you. You know, are they paying you on time? You can look at frequency of communication, so how many emails have gone back and forth between you and each account? So there's tons of analytics available to you, but those are the three. Those are the three components to driving true product market fed rights, empathy, value in analytics. I really like the way those layer on each other to I mean they all require that. The key word that can't comes to mind is you're describing it. It's just this there's an intimacy that's required, like true understanding, like direct contact, deep observation of the data that you have available, drawing more value out of it than just, you know, dashboarding things, and I can see these time altogether, it reminds you a lot of a few conversations we've had recently here on the podcast. I'm thinking of one with Tanya Bierstrom, who specifically helps companies execute one on one interviews to get these things that the typical data sets are just playing missing right, at some level. They're often missing the why. I mean we can we can try to infer the why from what we're seeing, but like really this empathy piece that you're talking about and some of the various techniques you list it off there to get at it really are about direct human to human interaction. And not only do we get better information or additional information, at least it makes the customer feel valued, right, like you care what I think. Yeah, yeah, I mean you are investing your time to better understand the customer. They have appreciate it. But also you'll be much better connected with the customers problem. You have the opportunity to ask Probab in questions. You'll get to hear the frustration and the customers voice, which is really important right, because the words alone a lot of times don't convey to the actual meaning. So there's just nothing replaces I'm going to say. I was going to say live interaction, but that's actually not what I meant. It's really it's really the video. It's that it's the human connection. Yeah, okay, so I want to I'm going to come from a critical perspective. A...

I buy customer leg growth. Personally, I like it. It makes sense, but be I can also see people saying like, Oh, this is just semantic. But the thing that I think that that closes the gap and I'd love your take on this. I'm sure you've heard thoughts and feedback and opinions on customer leg growth. That's a concept from a variety of different people, including people that might be detractors of the concept. I like it to simple flip. You know, when you think about sales, marketing or even product. It's about us and it's about what we're doing and it's about who we are and what is, as some level, what we want and what we're trying to do. Where's customer leg growth? You can call it semantic, but I already know, just by the way that you set about defining your values, and I know you're not alone in the world in that, that other people are doing it this way. To this idea of just flipping the language can have a really dramatic impact on the entire organization, how you do things, how you think about things, the way you talk about things. So I buy it. But for those people that are like ACLG, like great, we need another one of these, like this is just a semantic thing. What do you think? I mean, I imagine what you think about it, but you know, speak to that a little bit, give them a little bit of an argument. Well, I think I need to hear specifically why they disagree with the rule of forty or why they disagree with Bessemer's analysis of enterprise value versus retention rates. You know, we call it customer like growth. It could have easily been named retention led growth, customer retention led growth. That could have been an equally valid name for this concept. We said I simplified it to customer led, but you know, you know, maybe that maybe that's oversimplifying it, but I think it would be. It would be difficult, given all the data out there of how Wall Street is evaluating companies, what they're rewarding, the fact that nine out of ten Public Sass companies now report their retention rates in their SEC filings. It's crazy. It's now, it's standard. I mean that this was not the case couple years ago. All the evidence points to this being the new normal. And if your here's what I would say for the NAS airs. They probably come from a company that is product led. And I don't actually don't think that's a bad model. I think product like growth is a fantastic model for five percent of BTB companies out there. So if you hapen to be one of those, great don't replace with customerly growth. You already have a good way to determine if customers are getting value and you're getting great growth from return customers who are getting valued, they're growing, they are retaining. So all the same principles are being applied to be a product like growth. So if that's the model that you're implementing, go for it. I think that's a great model and your company will be rewarded handsomely. If you're not one of those companies, though, my challenge back to folks, if they disagree to is what other model is going to allow you to reach rule of forty? Is going to allow you to get your enterprise value up? Where else can you invest your money to get the same results? Really Good? I really like the EVA framework. It actually reminds me of a communication framework that I designed a couple years ago called empathy, value, call to action. But I quoted you and our previous conversation because I take a lot of notes as seeing some version of make the customers experience the most important data set. Talk about that. Like dive into this a little bit more, giving a few examples of how this approach can change the way that we're making decisions internally. I want to land this plane. So we've talked. We've been talking really high level about customer like growth, asking these questions. I want to land this plan and talk about how you actually use this customer data. Okay, change the way that you're on your business because some of these decisions are not obvious. I'm going to start with product. We talked about the use case of delivering better customer in rights to the product team when they're making...

...feature decisions. I think that's going to be I think most people can imagine how customer data would be used to make better future requests. But here's one that people don't think about. How and when do I pay down technical debt in my system? Right now, the way that decision is made is when the engineering team complains a lot or when they threatened to have engineers leave, the product team will say, okay, will assa, will allocate some of our development time to improve the quality of life of the engineering team. A lot of times paying down technical debt can be twenty, thirty, forty, sometimes fifty percent of the engineering total time allocated every month. It's a huge investment. Today those decisions are made with no customer data. Zero we're allocating up to fifty percent of our rd budget on technical debt with no consideration of customer impact. So the question that we have to ask customers is how have technical challenges affected their experience? The answer to that question should be the main lever that we use to decide how and when to pay off technical debt. Because when the customer tells you the systems too slow, or I'm having a hard time logging in, or the systems not available when I need it, or I keep hitting this encountering this bug, that's how we can understand, that's how we will know when we need to go pay down technical debt in a way that impacts that the the customers experience. If something has you know, as maybe annoying to the engineering team but has no impact on the customer experience, we should not be prioritizing that, but today we do. Just to be clear, that's how we prioritize things today. So that's example number one from product example number two. Let's talk about the sales process. Right now. How do we qualify leads? It's usually a junior str who is using bant or medic or one of the other popular qualification methods. No one's using customer data input as part of qualification. Isn't that crazy? It's wild that we have all these techniques and no one's looking at the use cases for the customer. We're not looking at, you know, for example, maybe customers who use Gmail are x three times more likely to renew, or maybe cuse customers who have purchased software like this before get more value, or maybe customers who have a chief customer officer able to get more budget. But we never use that in our in our qualification criteria. Just blows my mind. So that's that's how you would include customer data as part of qualification. Let's move over to the marketing team. We know that customers love hearing about how other customers have used the product successfully. They love that. So what does marketing do? Marketing Creates Super Boring case studies, Super Boring Plainville Vanilla and the only goal of the case study is to get a fancy logo on the website. That it's no value to customers. What customers actually want is they want to know how the specifically how the product is being used, what clever hacks or workarounds are use cases customers are using to get the most value of a, out of the product. I can say for me, Ethan, I want would want to hear like for your most successful customers. How are they using? What hacks are they using to get the most value out of Bomba? I would want to know that. I would want some plain vanilla, you know IBM case study that where they talked about how they record, you know, you know asynchronous videos, because that's that's the obvious use case. So you know, if, if cust if marketing, was really using customer data to drive case studies, they would be looking for these interesting, clever and helpful ways to help other customers make the most value out of the product rather than just featuring a logo on the website. So there are fifty examples of this, by the way, but I just wanted to you know, for her product, for sales from marketing. These are three practical things.

Or today all of our decisions are made by internal data, our own experiences, and we don't include customer data and those decisions at all. Well done. I just wanted to put a button on this thing and you did a really nice job of it. And and I will say I think customer like growth is the right term over retention led growth, because this, this customer orientation, not only leads to higher retention, expansion, etc. But it also again that I think a big missing piece for a lot of organizations is taking all of this information and insight and intimacy just to go back to that word we have about our customers post sale and using that to inform how we go out to the market to try to connect with, engage, educate and draw in more people like them. So I think customer lad growth is a right term. This was great for folks listening. This is Chris Hicken, cofounder and CEO of nuff said, as I mentioned off the top, you can learn more with Chris. We talked about a number of related but different topics back on episode sixty five of this podcast. We call that one product usage as a vanity metric on you and you gave us a buckets and in some specific examples in each bucket of things that we can and should be measuring. That I assume our part of that analytics piece that you're talking about an EVA. So it's episode sixty five with Chris Hicken. A little bit more recently, episode one hundred and twenty three with Scott mccorkol, medicx, cofounder and CEO, and we call that one transforming customer relationships with transparency and collaboration. The reason that one came to mind isn't that he's a cofounder and CEO of a company. After being part of another successful company, just like you have big Chris, but but that their whole orientation. There is about defining value, in creating an open conversation and even a platform to to come to mutual agreement and understanding, even pre sale, on what value is for the customers that you can be you know, renewal is a is a foregone conclusion if you if you manage that well from the beginning. And then I also kind of mentioned this one in the body of our conversation, episode one hundred and eighty four, with Tanya Bierstroum, who does VOC and B tob work as Derby Solutions. We call that one holding curious conversations to hear the voice of the customer, that that one on one connection and communication in order to get to true, deep insights and understanding to inform all the decisions that we're making. Now, Chris, I've given you both of these opportunities before. I would love to give them to you again. The first is to think or mentioned someone who's had a positive impact on your life, for your career, and the second is to give a not or a shout out to a company or brand that delivers a great experience for you. The person I want to call out. I'm actually going to call it to people dave and Darrell, who are the cofounders of user testing. They are brilliant product visionaries. They were able to see this user testing problem, this empathy gap in the market, and they created a lightweight product to solve that problem and ended up creating a huge company and to find a whole category around user testing. And I working alongside them, I learned so much about how to think about customers, how to empathize with customers, how to fall in love with customer problems. I wouldn't have had those skills without working alongside them. So I just want to take a shout out. You know, user testing had a big outcome recently and it's a good time for me to acknowledge the impact that they've had on me, but also all the other people that worked for them over the course of our time at user testing. A company that I want to give a shout out to is gone. They're probably there. Might be an easy company to shot give a shout out too, but I think, you know, kind of in the same spirit going is reck you know, it records conversations with customers and then makes it easy to share highlights or important...

...moments and we actually we use gone clips as part of our weekly all company Huddle to create empathy for the customers. What's one of the ways that we create empathy for the customer? But just in general, I think going really buys into this concept of creating that connection with the customer and they build tools and features that make it really, really easy to do that. So they're definitely a customer focused company and I just want to acknowledge and appreciate them. Awesome, really well done. If someone wants to follow up on this, Chris, how can they connect with you or learn more about enough said, well, you can. Probably the easiest way to connect with me is just to go into linkedin and connect with me. I'm just Chris, Chris Hicken. Hopefully I'm the top result on linked in for that name. You can also, if you're interested in learning about more about customer led growth, you can go to enough saidcom forward slash magazine and you can get a copy of the magazine where we go in depth about this topic and you can also, if you want, to send me an email. Maybe I'll give you the one that's the most interesting. So my first initial, see, plus my last name, Higgins, spells chicken, so I do have chicken at gmailcom. So there you go. Now you a third way to get in touch with me. Awesome. Love it. What a fun coincidence. This has been great. Really appreciate you. I appreciate your kind words off the top and all the time that you've spent here here and what you all are doing with regard to customer leg growth is really important. I'm glad you're championing that and and equipping people to do it. Thank it. Thanks again, even I always love our conversations. We have art in box constantly foam. We constantly have messages coming in. Work emails just went up towe hundred and one. Have Ninety nine plus six hundred and seventy nine on ready mails. We're here to talk about a major problem. My name is Kip Bodner and I'm the chief marketing officer at helpspot. I probably get ten to fifteen phone calls a day unwanted, and I probably get fifty a hundred emails a day unwanted. When I think about noise and trying to get that out of my life, I think about it through my most scarce resource. was just my time and attention. Is it worth my attention over here versus like me, spending a moment with my son or cooking a meal with my son? The answers almost always know. We also know that the by product of that noise is feeling overwhelmed, feeling like there's not enough signal, and that you feel discombobulated or confused. That's at least how I feel, so I also try to protect myself from those feelings as well. Watch dear first name, a four part, first of its kind documentary series now on Youtube, and explore how digital pollution is eroding our ability to communicate with each other and build trust.

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