As our CEO Amanda Lannert talked about in a recent LinkedIn post, Mantras and Elbow Grease: How We’re Intentionally Maintaining Our Culture As We Grow (and Grow), here at Jellyvision we have a very simple, but very serious mantra: be helpful.
This means being helpful to each other around the office; helpful to prospects, whether they buy ALEX or not; helpful to our customers; AND helpful to those customers’ employees, by providing our customers with as many resources as possible to reach those employees effectively and get the results they want.
That last bit? About making our customers as successful as possible? Well, here at Jellyvision, the people given that fun and rewarding task are our delightful Customer Success Gurus. (Which, by the way we’re hiring more of. Like, right now.)
Hailing from a wide variety of backgrounds, our Customer Success team (comprised of Associate Customer Success Gurus, Customer Success Gurus, and Senior Customer Success Gurus) is asked to pitch existing customers on new, exciting ALEX products, yes. But the heart and soul of the job is keeping in touch with customers, listening to their needs, and offering help–in the form of 1-on-1 employee communication makeovers, tailored customer how-to webinars, and much more.
Today, to give you a little taste of what kind of folks end up being CSGs, and what that work-life is like, I took some time to talk to Anna Phalen, Director of Customer Success, Taylor Clausen, Senior Customer Success Guru, and Bridget Mitchell, Customer Success Guru.
Hi guys! So for anybody vaguely wondering if they have the resume necessary for a position like this…can you talk about what you did before you landed here, and how it’s helped you in this job?
Taylor: Prior to working at Jellyvision, I had 3 different jobs in sales/account management: inside sales at CareerBuilder, Account Management at Wellness Inc. (then became part of UnitedHealth Group), and a year at a health/wellness tech start-up. I actually stumbled into account management/customer success a bit, as I studied theology & education in college, and thought I would become a pastor or teacher! All 3 of my prior roles taught me about the importance of listening. Solid relationships are built on good listening, and customer relationships are no different.
Bridget: I started my career in the marketing world, and ended up falling in love with the aspects of that job that involved helping–specifically, working with local non-profits to bring attention and resources to their causes. I went back to school for my Master of Social Work degree and landed at an agency where I worked with veterans experiencing homelessness. Collaborating with our clients on strategies to achieve their housing and employment goals was incredibly rewarding, and opened my eyes to how vital it is for folks to understand the resources and benefits available to them. Case Management to Account Management might not seem like a natural transition, but both positions are rooted in partnership and collaboration.
Anna: I worked in development in nonprofits for about 9 years before coming to Jellyvision. I was responsible for cultivating relationships with individual and corporate donors to help bring in contributions. In my opinion, development is a euphemism for sales. In a way, I was responsible for selling a product and creating value for that product. Moving to Jellyvision, the product has changed, but the relationship management and sales tactics are the same.
Watch Taylor answer 5 weird questions (about being a customer success guru…and other stuff) now:
So, I know this is almost impossible to answer, but what’s a typical day like for you? Say, early in the year, and then again around open enrollment in the fall?
Taylor: Well, I start each morning by running 15 miles and writing poetry in my journal. That’s actually entirely untrue, but that’s how I aspire to answer this question someday….anyway, I would say that my schedule revolves around the current season that our customers are in. Early in the year? It’s planning/strategy season for most of our customers, so I am primarily a strategist. What lessons did we learn last year, what are our goals for this year, what resources do we have to work with…I’m having discussions with customers about these types of things. In the summer/fall, we’re gearing up for Open Enrollment and performing more Customer Success tasks day-to-day. Product marketing webinars, new product demos, product data updates–whatever I can provide to our customers to ensure that the products they licensed from Jellyvision are being as successful as possible, with respect to the goals we discussed during our planning/strategy season.
Bridget: I think Taylor captures the cyclical nature of our work really nicely. The day-to-day may vary, but the general focus of our work depends on the season. At the top of year, we’re talking strategy and applying what we learned from the previous year to this year’s plan. Starting in the summer and through the end of the year, I’d say the emphasis is more on execution–how will we work with our customers to actualize the strategies we collaborated on at the start of the year?
Right now, we’re in the thick of pre-Open Enrollment excitement. With most of my customers, we’re digging into marketing strategies and focusing on how we can achieve their goals for this year’s Open Enrollment and the 2017 plan year. As we progress through the season, I’ll be tracking and sharing product data, and any resources we have available to support our customers in their success with our tools.
Anna: Weaved into all of these day to day tasks is the overarching strategy of bringing in more revenue. Whether I’m chatting with a customer about the success of a product or actively engaging them around marketing tactics for a specific product, I’m always thinking about the next steps for bringing in additional revenue. What ALEX product would help this customer? What pain points are they currently dealing with? What is on the horizon for them in the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?
Watch Bridget answer 5 weird questions (about being a customer success guru…and other stuff) now:
What is it that you like best about this job–and what, if anything, surprised you about it after you got your feet wet?
Taylor: What’s great about this job is that our team has the opportunity to have a significant impact on the overall success of Jellyvision and our customers. As a SaaS company in ‘hyper growth’ mode, reducing churn and increasing YOY revenue are paramount to our business. Also, we’re equipped to tackle these revenue goals with products that have proved to be super-valuable to some of the most successful employers in our country. This has allowed us to create an environment that isn’t ‘pushy’ or ‘sales-y’, but instead one where we try to be genuinely helpful to our customers. In my opinion, it’s the ideal environment for Customer Success.
Bridget: I love that we’re constantly learning and applying our findings in our work. Like Taylor mentioned, our focus is on how we can be truly helpful to our customers. When helpfulness is the end goal, curiosity and collaboration are encouraged and prized in the work culture. I get a thrill when I hear from a customer that a strategy we collaborated on resulted in tangible change for their population–like increased participation in a retirement plan, or more folks enrolling in an HSA. If we help our individual customers achieve their goals, it results in thousands of employees across the U.S. having a better understanding of the benefits they use to take care of themselves and their families. It’s hard sometimes to keep that in perspective during the day-to-day routines, but it’s also one of the most rewarding pieces of this work.
Anna: In general, I would say, I love working with our customers. We have the coolest, most innovative and friendly customers, and I really enjoy working with them throughout the year to ensure that they’re getting the most out of their ALEX investment.
Watch Anna answer 5 weird questions (about being a customer success guru…and other stuff) now:
Any advice for people eager to apply for the new AM job openings?
Taylor: Yes! We are looking for ‘dot-connectors’. We need people who realize that they really need to dig into a problem before they can offer a truly helpful solution. If you have a history of helping others tackle complex problems in a delightful way, then this might be the gig for you.
Bridget: Be curious and ask questions! Often times, helping someone isn’t about providing something they’ve asked for; it’s understanding why they asked for it.
Anna: To build on that, if you don’t get excited about making a sale…then this might not be the right position for you. Closing deals and getting customers to invest in additional products is a major part of the position and we need people who embrace this challenge with vigor and enthusiasm.
And there you have it! Thanks, Taylor, Bridget, and Anna, for answering these questions!