Webinar Q&A Recap: Demystifying Customer Success from the Board’s Eye View

June 22, 2022

Kate McBee

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy

Speaker: Joanel Bernardo, VP of Customer Success at Sunstone Partners

In this month’s Customer Success Unlocked webinar, Joanel Bernardo joined Marley Wagner and Peter Armaly to share her insights and advice for leaders who sit at the apex of Customer Success and Private Equity.  

Check out the thoughtful questions from our audience below, along with Joanel’s insightful responses.  

Q&A Recap

Marley Wagner: This is a great question from our audience, and I’ve seen a lot of conversations on LinkedIn about this topic recently – of companies dumping bad fit customers, particularly lately I’ve seen a few examples of companies saying ‘nope, we’re not going to service SMB anymore, see ya, bye-bye’. And I don’t know if that’s specifically what this person is asking about, but it’s my two cents. So, the question is, “[when forecasting in CS,] how do you address portfolios that are full of bad fit customers and the focus of the company no longer adds value to them? Do you make a plan to reduce the revenue with top-line or expansion?” What do you think Joanel, is it okay for companies to decide they’re not going to service the SMB anymore? 

Joanel Bernardo (JB): Yeah, so that’s a tough one. There are a couple of things that I’ll start with. Has your company identified its ideal customer profile? Have you taken analysis to understand if these companies are in the ICP or if they’re not? If they’re not in the ICP, what kind of investment do we want to make into maintaining them? Again, it’s all math, right? How many of our customers are not in the ICP? What does that equate to from a revenue standpoint, if we were to not service those customers, is the entire company okay with potentially losing out on X dollars? Is there a way for us to provide that service that is not one-to-one, that’s maybe, we only give them access to a knowledge base? Maybe we still support those customers, but we just don’t support them in a rushed manner right, so we start thinking about not necessarily walking away from them but creating a path that puts a buffer between your service and getting them the help that they need. It puts a little bit more effort into Support. Support’s probably going to [help] build out that knowledge base, they’re probably going to have more tickets with longer SLAs. But it also says that this is a scaling model, where we’re not leaving so much revenue up for grabs or potentially losing it, and if those customers don’t like the way that we’re going to service their spend, then we’re okay with them eventually churning on their own. 


Q: From an individual contributor perspective, what are you hearing is the biggest drain on their ability to have those value and outcome-based conversations? 

JB: So, [as a CSM,] the amount of work you spend doing administrative tasks is really always what it comes down to. Administrative tasks and then escalations. So, an exercise that is really helpful to do is really being able to display how much time per week your team is spending on escalations and how much time they spend servicing your clients. And there’s a whole worksheet that you can do on it, but basically, it helps leadership understand: in a 40-hour work week I’m spending [X number of hours, let’s say] 32 hours of time answering customer questions, dealing with escalations, chasing down Engineering, or chasing down Support tickets. So, the rest of my time I can really spend building relationships. In addition to that, if I were to do a QBR, it takes 30 minutes to build out the deck and then another hour to deliver it. There are a lot of things where people forget how much time is being spent on value-add items. Things that establish a relationship, but aren’t true value-add items, so we have to take some time to look at it from that perspective. If you want to talk about that you can send me a message on LinkedIn and we can walk through that, but I do think that exercise should be done quarterly because it also helps with headcount planning and resourcing, etc., etc.

Watch the recording of this webinar to catch up on the full conversation!