During IntelliShift’s ConnectedOps Virtual Event, VP of Customer Success Kristi Faltorusso highlights the evolution of Customer Success in the telematics and fleet management space. She shares how IntelliShift sets itself apart from the pack and what you can expect as we help you lead the charge around Connected Operations.
Below is the transcript of this session. You can also watch the session and view all sessions from ConnectedOps 2020.
Kristi Faltorusso: Good morning. My name is Kristi Faltorusso, and I’m the Vice President of Customer Success at IntelliShift. I’m honored to be here today to share with you the wonderful work that we’ve been doing to provide our IntelliShift customers with a more strategic support and better customer experience. Over the next 25 or 30 minutes, I’m going to walk you through our new framework to orchestrate the customer journey at IntelliShift. Now, before I dive into it, I do want to share a little bit about myself. For those of you I’ve met, great to see you again, and to those of you that I haven’t yet connected with, it’s a pleasure to meet you. So, as I mentioned, I’m our Vice President of Customer Success, and I was brought on board this past January with the agreement of transforming our post-initial sales journey with our customers to help ensure that we’re focusing on outcomes and their experience. But, prior to joining IntelliShift, I was a customer success leader at three other hyper-growth SAS organizations, where I’ve led global teams in operationalizing their customer journey to help maximize the value of the partnership.
My experience is in building, scaling, and transforming CSTs with a focus on change management, which is exactly what you’re all embarking on, is that change. My approach is anchored on aligning with customers on their goals, their business needs, and so we can help them orchestrate their plan on moving forward. We’re really excited to partner with you, and I hope you’re as excited to hear our wonderful journey.
So, before I get started, I want to make sure that everyone is aligned with what the concept of customer success actually is, because in a lot of organizations, in a lot of frameworks, it means something different. So, the way that we think about customer success here at IntelliShift, and to simply put it, customer success is when our customers achieve their desired outcomes through their interactions with our company, meaning your goal is our goal. Our objective is to help ensure that you guys are operationalizing the IntelliShift platform to achieve those outcomes, and we’re really focused on your end-to-end experience, so making sure that you’re getting what you need from us, when you need it. Now, the sole purpose of my team is to ensure that we understand this, and we’re helping you march toward those goals. And so, we’ve built out an entire team here at IntelliShift that’s really focused on that end-to-end journey, and so what we want to start by talking you through is how we take that change management core to really operationalize our efforts.
So, first, I want to introduce this notion of change management. Any time anyone purchases any technology, it’s to inherently do something very different than they’ve done before, and so that change requires the orchestration of people, processes, and technology, and so when it comes to that, our CS team at IntelliShift is here to support that change, and we do that through our three-pronged approach. The first is driving change for outcomes. So, the first part of this is really aligning on a vision and plan to ensure that we understand how you’re identifying and really articulating that ROI internally at your organization. So, as you’re assessing the partnership, it’s our assumption that you’re going to want to make sure that there’s an ROI. So, we’re going to partner with you and really understand what that looks like in practical application, so not just the metrics, but what do you actually need to see as a result of the partnership? Next, is our development strategy. So, we’re going to work very closely with you to understand how we can execute that change. Now, as I mentioned, change management does require a change in people, process, and technology. So, we’re going to work closely with you to understand what your state of the union looks like today, and what we need to march towards in those three core areas to achieve those outcomes together. And the third one is communication and execution. So, we believe that communication is core to the success in any partnership, but even more essential when we think about the need to communicate as you’re orchestrating through change. Change is painful, and a lot of people really struggle with, and so our goal is to make this as seamless and as easy as possible for you, our customers, and so when we do this, we try to make sure that we have a communication plan formulated early on, and one that you’re aligned to and excited about. We want to make sure that we’re communicating with you at the right time, with the right message, through the right channels. Now, that could be some customers saying, “You know what? We love getting tons of emails. Keep sending them.” Others prefer us getting on calls, and some want updates through technology, and that’s okay too. Our tailored approach to communication and execution is to ensure that we have a joint union and that we’re successful as we march through this.
So, before I get into the details of our evolution, I want to make sure that we’re stipulating what the core elements are for customer success at IntelliShift, and when I talk about this, it’s what are the areas of focus that my team is really responsible for through that orchestration of success. The first is retention and growth. Obviously, all of our customers, our goal is to have longstanding partnerships. We need to make sure that we’re retaining your success and that you want to continue to grow this over time; hopefully it’s because we’ve been wildly successful together. So, our first goal is to make sure that you, all of our customers, stay our customers, and that second point is when there is an opportunity for growth, that we can grow together. The second point is communication. I know we just touched on this quite a bit in our three-pronged approach, but it’s important because it’s core to what we do. Our team is responsible for really delivering good, clear, and proactive communication and using the appropriate mechanisms to communicate to the right members of your organization at the right times. The third is operationalization of all of this, that’s a long word, I know, but this is basically us managing all of the processes across all the functions within our business to really drive things forward. Our goal is to simplify your experiences internally in your organization, while we kind of burn the bear of carrying all of the operationalization of that on our team to make sure that we can execute it practically. The next one is intervention. It’s important for our team to really understand when we need to intervene in the partnership, right? This could be during onboarding if something comes up and you need our team, we’ve got to be able to jump right in and be there to support you. Perhaps it’s when you’ve submitted a support ticket, right? We know that questions and queries come up, and we’re going to engage very closely with our technical support team, and that’s great, I’m sure you’ll enjoy that. But, in some cases, that requires us to intervene and jump in. Perhaps it’s that we are noticing themes and patterns in the information that’s coming across, or, something needs to be escalated, and that’s on us to do. We also orchestrate everything internally, so while we focus on that operationalization, it’s also the orchestration of all of these efforts, so making sure that everything is happening at the right stage in the journey and that we’re marching through that together. Again, communication being the core of that, we’ll make sure that we’re doing this in an effective way. And, the last thing I really want to focus on is the measurement. So, obviously, while we believe that we’ll be wildly successful if we do all of the things that we need to, it’s not good enough. We need to make sure that we’re measuring the success that we’re having together. The ROI is key. And, so whether or not you need to see a reduction in overhead costs, time savings or reduction in headcount, whatever those core metrics are to you and your organization, we need to be in mind to those so we can help tell that narrative. At the end of the day, my team is solely focused on your success, and so if they’re not successful in driving you to those goals, we’re not successful. So, we really feel that we are committed to that, and hopefully acting as a core extension to your team.
So, the next thing I want to walk you through is a little bit of the evolution. So, you’re probably asking, “Okay, well, why haven’t you just been doing this all along?” and that would be a great question, but the maturation of any technology company is such that you go on a journey, and so while the complex nature of what we’re building out to support you is great, it does require an organization’s maturation, so the maturity of that organization, being ready to take on these initiatives. But, I will tell you, one thing is for certain: customer success has been at the core of IntelliShift since day one, and so what we’ve been doing is focusing on that evolution over time and ensuring that our customers have what they need, as they need it. So, if you think back, and I know some of you have been customers for years, and maybe even decades, so I want to thank you for that partnership. You’ve probably had the privilege with working directly with our CEO and Co-Founder John Cunningham, and if you have, you know that John is a leader who deeply cares about his customers and their success, and it’s because of that customer centricity and the permeation of that in the organization that we’ve continued to invest in this as a core business function. So, over the past nearly two decades, we’ve evolved from providing a reactive technical support model that’s been designed to just give you the information as you need it as you’re requesting, to this really, now, proactive well-orchestrated organization that’s here to drive your program forward. This gives you allocation of resources, thought leadership, subject matter experts, product experts, who really get what it is that you’re trying to achieve and can help you be successful. Now, that proactive orchestration does come with a lot of work, and so while our team is here to support you, again, we’re looking for that partnership, because we can’t do it alone. What we know, and what we’ve heard of from the competitive landscape as a lot of customers have come onboard using other providers, we’ve heard from them that other providers just aren’t providing this level of support and service, and so we found that this is a great way for us to provide a core differentiator in the space and to really up-level the service and support we’re providing our customers, and so it’s because of the feedback that we’ve heard that we’ve really doubled down on these initiatives, and we’re hoping that what we walk you through today really aligns with what you feel you need to be successful.
So, I want to tell you a little bit what I’ve been up to, because we’ve been really busy over the past ten months or so. So, so far in 2020, we’ve added ten additional people to our customer success team, bringing us to nearly 20. We’re going to continue to grow this year. It’s crazy, the growth that we’re having, but we’re doing this all to make sure that we have the appropriate leverage ratios and resources – we’re really committed to your success. We’ve also added new roles and increased our technical expertise. So, we know that a lot of you who are using our technology, you don’t know what you don’t know, and our technology is deep and robust, and you need someone there to help make sure that they’re sharing with you best practices and helping you understand what’s possible as a solution. These added resources are there to help guide you, to make sure, again, you’re maximizing the value out of your investment. The third thing is, we brought on folks that have this experience; they’ve done this before, they’ve worked at large organizations where they’ve helped customers through project management, through change management, consulting on customer success, so their previous experience is really there, tailored to help you grow with us. Now, we’ve also developed an entirely new customer journey and engagement model, and so for some of you, you’ve already started to experience a little bit of this, whether you’ve come onboard as of late, have gone through our new customer and partnership kickoff process, or, for those of you who are now really starting to engage their CSNs in a much more strategic manner. So, the team here, again, has been at the forefront of everything that we’re doing to really help drive those outcomes. We’ve also deployed new technology, because again, this is core to operationalizing the work that we do and the efforts that we provide. So, we have helped put in technology that’s going to help give us access to data and insights to help you better leverage the platform. We now understand how to be proactive in a way that’s really going to drive value for you and your business, and we’ve also developed better mechanisms to hear from you directly, and this is something that I’ve been a huge proponent of, is that customer feedback loop, and making sure that we are hearing directly from you. So, as we build and innovate and evolve, we’re doing it with your feedback and what you need at the forefront of that.
So, based on what we’ve heard from our customers, we developed this high-level customer promise, and while this does not clearly articulate everything we want to do for our customers, we do think that it helps break down three core areas that we are highly committed to. The first being, we want to provide that unmatched customer service and support, so making sure, again, you have everything that you need at the time you need it in an easy way that helps you and your team consume those resources. The next is this maniacal focus on your business goals. As I mentioned, everyone buys technology because they want to do something differently than they’ve done before, and to get there, you need somebody who is going to help guide you, but we have to be very clear at understanding how you’re defining success, and so that goal-focused alignment is going to help us make sure that we together are being successful. The third one is that innovation in technology, and really helping ensure that we’re innovating in a way that’s going to help you stay ahead of that operationalization of your trends and your insights in this connected operations space. So, our commitment to hearing directly from you on what we need to build into a product, or taking that in conjunction with thought leadership and our nearly two decades’ worth of experience, we’re going to create a product that’s really going to help you stay ahead of the curve.
So, what I want to walk you through really quickly is our new customer journey. So, as I mentioned, right, we’ve created something that’s going to enable us to proactively march our customers into the future, and really what that future is is the achievement of those goals, and so we’ve created a five-stage customer journey that’s going to help us partner with you and create that very clear alignment where we set proper expectations on what both sides of the table need to bring, and so we’ve found that this alignment and this clarity in this picture that we’ve painted for our customers has really helped keep us all aligned, and really helped keep everyone accountable to the work that we need to do, because at the end of the day, your success is your success, and you have to be accountable for that. Technology is here to help you achieve those goals, but without you driving that forward, obviously we’re not going to get there. So, this map has really painted that picture for our customers and articulated for them how we’re going to help, what roles we play, what work we’re going to do, what milestones we should been hitting, and when we believe we should be achieving this together. Obviously, that timeline is really yours to paint. We’ve got customers that move really quickly, and that’s great – they’re super nimble and very excited, and others that really have a complex organization that requires more time and review before we can change processes, people, or technology, and so as a result, the timeline is clearly indicated by our customers. We’re not going to force you to do anything you can’t get done in a meaningful time, but we are going to pay attention to that, because we do understand that there is some timely value we have to watch, and we want to make sure, again, we are all accountable for this success together. So, this new journey really helps make sure that one, we share those milestones with all of our customers, we’ve got this proactive approach that’s going to make sure we’re guiding you through that, and if you look closely, you’ll also see throughout that journey, there are some clear points in time where we are eliciting customer feedback, because as I mentioned earlier, that is critical to our success; we want to hear from you – we want to hear from you early and often, and we want to make sure that we’re innovating and we’re evolving in a way that’s going to help take your feedback and really build it into the future of what IntelliShift looks like.
Now, we’ve broken this down. Here’s what you can expect from us as we move forward. The first, each of our customers is going to have a designated account team. This account team is going to be made up of different people and resources within our organization. It’s going to look a little different for all of our customers, and that’s okay. At the end of the day, we’re still ensuring that you have all of the resources you need to be successful. We know that some of our smaller customers, you may not need the level of technical expertise as some of our larger customers, but that’s alright; we’re going to tailor our resources to make sure that you’re getting the right support from our team, and that designated account team approach ensures that that’s happening. The next is the tailored onboarding. We’re really doubling down our efforts in making sure that all of our customers are properly trained and enabled, making sure that the platform is properly configured in a way that’s going to drive to their goals, and making sure that we’re managing that process together and moving forward quickly. The third is this structured support and installation plan. So, installations, as you all know, they could be a beast. If you’ve got a lot of assets that you’re looking to connect to IntelliShift, there’s a lot of logistical coordination that’s required, and so our project management team is here to really facilitate that in a very strategic way. We’re going to build out plans and processes to help you keep track of that, to make sure that you’ve got the right assets available at the right time so we can get everything installed as quickly as possible. We want this to be a seamless process with as little friction as possible, so we’re going to work with you to make sure that that plan is something we can actually execute against. The fourth point, we’re going to be working with you on customer success plans. Now, you’ve heard me now talk about your business goals probably ad nausea at this point, but that’s because it’s super important, and our alignment to your goals are really going to help make sure that we’re building good success plans. Now, you’re probably asking, “Okay, well what is the success plan?” Well, it’s very simply just a plan that we’re working on jointly, with our customers, to execute their outcomes. It’s going to have all the tests and activities that we have to do to achieve those desired outcomes and those milestones, and so your customer success team, using our latest technology, Gainsight, is going to help you prepare those success plans, make sure that you’ve got a framework of success, and that we understand who’s responsible for getting what done, and by when. Those plans are going to keep us on track and make sure that everyone in your organization has the visibility that they need in order to say that this partnership has been successful. The last thing is our commitment to ongoing training enablement. Now, I talked earlier about the need for us to innovate, and if you’ve been around for a long time, you’ve probably seen IntelliShift, or VTS, Vehicle Tracking Solution, evolve quite a bit over the years. Now, that innovation also requires the proper training. What good is it if we build wonderful technology but don’t tell you about it or tell you how to use it? So, our commitment to this ongoing training and enablement is to help make sure that our customers know how to use our product effectively in their day-to-day. This training enablement will be part of different webinar series we’ll be kicking off, newsletter information we’ll be providing, one-on-one trainings with your customer success team, and other assets and materials that will be readily available for you at your disposal. Our goal is that you, our customers, understand how to use our technology the best way possible to achieve those goals. So, we’re going to help make sure that you’ve got everything that you need to do that.
Now, in addition to that, we’ve also increased our resources and support regarding your technical questions that come up. So, that technical support, we’ve increased resources there, we’ve increased information that’s readily available, so all of that is at your disposal, again, to make sure that you can help yourselves, but if you need a resource, we’ve also got that readily available for you. We’ve also created a granular, more regular access to your executives, so folks like myself and others in our organization, we want to make sure that our customers know that we are all committed to your success – that means top-down. You don’t have just one individual who is here helping with that orchestration, we are all personally invested in you achieving the goals that you set out to. So, making sure that you have regular access to our executive team is paramount. The next is that connected operations review. So, periodically, we’re going to be reaching out to our customers to schedule these more formal review meetings. We believe that this framework of engagement is going to help us have the right conversations with executive stakeholders at your organizations as well. That alignment will allow us to hear directly from them what they need to be successful and how we can drive the business forward. So, this is again, really key to making sure that we’re all aligned, we’re all on the same page, and we all can work through the challenges or opportunities that we have together. The last is that ongoing voice of customer program. So, I talked to you a bit about these surveys, right, when I showed you the customer journey, you saw those points in time where you might see those feedback loops happen. Surveys are great – we want to hear back from you. We also want to make sure that we’re collecting that feedback, though, through all channels, whether that be through conversations you’re having with your customer success team, folks in technical support, our executive leadership team. We’re also reviewing different review sites and communities and channels – we’re looking to hear from our customers anywhere they’re communicating about the partnership, because we do want to take that information and make sure that we’re using it to make ourselves better; that’s our goal and our commitment to you. Now, we believe if we do all of these things, right, we have this account team, we’ve tailored our onboarding, we’re giving you better support, we’ve got more alignment on your success plans, more trainings, you’ve got executive alignment, we’re having these regular reviews, and we are taking your feedback and making it actionable, we’re hoping that this framework is actually going to drive toward your customer outcomes, and more importantly, your long-term success.
Now, the last thing I’ll hit on here is delivering on that experience component. Now, this is definitely last but not least; experience is key. I’m sure you can all think back to some company you’ve worked with in the past where you’ve had a tremendous experience, and because of the positive experience, you’ll continue to work with them or use them or buy from them again and again. I’m sure you can also think back to some organizations you’ve worked with where you’ve had a very poor experience, and we can all probably list a couple of those, and those poor experiences probably also attribute to your lack of engagement, right, or your desire to change providers. We want to make sure that we’re taking experience into account when we think about how our customers are going to partner with us long-term. We know that if you have a bad experience with IntelliShift, it’s probably going to leave a lasting impression on you, and there’s probably little chance that you’re going to want to stay with us long-term. So, experience is key. Now, there’s obviously a lot of work that we can do to make any process that we have a complete, frictionless one, and it’s our commitment and something we’re working on. But, while we’re doing that, we want to make sure we’re sharing with you what we think about as it comes to experience. So, what we want to do is just walk you through a quick level framework that we’ve put together. So, A, or that first point there, is your proactive guidance and engagement. This is ensuring, again, that we are taking a proactive approach in supporting you in achieving those goals. Again, think about different moments in time where you’ve probably had to like raise your hand and ask for help, we want to be the person and the team and the company who is getting ahead of that, so instead of you raising your hand, we’re going to be proactive in our engagement, so hopefully we’re there supporting you before you need to do that. We’re also focusing on that second point, so B, that outcomes-focused model. Everything that we do, we want to measure the impact we’re having, and so that outcomes is really going to help us use that framework to make sure, again, you’re having a delightful experience as we march through this. Because we’ll be very closely aligned to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, we’ll be prepared to support you appropriately through that journey. So, we believe that that will also help, again, reduce any points of friction, help streamline communication, and give you what you need, when you need it. Now, C is those frictionless touchpoints I talked about. We’ve gone through and we’ve mapped the entire customer journey, and I’ll tell you, this is a very laborious, cross-functional effort. We’ve gone through and said, what are all of the different moments in time our customers are touched by our brand, either proactively or reactively, and we’ve built what we refer to as a racing model which helps us basically account for who’s responsible, accountable, consulted or informed on every task or activity in that customer journey. Now, I’ll tell you, this was a very eye-opening experience to me, especially the leader coming in in less than a year, to see how many points we actually engaged our customers today. It was really fascinating, but now what we need to do is make sure that we’ve got a well-orchestrated process to ensure that every moment in time is a positive one. And, while we probably can’t commit to making that a reality 100% of the time, it’s definitely something we’re highly committed to. That last point there, D, is those orchestrated resources. Now, it’s going to be important for us to understand who you’re going to need access to in our organization. As I mentioned earlier, we built out a team that now has comprehensive members here that are helping to make sure that you have the right resources, the right experience, at the right time. So, whether it’s making sure that if you need help with technical support or product or perhaps maybe somebody in your finance team has a question about billing, our team is here, prepared to be that internal source and quarterback for you to orchestrate the appropriate resources. This will hopefully reduce any, again, back and forth with any members of our team, and really help centralize your communications with our organization. We believe that that’s actually going to be instrumental in creating a better experience for you long-term. So, again, while these probably are not all of the points that I could talk about when I highlight experience, in the 25, 30 minutes I’ve got here today, hopefully this starts to open your eyes to the things that we’re working on and how we think about customer experience.
Now, one last thing I want to share with you is just some feedback that I’ve heard so far. Now, as I mentioned, this is ten months in the making. We still have a lot of work to do, and a long journey ahead of us, but I do think it’s important to share some of what we’ve heard. Now, again, I’ve maybe worked with some of you very closely to date, and some who I haven’t met. For those of you who I haven’t met, hopefully I’ll get to hear this feedback from you in the future. Our goal is to connect with as many customers as possible and to make sure that they’re all really understanding this new framework, and really allowing them to understand how this will help them. Now, again, for those of you who have been through this partnership and been part of the transformation, we thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback with us. But, what have we heard this year? So, one, our customer success manager is proactive and brings new ideas and recommendations to conversations helping us improve our use of the platform, so that’s great. We’re already hearing from people that the customer success team that we’ve put in place is really, again, serving as that thought leader, that product expert in helping our customers understand, how do you maximize that value? So, great feedback on our individuals on the team. The second piece of feedback we heard was the new model sets proper expectations and provides us with the right resources to be successful. Now, we had a customer recently come onboard who basically said to us, in other providers we’ve worked with, we’ve not had the structure and this proactive engagement built out the way that we have here at IntelliShift, and so this gives us kind of a great feeling about what we’re building, right, it’s validating all of the work that we’ve put in place because we do believe that this framework will be instrumental long-term. And, the last one here, IntelliShift has formal ways of engaging, training, and enabling our team, which has increased the adoption and the value of the technology. More employees are aware of the partnership. Now, this is something we’re really focused on, so I was so grateful to hear this feedback. We really want to make sure that we’re widening the scope of how we’re engaging with your organization, and so we talked about the breadth and depth of that partnership, and so making sure that we understand what everyone in your business needs from us, and making sure that they’re getting it. Now, in this case, this customer had a real need for us to help them with training; they have a huge organization and were really struggling to make sure that all of their end-users were properly informed on how to use the technology the right way. With an increase of our investment and the efforts of training enablement, we’ve seen huge strides and improvements in their adoption long-term, and we believe that over time, we’re going to continue to see that growth. Now, if you’re a customer with a similar struggle, let us know; that’s what we’re here to help you with. Now, this feedback has been great, and we’re thrilled to get some of this to validate this new engagement model, and so we hope that one, this new experience will be really transformative to you and your business, and how we engage long-term, but also, give us that feedback, right, this is a continued partnership, and we’re looking to really be just that: an extension of your organization and helping you leverage this technology in a real way that’s going to help drive up ROI. So, be open with us: tell us what’s working, tell us what’s not, and I promise you, you’ll start to see some of what you’re sharing built into the future of IntelliShift.
So, I want to thank you very much for allowing me the time to walk through all of that. I know that that was a ton of information. I will very heavily advise you all, if you have not met with your customer success manager, please do. Take the time to connect with them, help them understand what you’re focused on, and let them work with you on this journey. We’re really excited to meet and partner with all of you, and really want to hear what you think of this new engagement partnership. Now, without further ado, I am thrilled to announce our next speaker, Jake Rubin, who is the VP of Operational Excellence over at Sweeping Corporation of America. They’ve been a wonderful partner of ours and have driven tremendous success, so I’m sure all of you will be thrilled to hear what Jake has to share today. Thank you so much.