On this week’s edition of our Startup Sales Podcast we had our friend Jason Mills from Expensify on to chat about Customer Success Leverage in Bottoms Up Sales. For those that do not use the product on a daily basis, Expensify is one of the best in the business at leveraging their entire sales, product, marketing, and customer success team to really provide a winning experience to customers. This approach has helped them scale to over a million happy users and tens of thousands of customers. Below were 3 key tips that Jason laid out in our podcast around leveraging customer success. They are useful for any SaaS founder out there looking to kickstart or refine their approach to leveraging customer success and this function of an organization.
(1) Customer Success Leverage Will Improve Product Direction – Jason stressed the importance of a group of employees called “Success Coaches” within Expensify as a huge lever to the success of the business and leveraging customer success. These are (literally) product managers that double as customer success employees and primarily handle accounts north of $5k ARR. The group is restricted in speaking to front line users and customers only and they have weekly discussions with the engineering teams to drive the Expensify product direction. I note that this isn’t the obvious thought of using CSMs to inform product teams. These are literally PMs and there is no other product team in the company. This was a pretty unique way to get a lot of leverage out of the customer success and product organizations.
(2) Novel Low ACV Approaches Can Also Increase Your Leverage – While most customer success teams tend to begin after a sale has been closed with a customer, Expensify inverts this paradigm in their company. Customer success serves as a filter at the top of the sales funnel. How does this work? They operate a team they call the “Success Team” that handles the full funnel of $5k ARR or below. This team handles inbound questions, drives leads through to conversion, and overall owns the entire relationship for low ACV customers. Using your customer success team members from start to finish through a sales process can free up time for sales and marketing (leveraging customer success and also help focus and segment your interested leads.
(3) Automate, Automate, Automate – Jason stressed the importance of forcing immediate IT leverage into any business that sells bottoms up software as a way of leveraging customer success. At Expensify, the thinking is to make all of the human interactions count so automating the rote tasks is very important. Laying out all of the consumer touch-points and seeing what can be automated is an easy way to start and something the company did early on. They test and re-test everything and ask a fair amount of questions specifically focused on what can and cannot be automated. The team has a very sophisticated and automated concierge, tons of documentation, lots of chat bots, and other fun things to maximize this sort of automation. I note that they don’t overdo it and know the line when someone wants to talk to a human.