CXChronicles Podcast

How Investing In Leadership & Team Yields Amazing Customer Experiences | Mikhail Hutton

April 16, 2024 Adrian Brady-Cesana Season 7 Episode 225
How Investing In Leadership & Team Yields Amazing Customer Experiences | Mikhail Hutton
CXChronicles Podcast
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CXChronicles Podcast
How Investing In Leadership & Team Yields Amazing Customer Experiences | Mikhail Hutton
Apr 16, 2024 Season 7 Episode 225
Adrian Brady-Cesana

Hey CX Nation,

In this week's episode of The CXChronicles Podcast #225 we  welcomed Mikhail Hutton, Fractional CEO & CXO based in New York City. 

Mikhail has spent the last 10+ years working in a variety of amazing companies including Humana, Integral Ad Science, Quantcast, Artemis & several VC backed companies helping them think through and execute on their go-to-market (GTM), customer experience & customer success strategies as they scale their business. 

In this episode, Mikhail and Adrian chat through how he has tackled The Four CX Pillars: Team,  Tools, Process & Feedback and shares tips & best practices that have worked across his own customer focused business leader journey.

**Episode #225 Highlight Reel:**

1. Setting your company's vision & mission early on in the journey toward's growth
2. Regardless of what's in your tech-stack, focusing on internal utilization becomes key
3. Why start-up companies need to match their "tech-needs" to their customer journey?
4. Measuring customer onboarding completion rates to gauge downstream success
5. Setting expectations with customers around how they will arrive to their end goal
Huge thanks to Mikhail for coming on The CXChronicles Podcast and featuring his work and efforts in pushing the customer experience & customer success space into the future.

Click here to learn more about Mikhail Hutton

If you enjoy The CXChronicles Podcast, stop by your favorite podcast player and leave us a review today.

For our Spotify friends, make sure you are following CXC & leave us a 5 star review so we can find new listeners & members of our community.

For our Apple friends, same deal -- follow CXCP and leave us a review and rating letting folks know why you love our customer focused content. 

You know what would be even better?

Go tell one of your friends or teammates about CXC's content,  our strategic partners (Hubspot, Intercom, Zendesk, Forethought AI, Freshworks, TimeToReply & Ascendr) + they can learn more about our CX/CS/RevOps services & please invite them to join the CX Nation!

Are you looking to learn more about the world of Customer Experience, Customer Success & Revenue Operations?

Click here to grab a copy of my book "The Four CX Pillars To Grow Your Business Now" available on Amazon or the CXC website.

For you non-readers, go check out the CXChronicles Youtube channel to see our customer & employee focused video content & short-reel CTAs to improve your CX/CS/RevOps performance today (politely go smash that subscribe button).

Contact us anytime to learn more about CXC at and ask us about how we can help your business & team make customer happiness a habit now!

Reach Out To CXC Today!

Support the Show.

Contact CXChronicles Today

Remember To Make Happiness A Habit!!

Show Notes Transcript

Hey CX Nation,

In this week's episode of The CXChronicles Podcast #225 we  welcomed Mikhail Hutton, Fractional CEO & CXO based in New York City. 

Mikhail has spent the last 10+ years working in a variety of amazing companies including Humana, Integral Ad Science, Quantcast, Artemis & several VC backed companies helping them think through and execute on their go-to-market (GTM), customer experience & customer success strategies as they scale their business. 

In this episode, Mikhail and Adrian chat through how he has tackled The Four CX Pillars: Team,  Tools, Process & Feedback and shares tips & best practices that have worked across his own customer focused business leader journey.

**Episode #225 Highlight Reel:**

1. Setting your company's vision & mission early on in the journey toward's growth
2. Regardless of what's in your tech-stack, focusing on internal utilization becomes key
3. Why start-up companies need to match their "tech-needs" to their customer journey?
4. Measuring customer onboarding completion rates to gauge downstream success
5. Setting expectations with customers around how they will arrive to their end goal
Huge thanks to Mikhail for coming on The CXChronicles Podcast and featuring his work and efforts in pushing the customer experience & customer success space into the future.

Click here to learn more about Mikhail Hutton

If you enjoy The CXChronicles Podcast, stop by your favorite podcast player and leave us a review today.

For our Spotify friends, make sure you are following CXC & leave us a 5 star review so we can find new listeners & members of our community.

For our Apple friends, same deal -- follow CXCP and leave us a review and rating letting folks know why you love our customer focused content. 

You know what would be even better?

Go tell one of your friends or teammates about CXC's content,  our strategic partners (Hubspot, Intercom, Zendesk, Forethought AI, Freshworks, TimeToReply & Ascendr) + they can learn more about our CX/CS/RevOps services & please invite them to join the CX Nation!

Are you looking to learn more about the world of Customer Experience, Customer Success & Revenue Operations?

Click here to grab a copy of my book "The Four CX Pillars To Grow Your Business Now" available on Amazon or the CXC website.

For you non-readers, go check out the CXChronicles Youtube channel to see our customer & employee focused video content & short-reel CTAs to improve your CX/CS/RevOps performance today (politely go smash that subscribe button).

Contact us anytime to learn more about CXC at and ask us about how we can help your business & team make customer happiness a habit now!

Reach Out To CXC Today!

Support the Show.

Contact CXChronicles Today

Remember To Make Happiness A Habit!!

CXChronicles Podcast #225 with Mikhail Hutton.mp4

Mikhail (00:00:06) - All right, guys. 

Adrian (00:00:06) - Thanks so much for listening to another episode of the CXChronicles podcast. I'm your host, Adrian Brady-Cesana. We have an awesome guest today, Mikhail Hutton. Mikhail, welcome to the CX Chronicles podcast, my friend. 

Mikhail (00:00:15) - Thank you very much. 

Adrian (00:00:16) - Number one Mikhail's got like a bunch of different awesome experience that he's kind of been through over the last 10-15 years. Not only did he cut his chops early on, working at some really big companies, thinking about all of the different intricacies of customer experience, customer success, analytics, bringing companies to market, thinking about how you could push your sales forward- but then he's also done a bunch of really really cool leadership positions and CEO role, CXO role. 

Adrian (00:00:42) - So, anyway, become- I'm gonna stop right there, I'm gonna let you tell your own damn story, but because, why don't you start off today's episode? Number one? Love to spend five minutes, man. I just the stepping stones, give the audience, give the CX nation, a little bit of a taste for some of the work that you've been doing and really kind of what got you into this whole space, man, what, what made you really realize you wanted to be a customer focused business leader? 

Mikhail (00:01:02) - Uh, that is a great question. I appreciate it. Let's see. I actually started out my career in insurance, like many, many years ago- not too many, but worked at humana insurance for a few years doing what's called with day at the time called senior products, and it was all. It was like field marketing. So I was going out selling Medicare Medicaid products insurance. For those of us who were not us- but those of you were like 60-something and about to enter retirement age, listing you'll know exactly I'm talking about. 

Mikhail (00:01:33) - But basically Medicare Medicaid has what's known as a supplemental plan. Folks get the option of either having private industry administer all their insurance or relying on the government. Regardless of how you feel on on both sides of the ball, they make it available, which is is really awesome. So started out there very quickly realized that I I don't want to do this forever. I like having insurance. I don't really care to sell it too much and I know people love it. 

Mikhail (00:02:03) - It was not one of them super important here in the States, so ended up actually going to a bank called Bank Atlantic in South Florida. I was working there on the marketing team for a little bit and the bank actually got acquired by BB&T. So if you don't know who Bank Atlantic is, that's because they got acquired roughly 12 years ago now. Okay, in BB&T. The options basically were to try to find another job in South Florida or to move someplace else. I decided I like someplace else, ended up getting hired here in New York City and was working. 

Mikhail (00:02:35) - Taking my sales and marketing background, I was working at Omnicom Media Group for for like a year plus. It was my first like super large corporate job and I was responsible for just assessing all of the different technology vendors that Omnicom can work with. Who can do video advertising or this thing called dynamic advertising, really well? Who can just serve ads to people and do it consistently? Who's great at reporting? Went through all that information. There was a vendor that I was working with there. That was a startup that I really liked. 

Mikhail (00:03:08) - I honestly fell into customer success. They needed someone on their CS team or their client services team back then. Okay, all these real ad science inter-role- it was at the beginning- was it was known as a brand safety company. They focused on making sure that ads are being served in the appropriate environments. They ended up layering things like fraud. So is it a real person? Is it a bot? 

Mikhail (00:03:29) - The ability- all these different metrics into a suite of products- was there when they had probably about 50 employees and I was one of a handful of CS employees in the States. They had just opened, I think, in the UK when I'd started working there, and we had no systems. And well, we had a few systems but like no real idea like what we needed to do beyond just making sure the customers happy. 

Mikhail (00:03:53) - The number one goal is like just give them what they need on schedule, make sure they're happy and then over time, as we scaled, we realized like we can't just over service the wrong people forever. They're on accounts. If they're very small, right, we're putting in 10 hours. That makes no sense. I was there for three and a half, almost four years. Did the journey from about 15 headcount to there was like 450. I love nice, nice and I believe just hit a hundred million dollar run rate. Okay, really awesome. 

Mikhail (00:04:22) - So a really awesome experience in terms of scaling a CS team, putting in the systems, as one of the first first supervisors or managers for the CS team there. So I ended up having a hand in a lot of the initial policy rollout, figuring out customer health, all things that later I feel like there was softer for yeah, just on that front right now for our listeners. 

Adrian (00:04:43) - Man, you're right. I'm glad you're calling this piece out. When you have the opportunity or the luxury or whatever you want to call the fortune of having an experience where you're part of a company that goes from you know the infancy state to a hundred million in run rate and you've got overnight you watch hundreds, if not a thousand, people come around it, that is that shit's wild man. It's a career accelerator, right, like you just exposed to things that there's no way you would ever seen if you weren't a part of. 

Adrian (00:05:09) - I hate this term too, but like being on a rocket ship company like that that does that so fast, dude, it's a game-changer for the career, 

Mikhail (00:05:16) - 100%. Yeah, and it's funny cuz, like you'd realize how many people want to be part of that journey. I would hire people and say, look, we are a 10 year old and a 30 year old suit just showing like how undersized you are in terms of headcount, team size- yep, that's, I don't need to be. I'd explain, like this isn't like a boiler room. You need to go work 20 hours a day, but just know that, like you kind of have no life for a little bit and we're hiring you so that we can give the team breathing room and just make it a healthier, better environment. 

Mikhail (00:05:44) - 100% awesome. So, yeah, I asked at a really great time. They eventually got acquired in 2018.. I went to had another kind of short stint at a larger company called quad cast. What was great about making that shift from from integral to quad cast? They were roughly double in size by all metrics. They did a little bit more in revenue at that time too, but it was my first time seeing okay, like where is is going. Here's the type of leader that I need to be. They were very, very metrics, very metrics driven. They had systems in place. 

Mikhail (00:06:19) - A lot of it I had to focus on there with was basically like team. When I say team management, I mean like personal development, upscaling the team, making sure that they're resourced properly. Yeah, here's the first where they had to like fight for budget or time to do something which was was good and also showed me some of the challenges of just making sure that the entire commercial team- so the sellers, the account managers, the- you know, the ops- like the type of ops folks- that there was good alignment there, yeah, yeah. 

Mikhail (00:06:48) - And after that it was uh, that's where I kind of left ad tag afterwards and said I want to go work on something else. I want to focus more on on climate, so I'd like to take a VP of marketing and see us for all at an ag tech startup called Artemis. As there for little over two years and then Kovat hit. And then during Kovat, I ended up running two separate companies, a CEO- one of them got acquired, the other one we we shut down last year, unfortunately, but all really great experiences. 

Mikhail (00:07:16) - It helped me to see full picture when you've got to think through budget and you balance that between here's what the customer needs and product wise, here's how we need to service them. I think even in the world of automation service, especially some level of managed service, is a huge differentiator. It's really frustrating, given my background and see us to see, to just see when the balls dropped and it comes to just delighting people, because it's not difficult. 

Mikhail (00:07:49) - It's a little intentionality and a little bit of going slower than I think society wants you to go today, but you still have to have that trade-off and still really think through how do we create a really great experience for folks and also build a really great business at the same time, so that we're all here, we're all happy. 

Adrian (00:08:05) - Yeah, I love it, man. So, number one, thank you so much for sharing that. 

Adrian (00:08:09) - Number two: I just think, like this is why I was pumped for today, guys, is mikhail seen a bunch of different businesses at a bunch of different stages, in a bunch of different industries, with a bunch of different awesome people and customers, and I think obviously you guys- you guys know me well, man- like I just think that that is one of the one of the greatest fortunes as a customer focus business leader is really like a superpower can become by being in all these different businesses and seeing all these different ways that it can be done or that it wasn't done, frankly, because you still learn what's from some of the losses and some of the some of the things that just didn't happen really well. 

Adrian (00:08:42) - But that's that's how I was pumped to get into it. I'd love to, I'd love to kind of jump into the first pillar of team and like let's talk about team for a couple minutes. I'd love, like across all these different businesses and then let's think about- I'd love for you to kind of think about, even over these last couple years, because you're the luxury of A CEO to different businesses, to different organizations, doing two wildly different things. But I'd love to just pick your brain on team for for a couple minutes. We call it. 

Adrian (00:09:04) - What if there's like two or three big areas that you really kind of were able to sort of add to your personal playbook over these last several years of leading businesses and really having to deal with just a pressure- and the constant pressure, I should say, of having to just be responsible for, frankly everything in the CEO role? 

Adrian (00:09:21) - I'd love to kind of hear some of the biggest takeaways or the biggest like golden nuggets or the biggest CTAs that you'd like leave with our listeners around, some of the things that you found really easy, or some of the things you found really difficult when it came to team building, team retention and just finding incredible talent out there in this market. 

Adrian (00:09:36) - That's been, frankly, it's been wild the last couple years, right like there's all these different roles, there's all these people looking for new roles, there's a lot of just departure, if you will, of people leaving companies that they've been at for years to go find something different and probably Cove it'd be in the cab- catalyst. But I'd love for you to spend just come a couple minutes talking about team. For sure, yeah, 

Mikhail (00:09:53) - For sure, yeah, I'd say better pick top three. 

Mikhail (00:10:01) - Yeah, I think I'd probably start with, you have, you just can't, you have to want it less than the other person wants it, whatever that role might be. Whenever I look to hire someone, I try to think about like, if the motivation for them, especially if I'm hiring someone in a stretch role, if the motivation for them is lower than my motivation for them in a particular role. 

Mikhail (00:10:25) - So for example, if I'm hiring out of sales, if I'm hiring out of CS, and it's someone that maybe they haven't led a team before, or maybe they have, but it's like a larger, you know, there's a huge difference between super corporate and 10 person startup. And making that adjustment down is not something that everyone's up for. 

Speaker 4 (00:10:44) - Yep. 

Mikhail (00:10:44) - Understand, like, hey, what's this person's motivation to do the role? And are they more excited about the role and this business than I am about them? Because I tend to find is that I am generally, I'm like a realist, realistic optimist. I like to say, eyes wide open, you're still dreaming. And the problem with that is I'll sometimes look at someone and say, I think this person can do this role and really believe in them. But that wouldn't pass to be internal. 

Mikhail (00:11:11) - So I can't get them to where I see them going faster than they're willing to take that step and build that belief. 

Adrian (00:11:17) - Yeah. 

Mikhail (00:11:17) - In times where I get myself in trouble with setting up the team dynamics, it's usually when I'm in one of those scenarios where I'm like, I'm either holding on to someone longer than I should, or I'm not moving someone fast enough, because, you know, maybe like, I don't see something they see, but it's got to be a situation where their motivation for them is stronger than mine, which is unfortunately not that common, especially over the last few years. I think folks in terms of confidence have taken a huge hit. 

Mikhail (00:11:47) - There's just a lot more stress around right now. There's like, I don't know if you can call this a down market, what kind of market we call it? 

Adrian (00:11:53) - It's a confusing market. Every day it's different signals for the market, man. 

Mikhail (00:11:58) - 100%. And that really messes with your psyche. Which actually would be number two for me, I think, would be really creating an environment where there's strong vision. I think vision in any company is pretty rare. And I don't mean like the founder hype it up, or like a sales kickoff where everyone's getting super excited and rah-rah. I mean like true vision. And as I answer, well, I remember working just like we were doing. And I remember thinking, I feel like we could be the next Nielsen. And I didn't, I never said it to anyone. 

Mikhail (00:12:31) - It was just like an insight of like, I see where the industry is going. I see what marketing and marketing analytics is doing. And I really feel like we could be the next Nielsen and just like left it, just left it alone. A few weeks later, our CEO, we're at an all company meeting. And he says the exact same thing. And he gave some metrics showing, here's where we are as a company. Here's where other SaaS companies at our stage, our level of funding, where they've been. And he just comes around and said, I think we can go public. 

Mikhail (00:13:03) - I think we could be the next Nielsen. And I was like, that, I want to do that. That's exciting. And it wasn't like a rah-rah, like super hype, like we're going to change the world. It was a really grounded, hey, I'm looking at the ecosystem and I'm seeing what we're up to. And we've got this really exciting thing going on and here's this big player. And I think we can, we can eventually replace that player and do it really well. I'd say that's, that's number two and probably third is just getting, getting the balance right. 

Mikhail (00:13:31) - I think it's very easy, not just to get top heavy in terms of, I have too many senior leaders, so like too many VPs, too many directors, that's also true of experience. So I found it super important to be able to cycle, be in a position though to do it, but to cycle new or less experienced people into the team as frequently as possible and having a good balance of, I've been doing this for a while, I've got really strong experience versus I have fresh eyes. And it's not just about the fresh eyes. 

Mikhail (00:14:01) - It's actually about being able to build an environment where you don't always have to look externally for quality talent. You can look into it and see what people bring to the board. You can, and I mean, it's like specific, not like, don't go out and have 10 department leads or team leads being new on the role. What I mean is if I'm running a sales org or CS org and I have room, that's like five or six people need to get hired. Two of those people need to be relatively new and it can be two to four years worth of experience in the market. 

Mikhail (00:14:30) - And then they can step into a role where you just don't like, you maybe don't need to coach them as much, but if everyone's got 10, 15, 20 years of experience, that's good to a degree. But eventually those people want to move on and so you need to backstop it really well. I can step into a role and the customer will not feel it. And the only way to do that well is if you've got a good balance of relatively new medium and deep expertise. 

Mikhail (00:14:55) - And then the same thing at the leadership level as well, to have that balance so that we've got folks that, man, so much is left, but the company, the org, the team is going to be okay because we know that next man or woman up is going to be. 

Adrian (00:15:07) - Love it. A couple of things that you just laid out for us, Mikel, that I want to just hit on real quick. Number one, your Wilson example. Dude, we talk about this all the time on the show, but one of the biggest things that so many emerging companies or growth-focused companies oftentimes miss is making sure you're setting a really, really clear picture, mission, or general direction for where the hell the business is going or how the founder or the CEO is positioning to the group of guys and.

Adrian (00:15:42) - What ocean are you in? What ship are you? Like, I always use the ship analogy. Just at least, you've at least gotta let them know what ocean you're in, what type of vessel you are. Generally, what direction are you going? Are you going to where it's cold or are you going to where it's warm? Like, my point is, so many companies miss early on just having even a simplified vision that they can make it really clear to both customers and to employees where they think they're going. Now, you can always pitch and pivot. 

Adrian (00:16:06) - That's the whole beauty of business and that's the whole beauty of being a great leader. Listening to the market, hearing what works, and then kind of iterating and moving your rudder accordingly. But there's a lot of companies out there that in between zero and 10 million bucks, you ask them what their mission or their core values or their general direction is, and they've almost just been so maniacally focused on pitching and pivoting from day one that they don't know anymore. It's almost like a missing identity. 

Adrian (00:16:29) - And then those same companies oftentimes typically have cultural issues. They have yikes issues. There's almost a revolving door of people coming and going because it's like, what are we doing here? So I love your Nielsen example. Guys, listeners, pick your Nielsen example. 

Adrian (00:16:43) - Every one of us is building in a different space, a different business, a different product, a different service type, but having some type of Northstar, having any type of general direction or bullseye, if you will, or potential bullseye or target, it makes things simpler and easier for everybody. So I love that. 

Adrian (00:17:00) - Second thing was just when you were talking about today's market being different, I've been saying this more and more and more and becoming on the show, COVID really did change everything for every one of us, whether you're 40 years in biz, 30 years in biz, two or three years in biz, and you just got out of school a thousand days ago. We all kind of got put in the same type of world. We're like, we're all figuring shit out every single day. 

Adrian (00:17:24) - We all have this weird remote or hybrid type of thing where some days we're in the office, some days we're traveling to clients, some days we're doing stuff like me and you are doing right now, right? Because it's Friday, we want to hang out with our families tonight. So we're like in our offices, but we're still getting work done. 

Adrian (00:17:38) - And like a lot of people, not every, it's still, I think some people are still catching up to this, because they're still getting used to this new world and they're still figuring out how the hell to find their own version of themselves inside of it. 

Mikhail (00:17:49) - Yeah, I mean, I agree with you. What was helpful for me is before COVID, and when I joined Artemis, I said, I don't want to go into the office every day. At that point, I'd been working roughly 10 years. I had seen that the team, like the world was already moving to a place where we're kind of flexible-ish. 

Adrian (00:18:07) - Yeah. 

Mikhail (00:18:08) - So it was a chance for me to test out before COVID. Is remote only what I want? Is COVID, not COVID, sorry. Is a hybrid more my thing? And where I landed was like, I love being in the office two, three days a week. I love connecting with people, but I also love having a day or two where if I'm not traveling, I'm home and I'm just doing work there. And no one's, you know, no one's like knocking on the door. I can just do some work. 

Speaker 4 (00:18:33) - You can get work done. 

Adrian (00:18:33) - You can literally put your head to get work done. 

Mikhail (00:18:35) - Yeah, I try to be nice, but if you're running a team, like there are times where you just really need to get some work done. If you owe someone a report, you need to get that done, but also not dealing with a commute. You know, for me, it was a 50-ish minute commute each way. So that's a time I could just hang out, go a little slow on Friday, a little slow on Monday or Tuesday, which was really awesome. 

Mikhail (00:18:54) - And I think if I hadn't had that experience, I would probably be where some folks still are today because I think we're really only two years into getting used to life again. Two years where everyone's like, just pause, don't do anything. And I think we're kind of on year two and there's still that adjustment and there's still a lot of noise out there as far as remote only, hybrid, or everyone needs to come back into the office. And I think like individually, people need to find their own flavor of what works for them. 

Mikhail (00:19:24) - And then we'll look for that opportunity. I don't necessarily think it's on the company to provide that for everyone. I think it's on you to say, you know, I really like remote. There's a lot of remote only companies right now, awesome remote companies that you can join. I love hybrid, same thing. There are a lot of other companies, people are calling it old school. I'm like, not really, I disagree. I just want to be in the office five days a week because I love that collaboration. 

Mikhail (00:19:46) - Man, you also don't know sometimes like you, especially here in the city, like I'm fortunate to have a three bedroom apartment, but you just don't know what kind of environment people are working in. If you've got young kids, if you have a really tight working space, if you and your spouse are also working and working from home and you're having a lot of meetings, there's a lot there. 

Mikhail (00:20:03) - But also if you don't want to be a fully digital, like work in a fully digital company anymore, man, you've probably got to be in the office five days a week, and that's got to be something you expect and you might love it. 

Speaker 4 (00:20:14) - You know? 

Adrian (00:20:14) - Yeah, some people do, man. Some people literally love, it's your commute point. Guys, I was joking with Mikhail on one of our last catch-ups about like, for me in New York City, like, so, you know, it's been six years since I was in New York City for about 10 years, right? And I've been out of the city now for about six years. And 

Adrian (00:20:31) - Part of one of the biggest reasons why I became such a podcast nerd man. I had that. So I had several jobs rose up in the Upper East Side and I had to get to lower Manhattan, which two of those jobs required not only have either a long subway ride all the way down or- and all the way up, yeah, the jobs required a crosstown bus from the Upper East to the Upper West, and then I had to hop. I'm gonna jump all the way down. That was a 40. On a perfect day it was 49 minutes. 

Adrian (00:20:54) - Many days in wonderful New York City was more like 55 just in an hour, sorry, with my walks to, for, like, my walks to the subway and up and down. All that, yeah, that's what gave me essentially two hours a day that I had to fill. And that's where podcast became, came into my life. Man, we're like. 

Adrian (00:21:09) - It was like cuz I was doing the music thing and I was doing the audible thing, and then, like, once I hit podcast and I realized, holy shit, I have an hour of learning on the way to work and then I got an hour of decompression learning on the way home and obviously I would fit different content types in those, those commutes, like that's right, but I hated it at the same time. 

Mikhail (00:21:25) - As much as I loved being up, you know yesterday and today, this morning. So my wife is dropping our kids off. Yesterday I had to drop my kids off this morning and the trains literally just stopped at what was the station. I carry the station but stop, their doors wouldn't open. We're sitting there for a good 10 minutes, trains busted. My kids have school. One of them was late. I'm watching these five guys who were like high schoolers, I think. Today they're taking, they're supposed to take- their PSATs. 

Mikhail (00:21:56) - I hope they made it or whatever the exam is, yeah, but they're stuck and for a good 20 minutes the train isn't going anywhere and they're stressing out. And then the trains like I know we've got to go Express. Now we're going Express and like stuff like that. But man, like when that happens, you're just, you're sitting there thinking I remember those days vividly, man, I remember, and then that and then. 

Adrian (00:22:21) - But wait, here's another comment that you made, though. You said you were, you know, you and your wife reporting you're in, your kids are fortunate enough to have a three-bedroom. Me and my wife often joke about it. When we left 83rd and 2nd, we were. I was in that apartment for years, man and I, when I got, when I got that apartment, that was my apartment before I met my now wife and when she actually moved into that place with me. We joke all the time like, can you imagine? Because she works, she sells what she sells- software- full-time. 

Adrian (00:22:43) - She does an awesome job selling software. I've been, I'm doing CXC every single day, like we're like: could you imagine if we were in that little 500 square foot box? Do you look? I'd be. I'd have to be in the back of the apartment in the bathroom. She'd have to be in the front of the apartment by the by the windows in the entrance. Just so we didn't hear each other. But it's funny, man, that's how fast the world and time can change. On the count left it pick your brain of tools. Man, you worked in all these different businesses. 

Adrian (00:23:07) - You've been in all these different industries. 

Adrian (00:23:09) - I love to just hear you talk about some of the different ways that you've seen companies build tech stacks, maybe some of the really good stuff that you've seen, or some of the good tools you've seen, and then I love for you to kind of share with our listeners some of the stuff that you saw in your career that maybe wasn't so great, with either building the tech stack, making the right tech investments or, most important, because you know that I'm like maniacally focused on this lately- yeah, ideas or stories around what you saw to work for utilization. 

Adrian (00:23:34) - What were things that you saw companies do really well that forced their, their teammates, to basically naturally utilize or find immediate utility for the tech stack? Or maybe some stories where it's like, dude, we didn't use our tech stack because of I love you, for you just spent a couple minutes kind of talk about technology tools. 

Mikhail (00:23:52) - That is. That's a great question, man. So I'm gonna practice this by saying there is. I'm gonna say this and then immediately contradict myself: there's no such thing as a bad tech stack. Okay, with that said, one of the hardest things to do is implement useful technology for your team. So, yes, so everything from google Sheets all the way up to doing deployments with HubSpot. They have a like service suite, and then also gain sight, which I was blanked on. Gain sight as a tool is really awesome, and then I've already peed a few others as well. 

Mikhail (00:24:33) - Um, here's what I found. I have found that if you are less than, let's say, 50 customers, you should not invest in technology sub 50. Google Sheets works well. Air table works really well. I mentioned before the colleague- I'm working contract with a company right now- that they don't have a CS tech stack. They're running on air table. 

Mikhail (00:24:56) - They're running on a few other things- yep, they're stretching air table to the max, okay, and so they're at a point now where they need to and they've got a little more than 50 customers and they're at a point now where they need to actually make an investment. Think about what that needs to look like. 

Mikhail (00:25:10) - Yeah, what I'd say is where the tech stack works best is if the CS leader- if you have the ability to do this- is unselfish, and the sales leader is unselfish and the marketing leaders leaders unselfish, and the three of them can get in a room and say: here are all the requirements I need to run a good go-to-market business, a good commercial business, and say: we all have our own budgets. Yeah, I'll have the things that we need, but collectively we need to make sure that everything's talking everything. 

Mikhail (00:25:40) - It might be that we all run the same type of products. We're all running on Salesforce or HubSpot. It might very well be based off the type of business that that doesn't make sense and that's not the route that you should go. Yeah, but we all still need data from one place to the other, like, if I don't see yet, I still want to see data on. Okay, for customer marketing and 

Speaker 2 (00:26:00) - This customer is highly engaged in the product. How often are they engaging with some of our other digital properties? How often are they looking at if there's a training sequence that I have with marketing, how often they're making their way all the way through or looking at everything like, I want that information, I want that data. On the sales side, if renewals are coming up, I want to be able to give sales very easily some information on here's what this account is like, here's what they've been like for the last year or two years. 

Speaker 2 (00:26:27) - Where I found there to be a lot of inefficiency is when those groups aren't talking to each other, they run their own tech stack. And what ends up happening inevitably is whatever team I'm running, we're spending a lot of time and hours just trying to build it, like just trying to get the answers back to the other teams that they might need, which is problematic. So I'd say like the best tech stack that I've seen, it's dependent and it's really come down to first stage of company, what's our budget? 

Speaker 2 (00:26:56) - What's the experience of the customer that we want and how do we organize around that? And so it's changed from company to company. Integral, we actually didn't run any software. It was all Google Sheets and then we had a proprietary dashboard where we'd get these reports from SQL all the time. 

Speaker 3 (00:27:12) - I didn't know any better, eventually got to a point. So, and it wasn't like, I would say this was not a good practice, but we got to the point where I had a two month run where I was losing camera man, like three or four high profile customers. And they were visibly upset and I felt like I was blind. I felt like I didn't know or couldn't see that there was a problem coming. And I got on the phone with them and talked to them and say, hey, tell me what's going on. Like, what's the issue? And what they will inevitably say is it was not one big issue. 

Speaker 3 (00:27:43) - It was just a series of things over the last few months. And it just gave me the feeling like you didn't care about my business. So what I needed to do was to go out to the team and say, look, every team meeting, I need a red, yellow, green status on the accounts. And if we start seeing that we've got too many yellows across an account, we've got to fix it. We've got to address it. Get on the phone with the customer, make sure they feel happy, double, triple, quadruple QA, anything that's going out to them. 

Speaker 3 (00:28:10) - If it's a report, if it's tags, because we had to put a piece of code on their media, like just double check everything and make sure that they're super happy and over service them as much as you can, because we, my thing was as a leader, this was my fault because I didn't have visibility to my book. And I was trusting that if one or two things happened, it's okay. I eventually said, no, we need to bring in some form of data and that was phase one. Other good implementations that I've seen. 

Speaker 3 (00:28:42) - So Gainsight, I have a love, I wouldn't call it love hate, love, not really love relationship depending. We use it at Quantcast. I don't think we use it super well. A lot of it came down to, at the time we didn't do our homework on, here's what the business actually requires. And here's what Gainsight can actually do. But the tools, man, everything that Gainsight had, I loved because I sat there like, I had to build all of this by hand because I realized we needed it. 

Speaker 3 (00:29:14) - And it was refreshing to see that, now there's other people running to the same problems and people actually built businesses that can support this and solve this. And I love the time savings. Like when it ran well, when we had it organized well and set up well, it saved me a ton of time in terms of pulling data, in terms of seeing what's going on with accounts. Instead of having a 20 minute review on, from each team member going around and telling me, here's what's going on with the accounts. I can just pull up a dashboard and see, here's my book. 

Speaker 3 (00:29:43) - Here's everyone that's happy. Here are the people that are not so happy. Here are the people that might churn unless we do something really important. And I can't tell you how much time and efficiency that saved for me, which was really awesome. And I loved it. Where the not so excited about portion came in, and this goes back to me saying, do your homework. We with Gainsight, there was just a lot of, and it's funny, like a lot of pieces of CS software and sales software gets there at some point. 

Speaker 3 (00:30:11) - I think HubSpot's getting there now too, where you just have so many offerings, it gets so complex that there's a lot of maintenance. You need like a specialist for some time to step in. Here's how you set it up best. Here's how to keep it efficient. And there's a maintenance cost. And I don't mean financial, I mean like time and personnel to keeping that stack running really well. And you've got to be able to do that math and say, I can get this budget continuously to get the software. 

Speaker 2 (00:30:39) - I can get whatever incremental budget I need to make sure the software is doing exactly what I need it to do with my team. 

Speaker 3 (00:30:45) - And that's not always on the software company. That's on the company saying, like I know how to make a good decision about the stack. And I'm realistic that in today's day and age, as our company grows and we're going from a few hundred to a few thousand customers, or as this vendor grows and it's going from a few hundred to a few thousand customers and they need to be competitive, there is going to be some mismatch there that I need to address and find a way to keep the two going in sync with each other. 

Speaker 3 (00:31:11) - And if it's not, all right, well, now it's time to RP and find some other folks. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Maybe some other business better.

Adrian (00:31:24) - Because so many companies do this wrong, man. You said something around, make sure that you're taking the time to actually be thoughtful about what you need. And in the beginning of the technology part, you said, look, if you're little and you're small, don't even. Like, just keep playing the game, figure out a bunch of plays, see how the offense works, see how midfield works, see how defense works. That makes a ton of sense to me, totally agree with that. 

Adrian (00:31:43) - But as you progress, as you mature, as you evolve, as you scale your business, now some things change. 

Adrian (00:31:48) - And the simple, where my brain went, hearing you kind of talk through some of the more pragmatic ways that you got to think about how you're building, managing, and then how you're making your tech stack investment, dude, I almost think about it like a Formula One race or like a NASCAR race where like, guys, every single time a car, before a car shows up to a track, there is a pit crew, there is an engineering design crew that is thinking about how that car needs to be set up before it gets to Las Vegas, right? 

Adrian (00:32:14) - Or before it even gets to Paris or even before it gets to London. So like, number one is just like, know your track. And this is where, for the CX and the CS nerds listening and my people, this is where we come into play. Like, you start to think about how you can break down before anybody buys anything, before anybody even thinks about what the car needs to look like or what the pit crew is going to have to look like to service that car, to set that car up, or to maintain that car. Like, know your track, know what you're even trying to accomplish. 

Adrian (00:32:38) - It's amazing how many companies we've worked with at CXC, Mikel, over the last four years, that even by bringing them through different user or journey mapping, or even by really forcing them to be super meticulous with thinking about every touch point, where exactly does the touch point happen across the journey? Which teams are involved? What metrics are we counting? What types of consternation points are just constantly in the mix here around just what's happening in the business at that time? 

Adrian (00:33:05) - Dude, there's a ton of companies that do it the opposite. They think, maybe an executive came from the last company where, oh no, Salesforce is the only way that we're going to build this company, or no, no, no, no, no, Zendesk is the only tool that can support this type of ticket volume. Okay, I've heard all this stuff too, right? And then on the communication side, there's the Twilio's, there's the Rings. My point is, every one of these businesses, every one of these user or customer journeys, they are different. 

Adrian (00:33:28) - And then when you get really the right guys and gals around the table, the smart people that are going to be building or iterating, or probably already understand your now customer portfolio, the things that are really happening in your world to build your business or to bring in your revenue every damn day, man, that's an easy way to start parsing out and really kind of thinking about in a pragmatic form how, what type of tools you need, what, and then shortlisting, right? 

Adrian (00:33:49) - A lot of the work that we do at CXC Macau is we work with customers to give them short lists of potential tech solutions based on what type of ingestion points they're giving us. So like, what are your goals? What type of portfolio volume do you have? What type of communications volume do you have? How many different touch points or handoffs are going to be in your business or in your journey? Every one of those variables makes a huge difference in terms of what type of technology you should be thinking about. 

Adrian (00:34:16) - Last point, I love your point of like, dude, like make sure you guys are thinking about the maintenance and the upkeep costs. It's like, we can go with my race car, you know, pit crew analogy, or even I use the real estate example all the time. You're not just buying a house. You're buying a house, then you're buying annual property taxes, you're buying annual maintenance costs, you're buying annual, just let's call it contingencies where shit will blow up, shit will break, things will inevitably fall apart. 

Adrian (00:34:44) - So like, guys, you've got to think about it all this way and make sure that you're budgeting, planning, and really kind of getting ready to dig in all that stuff that's going to potentially hit your business. So I love it. Mikael, I'd love to spend a minute or two on process, man. Give us an idea, like, has there been a way that you've kind of gone about building playbooks with your team or capturing which primary knowledge needs to eventually make its way into a knowledge base? Or even metrics, man. 

Adrian (00:35:10) - You kind of started to get into it in the tech stack there with metrics and just understanding utilization and engagement, all these things, but like, I'd love for you to spend a minute or two talking about process. 

Speaker 3 (00:35:18) - Yeah, that's great. So, you know, I'd say the last five years for me, it's been primarily focused on how do we get the product market fit? And then once we're close, what does the actual customer journey look like? So the early days, it's working really closely with the product team to figure out, okay, what are we building? What does that look like? What does it need to look like? And then how's the customer interacting with it? 

Speaker 3 (00:35:40) - So it's less about, in those early days, it's actually for me less about, is the, not so much is the customer happy, I always want them happy. But it's about how many of these customers are truly happy and they get it. And that's always step one, if you're, you know, if you're a startup founder, like, that's got to be the most important thing. Like, what metrics are we looking at to figure out usage? 

Speaker 3 (00:36:03) - When I start to see the usage is starting to get to a pretty good place, you know, if you're measuring NPS, which I don't really think you need to do early, but like, whatever the measurement is for you in terms of getting to a good place with product market fit. So for example, if it's a software that you need to be in the, and I'll give a real world example, Artemis, when I joined Artemis, we had like 30 or 40 customers at the time, my first year. 

Speaker 3 (00:36:25) - And a lot of the issue for us was, we were trying to take farmers who are generally not tech savvy, that's changing, but like, they're not folks that are going to be behind a desktop all day. And keeping in mind I was coming from, you know, banking, insurance, advertising, where if you folks are behind those laptops for like, keep in mind, 

Speaker 3 (00:36:44) - you know, 10, 12 hours a day, married to their phones, everything. We're not going to farmers who are like, I use my phone to call someone. And you ask me now to like get behind a laptop all the time or download an app and start to do, you know, whatever we need to do. And so for me, it was figuring out, okay, we need to get usage up, but not in the sense of they need to hit this metric so that we're happy. It's more like we need to understand where we're actually providing value. 

Speaker 3 (00:37:10) - And so a lot of the analytics that we looked at was, where do customers quickly get it? Where don't they get it? And in those first days, it was how do I then set up training, whether it's an app or there's a person to support that farmer and make sure that they fully understand everything they need to, to be effective. So what I ended up being like the first metric for us was what we call the customer, like the, gosh, the customer completion rate, which is specific to training. 

Speaker 3 (00:37:40) - And we were able to get good data that showed if you go zero to one training, you're going to churn. Two, you're 50-50, three or all four, and retention would sit at 90% or better. 

Speaker 3 (00:37:53) - And so the goal was, how do I then organize everything we're doing for marketing, for training, for onboarding to get folks to that third or fourth training as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, and then say, hey, your homework is, let's go into the system and do these things we learned and go into the app and do these things we learned being yet comfortable with it. Once we got there- I love that. Thanks, I appreciate it. 

Speaker 3 (00:38:16) - And then once we got there, I was able to start to back in and look at the more, like the more general metrics of, okay, like who, what are your sign-ins need to look at? What does onboarding need to look for? How do we segment the enterprise folks from the mid-tier and the smaller folks? And then how do we support them with the smaller folks? Let's start looking more at one-to-many and then mid-tier and enterprise. 

Speaker 3 (00:38:34) - Let's start thinking about the customer journey, thinking more strategically about their business and start thinking about what they need to plug into, which would eventually become, you know, looking more so at team utilization. So analytics around, if I'm an enterprise customer, am I seeing 20, 30% utilization, 50% utilization in terms of the folks with a seat actually using it and starting to splice out how much do those different profiles love what we're building? And that, for me, was super important. 

Speaker 3 (00:39:03) - I take that learning and apply it to everywhere else where it always came down to what are we trying to do? Who's the customer? What's their profile? And how often do we want them in the tech? And everything else around it would be informed by those three questions, that we can make sure we're building the right systems, the right plan to get the teams where they needed to get to. 

Adrian (00:39:24) - I love it, man. That first part that you just said, man, everyone of our listeners should hit stop right now, go back and rewind 60 seconds, because basically it's amazing. On the SaaS side, man, on the technology side, how many companies they build, they'll spend millions of dollars building these tools, these platforms, these apps, and then they'll say, well, we're not gonna be able to force every single one of our customers into an onboarding call or into a training demo, so you gotta let customers do their own thing. Okay, I feel you. I understand. 

Adrian (00:39:53) - Path of Least Resistance totally got you, I know. And this shit's hard. Selling is fricking hard. Getting customers to adopt something is even harder. Getting customers to buy something, forget about it. There's very few of us on planet Earth who even know how to do that shit. That's a totally different ballgame. But what you just said about, I bet you most companies, Mikhail, especially SaaS companies, technology companies, they probably have a pretty damn close conversion to what you just laid out. Zero trainings, zero chance. 

Adrian (00:40:17) - One training, maybe there's a possibility if they see value on a 30-minute training, two trainings plus, all right, now we're getting somewhere. That's probably gonna be an engaged account that I'm gonna even think about spending some of my CS or my onboarding resources towards, because I have a higher probability of flipping them or converting them or increasing velocity of engagement. Three out of four or four out of four, bing, bing, bing, those are gonna be tomorrow's green customers, fully utilized, understand adoption, understand usage. 

Adrian (00:40:45) - They'll probably become promoters, especially because if they're getting through that, then they actually see full utility of the product or service, whatever we're selling them. Then lastly, engagement. Just show me another place in your life where you can have zero engagement and say that that person or that thing or that team is a huge part of it. 

Speaker 4 (00:41:04) - That's impossible. 

Adrian (00:41:05) - Engagement is required to understand how you can begin to see a reflection of potential value, whether it's a value of a relationship, value of a product value. So I love that you're kind of thinking about that. 

Adrian (00:41:17) - And guys, if you haven't done this already, I mean, I know many of us CS leaders are thinking about engagement, utilization, we're looking at usage rates, we're thinking about all these things, that's great, but there's a lot of companies out there, Mikel, that aren't even thinking about it, brother, or they don't have an expectation in onboarding of what the minimum is. 

Adrian (00:41:31) - That's what's always fascinating to me is like some of these same executive teams are willing to fucking blow millions of dollars on customer acquisition without actually understanding some of the slicing and the dicing. Sorry, last part that you just said, know where to drop these people into different segments, different personas or segments. Why are you spending millions of dollars in customer acquisition if you're not doing some of those simple things of understanding who's showing signals of engagement? 

Adrian (00:41:55) - And then from engagement, you begin to learn things about a business or about a cohort of users.

Adrian (00:42:06) - Now, you know where you should double down on things and where you maybe claw back the resources or claw back the budget altogether for things that you already know are going to yield to a goose egg, right? So I love those ideas. Mikhail, I'd love to jump into the fourth and final pillar of feedback. 

Adrian (00:42:19) - Spend a minute or two kind of talking about some of the things that you've done across your career to really kind of think about how you can collect and act upon customer feedback and then maybe share an example around how you've done the same type of thing with your teams and your employee and give us some ideas for employee feedback. 

Speaker 3 (00:42:35) - Now, that's a great question. Customer feedback. So I always try to do one of two things. I think if there's a certain dollar amount and that changes my industry, you owe it to the customer to at least, especially in those early days, soon after onboarding, at least have two or three status calls. So depending on size, I might say, look, every two weeks for the next month and a half, two months, let's just check in. I want to make sure you're doing really well. I want to make sure that you understand exactly how everything works. 

Speaker 3 (00:43:00) - If there's a problem, I want to surface that as quickly as possible for you. But a lot of what I'm doing in that early stage is two things. I know, especially like anyone that's done any kind of enterprise engagement before will see the same thing, whether you're on the sales or the CS side. If you do a customer visit for the next few days afterwards, you're going to get the best engagement. Folks will be in there. They're motivated. They're excited. And then life takes over and you start to see a dip. 

Speaker 3 (00:43:27) - Same thing to a certain degree with the status call. So if I know I just bought something, I just saw the team or met with the team, I'm up and going, I'm excited. I want to ride that as long as possible, extended as long as possible until I know that that person gets it. If there's a certain dollar, it used to be like 20, 30,000, these days it's more like 50K. I think technology has gotten to a place where you don't need to do it as much. 

Speaker 3 (00:43:52) - Once you hit that threshold, for me, it's let's start to get that feedback because I know that that user is in there a lot. I know that inevitably they're going to run into things and that'll give me feedback on Is this an actual problem with the training that we need to address? Is this a problem with the product itself? And so I need to write a ticket, send that back to product. Or is there something in between where we think this is the right customer profile, but maybe it's someone else. 

Speaker 3 (00:44:22) - We think it's this buyer and these are the people who are going to love it, but maybe we're wrong on that assumption. Or maybe it's changing because something in the industry or in the company is changing and we need to account for that. So let's try to get that as much as possible and get that feedback from them in the early days. And then afterwards, either we'll scale back if there's a big enough customer, there's a status call involved, we'll scale back to status calls. 

Speaker 3 (00:44:46) - If there isn't something like that in place, then a lot of what I'm doing is I'm looking at as frequently as possible, what are the different opportunities and this is true for big and small customers in app and the platform and the website to get feedback and any form of customer marketing. I always try to make sure that as much as possible, there's different avenues where people can ask questions, they can get answers. 

Speaker 3 (00:45:08) - I am a huge fan of just promoting the help center or the help as much as possible, any kind of a QA or FAQ section for the website where folks can get answers to their problems to themselves. Because I know if they don't find the article and they're engaged, they're going to tell us exactly what we need to be addressing, we're talking about, and then the CS team will need to go back and fix that. So promote that as much as possible. 

Speaker 3 (00:45:33) - The marketer in me just knows, I don't need it until I need it, and so I might ignore it until there's a problem, but I want it to be super easy for that customer to know if there's a problem, how to get in touch with us and to do that quickly. On the team side, I'm a huge fan of quick feedback. There's nothing more frustrating for me, I've been in here twice where I hear everything's great, great, great,... annual review and like, you know, you did this one thing wrong six months... you bring it up six months ago? Which is a frustration. 

Speaker 3 (00:46:10) - There might be political reasons for it, there could be other stuff, but as a leader, I made it a point that, and I tell people this, when you work for me, you will get quick feedback. You should not be surprised to come about an annual or an annual review with the feedback I give you, because I will have said that to you frequently. I tell them, I owe this to you as a leader to make sure that you have this information. What I'll also do is I'll say, look, I also want you to have a really great experience to build a healthy relationship. 

Speaker 3 (00:46:38) - We're not here to be friends, but we really don't need to be enemies. We need to have like a good understanding of how we work. We need to have good mutual understanding, mutual respect for each other. So it doesn't mean we're going to go out for drinks every Friday, I want you to feel like I'm on your side. Yeah, so everything I do is to focus on making you or the company better and something that I don't express to them, I express it to new leaders and say, this is important, but I internally know and try to address is ... 

Speaker 4 (00:47:07) - is ...

Speaker 3 (00:47:07) - If someone above me comes down, which is less these days, but if someone comes down with me with a hammer, I need to hand whoever's on my team a feather. They should not feel the pressure that I feel because it's my job as the leader to a degree shield them, give them the good feedback. 

Adrian (00:47:25) - Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Speaker 3 (00:47:26) - But undo unfair pressure. So a good example, like, I'll actually give you a really great example. Quadcast, they had hired a lot of really, really new people on their CS team when they hired me. And so you have these really new inexperienced folks dealing with sellers 20 plus years in the industry. And what was happening was the morale of the CS team was super low because they just felt frustrated. They didn't know what they were supposed to do, didn't know what they could or couldn't do. 

Speaker 3 (00:47:49) - And you have all these folks who were like in their 40s, some in their 50s, who were just coming down super hard on them because they're not getting what they need. Now, to be fair to the seller, I just closed like a $50,000 deal, $100,000 deal, potentially a half a million dollar deal. And we can't support this business, why? 

Adrian (00:48:08) - Yep. 

Speaker 3 (00:48:09) - And that's a fair assessment. On the other side, the CS team, I don't care the size of the deal. You haven't given me the tools, the training, the support I need to be successful. So what I had to do when I stepped in is I, like, this was very obvious. I stepped in and just said, look, I hear you. I will create more of a custom plan for each one of you sellers. Not something I like to do, but I will do this because I know you, like, you owe it to the customer to give them a great experience. 

Adrian (00:48:36) - Yep. 

Speaker 3 (00:48:37) - But what you cannot do is talk to my team, anybody you like. 

Adrian (00:48:40) - Yeah. But they're new. 

Speaker 4 (00:48:41) - Yeah. 

Speaker 3 (00:48:42) - And I owe it to my team to train them. And what I want is we need to be able to, not so much like meet in the middle, but you need to give them, I needed to give them time to grow into the role, to understand our systems, understand our tech or software reporting, everything else, understand the customer, and then move into the role, grow to the role that way. And I also need, like, when I hire my next two or three hires, it needs to be someone fairly senior. 

Speaker 4 (00:49:04) - Yeah. 

Speaker 3 (00:49:04) - Because if you remember what I talked about before, like, they were just out of balance. But for me, what was important is I will make sure that the CS team gets the feedback when they screw up. I'll make sure that if a seller's not happy, they're going to know the seller's not happy. But what I'm not going to do is that pressure that they're putting on them because of a deal or because you need to hit some like revenue target, that's not on them. 

Speaker 4 (00:49:25) - Yep. 

Speaker 3 (00:49:25) - That's on the seller. That's also now on me as the leader to address and make sure that there's a solution for that. 

Speaker 4 (00:49:32) - Yep. 

Speaker 3 (00:49:32) - And the team can't feel that. I find that a lot of times when you put that pressure on the team or like individually on a person, realistically, most of them are not as new, not as experienced, not as able to handle the capacity, the pressure that I might be able to have. Some can, but most can't. 

Adrian (00:49:47) - Yeah. 

Speaker 3 (00:49:48) - And me doing that is not going to get the best out of them. 

Adrian (00:49:51) - Yep. I love it. 

Speaker 3 (00:49:52) - They're going to crumble. 

Speaker 4 (00:49:53) - Yeah. 

Speaker 3 (00:49:53) - And so hit me with the hammer as much as you like, as frequently as possible, I'll hand that team the feather and say, here's the feedback. And again, when they screw up, they get it. But my goal is they don't feel that pressure. And so I feel like they're in a place where they can actually handle it. If they can't, it's because they just got promoted. They are being given bigger books, more complex books. And I know that a person has proven to me over time that they're capable of dealing with that pressure in a healthy way. 

Speaker 4 (00:50:21) - Yep. 

Speaker 3 (00:50:21) - And still delivering results and not crumbling. 

Adrian (00:50:23) - I love it, man. That's fantastic. It's such a good way of thinking about it. And then you're right. One of the biggest, one of the hardest parts about being a customer focused business leader is being able to shield, protect, and lead the customer facing team. Because the reality is those oftentimes are the guys and gals going into battle. They're the first people running into the oncoming army of customers, right? And man, it's easy to go and to bash some of those folks because they are on the front line. 

Speaker 3 (00:50:51) - Yeah. 

Adrian (00:50:52) - They're on the front line. They are the ones doing the work. They're the ones swinging the sword. They're the ones pushing the message, pushing the product to service. Be very, very thankful and be very, very grateful for some of that work that they're doing, right? And that takes every leader a heart. Every leader's got a different sort of trail towards figuring out how they get to that place in their own lives. So, Mikael, this has been absolutely fantastic, man. Before I let you go, where can people in the Six Nation find more about you, sir? 

Adrian (00:51:19) - Where can they get in touch with you if they want to reach out and start their own conversation with you, sir? 

Speaker 3 (00:51:24) - Yeah, for sure. They can email me. I will drop my email here in the chat so that you can share with your folks. Or they can find me on LinkedIn and just say, hey, I heard you. 

Adrian (00:51:34) - There you go. 

Speaker 3 (00:51:38) - Heard your podcast on CX Chronicles and loved it. Those are the two best ways to get in touch with me. And I'd be happy to connect with any and everyone. I love this community and I love being able to help other businesses work through a lot of these problems. 

Adrian (00:51:51) - I love it. Well, Mikael, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. I'm going to be looking forward to seeing some of the work that you do moving forward and certainly keeping in touch, my friend. 

Speaker 3 (00:51:58) - Thank you so much- Take care, man. 

Speaker 4 (00:52:00) - Take care. Enjoy it, man.