The Digital Customer Success Podcast

Elevating CS Within Your Organization with Anita Toth | Episode 033

January 16, 2024 Alex Turkovic, Anita Toth Episode 33
The Digital Customer Success Podcast
Elevating CS Within Your Organization with Anita Toth | Episode 033
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Enter the contest for a Gold Pass ($1300 value!) to the Customer Success Festival in Austin (Feb 13 & 14, 2024) by following these steps:

  1. Review the podcast on your platform of choice and send a quick screenshot to alex@digitalcustomersuccess.com
  2. Go to this LinkedIn post and Like it: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7152780848642068480
  3. Leave a comment on that same post about what aspect of CS Festival you're most looking forward to or any questions comments you might have about the event.

Winner will be announced on Jan 31!

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Today's Guest: Anita Toth
There is no denying that there are a ton of amazing people in the CS community. Anita Toth is no exception. She is such a great presence in CS and regularly puts her academia background in full display with well thought through concepts and tangible take-aways that help elevate CS within our organizations. 

This conversation was jam packed with really great take-aways including:

  • Anita's background in academia
  • Her transition into CS and the lessons that it can teach others about approaching transition
  • Deep research in CS and looking for patterns
  • Standardizing customer feedback, CS inputs, etc. to drive data cleanliness and see trends
  • Elevating CS within an organization from the kids table to the adult table
  • How to feed CS' valuable customer data to the rest of the company
  • Start with Marketing and share details of your top 20% customers - help marketing build an ICP so that they can go help find more of that type of customer
  • How our tooling is helping us to produce insights for the business
  • CS’ main product should be insights on customer health
  • The importance of CS leaders to understand other business leaders’ goals so that we know what insights can help them
  • Trust and ethics in adopting GenAI and the inflection point that is coming where we won’t be able to tell the difference between human and algorithm
  • Speculating on the future use of GenAI within CS

Anita's LinkedIn
ATI
Churn No More Leadership Workshop

Resources:

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The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

Speaker 1:

Look Mono hands. I'm going to put that in the definition. I'm going to put that in the word math.

Speaker 2:

That'll be good, I don't think it's going to really show up in there.

Speaker 1:

Oh it will. It's going to be like that.

Speaker 1:

No it'll be like the Easter egg. And once again, welcome to the digital customer success podcast with me, alex Turgovich. So glad you could join us here today and every week as I seek out and interview leaders and practitioners who are innovating and building great scaled CS programs. My goal is to share what I've learned and to bring you along with me for the ride so that you get the insights that you need to build and evolve your own digital CS program. If you'd like more info, want to get in touch or sign up for the latest updates, go to digitalcustomersuccesscom, and if you have a question or commentary to be used in an upcoming episode, call us and leave a message at 512-222-7381. For now, let's get started.

Speaker 1:

Greetings from a pretty cold Austin, texas, and welcome to the show. It's that time of year where, here in Texas, we have, like you know, two or three weeks of cold weather before it goes back to like hot. So if you're watching YouTube hence the beanie I didn't feel like getting fancy for you, so, but no apologies. Right Before we get into today's show, which is a good one, I do have a little bit of an announcement and a contest for you to enter into, actually, where I'm in a media partnership with the Customer Success Collective here at the Digital Customer Success Podcast, and I'll be speaking at the Customer Success Festival here in Austin, texas, on February 13th and 14th, as well as hosting a panel. So if that is an event that you have been wanting to go to but you haven't registered for yet, I do want to announce a contest that's going to run until January 31st, so you've got a couple of weeks to enter, basically, and the contest is for a free gold pass admission, which is like 1300 bucks or something like that, so it's no small potatoes. So we're going to be giving away one gold pass to that event, and the way that you're going to enter that contest is by basically doing three things. First off, one of the ways that we grow the show is by making it easy to find for folks, and one of the ways that we accomplish that is by getting reviews on various platforms. So first thing you'll want to do to enter this contest is leave us a review on Apple or Spotify or whatever your podcast platform of choice is, and once you've left that review, just email me a screenshot of it real quick. Alex at digitalcustomersuccesscom is where you can send that to. Second is there is a link to a post in the show notes. So what you want to do is just go to that LinkedIn post, like it and then, lastly, I'd love for you to comment on that post with you know what you might be looking forward to at this event, or any questions that you have in this event. Something beyond just like. First like or you know, I'm here, you know, engage a little bit, so we'd love to see that. So, again, three things you got to do enter, leave us a review on your podcast platform of choice and email me a screenshot. Alex at digitalcustomersuccesscom, go to that LinkedIn post and like it and then leave a comment on that post with something substantial, something about the event, something that you're looking forward to or something that you would like to see there, any questions, whatever that may be, got it Excellent. Hope to see you there in middle of February.

Speaker 1:

On to today's show, which is a great one. I had this conversation with Anita Toth, say, a month or two ago, and it kind of left a lasting impression on me, just because of what we talked about, yes, but also just the depth at which we talked about it and and you know, she and I have a pretty good kind of back and forth rapport, but we spent a lot of time discussing how CS can elevate itself, primarily through the use of this you know magical treasure trove of data that we end up collecting, and how to really turn that into insights for the rest of the business and how to, you know, really engage with other leaders around the business. We also then dug into a pretty lengthy discussion about generative AI, a little bit of speculation about the future of AI within customer success and other practices and just you know, kind of some interesting tidbits about it. This, the reason why Anita brings so much to the table, is because she is a researcher at Harch. She has a background in academia. We'll talk a little bit about her transition from academia into customer success and what she does now.

Speaker 1:

One thing that I wanted to mention that didn't really get brought up in the show but that Anita has just launched, is a new workshop. It's basically a CS leadership workshop. She says a much better in her own words on her sales page around it, but it basically says stop running away from your executive seat at the table and start leveraging your customer expertise to prove your value and own retention revenue today. A lot of what she talked about in today's episode feed right into what she's doing in this workshop. So, if you like it, go check out her website, atiac, which is linked down below, and I'll have a link to the workshop as well, so you can go check that out. But okay, enough of my appen, here we go. This is an awesome episode with Anita Toth. I really enjoyed the conversation and I sure hope that you do too. Well, anita, I don't think we're here to talk about that necessarily.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, okay, we better get really started.

Speaker 1:

I think maybe we should get started talking about some CS.

Speaker 1:

But I'm extremely excited that you have agreed graciously agreed to lend me an hour of your time to be on the show, because you have lots of cool things to say. I've enjoyed our conversations. When it comes to CS and some of the things that you're up to, I guess without asking the obligatory like how'd you get into CS and what's your background, all that kind of stuff I do want to get a window into this 15-year block of time spent at McMaster and your university kind of higher ed background and really how that has led into CS. Because I mean, there are origin stories that are all over the place, right, you've got marketers that have come into CS, you've got product people, you've got various kind of expertise levels here and there, but you don't hear a lot of folks that come from higher ed. So I'd love to get your perspective on your history but then also how that has informed your life in CS.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. First of all, I have to say I love to learn, which is why, once I got my masters the very next day actually September 10th 2001 was my very first day of working in that research institute. And then we all know what happened on the second day of the job.

Speaker 2:

My goodness, yeah, it was crazy, and what I really loved about academia actually is just generating new ideas, generating new ways of thinking and trying to push boundaries. Now, the way that it's done, though, in academia is different than what it's done in business, because you've got checks and balances. You have to get things peer reviewed. You can't just put things out there and say, hey look, I've got this plan, I've created this framework and I think it's going to work, and then throw it out to the world. So the rigor that comes with it is, in some ways, you almost feel a bit stifling if you're not used to it, in terms of innovative ideas and just trying different things, but, at the same time, it was just awesome to be around all of these great thinkers, and I loved it. I really did, and it was hard to move on. I was laid off December 23, 2015. So, coming up to eight years that I was laid off and then started my post-academic journey.

Speaker 1:

Now, is that date seared into your memory because it was obviously a very important date, or are you one of those disgusting people that just knows dates?

Speaker 2:

No, I don't. I forget my own birthday. I think sometimes my kids have had to remind me it's terrible. So, yeah, it seared into my mind because I was awful. I'm sitting in my boss's office. He's been my boss for like six months, right, so very short period of time and he said your layoff date is going to be December 23. And then he looked at me and said this I couldn't believe it. It's because I don't want to pay your benefits into the new year. I just went like I didn't say anything. I was just so stunned, Wow.

Speaker 2:

Because, university closes for two weeks almost every university does right over the Christmas holidays. So the last day of working was December 23rd. We shut down on the 24th. So that's what he said to me and that's why he's forever seared into my mind.

Speaker 1:

I don't want to see benefits into the following year. That is the opposite of emotional intelligence.

Speaker 2:

He was just awful. And then he gave me are you ready for this? Then he gave me my Christmas gift.

Speaker 1:

Oh good, yeah, Do you still have that too? No, oh my gosh, that's amazing. Okay, I love it. I love it. I mean I don't love the fact that you got laid off, but I do like it, because now you're with us, you're among the good people.

Speaker 2:

It's become one of those. At the time devastating, but in retrospect was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, pushed you at the nest a little bit.

Speaker 2:

Yep Sure did.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I do want to hit on that a little bit, though, because those moments happen to everyone and I think some people handle them better than others, but usually, hopefully at least in my history I've been presented with those moments a few times and have somehow managed to kind of turn that into something positive, whether it be a learning experience or whether it be like a new opportunity, a recognition that, hey, I want to go learn XYZ. So what was that for you, what was that journey for you?

Speaker 2:

And what did you?

Speaker 1:

hit on.

Speaker 2:

I think it's wild that you asked that, because I was going to say what I had prior to that were golden handcuffs. My job required a master's degree, which I had. There were very few people in the university that could do what I did because of my subject matter expertise and I was miserable there for some of the reasons I mentioned. It can be sort of a stifling environment. Everything's so process driven and takes forever. It is not uncommon that you submit a paper for a peer review and it takes eight months to a year to get it published, just because there's so much back and forth with it.

Speaker 2:

And I was unhappy and I didn't know it until December 24th, the day after I actually felt hugely liberated, and it was only once everything was cut off there was no chance of turning back Did I realize how unhappy I had been but was convincing myself that I really was happy. I loved what I did, but I did not love the environment I was in and all of that. Even the word stifle says a lot about how I felt about it. I felt really hemmed in, so that layoff gave me the freedom then to say, okay, I have this skill set. I love to ask questions, I love to learn what's in people's heads, what drives them, what excites them, what scares them, all of these things. So what can I do with this?

Speaker 2:

And that's when I started venture out in the world with this little platter of skill sets and went where can I make this fit? Where can I make this work?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's cool. I love that. One of the things that I find fascinating about you is that you are a researcher at heart. In fact, I think when we first met, one of the first things out of your mouth was like hey, I'm really deep into this research on XYZ and whatnot and I find that insanely refreshing, because there are many, many, many, many, many people who educate themselves and kind of get into the surface of something, and maybe there's a level of expertise. You experience some things as a role. But I don't know that CS is very intimate with this notion of deep research on stuff. I think there's a couple, like Greg Daines for instance. I think he comes to mind because he's got just a platter of amazing data and insights, but it's a very select few that go that deep and who could legitimately call themselves researchers. And I guess where I'm going with this is I'm just curious as to what kind of process or philosophies do you bring into wanting to understand something deeply, like where do you go in your brain, but then also physically?

Speaker 2:

My big thing is looking for patterns. Where are patterns? And just even in answering this question, I'm just going to switch it a tiny tiny bit to see if this can help with. You know, if CSMs are listening, you know customer success leaders are listening. It's about standardizing. How can we standardize this process? And in understanding that? So I posted something on LinkedIn yesterday and one of the comments was around customer feedback. Well, why not just use QBRs? And I said, because they're not a standardized way to collect information. So, just coming with that scientific approach of how can we standardize what we're collecting so that we can start figuring out what is a genuine pattern from one that isn't. So we have anecdotes all over the place Great, but how many of them hold or are valid over that customer segment, that our entire customer base? If you can just like make that tiny switch to say how can we start standardizing? Mostly because, again, I'm qualitative research, the qualitative feedback we receive. It's going to be night and day, because then you can start seeing trends over time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, if we're asking things in different ways all over the place we're going to get different results all over the place.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and what's interesting is love it or hate it. That's kind of why NPS is kind of so powerful, because people are used to seeing that question, people are used to answering that question, people are used to that 10 point scale or I guess 11 point scale, you know like. So people are used to that, people are used to kind of CSAT, if you will. But then to your point, and what's interesting is your answer kind of toes the line between what I think a lot of people would say, which is a lot of it depends on your customer base and it depends on your product and it depends on whether you own renewals or not and it depends on XYZ.

Speaker 2:

But I do feel like there's a level of standardization that we could benefit from yeah, regardless of whether it's digital customer success or high touch, the customer feedback you're collecting through surveys, through interviews, through focus groups. That's your standardization. Now you can also standardize in some other ways, but it's no longer first person. So with your CS, let's say, your CSM notes after meetings have specific things that must be filled out after each of those. So that's a type of standardization, but that's now second hand because it's filtered through the individual who's inputting. In the form it's not, as clean data is really what it is, is biased through that individual's interpretation. That first hand data, those customer interviews, those surveys, focus groups when you standardize and ask the same set of questions over time, then you're able to compare apples to apples.

Speaker 2:

In Q1, it was this. Two years later, in Q1, it's this Okay, we can see that there's a difference because we have ensured that there's no change in what we are asking. So it's possible throughout the company, and then you can start testing. Okay, so if this is our standard question, if we change it to this, how does it change? Right, yeah, then you can start seeing.

Speaker 2:

But if you're constantly changing things then you have no baseline to measure against.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, super smart and I completely agree. It requires you to be very diligent in your design processes and very, very conscious of what it is you're putting out there and kind of a commitment level. So and I feel like this segues into a question that I ask all my guests, if you listen to the show before you know what's coming, which is to say, like you know, I love, I would love your kind of elevator pitch, quick definition of what you think digital customer success is based on your experience and your background and your criteria.

Speaker 2:

Honestly, I'm laughing because it is so silly. This is honestly this is all I can think of when I when I saw this question in your email and it's look ma no hands oh.

Speaker 1:

I love it.

Speaker 2:

Me versus high touch right. So it's the tools, it's the insights to do this the same thing that customer success is there to do right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Value outcomes for the customer.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, love it. Short and sweet. Look, ma no hands. I'm going to put that in the definition. I'm going to put that in the word math. It'll be good.

Speaker 2:

I don't think it's going to really show up in there.

Speaker 1:

Oh it will. It's going to be like that. No it'll be like the Easter egg. One of the many things we talked about, you know, before recording this show, was this notion of really wanting to elevate customer success to the adult table instead of, like you know, the kids table at your Thanksgiving feast or whatever feast it is you have. I'd love your insight on what that looks like for you and what that recipe to get there is. You know, based on what you're advising, you know, your clients on.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, this has become a personal mission of mine. I see what customer success is doing. Honestly, out of all the jobs I've had and I don't care I'll say my age I'm 51 years old.

Speaker 2:

I've been around the block a few times with different types of jobs. Customer success is, honestly, one of the best communities I've ever landed in and it hurt so much to see in. You know, 2022, throughout 2023 or late 2022, all the layoffs, all of the misconceptions of what customer success is that still float around. I see it on LinkedIn and it honestly, it breaks my heart. So I feel like this is my personal mission.

Speaker 2:

I want to help elevate customer success from the from the little table to the big table, kids table to the adults, and I've done a lot of thinking, of course, a lot of research, digging, digging around. How can I do this, given this little platter of skill sets that I have? And I came up with something I call the customer success gold mine framework. Customer success is is the only team that has such deep customer insights data. Sure, support has some sales, product marketing, but not to the degree that customer success does. And in trying to figure out how can customer success become essentially a critical business function, I was trying to trying to see okay, what can we do? Well, if you're sitting on this gold mine of customer insights data, one of the best things you could do is start feeding it to the rest of the company, but not just, not just sort of you know you're there and spreadsheet format.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, right.

Speaker 2:

But it's, it's through anyway. It's a, it's a framework. Go out, start talking. I say marketing first, not sales, not product. Go to your CMO, your head, your director of marketing and start there. And the reason is marketing is is so removed from the customers. They don't interact with them in the same way Product often does their own sort of, you know, user experience, user interface, research. So so they are sales, marketing isn't. And and speak with that CMO, head, director of marketing and say I'm sitting on this, this data here, how can I help you better attract ideal customers?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And start bridging that gap. So an example is you know, digging through to see, let's let's say your best customers, you're top 20%. They are doing things differently than the other 80%, and not just in terms of the outcomes they're getting. They think differently, they act differently, they see your product as fitting into their ecosystem differently. By sharing that level of information with marketing, then marketing can go out and find more of those types of customers.

Speaker 2:

And then once you've gotten proof of concept with marketing, then you can move on to product and sales. And then, by being this constant flow of customer insight data, that is essentially real time. Not only do you help bed, you know, find better customers I identify, you know the product roadmap in terms of features, faster sales but the bigger thing that customer success has is you hear what's changing with your customers faster than anybody else. That's right, and that becomes a competitive advantage.

Speaker 1:

So true, and like just you know, I think the go to is like customer success is like there to protect revenue and ensure the renewal. And you know kind of, you know NRR. That's why NRR and GRR like the gold metrics and standards and you know they're indicators for how a healthy a customer is, but that's like what the business is.

Speaker 1:

What the business has gone off of in terms of customer health by and large is whether they're renewing or not, and I love what you're saying about the fact that, yes, we are not only the collectors of data from all around the organization, but then we build on top of that by virtue of the relationship that we have with these customers. And I think where we're it was my personal opinion where we are we're entering into an interesting age where we have all of this data, but now we're starting to have these amazing tools that are coming in and producing these insights for us, using the data, without us having to, like go down Power BI rabbit holes and like all this kind of stuff. Like we're now starting to be able to easily generate insights that can be relevant cross functionally, which I think is fascinating. I think we're just scratching the surface on that stuff.

Speaker 1:

I agree, I agree yeah it's exciting, so it's, you know it's. It's like that should be the main product of a CS organization. Yeah, sure, we're there to help with the renewal, but the main product is like you know, what can we do? What can product do to you know to improve? What can marketing do to you know, drive advocacy, what can sales do to help?

Speaker 2:

I mean it's like, yeah, and I think what it is is customer success leaders do not really understand business. They don't understand how businesses run. By using this method and going over and I said going over is is if they're like walking over might be, but by, by creating this link with marketing, it's it starts to give give the customer success leader a better idea of what you're doing, what drives that CMO, what are their biggest challenges. And then you're sitting on this goldmine of customer insights data. How can you use that to improve their metrics, make their life better and at the same time, then you're starting to understand the front end of the business, right, and what, what's important there. So I and if you're wondering why I chose marketing, some people might, we and we might not get to it the reason is marketers are are open to trying new things. I think the stat is something like 80% of the campaigns they run fail they are.

Speaker 2:

they're much more open minded to saying to trying okay, let's try this, see how it goes, give it six months, let's and again track that data. Like you need to really standardize that process. What are the metrics we're going to track to see? Is there a difference before we instituted this and afterwards? And so, yeah, I just honestly think marketing is far more open. The other benefit is, if you happen to attract a lot more better fit customers, you're going to see it in the in the back end. They're in your own metrics.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly I think and I think there's a growing number of people that are starting to think this way, which is to say that CS as an org is all well and good and CSMs, I mean, are, you know, incredibly valuable. But this notion of actually conducting CS type business throughout the entire company, I think is a really interesting one and and in my view anyway, it's. It's it's kind of where we're going, where you know there's there, there are these, now, these processes and these systems around, like data hygiene and kind of inputs into the customer journey from various departments and what not, to where to where. Eventually, I think you know. Just, at least, my hope is that you know we are going to be focused holistically as a company on the customer and not just saying that because we've said that for for years, but, like you know, focused on the inputs into that journey and making sure that everybody has a has a piece of it, so to speak.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think it's, I think it's fascinating, I really do. I think customer success and it's the responsibility of CS leaders to step up and do this. Nobody's going to come to them and say hey, would you like to move from little kids table to the big table?

Speaker 2:

It's got to show that you're ready to be there, and it means researching, learning, understanding how businesses work. What drives your CEO? What drives your CFO? How is that different from what drives your COO Right and your, your, you know, cmo, your kind of product? Like all of these people, it's understanding. They all come from a different perspective and what matters most to them, if you can figure that out and go to them and say, hey, I have like all this data here that I think might be helpful for you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's not going to cost anything, right? You've already collected all of it, your time, or you can get tools to help me analyze it right? I think most of them would be open to the idea if you could could help you know better their mattress and help them out. I can't see many of them saying no, but marketing is still the easiest to go to, just in case.

Speaker 1:

Because there's a natural alignment there, for sure there is.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, we're going to take a little bit of a hard right, because you know, very recently, you posted on LinkedIn, I think a couple weeks ago, a video that you had made with hey Jen, which, if you haven't played with it, it's a fascinating tool, you know, which allows you to do all kinds of fun stuff AI generated video, fun stuff and translations as well was the was the example that you kind of posted about where, all of a sudden, you're speaking Spanish even though you don't speak Spanish, and so I was curious about a. Do you, are you the kind of person that kind of seeks out these kinds of tools and use cases, naturally? And then what are some of the cool ones that you found recently?

Speaker 2:

Because we're all tool nerds at the end of the day, it is like I'm becoming like overwhelmed with this new products being released all the time. I think what really fascinates me is how is it going to change our human to human interactions by interacting with AI? To me that's a more fascinating question than the actual tools themselves. So I commented on somebody's post today he's a Wharton professor, all about AI, and it was essentially the. It was in chat GPT and the prompt was saying that it can't do something. But he put he said yes, you can now do it. So it was like a really hard push and sure enough, ai came up. Or sorry, chat GPT came up with the answer. He was looking, or he was looking.

Speaker 2:

And I commented and said you know, this is great, but if we're getting used to with gen, gen AI being able to just be that harsh with it, you don't have to be polite, you don't have to be sensitive, because it has no emotion. Right, how, like? I'm starting to think. One level out how is that going to impact our relationships as customers with the company and the company with customers? And then, when you get a real life human on what's going to happen, are we just going to become so rude? Because we can be, because it has no emotion. I don't know like to me. So I also have. I haven't shared this in a long time. I also have a degree in philosophy. So you take my minority, you know geography degrees and qualitative research, and then you add in the whole philosophy, especially ethics. That's, that's what I focus on biomedical ethics.

Speaker 2:

I'm really curious to see how, how this is going to play out, because it was like such a statement. Yes, you know, now do it. And it was like wow. I wouldn't say that to you, alex, if you weren't giving me something that I thought you could do. Yeah, so.

Speaker 1:

I'm really I really wonder about that because, like I just like I mean, at the end of the day, the things that we're saying and the things that we are asking of you know, these algorithms, we are training it in a way, right, Everything that we input kind of finds its way in and kind of sticks there. So I wonder, as these things become more, I guess, more intelligent or more analogous of the human species, if those kinds of signals will kind of sway the responses and the outputs to be either really terse or extremely polite, Like I like to be polite with, you know, with chat GPT, just because it doesn't hurt, I use please and thank you. I mean it's like stupid, but it's like you know. So I guess the philosophical question, if you want to get right down to it, is you know, should we kind of be as we would want to be treated to? You know when we're prompting, and will that affect kind of the outputs in the aggregate?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm like you. So if this is how I want to be in the world, it's practiced Right. Being polite is practiced, being rude is practiced. I'm just really worried about and it's not going to be long Even with that. Hey, Jen, video of me speaking Spanish. That's still me. It was my face, it was everything had my gestures. It was crazy.

Speaker 1:

It's your voice.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, my voice. It was weird. It was, I have to say. It was really weird but cool at the same time to see it. But pretty soon we're not going to be able to discern what is Gen AI and what is a real human, and so I think of people in support, I think of CSMs Like how is that going to impact them and what they're able to do if people don't know what's real and what's not? Like it really comes down to the most basic thing, which is trust.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And our whole society is based on trust, like human civilization is. In order to survive, we must trust each other. We trust each other through rules, regulations, social norms. This is one of them. Right, be polite, be rude.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, I don't know, it's like just blows my mind. Anyway, I'm fascinated by it. Every day I'm researching stuff and it's moving so fast, it's so hard to keep up.

Speaker 1:

It really is.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And the trust factor that you mentioned is, I think, right now, probably the primary barrier I guess you can call it to really broad adoption. Because I mean, you know, I use chat TPD almost daily and use it for, you know, ideas generation, all that kind of stuff I use it to, you know, feed transcripts of these conversations into and, you know, glean some insights out, which is great, which is a great tool. But it's a long way away from me trusting it enough to just copy and paste the entire thing and put it somewhere. There's no frickin way, because A yeah, you know, some things are good, some things are bad. It's a great way to kind of, you know, make things more digestible. But also I think that you see these things being generated and they're very absolute, even if they're factually incorrect. They're, they're, they're. It's a little scary because it's. It's that whole kind of proliferation of false information come to a head with with gen AI. So it'll be interesting to see, kind of how that develops.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know. I think we're in for a wild ride. I'm one of these people, though, like I'm so curious, like my favorite question when I was a kid my parents nuts why? No? No mistake, I ended up. I ended up in academia.

Speaker 1:

You were one of those finding out why.

Speaker 2:

Why is it like this, what? And then the other question is what happens when I do this? I'm forever curious, and I do that in my, in my personal life as well. Like I, I. I'm just a naturally curious person. If, if something I always joke about this with my kids If a door doesn't explicitly say I can't go in, then I think it's open for me just looking and seeing what's behind it.

Speaker 2:

And that's led to some very fun stories over the years of oh God, great, there's mom again. You know I'm, I just I'm.

Speaker 1:

Who exactly is authorizing people to go through this door? Cause I think I'm authorized.

Speaker 2:

So, um, I think, much like we saw with social media when it when I first like I'm more thinking Facebook when social media, less so linked in, but the positive things we saw initially and then all the negative consequences. This is going to be the same but different at some point. Very quickly, alex, we are not going to be able to tell what is, uh, gen AI and and who is an actual person, like it is going to become so difficult, um, to tell the difference. And so what does that mean for for customers when they're sharing sensitive data? What does it like? It becomes a lot about privacy, about, yeah, oh, wow, it just like branches off in so many areas.

Speaker 2:

I I always, always think that being transparent, even though it might be difficult at times, is still a better way to approach things than to be opaque, uh, to lie to you know, um, to falsify things. I think once trust gets broken, it's it. Well, we know this. Once trust gets broken, it's very, very hard to repair. But going forward, I honestly don't know how customers are going to react when their trust is broken and their, their, privacy is, um, I don't want to say invaded, but Like.

Speaker 2:

I don't know like it's it's. I'm scared and excited at the the same. I keep you know, vacillating between these two Um yeah yeah, yeah, like we're, we're in an awesome time. I'm glad I'm alive. Oh, I'm so excited. And then I think that I'm such a nerd I really am. I keep thinking wow, I'm glad it wasn't born a hundred years ago, because yeah absolutely, absolutely, yeah, absolutely, totally.

Speaker 1:

Um, well, you know, but what you said, you know really hone. It hones in on something we were actually talking about pre show, which was this whole notion of you know, asking somebody how they are and like getting an honest response back from them, versus like this I'm fine, how are you? And I think, uh, you know, we're saying, like Europeans are quite good at this usually Like, if you ask somebody, you know, my, my dad lives in Vienna and if you, if you ask a Viennese how they are, buckle up because they're going to tell you how they are. Versus. That's not really the thing in like North America, where it's like yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm fine. How are you? It's kind of like, you know, informal, but if you know, I guess what I'm going at is being transparent with those kinds of things is something that is Relatively natural with another human, but I don't, and and and. What's interesting is is I can see a world where perhaps you're more inclined to be transparent with an AI bot versus another human, because maybe there's not like this judgment factor or you're less inclined, but you know it's it's. It's just interesting to see what use cases are going to evolve, what rapport building will look like in the future, like if you're, if you're sending an AI version of yourself into a QBR, like what does that mean?

Speaker 2:

Like what is that all about?

Speaker 1:

You know, yeah, so.

Speaker 2:

I don't know, fascinating.

Speaker 2:

It's really I was reading. In China they have these like live 24 hour product selling. There's a specific name for it and there's a company that now in I think it's less than a minute they can take a video of an influencer selling a product and they can create a generative avatar for them. That is really hard to tell Now, if this thing's going 24 hours a day, it's 11 o'clock at night. I wasn't reading that article and I was watching it. I would be hard-pressed to figure out that it's not a real human but because I was reading the article, I was watching the videos.

Speaker 2:

You could see, like some, some idiosyncrasies that gave it away. So they already have 400,000 of these avatars right now. Well, that was last month when I was reading it, so it's even more than that, and what they're looking to do is add in an emotional level to it. So, let's say, sales are kind of slow because it's two o'clock in the morning and many people aren't online. That avatar that is running live will be able to show disappointment. Right now it's sort of just talking. It doesn't have a heck of a lot of emotion to it.

Speaker 2:

But they said within the next six months they're going to add that whole level to it, and so with that it just makes it more convincing that you're watching the real person that that avatar is based on talking to you, interacting. Now, mind you, it's one to many, right. But what about? We can use this right now in customer success, with training, right? Do we actually need somebody live when you could just go get an avatar, give them the script, run it through, do it a couple of times, get your sort of standard questions that people ask, get it to answer as if it's live, like it's just blowing my mind. I get so excited by that and then I think, yeah, then what would you do with that CSM? What can they do instead of spending that if it's like, let's say, that runs an hour a week or two hours, you know if it's running twice a week? Anyway, fascinating, fascinating stuff.

Speaker 1:

It is fascinating. Part of me gets really excited about it. Like you, part of me wants to go buy a cabin in the woods, legit. Okay, but back on the topic of tools, are there some really cool things that are out there that you might want to enlighten us with?

Speaker 2:

I really honestly, I can't think of any like right now. All I can think of is that company that does it in China with those 400,000 avatars, like I guess. So, so, focused on that, there was H-E-G-N which H-E-Y-G-E-N one word Took me a sec to figure that one out. Yeah, I took, I think it was I had to upload a minute or a minute and a half of me speaking and then it translated it into Spanish and had me speaking Spanish. So I mean that's a fantastic tool.

Speaker 2:

But then you have like summarization tools, right Like chat, chibi-t being one, but there's other ones that are I know update AI is super. And then I was reading about Gainsight as well has something that just released Customer cheat sheet, which we just turned on Really and it's pretty dope.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like real quick.

Speaker 2:

There's so much other, and I guess it depends on what you're using it for becomes like really, there isn't a blanket Gen AI that's for every use case. You have to find those specific tools, like if it's education, like we talked about.

Speaker 1:

well, if you could take a script and now suddenly make it available and I think, hey, jen only has four or five languages major languages that it will translate to, but that could make it easier for somebody who English is not their first language and they prefer to listen to it, you know, in Plus I mean there are, there are, you know, l and D organizations that they're a massive element of their budget is dedicated to translation and regionalization and that, all of a sudden, if you're okay with having an avatar ish type not quite human person delivering your training, you've just saved yourself a ton of money, which is? Which is amazing. Yeah, we were, you know. I, part of my team, is like customer education, and so we've been toying with the idea of using things like, for instance, descript has as the ability for you to record some you know some voice into the tool and then you can feed it, feed it a script and have it read it back to you.

Speaker 1:

And I think where we kind of landed is, if you're going through an hour long e-learning course, you're not going to want to listen to that for an hour because it's pretty obvious that it's not human. But for like a three minute video, no problem, like perfect, let's go.

Speaker 2:

And I think maybe that's what it is for for right now. Like really short, I would just watch that little clip. I don't even, I don't even speak Mandarin, and it wasn't for what they were saying.

Speaker 2:

If I was, you know, if I knew Mandarin, maybe I could pick up some subtleties, but most of us when we're watching this we're tired, maybe we're a little distracted, our brains might pick up that something isn't right, but we might not be consciously aware of it. So that's an ideal place to do it and like, if you think in six months how much this is going to advance, then maybe three minute becomes 10, becomes 15, becomes the full hour, like we're going to get there in a really short period of time.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, so too, amazing time. And speaking of time, we are almost out of time, which is a real shame because I feel like we could keep going, but it's amazing right.

Speaker 2:

My hands are sweaty with excitement.

Speaker 1:

But before we go, I always like to ask folks what they're paying attention to. You know what, what podcasts you listen to? Books, you're reading things you want to share with the audience that they should check out to.

Speaker 2:

So how about we take another like 90 degree turn? Sure, we're fascinated with the AI stuff, but it just became overwhelming to keep up, so I focus heavily on mindset. And so there's a couple of podcasts I listen to. One is I like some of the stuff Lewis House puts out, so H-O-W-E-S. But I'm a real big fan actually of Dr Joe Dispenza. Oh cool, yeah, never checked out his stuff. Wow, it is like amazing.

Speaker 2:

I discovered it years ago and I'm just so fascinated because it's not just Woo-Woo out there stuff. He's bringing scientific rigor to it. They are collecting data content, like now. At this point it's tens of thousands of data points to prove that this works, and so it kind of, in some ways, reminds me of what customer success needs to do. Okay, that was great in the beginning, but now you've got to start like really getting serious about what you're collecting, standardize it so that you can prove. Hey, look, we've got the numbers to show that this works. And this is how we collected the data, and it wasn't just you know we, we grabbed some numbers and threw them together. There's a process with rigorous behind this. So I really like Dr Joe's stuff. And then for fun totally fun.

Speaker 2:

I like listening to Dr Mike. And he goes by DOCTOR. So Dr Spelled out Mike on YouTube yeah, he's he's. He's a young guy, family physician, but really is big on dispelling misinformation in the medical community and he's so. I think he would have been in customer success If he, if he didn't end up being a doctor like he's. He's just got such a big heart, young guy, and he's a boxer Pretty interesting.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I think he's got more than 10 million subs now on on YouTube, Dang that's a pretty big audience. He's doing, doing quite, quite well and he's very open about you know his own struggles, his own challenges and and that's why I like it, I think he, like I said, I think he would have done very well in customer success. I've had him, I've wound up being a doctor.

Speaker 1:

Being a doctor, and yeah, that's. That's so cool. That's so cool. Thanks for sharing. I always, I always love when folks share things that aren't necessarily customer success related but are tangentially related, which is great. How can people find you, engage with you, hang out with you? You know all of that good stuff.

Speaker 2:

My second favorite place to hang out after Netflix is LinkedIn. Honestly, no joke.

Speaker 2:

My kids walk by when I'm commenting on and I'm laughing to myself, I'm smiling. They're like they walk by my office. They're like you know I'm so weird. You know I love to engage with people. So LinkedIn, definitely, definitely. And if you want to check out, we've got tons of downloads and stuff to make your life easier. It's atiac is my company's website and so really geared to customer success leaders, but there's there's downloads, like for CSM's, on the 45 best customer questions you can ask, no email required, just go and have at it. Download them all.

Speaker 1:

If you want Get her done.

Speaker 2:

And start using them. Yep, get her done.

Speaker 1:

That's great. 10 out of 10 can recommend Go there Absolutely, and we'll drop a link down in the description as well, so you can get there very, very easily. Well, I, I love talking with you. You, as you pointed out, you are a LinkedIn staple. You're posting, your comments are like stellar always you know providing value, and I love your general approach to things all CS related. So I really appreciate you taking the time out and and joining us today. It's been a great, great combo.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, this is. This has been a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it, Alex, and yeah, I hope honestly, I really hope that that something I said has helped somebody else or unlock an insight that they've been struggling with. Like that's always my goal is to try to provide something that's helpful and make somebody's life just a little bit easier.

Speaker 1:

That's great, I think. I think we probably scratched the surface on a lot of things, definitely Maybe planted a few seeds for sure. Well, thanks again, and I hope you have a good rest of your day.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, thank you, take care, see ya.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the digital customer success podcast. If you like what we're doing, consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. It really helps us to grow and to provide value to a broader audience. You can view the digital customer success definition word map and get more details about the show at digitalcustomersuccesscom. My name is Alex Turkovich. Thanks again for joining and we'll see you next time.

Digital Customer Success Podcast Announcement
Academic Background and Transition to CS
Standardizing Customer Feedback for Patterns
AI's Impact on Human Relationships
Avatar Technology and Customer Success