Episode 78 Transcript
Welcome to building better managers, the better manager podcast with Wendy Hanson, where we talk with top leadership professionals about strategies you can use today to create a happier, highly engaged and more productive workplace. Now, here's your host better manager, co founder Wendy Hanson
Welcome everyone. We are so happy to have you here. Today we got to talk to some team members inside of bettermanager. Have you ever had a bad customer experience? It could have been in a store buying online or as an HR and l&d leader buying Professional Services to develop your team. You just couldn't get what you needed and you didn't feel supported. We know it bettermanager that working together with our partners to provide coaching and group training to help people thrive at work is our mission. Today you'll meet three members of the team and get a sense of customer success at bettermanager. So let me tell you who we are lucky enough to talk to today. Kate Rath, she's our VP of Customer Success at better manager, and has been here almost since we were born. Her career has spanned leadership development, international public health, work, communications and the arts. Kate holds a Master's of Science in international relations from the London School of Economics. And then we have Lewis Vidas on her team Luis. Luis is a customer success manager based in Honduras with over 12 years of experience in various industries, including call center BPO, real estate, outsourcing and leadership development. With a diverse background spanning roles as a corporate trainer, senior trainer, Training Manager, recruiting manager, property manager, account manager, Solutions Architect, and customer success manager. Luis brings a wealth of experience and a very well rounded set of skills to work. Luis is committed to driving growth, delivering exceptional results and making a positive impact in every endeavor. And then we have Rafael to Niko referral is a dedicated professional driven by a genuine passion for driving customer success. We see that all day when we're on calls with him. With a background in business and finance, Raphael has served as a key account manager and customer success manager contributing to the growth and positive outcomes of multiple startup ventures. Raphael leverages his skills and experience to contribute to the success and advancement of the organizations, both within the realm of customer success and beyond. So welcome to you all, I'm so happy to have you here. I'm going to start with Kate. Kate, what excites you about working at bettermanager and the larger mission that we have to help people thrive at work?
It's great to be here. Wendy, thanks so much for having us. You know, like a lot of people, I've had jobs that I've really loved. Organizations I respect a lot. But sometimes I'd run into that situation where you have the technical skills you're doing okay, but you run into that stereotypical bad boss, or a management team that just is sort of demoralizing to the culture that you're working in. And I always thought, you know, why does it have to be this way? You know, why do we have to go into a work setting with intelligent people where everyone has gifts to give. And you'd see people walk out sort of demoralized, not wanting to bring their whole self not wanting to use their voice. And the first time I came to bettermanager there was, you know, I met the team, and they started talking about what was possible in a workplace, you know, how can we bring empathy? How can we teach managers the skills they need to really help people to develop, you know, how do we lift up the people that we work with, so they can be successful? And that idea that I wouldn't see, you know, my partner coming home complaining about their boss, I wouldn't hear my friends say, you know, I think I have to look for another job. My boss is so awful. You hear it pretty frequently. And this idea that we can give managers the tools they need to be successful to really support people so we can hear their voice, they can bring their authentic self to work, so they could go home at the end of the day and not, you know, bring that negativity back into their family life was just this exciting idea to me, that we can have that kind of reach that we can really make an impact in people's lives.
Yeah, it is so true, Kate, that people leave managers, not companies. And so that's the thing that at bettermanager, we're trying to make sure, Luis, tell us what what excites you about working for BetterManager?
Well, I would have to say, Wendy that it's our services. And it's because in a past life, I delivered l&d trainings, I also trained leaders on how to coach effectively. So I know how powerful that can be. And I'm a true believer of our offerings. And I'm a true evangelist. And I know that we can actually help everyone and anyone thrive at work.
That's great. That's great. And Raphael, what about you?
I, Wendy, for me, personally, it's the better manager, the culture here is incredible. We're all super collaborative, we want to help each other out. And we feel that we can have an impact at an organization level with what we're doing. And I love that feeling.
Yeah, well, the three of you have done such an amazing job. Because, you know, you connect so closely with sales, and you just make sure that things go if there's any problems. So it's really been a great gift for us to be able to have a team like yours. And Kate, for people that don't quite know what customer success is. And as an organization, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yeah, definitely. You know, I think sometimes people don't know what customer success is, and, and how I see customer success is really, our job is to make sure the customers working with better manager are getting the most value out of the work we do together. And so one of the things we talk about a lot as a team is how do we make sure we're aligned with what the customer wants, because they're unique, right? Like every company is not suffering from the exact same pain point, some are going through an acquisition, some just want to make sure their new managers are empowered, some want to make sure their executives can really coalesce as a team. So the needs are really varied. When we're working with a company and our customer success managers there, one of their primary goals is to understand what the company is looking for in terms of their goals, and objectives and making sure that we deliver on that outcome. And now just thinking about one of my favorite examples of our work with our customers, we had started working with a big international organization, and they wanted to roll out a year long leadership journey to their managers who were new managers and middle managers. And we spent months meeting with them designing, you know, how we can use the curriculum we have, how we can match it with our coaching services, our group coaching services, our 360 surveys into this journey for their managers. And we were doing programs for people in North America and Europe and also in the Ukraine. And Luis was their customer success manager. And when the conflict broke out in the Ukraine, we were on the phone with them right away, and not just asking, you know, how do we continue to implement this, but what do you need? How do you support the people that are in the Ukraine? And what can we do to help? And that was an ongoing conversation, you know, do they want this kind of training? Will it help them? What timing should we have? And, you know, we pause that work for a long time and stay in close contact with the team. And when we went back and re implemented it, we had the highest attendance out of any group we worked with in that company, we had great feedback. And I think it just showed that level of connection we had to the company, to really understanding where they were, and really delivering on results that could be impactful at the right time. So I love that example of just that partnership, working together.
I love that too. Because it shows that it's just not about us getting business, it's about us caring about people. And you all demonstrated that so well. And to know that, you know, we were more interested in how we can help in any way than them doing business? And I'm sure it made a big impact. So thank you for that. Wow. You know, Kate, when you started this, we said Yeah, put together a CS team, you know, from the ground up? And, how did you begin to do that and connect to better managers' purpose and everything when you first started the team?
Well, when we were first starting early, as you mentioned, I've been here since you know, sort of close to the inception of bettermanager. And one of the things we all wanted to do is be able to be more proactive with our customers and not just reactive to their needs. And when I was thinking about building a customer success team, I thought, you know, what are the profiles of people I needed? You know, as you start to build the team, and also what are the best practices in customer success? And I think one of the lessons I've learned from a better manager is you don't know what you don't know. And then don't be scared to admit it and go learn it and I wasn't scared. I did go learn and I had the support of the internal team. A better manager to go do that? So, you know, I read, I watch videos, I follow leaders and customers to success to see what they are doing? And how can we replicate it, but with a special better manager stamp. So when I was looking to hire, I did look for empathy, you know, a high level of emotional intelligence, I wasn't just looking for a background in account management. And I think that really brought to life sort of the better manager ethos of, you know, we put our customers first. Because we really genuinely care about outcomes, we want them to be able to see impact in the work that they do. We want their employees to feel the impact of our work. And it's not just lip service, we want to make sure we can deliver on that. So it was a really exciting time, you know, building the framework and the foundation. And then once the team came, and we were building together, it got even more exciting, because then you have the voices from the team really lifting up that work, making it better refining it, telling me what they were learning, talking to customers. So then it became really a collaboration.
Yeah. Oh, that's great. And it certainly has, you've done such a great job of moving it along over these years. And it's so successful now. Luis, could you describe to us what is the role of a customer success manager at bettermanager, and in a better manager part is important, because as Kate just said, it may not be like other companies do it. So I'd love to hear your perspective on that. Yes, absolutely.
So we, we are the customers' strategic and supportive partners throughout the length of our partnerships, right from the onboarding process, we're going to make sure to close all the gaps by becoming the bridge between our clients and all of the better manager teams to make sure that their goals and objectives are accomplished. And as well, once a program is implemented, we will have a walkthrough session where we're going to show them their insights dashboard, which shows them the data about their better, better manager engagement. But we also have frequent check-ins where we're going to meet with them, and review the insights, the data, the feedback and help them out in any way that we can. And that for our larger programs that we deliver, we have in a program debrief meeting for we're going to share results and trends in order for clients to take informed decisions on the next steps for their ongoing staff development.
Wow. Yeah, it is. And you use all the tools, so Well, a better manager, you know, to show them the dashboard and show them the feedback, we want to make sure that that's out there. And that's just so important to people, because we're working on a big ROI study now, so we can help companies see, if we invest in some of these things, it's really going to make a difference to the people that we serve. And we're going to be moving up the skills of all of our managers. So the work you do is so important towards that as we go into the future, when they
asked to add in. Sorry, I just would add in that one of the things I think about for the customer success managers, because they wear a lot of hats, you know, their project managers, they're, you know, they make the onboarding, smooth and easy. That's what I would say they sort of extend that learning and development or whoever we're working with, and just make it easy to get into the programs, track them and get information. But also, the other thing they do for us as a company is they bring the customer's voice back to us. So it's a critical role they play where they can really give us insights, what's working, what's not, what can we do better. So I think, as a better manager believes in this cycle of feedback, they also really help educate the rest of us on what else do we need to do for us, programmatically with our product with, with our approach to the people we work with? And so, you know, they really, they, they bring a lot to the organization, and they also keep a lot of plates spinning at the same time.
Yes, that's such a good point. Kate. Yeah, thanks for putting that in there. And I don't think we understand exactly what people do during a day, you know, in any of our roles. But I think Raphael can kind of give us what's a day in the life of being a customer success manager.
So we pretty much spend 100% of our time actively thinking about our clients or our customers or meeting with them, or just actively thinking of being great partners for them. So we know what their needs are, what their challenges are, how can we help them? We meet with several people throughout the day, which also entails internal meetings because not today's day goes by in which we don't Meet with the sales team or the programs, the more that product team because as Kate mentioned, we need to bring the voice of the customer back to the company, and what their struggles are and what they want to achieve. So pretty much 100% of our day, we were actively thinking about all of our customers.
Yeah, that's great. And I see that in action all the time. And one of the pieces of our culture is about being collaborative. And when you talk about making sure that you meet with sales, and you meet with product, and you meet with anybody in coaching makes such a big difference. So Raphael, when you first started at bettermanager, what was it that surprised you the most?
Something that was a great surprise, when we started was how much we really practice what we preach here, better manager. We did different programs, like a desk like Clifton Strengths, just to really get to know each other better, and to understand how we can work as a team better and more efficiently. And we also all worked with a personal one on one coach. And that was an incredible experience. So when we say that our mission is to help everyone thrive at work, it's not only an external mission, but an internal mission as well.
Yeah, I love that you get coaching, you know, from a better manager, team member, because then you can speak to that experience. You know what it is? And I don't think in many companies, everybody has that opportunity. So yeah, great. And Kate, you know, you've worked so hard with your team developing such a strong culture, and doing such fun things, too. Can you talk a little bit about that, and your management philosophy,
we do have a lot of fun, which, you know, better managers 100% remote. So actually having fun is hard to figure out sometimes. So early days, Raphael was mentioning we first started from a place of how do I how do we come to trust one another, you know, we're in different countries. We've, we haven't met face to face ever. And we're a really coalesced team. But that started with first let's do values exercises, you know, who are we? Who are you? How do you want people to work with you? When we did the Clifton Strengths Finder, what are Raphael strengths I should know about as a manager versus Luis and they come with different strengths to the team. And I value that. And so I can give them different, both of them own different projects for our team that are based on the strengths that they have. And in that way, they really thrive at those jobs, because they're naturally good at them. But I learned that from doing Clifton Strengths Finder. And I did the other thing that I really believed strongly in early when creating the team was how do we create transparency? And also, how do we build this idea that feedback is welcome. So the CSMs are now currently in a process where they're watching each other's calls giving each other feedback, they're reading each other's notes, saying what could be doing better, and they are asking for feedback from one another. And I'm not even in that loop, I don't need to be able to give each other feedback, talk about how they handle things. So they built a feedback loop internally themselves. And also, I wanted to be on a team where I wasn't building it by myself. So I think there's this mistake, like, if I'm going to lead a team, I have to do everything on my own, the ideas have to come from me, and then I'm going to implement them. And my belief is the team can come up with ideas, we'll discuss them, and then we'll build it together. I do keep my eye on sort of the strategic vision of customer success. I recently went to a conference out there and just to see, you know, what are people doing? What are we missing? What more can we be thinking about? But I knew I would bring those ideas back to the team. And we discussed them and figured out what makes sense to us. What do we want to do next to push this forward? And so that's, that's been a real gift of having a team to work with for me. And then the fun. I mean, I think I might have to turn this over to Luis and Raphael. I mean, they really brought the fun, and it is so much fun. And I think once you have that fun together, when a mistake is made, you come to somebody else and say, oh, gosh, I did this, can you help me? There's not not no fear of sort of not having that connection. So I'll turn it over to them. But I've loved that they've helped to build a really fun culture in this team.
Yeah, it's a fun culture. And I hear so much about trust because this is what we coach managers about all the time. If you know the people on your team, well, you know them personally, you're much more able to be able to help them move forward. And also the things that you say, Kate about delegation, you know, it's like, you don't have to be a leader doesn't mean you know everything. Being a leader means you help people move ahead, right. And that's the beauty of it. And unfortunately some managers still don't have that, you know, they think oh my god, I'm supposed to know everything but the best thing a leader can say is, I don't know, figure this out.
And they often have great I mean, they, they bring great ideas and you miss out if you don't have that. We also do professional development every quarter of the year. And they pick those goals. And we check in and see if they're working on them, and how I can support them. So they can also see growth in their role over time. Which I also find fun, because you see them put new challenges in front of themselves. And that's part of our professional development trainings we do here at bettermanager, you know, how do you encourage people to keep growing in the roles they have today? And that's also been a fun part of our work together.
Yeah. So when you hear about this culture, when you experience this culture, referral, and Luis, how does it impact your day to day referral when you start us on that one?
Sure. And I'll follow up with what Kate mentioned about transparency. I really do feel that that radical transparency that we have within the team has brought us to a culture of excellence. Because if we ever make a mistake, if we ever, if something doesn't go as planned, we feel comfortable bringing it back to the team, and not passing the blame onto someone else. Not sugarcoating the situation, we really feel. And we know that mistakes are allowed, it happens. And we appreciate the feedback that we'll get. And I feel that trust that Kate really focused on building when she was putting the team together, brought us to this space where we feel invited to talk about our struggles, and to really improve and constantly improve our process, the way we work, the way we interact with one another with customers. So definitely, that transparency.
Yeah, transparency is so important. It's really creating that psychologically safe space, you know, so that people can be themselves and can say, Yeah, I need help on this. Yeah. Louise, what would you add to this?
Well, as Raphael mentioned, a better manager has a great company culture. And I love the fact that we live and practice it on a daily basis in our team, Kate and Raphael, they've done a great job. Putting together many team activities that help us come together as a group, we get to know each other on a more personal level. And that just makes us a stronger team. We have coffee chats, Team lunches, holiday celebrations, podcast discussions, Team trivias, we film ourselves and send V logs. And we've even created our own real Slack channel. And I've been fortunate to work in several remote environments. And by far, this is the best opportunity I've had to feel the closest to my remote team, which makes a huge difference.
It's going to be an exciting day when the three of you get to meet first, yes,
absolutely. We can't wait.
Yes. And as an organization that we were born to be virtual, you know, so that we could really serve people all over the world and our team is all over the world. Yeah, that's, that's one of the things now that the pandemic is over, that everybody longs for in the future. So, hopefully, that will be in our future at some point. And that, and Kate, you know, what's the impact you would say that the customer success team has had on the customers that we serve?
So I think, you know, primarily, we're often matched with the EDA, the chief people officer or the head of learning and development, but we work with other heads of area heads of sales marketing. And, one of the things I think we do is that our team can almost act as an extension of them in terms of accomplishing their goals. So when we're working with the chief people officer, or the head of l&d, their goal really is, you know, how do they empower their staff to do the best they can at their job. And sometimes they're faced with limited time, limited money. And, you know, often a large pool of people they need to train, and, and support. So I think one of the things our team can do is partner to figure out, you know, what are you already doing internally, that's working well for you? And where do you see the gaps? Or what are your particular pain points at the moment to really think about what we can offer as an organization that would best suit them in a way that would be cost effective, but still really drive results. So I think what we end up seeing with the companies we work with as a customer success team is that that partnership leads to strong outcomes for them. And what we really want to do is show that at the end of the day, investing in this kind of work really has a return that's, you know, a profit for them. means that at the bottom line can get impacted if their culture improves, the work improves. And then you see all of the work elevated, you see teams functioning better, you see managers managing better. And then at the end of the day, you see better business outcomes. So I really hope our work is sort of at that partnership, but all the way through to really seeing outcomes for the customers we work with that are positive business outcomes for them.
And that's really what's most important, isn't it, you know, that we want a company to have better business outcomes, we want them to one of our, one of our client companies said, Oh, my gosh, you know, I don't consider better manager and all a vendor, I consider them part of our team, you know, and I would, I would cut other things, you know, even people may be in the organization, just so I wouldn't have to cut butter manager because we are an extension of them. So when people talk about us like that, it shows that what we're doing all around is really working. So, you know, I want to kind of skip to like, what's the biggest lesson that you've learned so far? Luis, would you start us on that? What's the biggest lesson you've had, since you've worked with bettermanager.
And as you shared in my bio, when I came from the call center industry, I was there for a very long time. And there, they have a motto where time is money. So I've always been stressed about prioritizing pupils and respecting people's time. And I would only schedule meetings when it was absolutely necessary. However, under the guidance of Kate, and with the help from my peers, I've learned that in order to foster strong relationships, it requires embracing the human aspect.
Yes, absolutely. I think when companies don't do that, they miss out on a lot. You know, that's just, you know, it just is not as successful people want to be seen, just like people want to be seen on teams, you know, people in companies want to be seen. Absolutely. Yeah. And Raphael, what would you add to that?
I'd say my, my most powerful, powerful lesson I've learned so far, I can attribute to Karen vents are VP of coaching, who have you interviewed in the past, I had reached out to Karen because I wanted to sharpen my coaching skills, just because I have I've managed so many relationships, both internally and externally as well, that I figured those skills would come in handy. And she gave me this specific piece of advice that really changed the way that I show up to all interactions in it is to always assume good intentions. This has helped me just to hope and expect the best of people and not to make assumptions about why someone's doing something or about other's intentions when they're interacting with me. And that has really changed every interaction that I've had, since she told me this, it really has become like one of those life models going forward. So I really appreciate that from Karen.
Oh, that's great. And we all know, Karen Benz is terrific at what she does, you know, leading all of our coaches and, and that sage advice she comes out with all the time, you know, if we have a question about something, Karen says, well, let's, let's always assume good intentions and not assume that something else is happening. And then that will always move you in the right direction. That's great. That's great. Kate, do you want to add anything to that of what you've learned so far?
I mean, I would say I feel like I learned something every day. And that's, that's one of the biggest lessons for me is just be open to what you can learn, you know, I've found that every time I think I've hit a limit, if I'm open minded about it, then I can go past it. And I think the lesson for me is just, you know, feedback is a gift, figuring out what you can do better, you know, listening to your team. And one of the biggest lessons for me is sort of, if you can dream it, you talk to people about it, you can build it and do it. And, and that's such an empowering feeling that we can really move this company forward in positive ways just by coming up with new ideas, and working together to get them done. And we have such nice partners to collaborate with across the organization, that it's really, it's really been a great lesson for me to just know, there's always more to learn.
Yeah. It's really a life lesson right for all of us, that we can all keep learning and growing. And speaking of that, what's your vision? Kate, your goal for the CES team in the future as you continue to build this as we grow further and further up as an organization?
Well, the team likes to dream big. So when we have conversations we do Think about a big future for all of us. And of course, you know, we're not immune to all of the discussions around AI. How can we use it to help our customers make the onboarding process smoother, answer their questions more efficiently? And we're always thinking about how we can make getting into better manager programs, onboarding, and the entire experience really add value to the customers we work with? So the future I see for customer success is really, when I think of it as just expansive, you know, I think about hiring people who continue to have that level of emotional intelligence, we need to really understand our customers. And I think about what tools can I give to them, so they can elevate their work out of, you know, any kind of, you know, mundane tasks, so they can really spend their time on building those relationships, having those important conversations alongside our sales team programs, team and product teams, and really give our customers the best possible experience they can.
Yeah, well, that's a great vision for the future. Yes. And we are so lucky to have the three of you who are able to think so big and think about how we can always be making things you know, better and different. And we've got such a great engineering team and a great product team and a great program team. So with everybody working together, it's really going to make a difference for the people we serve, because we want everyone to thrive at work. And that includes HR managers, and learning and development managers, because they have a tough job these days, you know, the economy is really, you know, everybody's being impacted, and we want to make sure that we can support them, we can find costs of cost effective solutions for them, so that they can really take care of their people and their people will grow. And then when their people grow and their managers grow, it really will make even a much bigger difference in companies. So are there any last words? Is there anything as as we're closing up that that you would like to say that you didn't say before, either of you,
Just thank you. It's a pleasure to be here today. And really, you know, it's great to be here with three of my favorite people to work with. And just a pleasure to do this with us. And thank you.
Oh, well, thank you all. And I think everybody that's listening will be able to see that, you know, a better manager, we really care deeply. And I think that's a lesson that everybody needs to understand that it's not just about business, because we want people's business to get better. But we also want to meet people where they are. And I think you can hear from talking to this wonderful customer success team that that is in the forefront of their mind all the time. So if you have any questions at all, please feel free to send me an email and I will get in touch with a member of the team if you have our specific questions when the ad better manager.us It's been a pleasure to be with you all and thank you, Kate, Luis and Rafael for being with me today.
Thank you for having us.
For more information, show notes and any downloads for today's podcast. Please visit us at better manager.us/podcast Be sure to join us again and help us continue to build better managers with another insightful interview.