Strikedeck Radio - Episode 60


Check out Episode 60 of Strikedeck Radio, featuring Ruicong Yan, Team Lead of Global Operations at TripActions. Our CEO, Kristen Hayer, and Riocong discuss why it is important to connect Customer Success and Product Development.

Strikedeck Radio is a partnership between Strikedeck and The Success League. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and anywhere else you get your podcasts or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to get updates on new episodes.

Meet Us at Denver Startup Week!

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The Success League will be attending Denver Startup Week next week. Come meet up with us and hear from local leaders on the topic of Customer Success & Sales Delivering Unified Customers First Experiences. We look forward to seeing you there!

Panel discussion date: Wednesday, September 18, 2109
Time: 12-1:30 pm
Location: Jake Jabs Center at CU Denver - 5th Floor (Laube Commons)
1475 Lawrence Street, 5th Floor Laube Commons

For more information on Denver Startup Week, please go here.

For registration for the panel discussion, please go here.

A Little More on Culture Fit...


This post was originally posted in August 2017 and is still relevant today!

By Kristen Hayer

I previously wrote an article about 3 kinds of interviews that can hurt your recruiting process and drive away good candidates. While that article made the point that you can focus too much on culture fit during the interview process, how well a team member engages with the rest of the team is very important. How do you balance culture fit and job performance? What do you do when one of the members of your team isn’t fitting in? Here’s my take on culture:


Culture fit, at the highest level, means that each employee is aligned with the corporate mission and values. For example, if integrity is a company value, then in order to fit the company’s culture each employee should demonstrate that they are honest in their dealings with coworkers and customers. Another core part of culture fit is the ability to work effectively with other members of the group. Can employees influence others and drive change through relationships? That is culture fit at work. Employees who fit well with the culture also perform at the same level as the rest of the group. For example, it can be a mismatch when one person takes a casual, slow approach to their work while the rest of the group is performing at a significantly faster pace. Finally, a critical part of fitting in with any culture is openness to being managed and coached. While new employees may come in generally aligned with the company and team, a great manager will help each team member become an even better fit over time.


Unfortunately culture fit is often interpreted to mean being well liked, friends with everyone, and similar to other teammates. This interpretation can create real problems in terms of diversity and performance. If you only hire people who are just like the rest of your team, you may be missing out on skills and strengths that come from people who are different. For example, if your team is boisterous and outgoing but one team member is quiet and spends the day focused on work, that doesn’t necessarily mean that person isn’t a culture fit. If the quiet person works well with others and performs at the same level as the rest of the group, I would argue that they are a culture fit. Likewise, while it can be fun to have a team where everyone is friends both inside and outside of the office, that isn’t a requirement for culture fit. A teammate can be a great team player and able to effectively influence others without being friends with everyone.


So what do you do as a leader when you notice that someone on your team isn’t fitting in? Before you go down the path of moving them off your team, it may be worth exploring what is going on. Start by learning more about them. What are their strengths? How do they like to work? What do they get excited about? Building a relationship with your team member will teach you how to help them fit in. Make room for them on the team by helping other team members understand their perspective. The more your team gets to know about this person, the more they will accommodate their differences. Finally, be willing to be uncomfortable. It is human nature to want to be around people that are similar to us, but if we do that we’re missing out on the benefits that people who are different bring to the table. Stepping outside of your comfort zone, and encouraging your team to do the same, can result in a diverse and higher performing group.

Do you need help creating a model (including a culture fit component) of your ideal CSM? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that will work with you to build a custom hiring kit, including a role model, job description and interview questions. Visit our website for more information about our services –

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Kristen Hayer - Kristen believes that customer success is the key to driving revenue, client retention and exceptional customer experiences. Her areas of expertise include developing success goals and metrics, designing the optimal customer journey, selecting technology, training teams, and building playbooks. Prior to founding The Success League, Kristen built and led several award-winning customer success teams. Over the past 20 years she has been a success, sales, and marketing executive, primarily working with growth-stage tech companies. Kristen has her BA from Seattle Pacific University and her MBA from the University of Washington.

Leverage Your Champions

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By Andreas Knoefel

Books describing business champions routinely top the New York Times Best Sellers list because we are curious to learn how some executives excel. I use the same competitive spirit within my customer portfolio to increase adoption, business value achievement and net revenue by identifying champions and pointing other customers to their achievements.

Success Story: One of my customers was “cruising along.” Good adoption, good executive sponsorship and a solid relationship. They had the potential to go from good to great, but they were hesitant to embark on an effort with (in their minds) questionable ROI.

I put them in touch with one of our champions and they witnessed first-hand what was achievable. They added premium capabilities and made our solution a reference architecture for the entire enterprise. The account value for us more than tripled over 2 years, all because of one introduction.

Here is my process for establishing a baseline, defining playbooks and identifying champions.

Step 1: Set the Baseline

When I define a customer journey, I generally have a good idea what the typical customer should achieve, when, and how. It contains key milestones and dates like:

  • Day 5: First login

  • Day 10: Configuration complete

  • Day 90: Executive Business Review (EBR) 1 – 75% of target business value achieved

  • Day 270: EBR 2 – 100% of business value achieved

As you think about your own customer journey and timing, these tips can help you avoid common pitfalls:

a) Confirm the dates and goals with your high-touch and low-touch customers directly. You don’t need a fantasy league version of the best possible circumstances, but a realistic set of expectations. For tech-touch customers, provide a recommendation that sets some expectations, and encourage your customers to reach out to you if they are falling behind.

b) Over time you may find that you need to set different goals and timelines for various segments, customer sizes, and product configurations.

c) Run your program in “silent mode” for a period of time and validate your assumptions against your actual customer base. If customers aren’t following the timeline closely, it is an indication that you may need to adjust.

d) Don’t assume your customers are on track. Ideally, implement in-app telemetry that is linked to these milestones. Nothing is worse for a struggling new customer than an “Congratulations e-mail” from your marketing automation system when they are frustrated with getting even simple steps completed.

Step 2: Define the Playbooks

Once the baseline is established, three types of customer typically surface. I call them Champions, Cruisers, and Laggards.


Champions: At the top are my dream customers: they exceed all expectations, accelerate their onboarding, use all the bells and whistles AND surpass their business value targets. These are my champions and deserve dedicated attention:

a) Celebrate their achievements as publicly as possible: press releases, keynote speaker engagements, webinars, reference calls, innovation awards. For those who cannot be named publicly, have an internal celebration to acknowledge the sponsor and other core members.

b) Synthesize their unique “essence”: Did they have a higher-level executive sponsor, are they integrated with a specific software package, or did they have a dedicated project manager? This knowledge is priceless for developing lead qualification criteria, sales plays, best practices, and success playbooks.

c) Define a reference model for other customers and users to follow. Whoever is not in your top layer may want to get there, and now your team can guide them together to win the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

d) Invite them to your customer council. They already pushed the boundaries of your solution and were ready for more. Their proposals drive innovation, and they are motivated to adopt the new capabilities. They support the marketing of these enhancements as vocal advocates.

Cruisers: Hopefully the majority of your customers achieve the business value they expected within a typical timeframe. Cruisers are customers on a stable course, and they are perfect targets to connect with a Champion to drive even stronger performance.

a) Assess if the customer is able to achieve more. Maybe they have done all they can with their resources.

b) Focus primarily on maximizing the customer’s value, and explore subscription increases or new products as a secondary objective. Maximizing customer value fends off churn better than anything else.

Laggards: The third band of customers lags behind general expectations and holds the highest churn risk. How to rescue customers in distress is a separate discussion and worth its own future blog post.


Step 3: Segmentation

With these playbooks in hand, I stack-rank customers along the baseline. This enables you to consider the customer’s actual status. Combined with the other segmentation of your customers, along with their business value definitions, you have the tools in place to pair like-minded customers along the same reference model.

. . . . .

Once I adopted this three-step process with my customers and had it up and running for a few quarters, I was able to embellish the customer journey and playbooks with the knowledge I gained.

Looking for more tips on how to identify and leverage your champion? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a CSM Certification Training Program which includes classes such as Business Strategy for CSMs and Executive Business Reviews. For more information on these and our other classes and consulting services please visit our website at

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Andreas Knoefel - Andreas is the inventor of the Customer Success Performance Index™ and a passionate customer success leader. He applies his practical and holistic approach to startups and giants alike, combining his Ph.D. from KIT and MBA from Santa Clara with his international experience leading customers to success. Andreas finds work-life balance through modernist cooking, outdoors photography and teaching high-octane cycling classes.