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Customer Success leader spotlight: Mary Poppen, involve.ai
Welcome back to our Customer Success leader spotlight series, where we get candid with the leaders behind today’s most customer-centric organizations about their career stories, takes on the industry, and lessons learned along the way.
Get to know involve.ai Chief Strategy and Customer Officer Mary Poppen. Involve.ai is a customer intelligence platform that uses artificial intelligence to help businesses accelerate growth from existing data.
Mary has over 20 years of experience in Customer Success, business consulting, and executive leadership. Her past roles include chief customer officer at Glint, global head of innovation enablement at SAP SuccessFactors, and chief customer officer for SAP’s Global Cloud business.
Let’s jump into the conversation.
What does your team look like at your company, and how do you center around the customer?
As the chief strategy and customer officer at involve.ai, I oversee a handful of different customer-centric teams. The roles within those teams include CSMs, community, training, customer value/account management, data science consultants, support, and partnerships. This team seamlessly delivers the entire customer journey with clear roles and responsibilities focused on customer value. For example, data science consultants optimize customer data and insights on the backend, while our customer intelligence community (called the CI.ty) offers seamless front-end engagement resources.
What characteristics do you look for when hiring CSMs?
Curiosity and a growth mindset are two things that immediately come to mind. Both of these characteristics are invaluable when addressing any unique customer needs. In addition, empathy, creative problem-solving, and the ability to execute are keys to success in the role. Customer intimacy is the overarching goal of a CSM: knowing customers better than anyone else and meeting their needs proactively in the most optimal way to deliver a WOW experience!
Why do you love working at your company?
Involve.ai is leading the way in customer intelligence, and it’s an exciting time to be at the company, mainly because I know customer intelligence is the next frontier for CS teams and all companies to become truly customer-centric.
Our ability to positively impact customer-facing teams is exciting. A day in the life of a CSM can get pretty busy, pretty quickly, especially if you have multiple accounts to your name. Customer intelligence makes this easier by 1) providing absolute visibility to your data across all your company’s data sources and 2) by helping CSMs prioritize the right customers at the right time with the right actions.
I love the fast-paced and innovative environment here and our impact on customers’ business outcomes. I especially love the amazing people I work with… good human beings who care about each other and our customers.
Why do you think it’s important to invest in Customer Success?
Your Customer Success team is the ultimate resource for creating an ongoing relationship with your customers. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that priorities can change in the blink of an eye. If your customer’s priorities change and no one is there to have that conversation, your risks of losing that customer are significantly higher.
Customer Success can be the growth engine of your business; targeting adoption and value for every customer results in goodness for your business, including references and expansion revenue, among other positive outcomes.
How does building a world-class Customer Success team impact the overall success/growth of your company?
Aside from helping with customer retention, Customer Success teams are critical to the innovation of a modern company. Customer Success can directly improve NRR metrics, but it also helps keep your company competitive. One significant component of having a fantastic Customer Success team is all the feedback you’ll be able to collect from customers; this will help you understand where to focus your priorities. Leveraging this feedback for improvements and innovation will help keep you on a growth trajectory.