Amber, let’s start with your background, including where you are from and an overview of your college and work experience.
I’m a Wisconsinite through and through. Born and raised in Madison, I’m an avid Badger and Packer fan. I went to LaFollette High School on the east side of Madison and was a three-sport athlete – golf, basketball and softball. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – which is a beautiful campus that sits right on the Chippewa River. I tried out for the DIII women’s softball team my freshman year and made the cut. By my senior year, we took third place in the DIII college world series, an accomplishment my team and I were very proud of. The next year, they won it – talk about humbling 🙂
I graduated in 2007 and moved back to my hometown of Madison and lived with my parents. I was able to land a job as an Office Manager at a tech start-up focusing on Bluetooth and GPS devices. In this role, I did everything from creating product listings on the website and optimizing SEO, to writing daily blogs and shipping out product. It was a great opportunity and it taught me how to wear many hats.
In June of 2008, my best friend and I decided to leave Wisconsin (and the cold) behind. We made the long trek to Atlanta without having any jobs lined up.
Looking back, 2008 was a tough year on the economy – so full-time jobs with benefits were not easy to come by. We stuck it out and worked as servers at both Joe’s Crab Shack and J. Alexander’s. Each day we applied for more and more jobs, and finally, landed a Corporate Communications contractor position at Unisource Worldwide.
After a few months as a contractor, I was offered a full-time position as a Marketing Specialist and over a span of five years, was promoted to Manager of Sales Processes (this is where my love of processes comes from!), as well as Project Manager, Salesforce (and this is where my love of Salesforce comes from!). I had a great run during my time at Unisource and learned a lot from strong leaders, but after a few years with the company, I was ready to tackle my next adventure.
Tell us about your Springbot story.
In October 2013, my former colleague and good friend from Unisource – who was now on the Springbot Marketing team – asked me if I was interested in learning more about a role in Customer Success as she thought I might fit the bill. At the time, I said “Yes!” without a ton of knowledge on exactly what “customer success” meant. More to come on that. I was invited to The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) for an interview. At that time, Springbot was a small company of about 10 employees that took up two rooms at the ATDC. Coming from a 4K+ person company, the start-up environment intrigued me and I was excited for the chance to make a difference. I did my fair share of research prior to meeting with the Springbot team – and after meeting with Brooks, Joe and Austin – my desire to work for Springbot and help small-and-medium size businesses grow their online stores was the opportunity of a lifetime.
I joined the company in November 2013 when we were just starting to use Salesforce.com. I was excited as I was able to help put some processes in place, and I had the chance to frame up how we would onboard and support customers moving forward. We learned a lot in the early days of what worked and what didn’t – and today, our team has grown to 20 professionals that make up our onboarding, customer success and services team.
What is your philosophy on customer success management?
As a new and emerging practice, there is a lot of talk and excitement surrounding customer success in the tech space these days. From my perspective, the philosophy around customer success is really rather simple.
To me, user adoption means that users are successfully using your product or service to resolve a pain point they had in their business and to assist in achieving a business goal.
As my team knows, I’m on a war path of “finding the pain point” of our customers. When you solve that pain point, you’re bringing VALUE to your customers. User adoption means users are “successfully” using your product or service. The definition of “success” has been something that we’ve had to continuously work on. Is it our version of success (i.e. they logged in 10x last month and gave us an NPS score of 10) or our customers’ version of success (i.e. they generated revenue through automated actions, saved them time, generated new subscribers, etc.) that we are measuring? This might seem like an easy answer – but many times, companies determine what success is based on their internal measures of success are. It’s time to flip that around and measure success based on if our users are “successfully using your product or service to resolve a pain point in their business.”
What is the importance of Customer Lifetime Value?
One of our core values at Springbot is “growing customers into fans” and we know this doesn’t happen overnight. We invest in our customers’ experience every step of the way. If we’re providing value to our customers and helping them, they will be advocates who are open to trying to new features and functionality.
What is your best career advice to give to someone starting out in a customer success role?
Be empathetic. Work hard. Ask why – a lot! Don’t be afraid to wear many hats. Be able to be even keel as your days will have high and low moments. You aren’t going to have the answers for everything – that’s OK to tell the customer and let them know you’ll get back to them. You are your customers’ advocate and champion – always have the customer-first mentality.
At the end of the day, each person’s career is their own. If you want something, go and get it!
What characteristics do you look for when hiring customer success specialists?
Preparation, energy, willingness to learn, coachability, excitement for the tech industry, empathy and follow up.
Why do you love working at Springbot?
- We have the opportunity to help customers grow their online business and live out their “American Dream” – the vision behind Springbot is helping small and medium-sized businesses grow. By advancing our technology and team, we are doing just that.
- The team. We’ve assembled a phenomenal team here across the business – from product, marketing and sales to development, operations, finance and customer success. We all work hard, are passionate about working with our customers and love growing them into fans. We also have a lot of fun together while accomplishing our goals! It’s one of the few places that many team members can say “I enjoy coming to work every day” and in my mind, that’s something special.
We have a tradition that each senior leader shares something unique about them to all new Springbot employees…
I have an extremely large family! Being from Wisconsin, both of my parents grew up on farms. My mom is one of 13 and my dad is one of 10. I have approximately 70 first cousins. Growing up in the Midwest set the foundation for my work ethic. We work hard, take care of one another and make sure to have fun while doing it.
Where can we find you during your off hours and on the weekends?
My fiance Matt and I enjoy golfing together across different courses in Atlanta; and spending lots of time with our 11-year-old lab mix, Mister Lucky. Each weekend, we walk Piedmont Park – and that’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen to get married there later this Fall! Aside from being outdoors, I enjoy working on home and yard projects; and a good spin class.
What are your best career and life hacks?
- Understand the importance of body language in all you do.
- Understand your “personal brand” and what you want that to be in the workplace – and what you need to do to get there.
- Always ask why.
Recently, Amber participated in a Panel Discussion with UserIQ discussing her philosophy on customer success and giving some advice to those looking to enhance their own customer success and user adoption skills. Check out the details from the #UserAdoption Expedition here.