Embrace change, take risks, and disrupt yourself
Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.
The Importance of Customer Success Management
Buying the right technology solution is only the beginning of the digital transformation journey. Organizations need onboarding support from solution providers to ensure the intended benefits of new technologies are realized. This entails looking beyond the technology, to include the vast human and cultural aspects of digital transformation.
In this episode, we discuss how businesses can optimize the outcomes of their digital initiatives with the support of a customer success management process. I’m joined by Janine Sneed, Chief Digital Officer and VP of Customer Success at IBM. Janine shares how she has build a Customer Success Organization at IBM and how she has brought together multiple functions at IBM to help clients succeed.
Janine also discusses her role in promoting internal career support for women and minorities at IBM, and how diversity in the workplace can become an organizational priority.
Jim Marous: Hello and welcome to Banking Transformed. I’m your host, Jim Marous, founder and CEO of the
Digital Banking report and co-publisher of The Financial Brand.
On today’s podcast, we will be discussing the dynamics of leading a digital transformation
process at a large organization, the importance of having a Customer Success Officer and how
to better utilize data, advanced analytics, AI and the cloud to provide better solutions in the
As digital transformation is occurring at different speeds at different organizations, it becomes
clear that ‘going it alone’ may not be the best path to success. But, once organizations ‘sign the
check’ with a technology partner, the onboarding process of deploying new technologies and
solutions is not always smooth.
I’m joined today by Janine Sneed, Chief Digital Officer and VP of Customer Success at IBM. I met
Janine a few weeks ago when I spoke at an IBM client event in New York City and I was
impressed that she was managing digital transformation both within her organization and with
the clients her team works with. She is both passionate and highly focused on bringing tangible
results integrating both people and technology.
Jim Marous: So Janine, I met you a few weeks ago at an IBM event that you were at and that I was fortunate to speak at. But one thing that impressed me is that you really are at the foundation, at the tipping point, of digital transformation, not only at IBM but also with the clients that IBM has. You work on the onboarding process for new transformation technology clients for IBM. Can you explain a little bit about your dual role?
Janine Sneed: Yes, absolutely. So I think IBM felt that I wasn't busy enough with one role, so they gave me two. But both are really in the construct of really trying to enable customers to embrace the world that we live in with digital transformation. And if I had a penny for every time someone said digital transformation, I could quit both jobs now. But I wear two hats. So in January of 2018, I was asked to take a role to help transform the way IBM goes to market through digital channels, through alternative routes. So it's all about how we enable best in class experiences, self-service, through the web. So that's one part of my role.
Janine Sneed: And then the other part of my role came about 11 months ago, where I was asked to pick up customer success. Now, customer success is all about how we enable our customers to get value from the software and the services that they purchased. So it's not a sales role. It's we come in after the customer signs the contract to onboard the clients, to ensure that the client is getting to first productive use, and starts to go down a journey map of how they can be effective with our software and our solutions.
Jim Marous: So really this is not much different. I mean, we can change the players in this, I mean, it can be IBM or any solution provider. You can change the industry from banking to retail to any other industry. The reality is we're all faced with this problem of, okay, buying the technology is one thing, putting it to effective use is another. With regard to the customer success organization that you're building, what are the steps that really you take or what have you learned in the process? I know you've been there a relatively short time, but you seem to be embracing it quite a bit. What have you learned in the process of building a customer success organization?
Janine Sneed: Yeah, it's fascinating. I think there's a couple of tenants, right? So one of the things that we see is a customer success manager truly has T-shaped skills, where they have to know the product, and understand the product and the portfolio, so that they can be credible in front of the client. And then they have to be able to communicate, right? Having an executive communication skill; that's what I mean by T-shaped skills, right? And what I find is that when we look at our data, we're very data driven and we could talk a little bit about that, but whenever we look at the data, where we have customer success managers on accounts, we're driving anywhere to 30-60% more usage from those customers versus where we don't have customer success managers. So they go in and they really roll up their sleeves. They sit with their customers to figure out how the customers could best use the software. So, I find that usage is growing where we've got customer success managers. So that's one thing.
Janine Sneed: I think the other thing that I've seen is all about metrics. IBM, as you know, isn't a born on the cloud company. We're 109 years old. Our brand has been in software at least since I've been there, and then before that hardware and so forth, right? So we come with this amazing heritage and brand for values and virtues, but getting everybody to understand what customer success means and metrics around usage, around NRR percentage, around expansion, around renewal, and getting them to see metrics that matter in the context of the overall business has been super important.
Janine Sneed: And then the third thing is it's a team sport. We can't put the success of a customer on the back of a CSM. Excuse me. The CSM, they're at the forefront post-close, but oftentimes we may need to pull in, for example, support, because maybe there's an issue with something going on with the software or the service, right? Maybe they need lab services and they want to go down... A project where we need to bring in our expert services team. Maybe we need to bring in product management, because we really, really need to go deep inside of the product roadmap three, six months. I'd like to think of it as a team sport.
Janine Sneed: So those are the three things that I've learned so far, and I think both are important. I think for the greater good of IBM, we can't be too disruptive. I have to appreciate how the business leaders think, the senior VPs and the GMs think, right? And help them understand the customer success metrics in their terms. That's probably been the most challenging, but it's the most important for them to see the value of what we do.
Jim Marous: So it's interesting, because you take that role on at IBM, but your clients probably could benefit from having a customer success officer that would look at, let's say it's a retail business, their retail customers, and make sure that whatever is being worked on and deployed is good for their customers; very much like you do for your customers. And, again, you get down to, can I make it so it's a good experience? Can I make it so I can measure it and am I using the data most effectively? Because I would imagine most people sign a check with IBM or any solution provider, at least initially, to save costs. Or it's not, unfortunately, while they put a good veneer on it, saying it's for the customer experience, it's not normally done that way. But the customer experience is the way to pay off on that. Would you see that your partner organizations would be better off if they also had a customer success officer and basically looked at their clients the same way you're looking at yours?
Janine Sneed: Oh, 100%. And I think there's a couple drivers to this, but the biggest driver, Jim, that I fundamentally believe, is because the world is moving into subscription. I mean, everything is available as a service, right? I start subscribing to things on my phone and I didn't realize, okay, I'm in a 12 month subscription now. I mean, it may only be $5 a month, but you're in a subscription. And so when you think about it, it's not just about that first land, it's all about the lifetime value of the customer. And how are you growing that customer and keeping that customer? How are you getting them to use and then potentially expand what they have? Cross sell additional services. I think I saw a stat where it's five to 25 times more expensive to land a new customer then to take care of an existing customer.
Janine Sneed: So that's one data point. And the other data point, Gainsight, is one of the vendors that we use for customer success management tooling. And they published an article where they said the customer success profession is growing it 736% since 2005, and it's one of the top 10 fastest growing professions. Again, I think that's due to the subscription economy, and I don't believe it just has to be your assessed service and that's the only thing that's at play here. I think it's every industry. I think it's many different products that lend themselves to having a customer success manager.
Jim Marous: So it's interesting, a major part of your responsibility's to help organizations... Build a structure around enhanced data and AI, to maximize the benefits of AI. But obviously you hit upon challenges and that's why your job exists, is to onboard people so they can make the best use of your technology. What do you see as the biggest hurdle, with organizations that you work with, in actually using the tools that you provide them?
Janine Sneed: Yeah. So, I kind of look at this as having a beachhead in the customer account. And so it's sitting down with the sponsored user and that team, and helping them become wildly successful with the software. So it's not about... So much... IBM's usage and how we're seeing it, but is the customer getting value from it? For example, so take something like Blueworks Live; it's a business process modeling tool. And maybe, in the old world, you would have 20, 30, 40 people collaborating and writing business processes on Vizio.
Janine Sneed: Well, that's the kind of where they started. After we put in Blueworks Live, did we just accelerate the time to value of building business processes together as a team? Did we go from 20 people to 40 people, to 60, to 80 people? Do we reduce the time it takes to build a business process, from maybe a week down to two days, because of our tooling? So we sit down and truly try to find the beachhead and an MVP to work with the customer on, to show value and then scale that, because then everybody wants to be attached to something that works and something that's successful.
Jim Marous: So you also, in the digital transformation within IBM, probably have seen challenges, because, as you said, IBM had been around for a while. I kidded about the fact that I never thought I'd go to an IBM meeting where everybody's wearing jeans, no ties, and not necessarily blue. But obviously change comes slowly to legacy organizations, and you're part of that change management to try and make things happen. What has been your biggest challenge internally at IBM? Because if you're a bank, if you're a retailer, if you're a hospitality company, the bigger they are, the harder it is to unseat legacy thought patterns. What have you seen as the biggest challenge?
Janine Sneed: Yeah, that's a great question. So, I'm responsible for the end to end digital transformation for cloud and cognitive software across the units. And when you think about this, at the end of the day, IBM has products and services and solutions. And when we think about digital, we don't have a separate development team that is building digital capabilities in our offerings. It's the same development team. So the biggest challenge that I've faced, and I think we've made a ton of progress in 23 months, or else I wouldn't be here right now, they would have flushed me out and put somebody else in, is working back in with development. So helping development understand the importance of product instrumentation, of in application onboarding, of using our own AI chat bots within the product or within a web page to take out some of that manual work and time that a human has to go through and automate a lot of that.
Janine Sneed: And so it's sitting down, though, with development to help them see, okay, you want to put this feature inside of the product, but why are you doing that if you don't know if anybody is using it? So I'm trying to help them see why digital capability, digital criteria, the same thing that we're talking to our customers about, is so important. We're building within our own products in our own web presence. That's been the biggest challenge, and, honestly, it's just skills. And it's mind shift, it's culture shift, and then it's seeing. When I could see and I could show them, and have them see that they put product instrumentation, or they put in app onboarding it, and users are using that feature, they're like, "Wow, how do I see this part if they're using it?" And I'm like, "Well, it's not instrumented yet, let's go instrument it." So that's been the biggest challenge, but it's also been the most rewarding, because it's getting people to work differently for the digital transformation initiative that we're on.
Jim Marous: So speaking of people, when we are on the panel a few weeks ago, we discussed the challenges in finding qualified talent in the tech space. What do you see as the solutions for finding, training and retraining tech talent?
Janine Sneed: Yeah, that's a good question. So in the broader context of tech talent, not just in the context of digital, I believe it's a mix of reskilling and retraining existing talent. I mean, let's face it, we invest in our people. People on the team are the biggest asset you have. And I believe that everybody has good intentions. They want to build new skills, they want to be competitive, they want to learn the next new thing. So I think it's the balance of retraining and re-skilling, which we are doing so much of at IBM, it's awesome to watch, and we even have times that certain organizations have carved out so that we can take time to do training. We've got certification programs and learning programs, especially with Red Hat coming in. I mean, it's been awesome.
Janine Sneed: But then there also is talent that we do bring in from outside, to help us and set the bar in new ways, especially around data science and AI. I mean, we have an amazing chief data officer that came in from Monsanto, Seth Dobrin, and he's done so much to set the bar of what we need to do within data science, within our own organization and units. So I think it's a mix of both.
Jim Marous: So Amazon recently announced an initiative where they're going to be training 100,000 of their employees so that they can survive the marketplace challenges. And part of that came about because they had a virtually impossible time finding the people that they need for the higher tech jobs. And they said it might be better to train people from within rather than having to always go to the outside for new talent. What role, and this is your personal feeling, what role do you think business and government play in trying to build the workforce for the future?
Janine Sneed: I think it's a great question. I think they play a very significant role. I think we talk about skills of the next renewable energy and resource. So, for example, I think that it's paramount for businesses to set an agenda... For skills, but also be part of curriculum development, and developing those certifications, and developing those standards. I mean, we've done this out with open source communities, we've announced data science certificates on Coursera; so we've done many of these things ourselves. I think that it goes hand in hand, they are very much a part of it.
Jim Marous: So, you also have a situation where, in any legacy organization, you have a lot of people above you, below you, on the same level as you, that aren't buying into change. They've succeeded at what they've been doing for years. They see absolutely no reason to change because it's all worked for them in the past. What do you see as the way to get those people to really see the fact that they may be disrupted if they don't take action?
Janine Sneed: Existing skills, you mean? Existing-
Jim Marous: Yeah.
Janine Sneed: So, I think what we do is we do a lot of career coaching. We do a lot of one-on-ones. We do a lot of development with our team. And so I believe that it actually starts with leadership and it starts with management. If leadership sets the tone, that this is where the skills are within the industry, and provides training, provides the time, encourages the time, employees are going to take it, but they're also going to be more engaged. They're going to see that their leaders care about them. They're going to see that their leaders are investing in them. By the way, not all training has to be $20,000. There's a ton of free training that's out there on the web, that's good stuff that you can take. And then there's great training that corporations are providing; many large corporations and small alike provide. But I think it starts with leadership and it starts with managers taking that time to invest in the employees and ensure that they're giving them some of that time to do the training throughout the month and a quarter.
Jim Marous: So staying on the subject of the future work, IBM has been doing a lot of this area, but how do organizations help to improve the gender gap that exists in big business overall?
Janine Sneed: So, you hit a passionate topic of mine. So, I think there's a lot of progress that has been made, no doubt... But we still have a long way to go. So I think there's two or three things that are super important. Number one, we're not going to close the gender gap without men. So men have to be at the table... Visible with women. And I'm not saying just put a woman in a role because she's a woman, or put a minority in the role because they're a minority. I'm saying they have to be advocates and champions in listening to some of the challenges that, let's just stay on the topic of women, that women face. So, men have to be part of the solution, because they're in the leadership roles right now, right? So that's number one.
Janine Sneed: Number two, women have to support each other. So within IBM, I launched and founded a community called GROW. It stands for guidance, resources and outreach for women in cloud and cognitive software. And... We are active every month with live streams. So we do technical topics like becoming an inventor, day in the life of a data scientist. We have true technical topics where you can go on and learn some coding things. And then we also do, become an executive presence. So it's the mix of soft skills, leadership skills, technical skills, and we have a Slack channel. And we're over 2,600 in Slack. And this isn't like HR said, "Go in here." This is our women finding a platform, this platform, where they feel they can bring their whole self to work... To achieve what they want to achieve, right? And being themselves and getting help and support.
Janine Sneed: I mean, that's the whole point of GROW. It's having the platform, and getting the support and the resources that they need to grow their career. I keep it very focused on career growth. It is about career growth. So that's the second thing. And then the third thing... It's on the individual. So it's about finding your voice. It's about finding your passion. And if you're in an environment where you're embraced and your heard, the sky's the limit. But I think women have competence. I think they need more confidence. And so that's where I think people go above the line or below the line. So I want to help women get that confidence. I think that's important.
Jim Marous: Boy, you hit a hot button. It's such a great concept that you're developing there, because I'm involved in the industry, in an ongoing basis, there's some complaints about events in the banking industry for instance, that are overly saturated with men doing presentations, and men get asked to do this and that. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that, especially in the world of social media, where a lot of these organizations, a lot of these events select their speakers based on the voices that they've seen in the marketplace. Well, women are not wired like men. Men, myself included, have no hesitation to showing our ego, and pumping up our chest, and being on social media and talk about what we think. We know that women are not wired quite that way. Not that they're not just as smart, they just go about communicating differently.
Jim Marous: And in a social media world, it's almost more difficult to hear those voices. And as a result... We talk about the fact that we have to... We have an event called the financial brand forum, that we really have to dig sometimes to find the right speakers for any one topic. It's not like they're not there, they're just not as evident in the marketplace to find them. And the things you're talking about, the skill sets, the getting their voice, to be passionate. I mean, it's why you stood out on the panel the other week when you were on the panel. I said, "I don't hear this amount of passion," and you're almost a diamond in the rough, but also sometimes invisible, except in your organization. And some men are saying, "You got to get the exposure." And it's difficult, because, again, most women, just by the nature of the gender and the way that they've been treated, and the way they've come up, they don't go out there and brag about what they can do. They just do it.
Janine Sneed: That's right. That's so true.
Jim Marous: And I'm criticizing myself at the same time, but we talk about the leaders in an industry. There are many times the silent people that do the work behind the scenes, but just have a great voice, have a great passion, have great presentation skills. And that plays off within an organization as well. So, if you don't have that voice, if you don't show that passion, it's hard to get a voice with the inner organization, let alone outside the world.
Janine Sneed: That's right. And I've seen some women just break out of that shell. All they need is a little bit of encouragement, a little bit of attagirl, go get them; just a little bit. And it's, wow, where you been hiding? So, I just think that we have to build each other up. And I'm not saying... There's some men and minorities the same thing.
Jim Marous: Right.
Janine Sneed: But I just see it a lot with women just because this is the program that I run right now. So everything you've said is spot on and it's what I see too.
Jim Marous: So, a little bit of a detour, and this is something that came up actually a couple of weeks ago. IBM just announced a major collaboration with Bank of America, for a financial services ready public cloud. Are you in a position to explain at all about the importance of this collaboration and what it can mean for the industry overall?
Janine Sneed: Yeah, I talked a little bit about it, I think this is pretty significant. So, we announced a public cloud, that has capabilities, that really help the FSS companies feel safe, secure, protected putting their workloads on a public cloud. There are so many regulations, and rules, and restrictions and so forth, that banks and so forth have to deal with, that it's sort of held them back from moving workloads to the public cloud. And I was going down the path of partnerships, but Bank of America is one of the first companies that are collaborating with us to move some of their workloads to the public cloud. And really what we've done is we [inaudible 00:23:46] big security and those regulations into the fabric of the IBM cloud platform.
Janine Sneed: So, just announced, what? It was the day that I saw you. So I guess that was two weeks ago. It's two weeks now has been the announcement. So we're very excited about it. Many organizations are asking about it across FSS. And I'm encouraged. I mean, I've been working in cloud... I don't know if it was called cloud at the time, but I guess for more than 10 years. And so seeing this, and what we see is only 20% of the workloads have moved to public cloud. A lot of workloads are still on prem. And I still believe in hybrid cloud, I don't believe everything will move to public cloud, but I think this is going to give FSS organizations more confidence that they can be compliant. I understand the risks that banks go through in protecting the individual's data. So I think that this is going to help them shift more of those workloads there to free up more time for disruption and for innovation.
Jim Marous: Well, and it really gets to the point of saying that no one's going to be able to do it alone. Organizations, of all sorts, in all industries, are going to have to really partner to move forward to meet the needs of the digital consumer, and to be able to leverage and make the most use of technologies that are out there.
Janine Sneed: That's right.
Jim Marous: So, finally, what bold trend or prediction can you provide for 2020?
Janine Sneed: So, I'm going to say this in the context of one of my... Actually, I'll do two sides of the coin. So from the digital standpoint, I believe that... AI is going to get more integrated into the way we work. I think that companies are going to be moving out of more of the MVPs, and more into production AI with more accountability and responsibility for explaining AI. We talk about a thousand flowers blooming, there's a lot of projects, but I think organizations are afraid to put those projects into production because they can't explain the AI. I think we're going to start to turn a corner there due to skills, due to experts and due to technology. So that's-
Jim Marous: Well, yeah, we talked about too, that it really gets down to value transfer. I'm not going to have a real problem with an organization knowing more about me or trying to use my data to serve me better if it actually does that. It's when it steps out of that realm. The reason why people are willing to pay $125 a year for the right to shop digitally, which is insane when you think about the metrics, is that Amazon does an amazing job of using my data to serve me better, and you feel it.
Jim Marous: Now, what's going to be interesting is the organizations you work with, the ones that I work with, is that that raises expectations on all levels, from both the commercial side as well as the consumer side, to achieve more. So they're going to expect AI to be in place, but they're going to still be scared of what the result may be. And, again, I look at the use by police organizations, using the cameras on houses, to help solve crimes. Well, initially that's a little scary until you realize that almost everybody's got a camera. And if I can solve the crime problem, I'm probably okay with you accessing that on an as needed basis. Again, it's a value transfer.
Janine Sneed: I agree with that. I'll just add one thing to what you said. I think that... Organizations, let's say for some of the applications, I think they're going to be pulled to the table more than we've ever seen before, because they've made decisions based on AI outcomes, but some of the data was biased. And so I... Wasn't it city? [Inaudible 00:00:27:50], but there was a company a couple of weeks ago where Steve Wozniak said, "Well-
Jim Marous: Well, Apple and Goldman Sachs. Yep.
Janine Sneed: Yeah, there you go, right? So I think we're going to see more of those types of scenarios. And it's only because of the growing use of AI. And so I think organizations are going to get smarter in terms of how they're using it, and then feel, okay, I'm really accountable and I'm going to be held accountable publicly for what gets pushed out, where I'm making those decisions. So I think the notion of trust, AI is going to be really important in 2020.
Jim Marous: Janine, I cannot believe this time went so fast. I'm really glad that I reached out and you agreed to Beyond the Banking Transformed podcast today. It's amazing what's going on, and I think I'm going to probably want to touch base with you about a year from now and to see how the digital transformation process, not only at IBM, but your customer service organization has really worked with clients as well, because I think this is a continuously moving dynamic and we're all in this together, we're all learning on the fly. But it's great to talk to you today.
Janine Sneed: Thank you. You too, Jim. Take care.
Jim Marous: Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, just rated as a top 10 banking podcast. If you enjoyed today’s interview, please be sure to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app and don’t forget to give our show a 5-star rating.
Also, be sure to catch my recent articles on The Financial Brand and check out our research we are doing on digital transformation, retail banking innovation, the digital customer experience and financial marketing for the Digital Banking Report.
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our Producer, Brigid Coyne and Audio Engineer, Eric Koltnow.