The Best CS Framework Starts with Empathy: Wayne McCulloch

The Best CS Framework Starts with Empathy: Wayne McCulloch


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Wayne McCulloch joined us for the premiere episode of the Voices of CX Season 8 to talk about all things empathy; designing software around people, hiring for empathy while training for proficiency, and creating a culture of empathy within organizations.

And we did it live! Check out the guests’ beautiful faces on video below:

About Wayne McCulloch

One of the world’s leading customer success experts and a Top 100 Customer Success Strategist, Wayne McCulloch works with Google Cloud’s entire SaaS portfolio as the Customer Success Leader. He’s a keynote speaker and the recipient of multiple industry awards with more than twenty-five years of experience in customer-focused roles.

Wayne began his software career at PeopleSoft and Vignette before becoming an SVP at Salesforce, the Chief Customer Officer at Kony, Inc., and the VP of the Customer Success Group at Looker.

For more information about The Seven Pillars, including downloadable templates and training and certification materials, visit

Follow Wayne McCulloch on Linkedin

Connect with the Voices of CX

Follow Worthix on LinkedIn
And Follow Worthix on Twitter: @worthix

Follow Mary Drumond on LinkedIn
And Follow Mary Drumond on Twitter: @drumondmary

The Voices of CX Podcast is a podcast that covers all things business strategies, customer decision insight, empathetic leadership practices, and tips for sustainable profitability. With a little bit of geeking out on behavioral science, A.I. and other innovation sprinkled in here and there. The guests span multiple industries, but all of them have years of experience to bring to the table.

Got something to say about CX or want to be featured on the show? Let us know!
Email the Producer ([email protected])


Mary Drumond: Listeners and viewers, welcome to Season Eight of Voices of Customer Experience. Sometimes I can’t even believe that we’ve done eight seasons. So when I say it, it’s weird for me, Season Eight. We are kicking off Season Eight today with a really cool guest. He is an author and a customer success leader, Chief Customer Officer, for many companies.

I am not going to do all the talking. I’m going to let him introduce himself. Wayne McCulloch. Go ahead. Give us your history. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Wayne McCulloch: Thanks, Mary. I’ve never been introduced as a “cool” guest before, so I feel like there’s an element of pressure being added on now, all of a sudden.

Thank you for having me. First of all, I think this is a really cool podcast. What’s interesting is you say it’s like season eight. Everything’s about eight. And I’m like, well, I wrote this book called the Seven Pillars of Customer Success, but in the book, there’s a secret eighth pillar. It literally is, it’s called Bonus Track and it’s Pillar Number Eight. Anyway, so I feel like we’re connecting there already.

Mary Drumond: I’m so intuitive like that. Look at this.

Wayne McCulloch: I had to wait eight seasons to be able to get on this podcast to do it. But anyway, so my background has pretty much been in B2B software companies my entire career. Started off in the world of education and training certification adoption at a company called PeopleSoft back in the nineties when it was a lot smaller than what it ended up being. What I didn’t realize at the time, training and teaching and getting adoption of software is kind of like the perfect introduction into the world of customer success.

Customer success is really critical to ensuring the customer experience is optimized. So I felt like even though I didn’t plan it, even though I’m not that smart, I’ve sort of followed this trajectory that’s allowed me to evolve and grow and learn in, what is, it feels like to me, the single profession, even though they’ve been in different sort of whole different things, meaning different parts of the organization over the last couple of decades, but has now culminated in this real profession around the customer experience and making sure that we’re building organizations around the customer and not around ourselves.

And so for me, whether it’s working at PeopleSoft or HP, which taught me how to run a business at scale, with people in 112 countries around the world on my team. Whether it was Salesforce, where I was learning how to run a business at incredible scale and growth, in the SaaS world and truly like the first real SaaS company, like learning my chops there, and then going into a company like Google, which just has incredible massive scale from a user perspective.

One of the products that my team leads has over 2 billion users. There’s not many people in the world can say that they’re customer success, or he’s thinking about how to create an experience for 2 billion people at once. So at every stage of the journey, I’ve learned new skills. I picked up and made lots of mistakes, which we don’t need to talk about in this session or ever for that matter.

But I’ve learned a lot from thought leaders from great mentors, coaches, managers, and then myself just practically doing these things. And it culminated me wanting to write a book to share that with people, the Seven Pillars of Customer Success, but at the end of the day, I’m not the smartest person on the topic, but I do have incredible amounts of experience.

And I’m really happy to share some of that with your listeners.

Mary Drumond: You ruined like three of my followup questions right there, because you really gave the answers that I was looking for just straight out the door. But when it came to writing a book, this book Seven Pillars of Customer Success, you were motivated by all this vast experience that you had.

And did you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do when you wrote that? Were you able to get those ideas out there? Wasn’t enough was one book enough? Are you planning on writing more? Do you still have more to share?

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. So look, writing a book is really hard, so I have so much more respect for those people that have done it.

I began writing my book, it was three years to get the book done and the first 18 months was midnight to 2:00 AM Friday to Saturday. And all I was doing was just putting my thoughts down and trying to understand it because the whole reason of writing the book really was I didn’t feel like I was being the best leader I could be for our customers.

I felt like I took great best practices from Salesforce. And then it didn’t work in my next company. And I’m like, I don’t get it. I’m doing the playbook. It’s, this is how you need to do it. This is what the webinar said. This is what the person told me to do. Like, I’m following all these steps and it wasn’t resonating. And so, I tried to put all my thoughts down and try to work it out and, after about 18 months, I realized what’s missing was a framework on how to do customer success. There’s great information on why SaaS is a cool business model. Why customers buy differently in subscriptions, and tons of content there.

And then there’s lots of content on how to be a great customer service leader. How to be a great support agent, how to be an amazing customer success manager, lots of material there, but in the middle, there’s a gap from, this is really important to, this is how we do day to day stuff. And that strategic framework that holds it all together was missing.

So that’s what the Seven Pillars became. It was funny. You mentioned, did I get it all down? So I remember I got to page- the book’s 350 pages long, which for a business book apparently is longer than it should be. Not a lot of people can read a 350-page business book, but my publisher was like, Stop!

Like, we just gotta publish it. You can’t have a 500 page book, because there’s chapters I haven’t written yet that I would love to write. So absolutely there’s more to be told, but more importantly, this is evolving, this field, all the time. As technology evolves, as people’s consumption of technology and expectations.

How we communicate, how we serve them, changes the book itself. Some of the content is timeless and evergreen, and some of the content actually needs to be refreshed pretty regularly because the ability, the capabilities of how we can communicate and connect with customers, changes constantly, which creates opportunity for innovative ways to,be more personal, to do personalized journeys at scale, when it comes to, experience.

So maybe there’s another book inside of me, definitely needs to be a 2.0 or a second edition released. And did I accomplish what I wanted to? I think I did, because I get so many emails, DM’s on LinkedIn, just random people post stuff on LinkedIn, which is really, it’s surprising, right?

I’m like, I don’t know this person and they’re in a pool with a picture of my book, snapping a picture with their feet in the pool. And I’m like, I don’t, I’m not sure that’s the image I want to like, Hey, if you like chilling out of the pool, read this book. I don’t know if that gels or not, but these people would post stuff saying, “This is really cool.

I’m learning so much. Or I’m implementing this at work.” And for me, I’m like, if I can help a group of people, just like I was helped by other mentors, thought leaders to help elevate my career. my knowledge, then I’ve achieved success. And personally, for me, I think I’ve done that. And thousands and thousands of books later, sold in 13 countries.

I’ve just been approached for the foreign language rights, because apparently I’m really big in countries that don’t speak a lot of English and they want it in the local language. I’m like, let’s do it. If I can spread this as far and wide around the planet I will. And that to me, that’s a success for me.

Mary Drumond: That’s awesome. Well, let me ask you something. You built your career in the field of technology. And I think that the one thing that you mentioned a couple minutes ago, which I think can absolutely apply to the line of business that you’re in is, how do you update, how do you constantly update? And the need to continuously update your processes is so much more intense when you’re working in a field like technology, because

you’re part of that innovation. You’re part of the engine that’s bringing new things to the market, that’s therefore reshaping customer’s expectations at every turn. So when you’re part of the change, keeping up with the change is so much faster and you’re surrounded by competitors, and other organizations that are racing after innovation

faster and faster than ever. So what do you think is the best way to keep up with customers’ expectations, in your case, in the B2B space? It’s the expectations of corporations as to what technology is going to provide with tools and with platforms to attend their customers better.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, well, I’m so glad you’re asking the easy questions first.

For me, the most important thing is we have to always- and this is weird because I’m a customer success leader. I’m someone who cares pretty much about the customer day in and day out. That’s I wake up thinking, how can I create a better experience? How can I go drive that? But it’s easy to get distracted by all the technology and all the advancements.

Right? And the really key parties, you’ve got to keep your eye on the customer. What is the customer telling you? What does the customer need? Cause there’s so many things I’m like, oh, that looks like really cool technology. Let’s go and play with that and see if we can get that into our business and how, and I’m like, oh no, hang on.

Stop. Just because it’s cool and it looks good doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. What does the customer need? What do we need to provide and allow that to guide where we should be focusing? That’s the first thing. The second thing is with technology, you’re right. One of the challenges is some of the technology coming out requires you to think very differently about how you’ve done things in the past.

This is the hardest part for me as a success leader. I know this works. So when something comes along and it’s like, well, actually you have to do it a different way in order to take advantage of this. That’s a really hard shift because that’s risk. Like personally, for me, I’m like, well, if I make a mistake, then that’s my career on the line.

It’s my team’s performance on the line. And ultimately the customer’s experience is on the line. But it’s to be very open, to be very fluid, knowing that the environment we’re in is constantly changing, constant innovation, constantly giving us opportunities to improve. And we should be very vigilant about making sure we’re keeping on top of that, not resting on our laurels, not just staying safe, we need to try new technology and we need to understand how it solves the customer’s challenge that they have, at that point in time.

I do think also there’s shifts in how we think about technology and the user, so forever and a day, we as individuals have had to fit the technology. If you’re using an application, then the application is built and you have to use the application the way it’s designed and then the complexity customizing and maintaining.

What we need to be thinking about is using technology that fits the way we work. And I think that shift is happening in the marketplace. There’s products coming out now like a walk me, for example, where they say, let’s let the product fit what the user’s doing. Let’s use intelligence, whether it’s AI or that’s contextual, let’s use Machine Learning.

Let’s use technology to start making the software much more incredibly intelligent around how to behave for the user, as opposed to trying to shape and change the behavior of a user. Because we got to remember in this day and age, we use lots of applications, not just one, it’s rare I sit in one application all day.

I might sit in my mailbox, might be open all day, but I don’t use it all day. I’m using lots of products and if I have to change the way of behaving every product, think of it as a user, they using lots of different products, websites, support, help desk, whatever it is, you’re asking them to adapt to however that system works.

And that’s an old way of thinking. We have to start thinking about software adapting to the people so that they can have a very consistent experience. That’s super hard to do. So hopefully that answers your question, Mary, I don’t know.

Mary Drumond: Do you think that the way that technology develops new products and new services in general, do you think there’s still room for product-centered companies? I know that the go-to answer is no, we have to be customer-centric about the way that we develop our applications and our features and our products. But, is there still something to be said for the revolutionary individual who creates a product or a service that the market didn’t realize they needed?

And I’m probably going back to that whole Steve Jobs, things about not asking customers what they want, because they don’t know what they want, or the Henry Ford thing of, if you ask customers what they wanted, they’d say a faster horse, right? So, is there still something to be said for innovation that happens without directly consulting or catering to customers’ needs?

Wayne McCulloch: So I believe the answer is 100% yes. Like there’s not even, yeah. That’s a weird question to ask me because I’m like, why did you ask that? Because of course that is, to me, that’s the innovation part. When we start talking about what our customers need, that’s an evolution of what we have.

The big steps happen when someone’s ahead of the market, is someone thinking of the future. Take Lloyd Tabb, the founder of Looker, right? He created a data platform company that was dependent on cloud databases being the dominant way data was used, and that allowed him to design a platform totally different to how business analytics was done in the old school way with these old tools.

And that was seven years before cloud databases really took off. But when it did, look what was right there. Lloyd had that vision and understood that, using the old school tools of, Power BI or Tableau, or really all like Cognos and all those stuff like, that doesn’t work in today’s technology environment.

But Looker does. And so a tremendous growth and amazing customer experiences were had because he did that thinking and, he still, today, I have two favorite quotes in the world. One is from Lloyd Tabb. Which was “Great software is an act of empathy.” To me, that is like you are building software that is to help people be successful.

So when you don’t do that, if there’s a bug, if there’s a problem, if there’s an issue, if the UI, the UX, if the output, if the time it takes it, all these things are not great, you’re impacting that customer’s ability, that person, that individual to be successful in their job. If you think of it that way, you’re like, whoa, that’s a lot of pressure.

Someone’s career, like whether they go home at night and see their kids before bed is if the software is working or if it stops and they have to do a ticket and then they’re on calls and they’re stuck at work at night. You’re impacting an individual’s life. Right? So he’s sort of stated this really eloquent phrase, which I’m like, oh, everything we should do should be an act of empathy.

Especially in software. So having people like Lloyd Tabb think, dream of the future and predict what that’s going to look like with uncanny certainties. We need more of those people, but it doesn’t mean we don’t still evolve what we have while we’re waiting for that, to make sure that customer experience is constantly being tweaked and improved.

Mary Drumond: Well, speaking of empathetic technologies. Do you believe that it’s in a very near future where technology itself can be empathetic? Or do you think that regardless of what’s developed and the advancements of AI and machine learning, et cetera, we will still always have that dependence on the human element?

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. So I do think technology is getting closer to being empathetic, but I’ll be careful here. I don’t, I’m not confident that it will be completely empathetic. And in fact, I don’t actually want it to need it to be empathetic. What I want it to be able to do is take a person’s empathy and scale that out rather than try to scale it out through technology.

There’s a formula that myself and two other friends that I’m writing another book about right now. Which is AI plus HI equals great customer experience. And that’s artificial intelligence plus human intelligence is actually how you get to the ultimate customer experience. Just AI or just HI does not get you all the way there. Because they both bring to the table, plugging the gaps that the other doesn’t have.

Now we can be really smart and clever and build technology that emulates a human and all that stuff. That’s great. But at the end of the day, actually talking with a person, having a human connection. That is special. It’s really unique. And there’s no need to replace that. If the need to replace it is a business metric or operational metric, it’s nothing to do with the customer.

The customer enjoys it. Not every customer does for every interaction, but when it really counts, having a person to talk to. If COVID taught us anything, it taught us that people connecting with people is amazingly powerful through human beings. And when you don’t get that, bad things happen.

And so if we can get technology to work to make that happen more, I think we have a winning solution.

Mary Drumond: Yeah, the company that I work at, Worthix, that’s exactly what we do. We work on the whole idea of scaling empathy, and providing decision-makers with tools to be empathetic with their customers.

Like you said, I think that to a certain degree, that may be enough, at least for this moment in the market. I don’t know where customer expectations are going to head 10 years from now. But at this moment I believe that delivering to executives the ability to connect with their customers on a one-on-one basis at scale. That’s enough to deliver really, really deep insight as to what the pains, the needs, the expectations, the success means to customers right? Now, do you think that companies out there in general – and I’m not talking about Silicon Valley companies or tech companies that tend to be pretty ahead of the game when it comes to adopting technologies – becoming early adopters of technology?

I’m speaking of the rest of the companies in the world, which you know, is, I don’t know, 80% of organizations out there. Do you think they’re ready to adopt this kind of technology? Do you think they’re ready to start empathizing with our customers on a more one-on-one basis? Or what’s missing for this to happen?

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. Well, I think that there’s multiple components to the answer here. The first one is there’s always a group of companies -and companies are just people. So there’s a group of companies or people in those companies that don’t get it. They just don’t, they don’t get it because they haven’t been exposed to it.

They don’t get it because it’s not something they’re open to or looking for. And so they will always struggle. And the good news is that, that group of companies shrinks every day. As other companies get it, it puts pressure on these companies that don’t. Then those companies typically either go out of business or have to step up and jump in the game.

And so that’s one component. There’s another component. Which I really believe is, they understand the need for it. They don’t know how to go do it. So I would equate that to, you’ve got a leader who’s a visionary and they know what everything fits together. They are very articulate, they’re charismatic, everyone’s excited, but they have no idea how to implement it.

And what I’ve found is it’s actually a different skillset. So you’ve got to marry someone’s vision and understanding with people that actually can go out and find the right technology, deploy it correctly and leverage it in a way that realizes the vision. And that takes multiple people. Then of course, there’s the companies that really just get it and they’re on it.

And they’re probably customers of yours. They’re just like, oh, we know what we need to go do, help us go do it. They’ll do it. And then suddenly they’re really successful. But I think your point is accurate, you said earlier, which is: for now, we’ve got to take these steps forward. We can’t wait for the next leap. It’s coming, but it could be five years, 10 years, next week. We don’t know.

But taking that next step, and like you said, if we can scale those one-to-one interactions using technology and using humans, I think that keeps propelling us forward. It keeps moving us in the right direction for a customer. So I do think that there’s an opportunity here. You’ve got to educate people on what this empathy thing is all about.

I’ll tell you, at Looker, for example, when we’re hiring in say, the customer support organization, which we called DCL, Department of Customer Love, which when I joined, I gotta be honest…

Mary Drumond: You were like, ah, I don’t know about that.

Wayne McCulloch: I told my wife. She tells me – I don’t remember doing this, so I’m not going to say I did this – she remembers me sort of rolling my eyes and saying whatever. Because every company markets, we’re customer centric and then you just look at how they operate and you’re like, you’re not customer centric at all. They say it, it’s on their logo. It’s on their wall. It’s on their website. But they’re not. But I really, it was customer love. Like, these people genuinely love the customer and it wasn’t until I understood that the way they hired those people is they hired for empathy.

That was the test. It’s not like, do you know data analytics? Can you code SQL? Can you, like all those questions you would ask of a support analyst supporting people who have these typically technical questions. Well we believe we can teach that technical stuff, but we can’t teach empathy. And so hire people with empathy, we can develop that further, because we have a great base of someone who’s empathetic.

So, the same goes with the software. If we can find software that can take these empathetic people that really genuinely want to help. That’s their main motivation of work, is to help people be successful. That’s gold. So let’s do that.

Mary Drumond: That’s interesting. I’ve got a theory about empathetic people.

And I came up with this the other day and I was like, whoa, I think I really got something here because I realized that, empathy walks hand in hand with someone’s creative ability or their ability to create an imaginary scenario. Because when you’re able to imagine what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes, then you can empathize with them.

Which means that maybe people that haven’t really developed their creative side, they may be less empathetic. What do you think? This is literally me thinking out loud the other day.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. Well, I don’t want to give away any more trade secrets here. So when I come into a new organization, when you’re thinking about a chief customer officer, you’re typically across support, customer success services, training, community, like anything that’s really touching the customer. We have lots of different people. And what I’ve discovered is when you get frustrations and when things aren’t working really well, it’s because each team doesn’t fully understand the challenges, the other team has.

Why does support take a whole day to respond? Like it’s an easy answer, just respond. That’s not a person’s fault, that’s a process. It could be technology, could be so many other things, that get in the way. And so one of the things I always do is I bring these teams physically together. I will give up 10, 20, 30% of my hiring budget for the year to go fund the ability to bring in potentially hundreds of people from all over the world to spend a week together with the specific intent of developing empathy for each other.

Because once you’ve created empathy for someone else, someone else’s role someone else’s job, you’re not quick to judge. You’re not quick to get frustrated. You’re actually very motivated to work within the bounds and constraints everyone has to find success. Which translates amazingly well to a customer because a customer gets stuck and someone’s like, oh yeah, I’ll take that, um, support?

Can you help out and hear from them? And what’s going on? Like, so services you want to charge for everything? Like when someone gets real frustrated, cause they don’t understand the situation these other teams are in. And once you create that empathy internally, you then come up with the creative solution.

You then start to understand, well, if we have these restrictions, what if we did this and this and this? What if we automated that? What if we bypass that and did this like, and the team themselves develops the unique creative sort of solution to help a customer, same goes for customers. Like when we’re dealing with customers.

They’re in a very specific situation, they’re in a difficult situation. We don’t necessarily understand what they’re going through, what the challenges are, what we need to do is go solve their problem. And that’s something I do internally when it comes to empathy and understanding empathy from other people’s situation, putting yourself in their shoes, so to speak, like you said, and then overlaying that with the creativity around, how do we, with all of these restrictions, how do we prevail? How do we create something that the customer needs for them to be successful? I think we need more of that.

Mary Drumond: Okay. Well, let’s go a level deeper. If companies are just people, like you said, and empathy is the one thing that’s going to give us the tools we need to provide our customers with success, then how is it that we empathize with companies?

Wayne McCulloch: Okay, well, companies equals people, so we’re still empathizing with people,

Mary Drumond: But it’s a collective, right? It’s a collective of people that has unique goals and you may even be dealing directly with an individual, but how likely is that individual to be truly reflecting the needs and the pains of the organization that you’re serving as a whole?

Wayne McCulloch: Well, let’s look at this from two angles. The first one is inside your own organization, as far as how it projects, empathy to customers. And then let’s think about how we empathize with a company, an entire corporation’s mission, which is different to an individual or a person. Right? So in the first example, I often talk about, we talk about customer success as a department, but it’s not, it’s a philosophy that just happens to be a department name, Customer Success, but you don’t need to name it

Department of Customer success to be a customer success company, right? So the example I often give is, the finance team in my particular company, they might not be full of empathetic people. They weren’t hired for empathy. They were hired for their financial acumen and all these other things.

And they’re not customer facing. That’s okay. Not everyone has to be empathetic, but the action of the company needs to be empathetic. So how do we do that? Well, I’ve got a customer success org full of very empathetic customer success managers. And I’ve got a finance team, very adept at financial capabilities that my CSMs will never understand.

Well, one of the tasks of the finance team, the accounting group, is to go send a renewal sort of heads up to a customer and it says, Hey, your renewal’s coming up in 30 days, here’s the details of the renewal here’s the sort of, if you pay now, you pay up front, you get a discount. If you pay late, you’re going to get a penalty.

And there’s a little, these terms conditions. And basically that’s the note that’s automatically generated. Well, that’s not very empathetic. That’s kind of a crappy experience if you ask me. Why wouldn’t we think about how does that process, how do we be more empathetic? And so just simply creating maybe an HTML version of the email that sort of celebrates, maybe there’s a GIF or some sort of moving emoji or something.

It’s like, Hey, celebrate. We’re about to renew our partnership, we’re so excited! We’ve been partnering for seven years together on this journey. The last 12 months, we saw some tremendous wins together with an insert seven successful project launches, releases, updates. They spoke at a conference, released a blog, whatever the advocacy assets, I’ll put that in the note.

And then just say, to find out more about the terms and conditions, click here and take them through a generic site that they can go to, but keep it out of the note, keep the note, very excited, keep it very positive, keep it focused on the value and because the person you’re talking to in that company, they may or may not have any influence at all, but I can tell you when things are tough, like when COVID came along and they’re like, well, which bills do we pay?

Which products do we keep? The company that celebrates and talks about the wins and showcases and demonstrates a value will always outshine the companies that send the generic corporate note. They’re like, you know what? I don’t have time for that. This company here is making an effort. You’re not, I need to partner with people that want to help.

So that’s an example of, inside our company, we might not have empathetic people everywhere, but we can have empathetic processes that can scale out that empathy if you will. So that’s one. The second one is then, how do we be empathetic to a company and help them achieve their goals?

And I think COVID really taught us that, showed you which companies oozed empathy for others. I remember looking at one of the first things we did was we said, okay, this big hit is coming and sat down with finance. We sat down with legal and we’re like, we need to be proactive. This is in March of last year.

We’re like, we need to be proactive in going to customers. And we need to help the frontline people talking to these customers. We need to arm them with the authority to make decisions, like suspending renewals, extending contracts, like things we wouldn’t normally allow the field to do.

We need to do that. Now we need governance around it. But we need to do it because we have thousands of customers at exactly the same time going through the exact same pain. So how do we enable our organization, which typically can handle one or two of these conversations that take weeks of legal and going backwards.

How do we avoid it the process challenge that everyone is going to face and be very nimble and create a way to, and you know what? We did it. And we were able to help customers go in months and months and months, and months and months without even paying because they’re laying off people and stuff. And you know what? Things are coming back and now they are paying.

And a lot of them are back paying. Like they’re saying is, as revenues are coming in, we were obligated. You know, you were there for us. We’re going to be there for you. And we have these amazing partnerships that have now formed. Our logo retention, our GRR, our NRR all scaling up tremendously because we acted really quickly about, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of our customers.

They are under tremendous stress and pain. The first reaction is, how are we going to protect ourself? Customers are not going to pay anymore. That’s our first natural reaction as a company, but, and that’s, by the way, that’s the right reaction to have as a company. You don’t want to go out of business and then the customers have no one.

But the way it manifested itself was, how do we help our customers? Not “you have to pay or we’re going to cut you off because we can’t afford to-” no, we have to think creatively. One of my bosses that I’ve had in the past, he always used to quote Jim Collins. Good to great was like the genius of the “and” and the tyranny of the “or.”

We have to find a way to preserve our company and our customers. It’s easy to do one or the other. It’s really hard to do both. And that’s where empathy helps because empathy helps you to do the hard stuff.

Mary Drumond: My last question for you today, Wayne is, I mean, this, this all sounds great. It sounds amazing.

Now you have been in a really unique position over the years where you’ve worked at organizations that cater to hundreds, thousands, millions of B2B companies. And that’s really interesting, this really unique place to be, like you said, not everyone out there can say, Hey, I lead customer success for 2 billion customers.

So how do you scale this?

Wayne McCulloch: Well, isn’t that why we use your software? Is that a leading question?

Mary Drumond: Well, it wasn’t thank you. I don’t have to make the shameless plug!

Wayne McCulloch: I think it’s an important question, right? Because it comes back to the AI plus HI equation. We have to find a way to leverage technology with people to drive that desired outcome for a customer. And it’s really hard to do. It’s hard to admit. It’s hard to discover how to go do that for the unique situations.

As I said. Google, for example, when I was running customer success across the Workspace organization, there are 2-point-whatever billion users of Workspace. That’s a scale that blows people’s minds when you think about it. Now not all of them are paying customers, but they’re all future potential paying customers.

And thinking about how do we create an experience all the way down to the paying customers and then the corporations and all of that. In my mind, the only way to successfully do it is to find a way for technology, to amplify, to scale the very limited resources you will always have as a company.

And if you’re listening to this and you’re a 10 person, a hundred person, a thousand-person, a hundred thousand person company. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have enough people. I can already tell you, you don’t have enough people to provide the experience you would love to give. If you’re in my role, you just never have enough people and you gotta be okay with it.

Let’s we shouldn’t rail against it. Shouldn’t complain about it. We shouldn’t worry and freak out about it. What we should be thinking about is, how do I use technology to take the resources I have and make that work for our customers the way they need us to? And so for me, that behavioral change is really difficult to do for some people.

And it was for me early in my career, I remember just complaining all day long about don’t have enough people, don’t have enough people. What I should have been saying is, I’m not, finding a way to scale the people I have. I’m not finding a way to scale the knowledge, the experience, whatever it is.

That’s part of my maturation as a leader, is understanding that that’s okay. You’re going to be in that situation pretty much for your whole life. So get used to it.

Mary Drumond: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, Wayne, I’m going to give you a chance to talk a little bit about your book, where people can find it.

And how can they reach you? Can they just send you an email if they had questions or like, other than tagging you in a picture in the pool with their toes up? How else can they…

Wayne McCulloch: By the way, I’m okay with it.

Mary Drumond: How else can they communicate their doubts or even just a compliment, like you said, is LinkedIn a good way?

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah, I think there’s two ways.

LinkedIn, I’m on there. I’m pretty active. I like to both respond to people and give my thoughts to some comments. And I also like to post some things too. So LinkedIn is a really good way. I also have a website, And if you go there, there’s actually a way to speak directly to me through the website, as well as a bunch of other stuff coming.

So, as I said, there’s more content for the book I’m going to put there. All the templates and assets in the book, you can download off the website for free if it’s going to help you in your business and your company. And then there’s also extra stuff coming all the time. So keep an eye out for that.

The one thing I will say, the Seven Pillars is on Amazon and it’s available in 13 countries. And there’s a Kindle version, the hardcover or softcover and audiobook coming very soon, that’s being read by an Australian actor. So it sounds like me, but it’s not me because I don’t have time. That’ll be fun if you like listening to Australians reading books to you while you’re driving to work.

I don’t know who does that, but if you do, then that’s for you!

Mary Drumond: In my mind, I imagine going onto your website and there’s seven tabs. And as you click on it, there are seven options that open up with seven resources to download.

Wayne McCulloch: Yeah. Need to head to Vegas, put it all on seven. Well, or do I do eight, it’s really eight

Mary Drumond: And it should be eight!

Wayne, thank you so much for coming on and joining us today, it’s been really exciting to speak to you. Everything that you’ve said is, I mean, we’re, so like-minded in that sense of looking at empathy and the importance of it and how to scale it using technology. So it was great having you on, and I encourage our listeners and our viewers to go out and buy Wayne’s book, The Seven Pillars of Customer Success and connect with him, tag him on pictures, and then let us know what you thought of his book. We’ll be happy to hear about it.

Wayne McCulloch: Awesome. Thanks Mary. And thanks so much for having me. It was a lot of fun. I look forward to being here on season nine.

Mary Drumond: There you go.

Awesome. I’ll be sure to extend the invite, but then you have to write a book about the Nine Pillars of Customer Success. Whichever else, you come up with!

Wayne McCulloch: Let me work on that one. Thanks.

Mary Drumond: Bye. Take care. Thank you!

Wayne McCulloch: Thanks again. Bye.

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Mary Drumond

Mary Drumond

Mary Drumond is Chief Marketing Officer at Worthix, the world's first cognitive dialogue technology, and host of the Voices of Customer Experience Podcast. Originally a passion project, the podcast runs weekly and features some of the most influential CX thought-leaders, practitioners and academia on challenges, development and the evolution of CX.



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Voices of CX Podcast

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