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#49 How to build a Customer-Centric Company with Rod Cherkas

In this episode of Unsubscribed! hear from Rod Cherkas, Founder and CEO of HelloCCO and Author of the Chief Customer Officer Playbook. Learn about:

  • What exactly Customer Success is and why it’s so vital right now
  • How to put yourself into your customer’s shoes
  • Variable compensation for Customer Success Managers
  • Hot tips from his book

You can also follow Rod on LinkedIn.

Thanks for listening to Unsubscribed! – a podcast created by Knak. If you enjoyed this episode, please do subscribe and leave a review on your favourite podcast player. If you have any feedback, or want to chat, feel free to reach out to Pierce on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @marketing_101.

Audio Transcripts

[00:00:00] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
I’m Pierce Ujjainwalla and you’re listening to Unsubscribed. Every episode, I sit down with business leaders to help you question everything you thought you knew about marketing. If you enjoy this show, please do subscribe and leave a review on YouTube or your favorite podcast player. Now, onto this episode. My guest today is Rod Cherkas. Rod has executive experience at some of the most customer centric companies in Silicon Valley. Companies like RingCentral, Marketo, and Gainsight. His new book, The Chief Customer Officer Playbook, is an essential read for any leader who aspires to be a CCO. Currently, he’s the CEO and co and founder of Hello CCO, a strategy consulting firm that helps companies with their customer facing strategies. Welcome to the Unsubscribe Podcast, Rod. It’s so great to

[00:01:01] Rod Cherkas:
have you on. Thank you, Pierce. It’s great to see you and we’ve known each other for so many years. I’m, glad to be here with you today.

[00:01:09] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, I know we go way back, back to the Marketo days. Definitely wanna talk about that a little bit today. But, you know, I wanted to start off. Customer success can mean so many things to so many people. What does it mean to you?

[00:01:26] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah. So, you know, I, I recently wrote a book called the chief customer officer playbook, which outlines the role of this evolving executive position called the chief customer officer. And this chief customer officer works at their companies. They’re the executive level advocate for, um, their customer facing functions. It’s increasingly operational. They have metrics that they’re responsible for. And so when I think about this sort of broad ecosystem of what is sometimes called customer success, it talks about how do you how do you create value? For your customers. How do you help them understand and measure that value? And then how do you operationally deliver it at scale? And this is increasingly important today for companies that are struggling to focus on. How do they allocate their resources most efficiently? So we can talk a little bit more about, um, you know, what are some of the functions within it? and what it means. But it’s increasingly important these days as companies are focused on the resource allocation.

[00:02:34] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
I couldn’t agree more. I, I feel like everywhere I go, whether it’s like a CEO dinner or LinkedIn, this is the topic that, that everyone is talking about. Um, I, I don’t know. Am I right with that? Is it just me? Is it cause I, yeah, you know, I, I’m connected with you or I feel like I can’t get away from this now.

[00:02:59] Rod Cherkas:
Well, I think what’s happening in the economy is that companies are increasingly focused on becoming profitable and needing to think about how do they allocate the resources and the people at, ,at their companies to get the best returns and it’s becoming increasingly, you know, expensive and challenging to acquire new customers. So many companies are really doubling down on The teams and the processes to help keep their existing customers from churning and then helping them expand their relationships, you know, expanding into other products, upselling, adding additional licenses, because I think the data would show that it’s a lot less expensive to keep and grow an existing customer than bring a new one in. And so I think there is an increasingly focus on these customer facing functions. Growing importance of the role of, ,chief customer officer or someone in that executive level function that is responsible for the experience of the customers and the metrics associated with them. So I don’t think you’re making it up. Um, you know, I think it’s part of. Part of, ,what’s happening in the world right now. Yeah. That

[00:04:15] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
makes a lot of sense with the economy and, and efficiency. Efficiency is everywhere these days. ,you know, at Knack, we like that we help companies be more efficient because, uh,yeah, I think with the tightening economy, that’s what it’s all about when you talk about customer centricity, like what. To you, does it mean to be a customer centric company? And can you maybe give us some examples of how you’ve seen this play out at, at companies like I mentioned, Gainsight, Marketo, and RingCentral?

[00:04:52] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah, well, I think when a company is customer centric, they are at least trying to understand, um, how their customers experience their product and how they get value from it and are using those experiences and what they know about the customer’s needs and requirements in the decision making at the company. I don’t believe that being customer centric is about if customers say you should do something that you should do it. Um, it’s often important that, you know, companies like yours, um, are thoughtful about what segments They are focused on what the different experiences are for customers within those segments and also understanding the cost of delivery. So, you know, when I work with my clients, um, we are often thinking about, like, what are the steps in the customer journey? What are the offerings you provide? But we’re also talking about, you know, optimizing the metrics that matter, because often you need to think about what is the cost of delivery, um, for the services that you’re providing with customers. So, you know, a couple of examples, uh,you know, that I talked about in my, in my book centric. One is. You know, walking in their customer’s shoes. So when I was at RingCentral, um, I would take both my teams as well as I led some of the new hire orientations, and we would go through the entire experience of, um, ordering a phone and the phone service from RingCentral. It was still a pretty small company at the time. We would call the sales center and have them describe the benefits, and then we would Um, receive one of our phones sort of the desktop phone and then go through the process of setting it up on our website. Then we would call support and pretend we had a support problem and go through that experience. And we go through the website and practice setting up the call distribution so that everybody really tried to understand. Um, what it was like to be a customer that this was not just like a hypothetical, we hope they use it. But, you know, this is what, you know, hundreds, thousands and ultimately millions of customers go through. So, you know, that’s that’s 1 experience. Um, and I would say a 2nd example of being customer centric is how companies use feedback that they get from various listening posts. Now, This doesn’t mean that you take every piece of feedback and then you go act on it. But if you’re getting feedback from a net promoter survey, if you’re doing follow ups after support cases, if you’re talking to customers after an implementation, or after a, ,Quarterly business review. You’re sort of getting that information back into your teams and then importantly, trying to prioritize it so that you can share that back with your product teams, your sales teams and marketing teams. So the idea for being customer centric is, is that you’re taking the customer’s point of view account into consideration when you’re making those decisions. And, you know, when I work with my clients, that’s the role of the CCO is to help bring that point of view. Into the decision making that’s happening in an executive level.

[00:08:19] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Nice. I love that. I love, I love that you kind of put yourself into the customer’s shoes. And I was reading, ,I, I wish I remember the guy’s name on LinkedIn, but he said at his company, they, they actually require every new hire to spend like a month or two working in customer support. So that they can really get to know, you know, how the customer thinks, what, how, how they’re solving their problem. And I love that idea.

[00:08:51] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah, I think it’s a great idea as well. When I worked it into it. Um, one of the products that we made was turbo tax. And if you can imagine, you know, tens of millions of people are using turbo tax in just a couple of weeks at the end of March through, um, through mid April. And so it’s impossible to hire enough technical support people to be able to handle calls. So just about every single person in the entire TurboTax division ends up handling support cases, and it’s a great experience, right? It helps handle the volume, but it’s also really valuable for people who may be engineers or marketers or salespeople or work in HR to see how all of the work they do comes together for customers to make in that case, you know, make it easier for. You know, families and businesses to be able to do their taxes. So, you know, one of the things I like to do with my clients is to, you know, encourage them to go experience the life of their customers to go visit, you know, as we’re, you know, talking with, uh, with your team, neck. In some of the work that we’re doing, I know that your group is setting up some, some customer visits, not just to have quarterly business reviews and share metrics, but to really just sit and sit at their desks and watch what they do, right? How do they use knack? How do they set it up? How does it save time? And I think that this is a, you know, incredibly valuable skill for companies to get and for account managers and success managers and other resources.

[00:10:34] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, absolutely. There’s nothing like being there in person with the customer and, and seeing what happens on the screen. Um, so I was a customer of, at a company that you worked at, Marketo, back in the day, and you know, I was part of their Champion program and, and very active on their community, which was amazing to get, you know, answers and connect with your peers. We have a lot of marketers on the podcast and I feel Marketo did a great job with their customer marketing. Can you talk about a little bit about what you’re seeing there? What are the best companies? How did Marketo build out that marketing nation that was just so powerful for them?

[00:11:26] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah. So, um, so I worked at Marketo and I was, um, leading an organization responsible for customer enablement and customer education. And one of the, um, one of the differentiators that made Marketo special was it’s, um, it’s ability to not just help people use the product. the software, but to help people grow their careers. And this has become a fundamental learning for me. And when I work with my clients and and in the book, I talk about this a lot that as you you build out new categories and you help people learn about your solution that It can be important to help them, you know, do their job better. At the time, there weren’t a lot of digital marketers in the world. Most people were kind of new marketing automation solutions like Marketo were just, you know, just sort of starting off and hitting their stride. And so. The approach that we took was we wanted marketers like yourself, Pierce, and your colleagues to not just know how to use the software, but, you know, what it was to be a digital marketer and how you do their job. We put out these ebooks called definitive guides, definitive guide to lead scoring, definitive guide to lead nurturing. That had nothing to do with the software and people really appreciated that we helped them grow in their careers. We created a certification program that helped them understand what were the skills they needed to do. And then they could go raise their hand to their boss and manager and say, hey, I’m an expert in this area. And that helped them either get promoted within their company or get a great job elsewhere. And so I think what it. You know, what Marketo did really well was nurture an environment where it could be a company that people could build their careers around. And that was one of the things that I found, you know, very appealing about being part of the Gainsight community and then ultimately working at Gainsight leading their services organization and their education organization. Again, it was, it was creating this community of folks whose careers were dependent on your company’s success. You are helping them. And they were helping you and you’re creating this great network. And so for your listeners out there that have businesses where this can be part of their value proposition, I’d strongly encourage that. I’ve worked with a number of clients, um, in different industries to help them think about how do they train and certify, uh,their customers and create this community. And I find that it leads to really great outcomes.

[00:14:11] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, a hundred percent. I, I have. I, I experienced the Marketo piece firsthand and as a marketer, it just really spoke to me, you know, they talked about moving you from kind of the arts and crafts department to like, ,getting that revenue seat at the table and, ,yeah, it was definitely something that I subscribed to at that time and, and, ,it didn’t feel like marketing at all. Yeah. It felt like trying to be helpful and it was genuinely helpful. I think that’s the thing, right? Is creating those programs that are genuinely helpful. Don’t worry about selling, like try to help people. Um, which was incredible. And, and now I, I am hearing from our CS team, it feels a lot like the Marketo days for them with Gainsight. I know they’re all, you know, excited to go to the conference and I just hear, you know, their excitement around the software and how they’re all trying to kind of uplevel their skills so that it, it feels very similar.

[00:15:31] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah, there’s a number of great resources, , available for folks in the customer success function to help them understand best practices to create, , peer networks. You know, it was awesome last, ,last, ,may, ,to see folks from your team at knack at the gain site conference. We had a chance to walk around San Francisco and have dinner and, and, kind of introduce them to, uh, you know, to other customers. But what’s happening in these post sale functions is that people are trying to define best practices and codify them. You know, one of the challenges that I see that encouraged me to write this book, my book, the chief customer officer playbook was that there’s just not a huge pipeline of people who are Ready yet to be chief customer officers and that, you know, their, their CEOs and boards don’t recognize, uh, that this is a position that should be sea level. It turns out that there’s only a little bit more than 4000 chief customer officer positions. Around the world, where compare that to 57, 000 chief marketing officers and over 200, 000 chief financial officers. So this is still a relatively new function, but linkedin has identified. This is the 7th fastest, , C level function. Out of over 50, they track. So it’s becoming increasingly important. And, you know, one of the things that I saw was that there just wasn’t a sort of a documented process and a documented set of skills that people should be developing over the course of their career to make them ready to be an executive level participant. And that was some of the genesis was. uh, behind me writing, writing this book is to help more people, you know, understand very actionable things they could be taking it, whatever level in their career they’re at to help them accelerate their growth and get them ready for being an executive level participant, , you know, at the sea level at some point. So,

[00:17:40] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
so yeah, I want to CCO. You know, so for people who aren’t familiar with what a chief customer officer is or what they do, can, can you explain that? Yeah,

[00:17:55] Rod Cherkas:
so a chief customer officer is an executive level position that is generally responsible for functions. That are customer facing in the past, like 10 years ago, it’s not entirely new position, but, , 10, 15 years ago, there were a handful of chief customer officers and they were largely responsible for sort of executing net promoter surveys across the company, gathering that feedback about customer experience and then trying to influence. Other organizations to have them do things. And what’s happened over the past decade with the rise, particularly of recurring revenue businesses and other businesses that support sort of a subscription economy is that it become increasingly important for companies to retain their customers and then grow them, expand revenue from their existing customer base. And this became the role of this executive. And increasingly, they got, you know, functions in their organizations that not only we’re trying to influence other organizations, but we’re actually able to do it themselves. So a chief customer officer is often responsible for a team that does implementations. It’s sometimes called an implementation team or an onboarding team or professional services team. It often has a product support organization that’s taking calls or email cases or creating FAQs and knowledge articles to help people when they run into issues using their product. They have what’s often called a customer success or success management team that works with customers to help them expand adoption, make sure they’re understanding the value they’re getting from their solution, and is often responsible for The retention and expansion relationships. Many companies now have an education organization where you might have, uh,you know, whatever your product is. University, Knak University, where people can watch videos, go through learning paths to help understand how to use their product and what are some of the use cases. And then there are Other sometimes less frequent organizations like, community, some companies have a customer or services operations team that helps with resource management, reporting, product functionality, and increasingly, , businesses are also putting customer marketing under the responsibility of chief customer officer. So. You know, they’re basically responsible for coordinating the experiences across all of those teams and also working with their cross functional peers and products, sales, marketing, and other functions to help deliver these, these important initiatives.

[00:20:48] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
So. So Rod, you mentioned there, there isn’t that many CCOs out there right now, what, what do you think it’s going to take to change that? And like, do you think one day we’re going to have the same amount of CCOs as we have CMOs? Like, does it apply to every business?

[00:21:08] Rod Cherkas:
I would almost ask you, like, it seems like, uh,keeping your customers happy and helping to grow, your customer base and making sure that they’re getting, uh,the return and value from your products is really important. And my point of view is that, you know, every company should have an executive that’s responsible for. Coordinating and delivering those experiences and then advocating for your customers within your, within your executive team. So I do believe that every company should have some type of, you know, customer facing executive. Not every company needs a chief level. role, right? Smaller companies don’t necessarily need a bunch of C level executives. So what we find out there are, you know, a lot of companies where the most senior level person running these customer functions might have a vice president or a senior vice president title, which I think is also great and important. And, you know, one of the reasons that I wrote the book was to help individuals understand, you know, what is the difference between operating at a, you know, vice president level and what does your CEO and CFO and board need from you that would demonstrate that you’re operating at that C level?

[00:22:36] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, if you ask me, we, we just made, uh,one of our co founders chief customer officer, uh,early this year. And, uh,it was funny because his title before was chief operating officer, but when, when we looked at it, like he wasn’t doing anything that a chief operating officer does, and he was doing everything that a chief customer officer does really working super closely with our customers. And so, yeah, you know, I, I like to think at Knack, we’re a very customer centric organization, and I think to have Brendan be our chief customer officer was a way that we can really focus on that. And that, you know, he is spending the vast majority of our time with our customers and, and trying and that, and the teams that support them. So I can definitely see, uh,that future, uh,for sure in SaaS, you know, where we are a recurring revenue business and that things like net revenue retention are very high, uh,on my radar as

[00:23:54] Rod Cherkas:
CEO. Yeah, I think that was a great move, and I think it’s been, you know, very positive for Brendan to be able to spend time, focused on those customer experiences, focused on helping his, uh,leaders develop, um, and helping to really understand and build close relationships. Um, with with your customers, particularly the ones that are critical for your growth. So I’ve enjoyed working with him, and a couple of experiences that relate to that is, you know, with his his focus, he’s able to spend time with some of your largest clients, um, understanding what their needs are. Supporting the implementation or supporting the expansion opportunities and then working with your team to be able to document and make those processes repeatable. So, you know, you can do that. You can build confidence with your leadership team with your investors that it’s not a fluke that you actually have a repeatable process that if you get more capital, you can help expand. Um, you know, your next solution start with one business unit and some of these, you know, global companies and then know that, you know, you have a lot of value you can deliver and can expand, you know, one of the things that we did with, with your team that I also do with other clients is to help them build, an ROI calculator to be able to demonstrate the value of your solution. Compared to doing it the old way. So, for example, in next world, we put together a calculator showing how much it cost to be able to send an email through their existing businesses. So, for example, you know, one of your larger clients uses an agency and there were tons of back and forth. You know, it might take 10 back and forth with your client’s marketing team and their agency. And the agency is charging them, you know, 300 to 400 per hour. And, you know, it’s, it, it starts to add up where it was costing like well over 10, 000 just to send one email. Your client is sending, you know, hundreds of emails a month. And so you start to go like, okay, they’re paying these agencies 10 plus million dollars a year to do this. Compared to using knack with your internal team that cuts down the amount of time. And so we built a calculator that actually showed cost of doing it the old way and cost of doing it the new way. And it was like a 10, 000 percent. Improvement, you know, and the client loved it and your sales team loved it and can now use this, you know, R. O. I. Calculator with other prospects. And it’s not always that, you know, that big an impact. The agencies aren’t as expensive for every customer, but, you know, it just demonstrated how you can do something on your own now or make it simpler. So that you’re optimizing, you know, for your client, they’re optimizing their metric, right? They’re decreasing their cost of delivery, but getting, you know, same high quality outcomes that is completely under their control.

[00:27:06] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, absolutely. I love, I love that ROI calculator and we’re already seeing some, uh,some great ROI on the ROI calculators. It’s been an excellent tool to have., so you mentioned at the top how a lot of companies are focusing on their customers for both retaining them, but also trying to expand those existing customers. One thing that I know we’re trying to figure out at Knack, and I’m sure other companies are trying to figure this out as well as, you know, what is the best organizational structure? Of that CS team and the account management team and who in an organization owns that upsell motion. I’d love to get your take Rod on how are the best companies setting themselves up to expand their existing customer base.

[00:28:10] Rod Cherkas:
Well, I would answer that in two ways. There’s no only one way for how to organize, but I do believe that it’s increasingly important for customer success teams to become more commercial. What that means is that the expectation of the role of a customer success manager needs to be. So that they feel increasingly comfortable in being able to, um, understand customer needs, recommend solutions, and in many cases, actually take that through the actual sale and contract of the expansion. Now, not every customer success manager may need to know You know how contracts work and how to negotiate. But what has changed in the past couple of years has been the expectation that sort of CSMs are just sort of a trusted advisor. They don’t want to be involved in the commercial discussions because they somehow feel like they need to maintain objective and aren’t trying to sell the customer something. But In order to deliver the repeatable results that success leaders are responsible for and that you as a CEO care about, your success managers are often in the best position to understand what those expansion opportunities are, what are the additional use cases that the customer could benefit from? What other business units at the company aren’t you providing value to? And starting those discussions, and it can be a decision about how far the CSM takes that discussion. Do they just introduce it to a salesperson and bring the salesperson in? Or do they, you know, bring it pretty far along in the process? But either case, it’s really important that the success managers feel like. you know, expanding that relationship is part of their fundamental job, not just an optional part. And so I’ve been encouraging, you know, Brendan and your teams to help, um, build out that skills. And it may not be a natural skill for folks, but it is something that can be taught and practiced and mastered.

[00:30:25] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
And so, it moving it from sort of an optional part of a job. To kind of a, a main part of the job, what are your thoughts on, uh,CS compensation with regards to variable pay? Like, is, what are you seeing out there? What are the trends? And, and is… Kind of, uh,variable pay becoming more standardized in CS roles.

[00:30:55] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah, yes, I was actually in a, in a discussion group with, other CCOs, through an event that, Gainsight put on last week. And the topic was about, compensation and sort of… incentive design around customer success team. So this is a very hot topic. And I would say what, what we’re generally seeing in the industry is that success management teams do have a variable part of their compensation. So there’s clearly an opportunity, you know, sort of an option where they’re just like fully based salary and that’s all they get. And then I would say, like, just about every company has some type of variable pay that the CSM team is on. And then within that variable pay, it can vary depending on, you know, is it sales and expansion related, or is it, are you do you get compensation based on retention often called gross retention? So there’s a metric called gross retention, which has a maximum of 100%. So how much of a. You know, sort of the beginning period, revenue you’re able to retain. And then there’s a metric called net retention, which could include, you know, how much churn you have, but also expansion within existing accounts. So not every company. Either has the desire or ability to measure all of those, and compensate based on it. But the best ones are able to put together an incentive structure that supports sort of your company’s goals, right? And if the goal is to help, you know, create expansion opportunities, you could have that funnel from your board to your executive team down to your front lines. So I think it relates a lot to You know, what are the business challenges that you’re trying to solve for in whatever period of time? Yeah,

[00:32:55] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
that’s awesome insight. I, I did want to talk about your book. I’ve got my copy right here. it’s been great kind of going through it. You talked a little bit about it. But I’m just curious, like what was your process? to write the book. How long did it take? Like, I’d love to hear more background. Like, what was that moment where you said, Hey, I need to, I need to write a book about

[00:33:22] Rod Cherkas:
this. Yeah. So I started writing the book last March. And it came out in the at the end of January, basically February 1st, and so it took about a little bit less than a year from sort of start to finish. I felt like I needed to do it because I, there are kind of 2 things. 1 is. I felt like there was a lot of knowledge that I had accumulated in my career and that through my work, as a consultant, uh,with, you know, dozens of companies and with hundreds of leaders over the sort of the previous, what would have been year at that time, that there was a lot of knowledge that I could help pull together into one resource that could help so many people develop in their careers. And that was a bit of what I did as I started to write. I started with an outline of, you know, different topics that I thought were important to cover. And the end of the book became, you know, eight strategies to help, basically aspiring CCOs and CCOs accelerate their career growth and. You know, earn a seat at the executive table, demonstrate that they’re operating at that executive level. So that was the gist of it. And in the book, I introduced a concept called the chief customer officer maturity model, which is a summary of 8 different skills and strategies that I defined that. Basically are the eight core chapters of the book, and in each of the chapters, it has very actionable examples and stories that anyone at any level in their career can be learning about and applying. So, for example, there’s, a chapter about, building strong relationships with customers. And I talk about, how you can build out this program to walk in your customer’s shoes. And some stories around that, or building out a customer advisory board, or how you can take advantage of escalations that you as a leader might be having with your customers and turn that into a learning experience and cement relationships. So there’s. literally dozens of very actionable examples. And it’s been, um, it’s been incredibly rewarding since the book came out to hear the reaction. I had no idea how much it was going to resonate with so many people like book sales from Amazon have been phenomenal. I’ve been a. Bestseller now on Amazon and I every day I get emails or instant messages from people like literally around the world saying how much they’re enjoying the book and how much they’re learning from it. And, you know, pointing out a particular anecdote. uh,that resonates to them. And so it’s, it’s been great. And I, I hope that it will continue to be sort of a foundational resource for anyone that thinks that they might want to be a chief customer officer at some point in the future.

[00:36:23] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, that’s amazing. Thank, thank you, uh,so much and, and good for you for, having the idea and, and get putting pen to paper and publishing. It’s, it’s an awesome, uh,accomplishment. So congrats, Rod, on that. And, um, uh,yeah. So where can people find the book? Where can people find out more

[00:36:46] Rod Cherkas:
about you? Yeah. So, um, you can buy the book on Amazon. Just, uh,search for chief customer officer playbook. It’s available in paperback and on Kindle at a discounted, a new release pricing. So very easy for people to pick up and that’s available globally. uh,you can get more information about me on my website at rod circus dot com. I have a newsletter that you could subscribe to, and I’d encourage people to just follow me on linked in. I’m posting a couple of times a week with tips and strategies to help people be able to do their jobs better. And that’s been Been a lot of fun and I’m also doing a number of events and book signings, both, um, on zoom, or, or other online vehicles and then increasingly in person. So, people can, you know, keep an eye out for me there.

[00:37:42] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Next time I see you, I’m going to make sure to bring my book so that I can get it

[00:37:49] Rod Cherkas:
signed. There you go. Happy, happy to do that. Happy, happy to get you a signed copy.

[00:37:55] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Awesome. All right. Well, I can’t let you go without doing a rapid fire section here. So, uh,the first one is what’s one marketing trend that you would unsubscribe

[00:38:08] Rod Cherkas:
from? One of the things that annoys me most is when I sign up to download a piece of content from a company, and then every morning at, eight o’clock, I get calls from their BDRs day after day. To like, do I want to buy something, I’m a reader, I’m a information share. I’m a, you know, I’m like a learning machine. And so I’m always trying to learn from things and it frustrates me that in order to, get useful information that just helps me be better as a consultant and better as a, a peer and a mentor that all of a sudden it gets me on a list that every morning I have spam, spam calls from one or another company. Yeah.

[00:38:52] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Don’t you hit that? People have to work on their lead scoring models. There you go. [00:38:57] Rod Cherkas:
They should know that I’m a one person company. Yeah. uh,So

[00:39:03] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
the next one is, is email dead?

[00:39:08] Rod Cherkas:
I still like email. I think it has an important purpose. But one of the things I really like is gmail’s ability to filter emails into those different topic areas from like, primary promotional social upgrade. So what I do is I make sure that my primary is my important work stuff. And then my newsletters I set up as a social. I don’t necessarily I use them. The titles for my own purposes, but that way it enables me to go and read things at leisure and go through, you know, the newsletters that people are sending out, because I do find it useful and valuable for things that I would like to learn about, but I don’t necessarily need it. Getting into my inbox day to day. So I like that filtering capability. [00:39:53] Pierce Ujjainwalla: Nice. uh,we’re all about work life balance at Mac. What do you do [00:39:58] Rod Cherkas: for fun? I play a lot of tennis. It’s been, uh,great too. It’s a good exercise. It’s good social. I live in, in the San Francisco Bay area. So, you know, generally from spring through fall, the weather’s pretty nice. So it’s just a, it’s just a good time. [00:40:18] Pierce Ujjainwalla: Nice. Nice. Um, who is one person you admire in the business community and why? You know, [00:40:26] Rod Cherkas: I, I honestly, when I think of folks, I think of yourself, Pierce, there were a number of people like you when I was at Marketo that were taking advantage of the growth of this marketing automation business that were practitioners and then started consulting businesses and then turn that into offerings and, now look at what you’ve done and, you know, In a couple of different businesses that you manage and with NAC. So I actually admire you a lot for building that, right? Me now being an individual consultant, working with clients and trying to build up sort of my practice and brand. I look at folks like yourself and some of the other companies that evolved at that same time, uh,with a lot of admiration and respect. [00:41:12] Pierce Ujjainwalla: Thank you. Thanks so much, Rod. Yeah. It was a very interesting time and I look at. Some of the other people who built agencies, you know, like Alex at Percudo and Ryan, at DigitalPi there, there’s a handful of us. And yeah, it was amazing, you know, seeing, we talked about it at the start, Marketo giving an opportunity to people to advance their career with their software and then actually, yeah, much more than that with. With businesses that they could start to help those people. So it’s amazing. yeah, like I, I had Mark Oregon on previously and,, all these people starting these companies and all the opportunities that they create. [00:42:02] Rod Cherkas: Yeah, I was, I was, you know, I was, I was part of that process of picking and then choosing and supporting partners. Right? So there was Alex at Percudo and there was yourself and there was Justin at LeadMD and a whole number of, you know, smaller companies that at the time were, five people, seven people that are, you know, now much larger businesses. And it was great to support them. And in their business growth as well, you were hungry, you were willing to be flexible and you really cared about helping to enable and train and partner with all of these, you know, digital marketers that were early in their careers. And now they’re executives, they hire you, they bring you in. And it’s, uh,it’s really very rewarding to see that 10 years later. That’s

[00:42:51] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
awesome. What’s one piece of career advice that you’ve learned that you think might help others?

[00:43:01] Rod Cherkas:
Yeah, um, I would say one of my biggest pieces is to not burn bridges. There’s a lot of companies unfortunately now going through downsizing and layoffs that will affect lots of people. And there could be an emotion where people sort of Get angry at the situation. They get angry at their company. They maybe say things that are, you know, maybe inappropriate or maybe sort of hard to take back. And, you know, what I’ve seen in my career is that your career is long and the people that you work with, either at your current company, your managers, you know, peers will end up, working at lots of good places over time. And maybe people that you go work for that are advocates for you when you’re looking for your next job, they may be backdoor references when somebody is interviewing and, you know, wants to learn more about you. And it’s just important to have, you know, as as favorable a brand. So, even if you get let go from a company, you know, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about it with your friends and your family, and that it’s not appropriate to have those emotions. But think about the long term in your career. It’s very likely not personal. there’s a lot of really hard decisions that companies have to make right now. And, and it’s unfortunate, but think for the long term and try not to burn bridges. [00:44:29] Pierce Ujjainwalla: Great advice. last one, who else should we interview on the unsubscribed podcast? [00:44:36] Rod Cherkas: Yeah, well, I don’t know if you’ve had John Miller, who is one of the co founders of Marketo, but, you know, sort of, he’s one of my favorite people, just in this context that we talked about earlier about, you know, how did, how did he come up with this concept of not just marketing automation, but creating This marketing nation. And how did he take it from an idea? Um, make it practical, um, build out the, you know, sort of the concept behind these definitive guides, this approach to helping people develop, you know, marketing as a development, marketing as a career and not just, selling software. I think he’d be a great person for your, your audience to listen to.

[00:45:19] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Yeah, I’d love to, love to have John on, I’ll have to reach out to him. Um, well, this has been amazing, Rod. every time I talk to you, I learn a ton today. Just the great conversation about the chief customer officer, this new emerging role, that’s super important and can make such a huge impact on the company. We talked about customer success. Variable pay. We talked about NRR a little bit. About your new book that people can download. it’s been an amazing conversation. It’s really got me fired up. I hope everyone who’s listening feels the same way. Thank you so much for, for coming on. For helping us at Knack improve our customer experience. And, and for sharing all your knowledge through the book, it’s, it’s amazing and I hope that we see lots of other CCOs out there in the, in the coming years.

[00:46:24] Rod Cherkas:
Great. Well, thank you so much. And if any of your audience wants to reach out and talk to me, have a chat about how I might be able to support them in their businesses. Like I’ve been able to support you, Pierce and your organization. you can get in touch with me at rod at hello. CCO. com or visit, rod circus. com. And, and get in touch with me there, but thanks so much for the time Pierce. It’s great to see you and have this conversation. I’ve enjoyed working with your team and I’ve been so happy to see the, the continued progress and business results we’ve been able to work on together.

[00:47:01] Pierce Ujjainwalla:

[00:47:01] Rod Cherkas:
Thanks again, Rod. All right. Thanks Pierce.

[00:47:05] Pierce Ujjainwalla:
Thanks for listening to Unsubscribed, a podcast created by Knak. If you enjoyed this episode of Unsubscribe, be sure to subscribe to my podcast and leave a review on your favorite podcast player. If you have any feedback or wanna chat, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter at Marketing 101. Cheers.

The post #49 How to build a Customer-Centric Company with Rod Cherkas appeared first on Knak Blog.