People, Processes, Product, and Tools: How HealthJoy Has Built a Customer Success Organization
HealthJoy simplifies the healthcare experience by providing personalized benefits guidance, helping employees make better decisions to drive down costs. The easy-to-use app brings together medical professionals, advocates, Rx savings and artificial intelligence in the form of the app’s virtual assistant, JOY, to increase benefits satisfaction and productivity, decrease stress for HR, and offer a consistent, enjoyable member experience.
Sarina Asher, Director of Customer Success, has a background in public policy, and the skills she developed implementing the Affordable Care Act in various states translate to effectively leading the Customer Success (CS) team at HealthJoy.
CS is an emerging field within the technology industry and can look different in every company. At HealthJoy, a Customer Success Manager wears many hats, ranging from guiding a client through implementation, ensuring clients see value and rely on the HealthJoy platform once a client’s instance goes live, and serving in a cross-functional role by using customer insights to advise the strategy of the product, data science, partnerships, and sales teams.
HealthJoy’s CS team has grown to 9 people since 2018, when Sarina and HealthJoy’s COO, Brad Aaron, shared all of the CS responsibilities. The CS team works closely with the 33-person technology team, which covers development, implementation, product design, and product.
We talked to Sarina about how HealthJoy is building the CS team while working in partnership with multiple departments. She starts from a place of principle, sharing the two non-negotiables her team lives by every day:
1.) Clients have to feel the love: HealthJoy cultivates champions for life who thoroughly enjoy the product.
2.) Members of the CS team have to feel supported in their role.
“We were not going to scale successfully by offering a client experience on the backs of people working too hard in an unsustainable environment,” Sarina says. “Knowing this, we scaled by focusing on our people, processes, product, and tools.”
1.) The People:
When hiring, Sarina evaluates candidates’ soft skills and asks how they can use their past experiences to succeed in a tech startup. “I came from a very non-traditional background, so I understand a career pivot. I’m thankful for the recruiter who took a chance on me and understood the value I could add to my first tech role,” Sarina says. For this reason, she is less interested in a linear CS background and more focused on finding a candidate with top-notch client acumen, strategic thinking, project management skills, and a passion for health technology.
Because HealthJoy’s Customer Success Managers (CSMs) sit on the front lines, managing relationships with executive sponsors, they need to be active listeners and good communicators — simultaneously understanding the customer’s voice, while advocating for what HealthJoy offers, to fulfill customer needs.
“Along with being able to interact with all of HealthJoy’s teams and manage lots of moving parts, I always ask why candidates are interested in working here…if we as a Customer Success team are not passionate about our clients being successful and understanding the value of the product, then our clients will not be successful,” Sarina says.
HealthJoy has a formalized checklist as part of a 30/60/90 day plan to adequately train and prepare all new hires for their roles, focusing on the industry, the product, then the process. The CS team needs to be knowledgeable and trustworthy because they are the first stop for customers’ questions.
In the first 30 days on the job, a new CS team member learns the landscape of the health and benefits industry so they’ll be equipped to speak about regular issues that customers encounter. Within 60 days, employees know the HealthJoy product in and out and sit in on live sales pitches to fully understand the features of the product. Lastly, employees learn the internal processes and tools utilized at HealthJoy and practice by taking on their own accounts. This in-depth training ensures that employees are equipped for success on the team.
The takeaway: In order to build a deep and knowledgeable bench, startups should consider nontraditional backgrounds. They should build an onboarding process to help new employees ramp up the most quickly while being educated as deeply as possible about the industry they’re in, especially if it’s a complicated one like healthcare.
2.) The Processes:
To grow more efficiently, Sarina knew HealthJoy had to codify some processes. When she started in 2018, processes and actions were running smoothly, but the startup was so new that there wasn’t much process written down. “Last year, we spent the better part of quarters three and four documenting what we were doing, as imperfect as it might have been, in an Excel spreadsheet. From there, we were able to evaluate what low-hanging fruit we were able to scale,” Sarina says.
With this exercise, Sarina learned that there were areas of the business where she could build efficiency while effectively producing the same results. For instance, the CS team used to schedule a 1-on-1 launch preparation webinar with every single client. Sarina realized that an individual webinar with each client wasn’t exponentially increasing the client experience, and the team could move to a regular, scheduled webinar cadence in order to maximize efficiency with the same outcome. “I noticed I was constantly on calls with our clients who wanted to know resources for how to market their program. Instead of a phone call that would last 45 minutes for every client, I held a monthly webinar that was attended by 75 clients at once,” Sarina says. “With webinars, clients can ask questions and get the same information I would share over the phone, but I now could save my time for other crucial tasks.”
After checking off the low-hanging fruit and starting small, HealthJoy has scaled by segmenting clients into enterprise-level and small-business bucket, each with different needs. “Our largest clients might have robust corporate communications teams and multiple benefits points of contact, whereas our small group clients love us because we are taking that work off their backs,” Sarina says. In order to more effectively serve both buckets of clients, Sarina’s team decided to build a new role, Customer Success Specialists, who are solely focused on small-business clients.
The takeaway: Though it may feel like a waste of time, it’s important for startups to constantly assess what activities they’re repeating over and over again in order to design a system to prevent repetitive actions. Building tools and processes to automate and operationalize are going to pay off in the long run.
3.) The Product:
The CS team is often the first line of defense when it comes to customer conversations about a company’s product. Through conversations with clients, Sarina discovered that the HealthJoy Dashboard, which provides program administrators a hub to implement their HealthJoy program, along with access to reporting and marketing resources, was frequently referenced by program champions. This revelation enabled the CS team to work with the product and engineering teams to prioritize the Dashboard product. After recognizing the importance of the Dashboard, HealthJoy could unlock its full potential and take advantage of HR’s desire to visualize program outcomes, leading to further improvement of the product.
“We focused the roadmap this quarter and last quarter on this Dashboard space, making it more self-service, more usable, and more robust for our HR leaders,” Sarina says. “The new implementations are going to transform the experience both for the clients and for my team, so there are fewer back-and-forth emails between HR and the CSMs, and an overall more efficient and high-quality implementation experience.”
The takeaway: Product, engineering, and CS need to operate in concert. The departments should respect each other, and have built a system for communication, feedback, and closing loops. The product will be better for it.
4.) The Tools:
Lastly, Sarina and her CS team take note of the activities that are repeated over and over to please and positively impact customers. After identifying repetitive emails or phone calls, they plan to use an out-of-the-box product like Gainsight to maximize efficiency. Gainsight is a product for Customer Success that brings together all of the data collected on customer health so that the CS team can easily action for their clients and further scale operations.
“For example, if we get a positive review, we would be able to use the software to automate the process of sending an email out to our client. The software would auto-generate a message from the Success team to notify our program champion of this rave review and invite them to come to view their outcomes on our dashboard,” Sarina says. “That will allow us to affect more clients in a more strategic and impactful way than we currently can with manual, time-consuming processes. In the future, we can reserve a CSM’s time for meaningful conversations and strategy.”
Her advice for early-stage companies without the current resources for software: take stock of the actions you are performing over and over again.
“We weren’t using software at our Series A; we scrapped together everything with spreadsheets and sweat. Now, using Gainsight, we can think about building more strategically and building upon the tools to make the most of our people,” Sarina says.
The takeaway: Buy or build is a constant struggle. If software exists that’ll help you operate your business more effectively and better serve clients, it’s worth spending time on.
Ultimately, Sarina’s role as Director of Customer Success is more than having all the answers. It requires her to facilitate a team who is eager to try new things to solve problems and improve HealthJoy.
“I want folks at HealthJoy who are creative, and when they see something that can be done better, they do it, test it out and report back. While consistency is important for certain processes in CS, sometimes it’s not to our benefit if we all do things the same way,” Sarina says. “In a startup, we don’t work in an environment where there is one right way to do things. As we continue to scale, I hope to encourage my team to try new processes to create positive change.”