High Alpha Pilots: Allison Bantz
VP of Services at Anvl
Allison Bantz has always loved challenges and change.
Allison’s love for change may have come from spending time in a lot of different states growing up. Settling in Indiana after college at Indiana University, Allison took on her first client facing role in customer support with a fast follow in implementation, where her passion for pace and problem-solving emerged. Today, as VP of Services for Anvl, one of the newest startups in the High Alpha Studio, Allison sees and solves new problems every day. Beyond her love for solving complex problems, she has a strong desire to make others successful, which in her career can be traced back to early beginnings with customers.
“I’ve always been interested in the way things work. I get really excited about solving really hard problems.”
Moving to Indianapolis after college, Allison had her first exposure to working with customers by taking on a role with a local utility company on the front line of customer support. She quickly learned the complexities of working with homegrown tech and the challenges and responsibilities of a client-facing role. Being curious, eager to learn, motivated by ambiguity, and keenly interested in improving the outcomes for customers and the broader organization, she ultimately landed on the tech side of the business. Over the next several years, she would take on roles that married these skills in business process improvement, systems implementation, and application management.
Growing and Changing
In 2006, Allison was ready for the next step in her career. Her husband had recently taken a job with one of the most exciting tech startups in Indianapolis, and it was growing fast. Allison soon followed her husband to ExactTarget and would go on to have an amazing 12-year experience at ExactTarget and Salesforce with incredible people that would forever change her life and her career trajectory. While on paper it may seem that her career focus was fairly fixed — the truth is it has been anything but that. Allison is a builder and a change agent. Allison has held professional services delivery roles, built new capabilities and organizations across services, drove service operations globally, integrated acquisition companies, and led global success programs at scale. With ever-evolving business needs in high-growth companies, Allison has been leading the charge for a diverse career of experience and leadership.
After 12 years of building at Salesforce, Allison was ready to take on an even bigger building challenge — a true startup. She wanted to apply the past 15 years of learning to a brand new company and a brand new problem, from the ground up.
“ What I think people who know me well will talk about is that I like to take unsolved problems or untapped organizations and create something. I’m a builder.”
A New Problem to Solve
Allison followed High Alpha for some time. She heard about Robin Fleming joining as an Entrepreneur in Residence and about a new safety concept they were building. It was intriguing, as it was an industry she was familiar with from her past work in the utility space yet also a space where she didn’t have true functional expertise. Those same early career qualities — curiosity, eagerness to learn, working with ambiguity and improving outcomes — peaked. She was sold on Anvl!
“ Safety is a brand new space for me. What was important to me was to work with new people, take the leap to work in a completely different space, with new people, and brand new ideas — I thought it would be a great personal challenge.”
A network effect is powerful but branching out forces you to grow. That is exactly what Allison needed and the timing was right. The role of customer success is making big strides in organizations all over the world. The way we value, approach, and give it momentum is being reinvented by a lot of talented people, many right here in Indianapolis. That’s exciting and Allison wants to be a big part of it.
Client Services: The Functional Area of Change
Anvl presents a great case for strong leadership in services. The market for Anvl is vast, with a large contention of enterprise organizations. It’s a unique opportunity for a startup to go enterprise first. It’s also hard. So, having talent on the team that is interested and capable in leading large enterprises through a digital transformation is critical. You have to want to build it while the train is leaving the station, every single day. But, there is an enormous opportunity for this technology to be successful and for our customers to achieve life-saving results. That’s a pretty powerful sell.
However, with every new opportunity, it’s a given that there are challenges too. What fascinates Allison most is merging the mindset of a tech company with large, industrial companies — the pace is different, the risk tolerance is different. Innovation is critical to future growth and success of these businesses. Getting there is complex, but it's not impossible.
Despite the challenges, Allison is hard at work defining her role as VP of Services at Anvl and for the field as a whole and she’s clear to articulate that her function in a startup services role is unique from that of a traditional one, which is one she wants to perpetuate at scale.
“ I think we have confused ourselves with so many discreet customer facing roles and the purpose they all serve. Organizations need to focus on solving customer problems. I view Client Success as a group of leaders engaging customers to deliver on the purchase they made and the outcomes they want to achieve.”
Support, implementation, strategic partnership, etc.. are all important in ensuring forward momentum. Client Success is not one person’s job and it’s not one organization’s job. If you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a business. We are all responsible for the success of a customer, just in unique ways.
“Be a human, have empathy and listen. Don’t always be in solution mode.”
Allison believes that every customer engagement should be treated as unique (notice, treat, not execute). She recommends spending some time putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, literally if you can, to help understand what problem you are solving and to gain some empathy. Understand who and how an organization makes decisions, what obstacles are present, how you partner to measure success, and how best to build a relationship.
“There is a difference between customization and personalization. You don’t need to customize it for every customer, but you do need to personalize it.”
With leaders like Allison in place, with her care for people and a love for problem-solving, we’re sure to see big things from Anvl, and from Allison, soon!
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