The Client Success and Implementation Teams Help Clients Set Up, Succeed, and Grow with Qualtrics
The Implementation and Client Success teams at Qualtrics share core goals: making sure clients get as much as possible from the company’s platform, and finding new ways to help those clients grow. We talked with Taylor Wetzel (Team Lead for Enterprise Client Success), Isabelle Abrams (Client Success Manager), Michael Chang (Senior Implementation Consultant), and Erin Shinoda (Implementation Consultant) about how their teams work with each other and other departments, how they advocate for clients, and how they tackle the challenges their teams face. Interested in joining them? See open positions or email Liz Dreyer, email@example.com, to learn more.
What is Qualtrics and how does your team support the business?
Taylor: Qualtrics helps companies collect data, then gathers it into one platform where they can gain insights, take action, and make better decisions. Businesses in virtually any industry can use our product, with a wide range of data — customer experience, product, market research, brand management, and employee engagement.
Michael: Erin and I work on the Implementation team, and Taylor and Isabelle work on Client Success. Both teams are under the same umbrella and share a lot of the same skills, but we work with clients at different stages. Implementation actually spun out of Client Success about three and a half years ago; we realized clients have a different set of needs when they’re being introduced to the platform and building their program compared to when they’ve matured and are looking at long-term success.
Tell us more about that timeline — when do you each work with clients?
Erin: Implementation comes first; we’re the client’s first point of contact after a sale. We meet with Sales to prepare for the kickoff and to get up to speed on the client’s needs, then we help the client settle in and start using the platform. We’re like the bridge between Sales and Client Success.
Taylor: Right, Implementation eventually hands off to us in Client Success, usually after about two to six months, depending on how complex the project is. But we work together leading up to that transition; often, we’re on a lot of calls together. We want the client to feel like they’re just moving along to the next step of the process, not starting over and answering questions they already answered months ago.
Isabelle: We’re also organized within teams by the type of client: small- and medium-sized business, mid-market, enterprise level, and academic.
Erin, Michael, what is your day to day like in Implementation?
Michael: We’re a hybrid of project management and technical product knowledge. Our goal is to make sure the solutions we’ve offered are enabling the client to realize powerful business impact against their KPIs.
Erin: Aside from Engineering and Support, Implementation is probably the team at Qualtrics that works most closely with the platform itself. We’re in a unique position in that we understand a lot about the product and we get to see how it’s working in the client’s hands. We talk with them every week to check in on their progress and help them get answers to their questions.
Michael: We’re working at a faster pace than you’ll find elsewhere, too; we’re much more efficient. Before I came to Qualtrics, the project I was working on was part of a seven year implementation. Here, a seven-month implementation is long, which is much better for us and for our clients.
Taylor and Isabelle, tell us about the work you do in Client Success.
Taylor: We function as strategic consultants for our clients; we’re like advocates for them. We work with every department within Qualtrics — doing everything from collaborating with product teams to prioritize new features to coordinating custom builds with our Professional Services team, with the end goal of deriving more value for our clients.. One misconception about our team is that clients are coming to us with everyday technical problems. That’s not what we do; Qualtrics has a significant Customer/Product Support team that handles those questions 24/7.
Isabelle: And we’re doing different things for different clients too; we might help them find new ways to use the platform, or help them learn how to get the most out of an existing use case. Our main goal, similar to the Implementation team’s, is to make sure clients are getting value out of Qualtrics.
Taylor: We’re in a unique spot in that we can have a direct impact on the growth of both our clients and Qualtrics. I used to do investment banking, which I enjoyed, but I didn’t have the opportunity be on that front line, driving growth. I went to IE Business School for my MBA, and that’s when I started to understand how quickly startups can scale. I thought, “These companies have potentially unlimited runway. This the future.”
How do your teams measure success?
Taylor: Our main metrics are expansion and renewal; we want to make sure we’re continuing and growing our relationships with our clients. The work we do can have a huge impact on the rest of Qualtrics, because every uptick in renewal rate boosts our value and overall company trajectory.
We’re not on commission and we don’t have quotas. We do work with other teams to grow accounts, but our job is to figure out what’s important to the client and strategize with them, not just sell them something.
Isabelle: For instance, we might start working with one team within a company, then reach out to other teams within that same company that could benefit from Qualtrics. But I’ve had conversations with our account executives where I’ve said, “I don’t think this is the right path for this client. Let’s move in a different direction.” More than anything, our goal is to understand our clients and their use cases and know how our tools can help them succeed.
Michael: To some extent, we know we’re successful if the client is happy; we want them to be comfortable using the platform, and we want to make sure their projects come in on time and on budget. We get to help some of the top brands in the world solve issues they’re facing; seeing those results is what gets me going every day.
Taylor: It’s also rewarding that we’re not trying to sell ice to an Eskimo. Our clients need Qualtrics; some of them come to us decades behind where they could be in terms of the tools and strategies they’re using, and we can help move them ahead 20 years. They end up being leaders in their field — the companies everyone else in the industry is chasing.
What are the characteristics that make someone successful on your teams?
Isabelle: Communication skills and knowing how to set expectations with clients. We are often translating technical information for clients who don’t necessarily have a technical background, so we need to be careful that we’re keeping everyone on the same page.
Michael: It’s the same for Implementation. Step one of good communication is talking with the right people. Step two is asking the right questions, and then shutting up so you can listen. You have to figure out what the customer wants before you can suggest a solution; the plan should be something they helped inform, not something you’re pushing on them. We need to be able to dissect every piece of information a client gives us, turn it into a solution, then make sure they understand it well enough to explain it to their executives.
What’s satisfying about this work? Can you tell us about a time you felt you really helped a client?
Taylor: Definitely. Client Success started working with one of the largest banks in Europe recently, and there was a feature on the platform that they wanted to use, but we hadn’t worked on it in two years and were actually planning to remove it. We had 30 days to improve the feature before the client launched a project to 2,000 of its most senior executives, making it highly visible. So we worked with the Product team to add the functionality the client was looking for in a shorter development cycle. The client loved it. Now they’re expanding to a nearly seven-figure license within their first year.
Erin: Another example — we have a ticketing feature that lets our clients know whenever their customers take a survey. One of my healthcare clients wanted that data broken down by the person assigned to each ticket, which we hadn’t done before. So I worked with the Product and Engineering teams to code a solution, and now that feature is being included in future releases for other clients, as well.
Taylor: Erin’s too humble. She got creative, stood up and made these features happen, and made a $500,000 license with her client a possibility. They wrote in a couple weeks ago singing her praises because of how much she’s done for them.
Very cool. Can you tell us more about working with Product on a new feature like that?
Michael: We’re extremely open here. No one’s hesitant to reach out and voice their opinion if it’ll help our clients. We talk regularly with the Product team to see if the requests we’re getting are common scenarios, where building something to address them could also improve other projects.
Taylor: Coming from a numbers world, one of the hardest things for me to learn was how to speak like an engineer. The first time I walked into Engineering with an issue, I just said, “Hey, my client has a product question.” I’ve since learned to communicate much more effectively — thanks to the help of our patient engineers — which means we can turn things around that much more quickly for clients.
Erin: It was kind of the opposite for me; I was a project manager for an engineering team in my last job, so I worked with engineers all day long. That’s one of the reasons I like being on the Implementation team; I get to stay deeply engaged with the product but also with our clients. I can talk with the people using the platform, as well as the people who can make it better.
What are some of the challenges of your role?
Isabelle: Wearing multiple hats can be a challenge. We need to be our clients’ advocates; we need to have a high level of product knowledge; we need to be risk managers if something goes wrong. I also need to make sure I’m dividing my time and attention wisely — I want each of my clients to know they’re important to us, and I want them to have the resources and support they need in order to succeed. I’m on a first-name basis with most of them; I know a bit about their families. It’s rewarding to build those relationships.
Taylor: It’s challenging when software doesn’t perform as expected, but navigating those situations can actually be very rewarding if you handle it right. We’re the ones who get to say to the client, “We’re sorry we didn’t meet expectations. Here’s what we’re going to do about it.” Some of my best client relationships are ones where something went awry, and we quickly came up with a solution. It shows them we’re committed. We all view our clients as partners, and we want them to look like rock stars. That turns into long-term growth, as well; as our clients move up in their organizations, they take Qualtrics with them.
Do you feel like you’ve had an impact on your team as well as clients?
Michael: Absolutely. The Implementation team is still fairly new, so we’ve got a lot of opportunity to influence our own internal processes. I used to work at a 400,000-person company consulting with Fortune 100 clients, and we ran up against massive amounts of bureaucracy trying to make small improvements. Here, if something’s not working, we change it.
Isabelle: There’s definitely a culture of ownership here. I originally joined the Client Success team as an intern and even then, I was able to have a huge impact on the team through the various projects I took on.
Taylor: There’s a term at Qualtrics for working on an internal improvement, we call it a “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.” Isabelle and I are teaming up on one right now; we’re putting together playbooks to define what success looks like for customer experience and market research. We want them to be a reference for everyone on the team; if a client asks us “What does it look like for me to be successful with this study in this industry?” or “How do I know if I’m providing good relational customer experience?” we know how to have that conversation in a way where we’re all speaking the same language.
What’s next for each of you? How are you preparing for your own big, hairy, audacious goals?
Erin: I like working at Qualtrics, so I’ll be here for a while, but I think what I’m learning will serve me well no matter where I go and what I do. I’m working closely with clients across so many different industries; I understand their use cases and I know how they think.
Taylor: Qualtrics is expanding a lot internationally right now, and I’d love to run a team or an office abroad. I’m interested to see how what we’ve perfected here would transfer, especially the culture. The culture at Qualtrics is freaking awesome; we should take it worldwide.
Isabelle: I know that wherever I go next, I would like to keep working in consumer behavior. Coming straight from college, I am thankful that this role has opened my eyes to so many facets of the business world. I’ve learned how to think strategically and how to navigate an organization — skills that will be valuable in any future position.
Michael: I’m looking forward to passing on the best practices and knowledge of our senior folks and helping our junior employees develop their careers. A year ago, a six-figure agreement at Qualtrics was a big deal, and now seven figure deals are becoming more and more common. We’ve grown a lot already, and our team has so much potential still to be tapped.
Interested in joining the team?
Note: This story originally appeared on Qualtrics.com.