Home Friday Recording #54 Kristine Kukich & Internal Alignment

#54 Kristine Kukich & Internal Alignment

by Kristine Kukich
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In this episode of CMAweekly, the hosts and guests discussed various topics related to the professional and personal challenges faced by individuals in the corporate world. They touched on the importance of kindness and empathy in professional communications, the impact of recruitment processes on candidates, and strategies for obtaining unbiased customer feedback.

The conversation also delved into the challenges of achieving alignment within organizations and the effectiveness of creating platforms such as content councils to facilitate communication and coordination among different departments. The guests shared their experiences and insights on these topics, providing valuable perspectives for the audience.

00:00 Discussion on organizational alignment and its importance.

Kristine Kukich [00:00:23]:
So today we’re talking alignment, guys. And and why and what’s going on and how how it became the topic today, mostly because I, I talk to a lot of people over time. Cathy and I chat at least on, text to each other, like, every couple of weeks. I talk to Mary frequently. Gary, every once in a while, we we chat back and forth. Lauren, I think we have occasion chatted as well. So, one of the questions that has come up both here and in the customer education channel and so much so that our last was on the same top topic, was, how do we focus on alignment with the organization? Because so much of what we do is dependent on what happens at the organizational level, how do we make sure that we’re in alignment with whatever we need to align to? And that is just something that has been coming up in a lot of one off calls with people. And so I thought I’d ask you guys.

Kristine Kukich [00:01:35]:
Number 1, are you how do you focus on alignment in your practices, and, and what are the the techniques that you might use to front load alignment with the people that matter. And who are the people that matter with your groups. So let me start there. I guess, who who focuses on alignment already? Anybody?

Kathy Fava [00:02:07]:
I have in the past, and what I would do is is reach out to the team, whether it’s it could be product. It could be dev. It could be engineering, those were the people I had to deal with the most. And I just, sort of introduce myself and and tell them really broad strokes about my team and and then just listen to them and ask them what, you know, what’s going on in your group? What are your goals? What are your challenges? Talked to me. Usually, that was enough to get them saying a lot. And and towards the end, I would ask them, you know, how can we work together? How can I help you make this work without adding more to your plate kind of thing and and just sort of cash through it or or set up another meeting to do that? But, just taking an interest in the other teams when when a lot of times what they meet with is is demands, helped.

Kristine Kukich [00:03:25]:
Lauren, I saw you come off mute too.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:03:28]:
I just wanna say,

Lauren Stefano [00:03:29]:
I think one of the things that is the most challenging is the number of different people that we are often trying to align, And they have very different goals. Right? So we work with parts of the customer success team that are more focused on Support and service and sort of that day to day making sure the customer has a great experience as well as folks that are more interested in The sales side of the relationship. Right? And

Caroline Rodrigues [00:03:58]:
Mhmm.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:03:58]:
Sort of

Lauren Stefano [00:03:58]:
pulling all of that together, and then you add in the product folks, and then you add it in, and it just, It’s you know, sometimes I feel like we’re sort of at the center of just about everything happening. Right? Which is great. But also

Kristine Kukich [00:04:17]:
Challenging.

Lauren Stefano [00:04:18]:
You know? Yeah. There’s a lot of different different ideas, different priorities, and it’s really hard to find that line between, well, if we shoot for consensus, we we’ll never get anywhere. But if like, we’ll never get to full consensus. But how do we move forward with some level of alignment? Right? Get to that, like, sort of disagree and commit space.

Kristine Kukich [00:04:47]:
We we’ve talked about it kind of like a nexus plus sign kind of thing. Right? Where customer marketing is at the center point, and we’ve got the the horizontal alignment across teams and the vertical alignment to leadership. Right? And I and you can see it, right, where the the customer marketing team is is smack dab in the center of all of that. Oh, sorry. I’m not keeping up with the meeting waiting room. Sorry. I forgot that was a host duty.

Mary Green [00:05:22]:
I was like, it’s weird that there’s only 7.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:05:31]:
Now we’re up

05:32 Implemented content council for communication strategy success.

Kristine Kukich [00:05:32]:
to 9. There we go. Okay. I’ll keep an eye. I brought the participant window up, I’ll see it now. The the thought one of the things that’s come up, and you guys talk tell me what you think about this, is, I went to the to Locon this summer in Vancouver, and one of the things that that came up from a customer ed perspective was the idea of a content council. And one of the things that we did at Thought Industries was build out a communications council so that we brought in members from dev, members from support members from SUCCESS, from ED, and from, product, and I think that was everyone, and Demand Gen. I one of the Demand Gen people from marketing to come in and actually, put together the, the council that met every 3 weeks, oddly enough, to really focus on the communication strategy and what everybody was doing as it related to whatever the the latest initiative was organizationally.

Kristine Kukich [00:06:54]:
So we really did get an idea of how everyone plays together. Right? And we and we got an opportunity to to direct kind of how everyone plays together so that we would know that Ed was gonna cover these pieces, and marketing was gonna cover these pieces, and DemandGen was gonna focus on these things at the prospect level, separate from what I might be doing, enter a customer, and that we would give sales, the opportunity to benefit from whatever we came up with as well. So that seemed to work, but it was still, new enough that we weren’t we didn’t have any really good stats other than to say people really liked the thought of communicating with one another to make sure that the message that we were putting out was this was the same. So does that resonate with you guys? Does does that sound like a path?

Cristina Levenetz [00:07:51]:
I was gonna chime in. So when I was at a subsidiary of, Equifax. We did something like that, and it was really successful. We have, CS, we we had, product, product marketing, and then anyone that was, looking to to get communication’s out to to customers. And we found that a lot of the times Right. People are looking to, just be heard. Chime in. See what’s, you know, the other side of the the, house was doing.

Cristina Levenetz [00:08:31]:
There was also an aspect of it that was a it was air traffic control for what is being put in front of, customer. So there’s, like, a strategic component, but a more operational component. And it was air traffic control. We had a calendar of what communications are gonna be, going, in front of customers. You know, CS, product. Are we gonna do surveys to customers, all that good stuff. And, just there were in addition, we would have, like, like peer review. So if somebody was gonna, you know, send an email or, you know, something to that effect, some communication, you submit it 2 weeks in advance.

Cristina Levenetz [00:09:17]:
We had SLAs. Everybody had a chance to review it ahead of time. We’d look at it live. All everybody, you know, agree that this, isn’t the the voice that we want. Okay. Approved. It’ll, you know, go on the date that you wanted to to go out. But, yeah, it was,

Kathy Fava [00:09:37]:
that was pretty pretty effective.

09:41 Streamlining communication across all company structures, 2024 planning.

Kristine Kukich [00:09:41]:
I like the way that the, we used to do a Monday board for ours where we were able to load up all of the the levels of communication. And if they were targeted, like, we we were just getting to the point where we were saying, we want to unify a quarterly message across all of the structures. Right? So DemandGen would be focusing on x whatever. I can pick a topic. And then on the customer side, we would also be focusing on that and our levels of communication out in the 1 on ones that the CSMs had with the individual customers would be messaging those same kinds of, actions, including the things that we were focused on in in, in customer marketing around building out, our own campaigns, basically, against whatever that that theme is gonna be so if we were talking about, I don’t know, Panorama, then that was gonna be the focus. The segmentation was the structure for Demand Gen, which is kind of the thought leadership arm of it. We were talking about nuts and bolts of it in community with showcasing customers who are utilizing the functionality and giving special recording access then to sales so that they could use those recordings of those events in their interactions with customers and potential customers, and so we were really kind of building a cycle that that but, again, still very, very new. We were just getting to the point to start building up the calendar for 2024.

Kristine Kukich [00:11:25]:
So we could do, we could get 2 quarters ahead was the goal so that we would know like, q one is gonna be x and q two is gonna be this. And then in q one, we would plan q three so that we could stay ahead of it. Because for me, finding customers to tell their stories was the challenging part, right, knowing that I I sometimes it takes a while everybody to get their calendars to agree because I don’t necessarily care about the day that we do it, but it’s gonna be a live event. It’s gonna be open for community. Right? All of our customers can come. It’s an it is a customer’s only event. It’s not necessarily an open webinar. Although DemandGen may have scheduled something as well that is an open.

Kristine Kukich [00:12:10]:
You know? Everybody can come from the Internet kind of kinda deal, but and I’d still have to find customers for that, and they ideally are not the same ones. No. But we have a lot of people who are willing to be the same one for a month. But, but I’ve done that part was challenging for us. It was just making sure that we could get all of the right kind of involvement from the different

Kathy Fava [00:12:36]:
people. So

Kristine Kukich [00:12:40]:
anybody else? I know some of you guys have just just joined, but, we were talking about what kind of alignment strategy do you already have? Gary, go.

12:52 Building alignment through inclusive discussions in startups.

Gary H [00:12:52]:
So most of my experience has been in small tech start up, early stage start up. And a fairly consistent problem has always been, a very heavy handed CEO who believed, that they knew exactly what the alignment the rest of the organization required. And so we’d have to play a very long game to get alignment outside of those parameters. And one of the things I found most useful, in fact, was in my group, I would have, brown bag lunches, we’ve even went to Zoom once COVID hit, and where, the focus was Having everybody else talk, not me, where they needed to lead the discussion and talk about, what they believed were important issues. And over time, fairly quickly, we would get other people from other parts of the company that wanted to participate in those brown bag lunches, and and we would open them up To everyone except for the execs, because once the execs came in, all the conversation tended to shut down. And so I guess this is tribe building. And, so we we would get the topics out on the table where we wanted To be driving alignment, and getting the rank and file discussing them, their observations, and their ideas about what Needed to be done. And that was often it’s often been very effective in terms of socializing ideas where we wanna develop alignment, and showing that there’s broad buy in on on those ideas by having those public discussions of them.

Kristine Kukich [00:15:00]:
Did you find that you by building the that structure, it allows you to, develop better horizontal communication with those those people and or teams, because of the of the interactions that you had at those calls?

Gary H [00:15:21]:
Yeah. Because they were far more socialized with each other. They they heard each other, the things that they were concerned about, the things that working with all the things that weren’t working, which was not happening through any of the other mechanisms in In the organization. Again, these are all rather small organizations. The biggest one is maybe 30 people. Most of my experience varies between 7 and 30, over the last 15 years. So, quite often, the people who are the managers, in particular, like the CEOs, they’ve often been first time newbie CEOs, they’re they’re inexperienced in organization building and culture building. And and I actually learned this from a marketing person.

Gary H [00:16:16]:
So this this whole brown bag approach was an interpretation of this. Yeah. You know what AB testing is. Correct? Correct? So what’s ABC testing?

Kristine Kukich [00:16:36]:
For me that’s other.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:16:38]:
You

Kristine Kukich [00:16:38]:
could do an a and a b and another.

Gary H [00:16:41]:
Well, it’s more explicitly it’s a b testing plus whatever the CEO knows is the right answer.

Kristine Kukich [00:16:48]:
Oh, there we go. The c stands for CEO. I get it. Alright.

Gary H [00:16:51]:
Yep. Yep. And so, once I had learned that concept further back, the brown bag lunch was an approach to, how to, build common ground amongst the people in these organizations, while accommodating the CEO.

Kristine Kukich [00:17:18]:
We used to have, Friday afternoon beer in the office at my 1st software company, there were only 5 of us. And the the whole appoint the whole point of the Friday afternoon call was with a get together, because it was actually a conference room, was to actually, hash out the messages and the. All of the pieces and to build alignment on the different initiatives that we had at the time, and it worked really

17:58 Defeat groupthink by gathering individual ideas first.

Kathy Fava [00:17:47]:
well. It it Did you aspire on here? Go ahead, Gary.

Gary H [00:17:58]:
It’s the old, approach. I learned it, when I was in IBM management school decades ago, about, defeating groupthink. Because one of the problems of groupthink is when people are in a group together and you say you’re going to brainstorm on something, It tends to be, for example, in this case, if the CEO expressed their idea, nobody else in the room was going to challenged that idea. All they did was build on the idea of who the perceived leader in the room was. And so the way to defeat groupthink is to send people out and get them individually to put together what their ideas are And and share them up. And while you may get redundancy, you’re also gonna get creativity and innovation That, that you all get in the group setting so that when you come together as a group, then you you work on those ideas that have been bubbled up from the individual.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:19:05]:
That’s sometimes the problems with group settings is majority is not the correct answer. Majority does not always rule, and majority is not always the best way. Right? So it’s it’s thinking outside of the box And offering up other ideas outside of the box. That’s at the end of the day, that’s what this is. I mean, customer marketing, customer advocacy is a lot of thinking outside the box. Right. Traditional things that normally work in other areas of marketing don’t always work, in customer advocacy. That’s why a lot of it is just, like, testing.

19:33 Encourage different perspectives and outside-the-box ideas.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:19:33]:
Right? And challenging them, not saying that what you’re saying is wrong, but how about we try it this Right? That’s another way to approach something that you don’t feel like you’re being combative or confrontational or what have you. And and sometimes, you know, being different and not being a part of being a minority is not always a bad thing, right, if you can think outside the box. And If you believe in your ideas and you can, like, get by in and and just try it. Right? Sometimes you just have to test it and do it to to show people a different way of looking at something or a different process of doing something.

Kathy Fava [00:20:13]:
I like the idea of going back a few topics. If you have a publication you’re sending out or a live presentation, if you have somebody from each group, like a sort of sort of a roundtable thing, and the customers can see that, like, you guys talked. I think that’s really helpful for your customer base, because I don’t know. It’s really oh, these guys work together on my problem. That’s reassuring. So I think I think, in a way, including the customer is important piece of Misalignment.

Kristine Kukich [00:21:00]:
I think some of that is gonna be size dependent. Right, like, again, in Gary’s situation, I don’t know that that that’s something that I would would leverage all the time, but, partly because of the one to 1 and one to many ideas. Right? If you are dealing with large enough clients that they have a team and you’re presenting your team and they’re presenting your team, yay. Right, good idea. If we have a team of a CSM, a marketing person, a product person, a salesperson, and the, support person. So we got at least 5. Mhmm. And they’re a team of 1 or 2.

Kristine Kukich [00:21:49]:
You outnumber them so strategically that it can be daunting for customers to see this so many people. Yay. That I have this many people to help me. Oh my god. They’re all here.

Kathy Fava [00:22:05]:
Right? I’m thinking more of a big group, like a webinar or in your publication, whoever’s putting out something about something else, you could maybe, include a a link to a video where all of your team leads or whoever’s important that month, quarter, whatever, could say a little something and and demonstrate how they how you work together on a problem or

Kristine Kukich [00:22:38]:
so that you’re getting the perspective of everyone in a less threatening manner.

Kathy Fava [00:22:44]:
And that they work together.

Gary H [00:22:47]:
Yeah.

Kathy Fava [00:22:48]:
So Yeah. Yeah. I think customers really need to see that sometimes.

Kristine Kukich [00:22:54]:
I think that you’re right. That is a good visual for people to understand that that when we say we’re a team, we really mean it

Kathy Fava [00:23:01]:
Mhmm.

Kristine Kukich [00:23:05]:
Which is not always easy. How else do you focus on alignment? Customer facing, non customer facing?

Caroline Rodrigues [00:23:29]:
None?

Kristine Kukich [00:23:29]:
Alright. Here’s the question then. We’ll move on. What was your biggest win this week? Kathy got to walk. Unless you have a bigger win than that. Of course. Share the bigger win than that.

Kathy Fava [00:23:50]:
None? Carolina?

Caroline Rodrigues [00:23:54]:
I’m thinking. I just you know, I’m I’m still kind of thinking about the last question. I I joined late. Apologies. But I’ve spent most of my career in 2 big branded companies, VMware and Cisco, and alignment was, not the easiest thing in the world, especially as the companies grew. So I was still kind of thinking about my trails. I’m not

Caroline Rodrigues [00:24:18]:
I’m not with VMware anymore.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:24:18]:
I’m thinking about now I’ve gone to this small company, and the marketing team’s tiny, and I’m kinda behind the scenes consulting. And it is completely different world for me. No multimillion dollar budget. No staff. No no disciplined teams to say, I need this website. I need this page. I need need need need. Please give me these things.

24:42 Gary leads start-ups, rebrands, and secures investors.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:24:42]:
I mean, it’s all like, I think it’s Gary who’s spent all his time in start ups. This is kinda my my first My first go here. So in terms of big wins, it’s I’m in the getting to know you process and rebranding these 3 companies that just came together. That’s a big, huge, huge, huge win to get, investors and the 3 CEOs and the new CEO all lined up. So that’s Enormous, and I actually like the branding, which is also a big huge win. And just getting all of the pieces, like, really, it’s You know, there are kind of 3 stages to a company, and it’s you have your pioneers where there’s nothing there, and then you have your, You know, your your settlers that they’re not everything’s built out, and you still have a chance to do cool stuff. That those are both my experiences at those companies. And then you have the planners.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:25:37]:
It’s already done. It’s already big. Just do what’s what’s been done over and over again. That’s really boring. And here, it’s for sure. It’s the pioneering. It’s every single thing is brand new. So name it, and it hasn’t been done.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:25:50]:
So branding’s a huge win. Just getting pen to paper on what exactly is happening in a process. There’s technology. There’s people, and there’s process. And if those aren’t aligned, it’s it’s a disaster. So it’s kinda cool doing things differently Based on my trails before, when you couldn’t change things that were already established. So I guess I did have something to say on my way. You did.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:26:17]:
Yay.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:26:18]:
Speech. Yeah.

Gary H [00:26:19]:
Mhmm. Mhmm.

Kristine Kukich [00:26:21]:
Mary, I see you went off mute too.

Mary Green [00:26:24]:
Oh, yeah. I was just listening to her talking about the start up versus well, I usually look at it as, like, small corporate, big corporate, but, I really enjoy the The pioneering in the start ups where it’s you have so much more autonomy to run with it. There’s more risk, obviously, but I get to wear more hats, and I love being able to touch All the different pieces, but I know that when I worked with Shannon Howard, She was adjusting to that at the company we were at, and she was like, everybody just keeps saying it’s a startup. It’s a startup. And it was very frustrating because there were no processes in place, and things changed all the time. You’d get, Okay. Fill out this Asana form when you wanna do something with marketing ops, and then you’d go to fill that out. And they’d be like, well, you filled out the wrong form.

27:33 Building relationships with other teams requires effort.

Mary Green [00:27:33]:
Like, just always things like that going on, which really required a lot more Conversation with the other teams, which with bigger corporations, it’s hard to get them to pay attention to spend any time with you. Like, you have to build a much longer, kind of road map to partner with them and build relationships and see how you can contribute to what they’re working on as well, that’s I like to move a little bit faster than that, but, yeah, I think It does go back to the alignment and really continuously putting our information Out there and asking others what they’re working on and even having our own road map of, okay, for the first 3 months, I’m gonna work with these teams. For the next 3 months, I’ll work with this team and picking those up and then continuing the conversations in tween. It’s a lot to stay on top of, but you can automate, you know, that schedule and, you you know, look at your calendar. Oh, we have a meeting coming up. Is there anything big you needed to share? No. I’m sending you some details right now. We can just pass this one over.

Mary Green [00:29:00]:
But, yeah, I think it’s fun, and you grow a lot closer to the start up teams.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:29:11]:
So Mhmm. Mhmm.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:29:13]:
It’s a different world for sure.

Mary Green [00:29:16]:
What what company are you with now?

Caroline Rodrigues [00:29:19]:
It is right now, it’s called Relevance Lab, But it’s changing, publicly anyway. It’s 3 companies that came together. I’m working with a former leader from from my Cisco days that I did fun things with. So it’s it’s interesting. It’s cool. It’s very different. I’ve never been a consultant before either, so this is totally everything’s different. Yeah.

Mary Green [00:29:46]:
Yeah. It’s good though. I worked at Demandbase, and we had just acquired 2 companies. And so I had to Start the customer advocacy community

Caroline Rodrigues [00:29:59]:
Mhmm.

Mary Green [00:29:59]:
And our user groups and then Help drive, like, the reviews and testimonials and all of that stuff, and it was interesting, yeah, To have those extra teams that you now have to work with and, you know, work through the whole Onboarding them coming into the company and their customers coming into the company, it’s there’s a lot to do.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:30:26]:
A lot. A lot. A lot. Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s it’s never dull. Just it’s very different From anything I’ve done before, which any company you go to even size, the people are different.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:30:39]:
The processes are different. You know? All of it. You know? Down to the CEO. You know? CEOs of the start up very sensitive about the products, and they know the way and, you know, just everything has trade offs and benefits, and it’s fun, though. I’m loving it. It’s just very different. But I do miss my I do miss my relationships with the disciplines. Like, can you just help me get this one thing done and You know, all these tools and things that you have that were established, those would be nice to just flip the lights on and have those things.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:31:13]:
But, that’s the wish. Right? Yes. Yes. Tiffany.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:31:23]:
Yeah. So I I also worked, and I agree with a lot of things that Mary said about start ups. I mean, I was at a start up, and I spearheaded everything from ground up. There was really nothing, lack of data, you know, reviews, driving it, getting the quotes, RFPing the platform, so I ended up going with Infludive, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with Influd at 2 different companies. Yeah. And I really liked it and it really helped, but there wasn’t much like you know, 8 years ago, there wasn’t much as far as competition as there is now. There weren’t that many vendors, right, that you could to pick from. There was Sprinklr that we looked at, Influtive.

31:58 Joined startup, enjoys implementing processes, overcoming resistance.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:31:58]:
We went with them. They were still actually a startup as well, so there was some growing pains on their end just as much as our side. But, yeah, I like I like startups. I like being able to just get in and help with processes, implement things, right, run with it. And I think a lot of it is just coming in with a plan, like your vision that you have, and then just meeting with the various teams, right, to try to get And not everybody’s gonna be agreeable because you’re gonna get resistance on how client success and sales manages the customer. Right? Some of them are, like, very protective. And In my experience because I used to be an account manager and do client success and cross sell upsell retention. So I tell them kind of what my experience is and What my background is so then they don’t worry that I’m gonna mess up the relationships.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:32:44]:
And many times, I end up having closer relationships than some of the CS do because, Unfortunately, they’re not talking to their customers as much as I am, so I’ll bring people in. And as people quit, new people come on, bring them into the accounts,

Caroline Rodrigues [00:32:58]:
And

32:58 Seek community feedback for product development strategies.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:32:58]:
so they appreciate that and then offering to help. Of course, the other thing is, yeah, if you want feedback from the community, just let me know, like product engineering. If you guys wanna, you know, or think of a of a A function that you think that they want and that you hear about, but let’s just kinda throw it out there, right, and ask customers, hey. We’re thinking about developing x, and z. What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s good, bad? You know, tell us what you think. Because sometimes, by the time it gets To the product team, it’s not really it’s kind of old news. Right? So sometimes people hear things, and they start working on it. And this is my experience working at a company now bought up by IBM.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:33:33]:
They started producing a functionality that nobody wanted. They spent all this time creating Foursquare, right, as part of a social widget, And nobody used it, so it was a complete waste of time and investment. So a lot of times, you offer to help and say, I can help get feedback back from community. So it’s like a give and take because a lot of times they feel like marketing is always asking for help and not offering to help in other ways as well. So those are some of my

Caroline Rodrigues [00:33:58]:
ideas voice of the customer without the bias of sales sometimes that doesn’t wanna rock their boat or they’re don’t wanna mess up a booking or pipeline or they’re asking for things.

Kathy Fava [00:34:11]:
Right.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:34:11]:
They’re asking for things.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:34:12]:
So And that’s why when I do case study interviews, it’s just myself and my writer. I don’t have a whole entourage of people because they don’t need it and the client. You wanna be able to get the good, the bad, the ugly. Right? And then you’re gonna put up a nice Dorey, and then anything that you learn that they complain about, you can share with the team and said, hey. You guys can optimize the account this way. Maybe create some dashboards for them or some reports. Keep them happy. Right? So those are opportunities to learn about what they don’t like about us because when there is a CSM, they feel there’s a gatekeeper.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:34:40]:
Right? So they might not say what they really wanna say. And for us, we’re just the person getting the story. We wanna hear everything from a to z so we can support them and maybe fix some of their problems, meaning the customers. We can create alignment with the CS and said, hey. I heard this. What about here’s an opportunity for you to upsell this person on x y z. Right? So a lot of it is, yeah, being able to kind of position, you know, why you’re doing a certain thing a certain way because sometimes the CS wants to get on the call, and I’m like, nope. That’s just our rule.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:35:09]:
No CSM is gonna be on the case study call or what have you. So and and I’m happy to to talk to anybody on the call if they wanna meet or whatever to talk about startups ideas or some kind of issue that they have that comes up. So reach out. Link in with me. Happy to support everyone here whenever.

Kathy Fava [00:35:28]:
Cool.

Kristine Kukich [00:35:37]:
Do we need a startup group?

Mary Green [00:35:41]:
For what?

Kristine Kukich [00:35:42]:
I don’t know.

Mary Green [00:35:45]:
Are you a start up?

Kristine Kukich [00:35:47]:
I am a start up.

Mary Green [00:35:49]:
Yeah. What was your big win for the week?

Kristine Kukich [00:35:54]:
My big win for the week was that I spent most of my week doing billable activity.

Mary Green [00:36:00]:
Oh.

Kristine Kukich [00:36:03]:
For those of you that don’t know, I I opened up a consultant a couple of weeks ago. So

Kathy Fava [00:36:08]:
Oh, nice. So if you

Kristine Kukich [00:36:10]:
need help, I’m here for you. But, yeah. And I I spent most of this week working on change management activities with SMB out of Maryland.

Mary Green [00:36:25]:
Oh, nice. Yeah. I feel like the weeks just fly by lately, But I did have billable work this week, so that was great. Okay.

Kristine Kukich [00:36:38]:
That was my that was my big win this week was making sure that most of the hours I spent were on billable activity.

Mary Green [00:36:46]:
I started my course this week. That was Exciting.

Kristine Kukich [00:36:49]:
How’d it go?

36:52 Successful first call, shaping customer connection program.

Mary Green [00:36:52]:
Well, I mean, I only had 1 call, but, like, people got access to the actual course. And we had our 1st call, and it was great. Like, 1, I’m gonna learn a lot about how to best format all of the content, because I have a lot to share. So I feel like it’s probably going to move a lot in the direction of Weekly calls where I’m just I’m walking them through and kind of helping them, like, build out, like, personal coaching for what They’re trying to build, which are these customer connection programs, I’m calling it now, instead of community because People hear community, and they’re like, oh, we don’t wanna start a forum, etcetera, but you don’t have to start a forum to have community for your Customers, it doesn’t have to be that deep. So, but, yeah, I think I’m gonna learn a lot about how to better position the course and what I’m teaching and seeing what value I can offer so that I can better sell the course in the future, but we have 6 students. There were 7, but they 1 had to back out. And then today, 1 other person asked to join, so it’ll be 7. Oh, nice.

Mary Green [00:38:12]:
Yeah. And I’m gonna leave it out open for another week Just, like, allow other people to join if they want to. But I’m excited. It’s fun to be able to offer Advice and expertise and get paid for it.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:38:30]:
Yeah. Yes.

Mary Green [00:38:35]:
Yay. That’s my big win for the week.

Kristine Kukich [00:38:40]:
Congratulations. Anybody else?

Mary Green [00:38:45]:
Is part of the course, Christine.

Kristine Kukich [00:38:48]:
Oh, yay. Yay.

Mary Green [00:38:49]:
Because it’s In doing community marketing, community management for so long, it was a new kinda department for a lot of The companies that I worked with, and you really had to partner with and build relationships with all these teams be able to get them to contribute and work with you and all of that. And That’s really been helpful for, like, working with people where I’m doing some consulting at around customer marketing because I feel like there’s a big lack of knowing how to do that, if you know what I mean.

Kristine Kukich [00:39:34]:
We talked about it. Shannon and I talk about it a lot too on the internal marketing that we have to do to make sure that everybody understands what what our goals

Caroline Rodrigues [00:39:45]:
are

Kristine Kukich [00:39:45]:
from a customer marketing perspective so that, for two reasons. Right? The first is just to keep people in the loop, the information. But the second is to also celebrate the wins that we have across the organization so people understand the value that we bring. Because sometimes that could be scary. Right? Because that lack of value is in today’s market can mean that next week, there is no customer marketing.

Mary Green [00:40:15]:
Yes and no. Like, I think with a lot of people that I’ve talked to recently about their about layoffs, It really seems like they’re not spending a lot of time looking at who they’re individually laying off. It’s, like, departments. Right, parents. I had somebody earlier today I was talking to, and they were like, I’m super overwhelmed. But I know that they see the value in me being here, so at least I don’t have to worry about my job. And I’m like, I love you. We’re Good friends, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your job because at the end of the day, a lot of these Companies are doing layoffs to show investors that they’re trying to save some money short term.

Mary Green [00:41:03]:
And To do that,

Caroline Rodrigues [00:41:06]:
it’s really easy to drop

Mary Green [00:41:06]:
a few departments. And, like, Lori Tims this week, She just got told last week how great her program was and how so helpful for the company, and, Boom. She’s part of a rift this week. Like, that’s crazy, but That’s what they’re doing, and we shouldn’t kill ourselves to just maybe stay included.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:41:35]:
Right. And they’re doing layoffs just in all different departments, professional services at my other company. Yeah. They’re they’re doing it, it seems like, top down now. So executives, the c levels that aren’t needed, the VPs of professional services, they’re keeping the managers around. They’re trying to absorb the work and, yeah, it’s all about numbers. It’s all about the bottom line. So they’re doing a lot of layoffs Still.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:42:00]:
And it’s across the organization. They’re going I think the person with the highest probably the highest salary, is gonna unfortunately get let go first. So top down now. Keeping the middle management and the and the lower level people there do work. Professional services, Project managers, consultants, all of it. So and fortunately, no one is safe. Anything can change day to day, week to week, so just, you know, be vigilant. Just do the best you can.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:42:29]:
Try not to worry about something that hasn’t happened, but definitely keep your eyes and ears open. And save. Save for the rainy day.

Mary Green [00:42:39]:
Save and save your work too.

42:44 Recruiting process impacted by sudden Zoom calls.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:42:44]:
Yes. Because if they let sometimes it’s just everything just gets shut off. Someone is on a Zoom call all of a sudden 5 minutes after your week your know, 1 on 1 with your boss or what have you, so that’s how they’re doing it. A lot of people have been blindsided, people that didn’t think they you know, executives out there a long time, recruiters, managers, VPs of recruiting, unfortunately. But with this shift, I just hope that it kind of opens people’s eyes because I think that the recruiting process has been, unfortunately, dog eat dog and very unprofessional. People lack, I think, empathy and professionalism whether it goes people. I guess if you’ve been through the process, it’s not okay to go someone. Right? If they’ve had 1 interview, then just tell them, hey.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:43:27]:
You know, we’re moving on with other candidates. It takes a second. Cut and paste Right? But to not respond to someone and leave them hanging is not okay. And so I’m hoping with the shifts of If companies aren’t hiring, recruiters are also getting laid off, that they can see it from a different perspective, right, and be empathetic to what everyone else is going through. As they start getting ignored, then they know what it’s like, how they’re treating other people, and hopefully most people have a basic Moral and ethical compass in whatever you do. Right? Just be kind. It’s it’s really basic. Right? Someone asks you a question, you respond.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:44:01]:
If someone

Caroline Rodrigues [00:44:02]:
stops you on this middle

44:02 Be kind to strangers during uncertain times.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:44:02]:
of the street and says, can you help give me directions? If you’re not from there, I said, I’m sorry. I’m a visitor I don’t know, but they might be able to help you or I’m sorry. Yeah. I can show you. You wouldn’t even ignore strangers, so why would you ignore someone that you’ve actually had contact with and that you were gonna hire? You know? So just something to think about. Be kind to each other, you know, because everyone’s headspace is is, you know, off right now, right, with families and people struggling and Being unemployed, it’s not fun. No insurance. I mean, I don’t have insurance, and I hear that you’re gonna get a penalty for not having insurance.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:44:32]:
Right? But you’re trying to keep the lights on and pay your rent and your mortgage or what have you, so just be kind to each other. Something to just keep in mind and share with everyone else.

Mary Green [00:44:43]:
Yeah. I think our group, specifically, we have a lot of people that are very emotionally intelligent about those things. But beyond that, for some other professions, it can be easier to just Look and see. Oh, man. I have 50 more emails that I should answer before I’m done for the day, but I’m super tired. I just wanna get off, and they jump off. And I get it. There’s gotta be a work and job boundary, but You’re right.

Mary Green [00:45:18]:
It it it is better to just be kind to people. And especially now about it.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:45:26]:
Right? It’s a small global valley. And, you know, it just goes back to, you know, principles that That your parents taught you or your church taught you. Be kind. Be nice. Be respectful. And when you have taken someone’s time and you’ve been you’ve chased them And taking their time to add a minimum just it’s a one liner. It’s not an it’s not a novella. It’s a one liner.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:45:51]:
Thank you. Exactly.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:45:52]:
Time. Cut and paste cut and paste and send it at the end of the day. Right? Have a list.

Kathy Fava [00:45:58]:
Most of the

Kristine Kukich [00:46:00]:
most of the ATS systems have automated tools to say thank you very much. Okay? Almost every single one of them has an automated all that says, all you have to do is say no, and it will send out the beautiful little letter that says, we really appreciate how much time you spent preparing to meet with us. And, unfortunately, we have we found people who are a better fit for this position. Will be in

Caroline Rodrigues [00:46:28]:
change direction or whatever.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:46:29]:
Some even some things Exactly.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:46:30]:
Just What do

Tiffany Nguyen [00:46:31]:
you have? We’re working on with other candidates. It’s automate. You’re right. But people don’t take the time to do it.

Kristine Kukich [00:46:35]:
It’s just automated letter. And all they have to do is just flag it and say send it. And then every they get closed out, and there’s no ghosting involved. Now granted, sometimes it happens faster than people want. I I a guy that I know was looking for a job, and he said, yeah. I applied. Can you connect me? And by the time I got a name of somebody to meet with him, they’d already rejected him. But the the the reality is those systems exist for a reason.

Kristine Kukich [00:47:03]:
And if people choose not to use them, what does that say about the organization? I don’t know that I’d want to go to some place that does that. That behaves like that.

Mary Green [00:47:13]:
I’d like to have the option.

Kristine Kukich [00:47:15]:
Well, yeah, there is that. Right? I mean, if if if I get an offer that I don’t know that I could turn it down. You know? Sometimes.

Mary Green [00:47:25]:
Yeah.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:47:25]:
And and recruiting is the people business. You’re in the people business. You’re recruiting resources, human resources. Hence, that’s what it’s called. Right? And so you should have more I’d like the skill set than the average person who’s not client facing managing relations like us. I think most of us in customer advocacy, customer marketing generally have probably, like, a higher, social EQ, right, than maybe the average people, and that’s why we’re good nurturers, and we make things happen because we have to connect with folks and give and take, but not everybody’s like that bit. Human resources, that’s that’s definitely a people skill. And if you don’t have it, then you’re probably not a great recruiter take in with

Cristina Levenetz [00:48:01]:
it.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:48:01]:
I also think that while they might have that ability, it’s not a long term play. It’s a short term play. Right? So they They really just have to cast a net, catch a few, see 1 through to the end, but, really, they’re just facilitating where This skill set here is long game. It’s you are really it’s all about relationships and how you tend to these customers to keep them happy and, you know, give and take and all that good stuff. So it’s not really it cannot be transactional because it’ll be over, like, in 2 seconds, and then sales will hate you for it as well. It’s nice

Tiffany Nguyen [00:48:41]:
to know. Then there’s no loyalty. Then people are gonna be, okay. Well, this is temporary, and then peace out. I’m gonna go to the person that I know has my back. Because at the end of the day, you wanna work more where you don’t have to look over your shoulder every single day. We’re all trying to be profitable, keep the lights on, pay our bills. Right? If we could all

Caroline Rodrigues [00:48:59]:
do

Tiffany Nguyen [00:48:59]:
a hobby and get paid. We all be doing that.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:49:02]:
Yes. Yes.

Mary Green [00:49:05]:
It does seem like there are more People being hired for customer marketing, does anybody else notice that on LinkedIn, or is it just me being wishful thinking?

Caroline Rodrigues [00:49:19]:
I don’t get on LinkedIn much, to be honest with you, but I wouldn’t be surprised by that.

49:26 I avoid notifications and job searching noise.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:49:26]:
I don’t know. I’m kind of a 5050. I just I try not to look at notifications really at all because I think a lot of times it’s a lot of noise. And, so I try to just avoid the noise unless it’s focused on customer marketing. A lot of it is, unfortunately, a self promotion and just noise and, you know, everyone’s busy with work and things that they’re trying to drive, so I minimize it. I go on and look some jobs, but, unfortunately, the reality of it is, it is is most of the jobs, 50% of it, which I dislike the people who are doing this. If they have an internal candidate, then don’t pop post it. Post internally.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:50:00]:
If you have candidates, don’t even bother because you’re putting it out there. You’re getting a 1000 people who are investing their time, updating everything, and they don’t even have a shot in heck. Right? Because you already got 3 people in turn that want the job, then just don’t do it. If those 3 people are not the right fit, then you post it because that equal opportunity, that really isn’t equal opportunity. That’s actually misleading and false, and it’s dishonest when you’re releasing equal opportunity, but you’re not because you’re posting to the public to anybody in the public, that is not one of the 3 you have in my internally don’t really have an opportunity. So that’s

Caroline Rodrigues [00:50:33]:
just fraud. No. I won’t say that we’re all talking about relationships. It’s it’s Part of our DNA in terms of the scope of work that we do and the the work that we choose to do, and we’re probably all good at it, I’m gonna make an assumption. And I’d say that, you know, oftentimes, I don’t think it’s really taken into consideration how house not sensitive. Sensitive is the wrong word, but we take these things to heart. And I’ll tell you one thing that I noticed, in one company. I was it was odd because I was recruited hard, and then I looked at the rec.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:51:10]:
They had 1 rec, Same role in a bunch of different states.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:51:17]:
Mhmm. And I

Caroline Rodrigues [00:51:17]:
ended up learning that they do that to cast a wide net To CASES, especially in certain, areas that are generally, let’s say, higher paying and other areas that are not. And then they basically filter down to get the cheapest location with a similar skill set. It’s crazy. Like, that’s so Ridiculous and rude. Right? It’s kinda like no. You know you’re not gonna hire that person in that high paying area, So why would you even post it? It’s just crazy. So, yeah, I just it’s wild. I agree.

51:56 Employers repost jobs, lowball applicants, hire underqualified.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:51:56]:
And I I see a lot of these jobs being reposted and I’m like out of the 100 or 1,000 that are unemployed, I can’t imagine in one day, you’ve got 550 applicants that you can’t pick 3 of that pool that is qualified for this job. So 2 2, 3 things that happening is, yes, they’re lowballing people. And, yeah, they can get someone that is gonna, like, do it. And but if you’re doing 2 full time jobs And our job is, like, 2 full time jobs anyways. Right? Customer advocacy, customer market is crazy because we deal with so many different teams. You low yeah. Someone’s gonna come in, but they’re gonna do something not well. It’s gonna be, like, an 80/20.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:52:31]:
One job they’re gonna be really good at, and then the product marketing job you just dumped on them. That’s a full time job in itself launching products. They’re gonna do it 20% because there’s only so many hours in a day. 12 hours, you can only slice and dice it so many different ways. Right? 12 hours, I’m gonna do 8. Have 4 in product marketing. Keep my head above water. Keep doing it, and they’re gonna keep grinding me.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:52:50]:
And then in a year, if if I get burned out and I get recruited, I’m gonna have to leave

Caroline Rodrigues [00:52:55]:
Because

Tiffany Nguyen [00:52:55]:
that’s what you’re gonna you’re gonna get someone that’s gonna do it. You’re gonna get someone that’s not gonna be really good at what

Caroline Rodrigues [00:53:01]:
Yeah.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:53:01]:
Yeah. They’re gonna do something well. They’re gonna do Eighty twenty. Right? Something’s gonna be

Caroline Rodrigues [00:53:05]:
what you pay for. If you get new experience, it doesn’t matter. So, ultimately, with the skill set that everyone here has, If you are really looking to find another role, I would probably not go down the application route.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:53:23]:
I would contact the

53:23 Schedule time with genuine people, not algorithms.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:53:23]:
people that you know and schedule time with them. Right? Even explore even if you like the brand because Those have been the offers that have come to me over the past year. I even walked away from a couple and just wasn’t gonna be a right fit, Which was wild, but it was really through those personal engagements. The other stuff just like, a a 1000 people, like, how are you even gonna see me? Like, what are you looking it’s algorithm you know, it’s those those apps that are looking for keywords. There’s no humanness about it, and we’re all about knowing people and finding the right people in the relationships and cultivating relationships, I’m sure all of you have a whole bunch out there. So, anyway, Just sharing that because it’s ironic. Right? It’s so feels so plastic, and yet that’s kind of the opposite of what everyone here does.

Mary Green [00:54:14]:
Yeah. It’s true, but I don’t for me, it’s hard. I think, like, most of the people that I talk to regularly are customer marketers.

Kristine Kukich [00:54:24]:
So

Tiffany Nguyen [00:54:25]:
I wanna get back into CS work, and now it’s like, oh, but your last 2 jobs, like, yeah, but I’ve been in account manager for 8 years prior really well with enterprise companies like Disney, Starbucks. You don’t forget how to manage accounts because even advocacy, you manage customers. You ask people to do stuff for free, so it’s actually harder. So, yeah, it’s just it’s been like, oh, well, you haven’t had that title in the last 2 jobs. You know? It’s just there’s always something that, unfortunately, people wanna hold against. And even referrals. I’ve been referred to some positions, but it’s so And a lot of times if you’re more qualified than the hiring manager, they’re not going to hire you.

Kathy Fava [00:54:59]:
I

Tiffany Nguyen [00:55:00]:
see a lot of that case. People that get lucky and place them around. I’m like 8 years, they’ve got 4 years. They don’t want to hire me. She’s too overqualified. Well, then you can learn from me.

Kathy Fava [00:55:09]:
You know? Yes. Yes.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:55:10]:
Why not?

Caroline Rodrigues [00:55:11]:
Yes. Yes. I can be an amazing lieutenant for you. Like

Tiffany Nguyen [00:55:16]:
Yeah. Captain.

Kristine Kukich [00:55:18]:
We used to we used to have a a example when I taught ATS software was, would you hire somebody to be a receptionist that had a PhD?

Tiffany Nguyen [00:55:34]:
I I do have a better

Kristine Kukich [00:55:36]:
answer to that question, to be honest. The truth is that it’s really organizationally dependent. But, but how do you how do you reconcile the fact that somebody, has a PhD and was in a position where they were making a gazillion dollars, and now they wanna be a receptionist at your company?

Mary Green [00:55:56]:
They might have different plates.

Caroline Rodrigues [00:55:58]:
They might have yeah. I mean, I

Tiffany Nguyen [00:56:00]:
wanna work 15 hour days because I’m looking like I don’t I get it. Director. Yeah. I’m like, I’m cool with 10 hours and having a life and not being exhausted going from

Caroline Rodrigues [00:56:10]:
Computer to bed,

Tiffany Nguyen [00:56:10]:
bed to computer? I did that come home. I don’t do that. My body hurts. It physically hurts. I need to exercise so I can live and stay alive so I can do the job

Caroline Rodrigues [00:56:19]:
yeah.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:56:20]:
So it depends. If they’re taking a break, maybe she just had a baby or whatever. And she wants, you know, a cush job, 8 to 5, go home, and tend to her Sheldon and her husband or whatever.

Cristina Levenetz [00:56:29]:
Leave it there. Yeah.

56:30 People take career breaks for personal reasons.

Tiffany Nguyen [00:56:30]:
Yeah. So sometimes people can take a career break. They just wanna keep busy. They don’t need to, like, push anymore because they’re in a different phase in their life or or they have parents they have to take care of, you know, COVID. And our parents are all getting older, so We all kinda have to pitch in here and there. Right? So things like that that you can’t see.

Mary Green [00:56:51]:
Well, that time just Flew by, didn’t it, Christine?

Kristine Kukich [00:56:55]:
It certainly did. Alignment across all spectrums. So and we are at the top of the hour, guys. Thank you for hanging out. Much appreciated.

Mary Green [00:57:10]:
Thank you. Happening next week.

Kathy Fava [00:57:12]:
So I

Kristine Kukich [00:57:12]:
don’t think there was a I don’t think that last I saw, I don’t think there was a real topic, but somebody was hosting.

Mary Green [00:57:18]:
Oh, okay. Sounds good. Alright. We’ll see you all next week.

Gary H [00:57:22]:
For the energy.

Kathy Fava [00:57:24]:
Bye. Uh-uh.

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