The Actionable Futurist® Podcast

S4 Episode 17: Christina Kosmowski from LogicMonitor on the future of customer success

July 18, 2022 The Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill Season 4 Episode 17
The Actionable Futurist® Podcast
S4 Episode 17: Christina Kosmowski from LogicMonitor on the future of customer success
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What does playing soccer in your youth have to do with being the CEO of a high-growth tech company? If you’re Christina Kosmowski from LogicMonitor then it has everything to do with how to coach a team for success. Christiana was an early employee at Salesforce where she helped to develop their customer success program, and later did the same at Slack.  

Her Twitter bio describes her as a customer-obsessed CEO changing the very role of IT with customers at the centre. She is a Wife, Mother, Engineer, STEM advocate, and Soccer lover. 

As CEO of LogicMonitor, Christina is responsible for accelerating the company’s hypergrowth and delivering on its brand promise of helping C-level executives and their teams thrive through transformation.  

Prior to assuming the role of CEO, Christina served as LogicMonitor’s President, leading go-to-market strategy, R&D, customer success and operations.  

Christina came to LogicMonitor from Slack, where she spent four years building and leading Customer Success and Enterprise Go To Market Teams and also spent 15 years at Salesforce, where she oversaw functions including renewals, consulting, support and customer success.  

This is s a fascinating episode to peek inside the workings of a successful Software as a Service company and understand how they delight customers.  

In this episode we covered:  

  • The difference between customer success and customer service   
  • The difference with a Software as a Service business   
  • Biggest learnings from Customer Success teams at Slack and Salesforce   
  • Becoming a customer-obsessed CEO   
  • Sharing insights across clients by connecting them   
  • Collaborating with clients   
  • Christina’s authentic personal brand   
  • Lessons from the pandemic   
  • The “where is Christina” channel in Slack   
  • Adapting management styles due to the pandemic   
  • Analysing customer losses   
  • How Christina’s engineering training has helped her career   
  • What Christina said “yes” to multiple opportunities   
  • Advice for secondary school students   
  • The influence of soccer on leading teams   
  • Why human relationships should be an industry priority   
  • Christina’s Personal “board of advisors”   
  • Selecting mentors   
  • The best piece of business advice ever given   
  • Innovation at Logic Monitor   
  • Best practices to develop a customer success program   
  • Promoting STEM in schools   
  • Connecting the sales & engineering teams   
  • What’s the future of customer success?   
  • Quickfire round   
  • Three Actionable tips to delight your customers   

Resources mentioned on the show
The Leader you want to be - Amy Jen Su

More on Christina 
Christina on LinkedIn
Christina on Twitter
LogicMonitor Website

Your Host: Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill
For more on Andrew - what he speaks about and replays of recent talks, please visit ActionableFuturist.com follow @AndrewGrill on Twitter or @andrew.grill on Instagram.

Voiceover:

Welcome to The Actionable Futurist® Podcast a show all about the near term future with practical and actionable advice from a range of global experts to help you stay ahead of the curve. Every episode answers the question what's the future of ...? with voices and opinions that need to be heard. Your host is international keynote speaker and The Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill.

Andrew Grill:

Today's guest is Christina Kosmowski. Her Twitter bio describes her as a customer obsessed CEO, changing the very role of it with customers at the centre. She's a wife, mother, engineer, STEM advocate and soccer lover. As CEO of Logic Monitor, Christina is responsible for accelerating the company's hyper growth and delivering on his brand promise of helping C-level Executives and their teams thrive through transformation. Prior to assuming the role of CEO, Christina served as Logic Monitor's President leading go to market strategy, R&R, customer success and operations. Christina came to logicmonitor from slack, where she spent four years building and leading customer success and enterprise go to market teams, and also spent 15 years at Salesforce, where she oversaw functions including renewals, consulting, support, and customer success. Outside of logic monitor, Christina serves on the board of rapid seven. She's also a founding partner of operator collective, an organisation that brings together people from diverse backgrounds to invest in and accelerate the next generation of b2b Tech. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Northwestern University, where she was captain of the varsity soccer team, and currently sits on the McCormick School of Engineering advisory board. Welcome, Christina.

Christina Kosmowski:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Andrew Grill:

Look, it's great to have a fellow engineer on the podcast. And we'll get to that in a bit. But for those that haven't yet heard of logic monitor, what do you do and what makes you rise above your competition?

Christina Kosmowski:

We're a purpose built fast item platform. So what does that mean? It means we provide visibility and predictability of the performance of organisations technology, so they can ultimately innovate and deliver customer experiences. And so we are really excited because this becomes critical as companies are in the process of digital transformation. And moving to the cloud, and our product architecture, the love we get from our customers, and the team and culture we've built really put us ahead of of our competitors.

Andrew Grill:

So we're going to talk a lot about customer success. And that's a fairly new term for some of our listeners. So how would you describe the difference between customer success and customer service,

Christina Kosmowski:

I mean, I could talk about customer success all day long, I love putting the customer at the centre of everything and was really fortunate at Salesforce to kind of be on the cusp of really creating this customer success notion. And so customer support is critical. When a customer has an issue, and they need help, right then in there, you've got to be able to provide that. But what's more important is also understanding what does value mean from them, and really setting them up for success. So thinking through what's the business value? What's the plan? You need to get them there? What's How do you proactively do that? And how do you create that relationship between your company and your customers. And so that's really kind of what customer success was intended to do, especially in the rise of SAS, where your customers constantly have to renew and you have to earn their are in their business every day.

Andrew Grill:

It's a very different model, isn't it, where every month they could leave, whereas in the past and legacy businesses, you know that they're 1824 months away from a renewal. So you can, you can be awful, but having that month to month really keeps you on your toes.

Christina Kosmowski:

Yeah, exactly. And you constantly have to be looking at value. What is value to that, not just what is your technology?

Andrew Grill:

So what was your biggest learning when you built Customer Success teams at SLAC. And at Salesforce,

Christina Kosmowski:

number one, putting the customer at the centre of everything you do is critical. So what decisions are you making? How are you building your product, and ensuring that you're really understanding your customer and that they're at the core of that. And in order to do that I've always said process is not the antithesis of innovation. So sometimes you have to create those processes to really enable you to put the customer at the centre of what you're doing. And so I often talk about read account process, which doesn't always sound great, but that's really important is when there's issues that you're seeing or risk of seeing it your customers, creating a process by which you can put the entire company up accountable for that customer, not just a team like customer success. And then finally, tell your customer stories. It's great to have data and understand how your customers are using your product. But it's really important that you bring that to life, especially throughout your company, for engineers, or even accountants who don't get the opportunity to understand how their work translates to customers.

Andrew Grill:

So coming to a CEO role with such a pedigree in customer success, do you think that makes you a better more customer obsessed CEO?

Christina Kosmowski:

Absolutely. And we're able to really take a lot of those processes that we're created, and put them at the forefront. And so we're looking at, you know, using data to understand how our customers are using our product, we're putting the customer at all of our decision points and creating kind of our tools and processes around that. And then we're qualitatively telling the customer stories. And so we do all sorts of things on that like bringing customers in for our all hands, or we've got customer stories, channels in Slack, where everybody in the business can hear how our customers are using our products.

Andrew Grill:

And you share that amongst other clients. So one customer, obviously, you don't share confident information. But if they've worked out a way to better use your product, or they've got a better way of doing business, is it really a smart move to share that amongst your clients, because they feel more engaged with you because you're literally helping them be successful in their business, even though you're a supplier,

Christina Kosmowski:

I think that's one of the most important things you can do is connect your customers and customers that are in similar stages in their journey with your product customers that are solving similar business challenges, they want to hear from each other, and where you as a company can kind of facilitate that. That's really powerful. And it also shows that you're, you're confident and you're learning and iterating together, you're not just feeling like, you know everything, you're really kind of making this a two way dialogue.

Andrew Grill:

So I read a really interesting quote you posted on LinkedIn recently, being authentic as a company is just as important as being your authentic self, your brand is a reflection of you. Can you expand on that?

Christina Kosmowski:

The pandemic, one of the great things that came out of it is that we had windows into people's authentic selves, right, you're starting to see that blend between kind of personal and professional and in bringing your whole self to work. And when you think about that, as a company, you've kind of got to do that same thing, which is really bringing your customers on the journey with you. And we talk about that a lot here at Logic monitor is I don't want to go back and just deliver product and an end product to our customers and say, What do you think I want to bring it to them and say, Hey, we're building this new feature, or we're building this new product? Will you do that with us and kind of bring them in early stages, so that you are iterating getting that feedback? And going on the journey together?

Andrew Grill:

So how does your own personal brand show up authentically? For me,

Christina Kosmowski:

I think it is. It's all around that this kind of iteration. And feedback loops are really important for me as a leader as well. And so really kind of bringing frameworks together. But then engaging the teams to help solve problems. We've talked about failing fast, that concept of, hey, we're going to be bold, and we're going to take risks, we're going to understand what success looks like so that we can quickly identify if something's working or not, and then either move on or expand that we're always willing to kind of take, be bold and take those risks and iterate.

Andrew Grill:

So you touched on the pandemic. What have you learned during the pandemic, as we move to more distributed and remote teams,

Christina Kosmowski:

I started logicmonitor during the pandemic. And so that was a real challenge. I think I underestimated how hard that is to do, especially when you're coming in. And you're in a hyper growth company. And we're building new products and you're driving change and transformation. And people don't know you and they don't trust you. And so how do you build that in this remote way. And so it was really critical that I looked for ways to engage in so different ways. And we talked about zoom and bringing kind of your full self on Zoom and introducing, hey, my house is a mess behind me or my kids are coming in the room and really getting them to know who you are as a person. Also, really utilising Slack has been important for me as well. So not only connecting in a synchronous live way in various kind of online zoom aspects, but also, I've got a channel in Slack that's called Where is Christina? And it's an opportunity where people can't see me every single day like you would back before the pandemic in the office, but it's important for them to kind of see what I'm doing on a day to day basis. And so we make it a little tongue in cheek sometimes, but we take different photos of where I am on Zoom or what I'm doing in my house, so that they can really start to know me and see me on a more frequent basis, we learn to be agile, and, and adapt. And this concept of iteration that we've, we've talked about so much, here just becomes more and more critical,

Andrew Grill:

we'll have to send you a photograph of us on the podcast. So you can say with Christina, she was on the actual futures podcast, which you have to subscribe to, we definitely have to do that. I will do that when the end, you met. Other interesting comment, literally, you said we had a window on people's lives, I got really good at squinting at people's bookcase to see what they were reading. It actually was the first time when we were with permission allowed into someone's home and whatever was behind them was what they wanted us to see. I know

Christina Kosmowski:

it's great at what they want to see or what they you don't want them to see sometimes to it, it was great. It's great for people to really connect and get to know people on a different level.

Andrew Grill:

So you said you've come into the role during the pandemic? Have you noticed that your management styles changed at all as a result of the pandemic and having to learn fast and adapt to this new way of working and managing?

Christina Kosmowski:

Absolutely. I mean, you've got to learn to adapt, everybody's learning this this concept of change and agility and adaption. And I think that that's even more important when you're in a fast growing industry, where your products changing, your customers are changing their relationship with your products constantly changing. And so building that into our culture has been really important. And I think the pandemic has helped really understand what that means. Empathy has just become, you know, everyone talks about that. But that's just become more and more critical empathy to what different folks are going through the childcare crisis is been a real challenge and understanding what some of your employees are facing and kind of their home environments, empathy to your customers, and really get understanding who they are as people and what they're driving not just from the professional aspect. And so it's all been, I think, some goodness, that's come out of the pandemic that forced us to be these more agile, empathetic and authentic leaders

Andrew Grill:

five years ago, we would never have had an insight as to why someone was turning up a little bit late or maybe a bit stressed, because you sometimes just don't want to ask those questions. We've given each other permission to literally say, are you okay, because being locked up for so long, I know that many people have wanted to have that feeling of connection, customer success, it means there must be some customer failures, I'm not going to ask you about any failures you've had in your career. How does losing a customer make you feel? And what do you do to analyse a loss?

Christina Kosmowski:

We haven't lost a lot of customers. But sometimes we lose some business from a customer as well. It's horrible. And you've really got to understand what happened there. And I think, one, you know, having the data is important. So how were they using your product? How are they engaging with you as a company? Were they calling support? Were they attending your events? Were they taking meetings from you? What was that engagement level, I'm really looking through that data, but then to also having that relationship to be able to happen transparently tell you, you know, what went wrong? What was it in the experience they were having was your product not delivering the value they needed. And so being able to kind of have those feedback loops and have that relationship with your customers is key and then reminding you, we don't know all and we've got to go back and take a look at things with a different lens and really get that feedback and understand those value propositions from your from your customers.

Andrew Grill:

Now I mentioned we're both engineers. And I think that's important because my training as an engineer your training as an engineer, we were taught to understand things from first principles. And often when my friends say my emails not working, my wife was not working. I look at diagnosing and fault finding in a very different way. Going back to first principles. Has your engineering training helped you throughout your career? And in what way?

Christina Kosmowski:

Well, I've seen industrial engineering and at Northwestern, it was all about bringing kind of the business side of engineering together. And that has been a core tenet for me in my career, which is how do we bring kind of the human and the business side to technology and so I made the move to Salesforce for that reason I moved into customer success. For that reason, I made the move to Slack logic monitor all around those principles. So that's been a core tenet number one and then number two, we talked about these core principles, but use the same process to enable innovation has been really important. A lot of people think that it's the antithesis of innovation, and when you move fast you can Have any process, but actually not putting some of those frameworks in place, make it really difficult to keep everyone aligned and to understand when you're doing innovation and experiments, what's working and what's not working, and kind of have that data and have those proof points. So those two things have been fundamental for me in my, in my career,

Andrew Grill:

just staying on the career. Again, I saw another talk where you talked about the times you've put up your hand during your career, and how that's helped you be successful, you tell a wonderful story, I'll just say go.

Christina Kosmowski:

I've definitely had a philosophy of just saying yes to anything. If you ask my younger self, would I be a CEO of a SAS Type organisation or being customer success, like I didn't even know what that was. So I didn't understand necessarily what I wanted to be when I grew up. But what I did understand is that by saying yes to these new experiences, that I was constantly open to ideas, and I was moving towards things that I thought were really valuable and interesting. And I could make a difference. My first job out of school, actually pre Salesforce, they were opening an office in London, so you'll appreciate that. I said, Yes, I will go there. And that was an incredible experience and learning about international. And then when I heard about Salesforce, it was a small startup, just 20 million in revenue, and nobody knew what it was. And I said, Yes, I'm gonna try that out. And when, because when Salesforce said, we need to create this new function called customer success, I said, Yes. So I was constantly open to new ideas, and you really have no idea where these where these will take you.

Andrew Grill:

What advice do you have to secondary school students or students of any sort listening to the podcast right now?

Christina Kosmowski:

It's exciting, the world's changing and just really understanding what drives you? And having some kind of fundamental core principles and then saying, yes, based on those core principles, and what gives you energy, you're gonna have a fantastic career.

Andrew Grill:

Now you were active in soccer in university, just translating that for a British audience football, how has it helped you with teamwork in companies you've worked in, and now lead,

Christina Kosmowski:

I love soccer or football and still very much a part of my life. My freshman year in soccer at Northwestern University, it was our first year as a varsity programme. And so we lost like, almost every game, we only won three games, and I'm an extremely competitive person. So that angered me. And so I went out, and I just worked my butt off. I like ran in the snow. Every day I trained, it was just constantly training. So I come back sophomore year, and I'm just in the best shape of my life. I'm technically sound, I'm ready to go ready to crush it to get there. And my teammates kind of look at me. And they're like, ah, you know, she's She's a freak of nature. Oh, you know, here's Christina. And I got really mad in that moment. Because I said, Well, I've worked really hard to get here. What were you guys doing this summer used to be in my same shape if you'd actually follow these plans. And it was just this kind of light bulb that went off in my head. It's not about me, about me just getting in the best shape. It's about how do I help the rest of the team understand why it's important to do these things and help them be better. And so we went on and had a had a decent sophomore year, but by my junior year, we actually made it to the Sweet 16 in the in the NCAA tournament. And so we had this turnaround. And I think that that light bulb of kind of bringing people on that journey and empowering and help people understand what it is we're all trying to do is important. And so that lesson has stuck with me throughout my entire career.

Andrew Grill:

I'm afraid that if I work for you, you asked me to drop and give me 20.

Christina Kosmowski:

Yes, we do often have some some competitive games that are at our sites, that's for sure.

Andrew Grill:

So you say that human relationships should be an industry priority. How can your industry evolve to make this a reality?

Christina Kosmowski:

It is about understanding not only what your customers are trying to do from a business, but what the individual customer is doing and helping them make careers from using your products. And when you do that, and you're empathising with them, and you're helping them drive this tremendous value in your organisation. That's when you're truly developing these, these partnerships and providing customer success. And so I think it's really important that you understand the people at your customers and really understand the challenges and what they're trying to drive.

Andrew Grill:

So mentors are an important part in helping to guide your career. Understand that one of your teenage daughters is on your personal board of advisors. What advice does she give you?

Christina Kosmowski:

She's amazing because she's been yet to I'll be tainted by all the things that we often get clouded with. And she's able to bring things back to kind of a very simplistic term. And she also knows me the core of what I am. And so she can pull me out in a way that people at work wouldn't and which kind of puts me and my place. And I think that that's really important when you talk about bringing your whole authentic self, it can't just be from one lens, it has to be people that see you from multiple angles, whether it's at home, whether it's someone that works for you, versus someone that you report to, or someone that just sees you off in a distance at work, it's critical that you have people that can bring that different lens and hold you accountable in different ways.

Andrew Grill:

Now, I'm sure you've got mentors other than your teenage daughter, how do you select mentors? And where do they play an active role in making you a better leader and a manager.

Christina Kosmowski:

And I think it's important that, again, you're looking across all aspects that can mentors are not just people who you've directly worked for, who are, you know, higher in organisations are achieved more than you have? I think it's important that you look at mentors from different angles. So I have a lot of mentors who have worked for me in the past, or mentors from other industries. And they can bring these different perspectives. Some of it happens naturally. I mean, I think you can't always force a mentorship, it's what naturally you're connecting with folks. But you can be purposeful and ensuring that the voices you're hearing are coming from these these different environments and different aspects.

Andrew Grill:

So what's the best piece of business advice you've ever been given?

Christina Kosmowski:

I've been given a lot of great advice. One is using data to help inform your decisions, while also bringing kind of the qualitative stories to bear. And that combination is really powerful, where you've got the data to kind of drive somebody's decisions, but you're also bringing the emotion and the heart and the qualitative piece of how this is coming to life in your customers, organisations or for actual individuals as well.

Andrew Grill:

You touched on innovation, how do you innovate at Logic monitor while you're still running fast in a hyper growth mode,

Christina Kosmowski:

the million dollar question, it's important that we're constantly evolving with our customers. And so that concept of putting the customers at the centre of everything we do, drives us to innovate. So for example, we are been a longtime leader in infrastructure monitoring at logicmonitor. But our customers have asked us to do more. And so we recently launched our logs product and are in the process of launching our APM product. And those were both the requests of our customers. And so understanding them understanding value, what they need, and then creating that innovation around it.

Andrew Grill:

So what are some best practices to develop a customer success programme, and how's that changed over time,

Christina Kosmowski:

number one, put the customer at the centre of what you're doing, and create processes and frameworks that allow you to do that. Number two, put your customers together, create that community and allow your customers to learn from each other. And then number three, use that combination of data and stories to really bring the customer to life.

Andrew Grill:

So your training as an engineer will have equipped you to bet on most be acutely aware about the need to promote STEM subjects in schools. So How soon should we be starting to promote STEM to young women and the secondary school too late,

Christina Kosmowski:

I was really fortunate to be introduced to STEM at a young age. I always loved math and science and was you know, in grade school was in the quiz bowls and, and things like that. But I think that that has I realised later in life, that that's uncommon. And so the more that we can highlight these careers that women can have, utilising stem and that women are are good girls, girls are good at STEM and that there are these fantastic careers. I think the better and so I really appreciate you having me on this podcast and and you know what I encourage women like it's fun. It's cool to do STEM, we're having a great time.

Andrew Grill:

So I've worked in sales and engineering like you there's always this invisible line between the two teams. So what are you doing to connect and break down the conflict between sales and engineering teams that sometimes exist?

Christina Kosmowski:

Well, that's what's so great about being CEO right now. I can help enable that. We've got a product Council and the product Council brings feedback from our customers and we're able to bring in what are the customers asking us to do and then we connect that to engineering so it doesn't become an emotional or something that just one person is saying we're actually putting a formalised kind of process by which we're hearing the feedback of the customers, again, both qualitative and quantitative. So we've got, you know, clear data that showing us how our customers using our product, and then translate that into value. And we're able to kind of build our products. With that in mind. We also have shared metrics. And so it's key that both sales and engineering are driving towards the same outcomes.

Andrew Grill:

So the $64 million question, what's the future of customer success? Well, I

Christina Kosmowski:

hope it's many more customer success leaders being in the CEO positions, because that's really the future. It's not just a team, or a few individuals that are trying to drive it at a company, it's actually coming from the core of a company and coming from the top down and really putting customer success at the heart of the entire companies. I look forward to more of that.

Andrew Grill:

So we've learned a lot about you the last half an hour, but I want to run you through a quick fire round to learn just a little bit more about you before we finish. So I'm going to ask you some quick questions. iPhone or android iphone window or aisle IR online or in the room in the room, your biggest hope for 2020 to reconnect with people. What's the app that you use most on your phone? Clack, what's one thing you want to be doing, again, post pandemic?

Christina Kosmowski:

I want to get off of 20 hour conference calls all

Andrew Grill:

day. What are you reading at the moment? Well, we're

Christina Kosmowski:

doing an off site. And so we're reading the leader, you want to be five essential principles for bringing out your best self. I'll put

Andrew Grill:

the link to that in the show notes. And the final quickfire question, how do you want to be remembered?

Christina Kosmowski:

I want to be remembered and empowering and making a difference in people's lives.

Andrew Grill:

So as this is the actionable futures podcast, what three actionable things should an audience do today? When it comes to better delighting their customers,

Christina Kosmowski:

connect them together? Number two, tell their stories bring their stories to light. And number three, bring them on the journey with you innovate, even if it's not perfect or ready to go bring them in early.

Andrew Grill:

Great advice. How can people find out more about you and your work that's kind of

Christina Kosmowski:

Linked In profile and so I post frequently there and always welcome DMS to connecting with people directly. We've got a great website a lot WW that logic monitor.com. I look forward to hopefully hearing from many

Andrew Grill:

people today, Christina. Great discussion. Thank you so much for your time.

Christina Kosmowski:

Thank you so much for having me.

Voiceover:

Thank you for listening to the actionable Futurist podcast, you can find all of our previous shows as actionable futurist.com. And if you like what you've heard on the show, please consider subscribing via your favourite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. You can find out more about Andrew and how he helps corporates navigate a disruptive digital world with keynote speeches and C suite workshops delivered in person or virtually at actionable futurist.com. Until next time, this has been the actionable Futurist podcast

The Logic Monitor story
The difference between customer success and customer service
The difference with a Software as a Service business
Biggest learnings from Customer Success teams at Slack and Salesforce
Becoming a customer obsessed CEO
Being authentic as a CEO
Sharing insights across clients by connecting them
Collaborating with clients
Christina’s authentic personal brand
Lessons from the pandemic
The “where is Christina” channel in Slack
Adapting management styles due to the pandemic
Analysing customer losses
How Christina’s engineering training has helped her career
What Christina said “yes” to multiple opportunities
Advice for secondary school students
The influence of soccer on leading teams
Why human relationships should be an industry priority
Christina’s Personal “board of advisors”
Selecting mentors
The best piece of business advice ever given
Innovation at Logic Monitor
Best practices to develop a customer success program
Promoting STEM in schools
Connecting the sales & engineering teams
What’s the future of customer success?
Quickfire round
3 Actionable tips to delight your customers
Connect with Christina