#89: Salesforce’s Approach to Customer Success, AI, & CX

Salesforce.com is THE leader among their peers (11 straight years) in Customer Relationship Management solutions.  

Phil Nanus leads Salesforce’s Customer Success organization, a team of over 2000 employees.  He shared invaluable insights into how Salesforce is revolutionizing customer success through innovation, trust, and technology. 

Here are my 3 key takeaways from our conversation:

– **Embrace Technology for Customer Success:** Salesforce is leveraging AI to enhance customer experiences and improve sales; their collaboration with Gucci is a great example. The rise of AI and generative AI paves the way for more personalized and efficient customer interactions.

– **Core Values Drive Success:** Salesforce’s commitment to values such as trust, innovation, equality, and sustainability is foundational. Their one-one-one philanthropic model (donating 1% of time, products, and profits) and V2MOM document, ensure alignment and a clear vision across the organization.

– **Passion and Lifelong Learning:** Phil’s advice to university students is gold – find your passion and be a lifelong learner. Passion fuels opportunity, and embracing failure is crucial for growth and learning.

Phil shared a number of practical applications on how you get to be “Technology Led and Customer Obsessed” on this episode of The Delighted Customers Podcast.

Phil Nanus is the Executive Vice President of Account Success within Salesforce’s Customer Success organization. His team helps orchestrate the Salesforce customer experience and partners closely with Sales to create growth and value realization through strategic customer care.

Since joining Salesforce in 2021, Phil has focused on customer health by working to optimize adoption, customer expertise, and technical health, at every stage of the customer lifecycle. He is passionate about helping customers build trust and maximize value from Salesforce products while enabling career growth and development for members of the Account Success team. Prior to Salesforce, Phil spent over 20 years in SaaS, Enterprise Software and management consulting (Accenture, Symantec, Infor, TSIA).

Phil holds dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Central Florida. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and three children.


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Note: This was generated by AI and only lightly edited.

Mark Slatin:
My guest on today’s episode of the Delighted Customers podcast is a very special treat for us. He started off his career early on at Accenture, so great chops in consulting work. then went over to Symantec and, you know, Symantec is all about security and keeping your data and information secure and he headed up CS there. He then went to work along the way at TSIA and spent four years doing audits on tech service type companies and taking a look at their strategies and saying, yeah, good. Dan, I’m maybe not so good, need some help. And then now he is over at Salesforce, the largest CRM company in the world, and heads up a team of over 2,000 people in the customer success organization. So without any further delay, let me introduce Phil Nannis.

Phil Nanus: Hey, Mark, thanks so much for having me on, really appreciate it.

Mark Slatin: Hey, so great to have you. It’s such an honor to have someone from salesforce.com. You know, I teach a course at Michigan State University called Customer Relationship Management. I noticed this morning, I should have known this, but your symbol, your stock exchange symbol is what? CRM.

Phil Nanus: Yes, it is.

Mark Slatin: No, no coincidence there. And that’s how we kind of, you know, those of us who are familiar with Salesforce emerging and growing up, you were the CRM company. And gosh, to think about The bank that I work for signed a contract, I don’t know, a decade ago with Salesforce, and it became not at all just a CRM program. We called it CX360, because the idea was to get a 360 degree view of the customer relationships. And then we built all of our other middleware and other software applications around Salesforce, which really was our hub. So I think one of the things I’d like to do before we get into digging into what is CS and what is CX is just share with us a little bit about kind of your why for taking the career track you took and what you’re doing now.

Phil Nanus: Yeah, the biggest, one of the bigger influences in my life, I would say from a brand perspective, was actually Disney and still is today. As a lifelong resident of Orlando, Florida, this city beautiful, I grew up in the shadow of the most magical place on earth, which is the Magic Kingdom, part of Walt Disney World. And, you know, it was such a big influence on my life, whether I was watching a movie or visiting a theme park. At an early age, it impacted me and I began to understand what it meant to deliver great experiences. And that manifested and always stayed with me throughout my professional career. And I knew one day that was something I really wanted to do and participate in. And that led me down a path in this wonderful world of customer success.

Mark Slatin: Well, you lead a very large team there. You’re an executive vice president. Tell us about how your team is set up.

Phil Nanus: Yeah, so we have, as you mentioned at the top, we have a team of over 2,000 customer success managers and area leads. And what we are focused on is really providing amazing experiences, leveraging the technology, and helping our customers adapt the technology to solve a business challenge. And our team works with sort of the top 1000 plus customers at Salesforce. And we have a model in place that our customers participate in that are called success plans. And we have three success plans at Salesforce. And my team is tied to those top customers and helping them every single day, focused on their health and solving their challenges.

Mark Slatin: So I love what you’re saying. And I want to dig into it a little bit more. Because the core, the course we teach talks about the customer lifecycle. And from that point of purchase, through what they called service, once you’ve been onboarded, all the way to loyalty, when you repeat your repeat customer to the point where your advocacy where you’re literally referring your loyal to the brand, you’re willing to forgive the brand, you’ll even defend the brand when there’s people arguing, maybe it’s not so good, all the way through that lifecycle. And when I think about customer success, it became apparent to me, and you tell me if this makes sense to you, is as more software as a service SaaS companies came out, and they offer this software where there might be multiple licenses and organization, multiple users, great tool, great solution, but if it didn’t really stick, if it didn’t get the adoption, then come time for renewal, it just, you know, either died on the vine or whatever. So is that the white space that was around for CS to become so popular?

Phil Nanus: Yeah, and it was really with the advent of the launch of the software as a service model. Because in that model, one of the things that Salesforce found out is you’ve got to have customers that adopt the technology before they’re able to either renew with you or they buy more. And TSIA, the company that I worked with, they created this layer framework which stood for land, adopt, expand, and renew. And that was sort of the perspective of the technology vendor on what that customer journey was, not necessarily the customer’s perspective, but the vendor itself. And the whole philosophy was after you acquired a customer, you had to make sure that they were adopting the solutions that they would stay with you and grow with you, which is commonly referred to as retention and expansion. And I think where you saw the rise of customer success really started in the 2010 plus range when money was cheap, a lot of technology was being bought, and a lot of that technology was software as a service. And you saw a lot of amazing roles open up in this space called customer success because it was really critical that customers were adopting the technology to stay on the platform and continue to grow and help achieve their objectives.

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Mark Slatin: So it’s interesting, you’re the head of customer success in a company that helps other companies with customer success. Yeah. So what are some of the common mistakes that you see companies making as it relates to this CS strategy?

Phil Nanus: Yeah, you know, at TSIA, we did a bunch of research on this, and I think it comes down to really three fundamental things. One is charter, two is segmentation, and three is how are you actually going to go and fund that? So when I think about the charter, customer success has a little bit of an identity crisis. If you go read all the amazing stuff that’s out there on LinkedIn, You may take away, what exactly is customer success? Can you succinctly describe that? And I think you’re going to get a lot of different reactions. So you have to find what exactly you are doing and what you aren’t doing. And in my experience, what you don’t want is a team of customer success managers. On Monday, they actually look like they’re salespeople. On Tuesday, they look like they’re project consultants. And then on Wednesday, they look like they’re a support escalation manager. So know what swim lane you’re operating in and whatever part of customer success that you’re working on. I think the second is segmentation. And this is really important. It’s really important to take customers along the digital journey, leveraging the technology in a real life interaction. So that is very foundational. But where you put the humans to augment that digital journey is going to be super important. In our case, our team and my team is really focused on a subset of customers based upon how they choose to purchase a success plan from Salesforce through a good, better, and best model. But the digital journey is really foundational for our customers. And then finally, funding. A lot of the best initiatives fall by the wayside because either they’re not funded properly or they don’t have an ongoing funding mechanism. So between those three pillars, charter, segmentation, strategy, and funding, is where I definitely see a lot of CS organizations fall down.

Mark Slatin: So is it more just get clear on the charter and the segmentation about who you want to be, or is there a best practice that you’d recommend to people?

Phil Nanus: It’s declaring exactly what you want to be and not only declaring that intentionally to your colleagues and your peers throughout your company, but also to your customers. Like what will you and what will you not do? One of the benefits that we have through our good, better, best model And my team works in what we call signature success. It’s a very prescriptive set of deliverables that are going to deliver value over the life cycle of your journey. So there’s not a lot of mystery behind that. You could go to salesforce.com and you could look exactly what we’re delivering. on an everyday basis. So it’s the declaration of exactly what you’re doing. And at some level, it’s pretty simple. You’re making a promise and you’re keeping a promise on what those experiences will be and what you’re going to deliver. I think where some companies fall down is they rotate that all the time, literally almost every single day of the week. And it’s really important to declare what you will do and what you will not do.

Mark Slatin: Yeah, I can imagine that would be confusing for your own team who’s doing their customer success support as well. I mean, needless to say, the customer you’re supporting.

Phil Nanus: Yeah, I mean, you know, I talked to my team all the time. And one of the confusing things could be like, well, what’s my job? How am I measured? How can I grow my career? Those are pretty fundamental things, leading an organization of 2000 people. And you really have to clarify what success actually means in their role. But it’s also important to clarify that on behalf of the 75,000 plus colleagues that we have at Salesforce. That’s a really critical element to say exactly what we’re doing and what we’re not. And of course, connecting that back to the customers to make sure that we’re gonna go help and solve the problems that they have in the right way. And that’s why we believe in being what we call offer led, which means that we’re very prescriptive in the motions that we deliver. We’re standardized and we’re scalable. And we think that’s really important because it creates this repeatable experience over and over. Just like if you bought a product or you went to bought a service, you want to know exactly what you’re going to get. And that’s what our goal is through our success plans with our customers.

Mark Slatin: So Phil, what I like to do in these podcast episodes is when the guest hits on a gem to hit the pause button and just pull that out. There are two things that you said that I want to double tap on. One is segmentation. Segmentation is just so important overall for customer relationship management strategies. I’m not talking about the software application. think strategically about your CRM is to segment out which customers are your best customers and design experiences in the CX space experiences and apply the software solutions around how you’re going to segment. And, you know, it’s your best, but also you may have different kinds of customers. For example, if you’re a bank, you could have mortgage customers very different than commercial loan customers, different than retail customers. So how is that going to happen? And then the second thing you said, which is a great strategic process that can easily be overlooked or given lip service, is standardized and repeatable. You think about your processes because as you’re building out your go-to-market model, If you’re not keeping that in mind, you’re going to have to rejigger it every time and that creates more work, more energy, you know, lack of focus, all sorts of problems down the road, right? 100%.

Phil Nanus: Yeah, as I think about the first point on segmentation strategy, it’s so critical because you have to meet the customer where they’re at in their journey. And that could be a digital engagement or that could be a human engagement. That could be with an administrator and developer, somebody who is wildly technical, but it could also be with procurement. It could be with a business executive. So you’ve got to develop these moments that matter in the customer’s journey, both digitally and unassisted, but as well as assisted through humans. So segmentation strategy is so critically important, whether you’re leveraging customer relationship management, trying to solve that for your customers, or frankly, in any technology and experience. So we think that that is super fundamental. And then I think the one thing that I would say about building these repeatable and scalable motions is that it’s foundational in what we do. Because what we’re trying to do is to deliver a premium experience and a brand for a customer. And you could think about your own consumer experience, like if you’re going to a hotel and going to the Ritz Carlton or going to any consumer experience that you have, what is the continuity between one location and the next or one product and the next time you buy that product? In our world, we want to create that continuity and that standardization. Now, our belief in order to do that is we have a very deep philosophy that we are we are executive frames it up and he calls it being technology led and user obsessed. So let me unpack that for you. Technology led means that you’re going to use an out of the box solution. And for us, we are customer zero for Salesforce technology. So we use our service cloud as an example in our support organization out of the box because we know that the best practices are built into the technology. So that’s the technology led part. The user obsessed part that I think is so important is deep listening. And this is where you get the customer experience side to really come in. Whether that’s through journey mapping, through advisory boards, there’s a lot of different forums that you can listen to your customers, but it’s also critical as we think about our own team to deeply listen to our organization. What’s working, what’s not. And we do this through a variety of surveys and interactions, both with customers and also our own team. So this is how we think about creating that industrialized and scalable motion. It’s being offer led, it’s being tech technology led and user obsessed.

Mark Slatin: I love it and let me just help clarify or do our best to clarify the difference because we’ve used experience, we’ve used customer success. From your perspective, what is the difference between CX and CS?

Phil Nanus: That’s a great question. For me, customer experience is really focused on the emotional response and satisfaction when customers are interacting with products and services. Are they happy? Are they joyful? Are they frustrated? Are they angry? And it’s mainly centered around how customers are feeling and their perception of satisfaction. For customer success, it’s really about the intersection between the promise of your technology and the customer’s business outcome. Now, both of these work in partnership, and they’re both really important because, look, you can achieve customer outcomes, but have a poor experience. You can also have a great experience and not achieve outcomes. But ultimately, what we want to do is as customers go through their journey with a product or service, you want them to have a fantastic experience, but also achieve what they were trying to do, their business objective, their goal, their outcome. And that’s where the intersection you see for customer success and customer experience.

Mark Slatin: Yeah, it is interesting. I use the word emotion when it comes to CX. And years ago, when I first got to the bank that I worked at, we included this in new hire orientation when we did CX day. It was Gartner’s definition, which I’m going to paraphrase here, so forgive me. But it was the perception and feelings that customers have about their interactions with your brand, your employees, your stakeholders, et cetera. What was interesting about it is not what happens on their journey, it was about how they feel about their experience about what happened on their journey.

Phil Nanus: Yeah. And I mean, we go back to the, from the intro, the Disney example. I mean, as a young boy growing up here in Orlando, it was a cast member who interacted with me that made me feel something in that moment that caused me to feel joy, happiness. And I had this magical experience. I think that’s so critical, but I do think you’ve got to do both. I think you’ve got to solve business challenges for your customers, especially in the B2B space, but you also have to deliver great experiences as well.

Mark Slatin: Okay, so two questions I have. One is going back to what you said about your business model, your go-to-market model there, which was good, better, best. So for those of us who have not purchased Salesforce or haven’t in a long time as a solution for our CRM or our journeys that we have with customers trying to nurture them through the customer lifecycle, is the customer success portion of the offering a separate billable line item, like have you have you monetize that aspect of it or is it just bundled in, you know, to the licensing agreement package?

Phil Nanus: Yeah, the answer is both. So everyone gets a success plan and the first level is built into the package and then the next two level are premium levels that you can guide your own experience that customers choose to participate in. It could be as high a touch of experience as needed because a lot of our Salesforce customers are betting their entire business. Their whole commerce platform is based upon the Salesforce platform. Their whole sales organization is based upon the Salesforce platform. So if you’re running mission critical businesses, it’s really important to augment that capability with the right experience that’s gonna go deliver the results that you want. So it is a separate that customers purchase.

Mark Slatin: Okay, thanks for that clarification. I’m getting a clear picture. And so before you were talking about how the software is used and the customer success management team is working with their customers to help them nurture their customers through the life cycle with them, deepen the relationships, create an emotional connection, as you said earlier. And so my question is, can you think of an example to kind of paint a picture for those of us listening of how that might work in real life?

Phil Nanus: Yeah, I’ll give you one example. I think Gucci is actually an amazing example. And if you think about the brand of Gucci, you think about this premium and luxury brand that I think we all know, whether you’re in the store buying that or online, it’s certainly a premium brand that you see in the market. And look, Gucci’s customers expect very personalized experiences. Gucci had a challenge, though. They had, like many customers, they had disconnected data and systems, and we were partnering with them in their service and their contact center. And one of the things that we were able to do and Gucci was able to realize is we brought together this disparate data. And we leveraged data and AI by leveraging our Einstein One platform. And what it did is it supercharged the human experience. And what we saw was pretty interesting. It was this convergence of sales and service, which maybe historically was siloed. And by improving that experience, it also led to more sales. So helping actually sold and Gucci was able to see 30 plus percent increase. in that particular channel on sales. And that convergence story is pretty interesting because you’re leveraging the power of this amazing technology to go and deliver great experiences, but it’s also generating more revenue for the company.

Mark Slatin: So you brought up a point about Einstein, and I read an article somewhere not too long ago about your leadership, and I forget exactly whether it was your CEO or someone else who shared, I think it was an investor meeting, talking about AI because they’re getting asked these questions all the time from the investment community and how do they plan to use it. And I think what I was a little bit surprised about, kind of in a good way, was basically a conservative approach to AI that Salesforce seemed to be taking. Is that what you’re hearing?

Phil Nanus: I don’t know if I would characterize it as conservative. I’ll unpack it maybe for you. Look, we’ve been doing AI for a long time, for more than a decade. The first big wave of AI was predictive AI, and that is leveraging our Einstein platform where we would help customers by helping them solve more accurately forecasting a sales opportunity as an example. So we’ve been doing that for a long time. I think what we saw on the consumer side, and I certainly saw this with my now 17-year-old son 18 months ago, is this whole wave of generative AI, where he finished his two hours of homework in 15 minutes, and I was like, dude, what’s going on? And that is where I learned a little bit about chat GPT. I think all of us maybe have had a moment, which is, how do you translate that into the business world? And that’s the moment that we’re in right now with generative AI. There’s a lot of great capabilities that we’re delivering to market through our GPT initiatives. I’ll give you a couple examples. So we’re able to help salespeople by helping generate emails to prospects. We’re able to help service agents by doing one-click knowledge creation after they close a case. we’re also able to generate case summaries for service agents as well. So we’re actively involved in helping our customers in this AI moment. And the Einstein One platform, even today, every single week, it’s generating more than 1 trillion predictions for our customers. But we’re just at the beginning stages of this phase. And that’s maybe where you you heard some of that conservative moment. And obviously, I think what you see right now with all the big hardware initiatives, and it’s hard to not pick up an article and look at everything that NVIDIA is doing around the chips, that eventually leads to a lot of applications and software in the future and I think that moment is upon us and we’re starting to see customers really ask some deep and hard questions about AI and we want to make sure that we’re providing a trusted experience because trust is our number one value and we think that differentiates us. because a customer’s data is not our product. So we want to make sure that’s a very trusted experience that they can leverage, especially in these really, I mean, you talked about the banking industry. So I think about regulated industries like banking or financial services or even health care. And it’s really important as we think about AI in the future is making sure it’s grounded in their data and their insights, and they could use that the right way to go solve their challenges.

Mark Slatin: Yeah, thanks for unpacking it. Now that you mentioned it, I remember the word trust. Trust is a big part of what I do in working with CX leaders. And I don’t know why I didn’t catch that, but that’s, yeah, when I say conservative, that’s what I was thinking of. So I think I also heard the word accuracy, like we don’t want to compromise on information that we share that’s accurate.

Phil Nanus: Yeah and I think the last thing anybody wants is their business and their IP and their data to be out in the world of public domain. The business data is certainly a goldmine and we want customers to be able to aggregate and use that that right way. by taking what we call our customer 360, and I know you mentioned that earlier, we still use that terminology. So whether you’re in different points of the journey, whether you’re marketing to a customer or you’re selling to a customer through a commerce platform, or maybe it’s a salesperson, in a B2B transaction or you’re servicing a customer, these are moments where we have technology that helps our customers. The real question is, how do you bring that together using this data and AI moment that we’re in to provide those great experiences, but also deliver amazing business results like efficiency and revenue generation?

Mark Slatin: So Salesforce is, and I was around when Salesforce first started and emerged. Salesforce respected as, as, you know, not only the largest, but one of the best, you know, industry leaders in what you. in what you do, and I can’t help but marvel at all the cottage industries that have popped up that support Salesforce, help companies implement Salesforce, train on Salesforce, and all these other related companies that integrate their or other middleware and other software applications with Salesforce. How would you describe Salesforce as being different from your competition?

Phil Nanus: That’s a great question. I’m going to give you a few answers. I think it does come back to our core values. And I always think about that. They’re more than words on a page. If you go to our website, and we have five, it’s trust, customer success, innovation, equality, and sustainability. We talked a little bit about trust. Trust is our number one value. It means that we act with transparency, we lead with our ethics, and Trust is a super, super critical part of what we’re doing with data and AI. We talked about customer success, not only as an organization, but we prioritize our customer success and the success of their customers. Innovation is something that never stops. We want our products to be the most relevant, easy to use, integrated, and scalable that are out there. We’re also committed to creating a more equal world, and that’s why we have equality as a value. And then finally, sustainability, right? That rests on a stable climate, and we want to lead by example by being a net zero company. So that’s part of the piece. I also think it’s important as you go back to some of the readings that you and your listeners may have done around Salesforce, We introduced the 1-1-1 model because we think that business is the greatest platform for change. So what does that actually mean? It means that the company donates 1% of their time through volunteering, 1% of their products, and 1% of their profits. Now, Mark Benioff, our CEO, he always jokes, he goes, that was easy in the beginning when we didn’t have any employees, we didn’t have any products, that we didn’t have any profits. But today, as a 30 plus billion dollar company, it is something that we are committed to. And that’s why I think it’s so important that business is the greatest platform for change, because we wanna enact that in our own communities and partnering with our customers to do so. And then the last thing I’ll say that I think is very unique to our model is what I feel is alignment at scale. And we do this through our V2MOM. There’s a blog, any of your listeners can go read it. It was authored by Mark Benioff, our CEO. The V2MOM stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures. But ultimately, what it does is a living and breathing document so that any of my 75,000 colleagues at Salesforce, we understand what everybody is doing. I can go read anybody’s V2 mom to understand what’s top of mind for them. But ultimately, it creates this line of sight and this alignment all the way through the organization. So in summary, I would say it’s certainly our values. It’s our 1-1-1 model, doing well and doing good. And then finally, it’s alignment, and we use the V2MOM for that. And I think those are three things that really does make Salesforce very unique.

Mark Slatin: Okay, so you went through the V2MOM really quickly cuz I’m really interested in that. So vision, values, and

Phil Nanus: Yeah, methods, obstacles, and measurements. So it starts. certainly with the vision and the values of any individual. But it starts with Mark publishing his as the CEO of our company. And then it cascades down and the vice presidents and the executives cascade theirs down all the way through the organization. So what we’re doing with that is we’re saying what we’re going to accomplish. And it’s a living and breathing document. So we can always go back and adjust that. And I’ll give you a real life example just for my own team. One of the values is that our organization, the bigger that we get, there’s certainly some level of complexity that we try and solve through technology and process. But a critical value that we added to MyV2Mom was collaboration. So I talked a lot about our values of trust, customer success, innovation, quality, and sustainability. But in my organization, I added another value because it was really critical as we’re working through different organizations that we collaborated more effectively this year. And then we develop methods, which is the actual activities that we’re going to go and deliver to meet our vision and to obtain our values. There are certainly obstacles in the way. As I think about obstacles, there’s always obstacles no matter where you are. It could be budget related. It could be a macro condition. There’s always obstacles. And then ultimately, it’s the measurements, which is that how are you going to ground yourself on a regular basis, a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly scorecard on quantifying the execution of the methods that you’re going to go in and deliver against. There’s a great blog. I’ll have to send it to you, Mark. Feel free to include that. Hopefully, everybody gets a chance to read it. But I think it’s very unique to Salesforce. And obviously, a lot of companies have mimicked that over time. And each company, I think, creates alignment in their own way. But I think that’s a superpower at Salesforce.

Mark Slatin: Yeah, if you’ll send that to me, I’ll be happy to put it in the show notes for everybody to grab. That’d be awesome. So we’re getting close to landing the plane here. I got a couple more questions for you. As much as I’d like to talk to you all day, Phil. The question is, as we talk about this thing, AI that’s coming, it’s here, as you said, it’s here. How does Salesforce look at the roadmap for AI?

Phil Nanus: Yeah I mean I think from a product standpoint we have to recognize the moment that we’re in which is this generous state we’re constantly trying to help augment and supercharge that human experience. We’re doing that through our Einstein one platform. We’re doing that with trust and we’re innovating in the marketplace. So that’s really a critical moment regardless of the technology that you’re buying on the customer C360 platform that we’ve got, whether it’s marketing or sales or service, we’re trying to create that generative moment that will allow companies to create efficiency and achieve more profits and help improve their experiences. As I think about our own organization, one of the big innovations from last year is we thought differently about some of our metrics. And for a long time in our customer success organization, our metrics were more focused on ourself, right? And I think we had to channel our internal Taylor Swift moment. And what we found is like, hey, I’m the problem. It’s me from her song Antihero. Because that’s not really true to what we were doing, which is focused on our customers’ outcomes. So we changed a lot of our metrics. And we introduced something called the customer success score. And what we’re doing with AI right now is we’re developing that, we’re delivering that to our customers. It’s based upon three elements, user expertise, adoption, and technical health. But what we also want to do is through generative AI, help guide our customers over time by giving them the insights about what to do next in their journey. Right now, that’s done in a very human-led engagement through my organization. But that’s obviously an improvement we can even make in our own organization leveraging AI. So certainly the technology is improving every single day. We’re seeing a lot of customers take great advantage of this, but we’ve got work to do even inside our own organization where we can take some of those innovations and leverage it to what our team is doing on a day-to-day basis and create more efficiency and scale for our teams.

Mark Slatin: So I just, I just want to double tap on another gem I just, just heard and kind of put together, reflect back what I heard of what you said about how Salesforce can add value, bring value to its customers. And when you think about really what used to be called just a business review, or we called it a partnership review, which is a periodic check in with customers to check in, just do that. How are we doing? What’s going on in your business? What do you need? How can we be of help? Going to that next level and not just asking questions, but saying, hey, we’ve got some information for you about you. that’s not just subjective but objective based on the data we’ve collected. And it’s here to help tell a story about our relationship together, about how you are and can help your customers better. That’s real value, Phil, don’t you think?

Phil Nanus: 100%. And I think if you look at a lot of customer success organizations, we could add this one back to some of the mistakes that you’ve seen. A lot of CS organizations, you know, develop metrics that were more focused on them. And what you want is to make sure it’s all about that, meaning the vendor, but you want to make sure it’s all about the customer and what’s the value. I mean, their customers are buying a solution to, to meet some business objective. Maybe they want to forecast their sales more accurately. Maybe they want productivity in a certain part of their business. Those are all the right answers for customers as they buy not only our technology, but from technology from any other vendor. The question is, is how do you create this level of trust and transparency? And how are we doing? Meaning it’s a relationship and a partnership with a customer because oftentimes it’s, you know, are you educated the right way? Is your team using the technology in a certain way to go and achieve that outcome? So what we did was we evolved and we developed this customer success score, which is ultimately a benchmark. And it’s a gauge of how they’re doing relative to using the technology. And are they using the right features to actually achieve what they originally intended to do with the technology? It’s a very different view versus more of a internal vendor view, you know, is the customer going to renew and grow? All of those things happen. But what you want to happen in the world of customer success is you want it to be about the customer. You want to center on their objectives, their outcomes, and what they’re trying to achieve, but really do that through trust and transparency. And that was a big innovation last calendar year that we brought to market, leveraging over Now, I think it’s over 90 individual data signals over those three horizons, which is adoption, user expertise, and technical health.

Mark Slatin: Nice. Nice. Phil, you have had a tremendous amount of success over your career, obviously to where you are now at Salesforce with such a large organization and in such one of the most respected companies in any industry and most well-known brands. And I would love to hear, you know, my students, They don’t really have a choice. They have an assignment to listen to aspects of my podcast that relate to the course. And this will be one of them for sure, because this is right. I mean, gosh, CRM is the symbol for your brand on Wall Street. So what advice would you have for Michigan State University students about their career? And perhaps anyone listening, it could extend to them as well.

Phil Nanus: I mean, the number one piece of advice is that you spend a lot of time in your career at work. And obviously there’s many things outside of work and you have to create a balance. But I think it’s really important to spend time deeply understanding what makes you passionate. I told the story earlier of how I found my passion, and I knew it was going to be somewhere in the world of experience, because I love the way that Disney was such an influential brand for me and what that meant. But find what really makes you passionate. And maybe it’s technology, maybe it’s service. Whatever that is, is the right answer for you. But understand where your personal passions are. I think the best thing that can happen is when passion meets opportunity. I think the other thing that I would say is because they are university students, it doesn’t end. You should believe in lifelong learning. I want you to stay thirsty and ask a lot of questions and always really learn and lean in, whether it’s taking a course, finding a mentor, whether it’s a technical skill, a soft skill, you should always be learning. And I think that that has always done me well. So those are the two things I would say is find your passion and make sure you’re a lifelong learner.

Mark Slatin: Excellent. Great advice, Phil. And my final question, which is the last question I ask my guests, is what advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Phil Nanus: I would fail faster. You know, there’s a lot of times I think that, you know, I maybe was more cautious. And, you know, life is so amazing and interesting. We live in this amazing moment that we’re in, this AI moment. Try things out, like fail fast and learn quicker. I think that is something that would have done me better almost 30 years ago now, that if I would go back in a time machine and do over again.