Jeff Bezos once said Amazon’s customers are guests to a party they’re hosting. Today, in the subscription-era of Netflix, developing good customer experiences is more important than ever. In fact, customer experience is poised to overtake price and product quality in buying decisions by 2020.
At Saleswhale, Yee Huang is the Head of Customer Success. She and her team oversee customer onboarding, retention, and support. By building customer happiness and loyalty, she is able to tangibly impact Saleswhale's bottom line through renewals and expansions. Through her leadership, Saleswhale is proud to boast of a net-negative revenue churn rate across their customer cohorts.
Yee joined Saleswhale in November 2017 two years after a three-year stint at MicroStrategy, a business intelligence firm in Washington DC. There, her roles and responsibilities focused on product marketing. “Fast forward to one year later, I had moved to Singapore and had just started my MBA program at INSEAD,” she says.
Making the leap to Saleswhale
Yee first learned about Saleswhale through a friend of a friend, prompting her to do some research. She described Saleswhale as one of the most exciting startups she came across in Singapore.
“I got to know the product first, and it’s definitely what drew me in,” she recalls. “The problem they were trying to solve made a lot of sense to me.” This would eventually lead to a chat over coffee with Gabriel Lim, Saleswhale’s co-founder and CEO.
Assuming the role of Saleswhale’s first Customer Success Manager, Yee describes her first few weeks on the job as moving at breakneck speed. “Everything moved really quickly and the culture fit interview was pretty intense,” she recounts. “I had breakfast with the entire team, which at the time was nine people.”
Culture fit interviews with the whole team would later prove to be too time-consuming as the company grew to more than 20 people.
Today, the company appoints a rotation of four unbiased team members from different departments, in a jury-like fashion, to conduct culture fit interviews with prospective candidates.
Adjusting to Saleswhale’s startup dynamics
Looking back at her transition to Saleswhale, Yee recalls going through a brief adjustment period with the startup’s dynamics. But she also appreciated having the freedom to experiment with ideas.
“When I think back to starting at Saleswhale, the company was definitely at an earlier stage than I anticipated,” she explains. “The upside is that I have had the opportunity to bring to fruition so many ideas and processes in a short time span, both for my team and cross-functionally.”
This freedom allowed her to improve processes within her first three months on the job. For example, designing and implementing a structured onboarding process for customers. This effectively reduced the time to get started with Saleswhale from at least one month to two weeks on average.
Helping Saleswhale’s customers succeed
Just a year after joining Saleswhale, Yee got promoted to take on a larger and more strategic role as the Head of Customer Success.
In this short span of time, however, she says she developed a deep understanding of the Saleswhale customer’s journey. “[This] has allowed me to help shape the customer onboarding and ongoing experience,” she says. “It has also given me the opportunity to help shape the Saleswhale product.”
But Yee isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. Despite having a finely-tuned process with customers, she believes there is still room for the company to be more visionary.
“Because AI assistants and conversational marketing are so new, there can be a lot of education involved,” she says. “I’d like us to be better at painting a vision from Day 1 that a customer comes on board, of how a Saleswhale AI assistant can be an integral part of a lead’s journey and their marketing strategy.”
Yee describes a day on the job as a constant exercise in managing priorities. “Every day I have a new idea and challenge I want to tackle, but I need to ruthlessly prioritize for myself and my team,” she says.
“Just today, I started working with our sales development reps to refine their ideal customer profiles, and arm them with sales enablement, case studies and success stories to land these customers.”, she adds.
“The idea is, I want to help my customer success team have the most ideal customers to work with; so solving the problem upstream by making sure the sales team is even reaching out to, and bringing in the customers we can make the most successful makes a ton of sense.”
Living out Saleswhale’s values
Saleswhale takes pride in its values of intellectual rigor, appetite, and desire to make the people around them better off. These elements factor heavily into making sure customers are satisfied and capable of using the product to its full potential.
“When I think about this in action and how it impacts Customer Success, we are working on building a company where every individual is aware of their own and each other’s goals,” she says. “This breeds transparency in and empathy toward pain points and challenges, and drives collaboration on every level.”
Yee enjoys Saleswhale’s culture of giving individuals the autonomy to start their own initiatives and drive them forward. “It’s true that a large reason this has been possible is due to the size of the company and the stage we’re at,” she explains. “Despite our current growth rate, I hope this is a mentality I can continue to help to breed, especially within our CS team.”
Life during downtime
Hectic schedule notwithstanding, Yee still manages to get some R&R. “I love food and cooking, and really appreciate a good workout. In a parallel life where I pursued the arts, I would probably want to be a chef,” she says.
Asked about the thing about her that may surprise people, Yee points to her dual-heritage and ability to adapt. “I wrote my college admission essay about growing up between the US and Taiwan, and more recently I was called a chameleon for my ability to assimilate into different contexts,” she shares.
Interested in doing what Yee does? Consider joining the team by checking out our list of open Customer Success roles.