Customer Success 32 min read

Product Ideation & Community: ShootProof's Match Made in Heaven

Danielle Juson • August 11, 2020

Photography software leaders ShootProof expedited the launch of their new customer community on the inSided platform in efforts to provide their customer base with the best possible support during an uncertain year.

But the Shootproof community is also an integral part of their product feedback and ideation process. In this episode of The inSide Scoop, we're talking to ShootProof's VP Customer Success James Scott to find out how they've made this happen. 

Don't want to listen this time? We've got you—check out the handy transcript of this interview below. Don't forget to follow The inSide Scoop over on Spotify

 


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us_uk_apple_podcasts_listen_badge_rgb (1)Show Notes + Links:

  1. Connect with James on LinkedIn
  2. Check out the ShootProof community
  3. Recommended resources from James: Success Coaching and our very own inSpired community 

Dani Juson:

Really happy to have James with us here today, talking to inSided on The inSide Scoop. Welcome, James! Thanks for joining me.

James Scott:

Thanks Dani, it's great to be here.

Dani Juson:

I'm looking forward to talking to you a bit more and understanding how the ShootProof community came to be, and what you guys are doing with it. I know it's happened pretty quickly—you had a pretty fast launch, and things are going really well for you guys so far... So I'm keen to learn how you're doing it really, and hopefully share some best practices too. How are you doing at the moment? Is everything good in your part of the world, COVID-related?

James Scott:

Yeah, not bad, I think probably the same as a lot of people listening. I'm in Atlanta, Georgia, so that's in the south-east of the US, and you know, we're doing okay, it's been an interesting few weeks—well, months I guess—yeah I'm kind of losing track of time, but yeah, we're doing good. We're making the best of what's been a tricky situation and you know, overall I think we're trying to find the silver lining, work out how we can come out of this stronger. Thanks for asking.

Dani Juson:

Yeah, I think that's really the best and almost only way to approach it isn't it? Make the best out of it and see how we can find positives in the negatives. It's easier said than done at times.

James Scott:

Yeah. Exactly. They are there.

Dani Juson:

Yeah you're right, they are there indeed. James, maybe you can just give our listeners a little bit of background on yourself; who are you? Tell us a little bit about ShootProof and why you're here chatting with me today.

James Scott:

Yeah absolutely. So I started my career in software back in London actually—I'm originally from the UK as you can probably tell—and I worked for several B2B SaaS companies over the last decade or so, as I said, originally in London and then I moved down to San Francisco and was fortunate enough to spend a few years out there learning about Customer Success in its infancy when it was kind of a 'new thing' and everybody was trying to work it out. And then more recently moved to the south-east, to Atlanta.

James Scott:

So I've been in the B2B SaaS world for a while, but community's kind of new to me, and you know, in some ways I'm kind of uniquely unqualified to talk about community because until six months ago I'd never launched a community, I'd never run a community... But before you end the podcast there, in other ways I'm pretty well qualified because of my background in Customer Success, and also because I've kind of always believed that customers have most of the answers that we're looking for, right?

They know more about the things that they care most about than we do. So really, our job in Customer Success is to give customers space, and kind of cultivate that conversation by asking questions and giving them ways to interact with each other, and if we do a good job of that... we'll get two things: Number one, we'll get customers learning from each other—so answering each other's questions, and number two: They'll answer a lot of the questions we have about what we're doing well, what features we need to develop next, what do they think of our competitors?

All of these things that it takes to build a successful business; our customers have a lot of that insight, a lot of those answers—we just need to listen, and that sometimes is the bit we forget to do. So I think community fits really nicely into the overall discipline of Customer Success, and I'm really excited by the journey we've been on over the last few months and some of the potential I think it has for our business going forwards.

Dani Juson:

I really like the way that you framed that, you know? About giving customers space, and they have the answers, so let's listen and let's facilitate that space for them. I think that's a really nice way of framing it. So tell us a little bit about ShootProof. We spoke with your colleague Megan a few weeks back because she was giving us the low-down on the super lightning-fast launch that you guys did, but maybe you can just give us a refresher on ShootProof: Who are you and what you do?

James Scott:

Absolutely yeah, it's kind of funny, it made me laugh: I was listening to Lila Meyer from Gainsight and her interview with you on the topic of their community, and she mentioned at the end her camera phone and how she takes pictures with it, and how "you don't need one of those big cameras hanging around your neck"...

Dani Juson:

[Laughs] You know, I thought about that, when I was editing that podcast I thought, "Oh no, the guys at ShootProof are going to be so angry at us for that conversation!"

James Scott:

Not at all, but it is kind of ironic, so ShootProof, we work with photographers: Both semi-professional and professional photographers, and our mission is to be a global leader in software, eCommerce, education, and productivity solutions that empower every photographer to create, manage, and grow the business of their dreams. And that basically means in terms of the day-to-day, we build software that helps photographers, and that could be anyone from a part-time photographer maybe, that you know, has a full-time career in something else and takes photographs on the weekend of maybe friends or sporting events as a way of kind of earning additional income, right through to full-time photographers who run ... you know, for whom it's a full-time career or who maybe run a business with and employ other photographers.

Dani Juson:

Right.

James Scott:

So we have kind of a selection of different tools to help them be the best version of themselves and build successful and sustainable businesses.

Dani Juson:

Yeah, it's such a great niche that you guys have, you know? I mean when I think of photography now, I really do think of ShootProof, it really does occupy that space as the sort of all-in-one solution and platform really for photographers and photography and I think that there are probably many, many "consumers" out there that have used and interacted with your product, with your platform without ever even realizing, right?

James Scott:

Right, yeah absolutely. Yeah one of the things we do is provide the galleries that a photographer uses to share the images they've taken with their customers and allow them to kind of, you know, 'favorite' things and order prints and wall canvasses and things like that, so yeah, you may well have interacted with one our customers.

How Gainsight use the inSided community for product feedback and communication-1
Gainsight's community is the place where users can share product feedback and find out about the latest roadmap updates.

Find out exactly how they do it.

Read the eBook

Dani Juson:

Yeah, super nice. So tell us a little bit about the ShootProof community, obviously it's relatively fresh. What were your intentions for starting the community? Was it always around product ideation and as you said, you know, giving that space to customers to listen to them? Or did you have different intentions for the community at the beginning?

James Scott:

Yeah, that's a great question. So this kind of started ... I joined the company about 8, 9 months ago now, and you know, one thing that was different about ShootProof to other B2B SaaS companies that I've been at, was the size of the customer base. So we were fortunate to have tens of thousands of customers using our solutions, and that presents an opportunity obviously, for a community. There's a lot of combined wisdom in that customer base, and we wanted to explore ways that we could unlock that wisdom and allow it to move from customer to customer, without us having to be always, you know, the central point, the giver of wisdom to customers.

Dani Juson:

Right, exactly.

James Scott:

We don't have all the answers, as I said right?

Dani Juson:

Yeah exactly.

James Scott:

So you know, how could we facilitate that and make that knowledge sharing more organic and reduce the friction? So that was something I identified pretty early as an opportunity, and we identified Megan on the team as a great person to lead that project, and we started working on it sort of at the tail-end of 2019, and we had plans to go live in the Spring and as you heard, if you listened to Megan's podcast—which I recommend—we accelerated that pretty aggressively because of the coronavirus and I wanted to give our photographers the support they needed, provide a community during that challenging time.

So you know, that was the initial drive for community, and then interestingly in parallel to that, I was having a discussion with our VP of Product about ideation, and how could we potentially implement some form of ideation portal that would allow our customers to give us feedback on product features and vote and you know, help us prioritize our product roadmap.

Not just for our benefit, but also to make them feel involved and to provide a mechanism to give them feedback on what we were and were not working on at any point in time. So we were having a separate discussion and he was extremely on board with that approach, and actually he saw it as a product-led initiative. He saw it as something that the product team would own and manage, and he went and started looking at platforms and was actually pretty far down the road with a platform—UserVoice—that is well known for ideation, and literally had a contract in hand, ready to sign and we held off just because I was still going through the community selection process. I wanted to make sure the two platforms would play nicely together...

And so it was in my conversations, then, with inSided, that I learned about the ideation piece that inSided had built in. I started looking at that and I brought the VP of Product into the conversation as well, and what we realized pretty quickly was that although inSided's ideation functionality had a couple of gaps with UserVoice—in terms of UserVoice being a specialist tool just for ideation, obviously it's been around longer and it's got a pretty robust feature set—despite that, we saw a significant upside to combining ideation and community into the same platform.

Because we feel that ... you know, if you think about the discussions that customers have in a community, it starts with: "How do I do this? How do I accomplish this thing that I'm trying to do with my business?" And sometimes there's an answer, right? And a feature that already exists... But some percentage of the time there is a gap that is identified by that question, and so the discussions really naturally lead into, "Hey, it would be great if the product did X," or you know, "If I could do Y with the product."

So ideation just felt like a really, you know, natural kind of extension of the community, and the cleaner we could make that journey for the customer between being in a discussion about a topic and having an idea that came out of that discussion, and being able to get an idea into an ideation portal; the more friction we could remove and the easier we could make that, we figured it would be better from a customer experience perspective, and also we could generate more engagement with the ideation portal.

And then it became a very easy decision at that point.

Dani Juson:

That's super interesting. You really make the point well there that it's almost impossible to separate ideation from discussion. With an ideation platform as stand-alone, you really still need to be stimulating that level of interaction and discussion to get the critical thinking you need to actually create those ideas out of your customer base, and as you say, having the two separate is just not a seamless experience for users.

James Scott:

Right.

Dani Juson:

So it's really interesting that you guys went through that process and in fact that you were so far down the road with potential platforms and actually ended up kind of pivoting away from that and deciding to utilize inSided. Obviously we're thrilled that you did!

James Scott:

Yeah, and we are too! It's been a great decision so far-

Dani Juson:

Good.

James Scott:

It's proven to be the right decision.

Dani Juson:

Oh that's fantastic to hear. So how are you measuring success then? How do you know it's been the right decision?

James Scott:

Well we're still early in that journey, so we launched it about six, seven weeks ago now, and we've had over 2000 votes already on ideas in the portal which we're very happy with, and we've also had a number of new ideas added. Actually it's worth me mentioning here: One thing that we did, we thought long and hard about the go-to-market for ideation, and how much we should pre-populate into the portal before we launched it to customers, and we were a little worried about going out there with something that was pretty sparse, pretty blank, and saying, "Hey we've got this great new place for you now to vote and give us your ideas," but not acknowledging the fact that our customers have been giving those ideas for the last, you know, years we've been in business.

Dani Juson:

Yes. I think Megan spoke about that when we spoke with her on another podcast episode, that she was actually in the process of kind of going back and sort of really making sure that you guys were taking all the previous ideas into account, so that you could go through that process of pre-populating, so that users were much more inclined and ready to get involved.

James Scott:

Yeah absolutely, and so it was quite the lift, and we are fortunate that we, you know, have a great support team who embraced the challenge and they went through JIRA, which is where we were tracking feature requests and we identified the top 100 features that customers had been asking for, and went through and added those in a very clear format—like we wanted to kind of set a tone ... create a behavior that our customers would mirror, rather than just kind of writing a title, right?

James Scott:

We had a specific format for each idea where we had the title and then we had kind of, you know: "What is it you're trying to achieve? What is the current pain point?" And then you know, a couple of other questions, just to encourage people to think about the structure and help us understand the reason they were asking for an idea. So we went through and we wrote that down for every one of those hundred ideas and pre-populated it, so when it went live, I think in some ways the 2000 votes is because we had good ideas already in there that would resonate with people, and we've had 50 new ideas added, which I think is good, but it's also ... I'm glad it's not like 500 new ideas added!

If we'd gone to market with nothing we would have had probably a longer tail of ideas.

Dani Juson:

Yeah, your VP Product would be pretty angry with you right now!

James Scott:

Yeah, this is going to help people, because they see the top 100 and they're like, "Yeah, this is kind of what I'm looking for," so they're just voting rather than, you know, creating a bunch of new stuff.

We want both, but I'm pretty pleased with what we've had so far.

Dani Juson:

That's a really good piece of tactical advice actually, and it's an interesting approach that you guys took to really just take a moment before you dove in, to think about the structure and how you wanted that feedback to come in, because I think a lot of the time, processing and prioritizing the feedback is often the largest task, and it's very, very difficult to do when obviously feedback is coming in not just through different channels, but in different formats and sometimes in not a particularly helpful structure. So I think that's a really interesting piece of tactical advice that other community managers and product managers that are utilizing community or even any other ideation tool could take into consideration. You focused in first on exactly what you said: What's the pain point? What are you trying to achieve here?

Dani Juson:

And often that's missed in ideation, right? People think, "Well I need feature X," well, do they need feature X? Or do they think they need feature X?

James Scott:

Yeah exactly.

Dani Juson:

But actually this is the problem that they're having, and your product team can probably better solve that challenge.

James Scott:

Yeah, absolutely, and you know, we actually have our ideation gated for customers only, but there are three questions, and I'll just read them out now. So the first one is: "Describe your idea for improving ShootProof", so that's where they get to just say, "This is what I want," and then the second question is: "What's challenging about how things work right now?"

Dani Juson:

Nice.

James Scott:

So that's the aim, right? Is there a workflow that takes a lot of clicks, or it's just hard work, or is it physically impossible? Do they have to resort to doing it outside of the software? So we're trying to understand the pain, and then the last question is: "How would this change benefit you, your customers, and/or your business?" So we're trying to understand the impact here, right?

Dani Juson:

Yeah.

James Scott:

Because as you said, nobody wants features, they want the outcome that that feature provides, so we're trying to get them to describe the business outcome. And some people follow it better than others, but we took a lot of time to structure it that way, and I think that was a worthwhile investment.

Dani Juson:

Definitely. No that's definitely a smart approach.

James Scott:

Yeah, and you asked about how we measure—the one thing that we're going to be measuring is the number of votes that we retire each quarter, by basically building the feature, right? So our VP of Product kind of described it as a currency, it's our new internal currency which I kind of liked.

Dani Juson:

Oh that's cool, yeah.

James Scott:

He will report internally the number of votes that the product team retires each quarter, so how many of those ideas can we mark as developed or released? And what is that total number of votes? And we're a little early yet to have targets around that, but that's definitely something that I can imagine us getting to in the future. It kind of makes it ... yeah, kind of like every time we release a feature, we earn some currency, so it's kind of ... I think it's a nice way of looking at it.

Product Feedback & Ideation
Beta testers, update communications and customer ideation ... 

Just a few ways to build better SaaS products with inSided.

Learn more

Dani Juson:

That's a great way of looking at it for sure. So obviously the community itself is pretty fresh, you said you're only six, seven weeks old, and you obviously are already getting a lot of engagement, particularly in the ideation area. So how have you grown the community? How have you taken it from zero to where you are now? What's been your growth strategy for the community over the last couple of months?

James Scott:

Yeah, it's a great question. We've definitely leaned heavily on experts, like the team at inSided and some of the resources that you've made available, and we've also benefited from the fact that we have a very talented and customer-centric Customer Success team here at ShootProof. We thought hard about what our customers need, what's in it for them, what are the reasons that they would want to engage, and then we try to design specific initiatives around that, so I'll give you some examples of some of the things that we did.

Dani Juson:

Yeah.

James Scott:

The first is more of a technical one, but we integrated the community via Single Sign On (SSO) with our app, so that once you are logged into the app it authenticates you and then we know who you are in the community. It's a small thing, it's always painful because it relies on getting time on the roadmap and luckily it wasn't a big piece of work, but it was something we had to carve time out for, but in terms of just removing friction, you know?

Dani Juson:

Yes.

James Scott:

Just remove friction, help customers get into the community, have a profile, get engaged, without having to create a separate login or something like that. So that was kind of table stakes as far as I was concerned, and we got that in place from day one. Some of the other things we did and in no particular order, we identified customer moderators early in the process, looked at who was being most active and we reached out to them and invited them to be a moderator, only a small number, just a handful of the ones that really were active, but not just active, but also had the right attitude—the way that they engaged was positive and encouraging and all the things that we would hope a community moderator would be.

James Scott:

And we gave them some rewards for being part of the moderator program, so that's helped because we launched with basically a Community Manager in Megan, and she can't respond to every post that needs responding to, so this really helped her focus on some of the more strategic things. We did some pretty cool stuff around driving traffic to the community, so rather than just tell people the community existed, what we did was we picked certain discussion threads, or maybe events that were listed in the community, and we ran in-app campaigns within our core ShootProof app, you know: We did pop-ups and messages that said, "Hey, we have this discussion going on, what do you think?" Come in and join the conversation, or, "This event's coming up next week, go here to register." So we drove all our webinar registration through the community events platform, and every time we did that we saw massive increase in membership and engagement, so we do that now on a regular basis-

Dani Juson:

That's fantastic.

James Scott:

And so that's worked really well for us. We do a support tip of the week every Tuesday where somebody on our support team writes a specific tip about how to get some kind of hidden value out of the product.

Dani Juson:

Brilliant.

James Scott:

We do live webinars every week on various topics, and what we started to do was to integrate the community into the webinar, so during the webinar our presenter will say, "Hey, we're going to continue this conversation in our community," and they'll maybe set a challenge like, "Go to the community and post an example of your favorite photograph,".

Dani Juson:

Oh that's so cool, yeah.

James Scott:

Or the time that you've used something related to the theme of the webinar, and then we'll set up a discussion thread in the community and then actually post that link within the webinar chat, drive people there and we'll offer something like a t-shirt for the best response or something like that.

Dani Juson:

I love that.

James Scott:

It's a great way to introduce people and also to get some engagement, and extend the value of something we're already doing.

Dani Juson:

Exactly yeah, linking everything together, brilliant.

James Scott:

Yeah. So a bunch of things like that, you know, variations on the above, but you know, all of it is really ... no one thing, I think you know, there's no one kind of thing that's going to magically make your community successful, it's about thinking about engagement, driving small kind of micro-engagement in different places-

Dani Juson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative) that's a good way to look at it.

James Scott:

If you do that often enough, then people learn to associate the community with value, and they will be more likely to engage themselves without you prompting them.

Dani Juson:

I love some of those tactics you've shared with us. Hopefully that will be quite inspirational or spark some ideas with other Community Managers out there that might be thinking of some new ways to stimulate engagement. So thank you for sharing those—I really enjoyed hearing about them, and hopefully our listeners will too. You mentioned your ideation is gated for customers only, but presumably anyone else can have a little look around the community and see what you guys are doing?

James Scott:

Yeah absolutely, the address is shootproof.community

Dani Juson:

Perfect.

James Scott:

And most of it is ungated in terms of just viewing it—obviously to engage and comment and things like that you need a ShootProof account, but yeah, it's actually been a really valuable traffic-generating source for us, because obviously there's a lot of unique content that is being indexed by Google and we're seeing some pretty impressive numbers in our Google Analytics, in terms of monthly unique visitors to content on the community, and we know a lot of that is also coming from people that are not currently customers, so that's an additional benefit.

Dani Juson:

Yeah that's an additional benefit. Fantastic. So how about with the product and ideation use-case specifically, would you have any particular tips for Customer Success teams that are looking to facilitate something like this in a similar way that you guys have done it—through an online community?

James Scott:

I mean, the disclaimer here is that we're still learning and you know, none of us are experts yet, but I think something that we spend a lot of time thinking about in advance and we've been really pleased so far with the impact that it's had, is the way we thought about how we engage within the ideation portal. So let me be more specific there. A customer comes to the portal and they post an idea, right? An idea they have, a feature that they're looking for, the question is like what is the expectation the customer has at that point in time?

Dani Juson:

Right.

James Scott:

They've posted the idea, are they expecting you to respond? Are they expecting to find out where that idea's going to be on the roadmap? Because we all know customer success is all about meeting or exceeding expectations, and to do that, you have to make sure you set them correctly in the first place.

Dani Juson:

That's a great point.

James Scott:

Otherwise, you could be doing a great job exactly as you intended to do it, but customer had got different expectations and so feels disappointed.

Dani Juson:

Right.

James Scott:

So we thought long and hard about that and we came up with a strategy for engagement within ideation, and then we articulated that in terms of a specific post within the ideation portal, where we explained how we were going to engage and what they could expect from us. And so what we agreed on was that our product managers would be responsible for reviewing every idea that comes in—we may change this—but initially the plan is that within a couple of weeks of every idea being posted, a product manager will reply to that idea thanking the person, acknowledging and then encouraging ... asking some open questions.

Dani Juson:

Okay.

James Scott:

To help either the original poster or other customers to elaborate on that idea, build some conversation, and then we will pin that response to the top of the comment thread—that's functionality that inSided developed at our request when we signed, so we're very exited that that exists—and then we step back, because what we don't want to do is for that to become like a hotline to our product management team, because they're not in there every day, they're not going to be responsive, not should they be responding to every single question and comment.

James Scott:

And we don't want it to become a place the customers start griping about, "Hey, why haven't you done this yet?" You know, "I put this in last week, why haven't I got a response?" Right? We didn't want to get that kind of unhealthy environment, so we made that original comment, and then we stepped back, and we leave space for our customers to have a conversation amongst themselves, right? We want that conversation to happen, that's where the creativity and the additional ideas come out. But we had a lot of spirited, shall I say, discussion about what is the right strategy there—how do we make sure we get that balance right between customers knowing that we're there and we're listening, but not feeling likes it's a kind of a one-to-one conversation with every product manager.

Dani Juson:

Right.

James Scott:

As I say, working pretty well so far, but we'll continue to monitor.

Dani Juson:

That approach makes sense. So I'm curious, at what point do you decide to take something on board, and is there any closing of the loop whereby a contributor learns, "Okay, this is being added to backlog or this is going on the roadmap"? Or you know, "Sorry, great idea, but you know, this isn't within scope for the next few months" or whatever it might be. How do you do that? And at what point do you do that?

James Scott:

Yeah, another good question and another thing we chatted about a lot before we settled on our current approach, which is we basically have a very small number of statuses for ideas, so you know, basically when somebody submits it, it goes to Open for Voting, and when we release it, obviously we say that it's been Released, we close our own duplicates if there are duplicates, and then we have one other status which is basically 'not on the short-term roadmap'.

Dani Juson:

Right.

James Scott:

Or you know, not on the current roadmap, so that is reserved for things that we feel are either off-base in terms of our strategic approach, or are so much further down the road that at this time we're not actively entertaining that idea.

Dani Juson:

Right.

James Scott:

Everything else we leave Open for Voting, and the thing that we don't do is say that we've selected this for development. That was controversial and I'm still not sure if we've made the right decision there, but what we find is—as we know with agile development—things can be selected for development and they can start being developed, and then priorities can change-

Dani Juson:

Sure.

James Scott:

And then you've got customers who are disappointed, so we made the conscious decision at this point in time, basically not to say that we're developing something until we're close to having it done, and then we will start to engage with that idea. We'll see how well that works.

Dani Juson:

Yeah, interesting.

James Scott:

We may backtrack ... but again, what we don't want to do is be setting expectations we then can't meet.

Dani Juson:

Exactly. That makes sense. I guess in terms of meeting, exceeding expectations, when you do approach it that way, when a particular idea is released, you're absolutely exceeding expectations then, because the knowledge that it was even under consideration or indeed being developed was not even there. So yeah, I'll be really interested to see how you guys get on with that, and if you do decide to tweak it in the future or if it works well for you.

James Scott:

Yeah.

Dani Juson:

Pretty cool, thanks for sharing.

James Scott:

Certainly, I love the idea as well, by the way—this is something that I got from the inSided community, inSpired—that when something's released, being on the same platform, you can do a product update or a product release announcement in the community and you can actually tag the idea that led to it, and you can tag the community members that contributed to it. I just think in terms of closing the loop and making people feel heard, and making them feel that they've really had an impact, I think that's just ... that's a beautiful thing, I love that. When I saw it for the first time within the inSpired community I was like, "That's the reason we keep this all in one platform," because it closes the loop. It makes it a very organic conversation that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and I really like the way you've done that. So we're trying to emulate that as well ourselves.

Dani Juson:

Awesome. Yeah, well I'm really glad that you're enjoying the functionality of the platform so much and that it is delivering what you guys are trying to do. It sounds like you are absolutely making the most of everything so far and probably putting some older communities to shame, I think, with some of your engagement strategies and some of the tactics that you're using, to get people involved and create space for customers because at the end of the day, it is about them. It is about creating the space and allowing them to support each other, and think together, rather than having that one-way or rather two-way communication, bringing the multi-way communication into the game is a real game-changer.

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So it's been really interesting to hear all of the things you've been doing. Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm glad we got some tactical tidbits there as well for our listeners to who can hopefully try some of these things out. Before I let you go James, I would love to just run through our lightning round questions with you, if you're happy for us to do that? It's just four questions really fast.

James Scott:

Yeah, let's do it.

Dani Juson:

Okay. Let's do it. All right. Okay, this is going to be the quickest one so far.

All right so first of all, if you had to pick one, what one skill do you think is vital for Customer Success practitioners to keep working on and improving?

James Scott:

My answer would be active listening, which is the art of focusing your attention on the speaker, and it sounds like something pretty simple, but it's actually really hard, especially with all the distractions we have nowadays. So if you don't know what active listening is, go Google it, maybe do a course, read a book. If you get good at active listening, you'll become a significantly better community manager, customer success manager, whatever you do, it's a life skill and one that is often neglected. So, active listening.

Dani Juson:

Brilliant answer, and definitely beneficial for probably 99% of career paths as well I can imagine.

James Scott:

Good at home as well, so yeah.

Dani Juson:

Yeah exactly. Okay, and how about educational resources? Where do you turn when you're looking to keep up-to-date with what's going on in Customer Success or looking maybe for training for your team? What kind of education do you turn to?

James Scott:

Yeah, I'm a little biased here because I'm going to recommend Success Coaching, which is actually the company I was at before ShootProof, and you know, Success Coaching has basically developed a series of customer success training courses and certifications, and there's something there for everyone, whether you're just kind of starting on your journey or whether you're a more advanced practitioner. So I always start there and recommend that to people looking to bolster their skills in customer success.

Dani Juson:

Okay nice, and where can people find Success Coaching? Is it just successcoaching.com

James Scott:

Yeah, it is.

Dani Juson:

Brilliant. Okay.

I'll pop it in the show notes and our listeners can go and check it out. Thanks for sharing that one. All right, a little bit broader this time—tell me: Favorite tool that you just cannot live without.

James Scott:

I struggled with this one. All right, these are supposed to be the easy ones, but this is probably the one I had to think the most about.

Dani Juson:

It's hard because you have to make a decision right? And there's so much choice.

James Scott:

So I won't bore you with my logic path here, but you know, I'm from the UK, I live in the US, I cannot live without FaceTime, because most of my friends and family are not in my immediate vicinity so that's how I stay connected and particularly for this time where I can't get on an airplane it's even more vital.

Dani Juson:

For sure. Yeah, I think everybody probably echos that sentiment right now.

James Scott:

Yes.

Dani Juson:

FaceTime, fantastic, and lastly maybe you can share with us ... I know you're new to the community space, but maybe you could share with us an example of another online community—so not ShootProof's, I'm not going to let you have that one—it could be B2B, it could be B2C, that you admire or that inspires you or that you just simply enjoy being a part of?

James Scott:

Yeah, so I did kind of a cop-out here because you didn't say I couldn't-

Dani Juson:

Okay!

James Scott:

Because it's the inSided community: inSpired. I literally go there to get inspiration. Like it helps me, gives me ideas on things that we can try, and so it's been invaluable, it really has, in terms of being a customer, but also you know, just getting ideas for how we can develop our own community. So thank you.

Dani Juson:

Wow, thank you. That's fantastic. Our community team will be really, really happy to hear that because we really do want to make sure that we are ... there's a phrase, I'm not sure if it's a direct Dutch translation because I've never heard this in English, but there's a phrase called eating your own dog food, and we really try to do that with inSpired, and we really try to make sure that our customers are getting the absolute most value and support, best practice sharing and inspiration that we can offer through that platform, that community.

Dani Juson:

So really happy to hear that you're enjoying it and that it's helping you and giving you value.

James Scott:

Absolutely.

Dani Juson:

Well that brings us to the end of our lightning round. You've definitely been the quickest respondent so I crown you the winner so far, James!

James Scott:

Awesome!

Dani Juson:

I need to start timing them and we can put a leaderboard up. Well, thank you so much. This has been a great conversation. I'm going to add some of the resources and the pieces that you mentioned during our conversation in the show notes so that our listeners can check those out and find out a bit more. Go ahead and take a look and see what the guys over at ShootProof are doing with their community, you can have view access to the majority of content. Thanks ever so much James for joining us, hopefully we will get a chance to speak again soon.

James Scott:

It's been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Dani Juson:

Take care.

James Scott:

Bye bye.

Dani Juson:

Bye.

You’ve been listening to The inSide Scoop. Check out https://www.insided.com/webinars-podcasts for the show notes, and learn more about customer success communities.

Picture of Danielle Juson

By Danielle Juson

Customer success community expert and writer at inSided. Passionate about sharing the value and impact of community, and enabling companies to get it right. Connect on Linkedin

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