LEARN with Christina Singh, VP of Customer Success, Split
When you truly love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.
“Helping customers understand the pain points or problems they're trying to solve and helping them get the most out of the product or service I represent is what I love to do. And it's been quite an incredible journey.”
In our latest episode of LEARN, Christina Singh, VP of Customer Success at Split, chats with Ted about transitioning from an Ad Agency career to Customer Success, her philosophy on the customer journey, and Split’s latest customer education program: Split Arcade.
“We knew we wanted to invest in an LMS. We wanted to ensure that the experience wasn't just like, ‘OK, I have to watch these videos and read all this content.’ It needed to be this balance of an interactive and gamified experience. And how do we make sure that we can do it in a way that people want to learn and get excited? So we came up with this theme called Split Arcade. We have seen just great interaction and feedback from our customers in terms of using it. We've also saved hundreds of hours of CS time.”
Tune in to hear Christina discuss:
- Her framework for a successful customer journey strategy & scaling CS
- How she mapped out Split Arcade and the ROI of customer education
- How motherhood helped shape her leadership skills & work-life balance
Don’t miss out on this fascinating conversation! Listen now.
00:53 - Intro
01:43 - Christina's career journey
06:45 - Career advice to rise in the rank
11:06 - CS North Start goal
13:46 - Reoccurring revenue, pro services, CS
18:47 - Behind Split Arcade
27:52 - Rapid-fire round
Christina Singh: We knew that we wanted to invest in a learning management system. We wanted to ensure that the experience wasn't just okay like I have to watch these videos and read all this content. It needed to be this balance of interactive and gamified experience. And how do we make sure that we can do it in a way that, you know, people want to learn and get excited? And so we came up with this theme called Split Arcade. We have seen just great interaction and feedback from our customers in terms of using it. We've also spent and saved hundreds of hours of CS CSM time. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of sessions and actions people take within Split. And so it's been, it's been a great initiative.
Ted Blosser: Hi, I'm Ted Blosser, CEO and co-founder of WorkRamp, where we're redefining the corporate learning space with the world's first all-in-one learning cloud for employee and customer learning. Welcome to the Learn podcast, where we learn from the biggest leaders in Sass and hear what makes them successful. Hope you enjoy the show. Hey everyone, welcome back to the Learn podcast. We have an amazing guest today, Christina Singh, VP of Customer Success at Split. Split is the leading feature delivery platform for engineering teams, and they're also a WorkRamp customer. So thank you, Christina. We're excited to have you on today.
Christina Singh: Great. Thanks, Ted. Excited to have this conversation.
Ted Blosser: Well, let's get started with probably the most softball of all questions. Give us a quick Cliff Notes background on yourself, and then we'll get going from there.
Christina Singh: Sure. So, as you mentioned, I'm VP of Customer Success at Split. And I started my career in tech about 11 years ago. And before that, I started my career in the ad agency world. So, I've always said that the common thread is I've always been in front of customers. That's what I love to do. Helping them understand their pain point or problem that they're trying to solve and help them get the most out of the product or service that I represent. So, that's what I love to do, and it's been quite an incredible journey; I'm looking forward to talking to you more about it.
Ted Blosser: Awesome. And we'll walk through your journey from ad agency to leader of CS at one of the top tech companies in the Valley. Actually, quick question. I was always a Mad Men fan. How realistic was the admin role to that? What would you say? Did you ever watch any episodes?
Christina Singh: I watched all of the episodes of Mad Men, and it is probably very realistic of, you know, those the way they represented it. Obviously, it was significantly earlier in the age of advertising when it started. I wasn't part of it then, but I can see how it evolved from when I started in the ad world. And I started in the ad world in New York. and then I moved to the Bay Area to do advertising. And it's also quite a big difference in that. But in Mad Men, the representation of New York advertising, the way you approached and how people dressed and talked to people is very accurate.
Ted Blosser: Awesome. Hopefully, minus the cigarettes and booze while you were, or daytime booze while you were working?
Christina Singh: I don't know about the daytime booze. There was no cigarette smoking in the office, but definitely, actually, in the evenings in the office, there was probably some cigarette smoking.
Ted Blosser: Very cool. Very cool. Well, I'm sure you've learned a lot from the industry. I was reading, I think it's called Olgo Von Advertising, so really great tips for even SaaS companies out of that book. Let's talk about your rise at a company called Rich Relevance. You spent about seven years there. You went from being essentially an IC customer success manager, and then that's really where you rose the ranks for the first time in tech. Tell us about how that shift went down. What, did you have a mindset shift that allowed you to have that meteor uric rise? Give us some background on those years at Rich Relevance.
Christina Singh: Yeah. You know, my time at Rich Relevance was great. The seven years I spent there were like getting my MBA in tech. I actually left the ad agency world had been a people manager there was, was was very successful. But when I moved to the Bay Area, I was working with a lot of tech companies or companies in the digital space, and it was really interesting to me to learn about product development. And so I wanted to leave the ad agency world to work in tech. The only way I could do that was to become an IC again and start customer success. And so I took a leap of faith and decided, you know what?
Let me try this. If I hate it, I can go back. And I started, and I actually found that a lot of what I learned in AD in the ad world helps me P S C S M thinking about the customer journey, understanding those touchpoints, and really thinking about what's the end-user experience versus just selling or the software or helping them use that software, but how does that really fit into the entire ecosystem that my customer was thinking about? so that's what made me successful as a CSM. And then, because I had that bigger picture view of the customer journey and the opportunity, you know, I just naturally became a leader because that's what I wanted to do. And then, I took on the customer success team, and then I had the opportunity to also learn about professional services.
And so my boss at the time, came from a professional services background, we were starting to move into that space. She asked Christina if you would be interested in learning about professional services? And I was like, well, I have yet to learn, like how to deliver on services or what to do. And she was like, well, I'll teach you, we'll figure it out together. And you have what it takes to do that because it's really about understanding customers, seeing the bigger picture, developing a methodology, and packaging that up. And so she exposed me to this whole new world, and I loved it. And so, that was my rise of rich relevance, curiosity, wanting to learn, and always taking on more. And that's what I loved about being at this smaller company at the time and growing with it. It was, Hey if I wanted to take something on, I could certainly do it. and so it gave me a lot of those opportunities.
Ted Blosser: You know, we have some great, that's such a great story. We have some great our CSMs; we call them client outcome managers. They're a hybrid of CSM and account managers. And whenever I meet with them, I'm always curious, about people who want to rise the ranks over time as you have; what would you say? What would you give them feedback on in terms of advice? For example, like, Hey, really understand the customer's pain points and solve those. Would you say, Hey, spend your time balancing your time wisely in an org and spending time with your executives? What advice would you give to people who wanna rise the ranks as you did at Rich Relevance, the one or two things?
Christina Singh: There are definitely two things. One is to know your customer's business better than they know theirs, especially in the enterprise. So many disparate teams and business units aren't talking to each other, but you're talking to them, and you're like, Hey, like this is what I heard, and this is what I heard here. And bringing that conversation together, you actually don't; it's so powerful and helpful. So you build the relationship with those customers and then get together what you're trying to accomplish. The other piece is about networking, whether internally within your organization or ensuring you have a place to showcase your work and tell people what you're doing. Or it's also externally making sure that you spend time, you know, meeting with others, seeing what the landscape is out there. I say, especially in customer success right now, that the landscape is changing as we speak, which is exciting and scary at the same time. But definitely more so exciting. And so it's about keeping on the pulse of networking and talking to people.
Ted Blosser: It's funny, I was talking to my co-founder, Arsh, and we looked at a few CS company websites. I swear they're changing every week because the messaging is changing, and every company is changing so much, especially with the introduction of AI taking off. But you're totally right. Everyone is changing everything literally weekly now. It's crazy. Yes. Yes. Let's talk about, okay, so you go from CSM, rise to the director, get a new opportunity, and go into ProServe. But I want to shift gears from ProServe at Rich Relevance to you running the professional services team at user testing. Tell us a little about that transition to user testing, and give us the lay of the land on what's important to know when running a pro ProServe organization.
Christina Singh: So like I said, you know, at Rich Relevance, I was just learning about professional services, and I was able to build that practice there. and, but I had a lot on my plate. I was a new leader of a customer success org, a professional services team. And so I had learned a lot, and the, a recruiter at user testing reached out to me about the opportunity for professional services, and I thought, you know, this is a great opportunity to just really dig in deep into that area. and it was a much larger team that I would be taking on and having to grow. And at the time, user testing was just in exponential growth, so it was also really exciting. It was great to come in, have a more established team, and then build on top of there.
So that was really exciting for me. I learned a lot from what I had taken from Rich Relevance, which I still needed to build like that Center of Excellence team within my org. And that was the first thing I did when I went to user testing. I owned the professional services team, but it was really around creating this small team around what are the best practices for how we would deliver services and what are the templates?
And by investing in that team, I realized that we could scale much more quickly. And that's what we could do then with partners and, you know, take that thought leadership that we had in our brains and really put it out there for our customers. And that really helped us build and scale that professional services team quickly.
Ted Blosser: What we, if you remember, was the north star of your team at the time? Was it a revenue target, or was this something else?
Christina Singh: It was never a revenue target. We actually for US services, and my philosophy is always services are not about making money. It's about ensuring you're supporting the SaaS revenue, whether renewals or an expansion. And so that was what our goal was. And we did that in, in many ways. We had customers at the time at user testing; our core persona was user researchers. And so, user testing gave us real-time insights into how people felt about a product, a service, or a mockup. And we were trying to democratize that to larger business units, so people executives, marketers, and product managers. And so for us, the services team was about helping those other people who need to be more user researchers understand how to get insights into customers.
And so that was our goal in support of, you know, making sure customers were using the product and then upsells. And so that for us, that was our North star and we, you know, we did really well. and being able to accomplish that. And it was also because we changed our mindset, the way that the services team, when I had taken it on, was very much about delivering spillover work versus having a perspective and a point of view and sharing best practices. And so that's another theme for me, and I think about many of the companies I have worked at in tech; it's about creating category creation. And when you're in category creation, it's around best practices and teaching the market how to use a pro your product and why it's important.
Ted Blosser: You might have accidentally hit a B point, a heavily debated point: ProServe shouldn't care about revenue. Let me dig into this just a bit; I do not care about it, but let's say not focus on it as their North Star. So I was; I'll tell you the story. I was meeting with the CCO of a company; I believe they're about seven or 8 billion in terms of the market cap now. And he gave me some advice. He said, Hey, Ted, you're ProServe team, at minimum, needs to pay for itself. Still, you gotta focus on the revenue to make this a revenue-producing function over time. And so it was interesting. At a minimum, we weren't breaking even; we were losing money. Yeah. Obviously at a much different stage than they were. But give us your perspective. What would you tell your boss, the c e o or, or, or an executive who says, Hey, I want you to go make money from Pro Services? What would be your response there? if someone came to you with that, I'm curious about your opinion.
Christina Singh: Yeah, I mean, it's not that you can't make money off of professional services. My number one goal is, is that you at least break even. And then, after that, it's about 10% of what you want to make money off of. The thing is, you don't want to cannibalize if you work for a SaaS company, you know, SaaS versus professional services. And so it's finding that line. The other piece is that professional services need to be reoccurring revenue. And so if it isn't reoccurring revenue, you have a potential risk if you have too deep of a bench, and you can't keep that reoccurring revenue coming. And that's where partners end up becoming the good opportunity there so that you don't have that much risk. Yeah. If, for some reason, you can't fill the bench, so it's just about understanding, you know, within your company, what is the goal you're trying to achieve, what is it? And it might be different at different points in time of where you're at in the market and things like that.
Ted Blosser: You're spot on. And a lot of people need to realize filling that bench is, is near to impossible. Think about your SaaS software with a niche offering; you need to find or train that expert. That's a hard bench to fill from a ProServe standpoint. And so you only want to have a little exposure there. I think more people need to think about the bench aspect of Pro Services. That's a great point.
Okay. You do this awesome job at UserTesting you run their ProServe team, and then you essentially move over to Split. So I'm jumping ahead in time. Yep. You move over a split, and you get the whole shebang. You get to run all of Cs, and this is the first time in your career that you're running everything; you're running the whole show. Correct me if I'm wrong there, but tell me about how that move went. Was there a big learning curve, and how are you doing now?
Christina Singh: Sure, yeah. At Rich Relevance, I was definitely owning components of those pieces. but you know, I reported to a chief customer officer. And so here I, I report directly into the c e o owning everything post-sales. And so I wanted to make that shift because when I was at user testing, I loved what I was doing. Still, I felt too focused on just the professional services aspect. And while I had a great partnership with customer success and the l and d team, I had so much more to offer to see the bigger picture of what the opportunity was for the customer. And so, it's often, I, I like to follow, I'm a, I'm a learner, I'm curious at heart, and so I like to go deep into things and then step back to get perspective.
And so it was almost the, the opportunity at user testing was great because I got to understand that partnership aspect and build that out, which I had failed at Rich Relevance, and then take that and come to Split. And so it split, it was really around looking at like you said, the full aspect of the customer scaling and growing the team and thinking about our vision and how we will approach that with our customers. So it was a really good opportunity for me to build from almost scratch, and we had a team of eight, now a team of 21. And, really, to refine the vision of a CSM as an example, in the very early stages of Split, we hired customer success managers who were more generalists.
They, you know, managed the customer. They were also technical cause we have a very technical product. But when you start to grow, you need more specialties. And so that was the evolution of our team. And then it was a great opportunity because I've taken many of the things that I learned in my prior two companies, successful things, and also things that I, you know, may have done better. And I brought it into what we're doing here at Split. And so far, I'm happy and excited about it. Like I said, I'm. Also, I'm doing new things, like what we're doing in customer success: automating and digitizing and doing asynchronous work for our customers. And so that's been a tremendous focus and an opportunity for us, and it's pretty exciting.
Ted Blosser: That's awesome. I want to dig into that as well. You use WorkRamp for what you call Split Arcade. It's your customer education site. Tell us more about Split Arcade, how you're thinking about scale CS, and how that plays well with, let's call it, your more high-touch approach to give us the background on Split Arcade. Such a cool initiative.
Christina Singh: Yeah. Split Arcade was started as an idea over a year and a half ago. I remember we were sitting in an executive team offsite, and we were saying like, how are we going to get, you know, hundreds and thousands of engineers onto using Split at scale? You know, there's this tremendous opportunity, especially with our excited enterprise customers, but, you know, the numbers don't add up in terms of being able to onboard all these people and having, you know, multiple CSMs. So we knew that we wanted to invest in a learning management system. We wanted to make sure that the experience wasn't just okay, like I have to watch these videos and read all this content. It needed to be this balance of interactive and gamified experience, especially for our persona.
It's an engineering persona. And how do we make sure that we can do it in a way that, you know, people want to learn and get excited? And so we came up with this theme called Split Arcade, and it took us about six months, end to end, to get the official launch of it. So it was quick to choose the tool, develop a theme, and create the initial content. And it's been a lot of fun. We have seen great interaction and feedback from our customers regarding using it. We've also spent and saved hundreds of hours of CSM time, you know, in terms of doing onboarding. And another great feedback that we've heard from customers is that we've had longtime customers who've been customers for Split for two or three years. We've had them go through the arcade, and they're like, wow, I didn't realize that this feature existed, or I knew about it, but I was too scared to try it out.
But your explanations in the split arcade made me realize that, okay, I should go and try it out. And then the last thing I would add is that when we've looked at cohort data from those users who have used Split before getting the split arcade training to after, we have definitely seen a dramatic increase in terms of the number of sessions, number of actions that people are taking within Split. And so it's been, it's been a great initiative. It's much more fruitful than I thought regarding how people engage with the platform.
Ted Blosser: Well, kudos on tying back education activity back to the ROI. And I also want to commend you on this; this is one of the best-marketed customer education sites I've seen. And you're right; engineering engineers love gaming, and you put a perfect theme and wrapper around it. So Kurt is heavy activity. So at a, a super cool initiative, and I'm glad you're seeing a ton of success from it. I want to shift gears out of Split into more of a personal accomplishment. Then we'll go into the lightning round, the learn rapid-fire round at the end. But let's talk about something I found in my research; actually, in doing research for this call, for this podcast, you were featuring a book called Pressing On as a tech mom. And my wife and I debate this all the time because she also works in tech. And we see people dropping outta the workforce all the time. And so we actively discuss this and see it at our Kids' school as an example. Tell us about being a mom and tech; this is how you were featured in this book. Quick, a quick synopsis of what you were sharing there.
Christina Singh: Yeah. Wow, this topic is very important to me and more important than I have ever realized it would be in talking about being a mom in tech. And it really started from my own journey of becoming a mom. And it was something that I always wanted, but I was unsure of because I loved my career. I love learning and digging in, and I was concerned about, could I do both? And, you know, with many things in life that I do, I've just, like, I have to go for it and see what happens and how it unfolds. And so when I was at Rich Relevance, I was probably the first pregnant employee too. We were figuring out our maternity leave policy and all of that.
And so it was interesting because I helped to pave the path for what our leave policy would look like. I also had a fantastic boss who supported me and advocated for ensuring the HR team created a flexible policy for us. And so I could take a reasonable amount of time off, about four months off, to spend with my daughter when I had her. And it was a great experience. But I was also ready to go back to work after that. And what I realized, and this is what I talk about in the book, is that motherhood made me more successful in my career and allowed me to be where I am today. Because being a mom made me hyper-prioritize what I'm focused on and only sometimes spend all the time on all the details.
I love the details, but it's essential to understand the context and then zoom back out and figure out what you need to do next? And how do you prioritize? So that's really what I talk about in my chapter in the book, which is chapter 14, is how, you know, just motherhood made my success because instead of just spending endless hours working on things, I, I had to figure out what's most essential and how I was able to participate in the book. I just had a friend who had heard about it, and she's also featured in the book and said that you'd be great to participate in it. The two women who wrote the book, Amelia and Sabina, are great. They're in the customer success world, and they're really also advocating for moms.
The last reason I need to have these conversations is that I was initially hesitant. And then, as I became a mom, I continued to talk about that; hey, I'm a mom; I work in tech. And I was meeting many women working in tech and saying, I can't believe how open you are about talking about your children at work or that you're a mom and have to go and pick up your kids. And they're like, I'm scared to talk about that. And so I realized that as I continue to rise up in leadership positions, it was much more important to talk about that and understand that I am balancing those things. But just because I'm talking about my children and family doesn't mean I'm using it as an excuse for not doing something. Still, it's because it's the context in which I make decisions and who I am.
Ted Blosser: You know, I'm picturing a chart. If you think about two lines you could graph, one would be your career progression. It highly correlates to your, let's call your responsibilities being a mom or personal responsibilities go hand in hand with how well you've progressed in your career, and you're spot on it. It's because you learned how to become an even more effective leader by becoming a mom.
Christina Singh: Yeah, and the other thing is empathy. That is the other piece that, really, it's about more than just the prioritization. Still, it's around the empathy that it brought me, becoming a parent, and understanding that everyone has a lot going on. There's a different context, and you, that's why it's so essential for me to understand who people are, whether that's my customer or people that are on my team, so that I can figure out, okay, like this is, this is what my drives and motivates people. Yeah. And that is necessary to me of understanding, okay, what's your business priorities along with just who people are because we're humans, and that allows us to figure out how we connect.
Ted Blosser: To bet our kids don't have empathy for us. They, people, listen to us at work but not at home.
Christina Singh: Exactly, exactly. Translate there. Exactly. I always say, you know, the real work begins on the weekends because the kids have off, they're not at school, and at least at work, people generally listen to what you're saying. Yeah, yeah. And at home, the kids are like, okay, me too, whatever. I'm still gonna do what I'm gonna do.
Ted Blosser: Well, that's awesome. Christina, this has been an amazing conversation. We'll start with what we call the learn Rapid-Fire Round. I'll give you basically a simple question and then give us back a one to two-line answer. Okay. First one, it's gonna be, what is one podcast, book, or blog you've learned the most from
Christina Singh: Oh, one. Okay. I love listening to How I Built This podcast. And it's just so interesting to hear about these different entrepreneurs and their experiences and how they navigated rejection or failure, as well as celebrating those moments and the things that have made their careers and companies successful.
Ted Blosser: Guy Raz is one of my favorites, and everyone goes on a show and invents, like, a new iced tea and makes a billion dollars.
All right. Next one. What is one topic you wanna learn more about in the future? What would you learn if you got into retirement and had all the time in the world? Anything?
Christina Singh: What would I learn? Anything? I would learn how to swim. I'm a terrible swimmer, so maybe that's what I would learn. It could be good for my mental health and exercise as I get older.
Ted Blosser: So I'm in the same boat with you. I'm, I belong to this club, and I'm like, I wish I was a better swimmer. My eight-year-old daughter swims way better than I do. Okay, last one. This is back to the career advice theme. If you were talking to someone early in their career on the CS side, what advice would you give them?
Christina Singh: The most significant piece of advice is to be curious. You know, be curious and look for the opportunity. Go for where the opportunities are and explore your curiosity. It's not about the beginning, the money, or the title because that will come later, but make sure you learn about those experiences and follow your passion and curiosity.
Ted Blosser: That's great advice. Well, Christina, we'll wrap here. Thanks again for joining us. This is an amazing chat, and we'll talk soon.
Christina Singh: Perfect. Thanks, Ted.
Ted Blosser: Thank you, everyone, for joining. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And remember, always be learning.