We are going to spend five minutes extracting five interesting pieces of information from a founder, thought leader or member of the wider Movac team. This month, we caught up with Movac Operating Partner Kirsty Traill.

Kirsty, tell us a bit about yourself, and where you fit in on the Movac team. 

I’m originally from Auckland, however have lived overseas for the past 16 years, 3 in Tokyo with HP, and 13 in Silicon Valley in the US. I joined Movac as an operating partner for Fund 5, focused on the post-sales customer experience; customer success, customer support, customer advocacy, and customer marketing.


What is the biggest piece of counterintuitive advice you would give to customer success leaders? 

It’s not about customer happiness per se. Customers can be happy with your service, and happy with the relationship and still churn because they aren’t seeing value from your solution. It’s more important to truly understand how your customer defines the value for which they acquired your solution, and then to relentlessly deliver on that time after time. Of course, the game is then to ensure you’re constantly iterating on this value definition and delivery at a velocity that makes the renewal unquestionable for the customer.


Is there anything simple you see Kiwi founders commonly not giving enough attention to, which can have an outweighed positive impact if given more consideration? Any equally simple recommendations on how to get this right? 

The number one thing founders need to get clear on is WHO is your customer and what is the NEED or pain point that your product or service solves. Once you’re clear on that, then ensure you have a big enough total addressable market (TAM) around which to build a business, and then ensure you have a differentiated unique selling proposition/value proposition so customers know why to buy you vs. the competition.


During your time at Hootsuite and now at Yext, what is an example/s of a strategic initiative that you worked on to deliver a superior customer experience? What drove this work? 

Understanding your voice of the customer across multiple sources of data to inform product innovation, and make improvements in your business. It’s a fine balance between building based on your view of where the industry is headed and ensuring you are listening to customers and taking action based on their aggregate feedback, to drive engagement and loyalty.


What should be top of mind for the customer success function of a kiwi company as it gets traction in an offshore market? 

Build with the end in mind. I see a lot of companies solving problems incrementally, which makes sense in the moment, particularly in the early stages. However, we’ve all seen what happens over time with that approach, just look at this graph here of 0.99 vs. 1.01 – an 0.02 delta leads to a significantly different result over time. Yes, you need to solve problems in the now, but if you don’t have some kind of North Star that’s 12-18 months out from now, that you’re ultimately heading towards, you’ll end up completely off track.

So if you think the majority of your customers are going to be in X state, or on the East Coast for example, then put your team near those customers from the outset, don’t just base your team in SF, or Austin or Oregon because everyone else is there. (and yes, you need a (local) team on the ground in the US, you can’t successfully service this market from NZ).

Spend the time getting to know your customers too, the profile is often quite different from your customer base in NZ and other markets. Invest in research and developing this understanding upfront, as it will save you significant money in the long run from a sales and marketing perspective.


What are your go-to Customer Success resources? Are there any links you find yourself regularly sending off to others to check out? 

  • Tomasz Tunguz is my all-time favourite resource for all things SaaS.
  • Sixteen Ventures  Lincoln Murphy’s blog on marketing, sales and customer success thought leadership.
  • For Entrepreneurs – David Skok’s content with his 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur has got this blog a must read rating as Customer Success is his key topic.
  • Shep Hyken’s Customer Service Blog: Shep Hyken writes newsletters on customer service and experience. He also publishes his favorite blogs of the week.
  • Tomasz Tunguz: “Daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups”. Tomasz, venture capitalist at Redpoint, covers many topics about SaaS business, including customer success.