Interview with Shelley Davies, OpenBlend’s new Chief Customer Officer
People-centric performance management doesn’t happen overnight: it’s a journey that businesses need to take. Our new Chief Customer Officer Shelley Davies explains how her Customer Success team will be guiding clients on that journey to enable performance and achieve better retention with the OpenBlend platform.
So Shelley, tell us a bit about your experience up until now.
I’ve been in customer success leadership for about 12 years. Before that, I was in marketing and communications, then sales. It was really customer experience that led me into Customer Success, because I was selling a product, but not seeing the customer being looked after post-sale.
So, I propositioned the company I was working for at the time and said, look, can I have a role that looks after this?
After that, Customer Success started taking off worldwide. I was headhunted to run tech touch communications for a global business with about 38,000 customers worldwide. We managed it with a small team of about four people, by using segmented, targeted communications, data, analytics and forecasting. And I basically fell in love with data.
After about nine years I moved into the world of start-ups, working at Xeneta, where I became VP of the entire Customer Success function. I was able to use everything I'd learned from the big corporate world and apply it to build from the foundation up. I left that business with a healthy retention rate, a growing net retention, and a really high performing customer success team.
What drew you to OpenBlend?
OpenBlend presented an opportunity for me to use all the experience I'd learned to date, in an industry that aligns with my own personal values as a leader. As a manager, I’ve always prioritised getting the best out of my team, helping them to perform the best they can and to really love their jobs.
I also love Anna's [Rasmussen, CEO & Founder] energy. She’s really inspirational, not just as a founder and CEO, but in her whole self: her coaching, her experience, her mindset… and it’s great working for a female leader who shares my values.
There's a lot of software out there that claims to help businesses increase productivity, but not all of them deliver results. What do you think they are missing that OpenBlend delivers?
I would say OpenBlend can meet an organisation wherever they are on their performance journey. If they have long-term aspirations to be more people-centric, to see the whole person and to enable their workforce to perform at higher levels, then our customer success team can help them to get started – even if, to begin with, they just want with objective setting and feedback. We can then help them to progress along that journey, by making the process more ‘bite sized’ and easier to manage.
I think that’s the big thing that other providers can’t do: it’s being part of that entire journey, rather than just “well here’s the product, good luck!”
How are you evolving this service in your new role?
I’ll be looking at establishing a structure that enables my team to operate the most effectively with our client base and share information with clients so that they can see the impact that performance management is having month to month, quarter to quarter, year to year. I’ll also be making sure that clients feel they have a trusted advisor in OpenBlend, especially as they move up through the maturity curve towards more ambitious performance enablement.
Really putting the client at the centre of our business is the most important thing for OpenBlend. For us to take clients along that journey is exciting for us: it’s utilising the full functionality of our product and helping organisations to create real social impact with their employees, not just revenue-based results. When we look at statistics around attrition, and general performance at work, you can see the knock-on effect that it has not only on the employee, but on the organisation
How do you think that's going to feel for customers?
They can expect really consistent engagement and support, and a process that is led by their needs. Clients will be taken on a journey that isn’t just defined by the process we want them to go through, or what we know has worked for other clients. It’s much more collaborative. We’re looking at how success is defined by the client – their focuses, their goals – to make it unique to them.
What do you think is really pushing businesses today to make changes to their people and performance management processes?
Well, I think it’s health and wellbeing, and the shift to hybrid and home working.
Health and wellbeing is one of the Blend elements that is continually top of mind for employees, but prior to COVID, it was important for very different reasons than it is today. Now, it’s a vital priority, especially for those working remotely.
I think COVID has really changed the way in which the HR function has to operate, in order to enable people at work to be their best selves and also to attract talent.
If people aren't happy, they move on. With a mix of home, hybrid and office working, that ‘happiness’ can become harder for managers and HR teams to gauge – but the businesses that don’t address the issue will suffer attrition and will get left behind. At OpenBlend we’re seeing some really great metrics around those businesses that are encouraging holistic conversations with managers and taking an interest in the general well-being and happiness of their employees.
What’s the next step for businesses who are already exploring people-centric management?
I think what we'll see moving forward is a lot of businesses adopting more progressive people leadership roles – VP of People, Chief People Officer – alongside traditional HR functions. A lot of start-ups, fast-growth companies, and SaaS businesses are already doing this, and I think that a more holistic approach is going to be a differentiator moving forward. How businesses approach their people and HR is a reflection of how the business operates as a whole: progressive businesses will have a more progressive approach to their people and performance, and these are the businesses that are going to be getting ahead in the future.
You can read more about Shelley’s thoughts on the evolving world of Customer Success in her blog, turnthechurn.com. If you’re looking for a performance management platform that will evolve with your business and help you develop your people-centric values, book a demo to see how OpenBlend can help you achieve your goals.