Implement a Customer Experience Strategy at a Startup with VP of Customer Success, Adriana Zeman – CB77


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Human Duct Tape Show Episode 77 Adriana Zeman


Are you thinking about how to implement a customer experience journey at your startup? On this episode, Adriana Zeman, VP of Customer Success at Zaius, shares her proven path for making customer experience a part of the business in a startup operation.  In our conversation, we cover her month-to-month plan to implement a customer success journey that goes beyond the initial onboarding phase.

At Startups, Making Focused Decisions Along the Way is Key

Podcast Takeaways Episode 77At Zaius, Adriana’s job is to shape what the customer experience is – understanding how customers interact with them and vice versa. The customer experience begins once contracts are signed and during onboarding. Initially, there was a brief cycle in which the experience ended at the onboarding process, but Adriana wanted to extend the customer journey into one that became an ongoing relationship. 

During this process at a startup, Adriana explains that it’s important to take the time to understand and listen to who the customer really is. While gathering data about the customer, create a knowledge base around what is and isn’t driving success. Once you’re able to compile and clarify the data, bring it back to the organization so you can start making focused decisions. Here is where you say, this what I’m seeing – here are the patterns driving success and not driving success.

Making focused decisions along the way is key, especially while at startups. It’s really easy to get distracted by “shiny objects” and try to capture as much of everything that you can. Along the way, you’ll always have to make sure that you’re acting with the greater focus in mind. Initially, there was a lot of time spent fixing one-off problems. Adriana and her team realized they should repurpose their meetings and try to determine the overall process to focus on the larger themes. This method allowed them to get to the root of the problem and solve for the one off customer emergency. 

Adriana’s 6 Month Plan for Customer Success Implementation:

Month 1: Understand/create order in the role -focus decisions. Do a lot of listening and observation at first to understand the organization and its customers. (Tweet This) Build upon successes and see if you can get some quick-wins.

Month 2: Data gathering and building customer pathways/journeys. Create priorities and prove value with early execution action items.

Month 3: Recasting key parts of the operation and deliverables, such as support packages. Establish focus on key areas.

Month 4: Build the organization to support the work ahead – identify what is working and not working.

Month 5:  Stabilize the team and processes. Build out partnership relationships, stabilize key cx processes — tactics: schedule calls with different customers to get perspectives.

Month 6: Customize, refine, and expand tools for support. Recruiting to expand team.

What Do You Know NOW that you wish you knew THEN?


  1. You have to start with customer empathy at the core. There’s an underlying challenge when a customer has a problem, and it’s about trying to understand what it is that they’re worried about. I’ve learned that CX has to be about wanting to help someone solve a problem. (Tweet this)
  2. There isn’t really a guidebook because every organization is different.
  3. You’re only going to be successful if the entire organization buys in to the value of customer success and of driving a customer experience and what it brings. (Tweet this)
  4. Trust your gut.

Adriana Zeman, A Strategic and Experienced Customer Success Leader

Adriana Zeman is the VP of Customer Success at Zaius, a B2C CRM platform for marketers. Previously, she worked as the VP of Customer Success at SHYFT Analytics and the VP of Worldwide Professional Services at Acquia. In her tenure at Acquia, she led 600% organic growth of the services organization to provide global coverage and a scalable customer experience that expanded services bookings and revenue by over 300%. Prior to that, she had more than 15 years of experience in agencies, managing operations, client services and providing strategic marketing services to a large portfolio of enterprise accounts. Adriana has experience at both startups and large organizations, driving marketing and brand strategies, strategic business initiatives, and the development of business processes at scale.

If you enjoyed this episode, I’d love for you to search for The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show on iTunes or Stitcher and let us know what you think with a review. And of course, take some time to check out some of our older episodes!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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