It takes skill to synthesize the knowledge you’ve gained and then disseminate in a way that will help leaders make financial, cultural, and leadership decisions. Rosalyn Curato, CCO of Allovue, a startup EdFinTech (education financial technology) company, knows how to leverage this skill. In today’s episode, Rosalyn shares how her background in finance and education consulting contributes to success in her CCO role.
“There’s that kind of element of being able to really understand finances to set your team up for success,” says Rosalyn. She shares that focus and speed are important because of the urgency of the work. Keeping this in mind, you’ll be able to get to your goal quickly and add value.
Train Your Customers on How to Effectively Use Your Product
Within her first six months, Rosalyn realized that training and optimizing for the first interaction with the product would be a big portion of her work. She mentions that if people don’t get value of out your software the first time they log in, they might give you a second chance, but most likely, they may never log back in.
- Rosalyn and her team invested in training customers on site. The Allovue team spent dedicated time with customers so they could specifically learn how to use the product and get value out of it. Rosalyn says that this was a successful strategy because they had a captive audience who was essentially being forced to log in, subsequently realizing the value of the product.
- After the training, Rosalyn’s team used a recording software to watch how customers interacted with the product. By tracking movements of the mouse on the screen, the Allovue team saw where customers lingered, hesitated, and ended up clicking. They used this feedback to make product improvements in order to minimize click and make things less confusing.
Additionally, during the first six months in this role, Rosalyn spent time with the C-Suite, providing them with feedback. She believes that in addition to their innate desire to focus on customers, providing the C-Suite with continuous exposure to what customers are saying and how they’re getting value out of the product, helps get their buy-in for what’s needed.
Focus on Retention and Establish Relationship Managers
Allovue is a B2B2C SaaS company that builds software solutions to help school districts around the country interact with their financial data more strategically. As CCO, Rosalyn knew that she would be strategizing around an acquisition and retention plan.
- Rosalyn says that focusing on renewal was, and is, a major part of her job. Additionally, she knew that it was important to gather feedback to see how customers were using the product. This feedback would help the Allovue team decide how to update the product and ensure it was user-friendly, to increase stickiness.
- While focusing on retention, Rosalyn started to see a pattern emerge. She realized that having a relationship manager was the lynchpin to ensuring that the customers would gain more value from the product. Once a CSM was in place, she was able to really scale and grow the customer base.
- Rosalyn talks about the customer delight approach, which people talk about a lot. However, at Allovue, they didn’t see much of an ROI with this method. She said that though people were happy to receive flowers and nice messages, it didn’t correlate to customer retention.
- Having relationship managers is an effective approach to customer retention.
- She learned about the type of customers that were a good fit for Allovue and shared this information with the sales team.
- After getting comfortable with a process of adding more customers, Rosalyn decided to create a pilot program which would allow customers to test the waters before fully committing.
- Understand what factors lead some customers to early renewals and what are the early warning signs of churn. Share this information with the sales team so they can be mindful of these specifics when generating leads.
This last lesson was particularly important for Rosalyn. She shares that now that her team understands what some of the warning signs are, they can get in front of the problem and know when to start escalating. This knowledge is then communicated from the sales team all the way to customer service, which helps everyone improve their customer relationship.
“I think any CCO will say that the biggest part of their role is making sure you’re communicating the right information into the right parties and that there’s a timely cascade of information throughout the organization,” says Rosalyn.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“Honestly, a lot of it goes back to the people part of the job, especially at the CCO role, you’re spending a lot of your time on management and strategy. I wish I had a crystal ball to envision what customers we would have had and how much time we would be expending on certain things, so I could have rethought some of my hiring decisions in the past.
As I mentioned, I think we originally decided we may spend more time on training, we may spend more time on interactions with users, but really, we ended up seeing that the value came from these SMEs, so I wish I’d just been able to predict my head count for my team back then, whereas now, I feel like I have that clarity in my hands.”
About Rosalyn Curato
Rosalyn Curato is Chief Customer Officer at Allovue. She was drawn to Allovue after working in education consulting for two years and seeing how much time and effort was spent in analyzing financial data in order to make it actionable. By providing educators with data that is ready for interpretation, Rosalyn believes that school leaders can be more strategic with their time, making resource allocation decisions that will lead to improved student outcomes.
Prior to her role at Allovue, Rosalyn worked at Afton Partners providing financial and operational consulting to the education sector serving school districts, charter management organizations, and funders of innovative schools.