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Sonciary Honnoll

Sonciary Honnoll

Matt Murphy Teaches Us About Leadership in Action

Matt Murphy reminds us that one-on-one is where the magic happens in Customer Success.

I’ve known Matt for less than a year, but his enthusiasm for Customer Success is boundless. We shared an instant connection and I was happy to interview him for Quala’s Humans of CS series on YouTube. 

Matt is the VP of Customer Success at Adeption, a coaching app that supports experiential leadership programs—and whose tagline is “Be conscious, be curious, be better.” Here are the highlights of our conversation. 

Adeption: A Business Meet-Cute

Matt met Carl Sanders-Edwards, Adeption’s founder and CEO, at Babson College in 2011 while they were both pursuing MBAs. They worked together on what would later become Adeption in an entrepreneurship class.

“When we graduated, Carl went back to New Zealand and started building the software. I went back to my corporate job, but we stayed in touch,” says Matt. “As the software developed, I was introducing Carl to people here in the States, playing a matchmaking role that evolved into a sales role.” When customers started getting on board, Carl asked Matt to manage customer relationships and help build out the platform; four months later, Matt joined as VP of Customer Success.

Bring Your Whole Self to Work

Matt’s idea of a perfect non-work day is all about family. “My wife and I both come from big families,” he says. “We like to go on vacation at the Cape. We wake up early, have a cup of coffee, get the kids settled, go for a run…then get home, make sandwiches, and go to the beach for the full day. Then I go home, clean up, crack open a beer, and throw stuff on the grill. That’s who I am outside of the job.” 

But for Matt, the person he is outside the office is also the same person who comes into the office. He believes that bringing your whole self to work is a huge part of Customer Success. “Sharing my five-to-nine self with my customers is one of the ways I build relationships and start to build up trust with our clients,” he explains.

Leadership Is Action

Matt believes that leadership is action—not something you can learn from a masterclass or a YouTube video, or even from the best leadership books.

“If you think about riding a bike, getting fit, or learning an instrument, nothing really changes until you start participating yourself. Leadership is no different,” he explains. “So we created a technology that gets leaders to develop by taking action on the job. We use experiences that take them through a series of workouts that each end in action. We call it the ‘digital coach in your pocket.’” The Adeption experience represents a huge mindset shift from traditional corporate training.

Scaling the Team by Defining the Art

As Matt and Adeption are poised to scale, Matt has been giving a great deal of thought on how to build out the Customer Success team. “It’s hard to define a process, to describe exactly what I do, because there’s an art to the relationship,” he says.

Matt’s solution is to not completely quantify the entire process, but instead to uncover the rules of thumb—the heuristics that generally work well for all clients, regardless of size and industry.  He plans to share that framework with future teammates, so they can be their authentic selves and build their own relationships with the customer but still have the scaffolding of the customer journey to support them.

What Success Looks Like

Although Matt believes Adeption’s best success stories are still in the future, he’s particularly proud of this one from 2020: 

“We have been with one Fortune 500 company that took a really slow approach; I think they were concerned about our size and us being able to handle them. But after six months of prep and one year of creating a fantastic experience for 350 of their employees, they are the only program in their company that could survive COVID. Now one of their signature programs is joining and two more are in discussion. So we went from being an outlier to being the belle of the ball!” 

Is Customer Success Your Path?

Here are some of the characteristics Matt believes are “must haves” for the Customer Success pro.

Love people.

To be successful, CSMs need to build trust with their customers by showing them true care. “Without it, you’ll never win,” says Matt.

Be authentic.

Authenticity is key to developing trust. “What do you value, what gets you up in the morning?” Matt asks. “If you close your eyes and envision the world crumbling around you, what are the things nobody can take away from you because it’s you and you alone? Those things need to come through when you interact with people.”

Develop empathy.

Good CSMs put themselves in the customer’s shoes to truly understand what they need. “At Adeption, we say internally that we’re not one-size-fits all but one-size-fits one,” says Matt. “You really need to understand and listen in order to get to that point.” 

Avoid burnout.

To manage your time, Matt’s recommends doing “like” things together. Consider your top three priorities—for Matt it would be work, family, and friends—then figure out how you may be able to satisfy two or even all three of them with a single activity. For example, Matt likes crossword puzzles, so he might do a puzzle with his daughter to hit two of his three priorities. 

Learn to say no.

“I try to please everybody,” says Matt. “But I am starting to keep, in addition to my to-do list, a to-don’t list. Sometimes we focus too much on all the things we need to do. Maybe there’s also a bucket list of things we should avoid?”

Matt believes that Customer Success is the field of the future. He sees it as the true differentiator as more and more services are automated, copied, and packaged. Says Matt, “Of course you need a kickass product or service, but it’s the relationship that will make the difference.”

Listen, Watch and Join

Watch the full interview with Matthew Murphy on YouTube or skip specific questions that interest you by clicking the bookmarked timestamps in the video description.

YOUTUBE | COMMUNITY | QUALA

Show Notes
  • Matt recommends we read Drive, a book by Daniel H. Pink to discover what motivates us.
  • To learn more about Adeption, check out their website at adeption.io.
  • Connect with Matt on LinkedIn or Twitter and let him know you enjoyed our talk! 

Join our Customer Success Community called Humans of CS to connect with Matt and other CS leaders like him.

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