Committing to Customers: Q&A With Lambert Walsh, DocuSign SVP Customer Success
We caught up with DocuSign SVP of Customer Success Lambert Walsh to learn about what inspires him and how he thinks about DocuSign’s company-wide commitment to the customer.
At DocuSign, Customer Success is focused on ensuring customers achieve their desired outcome. How do you and your team make sure the company delivers that?
It’s important that we stay in tune with customers and truly understand their needs, regardless of size and scale. We need to practice active listening to know what they are solving for and what their desired outcomes need to be for their businesses. From our understanding of their needs, we can then activate and mobilize teams across the company to deliver on those aspirations. We all have a role to play, regardless of the function we own. All of our work behind the scenes shows up in front of the customer, good or bad. In the end, delivering successful customer outcomes is a company wide responsibility that we all need to own.
What are the biggest challenges customers face in adopting technology and achieving digital transformation, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and how can customer success leaders help?
Customers are looking to us to act as digital sherpa's in their most difficult times. They appreciate our domain expertise. This knowledge and deep understanding of who we serve allows us to help guide them to more quickly and efficiently solve challenges and get to their desired outcomes. Across all segments, every customer has to solve a specific problem in their environment--some humanitarian and some focused on survivability of their business. In each case, they're looking for us to lean in with a point of view that could help them create clarity and resolve problems faster.
How do you keep customers at the center of the DocuSign culture?
You have to have empathy for what a customer is going through. You have to be relatable. You have to expose your teams to experiences so that they have empathy for what customers are trying to achieve. It's also about understanding our customer needs, their aspirations, their challenges. I encourage my team to obsess on the customer's needs, and to advocate every minute for their voices to drive awareness across the company. Often other teams will say they don’t touch the customer because they don't directly interface with them one on one. I can tell you, every single day, they touch the customer. We all have a huge impact on company reputation and how customers view our brand.
So many employees are working remotely all or part of the time. How has your team adapted to maintain customer satisfaction in this new landscape?
Just like our customers, we too have had to make the pivot to work from home so we could relate to their challenge. The amount of operational orchestration was unbelievable to make sure that we were always in a position to assist our customers in their most critical time of need, while navigating our own challenges.
At the same time, DocuSign was continually pulsing with our employees, asking them how we could help, checking in on their working environment, asking them how they were actually doing. With that type of focus on the employee experience it absolutely carries over to the customer experience. We are very proud of our team and how they maintained their focus, and in the end, our customers appreciate our support. Connecting on the human level, both with employees and customers, really made a difference.
Do you have a guiding principle that influences your leadership style?
Transparency, authenticity and being genuine. I like meetings to be fun and for everyone to feel comfortable to be themselves. Many times, when it’s the first time someone is giving a presentation to me, they may be nervous because they see me as an executive versus a coworker. I like to help them get into a position where they're really relaying substance and doing it in their voice. I think lightening the mood is super important, as are transparency and vulnerability. I'm willing to show that we’re all human and can have a little fun - being a mentor and providing positive feedback has a lasting impact on professional development.
You’ve referred to yourself as a “tech lifer,” starting your career in tech support and moving to executive leadership. What career advice do you have for others who want to follow a similar path?
Be vulnerable and open to taking risks. There’s a lot to be said for really testing yourself and being comfortable with putting yourself in uncomfortable positions to test yourself, develop yourself, and in the end grow. Making mistakes is natural, but if you continue to make yourself vulnerable and ask for candid feedback from those around you you will accelerate your growth. From there it's about course correction from the feedback, and realizing every day that it's about getting better. Reach out to people, create transparency around your work and ask for another perspective. That opens doors and, typically, people will lean in to help you solve any issue and help you get ahead. Without asking for help, I don't think I would have developed as much as I have as a professional or as a leader.
What do you look for when recruiting talent to your team?
I look for skill sets that are transferable. I don't necessarily look for subject matter expertise. I look for leadership traits. I look for people that are relatable and focused on nurturing relationships. Those skills translate and enable someone to pick up any specific topic or area and be successful. I've had that afforded to me in my career many times. Earlier in my career, I was given new opportunities that initially made no sense to me. In hindsight, it is clear it was due to the skillsets I possessed but didn't always recognize. I have learned from this and applied it as I build and grow my teams.
The CEO of DocuSign, Dan Springer, said he wants everybody to look back at their time and say they did the work of their life at DocuSign. Are you? And if so, how?
The pandemic has been an unbelievable leadership challenge and I can honestly say while it hasn’t been easy, it has been some of the most fulfilling moments of my career. It tested me in every way possible as a human being. Not only was I leading my team through uncharted situations brought on by remote work, we were pivoting to solve some of the most important humanitarian challenges for customers and prospects at the same time.
We ran on adrenaline for months. And looking back I am super proud of the quality of work that we produced in such impossible circumstances. It's emotional, it's that powerful what people did. It really was an astonishing accomplishment and something I will hold with me forever.
Interested in doing the work of your life at DocuSign? Check out our openings. We’d love to talk more.