A leader requires multiple qualities to lead others to success. Experience plays an important role in the journey of a leader, whether it comes from tough times or from the extraordinary feats they achieved. Kelly Hall, Chief Customer Oﬃcer at Vision Critical, shows how she leads in the technology and software industries.
For Kelly, “A successful businesswoman is compassionate, logical, emotionally intelligent, comfortable with ambiguity, willing to have tough conversations, and can both dig in and execute as well as sit back and see the bigger picture. No one is born with all these attributes. They are skills that needs to be developed and honed with time and experience.”
“Lead with passion; Passion for people, learning, and making a difference.”
Below are highlights of the interview conducted between Kelly and Insights Success:
A brief overview of Kelly’s background and role at Vision Critical.
As Chief Customer Oﬃcer for Vision Critical, Hall is responsible for global customer experience including Professional Services, Customer Success, Technical Support, and Education. A proven leader in developing world-class customer experience programs for SaaS solutions, Hall invests in customers by approaching the customer experience as a shared service amongst the entire organization. Her expertise has empowered Vision Critical to practice customer centricity by engaging with customers, listening to them, and instituting company-wide mechanisms for creating optimal customer experiences. Her 17-year career in technology customer service is founded on one basic principle: we are nothing without our customers.
Hall joined Vision Critical in 2017 from BMC Software, where she led the worldwide cloud Customer Success organization. Prior to joining BMC, Kelly held leadership roles at CA Technologies and Protiviti. She has also completed the Harvard Business School Executive Education General Management Program.
How do you diversify your solutions to appeal to your target audience?
Being customer centric means, we align the solution to customers’ needs. Vision Critical oﬀers a SaaS platform, Sparq, that enables our customers to build relationships with their consumers that drive business decisions. We also oﬀer a customized enablement program led by a Customer Success Manager (CSM), formalized education, and access to numerous subject matter experts. Annually, we develop a success plan for our customers that identiﬁes their goals and what success looks like to them. It is then the responsibility of the CSM to recommend best practices on how to use the platform, as well as introduce our vast network of resources, including other customers with similar goals. The success plan becomes a living document to ensure we adjust to the changing needs of the customer.
When we do this, we can highly improve the likelihood of success for the customer. We believe in forming a partnership with our customers; if the customer is not successful, then we at Vision Critical are not successful.
What were the past experiences, achievements, or lessons that shaped your journey?
When I was in my early 20s, I moved to a new state. I had to ﬁnd a job quickly and took an administrative position with a small computer reseller. Working with technology clicked for me. It was very logical, but I missed feeling like I was helping people. As my career progressed over the next ﬁve years, I found enjoyment being a process and implementation consultant for a large software manufacturer. Although I was not saving lives, I was making an impact on people and how they worked, which in turn aﬀected their quality of life. As the tech industry evolved and with the advent of SaaS, I was naturally drawn to Customer Success. Although I have spent my entire career in the technology ﬁeld, it’s not technology that interests me. It’s the people: customers, peers, and employees. Driving their growth and success is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
I have had a realization in these past two years as Chief Customer Oﬃcer. When I look in the mirror, I still see the 15-year-old girl working the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Or the administrative assistant pushing paper and shipping packages. My aha moment is that I am now a C-level executive, an executive committee member, and someone of inﬂuence within our organization.
What were some of the primary challenges and roadblocks faced during the initial phase of your journey?
I faced two challenges early in my career. First, I was a female in a male dominated industry. Second, I didn’t hold a college degree. Early in my professional career, it was clear that my male counterparts held more clout with our customers and superiors. Maybe it should have bothered me. Instead it motivated me to work harder and smarter. I knew I could deliver as good a service, if not better, than my peers. I’ve always approached every situation with a business outcome in mind and wrapped the approach with empathy and investment in people. It’s allowed me to create deep relationships built on honesty, trust, and the desire to do the right thing for the business and customer.