First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Summer Lindman: We’re doing well given the circumstances. Everyone is healthy, safe and we’re grateful to work in the e-commerce space which has fared relatively well in this environment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Talkable
Summer Lindman: I have over 10 years of experience leading customer-facing organizations–from enterprise sales in the hospitality industry to customer success in the technology sector. I joined Talkable in 2016, shortly after earning my MBA from HEC Paris.
I was excited to transition my career to B2B SaaS, and was drawn to Talkable due to my interest in working with e-commerce companies and helping them grow their businesses through word-of-mouth and customer loyalty. I originally started at Talkable as the first Customer Success Manager, and eventually grew the CS team from 3 to 26 people. I was named the company’s CEO in 2018 and am passionate about driving innovation through customer collaboration and feedback.
How does Talkable innovate?
Summer Lindman: Innovation is a critical part of any B2B SaaS MarTech growth plan. One of my favorite quotes is from William S. Burroughs who wrote, “when you stop growing you start dying.” Innovation can keep a brand relevant, it can position them for explosive growth, and ultimately, can garner attention for large industry partnerships that can shift the landscape of marketing altogether.
It’s no surprise that innovation can separate the front-runners and those who fall behind in any given industry because honestly, it’s no easy task. The way that Talkable innovates is two-fold.
The primary way that we innovate is through customer feedback. With over 250 active customers, Talkable has a direct line to a wealth of ideas on how to improve our product and what the next best ideas are for a new product or partnership. We’ve even set up a real-time dashboard where client feedback that is received from our customer success team can immediately be shown to our product managers and communicated with the development team. It’s exciting to watch when our clients make a request, and how quickly our team acts to prioritize it in the queue and start implementing their ideas. Our customers feel heard, appreciated, and for us, the product experience is always improving.
The second way we innovate is through industry trends. This is the element that’s a little more tricky to maneuver through. It has to be a consistent effort but also requires a selective ear to understand which trends will blow over and which have real sticking power. Keeping a joint log between the marketing team and the research team, and then reviewing this quarterly with our product managers has worked really well over the last few quarters for us.
None of the ways we scout for innovation would be worth it if it wasn’t for our product team. Our product team has done an excellent job of being nimble, being transparent and open to feedback and recommendations.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Summer Lindman: We partner with e-commerce businesses both big and small, and the virus has impacted these companies in different ways. For large retailers, the virus has closed many, if not all of their physical stores for a period of time, and the brands have had to quickly transition their tactics to drive traffic to their websites and fulfill online orders. For smaller organizations, who are predominantly D2C companies, they’ve experienced a dramatic increase in online sales and have struggled with fulfilling orders as well as supply chain disruptions.
At Talkable, we’ve been on the front-lines with our customers helping them to engage this new volume of online traffic and working with them to create retention and loyalty strategies that will keep these customers shopping with them for many years to come – hopefully long after COVID is over.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Summer Lindman: Absolutely. Our main priority has and will continue to be our employee’s health, well-being, and safety. COVID has resulted in a lot of anxiety for many of us, both personally and at work, and we’ve wanted to spend time to make sure that our employees feel supported and secure amidst all of the uncertainty. We’ve been working from home since March and have gone through an evolution in terms of how we hire, onboard, and communicate as a team.
There have been many tough decisions along the way as to what is the role of a company in keeping its employees safe while also ensuring productivity as well as fostering innovation. We still haven’t fully figured out what the “new normal” looks like at Talkable while we continue to see the Coronavirus wreak havoc in the United States, but we continue to use employee safety as our North Star when making these tough decisions.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Talkable in the future?
Summer Lindman: I’ve found daily meditation and reflection crucial to handling my stress and anxiety during this crisis. I usually start my day with twenty minutes of journaling followed by ten minutes of meditation in order to feel more grounded and at ease before showing up to my first meeting of the day. This practice has been adopted by some of my teammates and we typically start our Leadership team meetings with a minute of meditation followed by a quick check-in with each individual to see how they’re feeling about the upcoming week. While the crisis seems far from over, at least here in the US, we’re feeling confident about the future of e-commerce and the growth of Talkable as a result of this.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Summer Lindman: Competitors are an interesting concept in MarTech; there are so many players that come into the picture and fall out. We’ve been doing this since 2010 so we’ve seen that first hand. There are also consistent acquisitions, new partnerships, and strategic alliances, so it’s not really about the competitors today in a direct way, it’s also about the indirect competitors. We’ve got our eyes on the product suites that really service overall customer/database growth. Any way that we can service our customers to grow, we want to have our eyes and ears on it. Competition is everywhere.
Your final thoughts
Summer Lindman: While COVID-19 has certainly had a devastating impact on many throughout the globe, I also hope that there can be some positives that come out of it. Mainly, the opportunity to step back and re-evaluate our priorities as a company and for me personally as a leader. Responsible decision making and ensuring financial stability is paramount during any sort of crisis, and we took proactive measures early on to ensure the longevity of our business.
This has required us to collaborate even further with our customers to ensure we’re addressing their updated needs and challenges, as well as providing them long-term value to help them not just weather this storm, but get back to growing their businesses as quickly as possible. I’m excited to see what innovation will come out of this period in human history and hope that these future possibilities will help us get through this difficult time and come out the other side even stronger.