This week our host Brandi Starr is joined Helen Baptist, a COO and member of the executive team at PathFactory. Responsible for all revenue and customer satisfaction, Helen also leads sales, marketing, partnerships, and customer experience and...
This week our host Brandi Starr is joined Helen Baptist, a COO and member of the executive team at PathFactory. Responsible for all revenue and customer satisfaction, Helen also leads sales, marketing, partnerships, and customer experience and is the executive sponsor of the DE&I committee.
Helen started her career as a secretary and has held numerous GTM team positions, including marketing, customer success, and business development, allowing her to bring an end-to-end view of the customer journey to playbooks she has developed and deployed.
In this week's episode, Un-Siloed - Leading a Single Revenue Team, Helen and Brandi deconstruct the silo through the lens of Helen’s unique role as a COO who owns all of revenue. This 35-minute guided tour to creating a successful post-sale experience in the customer journey is one you won’t want to miss!
First, Helen shares, focus on the customer; become customer centric. “The customer, customer, customer”, she says “I can't say it enough. Customers beget more customers”. So, your action item is to seek out a special project which will expand your understanding of people's roles and responsibilities because this will help you understand the customer outside of your own silo.
Buzzword to Banish is snackable. Despite the fact that PathFactory is a content experience and intelligence platform where they talk a lot about long form content and how to break that up into bite sized pieces, she cringes at the use of the overuse of this buzzword.
Get in touch with Helen Baptist on:
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Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.
[0:35] Brandi Starr:
Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I'm your host Brandi Starr, and as always, we have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Helen Baptist, a COO at PathFactory and a member of the executive team. Helen leads sales, marketing partnerships and customer experience and is responsible for all revenue and customer satisfaction. She is also the executive sponsor of the DE&I Committee. Helen started her career as a secretary and has led numerous go-to market team positions, including marketing, customer success and business development, allowing her to bring an end-to-end view of the customer journey to playbooks she has developed and deployed. Helen, welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now.
[1:33] Helen Baptist:
Hi Brandy. Nice to see you again.
[1:35] Brandi Starr:
Yes, I am so so excited to talk to you. But before we jump all into that, I like to break the ice with a little woosah moment that I call buzzword banishment. So tell me what buzzword would you like to get rid of forever.
[1:57] Helen Baptist:
So you know that PathFactory is a content experience and intelligence platform and we talk a lot about long form content and how to break that up into bite sized pieces. And my buzzword banishment word is snackable. I know some marketers love that terminology. But I think you know, breaking it into snacks is good, but making it snackable it just kind of puts the hair on the back of my neck up.
[2:27] Brandi Starr:
I just want to say, yeah, that one is one that is overused. Everything is how do we make it snackable? How do we make it snackable?
[2:36] Helen Baptist:
And I feel like it's almost like you're entertaining for a five year old. Like you need to snack now. Hurry and feed him. Anyway, sorry...
[2:45] Brandi Starr:
As I was saying, as someone with a seven year old snack king, I can tell you that pretty much everything is snackable because you will have a whole meal and call it a snack and still look for another meal.
[3:00] Helen Baptist:
And a whole meal is a snack for 23 year old that I have. So it's all relative to what you deal with every day.
[3:08] Brandi Starr:
So we're going to take snackable and we're going to put it in the box. So we won't talk about any kind of snackable content, at least until the end of this session. So now that we've got that off our chest, I have to tell our listeners I've known and admired Helen for quite a while and have been so impressed by the work that you do at PathFactory, and just how you have really taken over revenue. And so today we are actually, it's so rare, I always have the book behind me or I guess it's on the side. But it's so rare ever talk about the book. But for anybody who hasn't gotten it, CMO to CRO: The Revenue Takeover for the Next Generation Executive and chapter 15 is actually called Introducing the Chief Revenue Officer. And we talk about the CRO, as being the title that owns revenue. In your case, you are the COO, and really, it's less about the title, we could make up anything. It is more about the importance and benefits of having revenue all under one leader. And so my first question for you is because it's so rare that we actually see that is how did your role come to be that you actually own all of revenue?
[4:36] Helen Baptist:
So I happen to be with the same CEO. This is our third ride together, third company together fourth, three exits forthright with investors. And the way it came about is that I was doing some professional services when he first walked into the company that he came in to take over from our founder. And it's standing up a product in its own right to grow the arrows in the quiver, if you will, of the company I was at. And that really is about understanding the entire customer lifecycle, from prospect through to what you're going to deliver, to what the experience should be in that, and building the business model against it. And so when that company exited, he asked me to come and work for him again, at another small startup out in Chicago called Item master, which was the original founders of Peapod Online Grocery Delivery. And they were the people that were providing content for CPG to Giant and Peapod and Walmart and Amazon. And it was a very small company. And so having heads of sales and marketing and customer experience, didn't really make sense at that time. And because I had that experience of running a piece of business, they were Series A funded, I think they were less than $4 million in revenue at that time, it didn't make sense to hire those heads. And I think the other part of it is, my background started as a secretary. But I worked my way up with mostly customer facing roles at an agency. I became a customer in some cases. And so the idea that I'm looking at it from a customer lens every single time, whether that's a marketing effort, or whether that's a solutions architect, pre-sales experience, and then how do we minimize the friction throughout the lifecycle internally so that the customer doesn't have to repeat themselves. Nothing worse than a salesperson who had a great job selling a piece of software and then the CX team or the implementation team takes it over and the first question is, so why did you buy us? That just doesn't make sense. So for me, revenue is about reducing the friction in the buying cycle and in the buyer management, after the buyer has bought. And I saw something really interesting the other day that I thought was interesting and I think it's applicable for kind of the role that I have when I see marketing sales and customer experience in my role, is acquisition of new customers is about changing the status quo in terms of what they're doing, and that requires a different mind-set. But on the defense of retaining customers, it's also about maintaining the status quo. So you have to be able to look at it from both sides, from the customer's perspective and have the stories and the messaging and the positioning and the motions and the playbooks behind that, that are all data driven and/or contiguous in your CRM workflow. So revenue operations is my first hire I would make if I was going to be the head of all three positions. That's kind of the one takeaway that I want people to think about is that that person is maniacally focused on optimizing workflows and data and insights for the customer experience, not for the people doing the job. And so that's a mind shift. Most people are worried about what's the dashboard and not what's the handoff from one team to another. And I talk about swim lanes and the relay race amongst my team very often in terms of stay in your swim lane, but make sure you do a nice relay handoff back to the next person that's taking on the job for you. Yeah, and
[8:43] Brandi Starr:
And it's interesting, in the last episode, Episode 22, I was talking to Ed Frame, and we were talking about that post sale journey and how important it is to get that right. And one of the things that he stressed in that episode was the handoff, especially when that initial sale is made. So I definitely agree there. And I do think that the biggest benefit is that frictionless experience. And I definitely give a bit woot woot for a Rev Ops higher being the first because one of the things that when we first put the book out, and we started getting people giving us opinions on whether they agreed or disagree, they're like why does your plan start with the technology? Why don't you just start by putting in this leader that you want to have? And for us number one, it was path of least resistance because so many people can't fathom putting all these departments under one head. But it really is the technology that is driving the customer experience. And when those technologies don't work well together, they create friction. And the example I always use is calling into the cable company, because everybody has experienced that where you type in your account number and push all these buttons. And then same thing person gets on the phone, and they're like, what's your account number? What was the point in typing it in and all of that before? So what do you feel has been the biggest success in having all of the departments under one?
[10:32] Helen Baptist:
So I'm going to put it in the spirit of the economy right now too and I know people are being asked to compress budgets, particularly from the marketing side, or getting rid of headcount in sales, or BDRs, or whatever it is. And we see that all over the news now. But for me, it's about making sure that we have a balanced experience across, and that resources are finite. Whether it's one department or three departments, actually it's five or six departments. But I'm allowed to play the shell game a little bit differently, in terms of where is the money coming from to make those decisions. So for example, I would sacrifice a future hire to protect a marketing budget, as opposed to, you know, having a CMO having to defend that budget by themselves, or a salesperson making that decision in the silo. And so I can also have this transparent conversation across the organization about more collaboration and better alignment as well. The other part is, for me is board meetings are the bane of most people's existence, in terms of the prep. The benefit is that I can weave this cohesive story throughout the experience, and the plays and improvements that I want to make holistically and not in my own silo, without consideration of what other people might be thinking or planning. So I have a lot of self-discovery questions with me, myself, and I. One is sales, one is marketing, one is the CX side, but the opportunity is, is that it's a consolidated view every single time that I can bring to the board and/or to the executive team. Our CEO and our CFO are very much involved in the place. But the strategy of how we go to market is delivered by me, across the whole organization.
[12:45] Brandi Starr:
And I really love that, because when you think about when you have leaders from different departments, everybody has their own self-interest. You know, they have their own people, they have their own teams, they have their own measures of what makes them and their teams look good. And that can and most often does create competing priorities. But you can't compete with yourself. It really is best decision.
[13:14] Helen Baptist:
I think the other part of it is, is that it allows for a different level of transparency across my team too. So for OKRs, for example, each team has their own OKRs, but the whole team sees it across the whole customer journey. And all knows how we're all going to be successful. And so when some teams are behind, the other teams who may be ahead can actually lean in and help us be more successful organizationally, rather than in that individual department. And that is for the betterment of the company and our customers. In the long run. It's not us versus them, it's we all pulling in the same direction at the same time together.
[13:54] Brandi Starr:
And what we call that as the domino effect. Because how you line up the goals, so that every department’s goals are within line of one another, so that we can all be successful. Because I think every marketer, at least if you've been around for a while, you can think back to when marketing was popping champagne and patting ourselves on the back, but the revenue numbers were in the toilet. And it's like, well, we did our part, and sales is getting laid off, and there's all these other things happening, and it's that disconnect. Whereas you're right, when everybody has visibility, the OKRs are all aligned. We're not rowing in a circle, like we're all rowing in the same direction.
[14:41] Helen Baptist:
And I think the other part of it for me is that marketing typically gets asked to generate top of pipe, if you will. And for me, it's also looking at that net retention revenue that marketing needs to lean into as does sales when revenue is at risk, or when revenue opportunities from those existing customers through expansion or upsell are available. And yet, we don't talk about that very much. Because the play of customer marketing is buried in the marketing team very often, but it's probably one of the most critical from a growth opportunity, the validation of customer stories, and the work to keep that going in the pipeline. It is really critical. And I think that's a missed opportunity for most marketers is they're not really thinking about how does the customer experience enable those customer stories so that we get those moments of advocacy that drive pipe. And we don't get credit for that really in the long run because it's mostly measured at top of pipe, depending on what your attribution model is.
[16:01] Brandi Starr:
And so are there any things that you're doing with your various teams to help foster that collaboration and that thought process that really is focused on the customer experience and the journey and not just on the typical vanity metrics that all departments have?
[16:22] Helen Baptist:
Look, I walked in and the first thing I asked for was the customer journey post signature. And I believe that that is the beginning of a relationship with a customer, not when the sale is processes happening. There is some trust built, obviously to the point that you want people to sign off, and there are various buyers in that process. But in order to maintain the status quo, as I talked about earlier, for renewal you have to make sure that the touch points along the journey are documented, and you're optimizing for organic interactions. And so that is one playbook. That is the first playbook that I actually built with the team at PathFactory was the customer experience, to stop some of the churn that we had. And it's things for like, as soon as a contract is signed it sounds cheesy, but there's an automated email out of marketing automation, from the CEO saying welcome to PathFactory. It's a minor play, but it still makes it credible, that they are important enough to the CEO, that we recognize that, and it's a thank you for your business, and everybody likes to be thanked for their business. It's just a minor play. And it's so easy to enact if you have the right rev tech stack, and we have a Rev Ops person who understands how to code that right? And then the [inaudible 17:54] person working with that Rev Ops person as well. But for me, it's about what are the inflection points across the customer journey that I can either automate, that I can build plays against, that will protect the revenue so that we can grow. Leaky bucket is the worst problem. And I think most people right now are probably saying, I got to retain, retain, retain. You got to look at your customer journey map right now and you got to figure out whether you have the right place in place for your customers.
[18:25] Brandi Starr:
No, that is definitely sound advice. And I think right now, where we are seeing budgets getting cut and headcount, and all these sorts of things, but the revenue goals are not changing. And so that is one place, it's almost like you can grow just by keeping stuff from falling out of the bucket.
[18:45] Helen Baptist:
And I was going to say, and if you are a SaaS company, it's one of the first metrics that investors want to learn about, is that there's an expectation that you will have net retention above 100% if you're an enterprise sales motion, and that you better be making sure that that's increasing quarter over quarter, and not dropping below that 100%. Because depending on what your motions are, but that would be one where you have to protect what you have. Otherwise, it's really hard to grow top line.
[19:19] Brandi Starr:
And I mean, there you think about all the statistics show, it's so much harder to get a customer. There's more the cost of acquisition, and all these sorts of things. And then it's almost like a lot of companies just let that drop. It's like you did all that work to get them to say yes, and then you don't put in that same work to get them to stay.
[19:43] Helen Baptist:
And I think the other thing is, is that you ask permission for expansion. If you have good customer experiences, and you have people who believe in you, and you can do that, but I think we want to talk about revenue in terms of the full lifecycle. It's also making sure that people really understand the use cases of your product or your solution. And so you know, you better be enabling them and your own team, if they're using your product, to understand the full use case possibilities and what the underlying strategies and tactics of those use cases might be as well.
[20:18] Brandi Starr:
And I've seen that. We're a service company, and a lot of our clients are product companies. And I've seen that on both sides, places where I look and I'm like, well, why do you have this tech when you have this? And they're like, oh, we didn't know that one did that so we went out and bought this thing, or times where as a service company, we've seen clients bring in another vendor. And I'm like, oh, are you guys not happy? And they're like, no, you guys are amazing. And I'm like, well, why did you bring in somebody else to do this? And they're like, we didn't know you did that thing. So that is a good point. And making sure your team understands all of the use cases, so that that then trickles out for your customers?
[20:59] Helen Baptist:
I hear a lot and, in true transparency, we've hired Christine P from Forrester, and so she was a keynote speaker at Forrester Summit. But we hear a lot of people in the world talk about sales and marketing alignment. But to me, it's even further than sales and marketing alignment, it has to be a contiguous experience for that customer. And so if your sales people are sending stories out in that 17% of the buying experience, and marketing has warmed them up with 83% and it's a different story, that's not a really great experience. Take that to when they start to work with your CX team and the story is not contiguous. Again, that really exacerbates the dissatisfaction. And so I look at it from end to end in terms of what are the stories we're telling in our messaging and positioning, whether that's a CX piece, or whether that's a release note, or whether that's top of funnel thought leadership pieces that we're creating as well.
[22:14] Brandi Starr:
Okay. I want to shift gears a little bit. There are a lot of naysayers that say your role can't be done the way that you do it. And obviously, you are living proof. But I have had lots of marketing leaders who have said, a marketing leader can't lead sales, that someone that doesn't come from products or success, one person can't own all of these things, your background is not that varied. What do you say to that? Is it just you? Are you the unicorn that allows it to happen?
[22:58] Helen Baptist:
At the end of the day, I'm passionate about customers. And if you bring that to work every day, and you understand how to read a balance sheet, you can do any job. And that, to me is the key, is that I have worked in sales, and I have worked in CX and I've worked in marketing, tying them all together is I am focused on the customer first, and having the right people in the right seats. Good to Great, Jim Collins, having the right people in the right seat on the right bus. Make sure that you have the people underneath you that can do the special tasks or strategies underneath each of those roles. But holistically having that vision and the ability to connect the dots and be curious and just deep enough, it is key. There are lots of people who are specialists in whatever they're in. So you're a DG person, you're an ABM person, explore and become a generalist on other things. And I think when you're in large organizations that tends to happen at the enterprise level, is that you are a specialist in whatever you're in. But in small code, you have a chance to step up and try new things. And so, if you are in a position where you're doing your job well, you should be asking for special projects. You should be curious and ask the people above you or beside you. Can I walk in your shoes for a day? Because there's not nothing more than learning about the job that you may or may not love. And to me you have to be passionate about what you go to work. I know you are Brandi. You and I have had many a conversation about what is career and how do you grow? And we've been at various events together and at the end of the day, the common link for people who grow in their careers is that they are passionate, they're curious, they take a chance on themselves and they ask permission to take on special projects. And that's how you learn. And so if you are interested in this role, it's possible. It takes a lot of work, believe me. But it's one of the most satisfying to me, because one of my personal mantras is that I want to create resume making moments for people. Because everybody needs a break, and everybody wants something to celebrate in their resumes. And right now I'm helping some people write resumes, and giving them encouragement. But for me, it's about also pointing out those resume making moments and showing people the opportunity to get those resume making moments as part of my job. And in my leadership team's job it's to make them aware of that's a resume making moment for the person that's reporting to you. Here's how you might approach it. But again, it's curiosity. It's asking good questions. It's making sure that you're taking care of yourself and your team in the process as well.
[26:06] Brandi Starr:
So I know that you have worked in sales before. And I think the biggest arguments are sort of taking the naysayers to a different level is that marketing can lean in these other places, if they've never worked in that function. Do you feel like someone who has not actually worked in sales can lead a sales team?
[26:33] Helen Baptist:
Yes. If you are not afraid of carrying the bag. That is the caveat that is the mental block in most people's minds. So when I was approached in the last company to take on the title was Chief Customer Officer, I had all three teams, my title now is COO, it could be CRO, could be CXO, I really don't care. It was just like, what is the title? But the key was in that position was you’re taking over sales, and we're turning this company around. I was like, oh God! Oh my God, what am I doing? But it was a mental barrier of, okay, I'm prepared to take the risk of the bag. And most marketers carry a bag, but don't really say that they carry a bag. And then now that people are talking about influence pipeline, or pipeline contribution as opposed to MQLs or SQAs, or whatever you want to call them. But I think it's a mental mind-set and shift for a lot of people that there is money that makes you more exposed, because the whole company understands what revenue is, as opposed to some of the mythical legendary marketing metrics that you could bluff to the rest of the company if you don't have somebody who understands them.
[27:48] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, because MQL is are kind of like statistics, whatever number you set, you can make it happen.
[27:55] Helen Baptist:
Change the lead scoring.
[27:58] Brandi Starr:
It's like, simple tweak to your lead scoring, and voila, we got more leads. That's one thing, I think, has been one of the biggest shifts in marketing over the years has been the fact that marketing now at least, has a direct connection to the bag. Most won't claim to own any part of it, but at least is a direct tie.
[28:22] Helen Baptist:
And so part of my lead to revenue dashboards, is that revenue contribution and pipeline contribution is actually split in campaigns. And most people in marketing would think marketing campaigns. But that was the way that we had to do it in Salesforce is that what pipeline has been generated by marketing? What pipeline has been generated by BDRs? And what pipeline has been generated by AEs, so that I can see whether AEs are carrying their weight in that contribution as well. And so looking at it holistically allows me that flexibility to say pump up marketing, pump up the AEs, pump up the BDRs, whatever it is in the process. But owning the number is really hard building the bottom up model is challenging, but it's really rewarding when you make those numbers for the company. And you get to give people their bonuses and hire new people and things like that as well.
[29:24] Brandi Starr:
It's always a good feeling when you make something hard happen. And so the last sort of area that I want to talk about is I know that there's a lot of Heads of Marketing that will listen to this and think this sounds amazing, but... And you know there's always a but. I only own marketing. I'm generally happy at my company. What can I do to help to un-silo our organization, remove the friction from our customer experience and really get us all on the same page? So any advice for those people who want to accomplish what you've accomplished but they don't have the same scope. They exist in silos today and they don't have the control.
[30:19] Helen Baptist:
Again, I think it's about asking for special projects when there's an opportunity, if you've got the capacity, and you're doing things that you should be doing. But I also think that it's about really becoming customer centric. And I'm going to say that again, and again, and again. Everybody on my leadership team has an OKR, to listen to five gong calls a week. The voice of the customer needs to be infused in the work that they do. And if you don't bring that to work every day, then you don't represent the customer. And so if you are in marketing and you are not listening to calls, or attending customer meetings, or arranging for fireside chats with your customers to your marketing team, you're missing out. And so the opportunity is, is that you need to become much more customer centric, rather than marketing, programmatic centric. Because customers at the end of the day, the company owns the customer, the account executive, and the CSM doesn't own them. And I say that to my team all the time, the company owns the customer, the customer pays the company, and the company pays the employee. So the customer is owned by the company. And so everybody on the team better know who that customer is.
[31:29] Brandi Starr:
That's a good way to think about it. I'm sitting here listening and I'm like I got to get my marketing managers listening to some of our customer calls. And I think we all fall into that trap, everybody's like, go, go, go, and all the things that need to get done. But to your point, it really does help with the messaging, help with just making sure that everybody is thinking about that customer experience.
[32:03] Helen Baptist:
I think the other thing is, is that making sure that everybody knows the importance of customer marketing in the story of building the brand, and the pipeline and the revenue. And so we have a Slack bot that as soon as somebody posts something about a customer saying something nice about us in LinkedIn, or whatever we're capturing that so that the customer marketing team can go and chase that person for an act of advocacy directly for us. We also have things from marketing that are organic to things like NPS. We know that when somebody gives us a positive, we need to be talking to them about maybe doing a review. Because we know the importance of reviews in things like trust radius, and G 2 and peer reviews, which if you use those, those are things that are used to find the company and build the momentum of the pipeline. And so you have to show the company that you're doing more than just demand generation that you're actually thinking about the customer experience more broadly. And so that's why I start with the customer experience map from a marketers perspective, but also what are the plays that I need to put in from a CX perspective, to retain that revenue on an ongoing basis as well?
[33:21] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. Well, talking about our challenges is just first step, and nothing changes, if nothing changes. So in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client some homework, but here at Revenue Rehab, we like to flip that on its head and ask you to give us some homework. So if you can summarize for us, what are your key takeaways? And what is that one thing that you want our listeners to do coming out of this conversation?
[33:50] Helen Baptist:
The customer, customer, customer. I can't say it enough. Customers beget more customers. And so if you are in marketing, you need to understand what's happening in CX, if you're in sales you need to be a good partner in the transition to CX. And in the story between those workflows and processes and data, your Rev Ops person is the person who can make that magic happen and make it such that the customer doesn't have to repeat themselves over and over and over again.
[34:22] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. So what's our action item? What's our one thing?
[34:24] Helen Baptist:
Your action item is to go and find a special project to expand your understanding of other people's roles and responsibilities. Go and find a project and go and listen to some gong calls. There might be somebody who needs help with something on a customer call if you're in marketing or sales or whatever. But identify an opportunity for yourself to expand yourself and your learning right. And then maybe even one extra step I'd say is identify a resume making moment for somebody else and live them up because somebody has lifted you up along the way as well.
[34:59] Brandi Starr:
I love both of those. So we're going to have an undercover boss kind of moment where we're going to go and do another role, find a special project that gets us involved in a department where not always, and then no matter what role you're in, I do think helping to lean into someone else to give them a resume making moment. And I so love that term is, it's always a good thing to do as a leader. Because you're right, there are so many people who have helped me along the way. And being able to give back helps them, it makes you feel good. So that is amazing. Helen I have so enjoyed our discussion today. But that's our time for today.
[35:45] Helen Baptist:
I loved it. It was so good. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
[35:50] Brandi Starr:
Thank you for joining me. I'm so glad we were able to have this conversation. And for anyone listening that has not already listened to Episode 22, it pairs very nicely in talking about that post sales experience, and making sure that you have a great customer journey, and even into mapping that out. Thanks to everyone else for joining us today. I hope you have enjoyed my conversation with Helen. I can't believe it's the end already. I will see you next time.
You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.
Chief Operating Officer
As COO at PathFactory and a member of the Executive team, Ms. Baptist leads sales, marketing, partnerships and customer experience, responsible for all revenue and customer satisfaction. She is also the executive sponsor of the DE&I committee. Helen started her career as a secretary and has held numerous GTM team positions, including marketing, customer success, and business development, allowing her to bring an end-to-end view of the customer journey to playbooks she has developed and deployed.