When you are evaluating potential technology vendors for your CRE firm, it’s important to take into consideration what the onboarding and training process will look like and who you will be working with to get started. These steps can be critical to the success of your technology initiative.
We interviewed our VP of Customer Success, Matt Lexow-Gray, to gain insight into what CRE firms should expect from a CS team, how the CS team can help you see ROI faster, and how CS can form a strategic partnership to help you be more successful.
Q: When selecting a vendor, what should prospects be looking for with regards to a CS team? Why should you care about Customer/Client Success?
Matt: You want to partner with an organization that has clear domain knowledge on the platform. What I mean by that is that it’s one thing to reach out to somebody who can just tell you how to do something. It’s another thing to reach out to somebody who can tell you why. And I think that’s the differentiating component of what we offer. On our team, there’s the “how” – with the nuts and bolts of how to do something – and there’s the “why” – or the reason behind that. And with a lot of our clients who have complex structures with their organizations, the “why” is really what helps them to structure their data in a meaningful way and what allows them to actually get value.
What I’d also say with regards to partnering with us… the goal of what we’re trying to do is help make someone’s life easier. There are many different components to that. It could be as simple as helping clients improve customer engagement with their investors or as complicated as getting waterfall structures created. Whatever that is, our goal at the end of the day is to help make clients’ lives easier and save them time. And then there’s also this idea of helping them to be able to go and build a deeper relationship with their investors.
Q: What are the pros and cons to having a Customer/Client Success team like the one at IMS? How does IMS’ CS team enable clients to see ROI faster?
Matt: I only have pros so I can only speak to the pros. Again, I’m going to reiterate a little bit of what I said in the first question. For us, it’s this idea of value. We’re really trying to drive value for our clients and whenever we can do that, it’s a win for us. So, what does value mean? Well, it’s going to be client specific. But in every situation, we are actively looking to work with the client, give them best practices on how to achieve their task or goal, and align with them from start to finish to actually make it happen.
How do we enable clients to see a return on investment faster?
Really, one of the milestones with the implementation of IMS – what we call business values – is looking at those value hurdles and identifying top goals or challenges. And I would say for most of our clients, business value number one is getting all of their contact information in one place. For example, if I have 15 different projects, I want to have all of my investors across all of those projects in a single location, with all of their respective information. The second business value that we produce is consolidating project level information and investment level information, including when the project was created, what assets are tied to it, and what investment history is associated with it. The third has two components: lacing together the distribution history with any sort of historical documentation such as K-1s and subscription agreements. Number four is the automation of your waterfall rules.
Q: How many years of experience does IMS’ CS team have?
Matt: So, we’ve been around for two and a half, almost three years. We certainly have a couple of team members who have been around that long, and then we have some other team members who have been around for a shorter amount of time. But regardless of their tenure with us, I would say that all the folks we’ve added have anywhere from three to five years of experience, whether directly in CS or in some sort of client-facing role.
Now let’s speak about commercial real estate or real estate background. At this point, all of our folks come in, and they get well versed with commercial real estate and understanding the cash flows. With regards to depth of knowledge, I have a deep background in commercial real estate. I worked in commercial real estate for close to 16 years. I’ve invested in commercial real estate, I’ve invested in residential, I used to flip properties, I used to lend on commercial real estate, and I used to do bond analytics. I have a really strong background. And we have people who have better backgrounds than I do sitting next to us. We have Commercial Defeasance, which has done billions and billions of dollars of commercial real estate transactions. We have their CFO who is also our CFO, Jason Kelley, who is a deep resource of knowledge. And Ron Rossi, Robert Cox, and Andrew Jenkins are all amazing resources for this industry.
Q: What is the team’s availability? Are there set operation hours?
Matt: Our standard day is probably 8:30-6:00. Anything like calls on the weekends or after hours, we look to respond to on the following business day.
Q: What other services or programs are offered for clients to use in addition to CS?
Matt: Our CS organization is structured so that there is an implementation team and then a support team. The implementation team really works with our clients in the first 60 to 90 days. After that, and even during some of that implementation process, the support team is introduced and works with them moving forward. Each of those teams is composed of several people who are there to help clients.
Following up on that we have resources designed to help our clients. One is a Knowledge Base, which has PDFs and video tutorials. The goal with that is to really beef up anything that IMS’s CS organization can give you but also allow somebody to be able to learn on their own and really be able to self-serve. We have also just rolled out monthly client-facing webinars around different topics, such as CRM. It’s an opportunity for people to get on and ask some questions or learn about new and different ways to leverage the solution. If you have a new person in your organization, it also gives them an opportunity to come in and learn more. Recordings of these webinars are also stored in our Knowledge Base/Help Center.
Q: In what ways does the CS team go above and beyond in forming a partnership with clients?
Matt: We have certainly seen relationships form between our team and our clients. For example, we are exposed to many different waterfall situations and scenarios. Because of this experience, we oftentimes quickly become a trusted resource for our clients’ operations and best practices. And for us, I think there’s no better place for us to go than from being just a support to also an advisory role. That’s where we all of a sudden turn into something that’s truly helping someone really drive value as an organization.
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