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Episode #29: Why Insights Without Accountability Mean Little ft. Dickey Singh (Cast)

This week it’s Dickey Singh, founder, and CEO of Cast app, the leading automation platform for companies to drive growth, sales, and referrals from existing customers.

Dickey understands the customer space about as well as anyone. He knows what does and doesn’t resonate with customers, and he’s unafraid to lean on the data to drive his messaging – a topic he touched on in his conversation with UpdateAI CEO Josh Schachter 

But having good data on your customers isn’t enough. You have to be able to leverage it. As Dickey said at one point on the podcast: “Insights without actionability mean very little.” 

Dickey goes into more detail on that belief in the podcast, so make sure you listen for that. But there are plenty of other topics covered in this episode as well, including: 

  • Dickey’s journey from New Delhi to Silicon Valley (with a pit stop in Switzerland) 
  • How Cast helps companies foster and expand their customer relationships 
  • Why you can’t underestimate the customer
  • Why email is still king when it comes to reaching customers 

On top of all that, Dickey might be the best guest simply to listen to in Unchurned history – his soothing voice could easily get paid to read audiobooks. So what more could you ask for? Make sure you check out this episode wherever you listen to your podcasts! 


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Listening to Unchurned will lower your churn and increase your conversions.

Josh
Hello and welcome to this episode of [Un]churned. I’m Josh Schachter, the founder and CEO of UpdateAI. And joining me today is Dickey Singh, founder and CEO of Cast app. Dickey, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Dickey Singh
Thank you for having me, Josh.

Josh
So I’m going to do my best to give the quick, you know, bullet pointed list of cast. And by the way, your site is cast dot app. Do you go What does your company name go by officially, I want to just get that out there S

Dickey Singh
Corp. So it’s cast Corp. But cast our app is the website. Okay, that’s

Josh
what you cast out app. Cool. So you guys do automation, you’re an automation first platform, you’re helping companies drive growth and revenue from existing customers, ie Customer Success is a big persona, big ICP for you. Your startup update, AI is a startup, you guys are US based and you’re you’re growing within the Customer Success space. That’s the only introduction that I want to give because I myself as a founder, CEO, very sensitive to how people introduce my company. So I want to give you that same respect. And courtesy, I want to let you take a moment to introduce our listeners on on churned to cast.

Dickey Singh
Absolutely. Thank you again, Josh. So gassed is an automation platform to help customer success and revenue teams, scale growth and revenue from existing customers without expanding teams. So with cast, you use an automated bot or virtual customer success manager to share and explain customer insights to all personas and tie them to actionable recommendations and practical advice at scale, at every point in a user journey with a product. So walk me

Josh
through that, like let’s let’s hope people are listening here. So let’s get let’s let’s get everybody visualizing this. What exactly is that product user journey? I know there’s there’s a lot of video based components to your product. So like, how does that manifest itself?

Dickey Singh
Yeah, so we have a patent on scaler video presentation. So basically, what we are doing is taking your data or customers data from several sources, it could be like snowflake, Salesforce, or any of the Google Amazon, or Microsoft data sources, we collect the data put it together, there’s a project that ties it up together. And we are able to generate presentations for each persona. In other words, what you show to a C or D level executive is different from what you show to a power user. And those presentations are not just sharing insights, they actually die actions and advice to the data. So in other words, you’re telling a story, backing it up with like data, convincing users to take the action, and making it like frictionless for them to take those actions immediately within the video presentation.

Josh
So what I what I love about what you’re saying is, and I can relate to it myself with update AI, we’re in artificial intelligence, our business, but insights and AI without actionability mean very little. And so I love hearing you talk about how you’re presenting this information to your customers, but in a way where it’s action for so give us an example of like, what might be a display of information that you would then want people to take specific action on?

Dickey Singh
Yeah, so first of all, you touched on something very important, like business intelligence is consumed very differently from Customer Intelligence, right? You have to make it like really bite sized and actually, you know, make it very digestible, and back it up with like, story data, and then ask for the action you have to convince the user. So one example is let’s say you wanted to introduce a product. One way you could introduce a product is like, Hey, your these are the four features that you should use. Another way to do that is show them customers your size, or using these 11 features. You’re only using eight. Do you want to talk to a customer success manager or an account manager or self buy something? So those are the kinds of things that we will do and we will We’ll show them the data behind that. And like give them the action to like, learn more. So what we just did is we gamified, this using benchmarking, but without calling it benchmarking without calling it like gamification. And we showed the data to do them to back it up, and give them an option to like, learn more about it. And they could self serve, they could like, depending on whether it’s plg motion, or SLG motion, they could self serve, or like get assistance from an account manager.

Josh
We’re gonna get more into into the business momentarily. As, as a fellow founder, I’m always interested in hearing the stories of other founders. And I want to, you know, work that into this unchained segment that we’d like to do with our guests, which is really getting to know the raw, authentic, you know, authentic Dickie. And so, first of all, where, where were you born Dickie? And where do you live now? Yeah, I

Dickey Singh
was born in New Delhi. And I’m now in the San Francisco Bay Area, by way of like Switzerland in Geneva for a while. That

Josh
sounds like the interesting part of the story by way of Switzerland in Geneva, what was the layover there,

Dickey Singh
I was there for like, a couple of years, I worked for a bank. And I actually finished the project on my flight from India to the bank. So but they kept me around for like, you know, three months to finish the project and all. So it was interesting, you know, met someone got married, divorced, and all sorts of things. So but other than that, I’m here in the Bay Area.

Josh
All the yatta yatta yatta in the middle, and then here you are, yeah. All right. I consume a lot of literature, especially on customer success and go to market these days. We all do what’s a book, or a podcast or a new source that really has inspired you that you’ve learned a lot from? Recently?

Dickey Singh
You know, I read so many books, but I have been like recommending the Seven Pillars of customer success by win. McCullough quite a bit to everyone. But I always say like, have a open mind be willing to unlearn some of the CS concepts that we are, have like been listening to right. And if you’re able to do it that way it are highly recommended book. I mean, CSM Customer Success is not just about CSMs, right, so you have to think differently.

Josh
Let’s get back into Cass a little bit. I love hearing stories from founders about how they came up with the concept and how they went from zero to one. So it’s just It inspires others. It inspires me, we all learn from each other’s stories and narratives and mistakes and what worked and what didn’t tell us a little bit about how that worked for cast app. So how did you come up with the idea for cast app? Yeah, so

Dickey Singh
I’ve always been like, so I’ve had like two companies before, right. One of them was encounters and another PIs. And so one of the things that I noticed is, you know, we have daily active users and monthly active users who like you know, login into your system, and you can show them stuff, right. And then there’s this other set of users, we think of them as additional users, who are actually paying for the product, and they are benefiting from it. But someone is taking data from your application, putting it into PowerPoint, and presenting it to them. And they are making decisions about the product. And these are people who will like never login into your product. And our tendency is usually, you know, drive people into the product, try to make them monthly active users show them like a dashboard without explaining anything. And then, so what we decided instead of like trying to bring the people into the product, what if you could take the product to the people. And mind you, these are like think of them as additional users to continue having people who are logging in showing and showing them value and product in your product. But these are like additional users. So we came up with the system at CAST, like what if we could generate the presentations and deploy them over text over email over chatbots? Or any any channel that you choose? And then are able to reach those people who would not normally log in into your product?

Josh
So are we talking about the decision makers that you’re really helping to propagate information to them? So they know what’s going on?

Dickey Singh
Decision makers are part of them. But there could be anyone, it could be C level executives, it could be even the CFO who’s not interested in a product but wants to know, are we getting ROI from this investment? So or it could be an operator who’s interested in certain parts of it could be like a power user, anyone who logs in into your system or does not log in, could benefit from taking those presentations to them.

Josh
When I first came across Casta app, and I’m, you know, familiar with your product. I haven’t used it myself, but I’m familiar with the product. And what what kind of stood out to me was this sense that I’m hearing a lot about scale success, digital enablement, digital touchpoints scaled success, and I thought that cast app played into that universe. Is that correct? Are you playing into scaled success? Or is that maybe a misnomer that I’m that I’m spreading through this dialogue? Right now,

Dickey Singh
no, I think people approach us with talking about like scale success all the time. But very quickly, they move that, you know, they expand into other tiers, as well. So for us, you know, sometimes we think of it as a hook is like, you know, people are talking about scaled and automation, they think of gases that come to us. And then very quickly, within like, maybe 10 weeks or so they start expanding into like, other tiers, obviously, you do not want to ignore the 20% of the orders, or the 30% of the lower tiers of the customers. Right. So, and then. So scaling is certainly not limited to just those tiers, it’s, you can scale across for several, you know, segments, including the lower segments that we just talked about,

Josh
so you’re spending across the board of segmentation.

Dickey Singh
Yeah. So But for us, it’s a hook to get into, like, you know, customers are usually come to an automation platform or a digital platform, and they think, hey, what do we do about these lower tiers, but very soon, they realize that, or this is useful across the board, right. So as I was saying earlier, like, almost everyone expands. So, you know, automation kind of helps customer success managers become what I call like new problem solvers. Versus as like any repetitive advice or recommendation that’s based on data uses adoption, retention, can be and should be automated. And that’s what our platform really does. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. What are people looking for? Yeah, people are looking for skilled platforms, digital platforms, right, when they search for the lower 20 30% of their segments.

Josh
Yeah. Alright. So one thing that’s on my mind, Dickie were, my product is bringing on our first customers, our first design partners, and I’m talking to a lot of other founders about what that journey looks like for them. So I want to do the same with you. Can you tell us, you guys, when did you launch a cast up?

Dickey Singh
We actually started like two years ago, but we started selling like six months ago.

Josh
Okay, awesome. Awesome. So you’re, you’ve got us, you’ve got a beat here to the to the finish line by several months, which is great. So I want to learn your lessons. Tell us about the first couple of customers that you brought on. And you know, kind of what that what that story looked like who those folks were, if you can share, but more importantly, just how you went about that first initial go to market?

Dickey Singh
Yeah. You know, I think any enterprise product or b2b should not be designed in a vacuum, like, you need to work with certain customers who are willing to give, give them give you their time, right? So obviously, you call them like design partners. And I totally agree. So these are, these are customers who, you know, don’t worry about like how much they’re paying you or, or not, we did charge our customers nominal amounts initially, then we upgraded. But they helped us create the product. And you know, they help us iterate through it. So essentially, we ask them, what are the kinds of problems that you are trying to solve in your tech stack that you’re not able to solve with, with what you have. And then, you know, we worked with Theresa from Aruba, or Rito, from Pure Storage and Dallas from like, good time. And these these folks like, you know, really helped us with the kinds of problems that they were having, and how we could solve it in a different way. One thing became clear is, people who use products that are meant for pre sales are very different from products that you should use for existing customers. And I say that as an example. Because you don’t know anything about your new customer. So you can make assumptions. But when you have existing customers, you’re supposed to know everything about them. So you cannot make that many assumptions, right? So the data accuracy is a big thing. So you cannot ask for the same information again and again. So this, we learned this over time. For example, a lot of people use surveys, right? They asked the same question again. And again, you cannot do that for existing customers, you should know all that information, you can ask the customer to like correct that information, for example. But you cannot ask them the same information again and again. So these are some of the things that we learned over time talking to these three customers that I just mentioned.

Josh
But I’m doing that round of applause to Teresa from Aruba, or Alito from Pure Storage and Dallas from good time because, you know, building a startup is really tough and it takes folks like Teresa Wallach were Lido and Dallas to really buy into the vision and take a risk and really kind of step out onto that ledge with folks like Dickie. So thank you as a founder going through this right now. That’s it really matters. It really matters and helping to spawn innovation. So a question for you take us when you were talking to a robot Pure Storage and good time. And you said that you just kind of you know, we’re we’re open now. Prichard just learning about what their needs were within their current processes and products and tech stack. What what trends did you pick up on me? Clearly it aligned with the current, where you are today with Casper, where you’re going, but like what was the most salient acute pain point that you said, okay, we can build a painkiller for this.

Dickey Singh
So I think one of the things that we learned fairly quickly, like all these three customers, did not think of customer success as managing customer success managers, right? Today did not think that every problem should be solved by hiring more customer success managers. You know, they were like thinking of like scale early on good time is a plg motion company or storage in Aruba or not, right? They’re like SLG. But they have very strong digital teams, right? They have, they’re managing, like 1000s of customers, and personas, but very few people, right. So I think that was the key. That’s why we picked those few customers. And one of the things that came to is like not everything, is managing customer success managers. But there’s a whole lot more to it. And not everything is like one too many. And I can talk about that more, a little later. But what I’m trying to point out as one to many meaning like you generate content and send it to everyone, like for example, like a podcast is one to many, where as one to one usually is thought about, like our customer success manager reaching out to a customer and talking to them one on one. But what we are going into a one, one to one, a personalized approach of like talking to your customers, I think that that’s what came out, which was very important to them is, you know, a lot of emails that you get today is like, hello, Josh. But the rest of the content is the same, right? And you can you can see through it. That but but but in other on the other hand, you could also generate like a very thoughtful content that is specifically for Josh, the CEO of like update.ai versus as Garen, individual contributor who works for Josh, you see what I’m saying? Yeah,

Josh
I mean, you’re talking about personalization at scale, effectively as a category, which is something that is obviously popular these days, and for good reason. And when I think about what you’re saying, it requires a lot of data, your product, right, like being able to take all these different data inputs, and spit out a presentation that’s meaningful, and then it’s personalized. And, and so I guess if I’m thinking about being in your shoes six months ago, 12 months ago, approaching, let’s say Aruba, which is, you know, enterprise customer enterprise company, I can imagine that that’s gonna be really tough, right to like to like to get access to data and get some of these companies to sign off on being one of the initial customers, what did that look like for you, if you can share?

Dickey Singh
I think I forget how we started talking to them. I think it was just through a LinkedIn referral or so like, you know, reaching out on LinkedIn, and just continuously trying to reconnect, connect, reconnect, and then or either that or somebody made an intro, I forget, but it was like over a year and a half ago, right. Like they, when we started talking to them, we were showing them this is what we are working on. This is what what do you think, get thoughts and all that stuff? Right, early on. So I think that’s what we were doing. Same thing we did with Bob Leto. And then Dallas. Early on, we were like, you know, showing him like, Hey, this is what we’re working on. And now even today, he is helping us with some of the new features that are coming out, which is like automated campaigns and, and automated reminders are nags what we are cutting it internally, right. So some of the things that still coming from, from him and like being able to change the message, make the message but smaller. So people click on it, like, you know, just the command prompt way of like saying things like how you see copy on a marketing website. So that’s the that’s the kind of messaging that needs to be generated. One

Josh
quick question there better than was what you said why nags? Why Why call those nagged internally, when I call them nudges sticky.

Dickey Singh
You know, I, I’ve been I get like inputs, like from a lot of salespeople, like trying to send me some crypto or something. Right. Like, that’s what I think of right. Like, you know, they’d like to keep on sending the same thing, but we actually yeah, we don’t I just mentioned mags.

Josh
Gonna call you out of that. Yes, yeah. reminders for reminders. Yeah. You’re a very authentic person. That’s why I like is that you call things as I could just tell that you’re authentic, your authenticity. And so there we go. So it’s, you know, you’re calling a spade a spade. It’s a nag. You know, that like the economist and let the marketers call it a nudge or whatever the case might be. All right. I’m digressing on this topic. So I think that’s great. Again, going back to those folks working with you, and it sounds like they were involved, even as you were putting the finishing touches on the product in the development of the roadmap and in helping to create the features that would work for them, but balancing what You knew would be at work for your business as well to grow, as you think about. So now we’ve brought on in our narrative here of your story we’ve brought on your first customers, we came up with the idea we brought on the first customers. Now people are using the product, that’s really exciting. How do you measure the success of a product like cast? Do you? Are you able to measure all of the key metrics? What are those key metrics that you’re looking at?

Dickey Singh
Yeah, that’s a that’s an interesting question. Right? So let’s just the peel the onion a little bit like, you know, so what are you really doing with an automation product? Right? So we established that customer marketing is the opposite of acquisition marketing, right? So you’re marketing to customers versus as trying to bring new, sharing customer insights and intelligence with your customers is, again, very different from business intelligence, right? And then what are you doing, you’re recommending features, and you’re recommending new products based on the insights intelligence that you have about your customers, you’re giving advice you’re giving advice again, and again. So you do want to measure the output, like, you know, how many features people bought, or how many new products people bought? Or how many times they provided feedback, or how many times they watched the presentation, like, you know, sometimes we have people watch presentations, 2.8 times, for example, right. But you also do not want to ignore the top of the funnel, right? For example. You know, we recommend people don’t use marketing platforms to send emails use transactional platforms, because the the, you know, the rate is higher, the reachability rate is higher. But if if only 5% of the customers open the email, or the click on a link the top of the funnel, that means you’re not going to be able to show them the recommendations and feedback, it’ll kill you, it’ll kill your business. Right? So um, email is like one of the channels for us, like, you know, texts, emails, in app inside your mobile app. Even in chat bots, all of these things are like supported, and people are using it widely. But email is like kind of still king to reach users who are not logging into your system, right? So I think of them as those, even if it’s like 5% or 5% additional users who did not log in into your system, right? So I think of it that way. But at the end of the day, we work really hard to personalize each personas, email, subject line, each user’s email body, and like making like very relevant to them, like why they should watch this presentation or like see this kind of thing. So it’s, again, a top funnel metric that you need to like work on so that you can get to the bottom, the mid level and bottom level metrics.

Josh
Okay, so you’re in a funnel model here, because you have the dissemination of your information. So you want to see are people actually getting to view that information? Then I heard you talk about an example of like the 2.8 views on a video. So you want to see are people actually watching the content consuming the content? Good, keep going downstream? What are you looking for as far as like the ultimate value creation from the product and how the customer? Yeah, how the customer creates value. I mean,

Dickey Singh
like, just like in in marketing and our customer marketing, you are looking, you may be looking at like clicks, you may be looking at anything, but at the end of the day, you want to see like, if they bought a product, right, if they upgraded a feature, or if they listened to the recommendation that you were trying to send to them. In other words, let’s say you’re maybe the recommendation is listen to this podcast, right, just in time it was brought, and people clicked on it and listen to this podcast. So we want to measure all those things. We think of all of them as recommendations and feedback. So that’s the bottom of the funnel. And that’s what we kind of share in analytics with our customers. Great.

Josh
I want to leave us with this Dickie. We hear so much about different products in the CES world, in the go to market world across the different segments of high touch and scaled success. What’s your predictions for where the industry is going? And particularly in this kind of digital lead framework, which I think is where cast out falls squarely in what where do you see us going?

Dickey Singh
Yeah, I think quite honestly like digital lead or automation first or digital first all these are becoming a norm, right? The reason I say that is most of our customers as I said earlier, start with the lower tier, they approach us like you know, if you want to do something for the lower tier, or they will come and say like, Hey, we need help with just renewals or something. But very quickly, they expand into the other tiers or so I think it’s becoming a norm that you do digital first and automation first and when the CSM is needed or when the account manager is needed, you bring them on automatically. So for example, one of the recommendations that we have is shared the Calendly of a CSM and so that customers can and click and like create create a meeting or you know we support currently chili Piper and several such integrations including like good time which is a customer so so CES is as I was saying is not just about like one on one CSM so does it has is one too many like these podcasts and webcasts. It’s many, many, for example, the Wikipedias that you create with your customers in mind, or the communities that you have. It’s also the customer operations team who’s like helping with the tech stack is the support staff. It’s also the self help and the documentation and everything that the customers are reading, we need to just make sure that all these items are available to your customers at the right time. Thank

Josh
you saying founder and CEO of cast app. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed learning your story. And I wish you the very best of luck.

Dickey Singh
Thank you so much, Josh for having me and I really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks again.