Our VP of Partnerships Zak Pines recently sat down with Nancy Cooper and Leslie Buenz, CEO and COO of Servio Consulting, as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. Zak, Nancy, and Leslie had a far-ranging conversation that touched on how K-12 schools use Salesforce, internal rivalries for recommending Formstack, and football—lots of football. Here’s an abridged transcript of the chat.
Background on Servio Consulting
Zak: This is my first two-person interview as part of this series. Same work for me, but double the insight. Can you start by telling me about Servio Consulting. What does the company do?
Nancy: We are an IT consulting firm primarily focused on Salesforce—and, within Salesforce, specifically education. We’re their go-to partner for K-12 schools and community and mid-market colleges, and we’re making great inroads in higher education.
Zak: How did Servio get started?
Nancy: Servio is a spinoff of an IT consulting firm. Initially, we were focused on back office Peoplesoft systems. We started a Salesforce practice, and then decided it needed to be a separate company to keep Oracle and Salesforce separate. So we spun out our own entity, starting Servio.
Zak: How did Leslie get involved?
Nancy: Leslie is really strong at operational processes. As we were growing, we wanted to add more operational excellence. That was about 18 months ago.
Zak: Now, Leslie, did you have a background in Salesforce?
Leslie: No, I didn’t! I was at JPMorganChase, and I’d been there for 16 years across many different aspects of the business. Most recently, I was the Midwest Resource Manager.
When I joined Servio, it took me a good six weeks to learn the acronyms. Now fast forward, and I’m the bain of our developers’ existence because I’m always playing around in our Sandboxes.
Zak: That’s funny about the acronyms. Well, CRM is one acronym you need to know. Do you remember what acronyms you were most befuddled by stepping into the Salesforce world?
Leslie: There were acronyms that had different meaning in the finance world, so I’d think I knew what our team was talking about, but it had a totally different meaning. I remember thinking an RFP was something totally different.
The CRM Journey for Schools
Zak: I think it’s great that you are so zeroed in on a speciality. It’s Salesforce as the platform, and education as the vertical, and that’s where you specialize.
Leslie: Exactly. We want to be awesome at one thing, and own it. And for us, it’s the intersection of education with Salesforce.
Zak: What are you seeing as the key trends in the education space today, particularly as it relates to systems or data?
Nancy: Historically, schools have used many disparate systems. Data is everywhere. There are a lot of homegrown tools. So we’re helping to educate them as to what’s possible, with the end goal being a 360-degree experience with a unified profile of everyone who is in and around that school.
Zak: As you bring them on, let’s call it, their CRM journey, what are the main areas you and they tend to focus on as the highest impact?
Nancy: Principal and teacher recruitment is big. Recruiting and admissions for students is important, certainly for any private schools in particular. There’s managing events—workshops, training, curriculums —and the marketing that goes around enrolling people into programs.
Leslie: We explore the full 360-degree education experience—from when someone first learns about a school to applying to becoming an alumni. The areas typically incorporate student and teacher recruiting, application processing, workshop enrollment, and alumni communications.
We’ve recently developed a graphic to show all that, and we can share that with you.
Zak: When you’re working with schools, is Salesforce typically their first CRM system?
Leslie: Yes it is. About 90%, I’d say, are making the move to a CRM for the first time. It’s becoming a booming industry for Salesforce and their partners.
Zak: What’s driving that?
Leslie: I think the industry is maturing to a point where CRMs have become a must-have for schools. They usually think about it as a data management initiative, where they need to get better control of their data and systems. Recruiting could also be the impetus—they want to improve their recruiting performance, and they quickly realize they need the right data systems in order to do that most effectively.
Online Forms for K-12 Schools
Zak: How do our businesses meet along the way?
Nancy: Leslie spent last year hand-picking the partners we want to work with. We want to have a holistic solution as we are working with customers. We found Formstack to be the best solution for customizing and managing Salesforce forms for our customers. We identified a number of key partners during those evaluations; another was Mogli SMS for text messaging.
Zak: Leslie, do you remember any details about that evaluation process?
Leslie: We were looking for a forms solution for one of our projects. I asked our developers to go out and bring back their top three companies to look at. Formstack won us over both because it was the best Salesforce forms product and the best partnership program. We saw an opportunity to grow together. And we appreciated your team’s responsiveness across your entire team.
Zak: So, Leslie, this was last year when you were still the newbie on the team, right? What input did you get from the developers?
Leslie: That was the amazing part. They loved the product. They are major cheerleaders for Formstack. We’ll be in a meeting talking about a use case, and they’ll be saying, “We can use Formstack for that. Formstack would work really well here.”
Nancy brought Formstack up in a customer meeting on Monday. I had to Slack Jake and say, “Nancy stole your thunder.” She’s now recommending Formstack before the developers can get the chance to. It did really fit well with what the customer wanted to accomplish.
Zak: Why is it such a winner with the developers?
Nancy: It’s easy to work with and intuitive. It’s right there in the Salesforce interface, so they don’t need to learn anything knew. They also like how they don’t have to deal with integrations or syncing data; it’s all right there in Salesforce.
For them, they can build a powerful solution for a customer much more quickly, and then we can also train the customer on how to make their own updates so they aren’t reliant on developers for small changes.
Zak: That’s great. Nancy, let’s talk about the type of use cases that you and your team use it for.
Nancy: I can run through a bunch. We have a customer who needed a form on their website to allow for a class registration for teaching teachers. It could be forms sitting in a Salesforce community—everything from applications to medical forms to release forms to parent and guardian signature forms. It’s anything where you want the data to populate automatically across everywhere it touches in Salesforce.
Zak: What’s next? What are some other ways you could see using it?
Leslie: We have an upcoming project whereby students will be signing up for physical classes that have a set number of registrants. We just found out how to set a cap like that on the registration process, which will be useful. And then we’ll also be looking to apply Formstack’s document creation capabilities for our customer use cases, like automatically creating contracts or waivers based on data-driven inputs.
Nancy: I just want to chime in and say we greatly appreciate the relationship between our companies. It’s a true partnership.
Zak: One hundred percent. Cheers to that Nancy.
Zak: OK we’ll wrap up with a lightning round. We’ll go back and forth so you can both weigh in. Nancy, you’re up first. What are your favorite hobbies?
Nancy: I love to travel. Pretty much anything outside—walking, swimming, going to sporting events. We’re here in Chicago, so we’re big Bears and Cubs fans. If I’m not at a Bears game, I’m somewhere watching it.
Leslie: I love football too. That’s why we work so well together. I also like to cook, spend time with friends and family, and travel.
Zak: Ah, now I see the common bond here: both big football fans. Is there a Servio fantasy football league?
Leslie: Everyone is in some sort of football league, but we don’t have a Servio one yet. It’s a common watercooler discussion in the office. Almost everyone here is a huge sports fan.
Zak: Any Packers fans?
Leslie: We don’t allow that. That’s on the job application.
Zak: Oh, that’s great! Ok back to the lightning round. Nancy, back to you. Can you share your favorite productivity tip?
Nancy: I like lists. Everyone has to have a to-do list. Stay focused on that to-do list because focus equals revenue.
And the whiteboard is our best friend. We love to use whiteboards to build flowcharts, and then turn those into tasks.
Leslie: We also say, “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.” We love to be able to have reports at our fingertips from a single source of truth.
Zak: What’s your favorite TV show? This time let’s go to Leslie first.
Leslie: “Friday Night Lights”
Zak: Football again, huh. Nancy?
Nancy: “Friends,” “The Office,” “Ballers,” anything with Matthew McConaughey and the Rock.
Zak: How about go-to lunch during the workday?
Leslie: Soup. I have cans of soup lined up in my credenza. My favorite is tortilla soup.
Nancy: For me, it’s usually leftovers from the night before. Whatever I bring in.
Zak: Ok last question. We end all our interviews with this one. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Leslie: I agree. I can’t wrap my head around that. It doesn’t feel right.