Stories from Customer Success Summit

I wrote this blog a few months ago after attending a work related conference and wanted to share in case any of my readers are in the tech space…

 

I arrived at the Palace hotel in San Francisco around 8AM for the customer success summit 2018. After a quick check-in at the registration booth, I headed upstairs for the breakfast and networking planned especially for the early-birds, like me. The summit kicked off with a 9AM presentation, held downstairs on the main stage of the grand ballroom. This presentation was given by Guy Nirpaz, CEO of Totango (they sponsored the summit). Guy is the author of “Farm Don’t Hunt The Definitive Guide To Customer success,” which I purchased after the summit and have already begun reading.

The underlying metaphor seems apparent enough: rather than seek out and acquire customers as rapidly as possible and without any regard to their churn, customer success must cultivate a customers growth beyond the seed that the initial product purchase planted.

Remember that an economy dependent on recurring revenue relies on their customer’s recurring happiness with its product.

The Golden Rule of Customer Success

The last presentation of the morning also happened to be my personal favorite. The speaker was very articulate, engaging, and put the concept of customer success into practical terms.

The best part of her speech was when she shared her 3 step golden rule for customer success.

Listen

“80% of B2B customers expects real-time communication with companies.”

Listen to your customer. Identify the key parts of their feedback.

Action

Decide on the most appropriate action, given your customer’s feedback.

Pilot

Test out your actionable response to your customer’s feedback and then listen to their feedback again. Continue the cycle.

This 3 step golden rule is effective because it focuses on listening to feedback, deciding what action to take, and then trying out new methods. It’s a continuous feedback loop.

The topics ranged across the spectrum of customer success setting up internal processes, reducing churn, deciding the best ways to interact with customers, presenting case studies, and so on. Whatever your interest in customer success, chances are there was someone talking about it. I was most interested in the talks regarding overall customer sentiment and real-time health monitoring. It’s most interesting to me because I believe that a truly good customer success team should notice even the smallest change in customer sentiment and act quickly in order to ensure the customers overall experience remains positive.

 

As the customer success leader within my company, I’m always thinking of the bigger picture in regards to our customers journey with us. I’ve lately been thinking about the best way to implement health monitoring systems and making the most of those health systems by integrating feedback loops into them. We often hear the term “customer journey.” But that is a concept that can be broken down into an actual step-by-step process like onboarding, touchpoints, health monitoring, and survey feedback.

 

At some point in the middle of all of the excitement, there was a lunch break. I sat down at an empty table with my lunch and began to eat. Within a few minutes, a woman who introduced herself as the the CEO of a design company in Palo Alto, sat down next to me. She was followed by a procurement agent from Philadelphia and then a VP of Customer Success from Indiana. None of us knew each other but as we all started chatting over lunch about the presentations so far, we all quickly agreed on one main thing: customer success is such a new concept that if you ask the same exact question to 10 different speakers, you’re likely get 10 different answers. None of us actually did that.

 

But a great way to demonstrate this fact is to identify where the Customer Success Department fits into the company’s organization. In some organizations, customer success may fall into sales. In others, it’s in business development, and in others, still, customer success is a standalone and, perhaps, the only team allowed to navigate the organization freely in order to ensure success.

 

The concept of customer success is so new that the industry is still learning what works and what doesn’t work. In fact, this is entirely the basis of customer success. To continually listen to your customer and pilot new ways to help. While yes, of course, there are some standards and norms, customer success is, at its heart, a close relationship between company and customers. So there is no one-size fits all approach.