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Software Is Changing The World And Customer Success Processes

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A new generation of companies is emerging to power The Customer Era. What is the customer era? An era where the customer is in charge and can access business and consumer services on demand, self-service without talking to a sales rep. Many cool new companies have already emerged to power the development side of new software.


Marc Andreesen said this first last summer in an article for the Wall Street Journal: “software is eating the world”. A new generation of companies is emerging that use software to create exponentially higher growth and higher margin businesses than its predecessors: Netflix in video rentals, Amazon in selling books, LinkedIn in the recruiting business, Skype in telecommunications. Even old world companies like most banks, retailers and shipping companies rely on software to differentiate and create a competitive advantage.

Customer analytics: you can’t manage what you can’t measure

Measuring and optimizing customer lifetime value is king. In a world of software, almost all customer interactions leave a digital footprint, including interaction with the product itself. Enter customer analytics technology. It is possible to monitor and use software usage activity to as the most reliable buy (or churn) signal. Being able to analyze your customers’ behavior with your product would be a pretty good indicator of how much they liked it and thus how likely they are to buy again.

Software is becoming social

Your product itself will be the primary sales tool. Much of customer engagement will happen from within the application itself. Customers in most cases can contact support or submit feature requests from within the application itself using tools like UserVoice, GetSatisfaction and Zendesk. Users will soon communicate with other users as vendors integrate community features into their products. Vendors should not stay behind but integrate in-app communications to inform users of new features or provide personalized tips right within the application. Totango’s free in-app communications tool is a great way to do this.

Sales become customer success

There are already $100 million plus companies without sales teams. Atlassian is one such company offering software developer tools in a 100% self-service basis. Their sales model is 100x cheaper and more scalable than competitors with field-based sales teams. At no-sales companies, marketing is responsible for demand generation and initial signups. A customer success function is emerging to coach customers post sign-up and to grow usage, users and use cases over time. These customer success teams have real power and carry a real quota. They are responsible for customer lifetime value (or average revenue per user), manage renewals and expansion sales. Their goal is to achieve 100%+ renewal rate on a dollar basis.

Ideally, other customer supporting functions, like sales engineering, professional services and support will report to this new customer success function.

Jill Rubin

Jill is a senior marketing and business development executive with experience leading successful teams in both large companies and startups. She has taken companies from early stage to strong revenue growth and propelled established businesses to industry leadership positions.

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