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Thoughts from Customer SuccessCon West

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A great crowd and enthusiastic speakers yesterday. My favorite part was getting all the panel speakers up on stage and trying to make them sweat. đŸ˜‰ I’ve always enjoyed going to customer success events because of the people I meet, seeing them find ideas and reassurance that they’re not alone in this gig. I met a nice mix of customer success newbies and veterans, it’s nice to see customer success gain more traction – and even better to see familiar faces!

Overall, I was actually quite impressed to see a lot of Customer Success Managers were getting involved earlier in (and even before) the customer lifecycle than I had expected, especially compared to last year. Based on a show of hands, the top 3 stages where they get involved were (ranked in order of prevalence):

1) Product Design
2) Onboarding
3) Adoption

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from today’s three presenters: Catherine Blackmore (former VP of Customer Success at Badgeville), Omid Razavi (VP of Service Sales & Strategy at SuccessFactors),  Bernie Kassar (VP CS and Support at Xactly).

Customer Success does not have to be about firefighting. 

How much effort is invested in unhealthy vs healthy customers?

Even though there still seems to be a lot of firefighting going on, CSMs are concerned they’re only focused on those that need help and might end up neglecting their champions. A great piece of insight Omid shared is that you want to profile what your healthy or “green” customers are doing so well and try to replicate that with your unhealthy customers. Catherine considers customers a big risk until they are properly onboarded and are finding value. She also added that it’s important during checkup calls that you’re constantly getting confirmation (rather than asking for what you could do for the customer) that you are solving the painpoint, and helping them achieve what they had originally intended when they first purchased your product.

User activity doesn’t mean adoption

Omid explained it’s also important realize there are “involuntary actions” such as logging in, updating settings, and “voluntary actions” such as actually using product features or reviewing data.

It’s OK for CSMs to upsell

Bernie shared “As a trusted advisor, [your customer] will listen to you more than a sales rep”. A lot of CSMs are concerned any type of upselling might tarnish their image and reputation as someone who’s really there for the customers. But on the flip side, if you knew of a product or module that could really benefit and solve your customer’s current painpoint, wouldn’t you want to step in and share your thoughts?

Customer Success can be your growth engine

And to finish off this post, I wanted to leave you with one more thing from Bernie that makes me feel warm and fuzzy (because it’s a great way to demonstrate a well-rounded, interconnected company). For the people who still think Customer Success might be a cost center, take a look at it from this angle: Customer Success complements top line revenue from sales by retaining revenue to accelerate growth. And boom, there you have it!

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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