Customer Success Hot Takes! — Setting your customer success team up to drive next-level results

Totango Live! Hot Takes

As a leader in customer success, who’s your friend in the C-suite?
Is the customer journey mapping exercise a worthwhile effort?
Who owns the customer community for your organization?

How’s that for a few spicy thought starters? Does the answer to any of those questions put you on the edge of your seat? We hope so! At Totango Live! 2023, Chris Dishman, Totango’s SVP of Global Customer Success, hosted the lively Hot Takes! roundtable discussion with Peter Armaly, VP of Customer Success at ESG; Kristen Hayer, Founder of The Success League; and Erika Brookes, CMO at Higher Logic, where they discussed the hottest of topics in customer success—and some more. Here are the hottest takeaways from the discussion—and, in our opinion, probably worth considering as we work towards the next generation of customer success.

Broker strong C-suite partners (especially with the CFO)

Here’s the reality: growth is hard; acquisition is expensive; retention is a cross-functional effort. In today’s constantly changing environment, B2B companies will drive the majority of their growth from retention and expansion. 80% of net revenue comes from the customer base. The good news is that customer success leaders and teams are uniquely positioned to be the driving force in these growth efforts. But, to make growth a reality for their business and to make the effort work within the organization, customer success has to make it “real” in business terms. Plainly put, CS needs to demonstrate value in terms of top-line revenue and increased customer lifetime value. And, most importantly, by building understanding and trust with CFOs.

“If we [customer success leaders] had been working on the relationship with the CFO 15 years ago, customer success would look a lot different.” — Peter Armaly, VP of Customer Success, ESG

Make the journey mapping exercise cross-functional

Journey mapping is the practice and tool most often talked about in customer success; at the same time, it’s also (probably) the most unintentionally wasted time and tool in customer success. The goals, stakeholders, and competition for our customers are dynamic; they’re constantly changing because of shifts in the economy, marketplace, or in technology. At the same time, the ability to keep a pulse on those changing dynamics is crucial to customer success—and a well implemented customer journey map can help do that. Without it, your customers and you (as the provider) are likely to veer off course when the winds change. The key to making the customer journey map purposeful? Make it cross-functionally owned, challenged, and tested. When there’s cross-functional accountability, there’s a connection at each dynamic touchpoint that might be changing or be pressed in a new direction.

“If you create a journey that maps to the optimal for a particular segment, then you know that journey maps to the expectations you’ve set for that segment. It’s prescriptive. … And it plans how you’ll deliver it, because delivery is cross-functional.” — Kristen Hayer, Founder of The Success League

Take hold of your community that already exists

Your community exists. Whether you created it, partnered with it, or stumbled upon it—community for your product and your industry exists. It doesn’t matter where or when it started. What matters is what you do with it and how you make it flourish for your customers. From education curriculum and problem resolution to business planning, your customers connect with each other and colleagues facing similar challenges and opportunities. Our partnership and pre-built SuccessBLOC with Higher Logic makes it seamless for Totango partners to support community engagement and development. But regardless of software, identifying and supporting your community is the priority. The function within your business to do so is simply a matter of choice.

“It’s a false construct to say marketing, customer success or customer experience owns it. At the end of the day, you need to start with what your goal is. It’s a cross-functional construct, and how can you assign tasks related to the community where it’s akin to core expertise and responsibility.” — Erika Brookes, former CMO at Higher Logic

Ready for more?

No doubt, the questions and the perspectives shared during Totango Live! Hot Takes were spicy! But they’re also what will move the customer success industry as a whole—from leadership, to expectation, to product innovation forward—and we’re grateful to be part of the conversation. To hear more from these kick-you-know-what leaders, check out the full Totango Live! show here


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