1. What is Customer Success?
I define Customer Success as any action or interaction with your customer that adds value. This may be through the use of your technology or good, the introduction to a partner relationship or the sharing of best practices and information. Customer Success can look slightly different based on the needs of each individual customer but the key is to add value, to help them achieve their goals and to drive their strategy.
2. Is Customer Success a cultural attribute?
An influential mentor of mine always said that customer success is all about attitude. Companies that embrace a culture of customer excellence will naturally do what is best for their customers through their actions and behaviors; they instinctively put customers first rather than making them an afterthought. But, employees have to believe in the value of true Customer Success. In a SaaS world - where month-to-month loyalty is essential - everyone in an organization should be part of an extended Customer Success team. Customer Success must be fully integrated and tightly bound into your company’s DNA in order to achieve true success. So how do you get your people there? How can you create a culture focused on Customer Success? It’s critical to break out your megaphone! You should celebrate customer achievements and make the entire company part of the celebration, highlight and promote customer stories where you have added value to a customer and let everyone know that this success was not driven solely by one manager but enabled by the company as a whole. You should also leverage your performance plans to focus on Customer Success and reward the appropriate behaviors and finally you should regularly review your compensation plans and ensure the right actions are being incented.
3. Does Customer Success apply to any industry, business function or product category?
Yes! Whilst it is essential for SaaS organizations to ensure continued loyalty, any industry can benefit from a customer-centric culture and program. Some of you who are reading this may ask why we are talking about Customer Success in a HR blog. The best software and services providers have discovered a simple truth - happy customers equal happy employees.
HR has a vested interest in helping the company drive a culture focused on Customer Success because it creates a healthier workplace and workforce when everyone is pulling towards the same goal. HR is tasked on a daily basis to hire and to retain employees, and, if employees are happy retaining the best is a much easier task. If employees are part of an organization with happy customers this can only make things easier.
4. How important is a formal Customer Success program?
I am sometimes shocked about how many companies do not formalize a program to define Customer Success. Whilst a Customer Success program may not meet all of the needs of every customer, defining offerings that will add value to their customer base should be a core objective of any organization. A core element for success is engaging the customer in the design of the program itself; annual plans are critical but cannot be developed in a supplier-side vacuum. Customers need to understand that there is work on their part to help drive their own success, and it is only through collaboration and teamwork that mutually agreed goals can be achieved.
5. Does Customer Success lead to higher returns?
Absolutely - having a strong Customer Success program in place is a win-win for all. Satisfied customers renew and act as references. They understand the value that you bring to them, they trust that you understand their business, and they find merit in you as an advisor that can help them to meet their current and future goals. As a HR Team, if you can work to strengthen the values that drive customer success, you are helping your organization to drive revenue. You are impacting the bottom line.
I am passionate about Customer Success and I strongly believe that everyone in an organization plays a vital role in a customer’s ultimate success or failure with a technology or service. I believe that HR plays a critical role ensuring that the right attitudes permeate their organization supporting the overarching strategy of Customer Success.
I am excited as we move into 2015 to work with my customers closely to ensure that they see me as a valued partner, rather than simply a vendor. It is my goal to understand their business goals and to ensure that Lumesse can help them to meet their objectives.