8 Exceptional Customer Success Professionals Share Insights on the Future

January 30, 2014 Pam McBride

magic 8 ball

Is 2014 the year of Customer Success? Instead of asking the magic 8-Ball oracle, we turned to 8 exceptional customer success professionals and asked them to share their insights on the future of the industry. It is abundantly clear that the future is very bright for customer success!

 

 

1. Generating a Deep Understanding of Business Drivers

As we move into 2014, companies will be more focused than ever on the customer centric organization. While many SaaS companies are shifting towards pooled and self-serve support, some will focus on generating a deep understanding of their customer’s business drivers, their unique definitions of success, and how they are using services.

To accomplish this, companies will focus across three dimensions: designated client and support team relationships, the utilization of customer success based software to understand usage, adoption and an attribute of usage health, and the use of a Net Promoter Score (or similar) feedback loop. This combination will provide a 360-degree view of the customer and will span every aspect of the relationship.  Finding the right balance between the three will ensure customers at any stage in their lifecycle are finding value and in the end success in their adoption of products.

Jeff Cann, Director of Client Experience, Marketwired

Focus on generating a deep understanding of customer’s business drivers #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

2. Moving Beyond SaaS

As we enter 2014 Customer Success will continue to be a hot topic as more companies start to embrace and understand the value of having a Customer Success organization. You will start to see internal departments align together to form a Customer Success strategy and organization. New software applications focused on Customer Success will become critical to the success of an organization and will provide a complete 360 view of the Customer and also compliment existing CRM systems. You will also see Customer Success move beyond the SaaS software companies and into more traditional companies as the importance of making a customer successful compared to only providing support when needed has changed.

Paul Chilensky, Former Vice President of Customer Success, Onshift Inc.

Customer Success moves beyond SaaS and into more traditional companies #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

3. Agility, Agility, Agility….

The fast pace of new Social Media applications paired with the dominance of mobile devices is providing an increasingly accessible medium for customers to exercise their individual voice and personality; including tailoring how they choose to communicate with vendors in the ‘here’ and ‘now’ in a way that best suits their needs and lifestyle.

Companies need to be agile in meeting customer needs for personalization through the enablement of their organization’s culture -across the board. This will become a key factor in Customer Happiness and Retention.

–  Daniella Degrace, Founder Advisor, Amity and Former Vice President, Customers Success, Radian6

Companies need to be agile in meeting customer needs for personalization #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

 

4. Drawing Insights from the Customer Journey

I think Customer Success is going to continue its evolution towards increasingly more proactive assistance to their customers to drive great experiences, thereby increasing product adoption and customer retention.  Those organizations that build their business around their customers and draw customer insight from their customer’s journey and all the associated interactions along that journey, will continue to deliver what customers need, when they need it.  This proactive help, guiding customers to be successful just when they need it, is fundamental to great experiences that drives loyalty and success.

–       Kia Puhm, Chief Customer Officer, Blueprint Software Systems

Guiding customers to be successful just when they need it, is fundamental to great experiences #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

5. Standardizing Exceptional Experience

For 2014, as customer success continues to mature, organizations will be working to standardize exceptional experience. Most companies have been able to deliver highly customized valuable experiences for clients, but as they grow this approach is not sustainable. In order to ensure that clients continue to get access to the resources, insights and support they have become accustomed to, standardizing exceptional experience will ensure that clients are successful, while businesses scale in a sustainable manner.

–       Jessica Weisz, Chief Client Officer, Soapbox

As CS continues to mature, organizations will be working to standardize exceptional experience #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

6. Generating Consistent Customer Health Scores

Organizations that faced tremendous growth in customers in 2013 will need a means of providing a predictive view for potential issues as well as opportunities. These CS organizations will focus on generating a consistent customer health score that will be reviewed regularly at the executive level. This will be a blend of quantitative data such as adoption metrics but also include additional supporting data on how deep the customer connection is. For example, one component could be identifying which customers have executive involvement. Another idea is tying advocacy (such as referrals and references) into the overall health score. While this has been done in the past, we’ll see more companies automating the calculation of these metrics in 2014 so the CS team can focus on acting on the data and not wasting time calculating it.

–       Chad Horenfeldt, Director, Customer Operations, Influitive

CS organizations will focus on generating a consistent customer health score #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

7. Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Depending on the nature of their service offering, Client Services teams will be collaborating more across their own organizations and interacting directly with more individuals in the client’s organization as their customers evolve. Client Services teams will continual to evolve to purposefully design and deliver customer experiences that make it not only easy but also delightful to get things done.

–       Leo Leung, Director, Technical Account Management, Nulogy

Client Services teams will be collaborating more across their own organizations #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

 

8. Fluid Organizations

Customer Success adds a whole new dimension to the traditional sales, services and support models.  Here are some of my predictions as this field continues to take shape:

  • Better realization of what “Success” means – Success is not just the current B2B relationship you have with your customers.  A Successful Customer Success organization should be part of their customers’ winning formula.
  • A new breed of talents – forget about culture, is Customer Success in your team’s DNA?  What woke them up in the morning?  Their alarm clock, or a burning desire to help the next customer win?
  • Be water, my friend – Your entire company needs to be fluid.  Your customers must need to find you to be easy to work with.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t have processes, remember the K.I.S.S rule?
  • Good-bye to Ball Hogs – Customer Success is a team sport, there is no room for hoggers.  Trust your talents (see point above), let the customer choose who they want to work with.
  • CCO or CEO (Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer) will take center stage.
  • Beat competitors by out caring your customers – businesses are not longer competing by price and functions.  Crush them by offering the best experience and care!

Mario da Roza, Director of Customer Care, Trapeze Group

Beat competitors by out caring your customers #customersuccess [Tweet this!]

What insights do you have to share as we move into 2014?

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