Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

Developing Customer Success

It’s crazy to think the internal combustion engine was invented just 160 years ago and the mobile phone was developed just under 40 years ago. We’ve evolved into iPhone carrying; Siri asking, walking microchips that drive batteries around town. The verdict isn’t out on whether this is positive for mankind or not, but I work in an industry in which it is vital and this vitality allows our business to grow. Personally, I prefer the simplistic life without screens, yet here I am nonetheless.

Customer Success, although still in its infancy, is evolving as well to an ever-changing, arbitrary naming convention. Customer Success…is it sales, is it marketing, is it engineering and onboarding. The list goes on. For my small circle of friends, Customer Success is the culmination of responsibility for a client to consume a product or service. Typically, I have found that Customer Success falls under the sales bucket, but could easily fall under whichever organization wants to take on retaining and growing customers. My personal journey through Customer Success started as “Account Management” by tracking success through monthly growth (NNR) and renewals. We made sure the ticket queue was clean and the sales pipeline was growing. This evolved into more business strategy and documenting a quarterly plan of action, while still forecasting growth. Which worked well, but we needed closer interaction with our clients. The next step in our evolution is providing tangible value to our clients with “hands-on keyboard” technical chops, while incorporating new services and products to make “life easier” for our clients. Put your feet in their shoes and walk a mile or two. Growth is typically the outcome. This strategy of value drives the customer experience and can be visualized in the increase of our NPS scores and increased revenue, not to mention the creation of a long term happy customer.

When I was a younger lad, I washed clubs on the 18th green for golfers finishing their round. My epiphany came on a sunny afternoon with the Texas heat index surpassing triple digits, success came from great interactions, not necessarily on the quality of my work. After stated epiphany, I always made a point to comment on the type of clubs being used or how the greens felt that particular day. The notion of “customer success” was realized. Although something could be said that one's libation of choice probably had more to do with it!

This idea of value-driven customer success is the heart of where we are headed next. Customers benefit through expert guidance and the CS team benefits through higher lifetime value customer (LVC). We get to state where success has been realized and how best to accomplish success, the “next best action.”

In addition to adding value, driving a culture of collaboration is imperative. Culture drives the train across the country. The CSM simply fosters the culture that brings the train into the station. I’ve found that the tools we use foster this culture. Tools like: Slack, Trello, Mural, even email drive collaboration! To create this culture, the right CSM mentality needs to be in place. Ideal CSM’s have business acumen with a growth mindset, just in time learning with a core foundation of technical skills. If you fit this criteria, reach out to me, I’m hiring!

Customer Success will be leading the next wave of investment in ROI and human capital. As more companies move to a XaaS model, the need to continually retain and delight customers will be ever more important. I look forward to this next evolution!





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Spencer Adams

Spencer Adams

Puppet string master, member of the cloud counsel. Protector of the CSM relm, advocate of client peasantry