Guy Galon.

The growing importance of Customer Success as a company mindset

“The experience a company offers is de-facto a differentiator that relies on the alignment of different units within the company to plan, execute and evaluate their performance in making customers successful,” writes Guy Galon

Companies cannot allow their customers to “fall between the cracks” because of misalignment between their teams. The challenge is to design and execute a seamless experience that will span across the different departments. This trend in customer expectations amplified the emergence of the “Customer Success as a Company Mindset” principle that is gradually becoming a critical component of the overall company strategy.
It is the common understanding that everyone within the company is collaborating to deliver experience that is predicated on what customers need to be successful. In simple words, customer success is the responsibility of the entire company and not just one department. This mindset takes a broader view on the customer journey that starts long before the purchase is made, and hopefully has no end date. The journey in the middle is based on consistent product experience and support given not only by the CS team but with the helping hand of other departments as well. Now let’s understand how this mindset is put into practice.
1 View gallery
Guy Galon
Guy Galon
Guy Galon.
The journey from a Lead to a Customer
The first part introduces a journey planned by the marketing and sales teams to channel the customer towards a buying decision. The key principle here is to have a solid and coherent message about the company’s value proposition, a message that will not change across the sales cycle.
We can take AppsFlyer as an example:
  • In AppsFlyer's official website we come across the following statement: “The world’s top marketing and product teams turn to AppsFlyer cloud to power predictable app growth, protect customer privacy and deliver exceptional mobile experiences." These are the three main benefits that their customers will enjoy.
  • Any demo, presentation and technical or commercial response that AppsFlyer sales and pre-sales team deliver, will highlight the above benefits, and relate them to product features and core business outcomes. For example, customized reports and dashboards will provide the expected insights that marketers need to optimize their digital campaigns.
  • When a sales opportunity is converted and AppsFlyer has a new customer, it will be handed over to the CS Team. In a previous article, I referred to Customer Success as the “one stop shop” for post-sales engagement with a critical mission to assist customers in achieving their desired goals.
But this is not the end of the process – in fact, it is just the beginning.
The customer Journey anchored by the CS Team
In the second part, the customer journey is set in motion whereby the CS team is the “the tip of the spear” anchoring a cross company collaboration effort that is institutionalized by the same success mindset described in the first part. This time it takes a different shape as “post-sales” activities are naturally different.
Moving to a few examples demonstrating the interaction of the CS team with other teams and departments.
  • If a customer has questions related to the product usage, CS together with the training department will collaborate to bridge knowledge gaps. Moving forward, CS, support and training teams will produce online help/user guides and FAQs to streamline the knowledge and keep it up to date with the new features and their associated value.
  • Product malfunctions occur from time to time. This is the nature of any software. While Engineering and Quality Assurance teams don’t directly engage customers, they have a huge contribution to their experience. First, they design, code, test and deploy fault tolerant products that have the built-in mechanism to quickly trace and identify an unexpected technical issue. In addition, when a product fix is required, we trust these teams to solve the problem quickly and minimize the impact. In certain circumstances, the CS team will be the bridge between the customers and the Engineering teams to assess business impact and sometimes get themselves involved in the communication of important service updates.
  • Customers may identify a missing functionality and subsequently raise a feature request via the CSM (Customer Success Manager) to the Product team. This is the type of feedback that vendors welcome and appreciate as it is a positive indication for stakeholder’s engagement and solid product usage. The Product team will analyze the requirement, verify if not already in the roadmap plan and then prioritize it. Vendors should promote customer features as they keep up with the market needs, stay competitive and at the same time further innovate their product. One Good example is AWS that states the following: “At AWS, 90% of what we build is driven by what customers tell us matters to them.”
  • Another important CS-Product-Customer interaction takes place when the vendor’s roadmap is presented, providing customers a view into the short-to-medium product development plans. Another objective will be to seek feedback and suggestions from different stakeholders in an attempt to align customer’s expectations with the product or service deliverables and outcomes.
  • The finance and business operations teams monitor external/internal financial and operational metrics. They also handle invoicing and then follow up on payments while diligently working with the CS and Sales team.

In this era of disruptive technological changes, today’s cutting-edge products and services may become outdated quickly. In this respect, the experience a company offers is de-facto a differentiator that relies on the alignment of different units within the company to plan, execute and evaluate their performance in making customers successful. Adopting this mindset starts with the executive management instilling this perspective across the organization. Like any other strategic initiative, it should be planned, budgeted, and monitored to achieve measurable KPIs such as increase in NRR (Net Revenue Retention).
We all need to remember – Customer Success is not just one Team. It is a Company Mindset.
Guy Galon is VP Customer Success at Hysolate
First published: 17:54, 15.07.22