CustomerSuccessCon West Takeaways


One of my favorite CS conferences is The Customer Success Association's vendor-agnostic  CustomerSuccessCon led by Mikael Blaisdell, Executive Director. The half-day agenda is an engaging mix of industry overviews, case studies, and best practices. Other CSCs planned for 2017 include: 

CSC EuropeLondon, UK – Tuesday, April 18, 2017
CSC East Boston, MA – Thursday, August 17, 2017
CSC Seattle, WA – Monday, October 19, 2017

The State of Customer Success

The industry shows no signs of slowing down. With 75,000 new visitors to the Customer Success Association site, the most popular page is The Definition of Customer Success Management. This search also indicates many are still figuring out what Customers Success (CS) is, should be, or should do. There are also many organizations looking for the right resources for their teams (ie tools, training) in parallel. 

Customer Success Executives

The 60% turnover rate within 2 years for senior CS executives is commonly attributed to a misalignment of expectations and supporting resources. Leaders sharing their hindsight perspectives from "Been there. Done that." provided cautionary tales and astute insights. 

Company Culture: Is there a healthy tension and the goals to create a win-win environment for all teams? What type of company is it (product-driven, sales-first, customer-centric)?

Your Executive Peers: How do they enforce a customer focus? What is their teams' attitude toward helping customers? Is the CFO realistic with headcount and results responsibilities? Is Sales comp calibrated for long-term customer engagements?

Ownership: Can you influence all elements feeding your Customers' Experience? This could include support, services, and training beyond recurring revenue. 

Customer Success Teams

Scaling teams is definitely a hot topic with the rapid expansion of CS. Knowledgeable and confident CS leadership will determine if teams are set up to flourish or languish.

Mission: Are there clear expectations?  Is their core responsibility to fight churn or accelerate velocity to value? Be an SME or manage account relationships?

People: Invest in the development of CSMs to align with your customers' journey. Establish and evolve their customer understanding, confidence, and impact. 

Growth: Specialized roles (ie Enablement, Community, Marketing) should be reviewed as a first step towards scaling.  Have a strong 360 understanding of your customers and align your mission, people, and processes prior to introducing technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be helpful in diversion/direction of resources, but not a replacement. 

As we continue to move towards a determinate definition of "Customer Success" and what it means to be "customer-centric", organizations should assign appropriate effort towards their portfolio of customers as they do their portfolio of product. Time to move past the "save that logo" mentality because down sell is still churn and logo retention is a temporary vanity metric. 

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