Each year, the CS100 Summit brings together the best and brightest minds in the industry to beautiful Sundance, Utah to learn and collaborate in an atmosphere of inspiration, ideation, strategy, and real-world application around Customer Success.
This year, for the first time, ESG was proud to not just attend the event, but join it as a sponsor. Our very own Sheik Ayube, Director of Business Development, was on the scene to find out what’s new — and what’s next — in Customer Success.
The Best CS100 Yet
The event this year was fantastic — and that’s coming from someone who goes to all the conferences. You gauge a conference like this on a lot of fronts, from the content to the speakers to the opportunities to meet other professionals, and on every front, this one was the cream of the crop.
At any trade show, It’s hard to provide content that captures everyone, from people who are just starting in CS to people who’ve been in the industry for ten years. But because CS100 focuses on leaders and executives, they manage to go a little deeper into the concepts and ideas.
The Industry Is United
One of the biggest things I noticed at the event is that all of us seem to be moving in the same direction, focusing our energy in similar areas. A year or two ago, everyone was concerned about scaling their Customer Success organizations. Now, the tone is shifting. “How do I scale?” is still a common question and topic, but the general tone is shifting to a deeper level of operational understanding.
Depth Over Breadth
I also noticed a lot of focus on communicating more effectively with finance, capacity planning, and budgeting. The reality is, you have a limited amount of resources — time, people, and money. If you try to do too much, you’ll spread yourself too thin.
You might want five new CSMs, but your CEO only green-lights one — so you have to revisit your priorities. In that scenario, reduce the number of things you’re trying to do and focus on fewer areas that are critical to your business and that you can do really well.
Conferences like this are a double edged sword in that respect — you’ll come away with no less than a dozen great ideas, but if you try to take them all back to your team or your company, you’ll have real trouble implementing and executing each one. Instead, pull out one or two that will have the biggest impact on your organization and focus on executing them with precision.
The Importance of Executive Buy-In
When you set up a new CS department, you’re either evaluating a company to work with to help you, or evaluating your own company’s status and abilities. In either case, it’s vital that your executives are fully invested in Customer Success. Do they really care? Or is it a side pet project because your CEO read an article about the subscription economy and the importance of CS?
CS touches and interacts with every department in your company, and it’s complex and time-consuming to set up. There are significant investments to be made before it starts to pay off, and if you don’t have full commitment from the C-suite, you’ll end up on very thin ice.
CS is Still a Work in Progress
An important thing to remember is that no one has this all figured out. Even the best and most mature CS organizations out there have room for improvement. So just remember, if you’re struggling with CS, you’re not alone.
Also, you don’t have to boil the ocean (I know, I know, so cliche). But honestly, you don’t have to figure everything out all at once in order to make progress. Some people get stuck in analysis paralysis, contemplating and conceptualizing the best way to handle these challenges, but ultimately, you just have to start. You know your company and your customers. Make hypotheses and test them. Read all the industry blogs and learn from them. The rest you’ll figure out as you go.