You’ll find a lot of self-proclaimed experts on the subject of Customer Success on the web, but many of them don’t have the credentials — or track record — to back it up. So we thought we’d go straight to the top and discuss the state of the CS industry with our CEO, Michael Harnum.
Q: How has Customer Success changed since you entered the field?
A: More companies are “getting it” and making real investments in true CS programs. A few years ago, companies would simply re-purpose existing resources and label them “CS” and call it good. Now, they’re starting to realize the importance of dedicating resources to Customer Success.
Q: Where can businesses see the biggest impact from Customer Success?
A: Customer Success has to start at the very beginning, in the early stages of the customer experience. Remember, Customer Success is a long-term commitment — you need to get in on the ground floor.
Q: Today’s marketing is customer-focused. How does a Customer Success strategy help drive that focus?
A: The shift toward customer delight in marketing is a huge area of opportunity for CS teams. The technology tools available today enable customer marketing programs that are very informed down to the individual account. That means your customer communication can contain a very high level of relevance and customization.
Q: How do other departments benefit from Customer Success?
A: In a word: knowledge. When you have a CS team sharing customer feedback with the rest of your organization, they can all make more informed business decisions. Marketing knows more about how to tailor messages for specific customer segments. Product development knows more about how their features are hitting or missing the mark and can adapt faster. Finance benefits from happier customers paying their bills more promptly and for a longer period of time.
Q: How do you discuss or convey the importance of Customer Success to executives who are not necessarily on board yet?
A: By this point, every exec should have realized the importance of maintaining positive, proactive relationships with your customers. Businesses in every industry are coming to realize that customer retention is at least as important as customer acquisition — and keeping your customers means helping them succeed.
Q: What does a strong Customer Success environment look like to you?
A: What I look for is long term, philosophical commitment to the practice of Customer Success. That commitment has to come at every level — from the sales and Customer Success team members that interact directly with your customers every day, all the way to the execs at the top. If anyone in that chain of command isn’t committed to the benefits of CS, you won’t be doing your best work.
Q: What does the future of Customer Success look like?
A: Customer Success is and will continue to be a career destination for the best and brightest minds in the industry. It is a thinker’s paradise; plenty of problems to solve and an absence of turn-by-turn instructions. In a young, constantly shifting industry like this one, innovation and creativity will always win out.