Thoughts Post Pulse: Failure & the Value of Customer Success


I rarely look forward to long flights. However, my flight from San Francisco to Cincinnati after Gainsight Pulse 2018 was an exception. The 4+ hour journey gave me time to digest and reflect on everything I encountered over the past two days. From the information-packed sessions to the Ferris Wheel, there was a lot to take in. As I reviewed my notes and thought through my experiences, two key themes stuck out:

1) The ‘human-first’ concept

Nick Mehta’s energetic opening keynote struck a cord with me. Not because I’m also an awful rapper, but because he raised awareness for the human element of business. This concept is crucial. The value of Customer Success goes beyond just making customers happy. It’s about understanding customer objectives and empowering those customers to get the most out of their experience with your products and services. To achieve this, we need to be ‘human-first’.

Yet I’m amazed at how often this concept is overlooked. Here’s an example: While sitting in one of the many Pulse sessions devoted to the ‘tech touch’ debate, there was a question posed in Slido that asked, “how do I handle the people I don’t want to talk to?” I get it. Not every customer is profitable, and some can be a drag to work with. Using technology to manage communications with ‘lower priority’ customers may seem like an ideal solution. But we’re missing the point. Tech-touch isn’t about taking the human out – It’s about enabling the CSM to help customers achieve their outcomes faster and more efficiently. Removing the human from the process won’t get you or your customers where you want to go.

2) No one has it all figured out

I love listening to success stories, but I often find myself more intrigued by what didn’t work. As I sat in sessions that explored the ‘bad’ just as much (if not more so) than the ‘good,’ it donned on me…These presenters are here because they were willing to take a chance. In some cases many chances. Some worked, some didn’t. And that’s OK. Failure can be scary, but it makes us stronger. If we’re not willing to take a chance, we’re not willing to learn from our mistakes. And if we’re not willing to learn from our mistakes, we’re not going to continue to perfect the art of Customer Success.

Many of the stories I heard throughout Pulse proved the value of Customer Success. Some of which inspired me to approach issues more creatively and assess aspects of programs that I hadn’t considered before. But all that inspiration will go to waste if the ideas don’t turn into actions.

So now comes the hard part, but I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

Share with us – How does your Customer Success team embody the ‘human-first’ concept?
Learn more – Discover how virtual Customer Success Managers (vCSM) can help extend the human touch to underserved customer segments. Check it out here.

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