The Customer Success industry has grown and evolved to the point where now, it’s no longer seen as an add-on but an integral part of running a successful business.
Most importantly, developments in AI and other technologies show that in fact, our current understanding of Customer Success continues to shift, as algorithms and machine learning change the way we gather and interpret customer data- the data that can be used to drive success.
Expanding our View: Further Insights from the Totango CS Summit
As we covered in a detail in a previous post, our CEO Claire Burge spoke at the Totango CS Summit in San Francisco in February about how “Chaos is the New Reality”. In this talk, Claire spoke about how the workplace is changing, and what organisations (and people) need to do to adapt.
To sum it up, to adapt our business strategy for optimal Customer Success, we need to put the customer at the centre of everything we do, and become more “human centric”.
This idea of being more “human centric” resonated with a number of Customer Success industry specialists, and has led to a series of follow up conversations and exchanging of ideas with Claire on LinkedIn.
Our plan is to expand on and share all of these extended conversations in a series of upcoming blog posts, first of all, by expanding on our conversation with Peter Armaly, the Principal Transformation Advisor at Oracle.
Insight into the Customer Success Industry: Peter Armaly
As a thought leader and practitioner in the Customer Success industry, Peter has extensive organisational leadership and consulting experience. He currently works with Marketing and Customer Success leaders to help them transform strategies and processes, and to accelerate their ability to embrace a digital mindset that puts the customer at the heart of everything a company needs to do.
Synergy? We think so.
Peter also likes to advance the notion that, while it may seem counter-intuitive, even the highest value customers in the end are better-served by automated processes that deliver to them actionable steps (or timely content) that further the pursuit of their goals. Yes, he says, it’s not as simple as it sounds but the truth is, the biggest barrier to that is company culture and historical convention. The customer actually wants to interact less while at the same time learn more from you. Today’s typical business is not set up for that.
The Changing Customer Success Industry: What Needs to Be Improved?
A common theme of the discussion between Claire and Peter on LinkedIn was the need for a shift in thinking around Marketing and Customer Success.
Here are four key points that Peter raised in response to the question: “What are some of the biggest changes you feel need to happen to improve Customer Success from a marketing perspective?”
1. Executive leadership individuals need to demonstrate true customer centricity through words and actions (which is very rare).
There is too much of a disconnect between actual customers and the executive suite, and C-level oftentimes do not really understand the reality of their customers’ experience. For example, C-level executives could engage in practices like an internal journey mapping exercise to better understand and appreciate this journey, but they often don’t.
2. There needs to be a changing of the guard, in other words, bringing in digital natives, as they have such a different way of thinking.
Digital transformation is occurring too slowly in most companies. Old methods of doing business are so ingrained, making them ill-equipped to manage the process and talent management changes required to truly transform.
Something to think about: if you ask a young millennial what the word “digital” means, more often than not you will be met with a blank stare. All they know is digital. So much so that they don’t even call it that.
3. All customer-influencing organisations (Sales, Marketing and Customer Success Management [CSM]) should follow a client experience process.
To deliver the best experience for a customer, companies need to ensure they offer a frictionless experience on that customer’s platform of choice. This necessitates a breaking down of internal silos so that otherwise disconnected teams operate on the same process that follows the customer’s experience through their journey with the company- it’s sideways, not vertical.
Practically speaking, this means that automated tasks, gates, SLAs, alerts, reporting etc. all need to become the foundation of delivery and accountability.
4. Marketing should not report into sales, it should focus on the end-to-end client experience, and should be measured and rewarded based on client acquisition, retention and growth.
Reporting to the CEO or COO would separate the marketing organisation from the sales imperative of revenue achievement as job #1. By being able to focus on applying their tactics to optimise the end to end lifecycle of the customer, the odds of adoption, renewal, and growth will increase. Ultimately, this will also increase the likelihood of loyalty and advocacy.
How do you feel about the relationship between Marketing and Customer Success? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!
We’ll also be featuring more insights from other industry leaders that we met and engaged with at the Totango CS Summit in a series of upcoming posts- stay tuned for more updates on Customer Maturity and how CS professionals have implemented Customer Success initiatives in their businesses.