Customer Success – Superior customer experience and revenue growth engine

Prachi Shah
Global Vice President, Customer Success
Automatic Summary

The Importance of Customer Success in Organizations

Customer success is instrumental in driving revenue growth for organizations. With over two decades of experience in the industry and currently serving as the Global Vice President for Customer Success at Synchron, I can confidently reiterate the crucial role customer success plays in business growth. This article remarks my experience in building customer success organizations from scratch and insights on the subject.

Why is Customer Success Important for Organizations?

Customer success-driven engagement approach is critical for organizational growth. The traditional operating model is vendor-driven, engaging the customer only when required. This reactive approach often leaves companies in the dark about the customer's satisfaction level and often leads to unexpected contract cancellations or renewals.

Customer success driven engagement approach pivots to put the customer at the heart of all operations. This methodology is proactive, often requiring outreach to the experiencing customers before issues arise. Helping customers get the best out of their contracts and keeping them satisfied underpins this engagement approach.

Benefits of a Customer Success Driven Engagement Approach

This approach can contribute significantly to:

  • Upselling and cross-selling: Keeping existing customers happy increases the likelihood of expanding their contracts, leading to sustained and possibly increased revenue.
  • Revenue retention: Happy customers are more likely to renew their contracts, thereby maintaining or even increasing the annual revenue levels.
  • Customer Advocacy: Satisfied customers often become advocates, sharing their positive experience with prospective customers and indirectly facilitating new deals.
  • Understanding Customer Sentiment: A proactive approach helps organizations keep a finger on the customer's pulse, understanding their likes, needs, and areas of dissatisfaction.

Building a Successful Customer Success Team

Creating a high-performing customer success team involves:

  1. Defining objectives
  2. Identifying roles and talents
  3. Tracking and measuring customer value and health
  4. Gathering customer feedback for experiencing improvements
  5. Implementing customer success operations tools

A well-equipped customer success team strikes the right balance between achieving business outcomes and delivering an exceptional customer experience. Their role ranges from understanding customers' business KPIs and aiding product adoption to managing customer journeys and mitigating risks.

Women in Customer Success

Customer success is an excellent career field for women due to its inherent emphasis on empathy and understanding, traits typically attributed to women. As a Customer Success Manager (CSM), one can significantly influence a company's revenue. This role does not suffer from gender stereotypes and offers a fantastic opportunity for women to make a visible impact in their organization.

It would be of great honor to engage with you further on this topic. Please feel free to connect with me and further delve into customer success.

Video Transcription

So the session this morning about customer success, uh why it is so important for organizations and how it helps the organizations to drive the revenue growth. Um Before we start the session, just a bit short introduction about myself. Um My name is Prachi.I'm uh working as a global vice president for customer success at Synchron. I have been in the industry for more than two decades uh working in different functions like customer success services organization, um presales as well as consulting. Um I have been uh practicing building customer success organizations in my previous company as well as at Synchron as well. So I do have an experience of uh building the customer success from scratch. Um And this is what I look forward to uh share with all of you what's been my experience and the key learnings and the takeaways from this entire journey. If you have any questions during the entire uh presentation, feel free to uh feel free to just ping me during the session or also after the session. Um There are my linkedin credentials and you can just reach out to me um when you, whenever you have some questions So what I wanted to talk about today is uh why customer success is uh is so important for organizations.

What is the customer success driven engagement approach to start with? Why the customer uh success is so important for organizations, how it can help organizations to grow the top line? What are the best practices and last but not the least how uh this is the best profession for the women and the uh women in the customer success to start with. Uh I would say before we even talk about what is customer success driven engagement approach. Let's first understand uh how the industries are a lot of companies, they still work like my previous organization. Um This was the best model and even currently, this is the way the team works. So uh there is a deal closure, there is a sales phase. Once you close the deal, there is a services engagement. So the services team will step in. Um and they will do the implementation. Once the services is complete, it's handed over to the support organization, the support organization will interact with the customers uh using the support portal uh depending on whatever the slas are. And then at the end of this cycle, there is a contract renewal and the customer will just renew the contract. Now, I've seen a lot of companies working in this model, even a couple of MN CS, they work in this particular way.

Uh And they do have good profit margins. But what are the challenges with this approach? So if you look at the challenges, uh there are a couple of challenges I would like to highlight is uh first of all, this is pretty much a vendor driven model where the sales team are selling the software to the customer, they make their uh coming and the company's revenue grows.

But what is in it for customers? There's a very little reactive approach, engaging with the customers. So you engage with the customers only when there is an escalation or when there is a support ticket. Um and how this entire process, you will never know if the customer is happy or unhappy. And what are the early signs of the customer chung? You know, one day when you go for a renewal, the customer might say that, ok, I do not want to renew this contract and the customer might chun um so this you may be adding more, the sales organization could be adding more sales uh sales revenue. But at the end of the day, uh the top line may not grow because you do have certain chance. So that's why the customer success engagement cu customer success driven engagement approach is very critical. And what is that? And why is that important? Because in this way, your customer is the center, the customer is at the heart of any interaction or any customer journey that you're having. First of all, it's very proactive. So we reach out to the customer and ask the customers how things are working for you proactively. Imagine someone reaches out to you. So for example, take an example of your mobile phone, ok? And the usage you might be, you might have purchased a particular package and the customer success manager reaches out to you and review that. Ok?

You are not using the data as you should have been using. Do you wanna downgrade your package or maybe do you know your contract allows you certain features you're not using it? Do you do you know how to use that? So this is more like advising the customer on how to make the best out of their contract with the company. So this is now we are talking in favor of the customer. So you are being the customer's best adviser at the same time, this will also help the organization to understand. What is the customer sentiment? Are they happy, unhappy? Are they using the product? Um And what exactly is the success for customer? So you might sell a software to the customer with a promise. But towards the renewal cycle, if the customer does not see the value out of the software, they will say, ok, I want to cancel the contract. So you actually trying to understand what is the customer trying to achieve using the software now, why is this so important? And how does it actually helps the organizations So there are different aspects to this. First of all, uh it will definitely help the organizations with Upsell cross sell or even new logos and how this is because all is driven by customer advocacy.

So whenever the organization go into new local uh sale process, the first thing the customer would ask is, can I have your references, how have you implemented with other customers? Can you showcase that to me? So if you have customer reference cases, this will be very helpful for the organization to bring even new logos on board. Definitely revenue retention will be uh it will be a highlight here because uh you will be able to identify what are the early ch risk indicators and take an action plan accordingly. And the companies can actually help with the revenue. I mean, if the customer is using the software, well, you can actually Upsell uh you can identify what are the more Upsell opportunities or if it is cross sell uh opportunities available. Uh The CS MS can identify that as well, so that automatically leads into the revenue growth as well as the revenue retention. Um And that's definitely driven by the customer health because you do have a visibility into what the customer is doing. And like everyone says, you know, engaged customers are the best way to get insight into what's happening into their business. Is there a competitor reaching out to the customer? What's happening on their business?

How is their uh annual uh revenue uh report was, you know, so those kind of information will help the organization uh to identify any blind spots that, that may be there in the revenue retention. Um And based on this, I mean, I wouldn't say customer success manager is a new profession. It's been there for a couple of years now. I think as most of, you know, sales force is the one who started with the customer success function altogether. And because of these challenges, this function has become very critical when it comes to the um uh to the new S A model. And how does it help? So what is the role of A CS M typically that's more or less like what I described earlier. So first of all, the CS M would need to understand what are the business? KPIS, what is it that customer success KPIS, how do they measure their success? And this is not something that the CS M has to start from scratch. Ideally, during the sales process, the sales and the presales team, they would have collected that information, right? They would have asked those questions to the customer. So we need to have a proper CS to CS handover and where you share who the key stakeholders on the customer side are. What were their success? KPIS, um What are those important areas that the customer really want to focus on? What are the quick wins, right?

Um Like what can I do in next 1, 30 60 90 days that will help me win customers trust. And this model would work even if you have a services engagement ongoing. So in my experience, even if there is a services team engaged, the sales to CS handover should still happen. And in that case, you can also make it actually sales to CS and access handover, right, the the services organization handover. Um because this will help the CS M to build a relationship with the customer while the services team is busy on implementing the solutions and delivering the software to the customer. So um I cannot emphasize more but extremely important to understand what are the customers, business uh outcomes, what are they looking for and also highlighting that to them that, you know, these are the business outcomes that you have achieved through our software periodically. That becomes extremely important.

Second aspect is help the customer with the product adoption and usage. I mean, you know, every quarter, sit down with the customer, it could be quarter, it could be monthly, uh half yearly. It depends on the type of the customer. Like how, how long the customer has been engaged with the organization? What's the scale and the size of the customer? Are there Upsell opportunities or cross seller expansion opportunities? Uh So actually to sit down with the customer, understand how they are using the adopt uh using the software.

Are there any uh business user, they are having facing challenges to use the software because I think all of us know change management is extremely important, you may roll out the new software, but the team, the business users may not even wanna use it. So it's very important to also connect with those business users and understand, are they using the functions in the right way? And at the same time, sharing the industry best practices because uh in my experience, any customer who is new to the organization, the first thing they ask is how has this been implemented for other customers? You know, what are their best practices? What are the D OS and don't? So ideally, you should have like a checklist and just share that with the customer in the beginning of their journey. Um detailing the engagement plan is important. So create a customer journey, ma'am like explaining to the customer, what can you expect from this engagement through this entire life cycle? So I'm here as a CS M not just interested in the renewal, but I'm interested in making you successful. And this is how you can engage with me. And this is how the journey will look like at any point in time. If you see the risk, then define the mitigation strategy. And last but not the least.

I think understanding the customer experience is extremely important, maybe the software is good being adopted, but the support ticket resolution is taking very long and customer is getting frustrated with that or maybe there are product feature requests which is critical, but they didn't receive any response for that or it could be anything else.

So it's extremely important to understand how the customer is feeling. So it's a balance of both. I would say the customer success is customer outcome as well as customer experience. Now, how do you if you are a new organization, how do you start on that journey? So I would say there are six ideal steps into that as an organization who wants to introduce the customer success function, the first thing first should be done is to actually define what is the objective of the customer success function? Like what is it that you want the CS to achieve? Like I have seen functions where C uh companies where CS does carry a revenue target, there are companies where the CS is only being a customer's trusted advisor. So what is the ultimate objective of the organization? Not just for the customer success function but organization? What do they want to do? How is the collaboration works and a card in line with that? What is the priority for the CS team? How do you measure success? Like every few uh uh weeks, you should have like a checkpoint to measure that whatever goals and priorities we have defined. Are we on track with that? Um define the framework and the best practices. I would say this is extremely important. If you are building the team ground up, then understand how to define uh what are the best practices that the team can start to use? And how does a cross functional collaboration look like?

Because customer success is not just a one functions job, it's an organizational objective and every function has a role to play into that. And that leads into the third point which is identifying the roles of the talent. So if you already have a team, understand where the strength is. Uh what skill set do you require? Do you require more in depth product or technical knowledge? Uh Or if you're building up the team, then identify in line with your organ organization, your customer success or objective.

Do you need someone who is, who acts like uh CS M with a good strikes a balance between commercial and customer advisory role or you need someone who is more in depth product expert. So that's also important and track and measure customer value health core. I think this is, this is the job of CS M, you know, whatever your revenue targets are as a CS M, the organization should know what are the uh oh how the customer is feeling? What are the health scores? You can actually look at the DEA R framework, which is very famous and widely used, which translates into deployment, engagement, adoption. Uh and RO I so you can measure different health scores for this four boxes and ID identify what is the risk of John. Customer voice is extremely important. It's like I said, it's a good balance between outcome and experience. So understanding what the customer is thinking, where are they happy, unhappy, doing those regular NPS survey, but it's not just doing the survey, right? You also have to get back to the customer saying that we hear you. This is the action plan and get back to the customer with periodic updates. That's where you actually identify the value of the CS function. And last but not the least do consider rolling out some operations to. There are a lot of tools in the market that is gain sight to tango chun zero.

Just look, just evaluate that because as a CS leader, you will require a lot of different health scores uh reports, which is like health score reports, chunn indicators with CS M is assigned to which account you will have to do the account segmentation to make sure you have the right customer journey map.

Uh For high-value customers, you wanna have more engaged uh uh customer journey versus low value customer. You may wanna digitize some operations. So do look into the CS operations platform that will help you uh maximize your time investment into uh CS M time, investment into the day to day life. So, um again, just with respect to the time I I can share the deck as well later on. Um OK. So I have two minutes to go. And I would say uh to consider this skill set, if you're building up your team ground up, or if you're evaluating your team skill set, uh There are always uh uh different views from different organs, organizations that would say whether you wanna have a CS practice, which is more in depth product knowledge or what may consider people coming from services organization.

Or you may wanna have a CS M team who is just maintaining a trusted advisor status. And you may consider having then customer success architects who are supporting your, your field CS M team. So those are the different uh skill set. I would say you should look at and last but not the least I would say I wanna end this slide and this presentation saying um I think this is the best profession for, for a couple of reasons because as a CS M, I think you really need to show the empathy and think that just comes naturally to all of us, right?

To understand what is the person's problem. What is the customer thinking, showing that empathy to that problem sometimes that's what the customers are looking for, you know, like listening ear, a shoulder to lean on and you are there to listen to the customers. Um There is a lot you can make an impact through revenue. Uh So if you're looking for a seat at the table, I think you can definitely make a positive impact on to the customer, on to your organization's top line. Uh Because like, for example, at Synchron, we have 70% of the revenue coming from our install base. So, you know, with the renewal, we're actually making a huge impact on the net retention rate. Um And I think this is still, even though the CS function has been in the market for a very long time, but I don't think that's been overcrowded by gender stereotypes. I mean, I still see a lot of different uh diversity uh in this role in my organization in my previous organization. And I think this is a fantastic opportunity for women to step up and uh make an impact uh being at the center, bringing all cross functional collaboration, making also impact to the customers success and as well as the revenue growth for the organization.

So with that, I wanna thank you all for attending this session. I really appreciate your time and uh wherever you are based uh in the world. But if you're waking up very early this morning, then thank you very much. Um Please feel free to reach out to me uh on linkedin if you wanna have more conversation. Uh I'm always happy to help and uh support for this topic. All right. Thank you. Bye.