Customer Success

4 Min Read

The future of Customer Success: Our 4 key takeaways from Gainsight Pulse 2019

Whew. What a week! #Pulse19 was a whirlwind for inSided, but it’s safe to say we enjoyed every minute of it! Thanks to all of the Customer Success heroes who visited us in the Expo Hall, attended our presentation and joined us for drinks last Wednesday!

I spoke to our CEO Robin van Lieshout and our VP Customer Success Margriet Paagman to understand the key takeaways they brought back to Amsterdam from San Francisco with them.

Our CEO Robin van Lieshout presenting how your online community helps you scale in the Gainsight Pulse Innovation Theater

1. The marriage between Customer Success and Product

The product experience is arguably the most important driver of customer success. Therefore Customer Success leaders have to invest in the relationship they have with their product counterparts. At Pulse, the fast-growing communication company Slack presented their collaboration mechanism. Christina, the VP of Customer Success sits down with Ilan, the Director of Product, on a weekly basis to discuss the needs and requests of customers. Slack’s Customer Success team has a great view on the existing feature gaps their customers experience, and they are continuously adding notes in their CRM system for the product team to read. Of course, not everything can be addressed, but at least an open discussion is taking place between the CSM and product leaders.

In their world, product teams should be serving customers. Many of the attending companies used ideation capabilities to create a prioritized roadmap with actual customer votes, which is a great way to scale the Customer Success and Product relationship—especially using communities, which we’ve seen many of our own customers have success with.

2. From Customer Success to Customer Growth

Customer Success used to be a defensive role: really putting out the fires and fighting churn. But not anymore! Customer Success is now evolving to the next step—we are shifting gears towards an offensive role and really making a growth contribution. Companies like Cisco and PTC on stage talked about CSQLs (Customer Success Qualified Leads) as an addition to regular marketing and sales efforts. Growth is the next step, after retention rates, gross & net churn and NPS. It’s more and more about time to value, time to adoption and time to next use case, and this is really the second step in the maturity of Customer Success as we move into 2020. So don’t wait until your CFO asks you what the value of Customer Success is—prove that you are adding value!

3. The ACTUAL Customer Journey

We talk a lot about our customers, but be honest: how much do we really put them first? Is the vision we have on our customers ‘inside out’ or ‘outside in’?

We all want to give our customers the very best experience and journey—but we then go on to talk about this journey in our terms! Acquisition, Adoption, Retention, Monetization. What happens when we rename this journey in a customer-oriented manner (Discover, Try, Commit, Use, Change)?

Yamini Rangan, Chief Customer Officer at Dropbox, changed this in her first month at the content collaboration giant. This change meant Dropbox’s Customer Success team soon felt a different responsibility and created a more customer-centric focus. Another of Yamini’s initiatives was to ensure everybody worked on Support at some point, taking support tickets either during their onboarding phase or regularly once a quarter. This is something we’ll definitely take back to inSided—it’s a great way for everyone to get better knowledge of both our customers and our product too.

4. Collaboration between teams

A number of different speakers talked about the collaboration between teams—and rightly so! As a Customer Success team, of course your partnership with different teams is vital. You work closely with Sales in setting up new customers for the best outcomes: with Sales managing expectations and Customer Success working toward these expectations and outcomes. Making sure you have an extensive handover, including sponsors, detractors, and other projects running at the customer is not only helpful during onboarding but also at later stages when you’re ready to grow the customer.

Customer Success also needs to have strong collaboration with Product—don’t see the product team as a Feature Factory, but instead bring your Product Owners and your customers together so everyone can understand what the desired outcomes are and what’s needed to get there. As an additional benefit, this also brings the discussion to a much more strategic level than typical feature requests customers place. Finally, Customer Success must create strong collaboration with their Management Team and bring customers to the table—especially the unhappy ones! This is vital for insights, learnings and setting strategic direction.

So there’s a round-up of our key learnings from #Pulse19. We had a blast! Were you there? What were your takeaways from the conference! We’d love to hear them—tweet us @insidedmedia or find us on LinkedIn