I feel like there is a human element that we will not be able to take out and away from Customer Success. We've all experienced those interactions, where all we want to do is get on the phone with somebody to solve that challenge that we're having at that moment.

The present is human, but tech helps us more each day. In the future—it will skyrocket. Sabrina Ronningen sat down with us to share what those coming times will look like.

1. Today's ROI is defined by customers:

We were all doing this role, a lot of us, and we didn't even realize it or officially name it ‘Customer Success’. To have the role coined Customer Success was a breakthrough for folks like myself in our industry.

And over time, I've seen it evolve in a way that we're starting to think less about ourselves, right? Allow me to better define ‘ourselves’ here. I'm saying we're thinking less about what we may think we know leads to a successful partnership based on our organizational capability and more about what our customers and client partners perceive as real ROI and impact on the way they do or think about business. In Sabrina’s new role as Head of Customer Success at Praxis Labs, she’s effectively rebranded her team from Customer Success to Customer Impact. She feels the term “impact” better grasps the ongoing pursuit of results and the effect they have on each partnership.

We’re now open to our customers as external parties to define ROI in partnership with us. I think the concept of customer-centricity as an ethos is surfacing within organizations more often over the last three years, which is amazing.

2. Predictive support from AI will transform CS work:

I know ‘AI’ as a term usually sounds like jargon—one of those techie terms. Right now and historically, most of our measurements in Customer Success have been incredibly manual and self reported by CSMs.

This idea touches on the customer intelligence movement that we're seeing in the last two years, in the way we go about data analysis in CS. AI and data analytics support for prediction is our future. The ability to predict churn beyond CSM sentiment, forecast the direction of the market, deeply understand the needs of your clients based on trends… All based on real Customer Success data. This is the power of AI for CS.

We're better about partnering with Rev or CS Ops. They are incredibly bright data scientists pulling together some of these correlations, but do not always have the bandwidth to test every hypothesis or do advanced correlations. There will come a time when there are platforms that are doing that advanced work for us. They'll provide multi-dimensional correlations that can paint a full picture of what is actually a growth or churn profile for a client. 

How do you know what customers are going to grow based on how they're interacting with you and your teams? How do you know what customers are most likely to churn? As it stands today, we’re leveraging light operational data to know how to resource these different client profiles without a full understanding of how this truly impacts our company burn rates. AI will enable CS teams and operations to become tighter, leaner, and more effectively service our customers.

We've leaned into Customer Success sentiment to help drive these motions, as well as some standard adoption and usage metrics to help tell that story for us. There's going to be a time when technology and software will be able to support us in such a way that CS will become incredibly predictive. When I say incredibly… I'm saying seeing and predicting the future of business health six months to even a year out based on trends and what we know about our customers. Considering this, customer intelligence is at the core of our future, business success, and Customer Success as a function.

3. There are uniquely human qualities that define incredible CSMs:‍

I have yet to meet a single Customer Success Manager that isn't willing to go above and beyond expectations with internal or external collaboration to bring client needs to conclusion or to settle on documented results within their partnerships. Customer Success Managers are passionate about experiences and inspiring joy with their customers, which makes our role uniquely human. 

CS leadership often talks about customer stories, outlining the impact that we're providing within our partnerships, but we don't openly discuss the CSM ‘secret sauce’... the profile and the person that's helping to drive it. I just want to give a shout-out to all Customer Success Managers out there because they're the kindest, most driven, organized, and skills-smart people that contribute to SaaS businesses. As a CSM, you have to really be educated across multiple facets to be good at the job. From light data analysis, reporting, product development, technical (sometimes coding), facilitation/public speaking, marketing and positioning… a CSM touches it all.

Thanks Sabrina for sharing your wisdom, passion, and foresight with us!

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