In Customer Success, you benefit from ensuring that your customers are getting value from your product/service. Throughout our conversation, Adam stressed the importance of supporting your customers and guiding them towards value.
The more users you can get to be big advocates and users of your platform, all those people take you into their next company, you get that second-order revenue. I think there's this massive untapped flywheel impact that can come from that.
Throughout his years in Customer Success, Adam has led the growth of a team from 14 to 150 people, and revenue from $15 million to $200 million. With all of that experience to support him, Adam shares:
1. As a Customer Success professional, you are responsible for making sure your customers are getting maximum value from your product or service:
Are our customers using our products and taking advantage of our services in the way they should be, to maximize value?
The answer to that question is always going to be “no, not 100% of them”, so how do we achieve that? I would say in my case, what I've experienced in the past is there tend to be two friction points for Customer Success. Usually, one is with Sales, and one is with Product. The one with Sales is typically around right-fit customers, expectation setting, all that kind of stuff. The one with Product that I think is the worst kind is when you have a buggy product, and the customer experience is kind of crappy. And that's a tough place to be for a CSM.
2. But value is not enough — you must introduce your customers to your differentiated feature functionality:
My very strong opinion is that the most important thing is the outcome, which is net retention, the ultimate measurement.
The one that I would focus on if there's just one [metric] would be the most important leading indicator, which is tied to adoption or engagement. More specifically, is the customer using your differentiated feature functionality?
For two reasons. One, that should be your biggest value point and two, that's your stickiness feature functionality. And if you can get your customers using your sticky differentiated functionality they're less likely to leave you. And so it would be something tied to engagement.
3. And don't forget that your Product is not an island — to win, play ‘business coach’ to your customers:
In some companies, you don't need a Customer Success Manager, right? A lot of product-led growth companies don't really need that. So, in cases where you do need a Customer Success team, I think it's all about helping the customer maximize the use of the product for their use case. It's about challenging them. This isn't easy. We have to sort of push-pull and drag customers sometimes for their benefit. If it was easy, they'd do it by themselves or be able to do it by themselves.
The way I think about it is that customers come to us to help them solve a problem better or faster than they could do on their own. It's our job to help them do that, hold them accountable and push them, just like we should ideally do with our own employees.
I think they want to solve it, but depending on the market and the type of product you have—take Customer Success as an example. Customer Success might be new to a lot of companies, or it's at different stages of maturity. And so you really have to help them understand, what does it look like? How do you build a program? That takes education, it takes relationship building. In many cases, it’s focused more on helping them navigate their own business than it is "Here's how to use the software."
Thank you Adam for reminding us that it's all about customer value!