What you’ll start to see is CS, rather than being a division within a company, will be an organizational philosophy that drips down into all of the other departments.

If you ask Benji, Customer Success is best played as a team sport - and best initiated as a player-coach.

Here at Agora, I was the first hire for CS. I came in at an executive level as the Head of Customer Success. And the idea was “Benji, you’re going to do this job for six months, and then you figure out what’s needed and you build your team accordingly.”

Which I would recommend that to any organization that is looking to build out their organizational structure across the board. That’s how we built out all of our teams. Head of Sales started out, he was the person selling the product. I started out, I was the one supporting it, and in on-boarding it, and renewing it. Our Head of Product came in and was our only Product Manager and has been building out a Product Team around that. So on, and so forth, throughout the org. So I’d recommend that from an org standpoint, because nobody’s going to know what the org needs more than [the person doing it].

Having handled all sorts of B2B books of business, and now spearheading what he calls "cradle to grave (or infinity!)" account management at Agora Systems, Benji shares:

1. Customer Success = Customer Experience + Customer Outcomes:

"[...] Customer Success as a sum product of Customer Experience and Customer Outcomes. So Customer Experience is the combined experience of my product experience, the support experience and the on-boarding experience. And the Outcomes are a combination of efficiency and ROI [...]

Because I mentioned product experience, that’s a combination of how were you trained on the product? And how were you brought to view the product? But also, how great of an experience is the product provide? And how clear is it?"

Theoretically, products should be so great that Customer Success isn’t necessary, right?

"But in lieu of the perfect product that reads your mind, you do need some kind of synthesis between the Customer Success team and the Product team to provide that shared great Customer Experience. And then on the other side of the Customer Outcomes of the ROI and is that ROI being delivered efficiently and effectively—the primary driver of our life is going to be, “does the product do what they signed up for it to do?”"

2. ROI without Perceived ROI is... no ROI:

"[...] as we all know, the product could be delivering in exactly the way it was designed to but the customer doesn’t know. There is ROI, but there’s no perceived ROI. It’s the Customer Success team’s job to make sure the customer knows what they’re getting. And to make sure that we know as an organization if the customer isn’t getting that ROI, so we can convey that back internally and figure out how we can deliver on the ROI the customer was expecting."

So a long time—I have examples from every company I’ve been at—but a really good one is when I personally was Account Manager at cars.com a long time ago. We had this product that was an inbound lead generating product. So you pay per lead that comes in. This is a stupid example, but it’s the difference between Product and CS. So the inbound leads would come in and they pay I think it was $50 per lead that they get. And I got a call, it was like, “Hey, I’m getting charged like 300 bucks for something and I don’t even know what’s happening.”"

And I had to explain to this person, your lead comes in, you have to call that person. And then if you call that person, you can make the deal.

3. Churn isn't just a CS problem, it's everyone's problem:

[...] we can take all the learnings that those of us in the Customer Success organization have been doing over the last decade, which is saying like, “Hey, when somebody churns, that’s not Customer Success’ fault, it’s everybody’s fault and let’s figure out how this happened. We just heard about it and attempted to save it.”

Let’s figure out how we can spread that out. When I was running a Retention team, that was the biggest problem. It was like, “We had low churn this month, good job Retention team!” It’s like no, no. We’re the last resort."

“Low churn this month, good job Sales team eight months ago! Good job Product team for the past two quarters for making a better experience.”

"And so as a result, I would say when you’re building your comp plans, and your bonus plans, never build a CS comp plan around gross or net churn unless you’re also doing the same thing for Sales and for Product."

Massive thanks to Benji for dropping knowledge!

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