In this interview, Jerry Leisure, CEO at Officium Labs, talks about the significance of having genuine business relationships as it enables the personal connection to grow, foster brand loyalty, and strengthen customer affection (emotional affinity) on your product (or SaaS offering).
Measuring Customer Success
I had an engaging conversation with Jerry. We both agreed that customer success does not end and begin with CSMs alone. Instead, it is a collective and shared responsibility of everyone (in the organization).
Jerry pointed out that before the companies can improve how they engage (or build relationships) with customers, they need to understand their customers and their behavior patterns.
I believe that is the primary goal, and the primary focus, to make sure that (your) customer is successful and finding continuous value with the product or service they have purchased, explains Jerry.
Customer success is not just about helping customers when they have a problem, but ensuring that their pain points are recognized and adequately cared for, and meet their expectations (or business needs).
One of the things I have felt of importance is how do you keep up and manage the relationship with the customers. The biggest challenge (I have observed) in startup and enterprise companies, is that customer needs are evolving, and it is hard to predict what those changes are and when it will happen.
There are several reasons why a customer may not adopt your product or service. It could be they have had an internal turnover, change in budgets, change in priorities, etc. With that said, it is equally important to feel comfortable addressing these challenges with clients; so that you, as their success resource, can help them find the relevant and valuable next-steps.
Jerry clarifies it would be helpful to have frameworks or playbooks in place to help navigate recurring conversations and help facilitate ongoing discussions.
Focus on the future with clarity
Customer success is not only built on the title of CSMs. Instead, it is from the [business] value, they have received and enabled through the ability, expertise, and skill of CSMs.
Remember, there is no retention or renewal if the customer is not finding value, or they are not adopting the product or service. Customers realize or achieve success when a customer believes you are (become) essential. In other words, customer perception towards your brand (or service) is a must-have vs. nice to have.
Organizations need to understand that (customer) success is not just the responsibility of one function in an organization (CS, Support, Sales, or Marketing) but a philosophy that driven by the leadership team and becomes the spirit of the company.
Culture of dependency and establishing success
Jerry shared a piece of advice for any company wanting to build a Customer Success team. These are the critical pieces (he suggested) to consider and think through:
It is okay not to boil the ocean in the beginning. Start small and build your success over time. Build it up slowly. As you go on the journey and make mistakes, it will not become a cluster bomb issue; instead— it will become a learning experience, shares Jerry.
Essential traits CS must have
I asked Jerry to share the top skills he is s looking for CSMs or abilities he thinks is essential for CSMs. Jerry says the biggest one is communication. It is critically important that you are communicating with your customer and well-aligned with their goals and business priorities.
Second is organization - especially if you are working with different stakeholders. Every company out there is different in how they work with customers; however, we need to make sure that we are working very closely with our champions internally to make sure that we are working towards the same goals.
Third is empathy. Building relationships is a way that you can open an honest conversation about the things that are challenging for them, and where their pain points are. Fourth is emotional intelligence, where we can stay self-aware and be in a place where we can respond rather than react.
Another important is a thirst for learning and a natural curiosity, somebody that knows how to ask the right questions from the customers, to make sure that they are digging deep into what the challenges are, and know-how to help to find a solution.
I appreciated getting Jerry's insights, hope to talk further in a future interview.