Growing your customer’s relationship by rebuilding the CS philosophy


3 min read
26 May

In this interview, Adam Joseph, Founder of CSM Insight and CustomerSuccessManager.com, shares his philosophy on how to grow your customer relationship based on trust and shared goals.



Growing relationship, in the right way

I asked Adam, how he found his way to CS. He said, his journey to CS began in 2003 after leaving a Product Manager role at Reuters following a round of redundancies.

“This gives me the opportunity to step back and consider what role I should take next (or go after), to which industry, and company”. Eventually, he came across with Avention (formerly known as OneSource), and joined the company.

When I joined Avention, the business model had just shifted from CD to online, yet the customer success role doesn’t exist yet“. I didn't know at the time (the role of Business Application Consultant which I was hired) was an embryonic CSM role”.

This Business Application Consultant role managed an account base and helped these customers understand what it was they needed to do to get value from using our system.

I quickly realized (if the customer gets value when they are using our product in the right way), then the likelihood of not just renewing but also growing our relationship.

I left in 2015 and joined another SaaS business as Director of Services, and fast forward for the last 15 months, I have now run my own customer success related business – CSM Insight. This involves providing Customer Success consulting services and running a number of VOC programs, predominantly employing the win-lost churn analysis.

Asked Adam, what’s the indication of having a healthy CS organization? Understanding the thoughts (or sentiments) of your customer is really important and key indicator because they help the organization to understand – IF:

  1. The existing purchases are working and aligned with the business structure/framework
  2. There’s a need to tweak, change or develop so customers can find value on their investment.

Having this structure or business framework – every organization can revisit at their former decisions to analyze (and compare) data specifics: what motivates their customers, why do they churn, why do they downgrade, why do they stay, or why do they grow.

The important metrics to look for (and measure)

Asked Adam, what’s the most important metric CS organization should look (or watch) closely. “Net retention.” However, he cautioned, there are a number of ways that you can track business performance, some of them were:

  1. Financial basis (ARR, MRR)
  2. Churn
  3. NPS
  4. CSAT
  5. Adoption (type of Usage)
  6. Referenceable customer
  7. Onboarding

“In my experience working with my clients, there are five most common challenges CSM (or business unit) has to manage and deal with conscientiously. These are the following:

  • Different profiles and persona. Sometimes you have to make a difficult decision, and you have to communicate those to your customers at all levels.

  • Overloaded. CSMs are managing multiple of accounts and diverse action plans which require a further interval of time and exclusive attention.
     
  • Apathy. Customers are always busy, had their own jobs to do, had their own critical things to do, CSMs agony is providing a meaningful experience to the customers.
     
  • Fear. Bothering customers, especially when a contract is about to expire or in some instances - communicating critical changes on the accounts/platforms/services.
     
  • Increasing customer adoption and business value. Helping customers find value or establishing the value of the product they’ve purchased


Matching your target customers’ expectations

All companies knew that customers are moving targets, their expectations shift and evolve over time. What is worth keeping and long-term value is determined by the customer.

Asked Adam, how should an organization ensures that they’re providing value, either on the first interaction and/ or as a business partner?

“We don't want to start from ground zero, we want to take all the information (taken and collected by Sales, Marketing and CS) and it must be documented into one cohesive system, and most importantly, the success metrics are crossing over and everyone in the company should take responsibility for delivering the results the customer wants”.

Everyone in the company should take responsibility for delivering the results the customer wants.

There are 4 things business needs to consider when developing a customer success milestone:

  1. How do customers see success? Does it differ from their peers?
  2. What is onboarding in customer’s perspective?
  3. What is an early value looks like to them, does it affect the long term growth?
  4. What the client needs to be accountable for (to reach their desired outcome)?

Tie these four key areas directly to the customer’s goals. While it may be easier to measure and evaluate the effort, remember that your objective is to deliver results to customers. In retrospect, customers buy results they value.

Customers buy results they value. Bottom line - no matter how good the customer success in the organization, it is critical that the organization has a good understanding of the Customer Success Journey and guides customers through that to achieve their objectives.

Adam sums it up, customer success is a philosophy, not just a name of the team.


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