Growing your customer’s relationship by rebuilding the CS philosophy


6 min read
15 Jul

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 relationships in the right way.

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

"This allows me to step back and consider what role I should take next (or go after), to which industry, and company." Eventually, he came across 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 ". 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 they needed to benefit from using our system.

I quickly realized (if the customer gets value when they are using our product in the right way), then renew and grow 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 customer success related business – CSM Insight. This involves providing Customer Success consulting services and running several 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 a significant 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 in their investment.

Having this structure or business framework – every organization can revisit 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 several ways that you can track business performance; some of them were:

  1. Financial basis (ARR, MRR)
  2. Churn
  3. NPS
  4. CSAT
  5. Adoption (a 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 manage multiple accounts and various action plans, which require a further interval of time and exclusive attention.
  •  Apathy. Customers are always busy, had their jobs to do, had their critical things to do. CSMs agony is providing a meaningful experience to the customers.
  •  Fear. They were 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. The customer determines what is worth keeping and long-term value.

Asked Adam, how should an organization ensure that they're providing value, either on the first interaction and/ or 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 four things a 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 from the customer's perspective?
  3. What is an initial 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 the outcomes they value.

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

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


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