In this interview, Brian Dudley, VP (Customer Success at Bombora) shares his ideal Customer Success blueprint methodologies, and why it is necessary to operate within these frameworks to drive business growth.
Customer Success is about more than having a strategy. To truly succeed, is to create a new way of thinking, connecting, and collaborating with your customers. Bottom line, the ability to stay agile and adapt to evolving customer needs is what solidifies and ultimately validates the relationships that have the greatest potential to prosper.
The birth of new operating mindsets
At a time of unprecedented change in the business landscape, so too has the operating mindset changed. From the size to the urgency of priorities, customer expectations seemingly change at the same rate as the technology itself.
Today’s most innovative companies cannot fulfill customer needs, by simply creating a technology platform or recurring services. Customers recognize the value within the fortified relationships behind the tools that they use daily.
Dudley suggests four new operating mindsets. This new mindsets offer a consistency to ensure a seamless experience across all communications, channels and business strategies.
These new operating mindsets include:
Customer experience as a design process
Now that customers are choosing how and when they will engage with a brand’s commercial efforts, an organization wanting to capture their customer’s’ sentiments should start by understanding the gap between, “helping customers achieve their (business) goals” and accomplishing it with, “the use of their platform or product”.
This timeless truth is forcing companies to reconsider their approach, from understanding the business pain points to designing customer experiences that meet a single customer’s expectations.
It is increasingly important not to focus in CX for the sake of creating something that serves sales, Dudley explains, “don’t build a customer experience program for the sake of customer experience”, rather, it should reflect the voice of the customers as business partners and collaborators.
To achieve true customer-centricity, we should build an experience around these key factors to drive engagement:
1. Put customers at the heart of the plan
2. Keep focused on individual customers’ needs and successes
3. Provide feedback and customer satisfaction insights
4. Achieve specific business outcomes for their customers
5. Keep up with the brand promise
6. Resolve issues and product questions proactively
Depending on the true level of customer-centricity a CX method exhibits, the result can go one of two ways: account growth or abandoned customers.
The latter outcome comes as a result of customers feeling alienated and undervalued. On the other side of the coin, a customer-driven CX will introduce a new standard to your organization, and the results will speak for themselves. Bottom line, your customers are holding your entire organization to a new standard. It’s one that they expect from you, otherwise, they’ll find it elsewhere.
Customer Success, a new discipline aside from just strategy
Understanding and addressing your customer’s expectations is the foundation of building trust.
Therefore, it is no longer enough for the organization to be unconditionally accommodating and open-hearted to all customer’s requests. Although appreciating these requests are necessary, it’s more important to take control and engage customers into meaningful conversation.
This means asking pointed questions around goals such as, ‘What metrics would you like to achieve from this quarter or next? Or what changes are you hoping to see once we have fully developed X? Or even questions around what they are passionate about in their work.
The closer you can tie these customer goals to business practices, the happier your customers will grow. Remember - companies are competing not only in their market segments and profits but also in the values and principles they live by and practice.
Having a good product is an arrow in your quiver (recipe of growth in the organization) but it’s not the only magic bullet (or the only thing the customer will ever need to be successful). As far as a good product is concerned, there are always several competing options in the eyes and minds of the customers. Yet it ultimately does not truly matter to the customer who is winning and losing in the “product category”?
A changed and evolved way of thinking
What does customer success mean to an overall organization and why is it necessary to business growth? An organization’s objectives should always be customer-focused. Having a consistent focus on building personal relationships with the customers “is not just about one team or one function or even one individual responsibility”.
It is the overarching objectives that start from the CEO down to every employee in the organization.
Keep in mind if you’re implementing changes to become more customer-centric, then you need to make sure that all employees and departments are aligned with the same goals and purpose.
On the contrary, while the business processes inform people (in the organization) what they can or can’t do, the culture of the organization tells people what they should do. Therefore, “what we choose to measure is a window into our values, and into what we value”.
The new business imperative and flywheel for success
A key to delivering memorable interactions with customers is to be understanding and adapt to where customers are within their lifecycle. Tailor conversations and touchpoints to where the customer is currently: are they in the initial stage, the growth stage or the mature stage? Perhaps, are they exhibiting behaviors that indicate that they may leave?
“If you put the customers’ interest at the heart of your success, you can look through the lens at the customer’s journey and see the real gaps and where the opportunities exist.” Fundamentally, all businesses want to ensure that customers or shareholders alike are successful.
Perhaps most importantly, ask yourself – “In a business era where the relationship is the new determination of success, can you articulate it without pushing the envelope too much?
Or, how do you know that you’ve consistently delivered the best experience in the minds of your customers”?
To answer the above questions – it is imperative for the organization to redefine the business relationship with its customers, and the key to forging that partnership begins with a shared understanding of their expectations and desired outcomes.
The right customer experience will help a business thrive
The changing landscape of business has created an environment where only customer-centric organizations will survive. By personalizing the experience for each potential customer and understanding the nuances of the customer journey, companies stand to enhance customer relations and drive significant ways to deliver a well-rounded experience to meet the ever-increasing expectations of customers.
About Brian Dudley
Results-driven executive, entrepreneur, self-starter and creative thinker; An accomplished and expert in long-term strategic partnerships and revenue generation. He developed and implemented demand generation programs that drive new business (via direct or channel sales).