Making an impact during these unprecedented times (Part 2): Elaine Cobb, Vice President of Customer Success at Coveo


3 min read
23 Feb


We live in a time when technologies are changing rapidly. These changes are transforming and shaping business perceptions of serving their customers. Conversely, it also changes the way customers think, act, and choose partners to meet their needs and challenges.

Continuing my interview with Elaine Cobb, Vice President of Customer Success at Coveo, we talked about the challenges the organization faces, the strategic value of CS, and some ideas to rise above this challenge (pandemic). You can read the first interview here:

Challenges to achieving success

Now, more than ever, it is necessary to cultivate and develop the skill of being resilient. It is the ability to step back from challenges, understand the impact it brings, and quickly recover from a difficult situation that is needed. 

This type of perseverance within an organization will help strengthen relationships [with customers] and drive impact while delivering success and timely service. 

Managing customer expectations and success has become a tremendous challenge today, and it is associated with uncertainties and risks. Consider the following reasons:

  1. If the product/software implementation is done poorly or does not resonate with a positive customer experience, customers may eventually seek alternatives. 
  2. If business promises are not delivered and fulfilled, it will motivate customers to reconsider or withdraw from the partnership.
  3. If the business value does not meet what customers expect and the cost of maintaining and rolling out new features is higher than what they get in return, they will not continue with the product/service.
  4. If the business value is right, but their (customer) experience is painful and overly cumbersome, they may seek solutions or companies that are easier to work with.
  5. Customers are always looking for something new or better. It can be in the form of simplifying operations, gaining loyalty or recognition, enhancing business value, or increasing domain or product expertise. 
  6. Customer predispositions are changing. This pandemic subserviently adds to the existing challenges businesses need to solve.

Let's face it - working with customers can be incredibly challenging as well as highly rewarding. We need to think hard and long since times are changing and becoming unpredictable. Companies seeking to emerge in a stronger position must: 

  1. Align business strategies to meet and solve customer challenges.
  2. Understand how the current market affects customers and what implications or risks are associated with these changes.
  3. Incorporate these changes to be part of their contingency programs or initiatives.
  4. Ensure that they provide multiple ways on how customers can share/provide their feedback.
  5. Be more emphatic with a human first focus. 

Investing in CS

While we are dealing with all the possibilities that this pandemic could bring, some customers have become less involved while others are more adamant. Their priorities have changed and grown into different areas of the business. As their priorities change, so do their expectations.

Companies that invest in customer success are poised to win big. Failing to do so represents business risk as gaining new business has become more challenging for many. Naturally, when there is uncertainty in the economy new sales can slow. In crisis situations, customers may not want to commit to new subscription contracts. In many companies, the existing customer base may be the best opportunity for growth, at least initially.

Understanding customers, their needs, challenges, and what success means will help companies (1) forge brand loyalty or connectivity, (2) strengthen brand value, (3) foster advocacy, and (4) grow the customer base. 

This ends my second interview with Elaine. Please stay tuned to Part 3. We will discuss how she ensures that her team meets the needs and challenges of their customers. Also, the other roles she created at Coveo to serve their customers. 

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