Building a Customer Success Brand through Proactive Customer Education

5 min read
26 May

In this interview, Steve McDougal, VP Global Head of Customer Success and Experience at Dynamo Software /Preqin Solutions, shares his insights on why relationships are won or lost during key moments.

Delivering a remarkable customer experience is not just about maintaining and keeping the relationship healthy, but giving customers the time to reflect and think through whether the brand promise has been kept or delivered. 

A new way of doing business

In the B2B and SaaS economy, commercial success lies in the strength of the relationships created (or developed) with the customers. In any relationship, two things are obvious: relationships are lost or won in key moments.

Not all experiences in a relationship are created equal. Organizations have to evolve from a product focus to an outcome- and an experience-based mindset. For so many years, the business has gotten "lost in the weeds," looking for the market to fill.

"The point that many missed is to have a conversation with their target customers to understand their needs, goals, and intentions." The "Voice of the Customers" is more than just a database of names and contact information."

With the SaaS business model's rise, organizations ensure that the culture of service and delivering "AHA" moments are recognized and rewarded.

What is evident in the subscription economy - is that the companies that win are those that obsess about customers and create the conditions where customer feedback is the building block for success and uphold each interaction dynamically across the customer's journey.

Forward-thinking companies ensure that customer feedback is shared throughout the organization's internal touchpoints to create a continuous feedback loop to fuel innovation in product and service delivery.

Organizations need to develop a culture of service and "AHA" moments, where the relationship is recognized and rewarded. Steve shares vital considerations for making this happen:

  1. Having a clear understanding of the client's business objectives and strategic direction.
  2. Tailor the journey and experiences to particular circumstances and desired intentions.
  3. Track performance goals and metrics and adjust them accordingly.
  4. Build personal relationships with stakeholders (internal and external).
  5. Proactive management that anticipates and resolves issues whenever it arises or re-emerges.
  6. Decide what goals or opportunities will be pursued, what resources are available, and who will perform designated tasks.
  7. Establish regular checkpoints and feedback sessions with customers and internal "journey owners."
  8. Be honest and straight with your customers about which aspects of their feedback will be acted on and which will not be.

Despite clear evidence that customers want a stronger, more transparent relationship with the brands they partner with (or work together), the trend toward "proactive customer education" is still the outspoken "human touch" in the B2B or SaaS world.

"Brand experience is the heart of the relationship formed during critical moments, and that made the difference between success and failure." Gone are the days when you could find a need and fill it because you were the only one in the market.

The heart of the experience is a relationship

As a CS leader, you have this excellent opportunity to sit and participate in understanding the business challenges and requirements from start to finish.

"I strongly believe having a meaningful conversation centered on the customer's interest, business priority, often, reduces the business friction, and in the process proves to the customers that the business relationship is worth having."

Similarly, organizations that are clear on their target experience at each stage of the life cycle can define their measurement and ensure their delivery consistency.

When a relationship is established on shared values, culture, and priorities, that is the "business relationship" that is difficult to break. All kinds of relationships are always viewed in parallel between how human relationships are formed and how business relationships develop. Meaning, there's no kind of business partnership without sharing and partaking in each other's successes and failures.

The intention, outcome, and experience should be a win-win for both parties. "If you want your brand to win in this consolidated market, then the first step is telling them (customers) everything they need to know about who you are and what makes you tick."

The relationship affects the business model and its maturity

Companies need to be more agile, quicker to react, and more effective. Yet, the sea change for B2B and B2C businesses are fundamentally transforming what "customer success" means to every customer. Similarly, customer needs have evolved from a nice-to-have to a necessity.

Since a relationship is the central tenet of today's market landscape, transparency and trust are essential human components to building a successful brand and platform.

A business relationship should be as flexible as possible to prevent unnecessary brand complexity —incorporating the same "human touch" across multiple channels and touchpoints.

Case to point: (brand) transparency can be painful and uncomfortable—particularly for owning up to a mistake or communicating an objectionable result—yet, this is the best way to build long-lasting relationships with your customers.

A business relationship should be as flexible as possible to prevent unnecessary brand complexity—incorporating the same "human touch" across multiple channels and touchpoints.

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