In this interview, Jackie Golden, CEO at LandNExpand and author of "Effective customer Success Execution" and the new updated version "Green 2 Golden," talks about the importance of creating (and delivering) high-value outcomes.
In this competitive SaaS landscape, you need to develop a long-term roadmap (what makes a customer successful) and stay engaged (involved continuously in your customer's domain and industry) in such a way that you can identify (or recognize) high-value outcomes for your customers.
Background and Career
Golden started as a financial analyst. She recalls, 'The first ten years of her professional career, she worked in the Aerospace industry.' With the advent of client-server solutions, it helped her shift to the tech industry, which led her to Hyperion.
With Hyperion, she held the role of Strategic Account Manager. In this role, she ensured that all customers and (business) users were highly successful in using Hyperion solutions to modernize their Corporate Performance Management capabilities.
Golden points out, 'If you know how the solutions work and their advantages — it will enable you to identify unmet needs and create high-value outcomes, stickiness, and when to propose (or introduce) new technology for the team to embrace.
After Hyperion, she worked at several software companies, managing Professional Services, Education, and Support. These hard-earned experiences allowed Golden to develop a CS framework that includes pre-sales through long-term support. By the time she joined Workfront and Socrata, she already knew what it takes to build a successful SaaS organization.
As a Chief Customer Officer, she points out you only have a short period of time with a SaaS solution to create high-value outcomes. If you don't build (or create that value) within the first 90 to 120 days, you'll find yourself in a rat race, especially at renewal time.
It is easy to replace a vendor in SaaS if customers don't see the continuity of that value, which they thought they were buying, or a roadmap to the vision.
When you help your customers build value in their own business, and they become highly successful, your company becomes a strategic partner and valued asset (to your customers). Now, you will enjoy long term success and longevity of partnerships.
How to survive in the mindset of rip and replace?
What does it mean to the SaaS business? How does it help the company stay focused on forging healthy relationships rather than valuing a commodity (or pushing the products)?
The rip and replace mindset is precisely what the name implies: replacing an old, complicated, unreliable system with a modern, fully functional, flexible, and responsive changing business needs.
I asked Golden how this has affected the business in delivering a well-rounded experience? Golden answers, 'It is critical because the focus of the conversation right now is centered on the value and businesses need to ensure that the return on investment outweighs the cost the customers have paid for.'
Organizations also realize that the value of customer experience is directly connected to the new operating mindset embedded in the SaaS business model (see the five merits below). In other words, 'It is not just about top-notch service but the actual value derived from partnerships.'
If organizations can (1) deliver on the brand promises (2) meet the demands and expectations of their customers (3) provide high-quality service (4) offer high-value tangible results and timely support (5) guarantee success, Golden believes that the 'rip and replace mindset will be fizzled out (in the conversation) since customers have more reasons to stay than leaving the partnerships.
She also believes, 'having a Customer Success team teaches the business to become more competitive and laser-focused on customer's needs.' In her latest book Green 2 Golden, she shares a few practical strategies in building and nurturing customers.
Providing Top-Level Visibility
You'll be surprised to know that NOT all green customers or accounts equate to a healthy account. Golden suggests, 'organizations must know the story (i.e., challenges, issues on their industry, changes affecting their business) for each of their customers.' Because when they do, they can push for a larger initiative.
Golden explains, 'Just because customers don't raise any issues or the NPS score is commendable,' doesn't always mean customers should be considered in a green state of health. Organizations should look (or considered) other metrics and business value and ROI validation before being confident in their health scores.
In other words, customers could seem to be moving in the right direction, but it doesn't mean real progress and value are being realized to justify the continued investment.
Golden cautioned, 'you'll be surprised to learn (strong emphasis!) that they're already working with other vendors for the simple reason that you're no longer delivering the high-value outcomes (expectations from your organization). She emphasizes, 'organizations should be attached to high-value problems and deliver high-value outcomes.'
Where's the organization's focus should be?
Every organization is unique; however, the customer's relationship has to be at the forefront of operations. Hence, organizations should focus on delivering high-value outcomes, demonstrating a return on investment, communicating the business value and benefits, and why they should keep investing in your product or service.
There are various ways to measure customer experience and sentiments. One way to find it out is through different metrics (i.e., NPS, CSAT). Golden says, 'Metrics tell both sides of the story.' However, each metric measures specific areas to improve and needs improvement.
One thing to note about metrics is they're just a guide, and it helps to identify some lagging indicators. The key is to understand where the gaps exist and the opportunities to solve the customers' needs.
Depending on where your customers are (on their success journey), start asking questions to get to a more actionable state that you can look at or reference later. You can also build a top-down approach where you can identify the key drivers to success.
So, when things aren't following inside the range (on the initial plan), you'd quickly identify what's working and what is not working and develop a plan to drive the customer back to the high-value outcomes on the roadmap.
Golden says, 'the success in partnerships helps customers define their own realistic goals, steer them away from low-value outcomes, and be the guidepost to help them stay focused on solving high-value problems with high-value outcomes for them to achieve their vision.'
About Jackie Golden
She helps companies to drive business success profitably for high growth companies with a unique customer experience-focused approach. She is the author of Green to Golden and Expert on Customer Experience best practices.