In this interview, Scott Renna, Global Director of Client Success at Cofense, shares his design thinking process by understanding the customer journey and recognizing ways to empower customers to maximize the value of their membership with Cofense.
Stop focusing on trying to become the top vendor in your space. Instead, focus on delivering value as your number one priority, and the rest will fall into place naturally.
The Epicenter of CS: meeting business goal and growth
Scott's career has allowed him to work on solving highly technical and sophisticated IT security challenges. With over 15 years in the security space: handling intrusions, threat mitigation, and responding to the incidents of APT (Advanced Persistent Threat), he realizes that just as important as knowing your stuff is how you communicate it to your stakeholders/customers.
When we think about CS – it is about someone who truly cares and values someone's time and strives to give more than that person expects. It is the kind of vendor or partner we strive to be every day through our interactions and work with our customers.
"Service greater than oneself is a core belief of our CS team." Delivering a great customer experience is a crucial part of many global and leading companies today. You are here for your customers, not the other way around.
At the end of the day, how customers feel when they engage with a vendor and how they recognize results are the strongest (or determining) predictor of the value derived from the relationship.
It is a continuous and evolving pursuit heavily focused on customer growth and accomplishing their business goals (or preferred outcome). Scott echoed— the relationship does not end when issues are done and resolved. Or the contract is renewed. Instead, it is a lifetime contract without expiration.
The fundamentals of success: measuring it the right way
There are various KPIs on how to measure the success of a CS team. Scott cautioned, before assigning which metrics to use (or apply), he recommends thinking thoroughly if any of these metrics are aligned (or appropriate) to the overall business goals and objectives.
Otherwise, your metrics will lack impact. These metrics you establish must deliver value to your business. Otherwise, measuring success by gut feeling will lead to incomplete and possibly inaccurate conclusions.
With the right KPIs in play, you can use them to identify areas of both risk and opportunity to help your organization simultaneously head off risk and nurture opportunities.
Making decisions and targeting actions by gut feeling alone is not a successful business strategy. Shown here is a sample of current considerations and metrics used by the Cofense Client Success team:
Measuring success is not just about putting metrics together. It is about designing metrics that support the overall goals of the company. It must align CS actions with key company objectives.
A consensus on how customer health is measured requires collective agreement from everyone in the organization. Doing so will help to gain full adoption and acceptance within your organization.
Pieces of advice in hiring CS professionals
I believe in never settling and always looking to improve and innovate. Good enough is not as good as better. Scott is a supporter and an avid reader of Simon Sinek and shares his view on servant leadership. Leadership is not just by title, and the best ideas can come from any person at any level.
I want to hear their input, know their thoughts, and explain why this is the best solution or why we have to make this change or action.
One of the wrong assumptions in CS I have heard is that CS people talk to customers and are professional coddlers. An exceptional CS team is about service and proactive actions, heading off concerns, and bringing value to their customers every day. They know how to listen to their customers and enjoy helping to address challenging problems with creative solutions.
Depending on the business needs and requirements, a CS team may require someone to have previous experience in the field. However, I do not believe it must always be a requirement to succeed in Client Success or as a CSM.
We have hired folks to come from our team's service industry, whether retail or restaurants. It is about people with experience in working with people. Personality is a factor in success, along with the persistence to always continue working to either solve problems or take your customers to the next level of success.
Everyone is capable of learning tech or industry-specific knowledge. What we cannot teach is sincere and genuine empathy. Those who find successful CS pathways take the time to hear how their customer is feeling.
As the old saying goes, people may not remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.
The pillars of success
In pursuit of customer advocacy, it is equally important to understand that success means something different to each customer. As we have evolved our methods and processes, we have realized that Client Success is, in actuality, Client Science.
Traditional CS is just the beginning. Client Science is about blending data-driven analytics and observations along with human elements of service and customer sentiment. Metrics matter, and so does how a customer feels like a member of your service.
As a company and a brand, you must consider your customers' sentiments as they interact with various groups across your organization. It helps you recognize areas for improvement and highlight areas of excellence. It is also critical to have a dedicated Client Sentiment Manager responsible for disseminating sentiment across its stakeholders.
Sentiment without a plan of action or forum to share it is just data – it becomes more powerful and influential when you operationalize it.
The customer relationship's longevity is grounded in the brand experience and business value that a client recognizes measured against what they expected.
Maintaining lasting professional and genuine connections with your customers is key to your organization's success. The goal should be to offer an experience that provides for more than just a vendor/customer relationship; instead, it is about an authentic and value-based partnership.