Deciphering Customer Success: Making every move count

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The impact a good customer success strategy and structure can have on an organization is monumental. Anticipating and understanding your customer needs and effectively communicating with the customer is absolutely critical in today’s customer driven world. But how do we do all of that effectively and efficiently? How do you create a customer centric culture? How do maintain those relationships at scale? What can data tell you about your customers? How does customer success fit into your organization, big or small? Do you fully understand your buyer’s perspective?


SIIA recently held its final Deciphering Customer Success event of the year in NYC (previous events this year were in Irvine, CA and Denver, CO). The event brought together senior customer success executives to discuss all the questions above. I thought I would just provide some key comments that came out of the discussion, some of which (if you really listen to) could change how you approach customer success.



Customer Success is not a department it is a culture.

Complaints are not the enemy – Change your culture to embrace complaints.

People who answer the phone in customer success must not be ready to be insulted.

Customer empathy is key!

Use your customers to create a solid product.

Implement internal net promoter scores.



An important metric not to avoid - Will they recommend you?

Repeatability is a huge metric.

A buyer is not a customer - Can you convert a buyer into a customer?

Gamify the feedback that comes in.

If your data is messy, nothing else matters - Spend the time to clean it

Perfect is the enemy of good!

Data can show you patterns of usage or feature usage giving insight into customer health.



Know who to talk to, when to talk to them and what to communicate.

CSMs can only manage 30-50 relationships without automation (30 recommended).

One of the reasons for automation is scale.

QBR, always a big question – Do you do them or is there something else?

Offer your customers and easy way to connect with you.

Customer journey – Understand the account journey and the user journey.

Data democracy – Make data available anytime and anywhere across the organization. Making the data available (all corporate data minus salary) is a great way to mobilize the entire organization around customer success.


CS Teams

Where does the CS team live – Can come out of the sales, sometimes professional services.

CS is the voice of the customer internally and the voice of the company externally.

What should scare you or keep you up at night is what you don’t know about your customers.

No news is bad news.

How do you compensate CSMs – 3 options  1) base salary 2) base +bonus 3) Base +variable (seeing more of this).

Empower your employees to empower your customers.


Buyers Perspective

Create customer discovery calls.

Brainstorm with your customers – Start with the pressing needs but then listen for the long term goals and potential upsell opportunities.

Quantify what they want in advance.

Small customers of today become the big customers of tomorrow – Pick your clients carefully.

Be honest, tell clients if your solution is just not going to meet their needs. That integrity will want clients to work with you more.

Difficult clients can make you better at your game.

Let your customers pre-qualify themselves - People don’t go away mad, they just go away, the others become customers.


SIIA’s Deciphering Customer Success series will continue in 2017. Stay tuned for dates and locations.



Rhianna Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA. Follow the Software team on Twitter at @SIIASoftware.