I hear CS practitioners talk all the time about providing a frictionless experience with their clients to ensure quick onboarding, quick time-to-value, additional cross/upsell, etc. All of these are great and should be the focus of your CS efforts. However, in today’s low-barrier to entry world, you also need to make sure you are creating a max friction exit experience.
You’ve got a killer idea, some initial financing and have seen great market acceptance. Now you need a financial plan to become a scalable and viable company before you can get additional funding. Before your eyes glaze over, rest assured I will keep this high level and just call out the initially important financial metrics to watch (and those your investors will be watching).
Almost all subscription companies track the health of their customer in some combination of excel sheets, CS software, customer surveys, QBRs, CSM surveys and NPS/CSat scores. It is no surprise that customer lifetime value is maximized through retention. However, these same companies are then often surprised when “green” clients churn.
When my good friend Alex asked me to run with the bulls at the San Fermin Festival for his bachelor party, I unequivocally said yes (much to the chagrin of my wife). I googled the route, read about being gored and/or trampled at La Curva de la Muerte, and increased my training regimen to include terror-based sprinting. Soon after I found myself jumping up and down next to Alex on a cold, narrow and crowded street in Pamplona.
Technology is an awesome and horrible thing. It can be positive and elevate your business or it can be negative and drag on your bottom line. I like to think of this as the Iron Man – Borg spectrum. On one side you have the newest and best technology integrated together to make a better man for the betterment of society. On the other side you have a writhing patchwork of wires and hoses that assimilates all it comes across – resistance is futile.
The obvious strategy is to stay on the Iron Man side of the spectrum, but that is certainly easier said than done. As companies grow, the natural tendency is to assimilate new technologies without (re)evaluating their value or to keep old technologies simply because of the technology debt. But resistance is not futile!
In 1984, Eliyahu Goldratt published the bestselling novel, The Goal, detailing common process struggles and the inherent theory of constraints. While this book focused on the manufacturing industry, the theory can just as easily be applied to any industry.
As a gross boil down (we are talking molasses here), the theory revolves around the redefining all aspects of your business in terms of throughput, inventory and operational expense. One then repeatedly measures and optimizes the entire process by maximizing productivity at identified constraints as opposed to maximizing productivity at each step in the process.
I have a friend with a Lamborghini. His social media is filled with photos of him in and around this mean looking vehicle. But that’s about as far as the envy goes. This “Lamborghini” is actually a kit car built on a Fiero frame and 2.6L engine. As long as his car is not running… and viewed from a distance… under soft lighting… by a non-car person… everything is good. Otherwise, even racing against a Yugo would be ill advised and laughable.
Many of today’s SaaS companies are operating on this “kit car” approach. They know the right things to say and the right way to position, but when it comes to putting the pedal to the metal, there is a lot to be desired – without the right engine, you won’t go far.
If nothing else, read this: I guarantee there is no one magic key to unlock customer success. Many new customer success professionals consult blogs, Meetups, LinkedIn groups and other social media for advice on how to implement customer success in their organization. Rather than attempt a trite 140 character answer, I will try to formulate a more cohesive response over a series of posts here on LinkedIn. I hope some find this helpful.
While attending a holiday party filled with Michael Bubble cheer and red wine, enduring small talk and multiple rounds of group selfies, I was happy to find myself in a discussion with several SaaS colleagues over the merits and future of Customer Success.
The crux of the debate centered around if Customer Success was a rebranding of existing functions (account management, sales, support, training, etc.) or if it truly had a revolutionary impact. It’s hard to tell if my wine-enhanced argument held any weight at the party, but perhaps I can help clarify it here.