Business schools today are recognizing the importance of customer success and customer marketing as part of a bigger business strategy. USF recently started offering an MBA program with a concentration on customer success and insights, further confirming the need for schools to put an emphasis on growth through customer relationships. When I went through an MBA program recently, I told the Director of the Program and the Head of Marketing that while the education I received was invaluable, the piece that was missing for me was a lens on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and the metrics around success in this business model. We live in Silicon Valley, after all, and SaaS is a massive economic driver here.
My feedback was heard loud and clear!
This year, Dr. Saroja Subrahmanyan (Dr. S as I called her when she was my thesis advisor), Professor & Chair, Marketing & Communication, at St. Mary’s College of California, asked me to be a guest lecturer in her Global Marketing Management class.
My topic: “Marketing for Customer Success in SaaS: Going Beyond Social Influence.” I shared the history of customer success, the key metrics companies in SaaS should be focussing on, and how marketing and education teams are critical to customer growth.
A student and Twilio employee asked about how customer success and marketing can work together when it comes to Channel Partner Programs. My answer – the two working together is a must when it comes to channel success. Today platforms are dedicated to supporting both the company and its channel partners to ensure the two both grow together through product adoption and content curation. The challenges and goals of the partner relationships are different than direct customers and shouldn’t be lumped into a general customer success program.
Students from technology companies like Google, Tesla, SAP, Twilio, Genentech, Salesforce, and other local companies were also in the class – all further confirming how customer success is critical to their companies and why the discipline should be part of every MBA program. The value of converging customer success and marketing (according to LinkedIn & CNN, a customer success role is #25 on the top 100 fastest growing professions in 2018) can’t be taught in one class. For me, the challenge is constantly, how do I condense everything I know about customer success and customer marketing in one presentation?
Dr. S tells me the school is introducing customer analytics to the EMBA program this coming winter. To say I am excited is an understatement. A topic I am very passionate about…leading me to think I may just have to apply to teach the class!
I hope this reflection inspires more MBA Schools to introduce customer success as a discipline in the near future.