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6 Onboarding Challenges to Avoid in Customer Success

Developing a software implementation program can seem daunting, especially with growing customer expectations. If getting a product up and running is slow, for example, eager customers will quickly reevaluate competition. Customer risk management is key from day one of the customer lifecycle. Implementation challenges are compounded by the fact that customers want a product that is easily customizable, bug free, and, of course, supported by amazing customer service – all this in an era when the term ‘customer service’ is increasingly becoming an oxymoron.

There are countless strategies in place for overcoming customer implementation challenges, yet many are not scalable or achievable. Here are six common mistakes to avoid if you want to convert your new customers to happy, lifelong product evangelists.

1. Making Promises Your Product Can’t Deliver

Beware of falling into the trap of overpromising. It’s easy for any Marketing team to fall into the temptation of using adjectives like “groundbreaking”, “revolutionary”, and “life changing” to describe the product to potential customers. If your customers don’t experience the same value Sales promised them, they probably won’t stay onboard long. Before you begin selling, or if you notice a lack of consistent messaging between the teams, consider holding a meeting with a neutral party to ensure that your Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams are speaking the same language throughout the customer lifecycle. If the product description doesn’t match what customer success delivers during onboarding, your company will suffer.

2. Not asking the right questions

Sales did their part, now it is your job in customer success to ensure the customer is able to both leverage the product and see the return on investment quickly. Contrary to many onboarding programs I have experienced, onboarding isn’t about training users on every feature of your platform immediately. Instead, an implementation program should include identifying at least one top measurable business objective for why the customer purchased the product, and focus on getting to the first quick-win to demonstrate product value. Once the key milestones are met, other important events like training and product certification can be addressed.

3. Slow Response Times

When a customer perceives that response times are too slow, there is a greater chance they will find another product to serve their needs. Responsive customer support is important at any point in the customer lifecycle, but it is particularly important during the onboarding process. I fondly remember a recent onboarding experience where my implementation manager made me feel like I was his only client by being so responsive and kind when I asked the ‘dumb’ questions. Be prompt and proactive when responding to customer support tickets to ensure brand advocates and lifelong customers.

4. Your Software is Too Difficult to Learn During Onboarding

User experience is always important, but it’s especially critical when you are talking about learning new software. Adoption is really about the user recognizing how easy the software is to learn and use while solving key challenges. If your product and onboarding is difficult, there are thankfully many platforms on the market that can help your users learn your platform effortlessly. Consider adopting one that will suit your customer needs.

5. Ignoring Analytics

Analytics are a must-have. Begin collecting data on who is accessing your site and what they do with it from day one. Having user data lets you refine your product and onboarding program to better address your customer’s needs. Also, don’t forget to follow-up post-implementation with a survey to allow you to better understand what your customers are looking for in your product, in onboarding and beyond. If your product and service fail to meet customer needs, causes frustration or becomes cumbersome, your customers may conclude that the product is not a long-term solution.

6. Stopping at Onboarding

Once your customer is up and running within a reasonable timeframe, don’t neglect them until renewal time. Develop a strategy that ensures regular touch-points and milestones just like your onboarding program. This can include regular meetings with clear objectives, newsletters, online user community access, user reports, quarterly business reviews, annual surveys and customer events. Your post-onboarding plan will allow your customer success team to develop a strong trusted advisor relationship with your customers, identify any challenges early on and set you up for a renewal process that will ensure a continued partnership.

Onboarding can be difficult, and no two implementations will be exactly the same. But on many levels, all successful product implementation strategies feature a consistent desire to discover and deliver the needs of the customer, honesty about the product being delivered, and a commitment to ongoing customer success.

 

[Originally posted to https://www.clientsuccess.com/blog/6-onboarding-challenges-to-avoid-in-customer-success/ on 28 Feb 2015]

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Customer Success is Growing in Importance when it comes to MBA Programs – Here’s Why.

Customer Success Matters in Business – MBA Schools are Taking Notice.

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.

 

Originally posted on LinkedIn August 2018

 

Do you have a Content Marketing Strategy?

Content Marketing Ideas For Incredible Customer Experiences

After years of building customer success teams and programs, it seemed natural to take on my next challenge – build a global customer advocacy strategy. After all, who better understands customers than someone who has been working with customers from the moment they are in their final stages of purchasing a product, to onboarding and through expansion and renewal opportunities. Successful customer-centric content strategies foster brand loyalty and long-term customer relationships if they consider an outside-in approach. What content are your customers asking for when they come to your website or when they are talking speaking with your customer success and support teams? Are you capturing this data? If so, how are you acting on it? If not, what’s holding you back from these powerful opportunities to engage with your customers?

Where Do You Start?

Customer voice: Creating content through dynamic customer feedback and their perspective is the fastest way to successful content marketing. If you are not speaking with your customers while building content, you are missing out on relevant topics that matter to customers most! Use their in-the-moment experience to learn about their challenges and how they are leveraging your company’s technology to solve them. These real-life examples speak not only to other customers but also to prospects seeking a way to address their own company’s pain points.

So, how do you talk to customers if you are a content marketer?   

The obvious answers are to pick up the phone and speak with customers, or consumers, or to visit customers in person. However, it’s not that easy! After all, marketers are not often well received or trusted by consumers. Don’t lose hope! You can still connect with them through technology. Today, chat apps, surveys, and community platforms allow deep insights into what your customers are talking about and want more of.

Interaction Opportunities:

Chat: It’s obvious that when a customer reaches out for help, it’s because they can’t figure out the answer themselves. Chat is one of the fastest ways to get in touch with a support team and for a marketer, might be utilized to understand customer pain points. Why not use that opportunity after a chat interaction to ask the customer about what they would like to learn more about? Who knows, your customers may give you content marketing ideas you never thought of. With chat technology, you can also compile and analyze the most common reasons why a customer contacts your support team. Use that knowledge to build relevant, impactful content that will create customer experiences that matter.

Providing practical use cases for success and making them readily available through knowledge centers, communities, webinars, podcasts, and contextual guidance are all examples of how chat can be a powerful way to channel the voice of the customer back into your marketing programs.

Surveys: People are overtaxed with surveys these days so before you consider this option, get your executive buy-in to add a question about what customers want to learn about and then develop a strategy to review the answers regularly. Last, act on them with purpose and within a reasonable timeframe.

Opportunities to ask your customers for feedback include right after a support interaction with chat or your helpdesk, shortly after going live with your product, right in the platform after completing a task, and on a yearly basis with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. Wootric, WalkMe, and other survey platforms are great for this. Giving the subscriber an opportunity to share with you ‘what they wish they knew more about,’  makes the users feel important and allows them to give you valuable feedback while they are using the product.

A good example of leveraging customer feedback to drive your growth strategy is a series of articles I recently followed on “getting comfortable with SEO”. The author talked to low product usage customers and asked why they weren’t logging in. The general feedback was they needed a foundation for SEO. The author discovered that often the user isn’t the one making the buying decision for a product, but they are expected to use it without understanding the why or the “the basics” behind the need for a technology. The writer took the feedback and created a target audience blog series that taught customers the foundations while drawing in prospects who not only engaged in an SEO 101 series but also learned about the product offerings and the brand. The learning series doesn’t come across as selling. They are helping the customer, or as my friend, writer, and radio show host, Bill Cushard says, ‘selling doesn’t help, but helping sells.’

Bringing it all Together through Integrative Communication:

Customer-centric content marketing is more interactive than ever. Customer journeys and conversations are fluid and leverage many different kinds of communication and technologies. Some customers are invited to connect with customer managers through Slack, others sign up for communities (Marketo has a very very vibrant customer marketing community to model after) and others sign up for newsletters to keep up with the latest product features via MailChimp. All of these communication channels can include videos, customer stories, and findings from surveys. The customer feedback can be rolled up, analyzed and then more thoughtfully acted on with technology like Kayako for real-time context. Being able to quantify and understand what customers want and why helps product teams build the platform’s future, but is also a hot-bed for content marketers. What’s holding you back from leveraging these valuable customer voices – bring your customer activities together to build your next story!

Final Thoughts

Generating content that is initiated from what customers do and say is powerful. Once you have compiled these key ideas, include them in your customer newsletters, on your blog page, in your knowledge base, and your customer community. If you have a B2C site, include snippets of the customer’s voice right in the product description. Don’t assume your target audience will pick up your message the first time they see it or that they go to the same place for information each time. By offering different avenues to content, making it engaging with videos and humor, you will design customer experiences that lead to high-impact engagement with your product.

You can read the original article & comments here.

 

Dreamforce 2018: What’s your Prospect & Customer Engagement Strategy?

Dreamforce 2018 is a little more than a month away. Are you ready for it?

While some locals complain about the 160,000+ people who descend in downtown San Francisco for the annual conference, I look forward to it each year – BRING.IT.ON!
Dreamforce is magical and an amazing opportunity to grow your business through relationships.
Once you register for the event, you will be inundated with invites to private events throughout the city – all vying for your attention and future business. If you are a customer of a vendor sponsoring Salesforce, you will likely also be invited to ‘customer only events’.
I have been attending and working at the event for the past several years, representing companies. With so many events happening in such a limited time, how do you ensure you will get the right prospects and customers to your event? After all, when it comes to social selling, where prospects and customers come together, there lies a key opportunity to grow your brand and revenue opportunity.
Last year, I had the opportunity to create and head up one of the biggest parties at Dreamforce, with over nearly 11, 000 people registered and over 3,000 who managed to get past the entrance. The number of registrants and attendees more than doubled in less than one year!!
How did I pull this off? Here are three secrets to a successful event that will not only build your customer loyalty but also expand your prospecting opportunities:
IMG_8157
The Operations team who made this possible – Juan, Nicole, Ryan, Samyutha & Me…
1. Start Early! 
It may be too late with less than six weeks to go but you can still sponsor other events to gain access to the attendee list and enjoy a great networking opportunity! Also, these lessons will prove valuable next year.
Define the Vision of the event no later than February before Dreamforce. Ask yourself and your team, why should anyone select our event over another one?
Select a Venue and date right away but make sure it isn’t the same night as the annual Dreamforce party or you may be left standing in an empty room.
You also want to hire a team that understands the vision and is able to manage project details meticulously. The venue you select may also have an event manager who you should partner with on each detail.
2. Customers First:
I kicked off the event by hosting 50 of WalkMe’s most strategic customers for a private white-tablecloth dinner. The guests were then whisked away into a private bar room as the rest of the invitees were welcomed into the dinner-turned-nightclub venue. With three DJs, multiple bars, overflowing food, and themed rooms we made a memorable experience for all. While the event cost close to six figures, I, along with my team, am proud to say we generated enough sponsorships to actually make a generous profit on the event.
You read this correctly – we made money while attracting over 11,000 people to register for this annual event!
3. Follow-up:
Emails with personal connections and a broader next step – The latest stats show less than 38% of people open their emails so make yours count. If your team created a personal relationship with a customer or prospect, have a strategy to follow-up. Make it easy for your employees to send an email or make a call with some suggested messaging.
If you haven’t started thinking about your impact on Dreamforce yet, don’t fret. There is still time to define a vision, find a venue or co-partner, and create a lasting experience for nurturing your prospects, customers, and employees.

If you need a strategic customer experience partner, contact me at CGAAdvisor@Outlook.com.

Dreamforce

Kumud Kokal, Head of Business Operations, Airbnb, & Me!
Here is to your Dreamforce 2018 & beyond!
Emilia

Driving Product Advocacy: Customer Engagement

I recently spoke at the CS Summit 2018 in Toronto, Canada. Many companies build customer success processes but fail to leverage the voice of the customer to expand the brand penetration across current customers and prospects. In this presentation, I give away secrets to building a strategic customer marketing program, that essentially, drives new business and product adoption.

CSM Summit

Click here to review what you missed!

Customer Success: What you missed at Saastr Europa 2018

ParisI just returned to San Francisco after an exhilarating two days at SaaStr Europa 2018 in Paris. What struck me most was the champion network that was being built everywhere I looked. People eager to connect and share their challenges and to share ideas on how to overcome them.

On June 14th & 15th, approximately 1500 technology aficionados descended on Paris, France for the first annual SaaStr Europa.

The event was remarkable, inspiring & action packed. Starting with a happy hour at ‘The Family,’ in a trendy but hidden alleyway in Paris. Upon entering the airy lounge, one could feel the excitement among the SaaS obsessed. Champagne flowed and laughter and dialogue filled the room. For the speakers, the night continued at a French Bistro where we had the opportunity to meet other speakers.

The next day, the event kicked off early at the Intercontinental – Le Grand. Salesforce sponsored a hearty breakfast and espresso to jolt the eager attendees. The venue was perfect for an inaugural event: from the historic building hosting us, to the bigness of the foyer and conference rooms, to the lavish attention to details, it was one of the most memorable tech events I’ve been to in awhile. The event topics were relevant to any person starting a company or seeking to expand their start-up strategy. There were also several investors there seeking to meet with founders looking for their next series of founding. CEOs like Ross Mason, founder of Mulesoft, were in attendance to generously share their stories in the trenches as they built successful companies from the ground-up.

I showed up excited to speak on a panel focused on “Customer Success Best Practices: maximizing revenue, NPS and going beyond delivering ‘happiness.” I also had other goals – meet as many women in tech as possible and other Customer Success & Experience professionals working in Europe.

I flew in from San Francisco, while others arrived from several cities including Portugal, Palo Alto, and Oslo. I  appreciated the conference focus on cultural and gender diversity and inclusion.

One of the best reasons to attend an event such as SaaStr is there are opportunities to meet people you may never connect with otherwise. I made a commitment to meet as many CEOs who wanted to learn about customer success and advocacy at the conference. SaaStr offered “Braindates” where people posted their area of expertise online and others scheduled them for advice. I met with six CEOs from all over Europe who had started companies and wanted advice on expanding in Europe and the USA. They wanted to know ‘how do I leverage my customers to build my brand.’ This is a question that is not easily answered in a 30-minute conversation but one that is commonly asked over and over again across companies in all segments…and if your company is not asking this question, I would ask, ‘why not?’

How customer success can impact the growth of your company is something Jason Lemkin and Aaron Ross talk about in their book ‘From Impossible to Inevitable’ but few companies have figured it out.

Companies globally are racing now to build or buy technology to facilitate in leveraging the customer digital adoption experience while other companies are investing in their employee training programs to better deliver customer value with velocity. These efforts have common goals – increase product adoption, reduce churn and sell more through the voice of the customer.

After all, have you ever purchased a SaaS product that didn’t offer some sort of customer support – whether it be in-product and contextual, via chat, support email, a customer community, a training program, or through a customer success manager?

Customer Success was only one of the topics that was discussed at the event. Others topics included “How to build a no BS marketing engine in SaaS,” “SaaS Metrics,”,”Building a Culture that Scales,” and “Breaking Through $15m ARR.”

SaaStr Europa 2018 finished up with a smashing party and plenty of food and drinks to go around. The best part, however, and I think many will agree, was the opportunity to meet so many people in an intimate setting. The new relationships being formed will surely continue long after the event.

Congratulations to the team who created such a well-thought-out gathering and for the customer experience you created for your attendees and speakers. I know I will be trying some new French recipes from the book you gave the speakers and the SaaStr Eiffel Tower snow globe will always remind me of what a special event I experienced.

‘Vive Le SaaStr Europa!’

3 Customer Advocacy Strategies you can Implement Today

advocampCustomer advocacy, listening, engagement, and experience (CX) are hot topics in 2018. These terms were surely overused last year but they highlight a heightened awareness of the Customer Voice. It’s clear that brand affinity is increasing in power especially as competition heats up in many product and service categories.

Do you have your  Customer Advocacy plan in place? What are your competitors doing to build their customers’ loyalty and how is your strategy stronger? How will your brand help customers achieve their goals while helping you achieve yours?

These are hopefully some of the questions that Customer Marketing and Success professionals are asking themselves and their teams.

I attended Advocamp in San Francisco this past year and these very questions were discussed. Below are three key takeaways that resonated strongly with me – consider exploring and adopting them as you charge of your customer advocacy initiatives!

    1. Use Customer Advocacy to Drive Exponential Growth:

Building a strong customer advocacy program can help you sell more if you build it with a focus on serving the customer needs first.

Think about it, if you build a customer marketing program in a way that comes off as sales-like, customers will not be inclined to participate. Hence the birth of ‘customer engagement programs’ to replace ‘customer marketing’. Customer-centric communities, for example, take what the customer hasn’t adopted or purchased yet and turns it into a story they can learn from and leverage in their own organization.

How does one get started? It’s simple – start by talking to your customers!

      • Ask your customers!: Surveying post-onboarding what they want more of now that they are live and give them options along with an open text box to share their ideas. Chances are they will tell you they want more customer stories about companies who have used a part of the product they may not be using yet to drive their business goals. They want to know what worked, what didn’t and how they too can get started. Give them a story they can relate to in a medium they understand such as a video, a story with easy steps on how to get started or maybe an infographic.
      • Feature heroes: Ask customers if they are open to sharing their stories and if they prefer to share it in a video, at a conference, in a case study, or simply a quote. After all, who doesn’t love to look like an expert? Make whatever they choose easy for them to do. For example, if they are comfortable being featured in a video, tell them what to wear, bring the videographers, co-write the script in advance and have them practice it. Have someone there coaching them through the video. Make sure it has statistics that show the power of the product and actionable examples that other customers and prospects can understand and use. Customer testimonials are very powerful and your company is never too small to get started with storytelling.
      • Start a Customer Community: It is estimated that community members spend two times more and have a 33% higher adoption rate than non-engaged customers. If you don’t have a customer community, consider one like Vanilla Forums. It is easy to use, inexpensive and a great way to start customer conversations. Through communities, customer support calls can be reduced while enhancing experiences. WIth improved engagement, there is an opportunity to grow your brand and your loyal customer base. Accenture calls “improving customer experience a $6 trillion opportunity.” With predictions like Accenture’s and the stat below, it is time to start a customer advocacy program this year if you haven’t started one already.
    1.  Leverage Customer Advocacy before a Prospective Customer Visits Your Website
      • Encourage Public Product Reviews: Customer Success starts well before a prospect comes to your website. By the time they are on your landing page or walking into your store, they will have researched your product, talked to people about your service and looked at your competitors. These three actions exemplify why you should be leveraging your customers for brand affinity. Reviews on Google, and websites like Trust Radius and G2Crowd, a social media presence and customer stories, quotes and videos matter. They all influence the buyer journey and build your product and service credibility with authenticity. Salespeople are moving towards Social Selling and customer references are an important part of the relationship-based selling strategy. As you gather your customer stories across mediums, create a tab on your website where you can aggregate them for easy access for both your sales team and prospects alike.

Creating a customer journey that leverages the customer’s voice and starts at the point of need instead of post-sales will help your company’s sales strategy in 2018.

  1. Measure your Customer Advocacy Efforts – why and how:
  • Start with an Employee and Customer advocacy platform: While customer advocacy may be a new function in your company, there are ways and platforms that can be leveraged to ensure your company is measuring the value of a customer engagement program. Customer engagement should be integrated in a company’s goals. It can lead to more customer satisfaction, product stickiness, retention and expansion opportunities, and ultimately, profitability. Companies likeInfluitive, who hosted Advocamp, and Crowdvocate, that drive and grow brand advocacy are just a couple of companies simplifying, measuring, and growing customer advocates.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): There are also a plethora of companies from SurveyMonkey to Wootric to who provide Net Promoter Scoring tools to measure customer satisfaction. Medallia gives a nice overview of how NPS works on their website.
  • Customer Experience Measurement: products like Topbox measure B2B customer experience (CX) that link to financial growth. As the company nicely puts it, “align customer success with business objectives and watch your customer feedback data work for you.”
  • One word of caution when implementing any product: You need to create an action plan for how you will leverage the data you receive from these initiatives. The plan needs executive buy-in from the beginning. Sending an NPS survey without a plan to contact your Detractors, Passives, and Promoters in a timely way will result in wasting your customers’ time. Your detractors are probably going to churn and are definitely not sharing positive reviews about your company. Set up a committee to call them and understand their view – find a way to improve their experience! Your promoters are ripe for expansion, a case study, a quote, and a reference call with a prospect.

Parting Thoughts

Having a way to scale customer success to deliver value with velocity, while capturing loyal customer voices to sell more is what all companies should aim to achieve. Boosting customer engagement can lead to expansion opportunities that have the potential to spread virally as we have seen with Apple’s customer marketing strategies.

The importance of strong customer advocacy programs is nothing new for companies like Nike and Google. If it is new for you, here is “A CEO’s Crash Course in Brand Loyalty.”  Loyal brand ambassadors can strengthen customer relationships that ultimately lead to organic customer expansion opportunities. Not all companies have the money and domain authority that big brands have but many alike are rushing to move processes to the cloud, otherwise known as Digital Transformation. As companies create new ways to serve their customers, they are in need of a new way to capture and leverage the voice of the customer. Hence, the birth of a new product category called customer advocacy. As Influitive puts it “your buyers trust their peers, not your marketing machine.” How will you shift your company-centric marketing to advocate marketing in 2018?

Influitive shared all their Advocamp sessions. You can listen to them here.

Customer Success Key Learning from #CSSummit 2018

Canada image

I originally posted this on LinkedIn.

Being it is Canada’s 151st birthday today, I thought it fitting to finish and publish my recap of last week’s customer success gathering in Toronto.

On June 26th and 27th, a few hundred professionals gathered for the inaugural Customer Success Summit Canada. When the Strategy Institute asked me to speak at the event, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a community that I hope continues to grow across Canada. The two days were packed with engaging speakers across several industries and the event provided plenty of networking opportunities. The location, the Old Mill Toronto, was ideal and reflective of all the natural beauty Canada has to offer. When I wasn’t at the conference, I took advantage of the biking and hiking trails, (both days), where I discovered overflowing waterfalls and lush forests. I also indulged in some of the most incredible Peruvian food that I’ve had in a while. It felt great to be back in my home country!

Back to the conference…the line up of speakers from both the USA and Canada brought together many different perspectives on customer success – after-all, each company has a different need to fill and is at a different phase in their transformation. The speakers weren’t pushing products during their sessions, but rather genuinely wanting to help other practitioners by sharing knowledge.

Here are three key takeaways from my experience:

  • Outside-In Approach: Customer success starts with the customer, not the company. If you start with the customer’s needs, then you can build a company around helping to satisfy the need. I see companies feeding customers way too much information during onboarding which has nothing to do with what the customer’s initial pain-point. Focus on outcomes first – the customer’s end goal. If you start with why did the customer purchased the product, then you can map the customer journey. Several speakers talked about this approach and Chris Doell, of Cisco, clearly outlined the ‘customer-centricity’ thinking with this acronym, CARE –>
  1. Customer Satisfaction – start here & then move forward with velocity, anticipating customer needs.
  2. Adoption – if you can make this effortless the rest will follow. Technology like customer success platforms can help your employees understand product usage, which leads to meaningful customer conversations, and digital adoption platforms can help with ‘in-platform’ real-time contextual guidance, for example.
  3. Retention – this is a companywide effort, not just the responsibility of a CSM or AE. Get ahead of any churn problem by delivering product value early – not when it is too late in the fire-fighting stage.
  4. Expansion – this is where customer marketing, engagement, and NPS comes in. My session focused on this piece – your customers are the growth engine for your company – they will open doors for you. Don’t forget about them once they become a customer or when they renew. Reward them and leverage their voice to better your product and to sell more.
  • Customer Interaction = Customer Reaction: Several of the speakers also talked about the opportunities the customer relationship creates – from expansion to risk. Sherrod Patching focused on the customer journey she has created at Leadspace and how a proactive approach has led to risk mitigation. As she put it, when you are creating the customer journey, keep in mind “helping more, selling less.” Peter Armaly, of Oracle, talked about how his team is changing the customer interactions and it starts at the top with the following:
  • C-level engagement,
  • Tireless customer success executives,
  • Honesty,
  • CS Operations and CS Strategy Teams,
  • In-house Research Body;
  • and Broad, Deep, Consistent messaging, up, down, and sideways.”

These massive shifts in delivering customer success, at a Fortune 100 company, are clearly not small initiatives! They are ones where companies must test with pilot programs first and fail quickly when one doesn’t work. Pick up and try again until you get it right.

  • Always be G.R.O.W. -ing: This acronym (defined below) shared by Tony Brucha, of ServiceSource, pretty much sums up everything that goes into customer success. It isn’t just about the product and customer adoption but rather the employees who make it possible. To build customer engagement you need employee engagement. It isn’t about one leader but a team of leaders, or as Tony put it – ‘lead with me’ – lead your customers to success.
  1. Grow beyond expectations – dare, learn.
  2. Revolutionize Revenue – innovate, transform.
  3. Own the Outcome – accountability, measure.
  4. Win as a Team – collaborate, celebrate.

As Kia Puhm, of K!a Consulting, explained – you have to break down company silos to successfully face growth challenges while keeping the customer at the center of your strategy.

I could go on and on about key learnings from this event but I think we all walked away with the idea that there is no secret formula to customer success – it is constantly evolving with artificial intelligence, automation, contextual guidance and customer motivation. Evolving customer needs to transform what it means to deliver value to the customer.

You can find more insights, photos and a few jokes from the attendees on Twitter with the hashtag #CSSummitCA.

Thank you to the Strategy Institute who put the event together and thank you for inviting me to speak on customer engagement. This is just the beginning of more customer success conversations in Canada and beyond.

 

Age-ism @ Work: How do We Get Past it?

You can read the full story and watch the recap video of the session here.

 

video

If you need help building an executive team that looks past the ‘-isms’ or need help building a culture of inclusion, contact me for a free consultation at CGAAdvisors@gmail.com

Content Marketing Ideas For Incredible Customer Experiences

When Kayako asked me to blog about content marketing I focused on two key goals:

The customer at the center: What do they read, what do they want, how can we help them?

What technology do they use? Give them the content in technology they already use on a daily basis to get their jobs done.

“What content are your customers asking for when they come to your website or when they are talking speaking with your customer success and support teams? Are you capturing this data? If so, how are you acting on it? If not, what’s holding you back from these powerful opportunities to engage with your customers?”

The original post can be read here.

Kayako

If you need someone to supercharge your customer engagement programs, contact me today to get started with a free consultation. CGAAdvisors@gmail.com.

 

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