Whatever you think of the concept of customer success, this much is true: there are plenty of believers, as evidenced by attendance at this week’s Gainsight Pulse 2015 conference.
More than 2,000 people attended the conference in San Francisco this week for two days of customer success sessions, workshops and insights, doubling last year’s attendance.
“Everything about customer success is up and to the right,” said Dan Steinman, Chief Customer Officer at Gainsight, during one of the conference’s welcoming sessions.
“The number of customer success jobs is growing. Social media conversations around customer success are going up. As an industry, customer success is very healthy.”
Of course, as an executive for a customer success technology company, it’s Steinman’s job to put a positive outlook on customer success.
Nevertheless, he did get the crowd excited about the future of the discipline, and gave a preview of a Top 10 list around customer success that will soon be released in a report by Bessemer Venture Partners, a Gainsight investor.
The 10 Customer Success Laws
Here are the 10 Laws of Customer Success as presented by Steinman during the conference.
1. Customer success is a top-down, company-wide commitment
Rather than being relegated to one business unit, Steinman advocates a cultural shift toward customer success for the entire organization.
“We need a culture and a way to become customer-centric across the organization,” he said.
2. Know how to sell to the right customer
In a post dedicated to selling to the right customer, Steinman noted that assessing the risk of retaining each customer will go a long way toward increasing revenue and ensuring the success of that customer with your company.
Rather than turning away high-risk customers, the answer could be to encourage sales to sell a higher-priced service package, he added, giving those customers the support they’ll need and increasing their lifetime customer value.
3. The natural tendency for customers is toward churn
"Customers will drift away if left unattended,” said Steinman.
If you don’t get what you need from a product or company, he added, then you’ll find another one that does fill your needs.
4. Customers expect success
“A customer’s initial expectation is to be wildly successful with your product,” Steinman told attendees. “We need to keep reminding ourselves of that initial expectation."
5. Measure and manage your customers
“You need to relentlessly manage and monitor customer health,” said Steinman.
Understanding why customers churn or are at risk can help you prevent them from drifting away, he added, but if you wait too long, it’s going to cost your business.
6. You can’t build loyalty through personal relationships
“You can no longer count on building customer relationships with every individual customer,” said Steinman. “You need to figure out how to do it in other ways at scale.”
7. Product has to be the priority
“Companies win because their product is the best,” explained Steinman. “If it’s not the No. 1 priority, you need to ask yourself, ‘Why not?’”
8. Obsessively improve time-to-value
Steinman told the Pulse 2015 audience that customer success professionals should constantly be thinking about how they can provide value to customers in the shortest time frame.
“Every day you get to improve a customer’s time-to-value is a day more you can upsell.”
9. Understand the details of churn and retention
This one goes back to number 5: Manage and monitor your customers to be sure that you catch customer problems early, and find ways to prevent those issues from coming up in the future.
10. Become metrics-driven
“Customer success has historically lived in a fuzzy world,” said Steinman, referring to the fact that data and metrics have only recently come to play an integral part of successful efforts in this discipline.
The core problem, he mentioned, has been trying to find analytics to help customer success and sales teams understand which customers to talk to. Health scoring, workflow and predictive analytics are other areas of need, as well, he added.
“Some of these are being done, but there’s a way to go. It’s a new market; it’s natural to have to wait a long time to see innovation.”