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Accelerating the Impact of Customer Success: Totango Summit 2018 Recap

Customer Success Operations
Customer Success Operations

Totango held its sixth annual Customer Success Summit in San Francisco this past week.

Senior Customer Success Executives from around the globe were in attendance to hear from the leaders within the profession on how to accelerate the impact of Customer Success.

My second time at this conference, I find the calibre of attendees and knowledge sharing to be substantial.

Here are the key themes synthesized from this year’s Customer Success Summit:

Data & Metrics

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and learning from data was definitely a big theme this year.

Erez Barak, Partner Group Program Manager AI Division at Microsoft, showed how companies around the world are using AI and asked the audience to think about how to leverage it to delight customers.

Nicole Paradise, Senior Director of Client Experience ADP, highlighted in her keynote the importance of listening to customers and collecting data which allows for companies to action internally and direct their efforts to what matters most to customers.

All presenters emphasized the importance of determining which metrics were key to tracking and measurement, including Phil Nanus of TSIA who reiterated that point in the final keynote presentation by advising attendees to measure metrics that matter and make a big bet on analytics.

Champion Networks

Building advocacy and product maturity through champion networks featured more prominently this year.

Slack’s Head of Customer Success, Christina Kosmowski, shared with the audience how Slack helps its customers achieve a transformed state of work through its champion network; which consists of a community of its most engaged admins and power users that help drive product usage maturity through peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and advocacy.

Emilia D’Anzica, VP Customer Success at Qordoba, shared in her presentation valuable tips for creating strong advocacy through building your champion network as part of the company wide impact track.


Alignment was another theme consistently mentioned throughout the conference.

Just about every speaker discussed how alignment was a key element in enabling the necessary cross-functional engagement required to effectively support customers to success.

The notion being that creating impactful Customer Success starts with building a proactive customer journey, aligning Customer Success operations to the customer and using predictive analytics to anticipate what customers will need and when.

Ariel Utnik, Chief Customer Officer Feedvisor, revealed what he’s learned after building a few Customer Success teams - juxta positioning what he did wrong and how he improved it the next time - pointing out that churn isn’t about fire-fighting, it’s about building the renewal and that alignment is key.

Heather Peck, Global Services Chief of Staff and Transformation Lead at Hitachi, shared the story of the company’s journey towards a customer-centric engagement model and presented the new Customer Success Scorecard which helps facilitate dynamic engagement with customers and enterprise wide consistency along the entire customer journey.


Scaling through automation to deliver tech touch service was also mentioned throughout the presentations.

Speakers highlighted the importance of using technology to accelerate the impact of Customer Success, including Totango’s CEO, Guy Nirpaz, who introduced Spark, Totango’s set of best practices, key metrics and communication templates.

Krista Glantsching, VP Global Head of Digital Customer Engagement at SAP, shared how digital engagement plays a powerful role in scaling enterprise Customer Success by reviewing how SAP built its program and scaled.

Nowhere was the case for scaling Customer Success more evident than during Laurence Dean’s presentation “Billion Dollar Bet: We’re All-In In Customer Success”.  

The Director of Client Success at Dimension Data – the company that tracks and analyzes all the data for the Tour De France – Laurence shared the company’s rationale behind implementing client success, highlighting that the group is responsible for delivering 20% of the company’s $8 billion business.

Proving Impact

Finally, and most importantly, was the theme of how to prove the impact of Customer Success.

I had the opportunity to moderate a panel of senior executives - Gillian Heltai, TalkDesk, Nate Rosenthal, Square and Travis Bryant, Front – each of whom had unique ways of proving the impact of Customer Success within their specific environments.

Tying metrics to revenue to show the return on investment in Customer Success was a common point made amongst speakers.

Many also highlighted the importance of Customer Success owning a number in order to fully impact and manage the customer success process post sales.

Tal Tsfany, VP of Customer Success at Mulesoft, brought Totango’s COO, Jamie Bertasi, on stage to role play the scenario of a Chief Customer Officer effectively communicating with company executives on the impact of Customer Success and demonstrating ways to tie customer objectives to corporate revenue goals.

Bottom Line

The Customer Success community walked away from the conference with a ton of great ideas for accelerating the impact of Customer Success, namely:

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