In November 2011 I was hired by Eloqua President & Chief Revenue Officer, Alex Shootman, to form the Customer Experience (CX) organization and lead the corporate initiative to innovate Eloqua’s customer experience. In this second of a two part series I share my experience and key learnings in building a CX practice that drives revenue and scales. Here is my story.
Part I - The Challenge
Last week I reviewed the challenge Eloqua was experiencing as a result of it’s rapid growth and success. The following is what happened.
Part II - The Outcome
If you can imagine a bomb going off and all the chaos that comes with it in the aftermath, that's what launch looked like.
We made a lot of mistakes.
We executed swiftly with little communication to our customers.
We launched a journey model that was focused on how we envisioned the customer should use the product (i.e. from our perspective) vs understanding why the customer bought and focusing on their objectives.
And because we had defined the customer journey from our perspective, that meant the roles and responsibilities of the CSM's were not directly focused on items relevant to the customer and them meeting their objective.
I like to use the analogy of working out to illustrate this point.
Some athletes are trying to go to the Olympics so need a lot of training, some athletes simply want to stay healthy so only need to train a couple of times a week. Depending on the athlete, the coach will train them differently.
Same with customers. We were thinking everyone wanted to win the Olympic gold when many customers just wanted to workout a few times and would categorize themselves as completely successful in doing so. We were actually tiring out our customers and making it difficult for them to do business with us.
So in an attempt to improve the CX, we inadvertently made it worse.
And to add insult to injury, we had 3 consecutive and disastrous product releases. A perfect storm!
So after 6 months of firefighting and learning, we had to pull back and reassess.
What did we do?
Remapped the customer journey, this time from the customer’s perspective, and outlined their key moments of truth. We started off simply and just made sure that customers had a seamless experience and that none of their requests fell through the cracks. Later we looked at how to mitigate the higher risk elements of the journey by adding extra CSM help, such as the 90 day coach program, at key stages so we could become more proactive.
Then, based on what the various customer types wanted to accomplish with the product, we were able to better define what roles and responsibilities were required to specifically assist the customer with things they needed and wanted help with.
Finally, we started to engage the entire company in improving the CX. It could not be that Customer Success alone was responsible for improving the CX, the company's entire mindset had to be customer centric so that everyone took accountability for resolving customer issues. We did things like daily standups that included senior level representation from almost every department so that everyone understood what the customer was experiencing and how they could fix it through their work.
In the end, roughly 1 year after launching the initiative, we successfully:
Increased the renewal rate by 6% (remember 1% = $10 mil)
Grew revenue from $60 to $90 mil
Provided clarity to customers about what they could expect from us and how we'd make them successful
And with a clear understanding of the customer objectives, employees were well equipped and empowered to create relevant solutions for the customer so employee satisfaction also increased
Finally, we transitioned from an entrepreneurial and reactive "do everything and anything for the customer" approach to a truly customer centric and proactive business model that scale
In 2012 Oracle acquired Eloqua at a 9x multiple for almost $1 billion.
So what does this all mean for Customer Success leaders looking to drive revenue and scale in a controllable and sustainable manner?
It means, to build a consistent customer experience that scales, an organization must:
Truly understand it's customers. Map our your customer journey from your customer's perspective, not what you perceive it to be.
Clarify roles & responsibilities around the journey so they are relevant to making the customer successful. Use the journey to define the best practices for successful product adoption and ensure your resources are supporting those best practices.
Recognize that Customer Success is a cross-functional endeavour and the responsibility of everyone within the company. Align department objectives and MBO's to the success of customers to truly build a customer centric mindset. Use customer feedback and their journey to continually evolve your business as your customers evolve.
Companies that actively manage customers through the journey and operate with a customer centric approach consistently drive revenue, scale sustainably, and outperform their competitors hands down by a significant factor – research reports by as much as 10x on the stock market.
So what’s your Customer Success story? I would love to hear from you and what your experiences are in scaling growth.