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Pulse 2017: Customer Success as a Network

Customer Success Operations
Customer Success Operations

Four thousand people descended upon Oakland California to attend Pulse 2017, the annual Customer Success event hosted by Gainsight.

The now familiar scene of excited Customer Success professionals eager to learn and share their experiences with one another, had the opportunity to attend a plethora of sessions around the practice of Customer Success.

With topics ranging from beginner to advance, for Customer Success practitioners to executives to Customer Success Ops to Sales and Marketers, there was something for everyone to attend (including the awesome 90’s themed party of the year on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet)!

This year’s theme centered around Customer Success as a network.

Specifically, the six key trends shared by Gainsight’s CEO Nick Mehta and CCO Allison Pickens were as follows:

1. Company-wide Customer Success Network

Customer Success up until now has generally been the responsibility of the department called “Customer Success”. 

Customer Success, the department, has worked tirelessly to advocate for the customer

It can be a lonely, siloed effort.

Yet the success of customers is a mission critical objective for every company.

Companies that have figured out how to align themselves around their customers and demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) to them, see an 18% increase in revenue over their counterparts that do not have customer success as a company-wide imperative.

Increasingly companies are starting to better understand the needs of their customers through segmentation and account coverage models to in order to operate in a customer centric manner.

2. Customers are part of the Customer Success Network

Bring customers into the Customer Success network.

In order to achieve success, customers need to be part of the equation CS = CO + CX.

Customer Success (CS) = Customer Outcomes (CO) + Customer Experience (CX).

Top companies are defining Customer Success Plans with their customers, showing them adoption data to drive usage and ultimately ROI, as well as health scores to keep customers accountable to reaching their goals.

Just as important is to ensure that the customer’s experience is solid and consistent with their expectations.

Increasingly customers have a choice on where to go to accomplish their outcomes.

They will ultimately choose better experiences.

3. IT architects the Customer Success Network

With the growing number of tools available to CSM’s to help them become more proactive with customers and deliver increased value, IT is a critical partner to Customer Success.

With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and the advancing use of automation in assisting customer’s through their journey, IT is key for building the networks required to efficiently scale Customer Success.

4. Customer Success is Expanding outside of SaaS

There is a growing trend of non-SaaS industries that are starting to look to Customer Success as a means of improving the customer experience.

How does a company deliver Customer Success without usage data?  What does Customer Success look like in highly regulated industries?  How does an organization establish Customer Success and prove out the value to the C-Suite?

These are questions that are becoming top of mind for industries not typically associated with Customer Success and SaaS.

5. Customer Success is Extending to Channel Partners

Some of the largest companies are looking to channel partners to assist them in delivering Customer Success, especially as it continues to mature in practice.

They can also be helpful in developing CSM skills, implementing technology and for outsourcing CSM capacity.

6. Community around the Customer Success Network

The sixth element of Customer Success as a network is to think of your own network as a community.

The community of Customer Success professionals continues to grow and the opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded individuals at events such as Pulse provides us all with an opportunity to exchange ideas, share best practices and continue to evolve the industry.

The solutions you come up with to solve your business challenges need not be constrained to within your company.

Think of your network as a community you can reach out to when you are in the need for advice.

Ultimately, the objective of thinking about Customer Success as a network is to continue to develop and mature as an industry.

In order to do that, we need to extend the network out beyond the scope of practitioners and the department.

It is important that we build a community that breaks down the cross-functional, cross-industry, cross-regional barriers to delivering a seamless customer experience.

For customers to achieve the success we so ardently wish for them, Customer Success must be instilled in every aspect of business.

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