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A Deeper Dive into the Customer Success Manifesto (Part 1 of 2)

There’s a great deal of buzz around Customer Success today.  And rightly so.  In subscription and recurring revenue businesses, we cannot be successful without making our customers successful — day after day, month after month, year after year.

Yet Customer Success means a lot of different things in different companies.  We see many organizations, all the way down from their Board and CEO levels, trying to figure out how they should tackle Customer Success.

So how do best-in-class teams operate?  What’s different about businesses that are at the cutting-edge in driving customer success?  Over the last few months, we’ve worked with many companies and leaders of the customer success community to answer some of these questions.

One thing is amply clear.  Best-in-class companies don’t simply repackage things they’ve been doing — account management, customer support, client services — and expect a different outcome.  They operate based on a new set of rules. They have a new way of thinking about their customers’ success.  We’ve distilled this down into a few guiding principles of great customer success — and we’re delighted to highlight some leaders who exemplify these principles.

We’d love for you to add your comments and voice to the discussion at www.CustomerSuccessManifesto.com.

Value over customer management

Best-in-class companies are maniacally focused on creating value for their customers.  They get the difference between customer value and customer management.  They recognize that customer success is not about building better processes and systems to manage customers — it’s first-and-foremost about understanding, measuring, and delivering customer value.

I love the way Mike Grafham, head of worldwide customer success at Yammer, articulated this at our Customer Success Summit. “Support’s all about fixing stuff when it’s wrong, account management is all about selling the promise to people, customer success is all about making that promise happen.”

Customer actions over words

If value is the most important thing, best-in-class companies recognize that the best way to understand and measure customer value is to know what customers are doing — and not doing — inside their products and services. They don’t rely on guesswork based on one-off conversations, surveys, and opinions. Today, we have unprecedented visibility into our customers — and smart companies use this “customer truth” to engage customers and drive customer value.

At Crittercism, customer actions dictate a lot of how the company operates.  As Alex Brower, VP Operations, mentions, “Our sales and marketing team would fly blind if they didn’t have real-time data into how specifically customers are using us during a free trial or once they’re in the paying period.  Our product team needs it to prioritize their time and see how features that they’re developing are actually being used…and we wouldn’t be able to package a product properly without this data.”

Real-time sensors over historical snapshots

Think of it… with free trials, freemium products and monthly subscriptions, our businesses today operate at a feverish pace.  Best-in-class companies have figured out that waiting for data to come in, get processed, and then looking at historical snapshots of customers just doesn’t cut it any longer.  They need to act at the right moment for their actions to actually matter.  And to do this, best-in-class companies are building a new kind of sensor-based capability that allows them to listen to the live stream of digital signals from their customers.

At thismoment, as soon as a new customer is brought on board, the company depends on real-time feedback from their service.  According to John Broady, General Manager at thismoment, instead of “hoping it works out” and “waiting 30-60 days to get feedback from the customer,” they are able to get the feedback they need in real-time.  This allows them to step in at the right time to assist the customer and make sure the customer is making good progress through their defined customer journey. 

Read the next 3 secrets of Customer Success.

Kaiser Mulla-Feroze

I'm the CMO at Totango. I love the challenge of bringing new products to market. Before Totango, I spent over 12 years at salesforce.com across products, marketing, and business development. I had the most fun there during the early days when we were establishing salesforce's product leadership position. I'm looking forward to doing the same at Totango.

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