Last November I attended Pulse Europe: The EMEA Customer Success Conference. I was actually a speaker at the event, but I’ll save a wrap up of my topic “Code Red why your at risk meetings aren’t resulting in an epic save” for another blog.

As I think about attending the conference again this year, I wanted to reflect on what I had learnt at the last one, and what lessons were still resonating with me, six months later.

Customer Success Managers are unicorns.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs; the role of the Customer Success Manager is open to much interpretation as to what kind of remit that person might have. I’ve seen technical people in this role, sales people in this role, and even project managers. The truth is the best CSMs are actually a mixture of the relationship manager, the negotiator, the project manager, and the product expert. They need a mixture of all the aforementioned skills to truly provide a valuable service to both the customers and to the business. I strongly believe it is no good having siloed single-skilled workers all crossing paths on the same customer when you can hire exceptional people and provide a cohesive experience to the customer.

Customer Success Efficiency – Less is not more.

If you consider every dollar of your Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) how many pennies are spent on Customer Success? According to the Pulse conference sponsors Gainsight “World Class” would be 12-15 cents per dollar ARR invested into the Customer Success function; across a mixture of technology and people. Keeping it as low as you can get away with means you may be missing a trick on the true value of a well-resourced and well-equipped Customer Success team.

Happy Customers ? Successful Customers

Your customers will buy your product because they want to get value. If you employ a customer centric culture you should be thinking more about Return On Investment, and translating your value propositions into actions. Customer Success, when done properly, is about prioritising customer objectives and focussing on desired outcomes; you must know your customers’ metrics and guide them on a pathway to achieving success. It is not Customer Success’s job to make customers happy. A happy customer might be a “set and forget” type where they get the product working in a very narrow application of its full potential, and this satisfies the customer but that does not equate to true success, not if all their drivers and use cases aren’t met; and not if the product is not thoroughly utilised and fully deployed. They won’t be feeling the benefits of the product, they won’t be getting maximum value or ROI, and they won’t be considered a success in terms of referenceable site or reliable recurring revenue for your business either.

Being in control of your churn makes you an attractive business to investors

According to a panel of VCs, best in class churn and attractive businesses to them are those that have a gross churn of around 3% and net churn in the negative. (i.e.: upsells outweigh any churn $ value). Coupled with this is having a grip on the details of your churn, and knowing where it is coming from. WHERE – which account, which territory, HOW – what has happened? What has changed for the customer? WHY – Why were we unable to turn it around or save the account? WHAT – what have we learnt from this? What can we do differently? What have we changed to stop this happening on a wider scale? A fair bit of weight in the future valuation of your company lies in being accountable for your churn.

Ensure your EBRs are customer centric

If you host EBRs (Executive Business Reviews), or as we call them at Avecto: Annual Success Reviews, ensure that they are of value to the customer and you, and not just you. An EBR should be a customer lifecycle event that serves to highlight to the customers’ key decision makers the value you are bringing to help them achieve their desired outcome. Making these sessions customer centric allows you to do the following: Understand real customer objectives, prove the vision of getting them results they can’t get elsewhere, uncover issues, enable strategic updates from both sides, performance review, align goals and next objectives, promote adoption of new features, and build relationships.

I’d like to thank Gainsight for inviting me to the conference, it was a great opportunity to network with like-minded customer success evangelists and hear from the leaders in this space. I was asked to speak myself on “code red” meetings and Avecto’s risk management framework – details of which I will cover in an upcoming blog.