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What employee experience can learn from customer success

I’ve been in the customer success profession for just over 10 years. For even more years, I’ve been focusing on enterprise collaboration and productivity software, at Microsoft (disclosure) and beyond, and a lot of that is now evolving naturally into employee experience software. I’m also writing a trend report on the connection between employee and customer experience so I feel a natural affinity for this topic.

There are 4 key focus areas that can be transferred across in my view:

Outcomes and data driven

This is first because it’s the most important. It’s very closely aligned with focusing on customer and user success but it narrows things down by focusing on the customer’s outcomes and quantifying that with a data driven approach. I write many posts about the importance of business outcomes.

With technology especially it is easy to be data driven because the use of your product (or not) is the source of the data. There are other ways to get data that is meaningful, on whether the customer is achieving the right outcomes, for examples surveys. All this data should provide an indication of the value the customer is achieving and therefore whether they are likely to stay a customer or churn and this can be analysed over time.

It should be even easier to translate this for the employee. Most support to employees these days is technology and therefore data driven. Focusing on and measuring the outcomes that an employees achieves is the surest way to business success. Besides this, it is the surest way to ensuring you are successful with employees. It is well know that employees do better and are more satisfied (and hence likely to stick around longer and be more loyal) when they are doing well through the outcomes they achieve than from any artificial employee pleasing measures. Things like slides, free food, even more pay are secondary to when an employee self actualises at work through achieving their goals and those of the company.

Customer and user success

This would seem fairly obvious, that someone in customer success should focus on that very function. But it cannot be overstated. The point is that you shouldn’t focus on the function having an internal view. Too often people get caught up in the process and take their eye of what really matters, the customers success and how to measure it (see point one, i.e. business outcomes).

Also, its about the users. You have to be focused on the end user point of view, how they use the technology to get their job done.

When it comes to employee experience, the same thing applies, the employee should be at the centre of the focus and how they use the tools provided to achieve their outcomes. And just like there are roles focused on the customers success, their should be roles focused on the employees success. Not just HR roles supporting the employee or driving the employee to meet their targets, but focused on them achieving the outcomes that matter to them. Of course these need to be aligned with the company’s outcomes because a disconnect here leads to overall failure. And this is not a managerial role, it’s a functional role.

New technologies and behaviour

This point follows on nicely from the previous two. When you are focused on the customers business outcomes and them being successful with those, this is a logical focus on the how. When software and now AI is so pervasive, if this is not part of the mix, you are not even out of the starting gates. And this is regardless of whether your role is focused on a customer’s success with your software, i.e. it could be around a service or process that has little to do with software. But inevitably it must involve technology and how it should be used correctly.

When it comes to correct technology use, you cannot ignore the behaviours around that use and often these will require change because of the pace of technology change which is increasingly exponential. Behaviour change is not an easy thing to manage but is doable with the right skills.

This very same focus should be applied to employees especially when you consider how many new technologies employees are faced with on average every year. I asked ChatGPT, here is the answer I got.

That’s an interesting question. I couldn’t find a definitive answer to how many new technologies employees are faced with on average every year, but I did find some statistics that might be relevant123:

These numbers suggest that employees are exposed to a lot of new technologies every year, both within and outside their organizations. However, the actual number may vary depending on factors such as industry, role, location and personal preference.

Lifetime value, loyalty and retention

Customer success professionals often focus on their short term targets, what they need to achieve to be able to hit the quotas set for them. These are often in turn (at least in theory), focused on ensuring that a customer gets value out of their investment and ultimately continues using your product and/or service.

But often the focus is too short term and the metrics are just a proxy for customer value and not really focused on the customers long term value, health and satisfaction. Sometimes not even on their business outcomes. And sometimes you have to lose the battles (i.e. miss some of your short term quotas) to win the war (keep the customer over very long periods of time).

Employee wellbeing is on everybody’s lips these days and presumably with the goal of keeping employees satisfied and retaining them over the long term. Because just like with customers, where it is more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one, so too with employees. But importantly, to reiterate what I said under the first section and as with customers, the focus should not just be short term wellbeing/satisfaction outcomes or metrics. The focus for employees should be what value they are getting and in turn the company, through enabling them to achieve their long term outcomes aligned with the business’.

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