Customer Experience, Customer Success

Update on As a Service Trends

Click to enlarge and view separately

I’ve not had a chance to post for a while and there has been a fair bit of activity in the space so I have quite a bit to share.

I have also run a few numbers through the data visualisation machine and come up with the infographic at left – feel free to use and share.

So herewith some of the best posts from recent weeks.

New SaaS Delivery Models Require New Customer Success Delivery Models. A solid piece on how Customer Success roles need to change in the maturing SaaS space. Sticking with the SaaS space, this article does a really good job of explaining how to manage your vendor if you use a SaaS product: How to manage SaaS Vendors in the Subscription Economy. And for some other really good posts on these themes:

New entrants to the space

These include:

This collection of announcements above 👆 shows the sheer breadth of industries effected by the As a Service trend – nothing is off limits.

Industry specific news

There were a batch of articles and new research:

Trend indicators

Here is a good summary of the trend which includes commentary on all the different industries being effected by the subscription economy: Subscription Services Draw Companies Closer To Customers. As with so many of the posts that I reference to the subscription economy, this one points to its darling Zuora, as you can see from the source of the chart. But their standing at the top of the subscription economy heap (as a company that powers the economy) may be under threat as new entrants join the fray: Stripe billing launches in Europe to power subscription companies across the continent.

There are other signs of a growing consolidation and integration in the Subscription Economy and Customer Success industries with the announcement by Medallia of their Strikedeck acquisition. Also Customer Success leader Gainsight’s announcement of the broadening of their portfolio into a “Customer Cloud”.

Customer Experience, Customer Success

Update on As a Service Trends

Nuggets from the last few weeks. If you have any similar announcements, reports or good articles, please share in a comment as I’m collecting them for a new eBook / trend report 😁

Customer Experience, Customer Success

Update on As a Service Trends

As I think more about this whole space and track the developments in it with posts like this, I’m trying to envisage dynamics of the perfect business in it.

That gave rise to the DanelDoodle at left. Just some fun and very quick so not sure they are absolutely right. I’ll get a better feel for this as I complete my new trend report / eBook on the subject and it may become clearer and a little more scientific.

Anyway onto latest developments which is always the purpose of these posts in the form of announcements, articles, etc.

If you have any As a Service examples please share in a comment as I’m collecting them :)

Customer Experience, Customer Success

Update on As a Service Trends

When Ikea considers changing its business model then you know something is afoot. The big news this last week was Ikea thinking about making certain items available on a subscription basis.

Good article on that here where the screenshot at left is from.

It’s looking at doing so on a trial basis so this will be a very interesting one to keep track of and see how things progress.

Circular economy

That article linked to above points to the concept of a circular economy which I was not even aware of but should be in the context of the As a Service trend that this post is about. The pasted paragraph below from the article says it all:

When Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport remodeled a terminal, it didn’t buy light bulbs; instead, the company signed a contract for “light as a service” from Signify, the company formerly known as Philips Lighting. Signify owns the physical lights, giving it the incentive to make products that last as long as possible and that can be easily repaired and recycled if anything breaks. The service is one example of a shift to a circular economy model. 

iPhone as a Service

I’m currently on Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Programme which in my view is its foray into the as a Service model. I captured how they are getting a little more tactical in my last Update on As a Service trends. Other than the obvious benefits they are targeting, that tactic shows how important it is to start treating your customers that sign up to a recurring financial commitment, with white gloves, so come time to renew, they do.

Volvo leading the race?

I cannot speak as intimately for Volvo’s execution on their subscription and as a Service promise but they are certainly talking a good talk. By all accounts they are struggling to keep up with demand. I’ve already written about my recent experience buying a car, which is all but a subscription service except in name. That experience is definitely not firing on all cylinders 😬

Customer Experience, Customer Success

Why customer experience and success share the same roof

There is a fundamental premise I make in the new eBook / trend report I am working on captured in the title.

Yet I’ve taken part in debates on LinkedIn that show there are divisions in opinion. Separatist thinking even.

Some think that customer success (CS) is the new kid on the block and muscling into territory owned by the customer experience (CX) brigade.

I guess it all depends on your background. Do you come from a marketing background where CX generally hails. Or from a customer service or account management background where CS hails.

I think it’s all rather pointless. I see the two as being inextricably linked.

The mother and father of modern views of the customer. Perhaps CX is the mother because in my view, CS is born of it, so to speak.

Some distinctions might be useful at this stage. These are mine:

  • CX is the sum total of interactions a customer has with a company and the net effect this has on the customer in terms of satisfaction and loyalty.
  • CS are the outcomes a company enables a customer to achieve through the use of its products/services.

CX is made up of many touch points that often transcend those of a CS team.

For example, pre-sales activities make CS hard if a product or service has not been sold right and perceptions between vendor and customer are misaligned on what comes after the deal is done.

CS teams are not always involved pre sales, at least in the early stages.

So its important those in sales are aligned to the right customer experience view and approach. They start the customer off on the journey after all.

In my mind, the best analogy I can draw between the two is that CX is the shell of the home with all of the feelings and emotion it engenders. CS is the different conveniences you find in it, the bathroom to clean yourself, the bedroom to get rest, the kitchen to feed yourself.

I’ve captured it in a DanelDoodle just in case it’s not clear with some other examples.

cx and cs house

Customer Experience, Customer Success

The connected car vision is missing a few connections

The connected car is the future for automotive companies.

There is a lot going on in this space. I know because in my business, I have several customers in the industry.

But you don’t need to be in the business to know.

I recently purchased a car. It’s connected and awesome, I’m impressed.

But my experience taught me that something is missing.

I did not need too many people to help make the decision on the company and car I chose.

I made my decision and purchased without seeing the car physically. I investigated many options with various companies and did it mostly online. Talking to sales people was necessary at certain points.

I also made a decision to lease a car which will be up for renewal in 2.5 years.

That part took some time. To understand all the nuances I had to speak to people.

Dealing with the people and in many cases the online experience around many of the decision factors was mostly an awful grind.

That was all leading up to my decision.

In 2.5 years I will decide to continue with the same car and company, or not, based on a different experience. Some of that experience will be based on the car, including its connected features, some on further experience with the company.

I’ve not had much to do with the company since. The experience with the company after I decided was mostly good but it could have been a lot better.

I’ve opened up all communication channels with the company. I’ve made myself as receptive to the experience as possible. Time will tell.

Some questions for the industry

I get that the connected car concept is all about technology but is the industry thinking enough about other necessary connections?

Does it get the connection between experience and satisfaction and that this derives from many (often joined up) factors like people, technology and processes?

When the experience derives from people do they make the connection between the employee experience and how this influences the customer experience? To be specific I’m thinking that employees that have a great experience and are satisfied at work reflect that on to the customer.

Do they get that the rules of ownership are changing. Many do, getting in on the subscription model business, e.g. BMW and Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, etc. But do they realise subscription models bring new responsibilities?

Do they get how influential experience is in driving decisions, especially ongoing decisions about staying with a company or product, or not?

Do they get that technology is easily copied but experience isn’t?

Conversely, does it get that technology could play such a large role in connecting not just the internet of things for instance, but the internet of human experience?

They would probably say yes to all of the above. From my rhetorical questions you might guess where I lie on the matter. I guess it’s a question of maturity.

My recent experience and these questions are useful for the eBook / trend report I’m writing so excellent grist for the mill. I will try and answer them and provide recommendations. In the meantime…

Three ways I suggest the industry can start improving:

  1. Be more SaaS. The Software as a Service industry has learned a trick or two about how to build superb customer experience and the importance of customer retention and lifetime value. Specifically adopt many customer success approaches. Use the product itself (the car, starting with onboarding) as a core part of the experience with add on technology to enhance it through ongoing interactions that are data driven and point interactions with humans to amplify and delight.
  2. Extend the experience map. Map experience from employee through to customer and deliver on it from end to end. See it as an holistic journey that is harmoniously interdependent and made up of many parts: people, process, technology. Many are doing experience mapping but not adequately and not end to end in the way described.
  3. Bolster your employee experience. Its not just about the customer. This so often lags with employees playing second fiddle especially with the technology that supports work not matching what the customer gets. Robots and automation, especially in the auto industry, may play an increasing role but for the foreseeable future, humans will still play a disproportionate role in creating and nurturing human experience. Customer experience starts with employee experience.
Customer Experience

Why bad customer experience matters and Avis does not try harder

This is about a recent customer experience I had with Avis which has cost them my loyalty.

This is not just a rant, annoyed as I am. I’m capturing this kind of story as a way of illustrating what good or bad customer experiences look like for my new eBook / trend report. Its unfortunate I had to be the one experiencing it but I’ll put it down to research costs :)

The ironic thing is I am a Preferred member (to their loyalty scheme) and have given them my loyalty for many years. No longer. You could see this as an outcome of my experience – impact on customer loyalty. Another is the fact I’m so incensed I’m writing about and sharing this.

I used to hire cars at least every other month for work purposes over a period of 1-2 years about 4 years ago. Thats when I signed up to the Avis Preferred scheme. I’ve been using it less since then but at least a few times a year (work and personal) and had stuck with Avis throughout.

The Experience

I went on holiday to Italy for a week on the 26th of August this year with my daughter.

I rented with Avis as I do countless other times – I use their online booking platform. I’ve often had problems with it functioning as expected but not this time which anyway is not the point of this story.

I had to book to return the car at a time when the returns office was not open as my flight back was too early.

I picked up the car in Venice. It was busy. The wait was really long and my Preferred status was of no use. When I eventually got to the counter to process check-in, I asked about dropping the car off at such an early hour. I was assured it would be no problem and I could pop the keys off in a box outside the office.

I scanned the car before setting off as I always do and could see no untoward damage apart from some standard scuff marks as I had often found. I had waived additional insurance as I typically do so always check on these things.

I had a great holiday. My daughter and I arrived early on the 2nd of September and dropped the car off. Again I walked around the car with my daughter and the car looked exactly as I had found it. I dropped the keys in a box outside the closed door of the office where there was someone inside cleaning – he noted me and carried on cleaning.

The picture below was taken from the business class lounge and you can see how early it was.

venice airport.png

We landed and while waiting for baggage I checked various messages. Two were emails from Avis. One apologised for my wait on first picking up my car and offering me an upgrade the next time I hired a car.

The other told me they had found a scuff on the car that allegedly was not there before they had given me the car and that they would be charging me €293.02 for the damage. Below is the evidence they produced which I struggled then and now to make head or tail of – check alternating positions between zoomed out and close up.

Avis damage 1
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Avis damage 2
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I immediately (still waiting for luggage) tried to call them but the various options all said they were only available during weekly working hours. I then replied to the first mail apologising for the wait saying I had no problem with the delays but I did with the accusation of damage and the charge. I strenuously denied I had caused any damage AND refused to accept the unreasonable charge.

Moments later I received a response from the same person that had apologised saying he would look into it for me.

On the 26th of September after getting back to work and a busy period where I forgot about the issue I received an email to say that the amount had been charged to me. I confirmed that after looking at my bank statement online.

I immediately called up and after an interminable wait got through to someone. I questioned why I had been charged without being given the chance to go through a due process and after not hearing back at all on my first mail.

They asked me to mail through my initial mail which I did and that they would come back to me within sixteen days with an answer.

Sixteen days came and went and still nothing. On the 21st of October I called again and after another very long wait I got through to someone. They acknowledged they had failed to reply within their stipulated time and again apologised for this and that I had to call them. They promised a response within 48 hours.

I received an email within that time and the response was basically that they would not refund me the amount and that was it.

Why I have such an issue and this is a bad experience:

  1. Their lack of due process which presumes me guilty and takes my money before I’ve been able to resolve the matter – I have still not been able to discuss and dispute this properly. I’ve not been able to speak to anyone other than a call agent who did not deal with my case. And I was only ever pointed to email as a means of communication.
  2. Their disjointed response management – I communicated with the hiring office in Italy, the UK call centre and the damages department. There was no single thread of communication between Avis and I and these three entities which is what they point to for delays and lack of response on my first dispute. This is their problem not mine yet I suffered the impact.
  3. The time it took to get to an answer.
  4. The fact I had to chase them.
  5. The unreasonable cost. If I concluded the fault was mine which I have still not, surely Avis must be able to get this repaired at far lower cost? I assume they have many of these cases and cars needing to be repaired at once so must be able to get better rates – why have they passed this exorbitant cost onto the customer?

Avis does not try harderI remember when I did my Masters in Marketing we studied Avis as an example of masterful positioning – their “We Try Harder” campaign which they still use. Its a pity they no longer live up to that claim, if they ever did. Well at least they won’t have to try harder for this person who is no longer a customer.

UPDATE

After several months of wrangling and back and forth, Avis decided to refund me half the €293.02 they were charging me. At least half a solution but not enough to get rid of the bad taste completely.

Customer Experience, Customer Success

The customer success and experience iceberg

I’ve just started working on my new eBook / trend report and I got to thinking about the cover. A little back to front but it’s often a catalyst for thinking about any other major concepts I want to cover, or ways of explaining existing concepts (sense making in other words).

I have already largely defined the chapters, yet thinking about the cover got me fired up to come up with some new thinking. I also had fun thinking about the cover, it’s a great way to inspire you for the slog of writing a long piece like this.

I started out thinking about a cover through a crowdsourcing exercise which was also fun (part 1 and 2). At some stage past the first few iterations an iceberg came to mind. I think it had to do with the three major themes of the eBook / trend report: the subscription economy, customer experience and customer success. The iceberg easily covered all three with a submerged part, the visible part and the sea in which they are naturally found.

So here is the result in a quick doodle, a video and a few lightly detailed bullets below of the main elements of the iceberg. I’m just working out loud so this is far from final. I’ve already thought of improvements but I’ll include those in the final work and if you have any input I’d love to hear it. I’ll also be digging into any research around some of my hypotheses that these building blocks essentially are so if you have any please send my way.

customer success and experience iceberg

Satisfaction

The ultimate point of a great customer experience and a customer success manager’s efforts is a customer that is highly satisfied. Most measures will lead up to this. In a subscription economy company but in general too, if a customer is sufficiently satisfied they will likely stay loyal which is also the ultimate point.

Value

I main driver of satisfaction is when you get value from something. There will be a myriad ways of quantifying value but as long as a customer is deriving some material, financial or emotional reward for using a product or service, they should logically be satisfied.

Outcomes

When you unpack value you’ll likely find that that there are contributing factors that influence the eventual quantification of value. These can hopefully be defined as clearly articulated outcomes. This is not easy, especially when it comes to the softer type of outcomes like status or emotional wellbeing. Outcomes are ideally something a good customer success manager has identified and quantified (with solid metrics) upfront, and not realised unintentionally at the end of the journey. But there maybe be some element of backward engineering for some outcomes.

Method / Process / Tech

A good customer success manager will have a robust approach that can be applied as a set of key building blocks of activity which lead to the intended end points above. A repeatable and measurable process and methodology that drive intended outcomes. One thing I have added consequently and is not in the diagram, is technology. That is, a platform or combination of platforms that will facilitate the journey of delivering the intended end points.

Insight

success and impactYou have to be able to understand (through careful reporting and analysis) what is driving the intended end points. That has to be a well tracked and represented set of activities that lead to understanding. It is typically centred on user activity (of your product and/or service). The understanding will allow you to work with your approach to see what is working and what isn’t. The holy grail of customer success management is when your planned interventions (made up of the approach covered above) can be materially tracked and tied back to impacts on usage – see rough doodle for example. The way to connect these two is through insights on usage data.

Data

Raw data primarily around how your product or service is being used is what I mean here. This often will stem from a key source which is the product or service being used. But sometimes there will be other sources of data that require integration into a single funnel which is then reported on and analysed for insight. For example you may want to take raw usage data and combine it with transactional data around the customer from a CRM system and together they enrich the meaning.

Product

It’s a given I’m talking about a tangible product like a technology platform but it need not only be that. Service delivery around a product should also be considered. Even just a service in its own right. The key thing is that you have a product or service that is made up of interactions with customers and technology plays a role in either fundamentally driving the interactions or in the means of digitising them.

Customer Experience, Customer Success

Customer experience, the subscription economy and 10 ways success teams will make you win

The Subscription Economy

Advances in technology, economic pressures and shifting cultural norms mean new models of ownership are gaining attention in many industries. People are increasingly interested in consuming and paying for temporary or limited access to goods and services, rather than purchasing them outright.

Subscription-based models in which companies offer ongoing access to a product or service for a periodic fee; rental models that give consumers temporary use of a product or service; and sharing models that allow groups of people to jointly share ownership of a product or service are among the preferred options.

It helps that there are major success stories where companies have proven the economic model. Netflix where consumers don’t feel the need to own movies and Spotify where they don’t need to own the songs, to name just a few.

It has been more prevalent with consumer software. Enterprise software has lagged somewhat as it always does, but it has caught up fast.

Behemoths like Microsoft, Adobe and Oracle are transforming their businesses and turning them around to pivot on these new business models. Some would say Salesforce, who was born in the cloud, popularised the movement.

These enterprise software companies have given rise to a category of business called SaaS, or Software as a Service. For a good explainer of a SaaS business see this article from Salesforce. A fundamental premise of a SaaS business is that the software is not owned by customers and paid for on a subscription basis.

Businesses not traditionally in technology are eying the models too and trying them on (highly recommended while software eats the world). The best example is probably Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is an undisputed success and not just because its latest Prime day has broken all records. From this article, “what sets Amazon apart is its undivided focus on improving the customer experience, something Bezos has talked about at length”. Amazon Prime plays a leading role in driving that customer experience.

Subscription business are far from new but how technology is utilised to improve customer experience is (especially in utilising data about customers needs and preferences) and it is making all the difference.

At least one of the reasons for Unilever’s acquisition of razor subscription service Dollar Shave Club for $1B was that it was a subscription business with recurring revenues. Another was that it used technology to build incredible relationships with customers based on its understanding of how they used the product

Another interesting business expanding into subscriptions is Nespresso.

NOTE: I am using the term subscription economy as a pretty broad, catch-all term to cover many types of business. As mentioned subscription businesses are not new and so I don’t want to cover only the new types of SaaS business I’ve already mentioned. And it does not just have to be about a subscription. Wherever there is recurring revenue, some kind of consumption based payment model, even pay as you go, I’m bundling them all under the term.

Customer Experience

Trusty Wikipedia has one of the better and most succinct definitions of customer experience I thought I’d share:

In commerce, customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences (including digital environment) during their experience.

On the three part distinction made in the definition above, this Harvard Business Review article has a good explainer: Understanding Customer Experience.

It should probably be a given but I will emphasise it that when you run a subscription business, you have unparalleled access to customer interactions and the data it creates because of the ongoing and recurring nature of the relationship.

Insofar as the subscription economy is concerned there is one major reason why customer experience is so very important. In a subscription business where the economic value a customer provides is not based on a one off payment but recurring payments over time, the imperative is for the provider to keep those payments coming in for as long as possible.

As long as the customers experience is positive, the fundamental presumption is customers will continue with the subscription. If not, the subscription can be stopped (notwithstanding the longer term contracts that enterprise customers frequently sign up to but at some point they are still able to).

The three fundamental elements of customer experience management are:

  1. Being able to map the journey your customer takes
  2. Track their progress on the journey through data collected while on it
  3. Take remediating action where necessary or constantly improve the journey and experience

The data should help decide how well the journey is going at any one point. The first is done through a mapping exercise and there are many approaches to this – one of my favourite is Adaptive Path’s approach which has its own site: http://mappingexperiences.com/

All is not well in customer experience land:

A positive customer experience is deemed important but only 3 out of 10 organisations match customer expectations and yet 8 in 10 are willing to pay more for a better experience. 75% of organisations believe themselves to be customer-centric but only 30% of consumers agree to this.

The source of those statistics is a report from Cap Gemini – The Disconnected Customer: What digital customer experience leaders teach us about reconnecting with customers. But you don’t have to look much further to find similar statistics and as alarming as they may sound (similar to to the “80% of change efforts fail” that some discredit), you have to admit where there is smoke there is often fire. So much work is still needed.

The role of customer success

I’m not suggesting a customer success team should be the single custodians of the customer experience and drivers of the subscription economy. The whole journey has many touchpoint that go beyond the success teams remit and the business drivers too broad for that. In the past I’ve mapped where I think a success team can and should play a prominent role and where it supports efforts.

Customer Success Focused Experience Map
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Here at left is how I tried to position the role of the CSM in an organisation based on my experience at Microsoft helping to run first Yammer then O365 Customer Success practices.

SaaS companies in particular, where subscription models drive recurring revenue, know that a good experience is critical. You’ll most often find a team of dedicated customer success managers, supported by automated and data-driven processes and scalable methodologies in a SaaS startup. It is a relatively new practice after all. As the world moves to subscriptions where experience is key, learning from the best in customer success is what a lot of this report will cover. I will also make the case that it should be expanded to other relevant organisations that have an interest in driving recurring revenue and great customer experiences as a means of doing that.

When I attended the Pulse 2017 customer success event I found out a lot about the latest best practices. I wrote about them here: State of Customer Success – Learnings from Pulse 2017. That includes links to customer success explainers but this one I wrote is probably the most succinct if you want to know what a CSM does: Role of the customer success manager.

In particular at Pulse 2017, McKinsey spoke and made the connection between customer success and customer experience in research they are currently undertaking. Take a look at the deck of slides they presented (thats a pdf and the audio is here) that covers the latest status and findings of the research. They make a clear link between customer success and customer experience and this is the essence of my hypothesis. Which is, that customer success activities can and should be studied to understand the potential they have to be key drivers of customer experience in the new subscription economy.

customer success within experience

More will be touched on in the eBook but for now an outline of the 10 areas I will explore further are below.

10 ways customer success will make you win

These are just high level titles and descriptions – for the detail you will have to wait for and read the eBook :) They cover elements of a good customer success practice that you can apply in order to drive a good customer experience in a subscription economy business and achieve the success you envision.

INTRO

1. Mindset and Culture

As mentioned in the Cap Gemini report, many companies think they are customer centric. The main problem is that customers don’t agree. The difference between saying you are and being it is often based on mindset that translates into action and ultimately experience. When you think a certain way, you act accordingly and this permeates the experience people have of you. Its no different with organisations and the employees that create experiences with customers. So you need to live and breathe customer centricity at the very core of your company culture – that is easier said than done.

Success is also a mindset game. Successful people often start out by defining some parameters of success and then set out to achieve them. They are goal and outcomes oriented. This is generally true of all businesses but has to be even more so for a success oriented part of the organisation.

Customer success teams have it not just in title but also in their marrow to focus on the customer and the success they achieve using the organisations products and/or services.

BUILD

You have to start somewhere and these are the foundational building blocks of a good customer success practice – outside of building the right culture and mindset referred to in the intro. These building blocks provide the foundation to expand and scale your practice and need to be in place for overall success.

2. Methodology

This means a robust approach to planning for and executing on the right strategy for success. It most often focuses on usage being made of and value being derived from the product or service, by the customer. It should also include a robust view of the customers experience journey and how to influence it at every point.

3. Data, Metrics and Tech

This will tie in with the methodology because you cannot manage what you don’t measure. One of the most important metrics is Net Retention. What Net Retention means is, if you never sold to another customer, is your customer-base a growing entity (quote from Dan Steinman, Chief Customer Evangelist, EMEA at Gainsight)? How you measure (meaning the data source and the reporting tools you use) are equally important. Then there is the platform or tech stack you use to manage activities, workflows and processes for you success team.

4. Practice and Leadership

Leadership is not so much about looking to a single leader but leading customer success practitioners doing excellent work with customers. After all nothing succeeds like success and seeing colleagues succeed and how they share that is often a core part of a customer success practice. But building a practice does mean having the right intent for customer success and experience activities and senior executives driving that and appointing someone on the board ideally to drive it is critical. The Chief Customer Officer is a new kind of CxO that seems to be and indeed should become more prevalent.

GROW

The subscription and experience business is such an iterative one by its very nature. Experiences vary so much by customer and continue to evolve and subscription models can be constantly tweaked as the data provides feedback and evidence of what works and doesn’t. Responding to this is key.

5. Segmenting Customers

Not all customers are equal, at least insofar as they contribute to net revenue retention. Some are deserving of different treatment. Those that account for greater returns are naturally the ones you will tend to focus on more but that shouldn’t be the only approach. There are many ways to segment customers and target different activities for each of them and I’ll cover that all in the eBook.

6. Scaling the Team

When you are a startup and have fewer customers you can afford to do things with them at a deeper level and piecemeal. At some point though, as your organisation and customer base grows, you have to start getting organised. Putting in place processes to make repeatable work easier to manage and execute is one area of effort. Understanding scale models like revenue per employee mapped to customer book size is another.

7. Scaling the Customer

As mentioned, nothing succeeds like success, especially when your customers play a hand. If customers are successful in the use of your product and/or service (i.e. they gain value from it) there is nothing better than enabling them to share that onwards with other customers. I’m talking about creating and nurturing influencers or champions of your customers. Not only will this bring other customers on board (think testimonials or references) but it provides evidence of great customer experience that spurs on further great experiences.

INNOVATE

By definition there will be less evidence of organisations doing things in this space, especially where success teams are set up (at least when they are called that). The fact is you cannot be standing still and although we are at an early stage in many of the practices covered, you can and should constantly be looking at ways to innovate how you deliver value to customers through use of data, technology and new business models.

8. Automation and AI

To some degree this is about scale too. Automation refers to the automation of interactions the organisation or product has with customers. It can cover marketing, service/support interactions and/or educational interactions. It takes interactions away from humans which is where scale comes into it. Things are at an early stage but many companies are experimenting already and doing some very interesting things which I will document. AI is playing an increasing role in this too.

9. As a Service

As subscription models expand in use and favour as a viable business model for more than just technology companies, traditional companies are experimenting and innovating how they incorporate this into their offering. I’ve already mentioned a few that are doing things in this space but I will do a thorough review and share examples of what companies are doing in this space to adopt the practices and innovate themselves.

10. SaaS 2.0

These are the companies and success teams you would expect to be taking the practices to the next level. Teams here are combining and innovating various factors to drive truly exceptional customer experiences. These kinds of teams operate in organisations that understand the role of customer success in driving great experiences and leading to increased revenue and profitability for their subscription business. It’s a two way street as teams innovate and achieve great results and organisations give them a greater role to do so.

Customer Experience, Customer Success

Customer Success Management – Experience Hacking in the Subscription Age

Having been a customer success manager and advising startups on the practice you would probably expect me to be trumpeting its value. You’d expect it from Gainsight too, the customer success company: Information Services, the Subscription Economy, and the Value of Customer Success.

And what about the subscription economy itself – whats in that? According to a 2014 report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 80 percent of customers are demanding new consumption models including subscribing, sharing, and leasing — anything except actually buying a product outright.

I found that in a post by the poster child for the subscription economy, the CEO of Zuora, Tien Tzuo: The Subscription Economy – A Business Transformation. Zuora offers subscription billing, commerce and finance solutions for the subscription economy.

Experience has been an Economy too at least since 1999, when the seminal book from Joseph Pine and James Gilmore was published: The Experience Economy.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide. In the meantime, I put this slide deck together for some of the Microsoft Ventures B2B startups I mentor based on my experience over the years. It’s my take (including much from others) on what it is and what makes a good program.

#workingoutloud #customer-success