Are you a Customer Success leader? Do everything you can to remove barriers in the way of your CSM’s so they have only one thing to focus on: Customer Success
Are you a Customer Success leader? Do everything you can to remove barriers in the way of your CSM’s so they have only one thing to focus on: Customer Success
Microsoft Teams is such an incredible work productivity tool. It doesn’t just bring work from other applications into the conversation but the whole tool itself. That plus the ability it offers to structure activities into logical workflows provides perfect context for bringing business scenarios to life.
Business scenarios are an important mechanism in beyond adoption to drive business value.
Check out a brief intro and demo I’m using with customers into the use of Teams in the context of an example business scenario (marketing), focusing on getting things done and driving value.
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:
This collection of announcements above 👆 shows the sheer breadth of industries effected by the As a Service trend – nothing is off limits.
There were a batch of articles and new research:
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”.
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 😁
I captured a few simple points in a video a few weeks back in a flash of contemplation (hence thought rocket). Other than capture and share it here I wanted to elaborate a little. First the video:
The first thing to say is that customer success is not an isolated event or activity and this video and its content should not be taken to mean that.
Customer success is a series of purposeful activities or events which over time lead to the customer achieving their intended outcomes.
That is my super simple definition specifically as context for this post.
The 5 points captured in the video are merely outcomes that can be captured at any given time and may characterise a single moment of success. There could be many others. These are my top five. These and the others happening repeatedly over time would constitute long term customer success. This would be the true customer success.
So now onto a wee bit of elaboration on each of the 5 points because this is a thought rocket after all and I don’t want to over think it.
Probably the most important thing about any short or long term success is that a business outcome is achieved. Of course the ideal is that it is positive and satisfies the customer but I would also say that it should be the result of purposeful intent. That means you achieved what you set out to achieve. Unintended outcomes can happen and you can even allow for those and they can be of greater consequence. But better would be those that were achieved as a result of purposeful cause and effect planning because this can lead to repeat-ability.
Being able to capture a success in a way that it inspires greater use, adoption, success and value creation is best. Not all successes can be made into a great story. Stories are what capture the imagination and drive greater momentum but the detail of that is for another post.
If the success can be reapplied in the same area (team or department say) or ideally even more broadly (another team or even department or company) then so much the better. This again drives further use, adoption and success and is fundamentally a scale lever.
The ability to quantify or qualify the success in some way greatly increases the value of the success. Nothing succeeds like tangible, measurable success. Especially if it fits in with predefined targets you intended to achieve and then you blow them out the water. I’m talking KPI’s baby 🎯 😁
If it succeeds in changing behaviour and sticks then so much the better. Most customer success efforts are oriented around driving a change in behaviour so that different outcomes are achieved. This is most often the promise of the new technology being sold, implemented and adopted. So this becomes “très importante”.
What else, what have I missed, what would be your top 5 – let me know in a comment if you dare 😜
Adoption hacks are little tips and tricks you can use to stimulate adoption of technology. Actions that can include any number of activities, all designed to get users learning about, understanding and using features of a technology to get new value from it.
Activities can be anything from communication, learning components, social proof (showing how others are getting value) all the way to mandating something. All is fair when it comes to adoption hacks :)
I’ll start documenting what I am doing and what I learn about from others in the way of adoption hacks in posts like these.
At the moment, at Microsoft, I am focusing heavily on Microsoft Teams adoption. Teams is is seen as a platform play because it is the front end to a lot of other tools in the Office 365 technology stack as well as those outside through various integrations.
Teams is extensible and customisable so that you can reach users in their chats, channels, notifications and personal workspaces. A single app can provide one or more capabilities.
They enable users to make decisions and take action faster. They reduce context switching on important tasks. They create opportunities for collaboration around external content. They make for the perfect adoption hacking tools in other words 😁
Teams apps come from different publishers. 1st party apps are developed by Microsoft for Office 365 or Office workloads as mentioned and enable better together scenarios. 2nd party apps are those not built by Microsoft and are popular work applications enabled in a central location (the store you can access in Teams). Custom apps are built by your organisation to meet specif business needs. Just some examples below:
One key learning we’ve had at Microsoft is that Bots, custom line of business applications that integrate business processes, and ‘ready to use’ applications integrated into Teams = stickiness and relevance that keeps users coming back every day and drive company-wide adoption.
One very specific example of this I am making use of with my customers to support end users is combining Teams and the Microsoft Bot framework to create Q&A Bots. Users can query the Bot and get answers to questions on Teams as well as other applications. In my case I am focusing on other O365 related applications but it could be used for any.
Here is documentation on some Bot service templates which can be used to get started building Bots and includes one on to build a Q&A Bot.
Dentsu Aegis Network have done a great job with this and you can read this article to find out more: Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) builds Teams chatbot to drive internal adoption of new technologies.
This is such a great example of using new technology to support adoption of technology which I am hugely motivated by. I’ll be sharing more as I learn in this super interesting space.
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 :)
I attended a customer success meetup last Friday which produced some excellent conversation.
I’ve been thinking about the topic of this post for a while so added it to the list of discussion topics in the meetup. From the link above you’ll see it amongst a bunch of Post It notes.
It was bundled alongside sales topics naturally enough and then we expanded on this and the other sales topics.
I’m really interested in this topic because at the moment I’m working on a customer marketing platform that will help me scale my activities with my customers and those of many of my colleagues in the EMEA region. I’ve just launched it so it’s early days. I’ll be sharing more on that as I learn what works and doesn’t.
But back to the meetup. I cannot remember all of the detail we discussed as I didn’t take notes. From memory and with my own thoughts on the subject I captured a doodle which I think distils both the conversation and my thoughts sufficiently. I’m hoping some attendees will chime in with their thoughts/memories here or on LinkedIn where I’ll share this 😁
The doodle should be fairly self explanatory and readable I hope. Here are a few extra notes that struck me as I put that together.
On a quick search you’ll find a lot on this topic so it’s worth doing the exercise and I don’t want to broaden this post out too much for now. The one that popped up at the top of the list for me makes some good points: How Customer Success and Marketing Work Together to Build Brand Advocates.
I haven’t distinguished roles in my doodle for who should be responsible for any of the activities, marketing or customer success departments.
I did feel that some of the items listed in the article above where strictly customer success activities that should not fall into marketing, i.e. its pure customer success work, not even customer marketing.
This and more is probably something worth expanding on and there is evidence of it being an issue: Why Customer Success Should Own Customer Marketing.
This was a big topic of discussion of course as sales was the overarching topic bucket. In particular we discussed what is often a disconnect between what is promised by marketing and/or sales and then has to be delivered by customer success.
I’ve tried to capture the interconnections in my doodle with the lines between activities.
This is also something I’ve experienced being a problem and I’m sure there is a lot about this out there which I’m not even going to look for at this stage.
Suffice it to say that the hand-off between the different activities and roles needs to be seamless for the customer experience to be optimal. This was clearly expressed in the conversation.
Anything to add?
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.
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.
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.
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 Success activities are maturing. I have been doing the job since at least 2012 and have seen the profession go through fundamental changes to the point where, to succeed now, you need to be innovating.
I started writing about the role of customer success in relation to customer experience and the subscription economy almost 18 months ago in this post: Customer experience, the subscription economy and 10 ways success teams will make you win.
Just in the time since that post things have changed. There is a constant need to update thinking and refocus. Innovation is be the tip of the iceberg in many ways.
The iceberg is not just a turn of phrase. It plays a prominent role in my thinking. I’ve captured other elements using the analogy of an iceberg in the past: The customer success and experience iceberg. These focus on the relationship between customer success and customer experience. They also focus more on the input and output of the two activities.
The iceberg is a useful metaphor and you will see me using it constantly. Customer success as a practice and overarching philosophy should be built and grown to a point where you are mature enough that constant innovation becomes the standard. In the featured image of this post you should see how innovation forms part of the tip of these three elements: build, grow, innovate.
Innovation has always been a part of the equation for me and you should see that from the post I wrote 18 months ago and linked above – here is the section covering it. The three subsections below also still also hold true.
Innovation is also at the apex of the maturity model I developed so its fitting to be doubling down on it: The Customer Success Team Maturity Model. The growing and building aspects remain important as they also form the basis for my mentoring.
Outside of the maturity model which relates to activities within the organisation, the profession has reached a point of maturity that means doing customer success well is not enough to differentiate you.
And as all industries face the growing power of the customer and all companies focus on meeting customer demands better, so innovation that drives better customer experiences becomes key.
The As a Service part which is listed as a subsection of innovation in customer success above will actually be the focus of a new trend report. It will incorporate customer success practices and innovation in this as well as many other practices.
It will also cover innovation as a whole, insofar as practices that are successful in one industry can be adopted by other industries to innovate. Find out more about the report by hitting the button below.
Innovation is a key focus area but as part of this, other considerations need to be borne in mind, within customer success as well as the broader As a Service trend. I’ll cover them in the trend report as well.