Sense Making, Future of Work

Thought Rocket: State of Enterprise Collaboration

As the title of this post suggests, this is a very quick thought on the state of enterprise collaboration, mostly captured in the form of a DanelDoodle – the one above. Some added thoughts/considerations:

  • In my view, each new phase supplements the last, not replaces and all products and forms of activity still exist and have a place today. But there is a natural, progressive emphasis.
  • There are many other products, I have just highlighted the major ones, no offence to the ones I left out 😁
  • The penetration & value axis is wildly subjective and not intended to be accurate. Also because it conflates two characteristics it will be difficult to judge accurately. It’s just a stab at plotting what’s important.
Sense Making

Internet Trends and the impact on As a Service

Mary Meeker is famous for the insight of her Internet Trend Reports so of course I read them. Two slides stood out in relation to the trend I am tracking and the report I am working on. I captured my views with some annotations.

Customer Success

Role of marketing in customer success

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.

Ownership

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.

Interconnection, especially with Sales

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?

As a Service, 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 Success

The Customer Success Team Maturity Model

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NOTE: The thinking behind this model applies predominantly to enterprise SaaS operations. It also applies to the maturity of your customer success team, not the customer’s maturity in relation to their use of your product or their interactions with you.

I’ve already written about the phases of the model above in this post: Customer experience, the subscription economy and 10 ways success teams will make you win

This long overdue post dives into the functioning of the maturity model. It’s not so much about the elements of each phase which are covered by separate chapters in detail.

Becoming a successful customer success organisation takes time and you cannot become successful overnight.

So the first premise to understand is that you need to level up through different phases of maturity.

Then that input and outcomes are necessary at each phase.

Finally, that the impact this has over time are central to the functioning of the maturity model.

As mentioned in the note in the very first lines, this model applies to the customer success team, not the customer.

On the latter, a very fine model has already been proposed by Boaz Maor – more on that here: Why your customer health score may be quite useless: your framework to calculate CMI

Mine is for those that want to build a customer success team as well as showcase best practice for organisations who have done it well.

Having said that, of course impact on customers business has to be figured into the equation and you will see how I’ve done that.

So onto a little around the main building blocks of the maturity model.

The build, grow, innovate side of the phases should be pretty self evident and covered sufficiently in the first post I linked to so it’s really for input, outcomes, impact and time to be explained.

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First a DanelDoodle to visualise things on the inputs and outcomes side. The context for this as I describe it is the science of customer success. The very necessary data driven side of things, something that I believe needs emphasis.

Input

Input should cover not just human activity but technological and automated activities.

Each chapter will cover this in more detail but it is alongside the next area, also to be covered in chapters, that is crucial to understand a connection

In other words, the causality between what you or the customer does and what outcome results from the action.

Examples of input are shown in the diagram.

Outcomes

Outcomes should as far as possible be quantifiable.

That doesn’t mean to say you should only use telemetry to understand an outcome based on an input.

You could use qualitative means, through a survey for instance, to gauge user sentiment.

This would amplify understanding you would typically get from only looking at usage data for instance.

Notwithstanding the way you measure an outcome, it is nothing unless you look at its impact.

Seen in isolation, an outcome would just be a number or score, but without contextual analysis of what impact it is having, it might be meaningless.

Examples of outcomes are captured in the diagram.

Impact

By this I mean impact on the customers business. Material effects from actions with resulting outcomes.

The emphasis which cannot be stressed enough, is impact on the customers business.

This is kind of the last mile.

In an enterprise SaaS business, while outcomes can be measured in terms of effects it has on users, impacts need to be measured in terms of how end customers are effected and how this impacts on your customer’s business.

The formula would look something like this: X (input) + Y (outcome) = Z (Impact)

A simple example: A mailing with an explanation of a new feature increases usage of that feature by staff which results in an uptick of end user satisfaction.

Time

Time per se is not difficult to understand.

What I want to stress is the likelihood that at the beginning of the journey you will not be in a position to be tracking the kinds of impact I’ve referred to above as you will later on.

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That’s because you will be too busy building systems (often internal operations) and may not even have the capability to track inputs, outcomes and impacts.

The latter largely also depends on your customers involvement which will depend on the length of your relationship and their own maturity.

I’ve often said that anytime I start out in a new role or advising starting out anew, my starting point would be this dashboard above left.

Customer Success

5 usage and adoption heuristics for customer success

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I wanted to capture some simple rules of thumb that I could use to easily remember the top line influences on my work in customer success. I created a doodle to make it fun and memorable (for me) but also shareable.

I came up with these 5. I’m sure there are more. These would only really become heuristics if they were endorsed by a lot of people so I’ve added a poll below. I’d love your input – please vote on them and add any in the other option and I can update this list later. Below the poll I elaborated briefly on each in case the doodle is not legible – it’s self contained with the doodle so you can share it with this link if you want.

1. Launch well

I really do believe you only have one chance to make a good first impression. This goes beyond onboarding which I cover in a separate point. I think its fairly self explanatory but I do have an entire post on this if you are interested: Launch like a boss – bringing consumer startup practice to your enterprise technology platform

2. Social proof

Showing users other successful users or customers gives them the proof they need to adopt and use something. It becomes a self fulfilling cycle of success if you have good examples. Having a social layer in your tool to foster community and sharing will help greatly in scaling your efforts. I cover some of that in this post: Scaling your customer success efforts online – a guide

3. Signals sell

Creating feedback loops (dashboards) to let users see how they are using a system and what progress they are making can spur on further use. In other words, stats on how they are using the tool, what they have achieved in a given period, etc. Sharing other user stats with them might add a degree of competition, i.e. gamification.

4. Continuous onboarding

Users, especially in an enterprise environment, are continuously churning, i.e. leave the company. For the new ones that come onboard and also for new features (if you are frequently releasing new features), you need to constantly re-educate users. Self service training options and automation are a good way to address this at scale.

5. Use before value

By this I mean your first challenge is getting users to use a platform. They have to be familiar with it and its purpose and grasp the fundamentals. Only then can they go on to higher order value creating activities that achieve business outcomes. So first track usage and adoption metrics and ensure this is going in the right direction, then try capture other types of value related metrics.