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Starting out as a customer success manager – first 10 things to do

I was asked by a new colleague who is just two months into his role, what advice I could provide. Here it is in a short, sharp list of 10 things to focus on. I’ve tried to make it generic since there are some things specific to the company I work for that I could not mention here (disclosure).

Follow the numbers

Because everything is measurable and measured these days, especially in the customer success field, this is a natural starting point.

1. Find out what metrics the company use to measure customer success effectiveness and how your performance will be managed in this regard.

2. Find out what tools are used to track your impact and outcomes against these metrics and master them. These will most often be transactional and analytics or reporting based solutions focused on either revenue and/or usage or telemetry-based metrics. You will find out more about this after doing your homework from point 1.

3. In addition to the tools, find out what will help you achieve the numbers in terms of processes and supporting resources. Things like content, funding activities or programs that drive customer activity, etc.

4. Find out who will help you achieve them internally. Identify top performers and what makes them tick and why they perform well, i.e. why the company has rewarded them for being top performers based on quota attainment. This also refers to supporting or complimentary functions like sales, product engineering, etc.

5. Find out which customers will help you achieve those numbers, an internal quantitative assessment. Hopefully the company will have done an analysis of which customers have the highest propensity to renew, upsell, cross sell and have the money (budget) and intention to invest in your product and company.

Forget the numbers

Because we are too often obsessed with measurement. It can dumb you down and make you myopic (great observations in an interview with renowned management thinker and professor Henry Mintzberg).

6. Understand your customers, their business, wants and desires – do your own customer qualification work not just what was done internally under point 5. This is an external qualitative assessment.

7. Prioritise customers based on intent to use your product – nothing to do with numbers. Its a feel for how engaged they are and how well bought in they are to your product and company. For this you should also look internally, at your culture and how well it aligns with the customer’s.

8. Identify the key stakeholders. These are the decision makers, the champions or advocates (for your product and company). If you don’t find any, you will either have to decide to develop them because the numbers justify it or deprioritise this customer. Also look at how open your organisation and the customers are to open collaboration and transparency – if connection and knowledge is hoarded, this is not a good sign.

9. Identify the business outcomes they are trying to achieve; okay numbers may come into this but think about what problems they are trying to solve and needs they are trying to meet and how your organisation and product/service can support these. Think innovatively and use something like the Jobs to be Done lens.

10. Focus on value that you, your product and your company can bring in trying to meet those unmet needs or problems they are trying to solve. Again, numbers could come into it. But think more creatively and innovatively and bring time into it. What is the customer’s plan for creating value and where do you and your organisation and its product/services fit in – think in horizons – 1-3 years.

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How to measure value for customers

This is a worthy challenge I’ve grappled with before, just check out my posts under the metrics tag. The other day I got my hands on a recently published Forrester report with the same title as this post. I cannot share the report for obvious reasons but this is my review of the highlights of the report which does share some details.

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Two brains on ‚ÄúEverything as a Service‚ÄĚ for the price of one

These are some thoughts captured and co-written by Stephen Danelutti and Jason Noble, two long time contributors to the world of Everything As a Service (XaaS) who met recently. We realised our common background and insights and decided to produce this combined thought piece – hope you enjoy.

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Enabling Usage Insights for Office 365 Customers

This post provides first some simple context for whom and why it is important to understand usage of enterprise technology platforms and then how we enable it at Microsoft for the Office 365 suite of products. You can skip the context and head straight to the enabling part if you like.

It’s important for Customer Success teams to spend time trying to understand their customer’s usage of the technology they support. This will help them to help the customer with adoption efforts.

Arguably even more important is to enable customers with their own views and insights. That is what this post is focused on. 

Tools often incorporate some degree of usage reporting and most of the time, it’s pretty lightweight. At Microsoft for the O365 suite of products, we go the extra mile.

We offer a built in dashboard in the Admin section of O365 for basic level insights to use of Power BI for advanced analytics.

On the latter we have created an automated integration that can be installed by any O365 admin and then made available to members of the organisation that need to leverage these insights.

On the former, we are planning to add more functionality all the time as you can see from this recording of a session at Ignite a few months back from the product group.

Access by business users is especially important when you want to work with and enable business champions to understand and support the users in their departments.

Going beyond usage analytics for admins of a technology is really important too which I have written about here: Co-owning success with Office 365 customers.

Below is a brief summary of the options and steps to take to enable these options. This changes from time to time so I’ll keep this post updated with new info. Add a comment if you have any queries.

1. Activity Reports in the O365 admin centre

More on this here. This is accessible to an admin role as standard but other users in the organisation could be assigned a role to be able to see the reports without being given access to the admin centre. It is possible to hide users details in the reports thereby anonymising the results if legal requirements necessitate it. These points are covered in the article linked above. These reports have a basic level of usage reporting.

2. O365 usage analytics content pack for Power BI

More on this here. This is a more advanced level of usage analytics and enabled through a Power BI content pack. From a base set of usage reports you can customise and add further dashboards and reports РPower BI training is advisable for this.

This is especially important if you want to bring in and combine other sources of business data to make comparisons – useful for correlating technology and end user support inputs with business outcomes.

 The Power BI content pack has to be enabled by an O365 admin but then they can provide access to the Power BI dashboard to any other user. You can then take those reports and embed them into a Sharepoint portal landing page through a web part to present reports to different stakeholders (end users, executives, departments, etc.). There are licensing considerations and limitations to accessing and sharing rights to be aware of. In this option too you can make the collected data anonymous. The first article linked to in this section has a really good FAQ covering all of the above.

3. Special note on user segmentation

For detailed segmentation by region and org type via the usage analytics content pack you need to have things set up properly in Active Directory – from the first article linked to in point 2 above:

The data model that powers the content pack includes user attributes that from Active Directory, enabling the ability to pivot in certain reports. The following Active Directory attributes are included: location, department and organization.