hey, i’m writing to you from san francisco’s dreamforce 2015! this year my old buddy, marc benoiff, ceo at salesforce.com, featured customer success as the focus of his keynote speech.

the future standard for executive teams will include a head of customer success who’s on the same level as the heads of sales, marketing & demand generation. executives need to understand that customer success is not about increasing customer satisfaction, but about creating revenue growth.

the easiest revenue comes from keeping the customers you have. 

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most customer success efforts still use a lot of guesswork and manual reporting. but if you get your data act together (maybe manually at first; then later with a tool), you can get a better look at each customer.

Whom To Reach Out To, When & Why

Critical Customer Success Alerts

  • Contract data: e.g., customer stuck without up-sell for while
  • Support interactions: e.g., lots of low priority tickets or customer that stopped calling
  • Billing / payment history: e.g., delayed invoices due to frustration
  • Product and feature usage: e.g., which features are sticky and who’s using them
  • Marketing engagement: unsubscribes to newsletter
  • Survey feedback: e.g., bad input from key person
  • Sponsor changes: e.g., exec contact leaves, new CMO

Based on that, you can:

1. Develop triggers for when to intervene proactively before bad stuff happens. Obviously it’s easier to save a customer before they send you a canceling notice! First based upon intuition, over time this can be based more on historical data and automatic triggers/alerts.

2. Standardize interventions so that each Customer Success Manager is using the same best practices. With this consistency, you can better measure the effectiveness of each intervention or type of problem / solution.

As a final tip, regularly scheduled in-person visits can go a long way in uncovering issues that went unreported; it’s also harder to say goodbye to a friend…

For more on customer success, read: How Gild Dropped Monthly Churn From 4% to <1%.

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