As SaaS vendors, we are TOO vendor focused and not customer focused. Given the fast pace nature of SaaS it is easy to become trapped inside your own 4 walls. I have participated in many QBRs as a customer and experienced firsthand how self-serving the message from my vendor is presented. More importantly, it is infuriating when my reasons for purchase and business outcomes are forgotten as I transition from sales to implementation to customer success or post production support. Customer needs are not that complicated and can be simplified to the following.
- Help with missing skill sets
- Lacking depth of experience
- Competing demands
- Ability to manage change
- Cost of ownership
- Customer Success professionals are often not given a chance to succeed because most executives have unrealistic expectations for this role. Customer Success superstars approach their role with sincerity and need to experience wins more often than not. What I see when I work with many teams is exactly the opposite. Customer Success teams are often evaluated based on arbitrary measurements of productivity instead of their ability to deliver the customer’s desired outcome(s). A fundamental tenant of Customer Success must be that our Customer Success team’s goals are achieved when our customer’s goals are achieved. To empower our teams to do this, we must understand how much availability and effort is required to get a customer to their desired outcome and give them that availability todo what is needed. If we want our customers to succeed then first the team that holds this charter needs to be given a chance.
Many current Client Success Automation (CSA) tools do not benefit Customer
Success professionals and merely perpetuate the unrealistic expectation that responding quickly equals being proactive and this is not what a customer wants. Many approaches in the market today are attempting to hold up the “house of cards” of this unrealistic approach. CSA vendors that rely on this approach will let you down and you won’t achieve your own desired outcomes.
VPs of Customer Success don’t compete well for resources amongst their peers. Let’s see if you can answer the questions below.
- Does your team understand what good execution looks like?
- Do you know how much effort is required to deliver a successful outcome?
- Can you articulate to your CEO and Board of Directors the relationship
between your strategy, its cost and the impact that you are driving within your customer base?
If you can’t answer the above, then how do you expect to compete for resources alongside product, sales and marketing. Each of these departments can explain the value equation of what additional cost (headcount) will bring to the business.
SaaS vendors grossly under invest in knowledge, community and enablement
or they wait until it is too late. Additionally, many Product Managers are not realistic with their approach to product design and don’t work a formula for health as the customer progresses through their maturity into their designs.Both of these points, knowledge materials and good product design, will create efficiencies in your delivery.
I have spent the majority of my career in consulting and customer facing roles within software companies, I have also been the purchaser/consumer of many B2B technologies for a large fortune 500 company. In this capacity, it is easier to see the breakdown from the customer’s perspective. Below are a few thoughts that I have regarding SaaS companies and their approaches to customer success.
Companies often get it all wrong because they mistake account management for customer success. They measure the wrong metrics or the right metrics at the wrong time to measure their effectiveness. They fail to properly account for the effort and time it takes to deliver great results and as a result they under deliver. They fail to be truly proactive and underinvest in the creation of content and collateral that empowers customers. In short, they are missing a comprehensive strategy to assure success.