How Creating Value Leads to Customers for Life

Could there be a better reminder of what is important for any Chief Customer Officer out there than Customer Experience Day? With all the disruption in businesses and business models today, it does not surprise me at all to see the confusion about how exactly leaders today should think about what Customer Success really is. Based on my daily experience and interactions with other great peer leaders, I have come to a personal set of opinions and perspectives.

Customer Success is NOT about Happiness.

I mean it. I tell this to every candidate I interview, I have shared it on stage at our User Conference, GalaxZ, and I have written about it before. Too many in the Customer Success world think their job or customer experience is about making customers happy. It is not. Customer Success is about customers getting value. It is exactly because realizing value leads to happiness but not vice versa. Organizations that get this are the ones that win.

A Customer-Driven Culture requires CEO Buy-In.

I am so fortunate to have a customer-oriented CEO that it is easy for me to take this for granted, but in talks with peers, I am reminded of how crucial this link to the top is. If your CEO is not customer focused, it is your job as a Customer Success leader to change it. If not, rethink where you work. It is that important. The customer experience of tomorrow depends on the culture of your org today; and your organizational culture is defined by the actions, plans and thought processes of your CEO.

Customer Experience Thrives with Cross Team Execution.

A relatively new focus in thinking about customer experience is to engage the other departments of the company in a prescriptive manner. Earlier this year, we at Zenoss linked Sales and Support. More recently, we are working with Marketing. The goal in each of these interactions is not to sell or to market, but, we realized that the support organization was in the best place possible to identify clients that really could benefit from training. Our customers also have to justify their decision to use our platform, and who better to help them defend their choice than our marketing team? Putting a customer value-first lense on these discussions is changing how we look at cross team requests. And you know what? Our clients are responding extremely favorably.

People and Processes Still Rule.

It does matter who you hire. It also matters what tools you use and how you set them up in your organization. Many of my peers are having success in customer experience roles by hiring non-standard type employees. In many ways, companies are transitioning to unchartered business models, and this requires out of the box thinking in regards to hiring. There are several fantastic tools in the market to help Customer Success teams, but I stand by one cornerstone: if your processes rely on google docs and email, they are broken. It matters less on which tool you pick, and more on that you pick one and thoughtfully deploy, integrate and use it.

No One Way is Right, and No One Organization Has All the Answers.

These are new times, and frankly, so very exciting for our customers. We are all transitioning to being hyper-aware of their value, of finally being focused on what they need versus what they want. But the path to getting there is varied even in very similar industries. One stark and easy to notice observation in talking to peers – those that are doing it well follow a few key tenets, but not a pattern. Customer experiences are by their nature personal, or at least unique. Take the time to really understand what your customers need, define their experience and ensure you deliver value, and I guarantee you will reap the rewards.

If you are in IT, come to GalaxZ18 in the Live Monitoring Capital of the World, Austin, TX, June 20-22, 2018 to see me put the Zenoss definition of first-class customer experience on display. I promise that you leave with an understanding what best in class can look like.