In the world of enterprise software, often a lot of money, time and effort go into getting the customer to make the initial purchase. The software then gets implemented, a training session may take place and the purchaser checks the “satisfied” box. It all sounds good on paper, but in reality the end user who is responsible for using it never gets it off the ground enough to make it truly valuable to the organization.
Seeking out trouble
For this reason, FireMon knows that seeking out the end user is so important when setting up enterprise software adoptions to be successful. Instead of waiting for trouble to knock on the door, we seek it out. Nothing has quite as much impact to the success of a software solution as the people responsible for using it. These people are the end users, and they are royalty.
Customer Service does not automatically equal Success
While many companies would take this “customer is king” mantra and equate it to Customer Service, it doesn’t always embody the successfulness of a project. Customer Service is a way of doing business and treating people. It’s the rules of engagement implicit in business. In short, it’s being respectful, empathetic, and delivering on your promises: it’s a given.
However, Customer Success is an informal partnership in achieving goals. It comes to life in roles like Customer Success Manager (CSM), which proactively engage the end users, joining their business goals with products and expertise. In some organizations, this role and discipline can point its toes toward managed services, or offer hands-off consultation. At FireMon, the CSM team the implementation, now entering its second year, helps transition new customers from onboarding to support, and works directly with end users to facilitate adoption. At the same time, our CSMs are coordinating with our support team and sales to deliver a holistic approach to helping our customers achieve their goals.
But no matter how Customer Success program is fulfilled, its final shape is relentless advocacy of customers’ interests to the rest of the product owner’s business.
Principles of Customer Success
For all the catch-phrases, principles and mantras offered in business, Customer Success is its own guiding principle. It’s both the intention and the action, made up of proactive, closed-loop advocacy and ownership.
Proactive Engagement: contacting end users to learn if they are meeting their goals, if they’ve learned about the newest feature, or if they need help is a central part of customer success. The mechanism for contact will vary by the revenue or strategic value segmentation they’ve been placed in. But we don’t wait for them to ring.
Closed-Loop Communication: people want to be heard and understood and proactive engagement means little if nothing is done with the feedback. Therefore, we work with the product, engineering, and support teams to make sure those groups know customer feedback. Then, the loop is closed with the customer by explaining what is being done with the feedback and if they can expect further action on it.
Relentless Advocacy and Ownership: Advocating for customers helps back up our organization and own any concerns. We own not letting them fail. Combined with other Voice of the Customer (VoC) inputs, the insight provided is that which internal teams may not receive otherwise and it is so important to driving the business and development of products.
In Part 2 of this blog series, I will expand on these principles and dive into how to create a Customer Success organization using guidelines that transcend across business sectors.