Today’s interview is with Todd Eby, the Founder & CEO of Success Hacker, a boutique customer success advisory firm focused on education, recruiting, consulting and success hacking services. Todd joins me today to talk about why he thinks the the future of customer success is agile, why that is and what firms need to learn to do in order to be more successful.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Bringing together disparate data sources is key to creating stand out customer experiences – Interview with Dave O’Flanagan of Boxever – and is number 213 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.
Here’s the highlights of my interview with Todd:
- Much of the work of Todd and Success Hacker focuses not on the what and the why of customer success but also the how.
- There are a lot of different definitions of customer success.
- Customer success isn’t just relevant for B2B Saas companies, it’s also just as applicable for small retail stores as it is for large, B2B focused, subscription Saas software companies.
- At it’s heart, customer success is about understanding why your customer hired you, what are they attempting to achieve and then doing all that you can to help them achieve that.
- People don’t buy products, they buy results.
- Our success comes out of our customers success.
- The focus of customer success teams should be on liaising with customers on the issues that they currently face as well as working internally on fixing those problems.
- Everyone should be in customer success whether they are in marketing to sales to delivery to service etc etc
- Even though customer success is a relatively new discipline, many of its practices lack rigour.
- As a result, Todd is advocating a more agile approach to customer success based on the idea that success in customer success is incremental and iterative……what works today may not work tomorrow.
- Much of the work and success of customer success teams comes from experimentation and learning through doing.
- Therefore, to guide this Todd and his team have developed an Agile Success Manifesto, which builds on the original agile manifesto. Their manifesto says:
- Voice of the customer over assumptions
- Proactive over reactive
- Iteration over big strategy
- Experimentation and data over opinions and conventions
- Internal collaboration over one way communication
- The average tenure of customer success managers is roughly two years. Todd believes this is short and thinks that this comes about as a result of the way that most customer success teams are run, managed and that the expectations that are set for the teams are not set and managed.
- Their manifesto intends to help customer success teams focus, do good work and build a solid and sustainable platform for better, longer and more profitable relationships with customers.
- One of the problems with failed customer success initiatives is that leaders under-estimate the breadth and scope of the role or nature of the challenge.
- A great example of customer success done right comes from BigAssFans, who grew their business roughly 6-fold (approx $35mln to $175mln) over 6-7 years by building a dedicated team that sought out customer problems and then fixed them.
- One of the additional challenges with getting businesses to adopt new approaches like this is that, often times, they have to unlearn the way the normally do things in order to be able to adopt new practices.
- Don’t do what everyone does and expect different results.
- To get started, start small.
- The best way to get started on this is to take a list of the top 10 things, say, that customers describe as ‘headaches’ and then go and figure out how to fix them. The source of these things could come from survey data or NPS comments.
- Alternatively, get a few of your team members in a room and get them to come up with the 5-7 things that you do that annoy your customers, group them, prioritise them and then go and figure out how to fix them within an agreed and short time frame (typically two weeks).
- With each identified issue, try and break them down into smaller chunks and that will help you develop a backlog of issues to fix/work on.
- Don’t be discouraged if your first initiative doesn’t work so well. Remember that you are trying to learn a new way of working. So, try and go through 2-3 iterations/sprints/problem solving/pilot cycles before you decide whether this method is going to work for you.
- When it comes to wow service/experience, Todd mentions the idea of the frugal wow. As an exmaple of this in practice…. imagine you work in a high tech environment, say, and you have had to keep a customer on the phone for a long time (two hours, say) fixing a complex technical problem. In order to do that they may have had to skip lunch. In this situation and to create a wow, Todd suggests that you should pay for lunch to be sent to them. Another idea he mentions is the idea of strategic gifting, where you can send customers really thoughtful gifts to help ‘move things along’.
- Check out Success Hacker’s Customer Success Community (http://www.customersuccess.community) which is called Outcomes, Gainsight’s Customer Success conference, Pulse, where Todd and his team will be present and Success Hacker website (http://www.successhacker.co).
- Todd has also just written a post called: How to Use Agile to Deliver Customer Success, which you should also check out.
About Todd (taken from his Success Hacker bio)
Todd Eby is the Founder & CEO of Success Hacker, a boutique customer success advisory firm focused on education, recruiting, consulting and success hacking services.
He has has over 23 years of experience in building and leading high-performing Professional Services, Customer Success and Product Development teams at high-growth technology companies. Todd’s operational executive experience, primarily focused on the B2B/B2C software space, ranges from early stage startups to large multi-national enterprise software companies including Zenefits, Five9, Genesys Telecommunications and Avaya.
Thanks to Dave Gray for the image.