“I was really looking to achieve an experience that was elegant. I’m a big believer in that,” said Eleanor O’Neil, regarding her decision to create a customer success forecasting system. Eleanor is the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Workshare, a B2B company that manages document productivity and security software for legal firms.
Having held previous positions in the company as the Director of Commercial Operations, and Chief Information Officer, Eleanor ran the internal functions around operations and infrastructure and grew an awareness of what the customer lifecycle looked like. With this experience and insight, she knew she’d be able to scale the business and focus on how Workshare’s services can truly benefit the customer. Eleanor’s goal was to figure out a system that would improve customer success while also lifting some of the burdens off of the sales team.
Create a Customer-Focused Culture
As CCEO, Eleanor’s role is to run operations and influence the selling experience since the two are connected to the customer journey and lifetime value. She shares that her goal was to help customers get impactful outcomes; it’s her responsibility to raise awareness of the customer within the organization, not just her own departments.
Eleanor explains that she wanted to tackle the customer culture inside the organization. Similar to other leaders, she noticed that their approach to customers was more reactive than proactive. Sales people were operating on a constant fear of customers leaving. To assuage these fears, Eleanor created a forecasting framework, showcasing that only a minority of the customers were actually in a churn space while a majority of customers were healthily engaged and using the product. With this finding, she shifted the optimal positioning goal for customers from stable and engaged, to advocates—ideally, these customers would advocate for Workshare.
Given this, the customer success function’s goal was not just to deliver happy, healthy customers, but to also create enthusiastic customers that wanted to tell their own Workshare success story. Eleanor tells us that it was important that she starting having meaningful conversations about churn. She introduced the phrases: control churn and strategic churn.
Be Practical in How You Approach Churn
Eleanor’s approach to churn is to understand that it’s impossible to avoid. Rather than solving customer one-off problems, she invested in “customer success forecasting.” This forecast system is used to detect that something is going in the wrong direction with a customer as early as possible in order to resolve it. Eleanor has developed rules for forecasting based on factors like engagement, productivity/usage, potential mergers, and others.
By regularly viewing the forecast, Eleanor and her team minimize churn. In addition to being mindful of these churn triggers, Eleanor recognizes that this system works both in the numeric sense and through customer service management.
Relationships can’t just be transactional and it’s important to strengthen relationships with customers as well. Know when your customer is going live, know when it’s time to renew, figure out ways to provide value to them and keep them apprised of the best ways to use the system.
The Customer Engagement Chart showcases how the teams able to look at data to analyze potential churn. These two quadrants of churn risk space: Poorly Engaged and Over Adopted, helps them focus their interests.
Eleanor’s experience has shown her that the science of sales is methodical and rigorous. When you combine that with the charismatic element of being out and about and engaging with customers, you can be powerful and get closer to customer success.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“Honestly, I underestimated how loud, how authoritative, and how strategic the customer voice needs to be inside an organization, and I don’t think it can be loud enough. I think people holding these roles shouldn’t be held back by fear, or held back by what other parts of the organization would think. I think the customer is a really, really important part of the success of a technology company. And so I just hang on to that thought now and I think going forward that is something I will not let go of.”