“Customer delight is incredibly important, but it’s also insufficient,” says Jon Herstein, Chief Customer Officer at Box, a cloud content management company that serves about 90,000 customers. Jon goes on further to say that delighting the customer is insufficient if they’re not receiving value from their investment in your product or service. Delivering value is ultimately the key point of B2B customer success and delight.
In today’s episode, Jon explains how he delivers business outcomes to his customers in a B2B SaaS company, where the relationship between the vendor and the customer is no longer simply transactional, it’s a long-term relationship that has to be nurtured over time.
2 Tactics to Further Customer Success
Jon shares that customer success is a combination of customer-oriented operations enacted during the pre-sales cycle, the initial implementation of the solution, and post-sale relationship development with customers.
Jon says, “in pre-sales, your sales team knows why the customer is buying the product because they’re the ones who convinced the customer to do so.” The sales team communicated the ROI and the value the customer was going to receive. As CCO, Jon has established that the expectation set by the sales reps must be shared with the rest of employees who are a part of the customer life cycle.
For Jon, this means that his consulting team, customer success managers who own post-sale relationships, and support team, should all be aware of the customers’ expectations. When it comes time for renewal, a CSM can then say: “here are the three things you said you wanted to do when you bought our product,” and then follow up by stating what they believed they delivered for the client.
1. Develop Core Values
I always advocate that organizations develop and commit to a set of core values that will guide the actions of leaders and employees. It was great to hear that Jon and his Box team use core values to help them on their path to customer success. He shares that “blowing customers’ minds” is a core value that’s been in place for years. Jon goes on further to say that the scale of customer success became large enough to the point that they had to become more focused on the outward-facing view of the customer and how they engage with them.
Jon also shares that they have a Make-Mom-Proud core value! He understands that this is a concept that can be applied internally to how people interact with one another and most importantly, customers. For instance, he shares, if someone sees an empty cup in the conference room, they should pick it up and take it to the kitchen, don’t let someone else do it. Jon believes that when you start to combine the Make-Mom-Proud value with the notion of blowing your customers’ minds, you instinctively start to do the right thing for the customer.
2. Continuously Market the Value of Your Product or Service
What would a SaaS company be without its product upgrades and updates? Jon informs us that when it comes to Box product updates, his team constantly educates the customer on new capabilities and functions; it’s important that customers get the most value out of the product. Jon mentions that it’s common for a customer who’s been with Box for three or four years to be stuck using the product the way it worked upon signing on, without taking advantage of the upgraded functionalities.
After realizing that customers aren’t always using the product to its full advantage, Jon incorporated marketing techniques into the customer success function to increase their knowledge of how to use the product. He explains that in on-boarding, email campaigns, nurture campaigns, and during renewal conversations, customer success employees are communicating the benefits of the product upgrades.
Framework for A CCO’s Six Areas of Focus
Jon stepped into his role less than a year ago, and shares that he spent some time with a consultant experienced in customer experience, to help him determine what the scope of his work as CCO would be. They developed a framework consisting of six areas of focus for a CCO:
- Customer experience – continue to blow customers’ minds through experiences delivered to customers. It’s an outbound, outward-facing view of the experience provided to customers.
- Voice of the customer – bring the perspective of customers back into the business. Use it to refine the way products are built, the way services are delivered, even the strategy of the company. Essentially, do things for the company on behalf of the customer.
- Customer centricity – similar to the voice of the customer, but slightly different. Get everyone in the company thinking about customers more consistently. As your teams get bigger and your roles get more specialized, don’t lose the connection to your customers.
- Customer relationships – forming advisory boards, executive sponsorship programs, to maintain and nurture their relationship with customers over time.
- Customer advocacy – developed a customer advocacy program called Box Stars. These advocates promote Box externally and build an army of advocates.
- Thought leadership – working on being more public about the things that they do to promote customer success within the industry.
Jon shares that it’s also helpful that he has a CEO who is personally committed to the customer success agenda who encourages him to try new things and provide new resources. The instinct is to figure out how to do more for customers rather than try and find ways to do less.
What do you Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“One thing I would reinforce is what I said at the onset, which is customer delight is important but insufficient. Make sure that as you’re building out your capabilities, that that’s a component, as a leader, a component of how you talk about the work that you do, but don’t make it the only thing. I see some teams that are called customer happiness. I think, your job is actually not to make the customer happy, right? Your job is to make sure the customer is deriving value from their investment in your product or service. If you can make them happy while you’re doing it, that’s great, but if you’re only making them happy and you’re not delivering value, again, you’ve got a retention problem. It’s just a question of when. So I would just really emphasize that for folks.”
“If you’re in a growing and scaling situation, a company that’s doing well, you’ve got to be flexible in your approaches and be willing to change things and mature things. That can be painful. I get a lot of feedback from my team about the pace of change and it’s tough to absorb and you have to think a lot about change management. You will not always do it perfectly, but if you’re not changing and you’re still doing things today the way you did them four years ago, in a fast world, you’re not succeeding. So just being willing to make the adjustments, make the change, listen to feedback, and continue to grow your capabilities.”
About Jon Herstein
Jon Herstein is Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Box. In his role, Jon guides the client services, technical support, consulting and implementation teams, ensuring Box is a trusted advisor for its customers to power their digital workplace, drive digital business transformation and enable a successful Box deployment. Previously, Jon worked with some of the biggest names in tech, including Accenture, Informatica and most recently NetSuite, where he served as Vice President of Professional Services for North America and EMEA.