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Customer Success

Customer Success, Product Management

The Critical Steps to Aligning Product Managers and Customer Success ft. @UseNotion


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Once it looks like product market “fit” has been reached, Product Managers may be quick to celebrate. Building and iterating a product until it hits this level of success takes considerable effort. Inevitably, Customer Success will provide feedback about gaps in functionality, issues with usability and obstacles in guaranteeing a stellar customer experience. While valuable information, this input can feel rather unwelcome.

Customer Success teams aren’t trying to rain on the parade, but it can sure seem that way. And this tense relationship between Product Managers and Customer Success can foster an environment of unproductive resentment that drags both teams down.

It’s a natural human reaction. The customer feedback reported by Customer Success can sound less like constructive criticism, and more like straight-up fault finding. Any suggestions offered may get automatically labeled impractical by frustrated Product Managers. Nobody wants someone standing behind them, continuously pointing out flaws in their work, especially when they’re already working hard to create a good product.

But Customer Success sees it differently – they just want to make sure the product delivers its promises to customers! And from their positions on the front lines of the customer experience, they feel like their feedback is invaluable (and they’re right). Imagine their frustration at getting labeled as “complainers” for sharing real customer feedback.


Both teams are doing their best to create products people will love – and both are having trouble effectively communicating with each other.

Read More on Notion

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Customer Success

Personal Service at Scale – The Secrets of @ArielKlein, Head of Customer Success at @DocSend


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Ari Klein is one of those rare people who is equally comfortable discussing the finer points of human relationships as industrial engineering. Balancing between customer needs and product requirements, Ari builds customer success programs that tow growth and product strategy in their wake for companies like CrowdFlower, and currently, DocSend.

But my favorite thing about Ari, the one that knocked my socks off in our conversation, is when he talked about how closely his Customer Success department works with Product Development.

It’s the kind of collaboration that strengthens the entire discipline of Customer Success, and it so very seldom happens.

So, if you want:

  • Bleeding edge opportunity spotting,
  • Personalized messaging at scale,
  • And customer success content that not only solves problems, but does so in ways people will talk about for months afterward…
    – Ari’s your man.

I sat down to discuss Customer Success at its best. What came out was the true story of one company leveraging a Customer Success mindset to its greatest potential.

Want in on some of those secrets? Read on. From this point forward, all words are Ari’s.

Read More on Wootric

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success

“I Almost Lost a Customer When Our Champion Left”: A Customer Success Story from @Zuora


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“I almost lost a customer,” says Rachel, “when our ‘champion’ and top user within the customer company left for another job. This is all too common an occurrence, and difficult to anticipate. In this particular case, I found out because I had set our customer analytics system to alert me when the usage volume within any account suddenly dropped off, and also when one of our “Power Users” switched to a less active persona. Both alerts were triggered, so I knew something was amiss within the account.”

Planning & data made the difference

She and her customer success department had put in the time to plan ahead for just such occasions, creating thoughtful playbooks that laid out and tracked each step to winning back a wayward customer. As these risk alerts triggered, they simultaneously set off a workflow that gave Rachel a series of predetermined tasks to manage.

“First, I did some research using our customer analytics tool and looked into the account’s recent trends – what was their normal usage, and how had that changed recently; what kinds of results had they been achieving using our solution; who were all of their active users, who had dropped off, and who else was still active or increasing in their use?”

Read More on Wootric

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success

An Early Customer Thinks They’ve “Outgrown” Your Product: A Customer Success Close-Call ft. @Zendesk


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Sometimes, you can save a client relationship (and make it so much stronger.) Which is what happened with Zendesk, as shared by Sary Stefanki, Sr. Director of Global Customer Success.

Zendesk really does everything right. Their Customer Success program is robust. They deeply care about their customers. Sary explains, “As we grew, we created a customer success program that identified customer goals and developed metrics so that there was a transparency around where we stood on all those goals. We boiled these success programs down to concrete success plans, mapped back goals to our Zendesk products and ID’d the metrics we needed to hit.”

To strengthen alignment from the top of the company down, they concentrated on communicating their goals “up, down, and across teams, so that everyone knew the customer goals and we were aligned on all fronts.” Zendesk has become well known for its cross-departmental communication and interaction.

But Zendesk didn’t start out that way. This company has grown by leaps and bounds, making headlines in 2010 for a record growth rate of over 300 percent.

Read More on Wootric

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success

Learning from Customer Success: “It was like a Gut-Punch — No Warning” ft. @JayNathan at @PeopleMatter


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Some say the mark of success isn’t that you never fail, but how you react when failure occurs. Failure happens, but when handled well, something far more powerful can happen: Growth.

Jay Nathan, SVP of Customer Success at PeopleMatter, workforce management software used by Del Taco and Charlotte Russe among other brands, was taken by surprise with his first cancellation: “The first major cancellation I received after taking responsibility for retention was like a gut-punch – no warning.” He reacted like any of us would: Try to figure out what went wrong, see if there was anything he could do to stop it, and figure out how to prevent nasty surprises like this in the future.

Read More on Wootric

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Development, Customer Success

How to Become Customer-Centric like @TrunkClub, @InVisionApp & @Atlassian


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You’re all about your customer – I hear you. You make what they want, deliver what they need, and bend over backwards, forwards and sideways to help them if they should run into trouble. Maybe you’re doing everything right, but maybe your company still isn’t customer-centric.

A truly customer-centric company involves their ideal customer from the beginning, in the product development phase (aka. customer development) to accurately target problem-solution fit. From there, a Customer Success strategy takes over, building into the product, company model and marketing whatever it takes to deliver the ideal customer’s desired outcome. Then, the customer-centric company keeps tabs on their success rates through something like a regular NPS survey, and adjusts accordingly.

Read More on Segment

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Tools

25 Tools to Integrate Customer Success into Your Business ft. @Segment


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Predict churn, reach out to customers at just the right time, improve retention and increase new sales, upsells and cross-sells—the promises of a robust customer success program are practically a recipe for success. They might even sound too good to be true, but they make fundamental sense. When you provide your customers with the support they need to achieve their desired outcome, your success and their success go hand-in-hand.

That is the philosophy behind “customer success.”

But don’t think of customer success as a handful of tactics to reduce churn. It will serve you much better to embrace customer success as a high-level strategy to accelerate and sustain growth in a competitive market.

With the right stack of tools, integrating customer success practices into your business is relatively easy and painless. Here is a list of our favorite solutions for helping your customers reach their desired outcomes.

Read More on Segment

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, SaaS, Sales

What To Do After You Close The Sale: Why Acquisition Is Good, But Retention Pays Better

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

When you make a sale, what is the first thing on your to do list? Happy dance? Happy hour? A night out on the town?

May I make a suggestion?

How about making another sale? And another, and another.

This isn’t a fast-talking sales technique or a short-lived marketing gimmick; it’s the result of customer success done well. When you have a robust customer success program, you can start celebrating multiple sales within much shorter periods of time.

As you know, the new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Numerous studies show that current customers are far more likely to buy again than prospective customers are to buy the first time. Customer success capitalizes on this, and so can you.

Read More on Drift

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Development, Customer Success

Don’t Make Your Business about You – Your New Mantra? Or the Worst Advice Ever? ft. @VioletaNedkova & @LincolnMurphy


Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“Figure out what people want and give it to them. Excuse me? I’m supposed to be a robot? I want to see what I want, then see what they want, and then see what they want from me.”

Violeta Nedkova

To be fair, Violeta’s next words were:

“From there, you can build your groundwork and start giving value.”

But I’m a fan of the provoking, out of context soundbite. I just love how she neatly phrased the prevailing wisdom and then dashed it on the rocks.

I got into a debate with someone on Twitter recently about this – they posted an article about how your business is not about your customers, it’s about you. I posted a rant in response, essentially saying that they were clearly trying to make non-ideal customers happy instead of making ideal customers successful. My argument is: If you make your business about you instead of your customers, you’ll be your only customer – because you’re the one you’re attracting!

Think about it. If all of your copy is about you, written to appeal to you, who are you going to attract?

But, over time, cooler heads prevail. I realized that for some entrepreneurs, like Violeta for example, their ideal client really is them. Or people very much like them. People who hold the same values, want the same things, have the same aesthetic tastes. For business coaches and life coaches, there is a tremendous amount of mirroring that happens in marketing.

But then a friend told me about one of her clients, a middle-aged British guy who was VP of marketing for a major budget bridal-wear chain, who preferred high-end, luxury brands to the budget-friendly one he worked for. If he created marketing that appealed to himself, he couldn’t be further from his target market than if he built a billboard on Mars. His target market was the budget bride, and the things that are important to her weren’t even on his personal radar.

“Don’t make your business about you” should absolutely be that man’s mantra.

It absolutely should not be Violeta’s.

But what about you – the SaaS founder or marketer? Where does SaaS fit into this theory?

For the vast majority of products, unless yours is particularly personality-driven, I would recommend the “Don’t make your business about you” approach. Identify your ideal customers – the ones who have a severe problem you are uniquely able to solve (and who are willing to pay for it) – and get to know them.

In depth.

Understand what their day-to-day life looks like. Learn what they do all day at work. Find out what frustrates them, what wastes their time, what drives them crazy, and what inspires them. Discover what they wish for themselves as people and as employees. Then, make your product and your marketing all.about.them.

But if you skip this crucial step, well, I’ll let Lincoln Murphy tell it.

You see, either way, whether you are making your business about “you” or not – you’re still defining your ideal customer. Maybe that ideal customer is you (well, people similar to you). Maybe your ideal customer couldn’t possibly be more different.

I guess, in the end, it really is always about the customer.

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Startups

The One Thing Fast-Growing Companies Do Best ft. @Inturact


The new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road, requiring marketing for brand awareness, cultivating interest, and encouraging taking action. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Marketing Metrics estimates that the probability of selling to an existing customer is as high as 60 to 70 percent (whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5 and 20 percent). Customer Success capitalizes on this, and so do the fastest growing companies.

Read More on Inturact

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.