Customer Success Director is apparently the fastest growing job title on Linked-In. But what exactly is Customer Success, and how is it different to Customer Experience?

I recently caught up with Dan Steinman from Gainsight who is running Pulse, Europe’s largest Customer Success conference in London on the 28-29 November.

 So what is Customer Success and why should I care?

Customer Success is a new terminology that appeared five or six years ago in businesses using recurring revenue payment (subscription) models  – most notably software companies. With payment no longer collected up front, but in monthly or quarterly installments, customers suddenly had several points where they could choose to renew – or not. This marked a dramatic shift in both the way we sell, and the way we look after our customers.

 And it is not just about keeping existing clients. It is also about getting the new ones. Since our prospects are speaking to our customers whether we know it or not, we need to be sure that they are saying the right things. It is interesting to note that due to the power of advocacy, in the software arena 60% of the sales cycle is completed BEFORE the salesman has even been contacted.

 How does Customer Success differ to Customer Experience? Aren’t both about keeping the customer happy?

The Customer Success Director usually reports into the VP of Customer Success or Chief Customer Officer and has a very defined remit that centres on ensuring customer success. Is he/she getting the most from the product? Could he/she be using it in a different or better way? A Chief Customer Officer has a broader focus, that usually encompasses the entire post-sales operation including Support, OnBoarding, Professional Services, Customer Success and Training.

 Customer Experience has always struggled to prove how it contributes to an increase in profitability. For example, you might fix an invoicing issue that is frustrating customers, but how can you prove to your CFO that your improvement is adding anything to the bottom line? Customer Success is more visible as it is connects specifically to an increase in retention, advocacy and upselling – all of which can be directly associated to the bottom line.

 Is this really a trend?

The facts seem to indicate that it is. Customer Success Manager/Director is the fastest growing title on Linked-in and big names are investing in the idea. Cisco for example, recently created 3,500 Global Customer Success Managers practically overnight in order to increase retention and sales. That is a huge leap.

 Tell us about Pulse and why we should be attending.

Pulse is a two-day conference that invites Customer Success professionals to explore cutting-edge best practice, new trends, tactics and developments. Highlights include expert speakers such as Geoffrey Moore, author of “Crossing the Chasm” and panel discussions with CEO’s and venture capitalists.  But the real heart of the event lies in learning from the community itself. The real education comes from the people in the room.

Article by Rob Millar