It’s the end of the year—a time when, among the festivities, we are given a chance to reflect on the challenges and celebrate the accomplishments of the last 12 months. That’s why this week we're highlighting some of the wins experienced this past year in the Customer Success community.
The truth is Customer Success professionals deserve it, now more than ever. Being tasked with ensuring customers realize value everyday during an ongoing global pandemic is no easy feat, so we owe it to our teams to recognize the astounding impact they have on a company’s biggest growth driver—its customers.
In this newsletter issue, 21 CS leaders from companies like Coursera, VMware, and AvePoint share their proudest moments from 2021 in the hopes of inspiring others as we head into a new year.
What's one initiative your team accomplished in 2021 that you're super proud of?
Yolanda Lau, Chief Experience Officer, Liquid (goliquid.io)
Even as an early-stage startup, we've been very intentionally focused on creating a customer-centric culture while building, scaling, and operationalizing Customer Success. Based on customer feedback, and in close collaboration with a small group of users, we recently implemented a comprehensive knowledge base / help center to meet users where they are. Our customers have told us how much they appreciate having yet another way to get what they need when they need it (along with our biweekly Office Hours webinars, weekly Intro to Liquid webinars, regular chairsides, etc).
Boaz Arbel, Co-founder and CCO, MaiView
Founding a new startup, where we’ve called Chief Customer Officer the role overseeing Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success! That’s a bold statement and a token of putting customers in the center of ANYTHING the company does. ❤️ Customer Success gains its seat around the executive table one role at a time.
Will Stevenson, Founder & COO
As an early stage company, a problem we set out to solve was maximizing value during the trial period. We were able to streamline a self-led onboarding process, which resulted in a high trial conversion rate and a +78 NPS.
Ronni Gaun, Top 100 CS Strategist
Using the 3 As to ensure productive meetings. These include always having an Agenda, the right Attendees, and Action items. The latter being most important to mitigate the need for an additional meeting.
Chilik Hochberg, CCO, ezbob
Creating a straightforward and online feature request process for our customers.
Guy Galon, VP Customer Success, Hysolate
With 1 year from product launch, the team was able to define the major milestones customers need to hit in order to realize the value of our product.
Star Hofer, VP of Customer Success, PartnerStack
One initiative I am proud of is rolling bonuses into base pay based on feedback the team provided on the effectiveness of incentives. The ability to think outside the box related to compensation and then see it through in a short period was rewarding.
Seth Dovev, Director of Customer Success, Chili Piper
Creating a new Discretionary Variable Compensation plan for the Customer Success Department focused on both team and individual goals and activities.
Himanshu Garg, GM - Global Customer Success
Ensuring success stories are well captured, documented, and presented for overall visibility internally as well as with our customers to learn and share best practices from across segments!
Krystal Lamoureux, Vice President of Customer Success, Credly
Our team developed a series of onboarding courses designed to set our customers up for success through videos, examples, and best practices. CSMs guide customers through the modules and provide insights to help them apply what they are learning. These courses allowed us to double the number of customers we onboarded while reducing the TTV significantly.
David Ellin, Customer Success Architect, Winning by Design
I've begun to incorporate 9 different technology solutions into my day-to-day processes. One that I'm far from mastering but that has been extremely powerful is the use of short video clips to clients to educate and inform.
Apoorva Thuse, Head of Customer Success, QASource
As a customer-centric organization, we put our customers at the core of everything we do. This year, we were able to build a customer advisory board which is a customer community focused on supporting customer-led growth initiatives for FY22 and beyond.
Cesar Coba, SVP - Customer Success, AvePoint
This year we were able to implement a more process-oriented and consistent engagement model for the CS team. This included a revamp of our post-sale customer journey and associated playbooks for CS team member execution. As a result, we've noticed an uptick in overall gross retention rates by about 5 percentage points YTD and an increase in customer engagement levels.
Rod Cherkas, CEO, HelloCCO
Partnering with CCOs at fast growing companies to scale their organizations. Developed the HelloCCO brand as an industry thought leader.
Dana Soza, CEO & CCO, Dana Soza Customer Solutions
My team completed our Tech Touch engagement model for CS Career Newbies called the #CustomerEverything Club, or #CEclub. That was a huge undertaking and we did it! We've also gained a ton of Contributors and Affiliates who are giving back to Newbies by providing content and promoting the program.
Jeff Heckler, Director of Customer Success Solutions
For one of our legacy customers, our new 4-month old Customer Success by MarketSource practice turned a $20M SMB and Mid-Market churn issue into a total end-to-end customer lifecycle solution for their existing customer base of over $150M in NRR.
Leslie Stark-Heffron, Head of Customer Success, Prepared
I am so proud of my team's determination. Our company zigged and zagged, but the team stayed strong to provide the best customer experience possible.
Dan Morris, Director of Customer Support and Professional Services, Carrot.com
We wanted to attack our response times in live support this year in a way that didn't impact our team happiness ratings. With some targeted staffing changes and customer onboarding improvements from our Product team, we were able to bring our median response time to 2 minutes in live chat and just under an hour in email support. This was also instrumental in increasing our CSAT ratings to 96% (on 51,000 inbound conversations) and increasing our eNPS to 60.
Josh Buckley, Director Customer Success Innovation, VMware
We developed VMware's first tech-touch customer success program resulting in delivering significant improvements in customer adoption for long tail customers.
Syed Altamash, CS Ops Analyst, Coursera
NPS was a big deal for us this year and having achieved 46% response rate (compared to 30% last year) this year was a huge accomplishment for the team.
Marius Laza, VP of CX, Instapage
We started offering 24/5 live chat support and dedicated customer success managers to our entire client base, even free trials. We hired dozens of people to do this but also used automation to help connect our clients with their customer success manager at the right time in their lifecycle. We had our lowest churn rate year to date and we are now closer to our customers than ever!
Elaine Cobb, SVP Customer Success, Coveo
As I reflect on 2021, I'm most proud of the team we have been building to keep pace with the growth trajectory we have been on. We all have diverse backgrounds, experiences, locations, but what unites us is our passion to help people achieve their goals. We are a team that cares deeply for each other and that tackles new challenges together. We are not afraid to challenge the status quo in pursuit of delivering an exceptional experience. To say this team has been resilient over the last 18 months is an understatement. We have an incredible team that I feel privileged to work with each and every day!
The 5 most popular articles we’ve featured in 2021
The Top 9 Customer Success Career Paths
Brian Lafaille, Global Lead - SaaS Customer Success Programs at Google, shares the most common career paths CSMs will take.
These Are the Best Email Tips You'll Read in 2021
Here’s Devin Reed of Gong Labs with a list of research-backed email tips. Although intended for Sales, these insights are also applicable for those in CS: make emails about the recipient, keep the content short, and add a specific CTA.
Stop Treating the Symptoms of Churn
According to Lincoln Murphy, when it comes to churn, too many companies treat the symptom and not the cause. In this piece, he breaks down the “root cause” reasons why customers don’t achieve their desired outcomes.
3 Questions To Ask When Building a CSM Comp Structure
Ejieme Eromosele, VP of CS & Account Management at Quiq, shares how to thoughtfully design comp plans to attract and retain top talent. She provides some clarifying questions that would be useful to consider whether you’re building out your comp structure for the first time or reviewing your existing one.
What It Really Means to be a Manager, Director, or VP
If you’ve ever thought the lines between Manager, Director, and VP seem blurry, here’s an excellent article by Dave Kellogg to bring some clarity to the distinction. He says, “The biggest single development issue I’ve seen over the years is that many VPs still think like directors” and Dave goes on to define exactly what makes one VP good and another great.
Success Happy Hour is a weekly newsletter for Customer Success leaders. Each week we feature one digestible piece of advice or a framework from a top Success leader, along with the best resources from that week. Subscribe here.