I've noticed an interesting dynamic in customer success that may explain, in large part, why we've struggled to become more proactive and experience-oriented in our approach. To put it plainly, we're not making good use of our time with customers. As customer success leaders, even when we get out from behind our dashboards - interacting with escalated accounts or bringing customers into the Executive Briefing Center (EBC) - all too often we miss the real opportunity: to build insight and trust by connecting.
Whether you’re looking at a road map or a customer journey map, one question matters more than any other: will this map get me where I need to go? After all, even the most elaborately detailed, graphically illustrated map is useless if it leaves you stranded with no clear direction forward. That’s an especially bad place to be when your customer relationships are on the line.
We’re becoming addicted to our customer success data dashboards and it’s starting to hurt us. While there’s no denying the value of customer health scorecards, adoption indexes and such, it has become all too easy to become deskbound and make decisions based solely on the quantitative information in front of us. Quantitative data only paints half the picture—it tells us what customers are doing, but rarely why or what they really need. To get the deeper understanding required to design predictive playbooks for customer success at scale, we’ve got to regularly get out from behind our management dashboards.
One of the best parts of my job is being able to experiment with and learn from our clients’ marketing, customer success, and customer experience groups. These customer-facing practices have been steadily evolving and advancing over recent years—becoming more design-savvy and customer-centric, and better at understanding what really drives customer experience. For the senior leaders out there who are charged with driving a culture of customer obsession, I have a few lessons learned from our clients to share with you.
Just last week, yet another company—a household name and global leader in the IT industry—asked me to help their customer success team adopt a more customer experience-like approach. The conversation went something like this: “We can’t afford to keep relying purely on the instincts and talent of customer success managers to understand what our customers need in the moment. It’s time we implement a set of intentionally-designed playbooks that provide a better experience consistently and at scale.” Sound familiar?
It’s not hard to get people to agree that their customers matter. Throw a few stats, quotes, and bullet points on the screen, and they nod appreciatively. But getting them to act in the customer’s best interest, above the other important things on their list, is a different story. To get people throughout your organization fully on-board and mobilized, you have to go beyond traditional reports and form a deeper connection with your customers.
We’re poised to see a dramatic transformation in the art and science of customer experience in 2016, as predictive analytics moves into the mainstream. Data helps us uncover valuable opportunities worth solving, while design thinking guides us to a deeper understanding and more meaningful, user-centric solutions. In the year ahead, the marriage of data and design will offer powerful new ways for companies to build stronger customer relationships and drive growth.