December 21st, 2016
Let Me Tell You A Story About.....Customer Success
As I start the next stage of my career in customer success I was recently introduced to my new company and my new team. Their monthly town hall meeting was in full effect with it dedicated to the topic of customer success – not just within the department but organisationally wide. One of the slots from the sales team was around what they are doing to drive an increase in customer reference stories and this lead me to think about this further and in greater detail.
So why are customer reference stories so critical for sales, who is responsible for getting these and where as Customer Success professionals can we help?
Nothing screams credibility more than real life examples of customer issues and challenges overcome, improvements in efficiency and productivity and ideally all with tangible evidence in the form of time or money (arguably the same thing). The effectiveness of your customer reference stories are critical because your potential customers need to be placed in the shoes of your existing customers; they need to see what your solution, service or software will do for them. There is a comfort for all customers knowing that firstly they are not unique with the issues and challenges they are experiencing and secondly, there is a solution available to them in resolving these issues and challenges.
Every industry and every company is now suffering in producing customer reference stories. The increased protection of your customers intellectual property, their products and services that may make them unique, their value proposition, their workflows all make it increasingly challenging to produce stories available to the public; either written or visual. These are of course very valuable but don’t limit your thinking that only the ones that make it public are the ones that have impact on your sales. I have a strong belief that any reference or success story that gets written even just for internal use carries a value. If you can educate your sales team on the customer issue, what actions were delivered and what the impact was for the customer then this can easily be repeated to future customers just dropping the specific customer name, and replacing it with “a leading company in your industry”.
For me there is a deliberate, conscious effort that needs to be made to the culture within your customer success team and your wider company to deliver and share success stories. This ensures that all your staff within your company understand the importance of this and the part they all can pay. So how can you do this?
The final component is the most critical – use the stories created! Now this may seem logical but nothing will demotivate your staff more than not using the stories that exist. However, to ensure they are used they must be accessible and easily available in a consistent location. It never surprises me to hear the verbal recollection of a success story followed by the comment that someone never knew that existed.
What I would add, is that you should celebrate the success of both creating a reference or success story and also where you can tie the use of one of these stories to a customer win. All of this encourages your staff to continue doing what they were doing and it adds to the culture you are trying to create.
Matt Myszkowski - experienced Customer Success leader & founder of CustomerSuccessMatters