Customer Success

2018 Pulse Conference Recap: What’s New in Customer Success?

by Allyson White

This month, Gainsight hosted their 6th annual Pulse conference. What did you miss? A lot! 

More specifically: a Ferris wheel; the debut of Gainsight’s single, "Customer Success (Who’s Fired Up?)"; Insight’s Customer Success Practitioner lunch; more than 5,200 new customer success connections; and two days dedicated to propelling the industry to innovate and drive continued results in the year ahead. 

Paging through my notebook after the event, here are the three themes that I am tracking:

Be Prescriptive – Be the Expert 

The customer success world is taking the old adage, “The customer is always right,” and turning it on its head. Today, the leading customer success organizations are detailed and specific with customers about how to use their products. For example, what integrations are critical? What reports should the customer monitor? What is the best roll-out timeline? These customer success teams confront customers about their bad habits. Their mandate is to start asking their customers what outcome they want and serving as the expert on the best path to get there. Stop asking your customers how they want to use your product, and rather recommend the best ways to get ROI. 

Gainsight led by example and presented their Elements framework on the key components of customer success. You can check out the Elements framework here: https://www.gainsight.com/elements/.

Automate to Enable Scale

As customer success organizations become more prescriptive, there are increasing opportunities to automate. Leading organizations use data and analytics to help automate their playbooks. For example, these companies use product usage data to trigger a templated email when a client has been stuck in a step of the process for too long or they invest in standard BI tools that automatically send a quarterly business review (QBR) benchmarking email to smaller value customers. 

People are the scarcest resource in the customer success organization. Hence, leaders continue to build processes and automation that enables humans to focus on building relationships and innovating, rather than the mundane. 

The customer presenters at Pulse all acknowledged that they started small, experimented and built incremental automation over time. They suggest challenging your teams each week to find one mundane task that they can automate.

Net Retention Is Still the Key Metric

Net retention remains the best metric for company-wide customer success performance. With several years of historical data, Gainsight can now show what customer success fanatics have long posited: strong customer success teams drive high net retention. In fact, companies with mature, cross-functional customer success teams consistently achieve net retention greater than 125%. By comparison, companies with reactive support have net retention in the low-to-mid 90s. CEOs and CFOs do not need complicated spreadsheets to know that customer success investment can drive real returns. 

Pulse presenters shared strategies for tracking net retention on the customers that engage with the customer success team at different journey points, compared to those who did not engage customer success. They demonstrated that engagement with customer success increases retention and that customer success provides strong payback.

Pulse in short: Continue to invest in building prescriptive plays that can be automated, but don’t lose track of net retention. 

We look forward to seeing you at Pulse 2019

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Allyson White

Vice President, Onsite

Allyson joined Insight in 2012. Previously, she was a strategy consultant in the markets and customers practice at Monitor Group, where she advised multi-national companies on growth strategy, product innovation, acquisitions, scenario planning and pricing strategy.  She worked in a variety of…

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