It seems like an obvious equation: a successful customer will in turn make a successful company. But it's so much more than that. Let's get straight to it, shall we?

Rebecca Fenlon is the Head of Customer Success at Cognassist, and has taken time to answer some of our community's questions ahead of her presentation 'The Importance of CS: How Successful Customers Drive Successful Companies' at Customer Success Festival.

Q. Hi Rebecca, welcome to Customer Success Collective! First off, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and provide us with a few details about your talk?

A. Hi! I’m Bec, and I’m Head of Customer Success at Cognassist, the UK’s #1 EdTech Startup. We are on a mission to ensure no learner is left behind by identifying hidden learner needs and personalising learner support.

My career has been a journey along the different points in the client lifecycle, which is why customer success (CS) is perfect for me – you need to truly understand the customer in order to make them successful.

I’ll be talking about why customer success is so crucial to organizational success, the importance of proactive customer success and how to make customer success strategic within an organization.

Q. Customer success is becoming increasingly important in SaaS. Can you explain why it’s so essential for businesses to have a CS strategy in place?

A. The textbook answer is to drive revenue and reduce churn, and of course those are important!

However, the impact CS has is much greater. For your customer, customer success is about proactively understanding their needs and requirements for their success, often before they do, and it is that understanding that drives revenue and reduces churn.

However, the impact for the rest of your organisation is equally valuable. It is essential for customer success teams to have room for innovation and strong cross-team collaboration. The insight customer success can provide other teams, whether that is Product, Sales or Marketing, is immeasurable.

Q. Where do you think most businesses go wrong with how they execute their CS campaigns?

A. A lot of businesses, especially in the early stages, conflate customer success with customer support.

Customer success should be proactive, whilst customer support is reactive.

Of course, each has their place. But they require completely different skillsets, and provide completely different value to clients.

Q. Which tools would you recommend to support customer success?

A.Which tools work best will depend on your organisation, but the short answer? Data.

Always data. If you don’t have data to base your customer success strategy on, you’re doing it wrong.

Q. How do you define a successful customer? And how do they help drive retention?

A. A successful customer is a customer who has bought your product with a (realistic) objective and measurable target in mind, who then partners with you to achieve it.

Someone once told med “a happy client may leave, but a successful client doesn’t”, and that says it all really.

Q. What’s your number one tip for building a strong customer relationship?

A. Listening. If you don’t know how your client defines success, you don’t have a hope of retaining them in the long-term.

Q. What do you think are the key metrics businesses should use to measure customer success?

A. Client retention rate (CRR) & annual/monthly recurring revenue (ARR/MRR) are the obvious ones, but I think the most valuable metrics are the ones that are product-specific.

Bear these questions in mind:

  • What are the warning signs that show a client is becoming less sticky with you?
  • What is it about their usage data which shows they are going to be coming back for more?
  • What is the earliest indication you can have that something is slipping?

For those, you need data and that’s how you become proactive in your customer success strategy and demonstrate the effectiveness of your customer success team.

Q. And finally, what do you love most about working in customer success?

A. The variety! Every day is different, and every day brings a new challenge to address.