Well, that’s a wrap on our first-ever Customer Success Festival hosted in the APAC region! We’ve been absolutely bowled over by the response we received from all of you inspiring CS-pros! 🌏

We thought we’d treat ya to a little round-up of just some of the highlights of our two-day bonanza. 👇

Onboarding and value management stage

Takeaway #1: The power of being obsessed with onboarding

Leanna Lewis, Senior Customer Success Manager, APAC at MongoDB

Customer success needs to have an early introduction to kick off the relationship right from the beginning and explain the collaboration process, not just with the customer, but with internal partners, like sales. And for Leanna, she's a keen advocate of the “three whys”:

1. Why did the customer choose your product – what makes you stand out from the competition?
2. Why are they doing this now – what was the key event to drive their decision?
3. Why are they doing anything? Understand what matters to the customer and why they’ve decided to choose your solution rather than not acting on their needs.

Takeaway #2: Keys to onboarding success

Lisa Ngyuen, Head of Customer Success at Zyllem

Oh, the power of onboarding – it’s what makes or breaks a customer. In Lisa’s talk, she discusses three key points that will retain customers and provide them with a clear insight into their journey:

1. Alignment - As a CSM, it’s imperative that you understand the customer and any soft agreements between the customer and your Sales team that will impact deliverability.
2. Attraction - From the start, you need to acquire the customer’s attention as a trusted partner by setting out clear deliverables. This will solidify your ability to influence.
3. Set expectations - You need to make it clear with the customer exactly what you need from them, what your expectations are, and the responsibilities of all stakeholders.

Team and strategy stage

Takeaway #3: My customer success journey

Briany Kalms, Director of Customer Success at Envato

Everyone has a story or two to tell from their career progression – and the evolution of a customer success team isn’t any different. Here are the top three pieces of sage advice imparted in Briany’s presentation:

1. Don't assume customer success is front of mind for everyone - Typically customer success teams have a very beneficial vantage point in that they can see the holistic impact to customers. Not everyone has that view.
2. Create a shared team vision - Even if things are clear to you, it doesn't mean they're clear to everyone. Clarity takes work.
3. Don't underestimate the power of self-reflection - The only thing you really have full control over is yourself so make sure you spend time investing in that.

Takeaway #4: Customer retention strategy

Arun Kumar, Head of Renewals & Customer Success

Customer retention is often viewed as the antithesis of churn and the key objective of customer success. Having the right strategy in place is like gold to a CSM, and here are Arun’s hot three tips:

1. Customer retention is critical for every organization with a subscription economy where customer acquisition cost (CAC) takes a couple of years to break up. Losing a customer early impacts on growth and higher burn rate, plus poor word of mouth
2. There is no size fit all strategy in customer retention. What you can do is understand your ideal customer profile and, most importantly, build the retention strategies around the customer journey.
3. Any retention strategy should be designed based on hard data and not gut feel or assumptions

Cross-functional collaboration stage

Takeaway #5: Customer success through cross-departmental collaboration

Joseph Latteri, Managing Director of Customer Success at Meltwater

In his presentation, Joseph is a strong proponent of encouraging internal people to help satisfy customers and champions driving people internally to help satisfy customers, and the way to do that is with clear communication with different teams. Here are his top three tips:

Creating cross-departmental shared goals - People naturally want to work together and share the load.
Lead by example - Be that change that you seek! Try to do the right behaviors yourself before you complain about others not acting on them.
Understand other teams - Get to know their KPIs, what pressures they might be under. Ask things in a more respectful, positive way, as each interdepartmental touchpoint shapes future collaboration.

Takeaway #6: Creating an effective Voice of the Customer program

Andrea Greco, Head of Customer Success at Easyship

The Voice of the Customer is “a way to drive sales and product innovation through customer feedback”, and here are Andrea’s three key questions in his Voice of the Customer process:

1. How do you collect customer feedback?
2. How do you share that data? As a CSM professional, most of the time you're never going to build that feature yourself, but how can you share it with the right people, and how do you make sure that those people act on it?
3. How do you action that feedback as a CSM?

Engage and retain stage

Takeaway #7: Empathy at scale - Solving the conundrum of customer success

Guru Bhat, VP of Customer Success Platform at PayPal

In today’s world where human experiences are becoming increasingly digital, there is a concern around data privacy and adopting AI. In addition to this, keeping track of the multiple platforms customers use to engage with your support team is tricky, and is by no means a novel struggle for companies.

Here are Guru’s top three takeaways from his presentation:

1. Omni-channel customer success platform - although the customer may be interacting with us on multiple channels, the harnessed information generated from customer contact is shared equally across all channels; you can seamlessly go from one channel to another without information loss.”
2. Self-service capabilities - The customer wants to resolve their problem in the shortest period of time with effective resolution. If a bot can give them that, why not? If they have to pick up the phone and speak to an agent, make sure that it’s efficient.
3. Overuse of AI - There’s a tendency to rely on AI for aiding the customer’s digital experience, which can make the customer uncomfortable if it’s uber-intuitive about the customer. The best AI experiences in CS platforms are natural and human-like/ They’re the ones that can power intelligent insights about the customer and deliver empathy at scale.

Takeaway #8: Drive customer engagement through effective communication

Lawrence Ang, Customer Success Manager at Financial Times

It sounds obvious, but effective communication is underrated and under-used by businesses. While the Financial Times doesn’t operate under the SaaS model, customer success is applicable to any organization that depends on an engaged audience. Here are Lawrence’s top three tips from his presentation:

1. Personalizing your message - Simply make it about your customers and not your product.
2. Research - Who are your customers? With research, you can determine who your customer is, their past and present roles, which enables more constructive conversations.
3. Be open-minded - Experiment and try out different ideas, different techniques on how to communicate with customers. Think about how you can retain engagement with the customers, look at how other companies are doing it, and even how your other colleagues in different regions are doing it – what might not work for them might even work within your region.

Takeaway #9: Innovation-led growth

Shalaka Verma, Director of Customer Success, Modern Work at Microsoft

As a business function, customer success powers growth from within – a no-brainer for any customer-centric organization. Here are Shalaka’s three top tips from her presentation on innovation-led growth:

1. The core function of customer success is value innovation for our customers
2. Leadership intent for innovation-led growth, the culture of growth mindset, diversity and inclusion, and individual pursuit of excellence are pillars for innovation
3. Cross-functional collaboration between a diverse competent workforce accelerates innovation across the board, fosters resiliency, and helps org learn faster and organically from failures.

Takeaway #10: Adoption and change management in customer success

Rahul Gokhale, Senior Customer Success Manager, APAC at Microsoft

Customer success depends on realizing value in the product and/or service. If they’re not using the product, then you aren’t generating value. Adoption and usage depend on preparing and empowering your end-users through a journey of change.  Here are Rahul’s key takeaways from his presentation:

1. How to achieve adoption - It all comes down to individual choice; every individual should know how to use the product/service and be empowered to continue using it.
2. W.I.I.F.M. - It’s very natural for people to resist change, so you have to provide the answer to “What’s in it for me? How can this make my life better?” Really drill down on what’s in it for your end-users, and why they should support this change.
3. Get involved ASAP - Proactivity goes a long way in this game and being on top of things from the start is critical – even before the customer signs.

And that’s a wrap, folks!

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