As a relatively new industry, one of the biggest challenges facing CSMs is trying to assert its importance in business.

In this Q&A, Jason Noble, VP Global Customer Success at Vinli Inc., has dished the dirt on how to measure, prove and grow the value of customer success. Don't miss out on hearing Jason's presentation at Customer Success Festival 2021.

Q. Would you mind telling us how you got into the customer success industry?

A. I actually started my career as an accountant. After a few years I made the move into the technology services space, focusing on customers and building teams for customer support, service delivery, project management and account management.

This focus on customers is something that has stayed with me throughout my career and when customer success became what we know today as customer success, the transition into formal customer success roles and functions was very seamless for me.

We’ve been doing the fundamentals of customer success for many years but only over more recent years have we really made the fundamental shift to make it about the value for our customers.

Q. In your opinion, what are the most important metrics to measure customer success?

A. The big ones for me are NPS, CSAT, time to value and either gross or net revenue retention rate. Together these give you a view of customer sentiment, customer feedback, outcomes and value delivered and a commercial measure of success.

Q. Do you think the pandemic has changed the future of customer success, and if so, how?

A. We’ve really seen a big shift to focus on the customer during the pandemic –even back to focus on the customer.

There's definitely a need to make sure we’re delivering the value that our customers want and, just as importantly, delivering that value how and when they need it.

With our customers going through their own changes, challenges and transformations during the pandemic, they needed our help, support and guidance in ways we didn’t really consider until the start of last year.

As their businesses have been impacted, we’ve had to make sure we’re making the right changes to deliver value to them, and this value in many cases is different to what it was previously.

Q. Different stakeholders will likely have different views on what customer success is and does. For CSMs currently struggling to align senior management, what would your advice be?

A. This is a great question and one I’ve seen come up many times.

With customer success being relatively new, it’s a critical part of a customer success leader’s role to make sure all your internal and external stakeholders understand what customer success means to you and them, and your vision.

One of the critical things to do as part of this, is to really understand what the outcomes are that the different stakeholders need and how customer success relates to them.

You need to build relationships at the right levels with the different stakeholders and understand their priorities and challenges and of course how their business works and how their role in the company works. This takes time but it’s all about investing in a long term partnership.

Q. Arguably, one of the biggest struggles facing the customer success industry is getting organizations to understand why it’s an important investment when they already have account managers, customer service and support teams. What three things would you say to convince them otherwise?

A. I’m happy to report that over recent years this is actually becoming less of a struggle. As customer success has matured and businesses and customers understand it better, there’s been a realisation that it is needed and why it is needed, and why it needs the right level of investment.

Three things I’d say to help this transition and change are:

  1. Have a clear vision and mission for customer success in your organisation and that everyone in the business knows what this is and that the focus on customers is organisation wide and that is has exec level sponsorship.
  2. Agree on your customer success metrics that you’ll be using and make sure you can show how doing customer success right impacts the business, and equally how not doing it or not doing it right will impact the business (and your customers).
  3. Be the voice of the customer at your leadership table. Get feedback from your customers and really listen to it. Provide regular insights on what customers are saying, why they’re saying it and what’s working and what’s not working.

Q. Which top three tools would you recommend for business leaders to invest in for customer success?

A. I could put down just one here, and it’s the first one: a customer success management platform.

But two others are product analytics tools and a tool to capture the real voice of the customer. Depending on your customer success management platform, you may well have these other two as part of that.

Q. What do you love about working customer success?

A. For me it’s about someone else’s success.

I love this part of what we’re doing. I think about three different types of customers:

  • Our actual customers
  • Our teams and our internal stakeholders
  • Our role is to ensure that each of them are successful

This mindset in customer success is incredible and it’s created an amazing global community that really is like no other, where people are willing and wanting to help others.

Q. What do you hope is the one key takeaway people can expect after attending your talk?

A. We talk about delivering value a lot as customer success leaders and professionals but what does it really mean, how do we measure it and how do we know we’re delivering the value that our customers need and want.