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Defining Customer Success

What does it look like for you to have a successful customer? The answer could look different from one business to the next, but you need to know the answer as soon as possible. For if your customers are successful, most often so is your business. Even if the primary motivator for your business is profit, the principle still applies.

Your goal as a business should be to make your customer look as good as possible.

That’s it. It’s as true for web design and software development as it is for many other industries. Kathy Sierra says it best:

People aren’t using the app because they like the app or they like you. They’re doing it because they like themselves. What are you doing to enable more of that?

So, exactly what is customer success for you?

A Definition

The most obvious literal meaning is making sure your customer is successful in their business or work. For many of us who run design agencies or software companies, the method with which you enable your customer’s success may be different, but the goal should be the same.

At Harvest, helping their customers create beautiful invoices for their clients can enable success. For Wistia, enabling their customers to quickly add closed captioning to existing videos in their library makes the customer look badass. For each SaaS company, the means may be different, but the end result is you should be helping your customer do their job better.

But what does this look like as a function of your business? For four months on the job here at Wildbit, I’ve been thinking on this subject and watching how other companies approach it. There is a lot of variety. Many companies tack on success with their customer support. But one is proactive (success) while the other is reactive (support). Both are necessary, but the focus is different.

In many organizations, they lump success under the umbrella of marketing and sales. Marketings draws ‘em in, Sales converts ‘em, then it’s up to the Success team to keep them happy. While I can understand that drive to take that approach, the focus is on your success, not your customers. The Success team in companies fashioned in this manner are often focused on renewals and upselling.

We have a different approach here at Wildbit, for which I am so glad. On our recent job posting for the Success team, we sum it up like this:

At Wildbit, we focus entirely on enabling teams to build and launch their own products and services.

That is something I can get excited about each day!

What Does This Involve?

How do you help people “get the most out of your platform”? That’s the fun part … it can look like many different things. You’re only limited by your imagination.

Here, our team focuses a lot on education. This includes user guides, private demos, tutorial & welcome videos, and the onboarding experience. We focus on relationships. Caring about the people who use your tool takes you a long way and gives you motivation.

It also involves understanding your customers. What are the different personas (types of users) who make up your customer base? What are their needs and how do they differ from one persona to the next? What features are the most important to them? Taking the time to talk with your customers and research their behaviors is crucial to enabling their success.

Most importantly, our focus is on helping our customers grasp the full extent of how our platform can enhance their development process. Nothing beats the days where I get to talk to a customer, find out where they experience pain or frustration in their current process, then show them how they can remove that pain with one of our products.

When we walk away from that conversation, I want to feel confident that this person will look smart and capable to their clients, their team, or their executives. Badass (as Kathy puts it)!

We talk a lot in our industry about user experience. Customer success (and support) are vital in this regard. The experience is much more than an intuitive UI, a clever, cheeky onboarding process, or a robust feature set. For the customer, it’s about how they feel when using your product or service … and it’s about how they feel about themselves.

Customer Success should focus on just that.