For the past two years my primary responsibility has been ensuring the experience of SOARIZON, a SaaS solution for managing drone operations, is a positive one for my customers. I joined the team in its infancy and was set the task of building the foundations of a Customer Success structure within the organisation. I read Politics at University and was a Police Officer for some time. I found my passion when I founded a commercial drone company in 2016. So much of what I have achieved in my academic and professional life can be accounted for in a single word. Communication. Great communication is the single most important differentiator between a good or bad experience for so many things in life.
For me, putting the customer first means fostering a close two-way working relationship, which in turn is underpinned by trust and mutual respect. Of course, I strive to ensure our clients are always happy with the service, but a reality of life is sometimes things do go awry. The true differentiator between good and great Customer Success is having the ability to have that difficult conversation with your customer. It’s about not shying away or trying to cover an issue up with business jargon. Some of the best relationships I have with customers today are those who experienced issues at the start of their service from me. The adage ‘honesty is the best policy’ really does come good when it comes to fostering strong and enduring customer/supplier relationships.
SaaS has its own unique challenges when it comes to Customer Success. With more traditional product type sales you have a fixed commodity which, apart from firmware upgrades, remains static in terms of functionality. The customer does not expect the physical product to become better over time, whereas in a SaaS environment, they do. In some ways interacting with a SaaS is a far more intimate, personal experience than that which people have with a physical device. Do you enjoy the physical, aluminium construction, smooth chamfered edges of your new iPhone, or do you love the software experience which it provides? Because of this I need to provide mechanisms to my customers in which they can provide continuous user feedback. It might be a bug report, some functionality they do not like, or a request for a new type of functionality. Managing this is perhaps one of the most overlooked, and difficult areas of Customer Success in a SaaS environment to get right.
You cannot go far wrong if your customer feels they have a voice within the organisation. This goes beyond the actual technical implementation that facilitates feedback. A voice is about knowing this feedback is valued, and important to the future development of the SaaS. To complicate matters this does not simply mean the customer is listened to, and all feedback results in development. At times, a customer request might not always be able to be actioned, for a multitude of reasons. Here you must communicate with the customer to fully understand the reason for that request and have honest, open dialog with them. Customer Success is just as much about managing the difficult conversations as it is celebrating all the good your product brings.
To sign off I will leave you with this final thought. If, like me, you work in Customer Success, remember your wages come from the pockets of your customers.