Martine is the Chief Customer Officer of the branding automation SaaS vendor, Bynder. Prior to joining Bynder she spent over 15 years working with customers both in the tradeshow / event industry and at Apple.
As a pioneer in Customer Success, I have witnessed this term become more recognized across the world. However, this should be more than just a buzzword, Customer Success should be the foundation of your business model.
In October 2015, I discussed the importance for businesses to make the customer journey a part of their product. Jus like how companies cannot apply the same principles for each region, customer success can no longer be just an add-on. For example, in the Netherlands, there are unique challenges that you would not necessarily find in the U.K. or U.S., but by turning those obstacles into advantages, a successful Customer Success strategy can be achieved.
Not Just a Passing Fancy
Customer Success is a young industry. I joined as Bynder’s Chief Customer Officer in the fall of 2014, when the role was only about one and a half years’ old. At the time, there were very few Customer Success Managers (CSM) in the Netherlands, but it was becoming clear that the Customer Success role would be the spider in the web of every customer-centric service company. During onboarding, our own CSMs spent the initial months in implementation – learning the customer journey inside and out.
Too many companies in EMEA treat Customer Success as a passing fancy, mildly comprehending that the value of good Customer Success translates directly into renewals and upsells. When we first implemented Customer Success at Bynder, we started from scratch to ensure we were building a customer-focused organization that knew and understood the needs of our clients. This didn’t only help us to understand our customers, but helped us create a roadmap for the future. Mapping best practices and the user journey from a technological perspective on our platform allowed us to continuously improve the customer experience.
Build a Team
A great CSM should be capable of handling all stages of the customer journey. Therefore, you should build a customer-focussed team as soon as possible. Steve Jobs once said; “great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
Given that Customer Success is a relatively new field, the challenge we face in the Netherlands is having few too experienced CSMs to hire from. In fact, many recruits have never even heard of the term ‘Customer Success’, and some think it’s a job in customer service.
Working in a B2B SaaS company demands business experience, however the role of a CSM is both technical and social. The CSM needs to have the drive and ambition to educate customers on all of your business’ current products and new features, drive change and adoption, while upselling the customer and keeping their needs a priority. Establishing trust and communication as a CSM is key.
Customer Success has many more facets than customer service, but its roots are still in meeting the customer’s needs. Not known for their customer service, the Dutch are sometimes perceived as too direct. While this can quickly flatten an opportunity for a server to get a tip, it can be an asset in the business world by exuding honesty.
You can create healthy customer relationships by striving for a partnership and not a supplier/customer relationship — directness with tact, courtesy, and honesty are crucial. No partnership will benefit from a business always saying ‘yes’ if they cannot deliver on a promise. There will be times when you have to say ‘no’ to your clients, but finding a middle ground or a mutually-beneficial alternative solution is what will get you a renewed contract.
Bynder is a branding automation and marketing solution designed to build, manage and scale brands globally. Run as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, Bynder is an integrated solution that enables brand managers to achieve end-to-end brand consistency. Founded in 2010, Bynder is the leading branding automation solution and powers over 300 brands worldwide, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Logitech and AkzoNobel. Bynder has offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Boston and Barcelona and is currently active in over 50 countries.