6 CS Leaders’ Predictions for the Future of Customer Success Image

6 CS Leaders’ Predictions for the Future of Customer Success

In the dynamic landscape of Customer Success (CS), where relationships and outcomes intersect, the voices of female leaders are increasingly shaping the trajectory of the industry. As we stand at the cusp of technological advancements and evolving consumer expectations, it’s imperative to glean insights from those at the forefront of driving CS forward.

In this blog, we asked six remarkable female leaders in CS about their predictions and foresight into the future of this pivotal field. From leveraging emerging technologies to fostering deeper connections, these trailblazers illuminate the path ahead, guiding us towards a future where customer success is not just a strategy but a transformative force driving efficient growth and customer delight.

Nabeeda Bakali-Abrar

Customer Success Manager, Linkedin

Years in CS: I have been in customer success for around four years, and as soon as I joined the CS community, I felt right at home. 

What’s changed: How widespread CS has become. When I started out in 2019, not many knew what a Customer Success Manager (CSM) was. But now, my customers have CSMs from every vendor they work with, which means they have a better understanding of what we do. This gives us an opportunity to be more strategic with customers rather than spending time defining the difference between customer support and customer success. 

What’s coming: Embedding Artificial Intelligence into CS further and further. This will help make CS a more strategic role. Moving away from product training and the operational role to working with customers on longer-term strategy as you can tap into AI to create support and training resources that can be scalable. 

On the role of Digital Customer Success (Digital CS): It’s critical for scaling customer success. There are a lot of customers who can miss out on customer success due to the capacity the CS team might have. DCS will help with the scaling and ensure all customers receive support from CS. Thus, helping clients get the most value and expanding the accounts in the process as well as saving organizations money by creating more efficient teams.

Maranda (VandenBroek) Dziekonski 

Chief Customer Officer, Swiftly

Years in CS: I have been in a customer-facing position for over 20 years now. I managed my first portfolio of accounts starting in 2002, so if I am doing my math correctly … a lot of years. 

What’s changed: What hasn’t changed? CS is now viewed as a strategic partner for both customers and the business. We are no longer just brought into the conversation when there’s a major fire to put out. We finally have a seat at the table and have input into the strategic vision. The value of a strong Customer Success motion is finally understood and viewed as a growth multiplier in an organization.

What’s coming: CS teams will start to have revenue ownership and have a number to deliver. Whether that’s in partnership with Sales or on their own, CS will have to own a number. CS leaders will continue to be tasked to do more with less, so technology will continue to be at the center of the CS playbook. I think we will see an increase in the demand for Community and AI-driven tools grow. Anything that helps a team with efficiencies and scaling while keeping the customer’s experience top of mind will have a place in the CS leader’s go-to tech stack. Budgets overall will tighten, but investment in customer success will continue to grow. 

On the role of Digital CS: With all of the uncertainty in the economy, I see many leaders looking at how they can leverage technologies to help usher customers to success. This is, in essence, Digital Customer Success. It will allow CS leaders to peel off the work that does not require human intervention and allow their CSMs to work on more strategic things. If your customers are still able to be successful by leveraging technology, drip campaigns, in-app messaging, or whatever motion you decide to use, why have your very talented CSMs doing stuff that can be done with a tool? 

Ejieme Eromosele

GM of EMEA, Quiq

Years in CS: Formally, I’ve been in customer success for five years as a VP of Customer Success. However, my experience in CS-related roles extends over a decade. Initially, as a Management Consultant, I steered clients towards strategic decisions. Subsequently, as the head of Customer Experience at The New York Times, I helped the iconic brand shift to a subscriber-centric model.

What’s changed: CS is always evolving. I’ve noted significant changes in two key areas: 1) CS’s enhanced role in directly influencing revenue, either through quota ownership or by managing crucial revenue metrics like Net Revenue Retention (NRR), and 2) The adoption of Community as a pivotal element in CS, benefiting both CS individuals and our customers.

What’s coming: I expect CS will spearhead the drive towards a more inclusive tech industry by advocating improved practices. Additionally, I foresee an increase in CS professionals ascending to executive roles, ranging from Chief Customer Officers to CEOs. The customer-led growth mindset makes us well-positioned to lead sustainable, customer-focused organizations.

On the role of Digital CS: DCS will liberate Customer Success Managers (CSMs) to focus more on strategic and proactive tasks, thereby enhancing customer outcomes. It will also empower CS leaders to make more informed, data-driven decisions, contributing to improved company performance.

Victoria Waterman

Senior Director, Global Customer Success, AdRoll

Years in CS: I’ve been in customer success since 2014, so it’s been about ten years in total.

What’s changed: The biggest change that I’ve seen in CS is the expansion of the function and recognition that it is a key component in what makes companies successful. As a result, there are more groups and networks focused solely on customer success best practices—and generally more processes and playbooks on how Customer Success organizations should be structured. There are still many models out there, but the setup of my team at AdRoll, which consists of separate Onboarding, Scaled Customer Success, and Strategic Account Management teams, is an example in itself of how far things have come. In my past roles, this could have potentially been one team, but there is now more segmentation as things evolve.

What’s coming: What I hope to see is the emergence of more Chief Customer Officer (CCO) positions at companies. CS can be under Operations, Sales, or other departments—but it really deserves its own seat at the table separate from others. I think once this happens, it will allow for more customer-centric metrics to be directly tied to business goals, which, in turn, will increase retention and revenue.

On the role of Digital CS: I think that DCS will allow companies to do more with less through the ability to automate and operationalize certain tasks. At AdRoll, we’ve launched a virtual CSM program to allow for more in-app handholding and greater strategic support. This is the type of innovation that I expect to continue.

Ashna Patel

Customer Success Leader, Ascent Cloud & Co-Founder, CS Insider

Years in CS: I’ve worked in customer success for over eight years.

What’s changed: Customer success has become more of a center of an organization. Companies have become more customer-centric, which has led to the growth of the Customer Success function and opened up new opportunities for career progression.

What’s coming: I expect organizations to find a good balance between CS and other departments such as Sales, Marketing, and Product. With the recent market and economy, I have seen many organizations making CS lean more toward sales functions and have even noticed CSMs becoming more technical in their services. I can see the CS world evolve further as it expands and adapts to this new era of AI. I predict organizations trying to refine and define their CS function to better align with their goals while scaling and innovating from both pre & post-sales fronts.

On the role of Digital CS: I foresee DCS becoming the prime focus for expanding, growing, and scaling any organization. Data-driven CS will be even more data-oriented as organizations invest in and innovate ways to predict churn and figure out actionable ways to support customers in the age of AI better. DCS is the new era of CS!

Rochelle (Wilson) Shearlds 

Vice President, Account Management Medrio 

Years in CS: I’ve been in a post-sales role focused on the customer’s success for 12 years

What’s changed: Change is the constant in today’s dynamic landscape! Each quarter brings a fresh focus, keeping us on our toes. Gone are the days of solely relying on relationship-building through endless client dinners or golf outings. COVID-19 prompted a shift to intentional virtual engagement, emphasizing the need to deliver immediate value. With everyone busier than ever, there’s little room for small talk—we must prioritize delivering both customer and revenue-generating ROI. It’s crucial to strike a balance; a one-sided approach won’t cut it in today’s competitive landscape.

What’s coming:  Customer Success teams are embracing a new vocabulary, one that includes a heightened focus on revenue generation. As we evolve, we’re not just cultivating relationships; we’re honing our sales acumen and becoming proficient at identifying opportunities for mutual growth. In this era of customer-centricity, we’re redefining success by delivering tangible value that translates into meaningful outcomes for both our customers and our business.

On the role of Digital CS: Scaling is now essential for success. Digital Customer Success (DCS) empowers organizations to achieve more with fewer resources, all while enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. By streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary complexities, DCS enables customers to navigate their journey seamlessly, mirroring the ease of their personal experiences. This shift allows CS teams to focus on strategic planning and meaningful interactions, freeing them from tedious tasks and fostering deeper connections with customers.

Want to learn more from inspiring women in the CS industry? Check out our Women in CS Power-Up Master Class series.