3 Things You Can Learn About Customer Success From Kitchen Nightmares Image

3 Things You Can Learn About Customer Success From Kitchen Nightmares

If you’re at all connected with pop culture, or are on some sort of social network, you’ve probably seen the recent meltdown by the owners of Amy’s Baking Company on the nationally broadcast reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. For those of you that haven’t, check it out here. If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, the first 10-15 minutes are quite eye opening. I don’t watch this show on a regular basis, but I was captivated by this particular episode. Having been involved in customer service—with a passion toward customer success throughout my career—I was spellbound by the complete lack of customer focus that the owners of this business exhibited.  They essentially did everything you shouldn’t do when it comes to customer service. Within the first two minutes of the opening credits, we’re shown the company’s namesake: “The customer is not always right.”  Yikes. While this may be true in reality, it seemed to be the flawed basis on which they run their business. Throughout the show, the owners demonstrated an outright animosity toward their customers, employees, and a complete inability to take even the most benign criticism. To make matters worse, all this happened before Chef Ramsey even walked […]

4 min readMay 23, 2013
New “Growth” Module Helps Sales Drive Renewals and Upsells Image

New “Growth” Module Helps Sales Drive Renewals and Upsells

At forward-thinking companies, Customer Success is no longer just an organization, it’s an attitude.  Building a customer-driven enterprise requires a collaborative effort and shared vision across the entire company.  Today, we’re proud to announce a new module built specifically for Sales that streamlines the renewal process and improves the renewal forecast, proactively identifies up-sell opportunities, and automates the notification of out-of-compliance customers. Available today as an add-on to Gainsight Enterprise Edition and working together with the Gainsight Customer360 database, the Growth Management Module provides sales teams with the automation and workflow needed to drive more revenue from their existing customers.  The Growth Management Module includes the following features: Up-Sell Alerts: Within Salesforce, sales teams get alerted to indicators of up-sell opportunity including upcoming renewal dates, positive survey feedback and product / feature adoption metrics. Renewal Dashboard: Sales reps can quickly view upcoming renewals alongside relevant customer health indicators including survey scores, product / feature usage metrics and other customer intelligence data. Out-of-Compliance Reports: Sales management can easily identify customers who are over-utilizing allocated licenses and contact them for overage, up-sell and renewal discussions. “Our sales organization required more visibility into customer data in order to better serve our customers,” said Eric Johnson, vice […]

2 min readApril 17, 2013

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Veteran Rookie

Anyone who knows me is painfully aware that I’m a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL football) fan.   I’m “that guy” with the Steelers jerseys, t-shirts, socks, paintings, helmets, bumper stickers, fight songs…even a Steelers wallet.  As a child, I dreamed of oneday quarterbacking my team to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, due to a tragic lack of any physical coordination whatsoever, I soon recognized my need for a backup plan.  And though I never made it to the Steelers, I’ve been fortunate to work with and coach a number of great teams over the years. Every time I join a new team, I get to start out as a rookie all over again – and that’s amazing. With that in mind, I’m thrilled to join the team at Gainsight (formerly JBara Software) as CEO. I come to Gainsight from my role as an Executive-in-Residence at venture firm Accel Partners and before that from leading SaaS email archiving provider LiveOffice (which we sold to Symantec in 2012).  A bit more about me is here and here. At LiveOffice, we went through the evolution every recurring revenue company goes through.  In the early days, it was all about new customers.  As we grew, our existing customers became a bigger and bigger part of […]

4 min readApril 17, 2013
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Customer Success – Now What? Image

Customer Success – Now What?

In past posts, I think we addressed the question of whether Customer Success is changing. Of course it is. In fact, in many ways, it’s not so much changing as it is being created. How many companies even had an organization called “Customer Success” five years ago? It exists because SaaS has changed everything. If we accept that supposition, then the logical question is “Now What?” I’ll try to address that question in this post. I am going to contend, without a lot of details for now, that there are four primary things that have to be carefully thought through if you are going to run an effective Customer Success organization today: Customer Stratification – you need to take this seriously and do it carefully because you can’t treat all customers alike. Customer Touch Model – this goes hand-in-hand with #1 but it also requires you to understand the overall customer experience at your company. Metrics – renewals, upsells, ROI, etc. Everything is different and you need to figure out what to measure, how to measure it, and what the right targets are. Automation – you must have a purpose-built application to help guide you in best practices and manage the complexities of this world you live in. Your […]

2 min readMarch 26, 2013
Is Product Usage the Holy Grail? Image

Is Product Usage the Holy Grail?

For many, the thinking is that there’s a lot of customer information out there that might have some minimal value, but if you could just get a handle on how/if they are using your product(s), you’d have the problem 90% solved. Let’s examine this claim more closely. Let’s say you had a perfect scoring methodology for usage. So, if you had a customer who scored an 80 on a scale of 1-100, it really would indicate that that customer is using exactly 80% of your product. If you scored all your customers and knew that the average score across your install base was 72, would you really need any other data? How about a few hypothetical questions to make a point: What score did the users give us on our last NPS survey? What score did the decision makers give us on our last NPS survey? Does it matter what this customer is saying to us on our surveys? How long have they been a customer? If they just signed up, is that usage an indicator that they are in training or is it our Services team using the product to get them set up and configured? What is their […]

2 min readMarch 12, 2013
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Customer Success – How Hard Can That Be?

“So what if there are applications being built for Customer Success? That certainly doesn’t make them necessary. I mean, c’mon, how hard can it really be? It’s not like Finance or Sales or even Marketing. Those organizations are complex and changing daily. Of course they need apps. But Customer Success? Just staff enough people and call every customer regularly and handle any problem that comes up, right? What’s an application going to do? Track all those calls and whatever issues come out of them? You can easily do that in Salesforce.” Ah, the voice of the skeptic. Always good to hear from him. Let’s just throw out a few questions here to help him understand the breadth of “customer success” and the enormous competitive advantage available if you do it really well. If you are successful as a company and get 1,000 customers, how do you staff to take care of them? Can you afford to have 20, 15, or even 10 people managing customers? Is their contract value a factor? Or how long they’ve been a customer? Do you know what your churn rate is? By contract value? By Industry? By Sales Rep? Can you predict the likelihood of […]

2 min readMarch 5, 2013
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Tracking Customer Success ROI

A tricky question I get asked all the time from those running Customer Success organizations is “How do you determine the ROI of a Customer Success team?”  In some ways it’s an unfair question because the R stands for “Return” and implies a revenue or profit connection.  Many Customer Success teams are not directly responsible for any revenue or bookings, and therefore “return” can be difficult to track in a traditional way. The goal is helping customers find value from their purchase and then retaining them by earning their loyalty.  It takes some applied resources to accomplish that goal, but measuring the direct contribution can be challenging. I have tried many different methods to quantify Customer Success ROI. One way  was to measure the number, and value, of customers that were unhappy and were “saved”.  That is certainly part of what Customer Success teams do but the problem is in defining what it means to save a customer.  Who decides that this particular customer would have churned? I have also tried a time-based approach – every hour that Customer Success spends with a customer is an hour someone else in another function would have had to spend to make the […]

4 min readOctober 10, 2012
A Word From Dan Steinman, Our Chief Customer Officer Image

A Word From Dan Steinman, Our Chief Customer Officer

I am so excited to be part of the Gainsight team, embarking on this great adventure with all of them, and with the entire Customer Success marketplace.  It is a rare thing to find the perfect job in your career, but I truly have.  I get to bring my Customer Success experience (and all the scars that come with it) to Gainsight to not only manage our customers to the highest level of satisfaction, but to have a broader impact on the solutions we will develop for all the VPs of Customer Success out there. On His Next Chapter in Customer Success Having come directly out of the VP of Customer Success role at Marketo, and having made the decision there to purchase Gainsight’s Customer Success Management solution suite, I really do know the extraordinary value the right tool brings to that organization and how far that value extends into the rest of the company as well. I love the world of Silicon Valley startups, having done several in my career, and it is even better to join one that already boasts many of the top SaaS companies in the world as customers and/or partners. So, let the journey begin! I […]

2 min readJuly 17, 2012