Customer success professionals are among the most innovative and bold thinkers in the tech industry. They are constantly challenged to think creatively to provide consultative advice to their clients in order to reach their business goals. Particularly in times of uncertainty, they must constantly creatively expand capacity without increasing headcount. From scaling & efficiency to customer experience and customer journey, their customer-centric mindset is the heart of every organization's growth. We at EverAfter founded the "Most Creative Customer Success Leaders" list out of a strong belief that creativity is the secret ingredient that takes every customer success team to the next level. This list recognizes the 25 most creative, innovative, and bold strategies that customer success professionals have implemented over this past year. It is built by the Customer Success community who voted for the leaders and their stories. In no particular order, here are the 20 Most Creative Success Leaders to watch in 2023:
💎 Daphne Lopes | HubSpot
Building a programmatic upgrade rate play that uses product data to identify customers with growth potential
Daphne Lopes is a CX advisor for tech start-ups and head of Customer Success for the UK at HubSpot. She brings with her a decade of industry experience in CX having worked with start-ups, scale-ups and Fortune500 companies. She built GTM and CX teams from the ground up, injecting customer-first approaches into organizations of all sizes.
A CS organization's true impact can be measured by its NRR. A customer success manager's role is not only to enable customers to use their current tools and retain businesses, but also to cultivate customers for growth and find opportunities for upsells and cross-sells. In 2022, 'growing accounts' was a new motion for HubSpot’s CS team. The goal was to provide CSMs with more than just content (for instance, playbooks) and assist them with the time-consuming process of identifying which customers were ready to do more with our products.
Her creative solution
Daphne's team created a programmatic growth play. We used the data on product usage, adoption, industry, and customer profiles to identify customers that were ready for a growth conversation. Instead of simply giving their CSMs lists, they gave them scalable solutions to nurture growth. For example:
- Templates for Webinar invitations to educational product sessions that allow customers to learn about these suitable offerings.
- Email sequences including nurturing content that would help the customer explore more of these solutions on their own time.
- Automated follow-up steps to invite customers to book a call directly with their CSM to discuss.
They ran this play in 2022 and the results of the campaigns were outstanding:
- 13.8% of customers responded to our outreaches. This is an outperformance on marketing email rates, where industry average is around 10%.
- In average 1 in 10 customers targeted, booked a meeting with their CSM to learn more about an opportunity and 89% of those meetings resulted in SQLs created.
- The play has generated over $400K MRR year to date.
*This Creative Play was the result of the work of some incredible CSMs that deserve recognition too Fiachra Duffy, Marion Lemoine, Philo Lomba, Stephen Mcsweeney, Alison Moffatt and Jen Berenguer.
💎Tim Hill | Gong
Creating a self-service onboarding flow for low-ARR customers to help them succeed and gain value faster
Tim Hill led the Commercial Customer Success organization at Gong for the past three and a half years, scaling the team from 4 to 38. He resides in Bend, Oregon with his wife and spends his free time outdoors skiing, hiking, fishing, and golfing.
Gong's scale team were spending too much time on assisting customer onboarding for their smallest customers and sacrificing helping them get more value during the middle of their contract term resulting in big ROI misses. They needed to create a self-service onboarding flow. The challenge was that their increasingly complex product required a moderate level of customization to truly be valuable. Educating their users on both how to customize the product and what they should consider when customizing required a solution that was not a "one-size-fits-all".
His creative solution
Gong's scale team leveraged EverAfter to build an Admin Portal which is delivered to their customers' Admin users and guides them through all components of technical setup and customization to suit their needs. The portal makes it super easy to track progress, outstanding items, and allowed them to weave in their previously-built-but-seldom-found support guides and academy content.
They continued to A/B test the Admin Portal to determine a flow that drives the most efficient and deepest implementation, measuring user adoption/addiction metrics as our key exit criteria.
The scale teams saw two major areas of impact - faster time to implementation and lower CSM output. When a customer first purchases Gong, there is a lot of excitement to get started - the last thing they want is to block that momentum. By providing their customers with prescriptive, simple instructions for setting up their Gong instance, they can move as fast as they want without the Gong team being a blocker. Since launching the Admin portal, the team has seen customers meet implementation exit criteria nearly a week faster.
By giving the customer more control over their implementation, CSMs could be more targeted in their customer engagements, focusing on aligning on business priorities and directing customers to relevant educational content and live training. In addition, CSMs were able to efficiently triage to overcome a failure to launch scenario at times when the occasional customer struggled to complete their implementation. The impact they saw on CSM time was reducing touchpoints during implementation by more than 1 call/customer and 5 emails/customer. Win-win.
💎Boaz Gordon | Centrical
Using microlearning, gamification, and blended training to create an onboarding experience that redefines the phrase: “drinking their own champagne”
Boaz Gordon has 15 years of experience in the tech industry and has helped global Customer Success organizations scale, improve operational processes, and maintain efficiency while focusing on quality and value. At Centrical, Boaz is leading the Customer Experience global team that is focused on Customer Success Operations, Customer Education, Customer Solutions, CS enablement, and Customer Support. In addition, he is a lecturer at Ben Gurion University for the last decade.
For a company in a hyper-growth environment, Cenrical needed to scale - and fast. Traditional one-size-fits-all methods wouldn't enable their customers to get the most out of their SaaS platform and truly understand its richness. This was the perfect time to develop a unique, scalable, personalized, gamified customer education program.
His creative solution
The program provided Centrical admin customers access to a game called “Power Up with Centrical”, which was built on the Centrical platform itself, giving full meaning to the phrase “Drinking their own champagne”. Power Up was focused on teaching customers how to be successful admins of the Centrical platform by experiencing the platform firsthand, just like their own users will. It used meaningful gamification to drive human behavior and focus on consumption, practice, execution, collaboration, and product feature awareness.
Within the last 12 months, Power Up has helped more than 2,500 customer admins across 162 enterprise accounts successfully learn, take ownership of their own platform, and support the relationship with Customer Success. 9 out of 10 users said they would recommend Power Up to a friend or colleague. After each course, learners were asked to report how confident they are in applying what they’ve learned to their day-to-day work with the Centrical platform. The average course confidence rating was (and still is) 4.5 out of 5. Beyond the onboarding period and throughout the customer lifecycle, customers continue to opt into additional courses (overall, Power Up catalog includes 35 courses and more than 400 learning missions) to expand their knowledge and skills on the Centrical platform and develop them into platform experts. Power Up also helped form a customer community, where admins can share their best practices and tips with their peers (what they call “Contributions”). Besides providing customers a rich and engaging learning experience, Power Up saved the CS team more than 5 hours of training time during onboarding. In developing the Power Up platform, Customer Success was involved in the entire learning lifecycle, from prioritization and content creation to review and delivery, creating a unique approach that turned each CS member into a champion of the program who cares about its success. The unified management of accounts and processes helped the team keep 90% customer retention.
💎 Dan Ennis | monday.com
A creative approach to report on at-risk ARR that combines Risk Mitigation, Champion Identification, and smart scaling
Dan Ennis is s seasoned CS professional with over a decade of experience working in the SaaS space with customers of all sizes as both a leader and individual contributor. He is passionate about leading teams and scaling out CS outcomes for customers.
As a growing organization, monday.com needed a way to better report on ARR that was at-risk and then measure and mitigate the risk beyond just the renewal. Dan and his team knew that an account could still be at-risk for the future, but they didn’t have any continuity past the renewal. So they needed a solution that allowed for long-term reporting and mitigation.
His creative solution
Dan's team at monday.com created a three-fold solution that allowed them to tackle these challenges:
- First, they created a process using a creative combination of monday.com and Salesforce for CSMs to flag ARR as being at-risk, apart from the actual renewal. Once this ARR was flagged as at-risk, the process also provided CSMs with best practice playbooks to mitigate the risk based on the reason and the severity of the risk. These risks would exist beyond the renewal so that long-term risks could be measured.
- Second, his team worked with the BizOps team to create a data-driven model to identify latent potential champions at customers. This was especially helpful at Scale when there might not already be a relationship or when the champion leaves an account that is High Touch.
- Finally, they then partnered with the BizOps team to use data from the above 2 points to proactively flag ARR at-risk, based on data. This helped the Scale CS team to better focus their efforts on truly at-risk accounts and reach out to the relevant contacts just-in-time to mitigate risk.
There were four main areas that were positively impacted by this multifaceted change:
- The CS teams improved the accuracy of revenue forecasting by having a much more proactive role in risk identification and mitigation, thus reducing the ARR that churned over time.
- The CSMs were able to receive credit for mitigated risks and further show the business impact of the Customer Success organization.
- The Scale Customer Success team response rates improved by over 70% when reaching out to the data-driven contacts.
- The volume of customers that Scale CSMs worked with overall increased by over 50% as they focused their efforts on accounts that truly needed it.
💎 Anika Zubair | Karbon
Creating personalized yet automated bite-sized content to engage with executive sponsors who can’t attend EBRs
Anika Zubair is a Customer Success Executive Leader with experience in building, scaling, and transforming Customer Success organizations at hyper-growth B2B SaaS companies. She has built world-class customer success organizations across the globe. Drawing from previous experiences at multiple SaaS B2B startups and scale-ups, Anika is no stranger to scaling Customer Success efforts and has built teams from the ground up across the APAC, EMEA, and US regions. She has led Customer Success teams at vzaar, Zap, inSided, and most recently at Karbon.
Executive Business Reviews have been a key for growth at Karbon. They can be difficult for customers, especially executive sponsors, to make time to participate in them. Knowing their usage, upcoming road map and how to better utilize our product is key. Despite the known correlation between customer engagement and product usage, it has been tricky to get customers involved. Anika team has started using short-form content to engage customers who are not responsive to their quarterly business review (QBR) calls.
Her creative solution
Automated yet personalized engaging content for customers who haven't interacted with their QBRs before. This included short videos (under 90 seconds) and two-sentence emails with personalized reports based on relevant metrics for the customer. They also included human interaction in the digital environment, with emails containing a link to a video and their community.
33% increase in executive sponsors joining Karbon's QBRs. Using digital but personalized CS content, they were able to engage even with their high-touch customers and drive better, more effective use of time for these customers. Admins could also share their best practices and tips with their peers.
💎 Kristi Faltorusso | ClientSuccess
Developed a Success Probability Score to ensure each customer can get the best experience according to their needs
Kristi Faltorusso is an award winning Customer Success Executive with experience in building, scaling and transforming Customer Success organizations B2B SaaS companies. Over the past decade she’s helped companies redefine Customer Success resulting in increased retention, revenue growth and advocacy.
As sales continued to bring on new customers, Kristi realized that they needed a strategic way to analyze the customer to deliver the best experience regardless if they fit their ICP. Historically they offered a one-size-fits most approach to how they would engage and onboard their customers which resulted in misalignment and a poor experience. Their customers had different needs and expectations based on where they were starting to engage with them.
Her creative solution
Kristi designed a Success Probability Score which analyzed the customers based on the criteria that would have the greatest impact on their success. During the sales discovery process, the AE would collect the insights required to complete this binary assessment which would generate a weighted score. The score would then carry over to the team working with the customer so they would be able to craft the best experience. They modified the onboarding program to have 3 tracks instead of 1 and would aid customers based on their starting point. Customers with higher scores would likely have a faster time to value and customers with a lower score would have a different path. These scores enabled them to set the proper expectations with customers so their needs were met within the internal infrastructure and ensured all teams were successful.
Improved experience for customers and employees, higher success rates, stronger adoption and increased engagement over time. It's too soon to measure this against renewals and growth, but based on the early indicators we are confident this will have a material impact.
💎 Seth Dovev | Chili Piper
Establishing the Customer Success Qualified Opportunities (CSQO) program to track and measure CSM-led expansion efforts
Seth Dovev is a Senior Director of Customer Success. He oversee Chili Piper's award winning Customer Success Organization, focusing on providing all of our customers the best experience and value using Chili Piper products and services 🌶
Chili Piper have a technically sound CSM team that customers desire to talk to because of their domain expertise in web development, marketing automation tools, and CRM systems. Their expertise provides an additional layer of trust and confidence with their customers — as well as an opportunity for growth. So like many other successful SaaS companies, the CS leadership at Chili Piper consistently tracks CS-led metrics like LTV, NRR, and GRR and ties them back to positive outcomes. But late last year… they uncovered a missing piece. This missing piece stood in the way of them showing their team’s growth related efforts. We weren’t measuring the direct impact our CSMs had on the expansion revenue coming in from our existing customer base. They needed to make a change.
His creative solution
Seth team decided to roll out a Customer Success Qualified Opportunities (CSQO’s) program to track and measure expansion efforts specifically from our CSMs. First, they reviewed our pre-sale handover process between SDRs and AEs. As soon as an SDR qualifies a prospect, Chili Piper auto-generates an SFDC opportunity, enabling SDRs to instantly book demos for Account Executives. They don’t have to waste any time manually building opportunities (selfish plug: That’s the magic of Chili Piper!). Then, they applied the same workflow and automations to the CSM-Account Manager “Handoff process". After a CSM qualified an upsell or cross-sell opportunity, they could instantly book a meeting between that customer and their dedicated Account Manager. We knew that CSMs were contributing to expansion, but now we had an automated workflow to track it.
In Q2 ‘22, CSMs generated $156,000 in pipeline via CSQOs. Of this, $141,000 was closed-won (91%). In terms of those opportunities, here are some additional takeaways.
Closed Won opps:
- 29 of the 36 QHMs (80%).
- Average ARR opp: $4,300.
- Max ARR opp: $23,000.
- Min ARR opp: $450.
- 26x ROI by incentivizing CSMs to source growth ops!.
- 0.5 hours of admin work + 2 hours of working sessions = 2.5 hour per customer CSQO.
- ROI = (Total $CSQO / Cost of investment) x 100%.
- ($141,000/ ($5,400)x100% = 2611% or 26x ROI.
Read all about it in more detail on a blog by Seth: Here's what they did :)
💎 Brittany Casey | DocuSign
Crafted new avenues for expanding Customer Connections and sharing internal triumphs.
Brittany Casey is a Customer Success professional with over 10 years of experience in the enterprise account/customer management space. Her focus has become optimizing customer processes with special emphasis on contracts management and digitizing legal technology.
Expanding DocuSign's footprint within their customers. Brittany took a unique approach by making new contacts and sharing internal success stories. This approach helped her to engage with potential customers and showcase the company's achievements, ultimately leading to an increase in business and customer satisfaction.
Her creative solution
Brittany leveraged LinkedIn, particularly LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to connect with new potential business within an organization. Whether or not she had additional business development resources available, she understood her customers' business needs and was able to demonstrate how her company's technology could help a new business unit achieve its goals. She would then invite these contacts to hear success stories from her current customers and showcase the value they had gained from her company's solution. This could be done through one-on-one meetings or larger peer group settings. The beauty of this approach is that it can be applied to any industry and any solution that her company provides. All it takes is a bit of effort to connect her customers with the right contacts and facilitate valuable conversations.
- Expanded footprint within her customers' organizations.
- Strengthening and growth of her professional network.
- Effective alignment of solutions to solve unique business problems by leveraging her industry expertise and her contacts' deep vertical knowledge.
💎 Gil Gorni | IRONSCALES
A mindset shift on QBRs, why to do them and how to make the most of them
Gil Gorni is an experienced Customer Success Leader who manages the EMEA and APAC post-sale market at IRONSCALES. As a customer-obsessed and tech-savvy guy, Gil combines those two domains by bringing values like professionalism, humanity, and leadership to his surroundings.
IRONSCALES QBRs were based for years on showcasing what the product did for the end customer, they thought they understood what the customer wanted to see, but it was the exact opposite. They were focused on the features and capabilities and not on the ROI. The sessions were long and exhausting, with many slides and less essence.
During the last year, the team changed the mindset of leveraging value to customers. They have started relying less on the slides and more on asking the right questions. Every customer needed extra attention. They had to know their customers better to create a tailor-made QBR experience.
His creative solution
The creative solution was actually a mindset shift. The idea is that each CSMs need to start exploring and revealing the pain point of each customer through the QBRs and to set up measurable goals before those sessions. They gave more space to business knowledge and commercial aspects, and they set up guidelines for finding new champions and what message the decision-maker wants to hear.
Asking the right question is a methodology that creates creativity and leads them to better outcomes and customer engagement. It's an ongoing process. Their team's method is "never stop exploring." There is always room for more knowledge, and a good CSM always strives to know more.
The outcome was the revealing of new opportunities for upselling, an item that increased their NRR drastically to 107-115% depends on the Q. They also found risky customers on time, and knew how to address their pains in advance (GRR is 93-95%). This caused a reduction in churn. The third outcome is the customers' recognition of the importance of the QBRs. More decision-makers joined those sessions, and as a result of that, new partnerships were created.
💎 Ziv Peled | AppsFlyer
Creating a winning customer journey infrastructure and reporting using the right CS tech stack
Ziv Peled has more than 20 years of customer facing experience, including account management, pre-sales, outbound product management, and customer success. Ziv started his career working for telecommunication vendors, serving the biggest telecom operators globally until he joined AppsFlyer as a senior Customer Success Manager back in 2013. Soon after he advanced to lead the team, which has since evolved into over 300 people across 19 offices including both Customer Success and Support. Ziv has been working in his current position as Chief Customer Officer since 2016.
CSMs managing larger portfolios therefore need a solution that would provide visibility, information, actionable solutions and encourage self service on the customer end as well as increase scalability and efficiency for the CSMs. Specifically, the need became more evident around the release of iOS 14 and the spike in customer requests, questions and challenges.
His creative solution
Full integration with Looker and Salesforce allowed our customers (focus on long-tail and growth) to have access to data, webinars, solution architects, support and much more on platforms customized to their needs. This also enabled CSMs to optimize their time by referring customers to solutions and information available on EverAfter instead of needing to address each engagement individually.
The customer relationship framework both in Salesforce and Looker improved CSMs ability to strategize and become more efficient and effective. Additionally, the team was able to serve more accurate and focused insights by logging data into Salesforce. Most importantly, their CSMs can now engage with the most significant contacts.
💎 Delia Visan | Bright Spaces
Bridging the gap between sales and CS and making the handoff experience one to remember
Delia Visan has 14 years of experience in customer-facing roles. certified Customer Success Manager, career counselor and Trainer. Worked in industries such as: Healthcare, IT, On-demand, PropTech; for companies such as Oracle, Microsoft, Wipro, Glovo and Bright Spaces.
Oracle had a specific misalignment causing conflicts or tensions between the company's Sales and Customer Success teams. While both teams may be working towards the same higher purpose, such as the company's North Star Metric, miscommunication, ego, and a short-term focus can threaten their complementary collaboration. It's important for both teams to communicate effectively and work together to achieve their shared goals.
Her creative solution
Customer Success relies on Sales to perform the handover and introduce customers to the company. Misunderstandings about the roles and responsibilities of each team can lead to incomplete or faulty involvement by the Sales team in the handover process, which can damage the relationship with the customer moving forward. In order to address this issue, Delia scheduled a series of one-on-one calls with each sales rep to introduce herself, her role, and her responsibilities. She was open and authentic in addressing their fears and concerns, and explained that her role was to support them, not to eclipse their work. She also scheduled the handover meetings and set expectations for how the teams would collaborate once she was introduced to the customers. By approaching the issue with empathy and understanding, she was able to build trust and foster a more effective working relationship between Sales and Customer Success.
Delia was able to create a strong bond with the Sales Team by approaching them from a more human perspective. This allowed her to maintain a positive relationship with them while also making a significant impact on the business by keeping customers happy and engaged. She shared her best practices for communicating with empathy, transparency, openness, and authenticity with the team, leading to smooth collaboration among team members.
💎 Danielle Zimmerman | Wistia
Establishing a customer-centric company culture with a customer feedback process and cross-team insights loop
Danielle Zimmerman is the VP of Customer Success at Wistia where she is responsible for delivering a differentiated, seamless customer experience that empowers B2B marketers to create, host, market and analyze their video marketing efforts to make a more meaningful impact with their audiences.
Wistia needed to become more focused on their target customers and understand their needs and challenges in a deeper way. However, their existing mechanisms for sharing key customer feedback and insights were not working effectively.
Her creative solution
To create a customer-centric culture and improve the feedback and insights loop between Wistia's customer-facing teams, product and marketing, Danielle implemented the following:
- Regular cross-functional "Voice of the Customer" insights meetings to highlight key themes from Sales, Success, Support, and Marketing.
- Alignment of customer-facing "Product Experts" with Product Teams to serve as the Voice of the Customer.
- Use of tools like Gong to share customer calls and specific snippets with the Product team.
- Warm introductions by CS to Product for customer interviews.
- Sharing a customer story at every all-hands meeting to show the impact of their feedback.
- Public praise between CS and Product, such as calling out when Product delivers something meaningful for a customer and receiving positive feedback.
- Sharing with the Product team the interactions and engagements that lead to success with customers so they can help automate and scale CS efforts. This includes sharing the customer journey and conversion rates along the entire journey, both pre- and post-sale.
Danielle created a customer-centered product roadmap that was aligned with customer needs, leading to increased customer satisfaction and product adoption. By prioritizing the needs of her customers, she was able to improve the effectiveness of the product and drive positive outcomes for both the company and its customers.
💎 Gemma Cipriani-Espineira | Chili Piper
Creating a company-wide slack channel to highlight all the work the CS team is doing to make the customers’ life easier #happyvibes
Gemma Cipriani-Espineira is an award winning, progressive CCO with a focus on improving customer retention, adoption, growth, advocacy and sentiment. Gemma architects and nurtures global high performing customer orgs, most recently at Chili Piper where she grew ARR from $5m to $25m in 2 years. Gemma believes customer success is a way of doing business and is passionate about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the workplace.
Chili Piper has a fully global remote team that supports customers from no centralized office. As the company grew quickly, it became challenging to find time to highlight all the invisible work the team was doing to make customers' lives easier. Good news was shared in weekly team meetings, but this took time away from managers to collect and sometimes important feedback was missed. The team wanted to share more good news, more often, in order to keep the momentum going and stay as close to real-time as possible.
Her creative solution
They created a company wide #happyvibes channel on Slack that automatically shares good news from positive CSAT, NPS and G2 Reviews from our customers. This receives notifications using a Zapier integration taking data from Zendesk, Planhat and G2 into Slack so the good news comes through in real time.
#happyvibes is full of encouragement and is a place where peers can celebrate each other based on strong customer feedback. It is the happiest slack channel as it keeps everyone across the org motivated to hear how happy customers are. Organically people also started sharing good feedback received by customers from emails, phone calls, Linkedin messages and zoom meetings in #happyvibes. Peers and Managers are also encouraged to share notifications from the #happyvibes channel as “wins” in Progression app which is used to measure and improve individual performance.
#happyvibes also supports customer advocacy efforts externally. It was done by creating personalized reward links with UTM tracking for each CSM and CSE. These automatically get sent to customers after they reply with strong CSAT or NPS directing them to leave a G2 Review. They also provide a thank you bonus to CSMs and CSEs when a positive G2 review is left from customers they recently helped.
Thanks to the increased visibility of good customer feedback and the automations set up around this channel, Chili Piper now sees roughly 5-15 reasons to be happy every day. This has provided the momentum to improve their customer experience, leading to the following improvements in 2022:
- Maintaining a 100% CSAT on support tickets, responding to them in less than 10 minutes and resolving them 4x faster.
- Increasing NPS by 23 points.
- Increasing G2 Reviews by 2.5x.
💎 Priya Ganoo | Timely
Engage customers on a personal level by setting up a customer-centric Instagram account
Priya Ganoo is a Customer Success Manager at Timely’s UK (The only one in the UK offices). She started her career in Support, but has found her passion in Customer Success. When not at her desk helping the most valuable customers, she enjoy being a nuisance to her cats Jaffa Cake and Noodles, watching tennis and doing marathons on the weekends.
Timely faced a challenge in getting their busy business owner clients to engage with the Customer Success process after onboarding. Client engagement is critical to retention and revenue, as it helps businesses get the most out of their Timely subscription and provides valuable feedback for the product teams. As the first dedicated CSM outside of the Australia/NZ market, their task was to reach out and engage with high-value customers. This was initially challenging, as clients didn't understand why Priya was reaching out to them.
Her creative solution
Timely's clients are in the personal care businesses, such as hair, beauty, and aesthetics. As these clients are extremely visual and creative people, Priya created a dedicated Instagram account to follow their lives and stay up-to-date with their business happenings. This allows her to see the important moments in their lives, not just their work. This ties in with one of Timely's core values of bringing your whole self to work. Instagram has been the most successful engagement channel so far.
Priya also sends voice notes to arrange reviews and occasional gifts to celebrate key milestones, such as the birth of a child, opening a new location, or anniversaries. She also arranges client visits where possible and has made over 20 in-person visits this year, which has been a huge success. By staying engaged with her clients on a personal level, she has been able to build strong relationships and improve customer satisfaction.
After implementing the outreach campaign, the amount of reviews has increased to an average of 20 reviews per month. Over the past seven months, Priya has achieved her OKR target of 20 reviews per month due to the success of her outreach campaign. Better engagement and feedback from clients have helped the wider team and have informed product and company strategy. Adoption rates of new features have increased when clients have had a visit or review. The outreach campaign has led to a 22% increase in ARR via payments revenue.
💎 Kristin-Leigh Brezinski | AppsFlyer
Setting up a scale team to facilitate growth in mid-market customers
Kristin-Leigh Brezinski has 10-year history working with private B2B SaaS companies out of Seattle, WA – she specializes with customer-facing teams moving through periods of internal and external organizational change and facing the unique, exciting challenge of modifying programs mid-flight.
The AppsFlyer CSM team was running over-capacity for several years, with each CSM managing customers across all verticals and all ARR levels with the same service-level expectations. This led to individuals making prioritization decisions and mid-size customers experiencing regular neglect. KL started AppsFlyer's specialized Scale+ team, which focuses on the mid-market customer segment. She uses a combination of technology and processes to manage customers efficiently and help them achieve best practices.
Her creative solution
KL and her team at AppsFlyer created a dedicated EverAfter kit, which allows customers to onboard their software with minimal coaching. Previously, this process took longer than 90 days and required the direct involvement of a CSM and a Solutions Architect. With the EverAfter software, KL was able to reduce the time to value for onboarding and completely remove the dependency on the Solutions Architect team. This creative solution has streamlined the onboarding process and allowed customers to begin using the software faster, without the need for extensive support.
KL's efforts at AppsFlyer have led to significant improvements in the management of the mid-market customer segment. After one year, Enterprise CSMs were able to manage almost half their previous number of customers, allowing them to increase and improve the consistency of their service to that segment of the business. This has led to greater satisfaction among mid-market customers and shorter time-to-value on product initiatives. Customer retention in the mid-market segment has improved by 4%, making it competitive with the pre-established Enterprise program.
The success of the Scale+ program has also led to gains in efficiency for the CSM team. The program is running at 500% efficiency relative to the Enterprise program, reducing the overall headcount requirement for the CSM program. Overall, KL's specialized approach to managing mid-market customers has improved satisfaction, retention, and efficiency for the CSM team at AppsFlyer.
💎 Subha Shrinivasan | Rakuten Symphony
Introducing a framework for subscription led business championed by a single customer success team
Subha Shrinivasan is the Vice president & Global Delivery head for the Unified Cloud Business of Rakuten Symphony. Subha’s core experience includes General Management, Delivery of Product & Services, Customer Success Operations, Pre-sales, and Technical account management. Subha loves to create new strategies purpose built for Customer Success.
In the telecom industry, with its vast ecosystem of players, it was necessary to introduce a framework for Customer Success championed by a one unified customer success team. The challenge involved creating a business model for a diverse and complex ecosystem of vendors providing servers, chips, adapters, radio, and software. Each vendor had a different pricing model, manufacturing/product release times, and completely different technologies. Some were still using complex and proprietary technologies, making change seem impossible.
The first challenge was delivering an integrated product stack with such a diverse set of players. The second challenge was the business model itself. How to price the product? How to transform perpetual licensing into subscription-based? How to convince the customer that, though this is a fundamental shift in the way they have operated in the past, this is the right path forward? The customers were cautious and saw that most software-only businesses were flourishing from a shift to SaaS and the institutionalization of the customer success function. However, they were still reluctant to change their legacy technologies and existing investments.
Her creative solution
Subha created a ground-up customer success function that was custom-built for the complex telcom industry. The entire concept was customized for this specific industry, using a 10-prong approach that included:
- Global delivery to be driven by Customer Success teams. CS levels up as an aggregation function across all products and a central delivery unit.
- Multiple customer success managers Vs One. Collective skill sets, knowledge and relationship managed by a team of CSMs Vs One, to combat the issue of product diversity.
- No separate Pre-sales & Post-Sales; It is ONE Customer success team; Heavy push on technical expertise alongside industry experience.
- Heavy personalization of CS/Product/Business - Delivery was in charge of training, building tools and spinning off Operations, Operations reports to CS and engages in a near real-time DevOps model.
- Clear responsibilities between Sales & CS functions : Sales define SKUs and find new opportunities (hunter) & CS manages upsells and cross-sells (farming).
- Digital CS & CS Ops are the drivers of Customer Experience. Customers loved engaging and self-learning and navigating through digital tools.
- Heavy investment in intelligent automation to deliver white glove customer experience. Leverage AI for real time inputs on customer sentiment, product usage and prevent churn.
- Service assurance was defined as the primary driver followed by NPS and NDR.
- A new Semi-subscription pricing model; renewals were launched but the frequency is spread across years.
- Focus was shifted to speed of innovation and accelerated delivery; Investments on COEs and customer technologies to match the speed of software only play.
The migration from a monolithic perpetual model to a subscription based model resulted in a significant increase in the subscriber base, revenue, and customer satisfaction (CSAT). Adopting a customer success strategy and regularly reviewing customer success metrics at the C-Suite level was a welcome change for the model.
💎 Stijn Smet | Whale
Launching a new customer onboarding plan: a DIY 8-week-long onboarding journey
Stijn Smet or Stino is in the Customer Success game for over five years. He loves mixing his personality in his work to provide a professional but very personal approach towards his customers, team & life in general. He try to be the best cheerleader you need in every aspect of life & work, assisted with a top-notch knowledge base about the Real Housewives.
At Whale, customers have the option to purchase success services, which includes a custom onboarding approach for each customer. Previously, if customers did not purchase these services, there was no structured plan in place to get them activated, leading to a low retention rate. To address this, a creative solution was implemented to provide customers with the tools they need to manage their own customer success, even if they do not have a dedicated Customer Success Manager.
His creative solution
The solution was a DIY onboarding process that was built in a conversational style and included videos, GIFs, and other materials to educate customers. This approach focused on activation, increasing retention, and satisfaction. Customers were provided with personalized videos and GIFs, including ones from popular television shows like the Real Housewives, to help guide them through the onboarding process. This allowed customers to onboard at their own pace and have a more enjoyable experience. As part of the DIY onboarding process, customers were given tasks and goals to achieve, and their progress was tracked using predetermined metrics. If a customer was not on track to achieve their goals, they would receive additional email communications to help them get back on track and ensure their successful activation. Overall, the DIY onboarding process was designed to increase retention and customer satisfaction.
The well-structured process of the DIY onboarding allowed for minimal follow-up work from Customer Success Managers. Every goal and potential risk was captured in the email chain, and predetermined metrics were used to determine the path each customer would take to ensure their successful activation. This resulted in a higher retention rate for customers who did not purchase Success Services. Customers were able to enjoy a personalized, conversational onboarding journey that allowed them to onboard at their own pace and have a more enjoyable experience. Overall, the DIY onboarding process was a success in improving customer retention and satisfaction.
💎 Julie Fox | FloQast
Creating customized journeys and playbooks for a newly formed success team
Julie Fox Senior Manager of Customer Success at FloQast, the leading provider of accounting workflow automation software built by accountants for accountants. Previously Julie was Manager of CS at Greenlight Guru and prior to her experience in tech, Julie held many leadership roles ranging from VP of Services and Director of Operations.
As the company's product and service offerings expanded, Greenlight Guru's needed to scale. The customer success team struggled to find a balance between customer advocacy and relationships, and revenue growth and selling. Julie's goal was to empower the team to have value-driven conversations and establish themselves as trusted advisors to their customers.
Her creative solution
To help Greenlight Guru's customer success team drive value-driven conversations and establish themselves as trusted advisors, Julie and her team created a coaching and enablement series. This series focused on understanding the customer journey in greater depth and coaching the team on value-based selling. The curriculum included pre-work with content and resources, hands-on activities, and role-playing to provide the team with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed. In addition to sharing examples of "what good looks like" with her teams, Julie encouraged them to share their own success stories to ensure that the learning was being implemented and driving positive results. By providing the team with customized coaching materials, Julie was able to support their development and help drive positive outcomes for the company and its customers.
As a result of the coaching and enablement series, Greenlight Guru's customer success team became more customer-centric, knowledgeable, and supportive of each other's successes. This led to increased customer satisfaction and improved outcomes for the company. Now at FloQast, Julie is continuing to support the customer success team by starting a CS coaching series and finding creative solutions to help the team and customers thrive. By providing ongoing support and development opportunities for the customer success team, Julie is helping to ensure that they are able to deliver exceptional customer experiences and drive positive results for the company.
💎 Marie Lunney | Chili Piper
Utilizing tech and data to build a unique program that triggers an action when SMB accounts are at risk
Marie Lunney is a Digital Customer Success expert. She's grown her career successfully doing nearly every part of GTM and CS in B2B SaaS. She is passionate about creating exceptional customer journeys through efficient and innovative operations. You can find this American ex-pat living in Amsterdam, often with rainbow-colored hair, thriving at rock concerts, or exploring a market.
Chili Piper previously provided SMB customers with a dedicated onboarding customer success manager (CSM), but once they entered the adoption phase, they were moved to a pooled approach. This meant that customer outreach was minimal and the customer was only contacted if they reached out with a problem. If the customer did not reach out, Chili Piper would not find out about any issues until it was time for renewal, at which point it was often too late to address the problem. SMB customers make up a significant portion of Chili Piper's customer base, with 33% of the company's logos and 13% of its annual recurring revenue (ARR) coming from this customer segment. As a result, Chili Piper recognized the need to provide SMB customers with the same level of service as their Mid-Market and Enterprise customers, without overburdening the company's resources.
Her creative solution
Chili Piper uses a combination of technology and data to trigger risks and assign pooled customer success resources to address them. The data from the product is sent to Snowflake and then pushed into Salesforce, which syncs with Planhat. Planhat uses this data to assess for risks and trigger automation that assigns a temporary SMB owner to take action. This temporary owner is the original onboarding CSM who is familiar with the customer's setup and use case, which allows them to resolve issues more quickly. The original CSM is also assigned a playbook to confirm that the customer activates during the 14-day period and to proactively reach out if there are any delays. This approach allows Chili Piper to provide high-quality customer service to its SMB customers without overburdening its resources.
Since implementing this process, Chili Piper has proactively reactivated over $594,000 in annual recurring revenue (ARR). This demonstrates the success of the company's approach in providing high-quality customer service to its SMB customers without overburdening its resources.
💎 Einav Rothschild | AppsFlyer
Increasing overall team unity and success by increasing access to tech knowledge
For the past eight years, Einav Rothschild has led Customer Success and Solutions Architects teams. She has worked at AppsFlyer for the last four years, first establishing the EMEA LATAM SA team and now leading the EMEA LATAM CS and SA teams, working with over 70 incredible individuals.
As a company operating in a hyper-growth environment, the need for technical knowledge and strong communication between the business and tech teams has increased. With rapid product and market evolution, it is not possible for every person in the organization to obtain the level of expertise required to support customer needs. Additionally, the region in which the company operates is diverse in terms of people, languages, cultures, and time zones, which adds to the complexity of providing high-quality customer support. These challenges highlight the need for effective collaboration and communication across teams to ensure that customers receive the support and guidance they need.
Her creative solution
To provide in-depth technical advisory, guidance, and solutions for customers, prospects, and business teams, the Solutions Architects team was established. This team is responsible for leading technical conversations during the sales cycle, guiding engineers during the implementation phase, maintaining client integrations with various partner technologies, and delivering feedback to drive product innovation. The team is diverse, with members bringing different backgrounds, technical skills, and locations to the table. Einav worked closely with each team member to enhance their unique expertise and strengths. Each Solutions Architect is responsible for sharing their expertise with the business teams, as well as collecting and sharing feedback and requests from customers, prospects, and business teams with the Product teams. Over time, the team members improved their training and knowledge sharing methodologies, and began collaborating and working together to improve their training sessions and develop additional innovative initiatives across the region.
The Solutions Architects team is responsible for ensuring the successful design, migration, and deployment of solutions for prospects and clients, while providing value throughout the customer journey. This team works closely with the business teams across the region to provide the knowledge and support they need to be successful in their day-to-day work. By providing technical expertise and guidance, the Solutions Architects team helps the business teams deliver exceptional customer experiences and drive positive outcomes for the company.
💎 Tripti Dubey | Joveo
Introduced the customer happiness score to help with measuring customer feedback accurately
Tripti Dubey is a Customer Success leader & champion with 11 years of experience in customer lifecycle management. Expert in building teams, CS operations & successfully developing & executing account/portfolio level strategies through creating customer loyalty programs and feedback loops.
Startup founders and employees often realize the importance of creating a simple and ongoing customer feedback loop to hear directly from customers about their pain points and improve the customer experience. This was also true for our company, as we were measuring customer satisfaction through quarterly NPS surveys, but there was still a need to have a more robust process in place to collect feedback from customers regularly and take swift action to address any issues and deliver customer happiness.
Her creative solution
To regularly collect customer feedback and provide visibility of the scores and feedback to the entire organization, a Customer Happiness Score was created. This score allows customers to rate the product and services on a scale of 1 to 10, provide feedback and the reason for their score, and suggest what could be done to improve their score. The score focuses on building short-term customer happiness by specifying areas and pain points that require immediate attention, creating opportunities to delight customers with small wins and contributing to overall customer satisfaction. The survey is collected via a form that is sent to a Slack channel where all customer-facing and behind-the-scenes teams can see the feedback and take action to resolve any issues that are raised. The teams also celebrate wins together as #oneteam when customers share their positive experiences and stories.
The customer happiness score increased from 5 to 8+ across 90% of accounts. This improvement was a result of consistent feedback that allowed the product team to clearly define feature requests and add them to the product roadmap, as well as make enhancements to existing features. The CSM team also had a quantifiable goal or OKR as a result of this feedback process.
💎 Hannah Dean | Livestorm
Creating a standardized content engine to drive enterprise customer engagement and reduce churn
Hannah Dean is a people-centric and happiness-deliverer professional. She is driven by cultivating successful relationships and scalable experiences for her clients. Success isn’t merely defined by product adoption, but by also supporting clients to achieve their goals and measuring successful outcomes.
To better support all clients, including those who do not reach out with emails, experiences and frameworks were created. Breaking down users by health score helped the company gain a better understanding of an account's likelihood to churn. However, focusing on the responsiveness of a client as a factor of the health score itself can hinder the ability to accurately define and support "at risk" clients. To address this issue, a customer success platform was implemented to impact the customer journey. This allowed for the creation of intentional behaviors and experiences without relying on fully automated systems, improving support for clients who were at risk.
Her creative solution
Hannah, thinking of herself as a client, realized that she would not want a lower level of service if she were busy or unresponsive. This led her to understand that companies now have high expectations for the support and experiences they expect from their products and interactions. Automated systems alone are not sufficient to meet these expectations, as clients do not want to feel like a number or email variable in a thread. Instead, they want to feel connected and engaged with the product. To address this, Hannah created standardized templates and resources that could be used within playbooks or independently as separate resources. This allowed her to better understand how to connect and build relationships with clients in a new way. She included a variety of documents, standardized message templates, and resources in her new framework to support clients with a range of needs and use cases. Importantly, Hannah emphasized the importance of intentionally structured documentation and resources to help facilitate meaningful relationships, without relying on automations. This allowed her to support clients without compromising her role as a CSM.
By creating a toolbox of internal resources, they could better connect with and support teams proactively, addressing their needs and pain points. The framework and documentation proved valuable in improving the overall customer experience and reducing the risk of churn. Adding layers and customized resources added even more value for clients, creating a high-value tool that could be referred back to repeatedly. Based on their success in developing processes and creating new areas of support, they began to scale their efforts and understand how they could further create support and resources to meet the growing needs of their clients at scale.
💎 Minh Le | BASE.VN
Reshaping the customer onboarding program to differentiate between different customer tiers and scale CSMs capacity and engagement
Minh Le is an Imagineering with a Builder mindset and on a mission to deliver values to clients with an exceptional customer experience.
Base.VN realized that offering free implementation services to all customers wasn't sustainable as the business grew. They decided to differentiate between onboarding for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and enterprises, with the latter being willing to pay for a more comprehensive implementation service. This differentiation also allowed the company to better train their customer success managers (CSMs) and provided their sales team with a clearer understanding of their implementation services.
His creative solution
In order to do this, they first looked at how to segment their customers. One of the challenges they faced was that their segmentation and onboarding model needed to be based on the complexity of a client. Next, they listed out five main pillars that could better deliver value to their clients and ensured that they correlated with each other. These pillars included the technical complexity of the client's solution, the client's internal team capabilities and resources, the client's willingness to invest in their success, the client's engagement level and communication preferences, and the client's desired timeline for implementation. By taking these factors into account, they were able to create a more personalized and effective onboarding experience for their clients. This helped to improve customer satisfaction and reduce churn:
- Task list: Identify the tasks that must be completed to mark a step as finished.
- Frameworks: Identify the frameworks that should be used in a stage.
- Materials: Provide the materials that CSMs can use to understand more about a specific step or framework.
- Success Factors: Define the criteria for determining the success of a step.
As a result of redefining the onboarding process and segmenting customers based on complexity, the company saw an increase in DAU and MAU. The involvement of key stakeholders in QBR sessions also increased. The internal CSM team benefited from the changes, with a full library of materials to use and additional courses to improve their skills. The average course content rating was 4.58 out of 5.
💎 Raman Bindra | Haptik
Creating a true sense of community within a newly acquired company that experienced dramatic changes internally
Raman Bindra is a results-driven professional, Raman has 11+ years of Customer Success and Account Management experience. He has vast experience of building processes from scratch to maintain long-lasting relationships with clients. A strong believer in being a Customer Advocate and setting high standards for the Customer Delight Factor. He possess the skills of a salesperson, product knowledge, operational skills of a support analyst, and the creativity of a marketer.
The acquisition of Haptik by another company led to the formation of new teams that were not familiar with each other or with the company's working style, resulting in confusion and lack of collaboration. The lack of synchronization and understanding between teams led to poor meetings and an absence of action items. As a result, the customer satisfaction (CSAT) score was at an all-time low and the churn rate was increasing.
His creative solution
In order to foster collaboration and improve communication among the teams, Raman, organized a series of team-building activities. The first activity involved team members sharing a movie they loved and explaining why, as well as choosing a song and explaining their love for that genre or type of music. This helped team members to open up and get to know each other on a personal level. And helped Raman learn about each person inner motivations, strengths, and potential so he can build more personal work procedures. The second activity involved each team presenting their own suggestions for a collaborative process. This helped to foster a sense of connection among team members and provided insight into their work processes.
Raman realized which team works with what motivations. It was determined who is more aggressive and who is more responsive, and what each team needs. He took their process suggestions combined with motivation and created process playbooks like the customer handover process, customer onboarding process, account health checkup process, account audit process, business review process as well as regular team cadence. The result was that the team became very strong and tight-knit, with members being very aware of their responsibilities and clear on task ownership. As a result, every meeting became a productive and enjoyable discussion of solutions rather than firefighting. Additionally, team members were able to discuss fun activities outside of work. These changes led to a significant increase in customer adoption, as well as improved expectation setting with customers and alignment of goals with the objectives of the customers. The retention rate increased by 97%, and the upsell quota revenue stream had an average achievement of 98%. CSAT scores also improved significantly.
💎Irina Smirnova | AppsFlyer
First to implement smart one-to-many solutions for the low-touch customer base on the CS team at AppsFlyer
Irina Smirnova is a Customer Success Manager at AppsFlyer, a leading mobile attribution company. She is dedicated to helping her clients grow and succeed in their businesses through the use of innovative customer success management tools and project management technologies.
As a customer success manager, one of the biggest challenges you face is maintaining a high level of service as your customer base grows. The team at AppsFlyer was looking to overcome this challenge through the use of new tools that will help streamline their workflows and improve efficiency.
Her creative solution
The team kicked off their initiative by researching and testing new potential tools to support their one to many approach while keeping service personalized, engaging and customer-centric. EverAfter's solution, being a white-labeled no code solution, seemed like the perfect one to customize. AppsFlyer were able to better serve their growing customer base and also increase their engagement rate and the overall customer experience level without losing efficiency.
By providing customers the EverAfter customer portal as the single source for communication and product information, the success team at AppsFlyer was able to increase touch points and maintain strong customer relationships. This approach allowed for more efficient communication and a better overall customer experience.