Given the importance of meeting customer needs and providing a well-rounded experience, how can a business determine whether the value or experience they deliver is at par or not?

I spoke with Elaine Cobb, Vice President of Customer Success at Coveo, to share her thoughts on what organizations can do today (during these unprecedented times) to manage change and meet customer expectations.

Key takeaways:

  1. Always focus on the goals customers are trying to achieve. The companies that are delivering great experiences and demonstrating business outcomes are the ones able to preserve revenue. Adoption, Experience and Value are critical.
  2. Check-in with your customers and understand what, if anything, has changed. Find out how you can best support your customers. In many cases, existing customers needed even more help during Covid.  Many companies have fewer resources than ever before. Customers will naturally remember the companies that best supported them during the pandemic.
  3. Ensure every interaction with your customers count as time matters and developing strong relationships is key.
  4. Ensure customer feedback is heard. CS always plays a key role as company quarterback. Customer feedback needs to be channeled across departments to ensure every department is collaborating in support of the overall customer, particularly as business needs are evolving rapidly.
  5. Four things the CS team needs to focus on: mitigating churn, staying proactiveproviding the best possible experience, and staying focused on being value-driven.

Career and Background

Elaine is deeply passionate about working closely with customers to solve business problems or achieve business outcomes. She has more than 20 years of sales and service experience in digital marketing solutions and analytics. 

The intersection of data, customer experience, and decision-making is what she enjoys most.  Using data to provide an incredible customer experience, data to understand progress towards customer business outcomes,  and using data to inform strategic decision making is her focus. 

At her current company (Coveo), Elaine is the VP of Customer Success, where her mission is to make sure every customer is empowered and supported in accomplishing their goals with the Coveo platform. Her passion is delivering exceptional customer experiences and inspiring teams for success. 

The Coveo Relevance Cloud™ leverages the power of search, data, and AI so that every business can serve people in very individual ways, and so that every business can participate in the experience economy on their own terms. From a single search to an entire user journey, Coveo powers the digital experiences people expect – whether they’re your customers, your partners, or your own teams.

CS drives change and meaningful outcomes

CS is a critical driver of organizational success. They enable their organization to understand their customer’s behaviors, their sentiment, their preferences, and the level of service and support that they need and expect.

Not only does the CS team come up with success plans, but they become strategic partners with their customers by understanding and integrating their feedback into all aspects of their experience.

CS helps customers orchestrate efficient change management. Change can be disruptive and met with resistance. It is important to focus on the “why” and ensure that the value is truly understood. Keep your customers’ priorities top of mind throughout the engagement. 

Think of it this way: When a person buys software/ technology, what he/she is trying to do, is to change or improve what they used to do. Hence, there is always a natural need for change to happen in order to achieve the desired results or outcomes.

Efficient change management helps customers a great deal in streamlining their business processes and organizing best practices. While these changes are getting (or being) implemented, CS should guide customers and even shadow them to understand behaviors and move past any roadblocks.

More often than not, customers know the outcome they are driving towards (and want to achieve), but they do not always know how to get there. To achieve their goals, we take them on a success journey and help customers move from point A to point B. It also means that we need to continue to provide the support, guidance, and executive sponsorships. We need to reinforce and show that the disruption of change is worth the effort and drives the business value they expect. 

Measuring success

We need to understand the goals that customers are trying to achieve at the outset. This will allow us to expedite first time to value. The first step is to understand their goals and success metrics – How are they going to measure their success? Next, guide them along the customer journey to achieve their outcomes. Last, keep your customer engaged and optimize their solution (via 1:1 cadence meetings, Webinars, Round tables, VoC, NPS, Advocacy groups).

If a customer is successful in achieving their business outcomes and obtains the value they seek and aspire to achieve while working with your solution, they will likely renew, expand and become advocates for you. 

Moving forward

A balance between long-term business goals with long-term vision is required when developing a strategic Customer Success organization. Businesses can achieve this if they focus on: 

  1. Providing Business Value. CS ensures that customer business outcomes are being met and the solution is delivering value. You must mitigate business risk by being in service to your customers and continually understand their challenges in order to earn their loyalty. That will allow you to secure renewals and remove any form of churn (downsells or losses).
  2. Delivering Exceptional Experiences. Most Saas organizations understand that when they bring in new customers, they need to play a critical role in helping their customers achieve success. CS effectively helps customers realize the benefits of their investment through strong, trusted, and committed partnerships. 
  3. Being Proactive with Growth as the result. A successful relationship is not just about meeting a single goal but understanding the customer’s reality, pain points, and opportunity for overall success. In other words, focus on adding more value at every stage of their journey and that will naturally lead to growth opportunities. 
  4. CS requires the right tech stack, as they rely heavily on data to inform prioritization and decision making. Investing in the right tools or resources allows for scale and to arm your team with the right information at the right time to ultimately improve the customer experience and optimize their journey with you.

This concludes my first part interview with Elaine. Please stay tuned to Part 2. We will discuss how they coped with the pandemic, learned lessons, and the prevailing mindset required to rise against this challenge (pandemic). 

This article was originally published here

Vincent Manlapaz, is a Customer Success Advocate at Strikedeck. He is passionate about Customer Success and is always willing to learn more!
Vincent Manlapaz

Customer Success, Strikedeck, a Medallia company