What is Customer Success all about?

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

“Here is my card. It’s got my cell number, my pager number, my home number, and my other pager number. I never take holidays, I never get sick and I don’t celebrate any major holidays.”

-Dwight Shrute, The Office; Season 3 — Episode 12 “Traveling Salesman”

That’s what any customer would like to hear. While this is not the kind of promise most people would want to make in real life, it can teach us a valuable lesson about customers and their needs. Dwight’s promise was preceded by a showing of how the customer service at his company was superior to other companies in the same business, and ultimately, that is what closed the deal. The customer service, or customer success field is vitally important to any company. It’s just as important for the long term success of a one person copywriting firm as it is for the likes of Apple or Microsoft. So what makes customer success so important?

It’s a direct line to the consumer.

Customers are what keep a business. Without them, a business would be profitless and pointless. So it is vital to make them feel valued and heard. It’s in the name. A customer success rep should be doing everything in their power to help the customer succeed. They could be the first experience that customers remember when dealing with a company, and the last one as well. When a customer has an issue and they reach out to “customer service”, they’re not reaching out to an individual. They are reaching out to an entity that they believe will assist them. So the response they receive will brand the company as a whole in their mind. Are they helpful? Quick to reply? Did they answer all my questions, without a hint of frustration, no matter how much baggage came with it? Or were they cold, rude, slow, and sloppy with their assistance? In the customer’s mind, maybe only subconsciously, that is what they’ll come to believe about all aspects of the company, apart from just one CS rep who did or didn’t do their job.

It’s the eyes and ears of the company.

Customer success reps act as middlemen between the company and the consumers. Equally important to their dealings with outside is their dealing with the inner workings of the business. If customers bring up a problem repeatedly, it is on the shoulders of those in customer success to relay those issues back up the chain so that the problem can be addressed and fixed. It has to be a two way street, because if a problem is not moving towards a solution, it’s staying a problem. There needs to be quality communication between customer success and other facets of the business for problem-solving. A CEO may not deal with the day to day issues that would arise from customer complaints and the like, but the information that they receive from those who do deal with these instances, is invaluable to them all the same. The company can’t get better if issues aren’t being dealt with. Customers love feeling like they have a hand in their experience with something, so if they noticed that a situation that they presented has been remedied, that would make them feel connected. That can only happen if information is being relayed back through the necessary channels to where it needs to go.

It’s a crucial position that deals with many different situations.

There isn’t a “one size fits all” customer success job. While a lot of people think of a headset wearing robot answering calls from angry customers all day when they think of customer success, that doesn’t even scratch the surface. It’s not that hard to find a bad customer service rep, and a lot of times, that’s what people are going to remember if they encounter it. But in reality, those in customer success are often the unsung heroes of a successful enterprise. At one moment, they certainly could be dealing with the angry complaints of an unsatisfied customer. But their job is not to be a punching bag, a place to scream into the void. They’re problem solvers. Customer success isn’t just about being able to listen; it’s about listening and then getting to work. It requires quick thinking. Sometimes, you don’t have the whole answer right away. New problems come up all the time. Being confident in your ability to deal with new issues is crucial. It also requires a cool head. Even if without showing visible impatience, it’s not too hard to tell when someone is on the edge of blowing up. It would be a great idea to put myself in the customer’s place. Think about how they’re feeling. They may have invested a certain amount of money into your product which they expect to help them in a certain way, and if it doesn’t, they may feel cheated or lied to. They would be justified in being a little upset, and so good customer success lets them know they understand the message being shared. Sometimes, all a customer needs is a little direction or guidance, and so a rep must assume the role of teacher. They must understand their product to a degree where they could give a crash course at a moments notice, or go in depth on one particular area that is needing explanation. The list of valuable traits goes on.

Regardless of the situation however, good customer success takes the problems, and provides solutions. To the unknowing eye, it may look like they pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Magic; nothing to it. But in most cases, what’s going on behind the scenes is unseen. This position requires hard work, along with a complete package of an individual, to be successful. It requires dedication. Dedication that Dwight would be proud of. Dedication that would make any person who comes in contact with you, smile like the man in the picture. The state of customer success can make or break a business.

Product Development @ RoleModel Software and a myriad of other things // John 14:6