Elevate Customer Success: My Review of CS100

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By Kristen Hayer

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I spent the week of September 10th out in beautiful Sundance, Utah attending the CS100 conference. This is our second year sponsoring this event for customer success leaders, and as usual, I came away with some great ideas, new friends, and things I want to try. Many of the amazing customer success writers and speakers who attended hit the ground running with write-ups just days after the conference. It took me a little longer to pull my thoughts together, but here are my take-aways from the event:

EVERY CUSTOMER SUCCESS TEAM IS DIFFERENT

I taught one of the Boot Camp sessions, on the ROI of customer success. At the end of the workshop people around the room shared what they had learned. One the of common threads was that everyone was surprised that key metrics were so different from team to team.

If you think about it, that makes sense. While most of the attendees were from SaaS companies, several weren’t. Everyone was tackling different size customers, in different industries, with different business models, branding and price points. While there were common buckets of metrics, there was a lot of variation in the actual metrics, baseline expectations, and goals.

It is important to keep this in mind when looking at your own team. While you should absolutely consider what others are doing, it is also critical to customize those ideas to fit your company. Customer success models are not one-size-fits-all.

GETTING AWAY DRIVES BETTER PERFORMANCE

There is nothing like breathing fresh air while gazing at a beautiful mountain (and panting slightly because you aren’t used to hiking at an altitude of 8000 feet!) to give you some perspective. Combine that with listening to incredible speakers and connecting with other leaders and you’ve got magic.

CS100 is a terrific event, but if you can’t attend you can still create this kind of experience for yourself and your team. I recently wrote an article on maker days. Take 1 day a month. Get out of the office. Focus on long-term improvement. Better yet, bring your team along and do this as a group. Removing yourself from your day-to-day environment will also spring you out of your day-to-day mindset. Use this time to come up with creative ideas to push your team forward.

That said, it’s only effective if you put it to use. Part of the reason you’re getting this blog post a few weeks after the event is that I needed to put some of what I learned into action right away. After a maker day, a team event, or a conference, quickly identify your action items and get the ball rolling.

ELEVATE YOURSELF, YOUR TEAM AND OUR PROFESSION

I’ll admit, since the CS100 theme was Elevate, I feel somewhat compelled to include this in my review. That said, it is fitting. Customer success as a field is about a decade old at this point. As a profession, we’ve been acting a bit like a startup: Try everything. That’s great when you’re an early stage company, in fact that’s your job. Try everything is your mandate.

We’re past the startup stage now. As a field, we need to push further. To elevate. This doesn’t mean we need to stop experimenting. It does mean that we have some baselines for what works now. And, that we can push beyond them.

It also means that we need to think bigger. We need to be open to new ideas and opposing views. Should CSMs own revenue or not? Who owns usage, expansion, support, marketing, renewals, relationships, referrals? These lines are blurring. And they should be. The ideas that challenge us are the ideas that drive our field forward.

I speak for all of the team members at The Success League when I say that we were honored to sponsor the ClientSuccess CS100 event. I hope this review challenges you to think about your view of customer success, and to elevate your perspective.

The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that helps business leaders build their skills and career in customer success. We offer leadership coaching and training that covers topics including metrics and goals, compensations plans, team structure, budgeting, hiring and management best practices. Check out our leadership programs at TheSuccessLeague.io.

P.S. The photo above is of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon we rented in Utah. Plus, and I must be honest here, I love driving it. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.