Pulse 2016, hosted by Gainsight, was quite an event – on many different levels. Oakland embraced the attendees and the city hosted the 4,000 plus attendees with ease. App-X’s COO, Ben Hendershot, and VP of Customer Success, Jill Montera, attended and returned with an enlightened perspective on the evolution of Customer Success and its strategic impact across an organization.
“The event’s theme, in part, focused on getting tactical now that we know what Customer Success is – so, more about the how. For instance, a number of sessions were about sending us home with actual practices that can get applied,” shares Ben. The sessions as well as networking opportunities were organized by functional roles so that content and topics of discussion were more targeted and connected. “With 4000 attendees after just four years, this event is clearly addressing topics that are top of mind to not only Customer Success professionals, but to companies as a whole,” comments Jill. “The strong growth of this event goes to show that Customer Success is now a corporate strategy that’s at the forefront. In fact, some companies brought their entire team.”
Another focus of the event was how Customer Success can play an integral role in SaaS-based companies. “There was discussion about how the technology industry is experiencing a downturn – not that tech in and of itself is in a downturn – rather that the funding is drying up and so now it’s essential for SaaS companies to demonstrate a clear path towards profitability,” adds Ben. “From the venture capital panelists, there was a consistent message that now they look at revenue and growth and a clear path to profitability – whereas in the past it was just revenue and growth.” This translates into more scrutiny of expansion rates and churn rates, which are attributed to Customer Success.
Furthermore, there’s a growing complexity of how Customer Success is being integrated throughout organizations and measured. Jill shares that “Customer Success is now looking at the entire span of the customer journey – from the sales cycle throughout implementation and support as well as customer communications. And with this integration, Customer Success can provide analytics via a feedback loop to other functional areas in order to improve and optimize the customer journey. As a result, organizations are actually experiencing better retention and revenue growth.”
What do these key takeaways mean for our private equity customers? We’ve been focused on the customer journey since day one. With more investments into core parts of the business, we’re building out the Customer Success program to span consulting and user adoption services as well as strategic business reviews. While we’re on track as validated by a number of KPIs including negative net churn for over seven years, Jill continues to advance the program. “Considering our products and the types of market problems they solve for fund managers and institutional investors, our focus is on the customer experience to ensure that our solutions really work the way private equity thinks. This is essential – especially as a SaaS company.” And rightly so since a company cannot solve a negative customer experience with just money – it takes a quality product, thoughtful implementation, and customer care.