Vice President of Customer Success
Chad Horenfeldt is a Customer Experience and Customer Success executive with 15+ years experience developing Customer Success teams with companies of all sizes. At Bluecore, he serves as Vice President of Customer Success and manages a CS team of CSMs, client onboarding, Support, technical services and education. Chad joined the show to discuss specific tips for hacking Customer Success at your own company.
What you convey to customers matters
Actions speak louder than words; customers need to understand what you're doing and how you'll help them.
Your audience determines the type of services to provide.
Eloqua started with tech companies; As they continued to mature as a company, customers matured as well and needed different types of resources. Chad started hiring experienced marketers (customers!) and then those experienced in a certain industry. In his role as VP of Customer Success at Bluecore, Chad is looking for people with a strong technical background vs. the industry since it's retail. He's more concerned if they have that technology bent because it's a tech-focused company.
What are today's Customer Success leaders talking about and thinking about?
Many leaders struggle with reporting and ensuring there's a full understanding of customer performance and take metrics and action on them. Another: compensation and team structure. Many leaders are at fast-growing companies or larger companies and dealing with constraints around resources. How do you build out the right structure and put in the right resources for the type of customers you're working with? Budget, resources and processes are common themes.
Some of Chad's tips for hacking Customer Success
Plan out your week. Ensure you have the right meetings set up and that the meetings are important. Think about which customers to prioritize and how to best leverage technology to help your team.
Leverage your team and share knowledge. No one needs to operate alone - it's best to share things you're going through with others on your team(s). Ensure you're sending the right things to your account executive or your support team. Get feedback wherever you can.
- Do quarterly retrospectives with your team. Chad recommends "start-stop-continue" exercises he does with team where they write down things they should start doing, something they should stop doing, and something currently being done the team wants to continue. They then look for themes and discuss. Surprising results will ensue!
Always have value to offer a customer whenever you're meeting. Come prepared! A simple prep for a call can make a big difference.
Working with customers who don't respond or who seem "too busy"
Make sure that CSM is set up for success early on; if it's in onboarding, clearly define their role. It's them who has to develop trust, the number one attribute in a software engagement. Ensure you're aligned with a customer and constantly delivering value and so they understand why it's worth their time.
Always be out in front of hiring
Chad says hiring fast enough and getting a good sense of the pipeline are essential. Get creative and look for ways to hire people on Angellist, your network, a recruiter or other sites. You can't push it onto HR for Customer Success! Fast-growing startups are fueled by people: process issues can be worked through.
It's difficult to have a uniform way of measuring customer outcomes.
It's also labor-intensive depending on segment. It's easier at enterprise level, harder at SMB level where defaulting to analytics and adoption metrics. You want to be tied to business metrics as well.
Why are data and analytics hard for Customer Success teams to nail?
Cross-team collaboration can be a roadblock. At Bluecore, Chad has created playbooks with sales to ensure everyone is on the same page. Maturity is part of it too. If you search, you'll find everyone reports on renewal rates, retention rates, churn rates differently. Looking at adoption metrics is a whole other beast. Getting data from one system into another is hard; you have to get engineering and product on your side and assigning resources to Customer Success. Because you need a focus and commitment across executive level, that's where people tend to struggle, says Chad. If you don't standardize, you can't communicate effectively to the board and it leaves blind spots.
Customer Success is not a team, it's a philosophy
Give Customer Success an outlet to work with product on feature requests, work closely with sales. You have to celebrate as a company when you win and align everyone around the customer.
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