Founded by Kristen Hayer in 2015, The Success League is a customer success consulting firm dealing in leadership consulting, training, and coaching. After a career in executive-level sales and customer success roles, Kristen identified a gap in the market for an industry-specific skill set, namely being able to build and develop customer success teams from scratch. With input and advice from former colleagues and connections from her years in the field, Kristen started The Success League as a consulting firm for leaders, run by leaders.
Today, The Success League helps customer success executives build and develop high-performing customer success teams. The Success League team works with leaders and managers to identify areas of challenge, growth, and opportunity. From department goals and metrics to training and education, The Success League team helps customer success leaders develop every single part of the process.
In September, The Success League team will be joining hundreds of other customer success thought leaders in Sundance, Utah for the 2109 CS100 Summit as a sponsor. We sat down with Kristen to get her take on industry trends, the future of customer success, and what first-time CS100 attendees should expect from this life-changing event.
Creating a Customer Success Message for Leaders
In recent years, the number of private consultants in the customer success space has grown at a rapid pace to match the growth levels of the industry itself. This means that there are new boutique offerings popping up alongside consulting giants like KPMG and Deloitte, making the consulting space more competitive than ever. Luckily for Success League, their breadth of experience and a deep understanding of the customer success business model is what sets them apart from the competition. Every consultant at The Success League has served as a VP of Customer Success, enabling them to engage with and speak to customer success leaders as peers. Instead of industry jargon and buzzwords, consultants share relatable, practical advice that works.
Additionally, The Success League offers modular engagements that can be spread out over time. So, instead of working with customers to solve all of their problems at once, Success League narrows the focus to one or two initiatives at a time, which means customers can start seeing results faster. Kristen illustrates this point in a story about a client working with various customers of different sizes. Customers weren’t seeing any value in partnering with the company, which meant they were turning over quickly. After working with the Success League team to map out a customer journey, complete personalized training modules, and putting an account planning program in place, the team was able to increase retention across the board.
According to Kristen, one of the biggest trends in the industry right now is the sheer recognition and growth. Corporate executives and sales leaders are finally waking up to the idea that customer success is a huge, revenue-generating part of an organization. For so long, sales teams have dug in their heels and insisted that they owned the revenue process. Today, organizations are realizing that customer success teams are incredibly influential and beneficial to the revenue goals of the company.
In fact, Kristen continues, customer success is becoming more of an umbrella term that covers every single part of the customer journey that is customer facing. This means that customer success leaders need to be focused on the business outcomes for the customers and cross-functional leadership.
Looking Forward to the Future of an Industry
Understanding customer success as a blanket term rather than a single part of the customer journey is an idea that is echoed in Kristen’s thoughts for the industry moving forward. Ideally, all customer-facing groups within an organization would be operated under the banner of customer success. This mentality is even more feasible when one thinks of how the customer success world is trending.
The Success League recently published a study on frontline customer success managers in the United States as a way to help inform their audience and direct potential content for their certification program. This report turned up findings that is helping to explain the current customer success landscape and help leaders look ahead to the future.
A few specific findings include:
- Demographics: According to Kristen, the study revealed that there are slightly more women in customer success roles than men, which is much more balanced than in other areas of the technology space. While 52% of surveyed CSMs were women, only 48% were men.
- Job History: Another area of insight from the study is better understanding candidate backgrounds and job history. Because customer success is such a relatively new industry, it is safe to assume that anyone who has been in the space for 7+ years came from another field. And while it’s easy to think that customer success leaders are coming from support or professional services, the survey actually found that sales was the biggest feeder into customer success.
- Skills: As part of the study, The Success League took a look at LinkedIn data to explore the different platform endorsements. Nearly 40% of all endorsements brought to the forefront on LinkedIn had to do with domain experience, rather than general customer success skills. This indicates a need for customer success specific training, based on the field that the CSM entered from.
When asked about one piece of advice for customer success leaders, Kristen was ready with an answer. In addition to attending the 2019 CS100 Summit, her biggest piece of advice is to not try to get everything done at once. There is a lot to do as a customer success leader (even more so if you’re with an early-stage company) and it can quickly get overwhelming. Leaders should look at what is going to move the needle for the customers, company, and team, and focus on that. At the end of the day prioritization – and transparency – is key for long-term success.