Customer Success in the C-Suite—Aligning the Board and Exec Team

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist

title_jasonholmes

Jason Holmes currently serves as the COO of Marketo, a leading CRM and lead management platform based out of San Mateo, CA. Jason has a rich history of customer success based roles across various industries and organizations, including Oracle and Adobe. As COO as Marketo, Jason works daily to ensure the success and growth of every single customer. Jason brought his unique insight into customer success from the C-suite to the CS100 stage, passing along lessons learned as one of leaders of the world’s largest independent marketing platforms.

Customer success to me is more than just how I manage the CSMs, which is what a lot of people think when they hear customer success. I think of the experience.

With these powerful words, Jason opened up his presentation at the CS100 summit. This sentiment set the stage for the next thirty minutes, where Jason discussed strategies to engage the C-suite in customer success and ways to leverage engagement, relationships, and visibility for maximum results. He also touched on growing professionally and evolving one’s career inside of a company.

You can watch his full 30 minute presentation from the CS100 Summit in Park City on Sept 14, 2016 below:

Here are some high-level insights from Jason’s CS100 Summit presentation on aligning your board with your exec team.

Visibility

The days of the customer success functions (CSMs) being the ‘no news is good news’ department have got to be over.

Jason honed in on how customer success leaders must understand what is going on with customers, identify the value they are receiving, and measure the impact your 1:1 relationship has on this success. He mentioned three easy ways to do this:

  1. Define metrics: People across all departments, on the board, C-suite, etc., need to be on the same page with customer success metrics and know how they are measured.
  2. Exposure: Make sure you are making customer success a front-and-center initiative, and be sure to present during board meetings, new hire on-boarding, and other company events.
  3. Investment: Highlight high renewal rates and other metrics to your C-suite to help your department stand out and shine. This helps gain input and value-based investments by the executive team and the board.

Culture

Encouraging the CEO and C-suite to continue to message along the lines of a customer-centric organization, not a sales or product one, is key.

Jason made it clear that a culture of customer success starts at the top, with the CEO, and trickles down throughout the entire company.  It is on the shoulders of customer success leaders to kindle this attitude and ensure valuable relationships are being created at the C-level.

To Jason, it’s imperative that customer success leaders set an extremely high bar for internal commitment to customer success. He talks about the fact that if even a single team member is not devoted to producing the most successful customer base ever then there is a missing piece in your team. Customer success leaders are responsible for getting other department heads on this same page.

Relationships

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that at the end of the day, we all report to the customer.

At the end of the day, Jason said, it’s about relationships both internally and externally. He ran through 5 core groups customer success should focus on first:

  • Sales
  • Product
  • Marketing
  • CFO
  • Key Customers

Cultivating strong, multi-dimensional relationships with these groups will help customer success initiatives run smoother inside your organization as well as set you up for personal growth.

Jason continued to come back to the concept of customer success leaders driving home the value of retention and customer success and how these metrics can be the ultimate business driver that will keep companies heading in the right direction. This type of thinking can help influence how your CEO thinks about investments and customer success strategies.

During his closing statements, Jason said that the outcomes of this 3-pronged mentality are pretty straightforward. Data-informed decision making should be the main driver of all customer success strategies. Investment in customer success positions and experiences are paramount to helping a company thrive. And customer success leaders must be ready to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ and create and executive voice and persona.

You can also read other SaaS executives advice on aligning customer success across departments in our eBook series called Customer Success as a Culture.

Download the full “Customer Success as a Culture” eBook series below:

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Sales Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Marketing Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Product Leaders Edition    

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong customer success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

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