Consider the following: paying customers are essential to the long-term success of any company. That might seem obvious, but I work in technology--where many startups with little or no revenue now run wild--so it's worth the reminder. It's also a fact that rings true no matter your industry, region or size.
You'll only maintain paying customers if you make them successful--so I tend to think of the two words as synonymous, particularly in the enterprise. With cloud computing and the subscription economy, customers have the flexibility to choose which vendors they keep and which they don't--consequently, vendors can't just land a deal, take all the money and run. As a result, businesses can't succeed without a team dedicated solely to customer success--a business philosophy that goes beyond satisfactory service or answering a support ticket in record time. Customer success is a value based on the understanding that if your customers are successful, so are you. It's a commitment to helping your customers work faster, boost revenue and stay secure. And it's about developing personal, one-to-one relationships in the process.
Here are the three key phases of building customer success at scale:
1) Get Your New Grads Live: Long-term success starts with an effective go-live process. At Okta, we refer to our newest customers as "graduates" or "grads," newcomers to the modern identity and mobility management world. While a well-written "welcome" email to your new grad is helpful, what's more important--and valuable in the long run--is a personal, hands-on walkthrough or live training course. We invest heavily in customer training and onboarding processes. That includes live virtual classes and on-demand instructional videos on our features, functionality and most common use cases--information that helps ensure customers get the most business value out of Okta.
2) Constantly Drive Adoption: Once customers are live with a solution, it's critical to maximize adoption and ensure the customer is getting the most out of your product. (In the simplest terms, they must know that one dollar invested will pay back in more than one dollar in business value. If that equation doesn't work, your business won't make it.) The best way to do this at scale is to get in the habit of performing regular "health checks" to understand which are healthy and unhealthy customers. By understanding overall wellness, companies can identify opportunities to help customers widen adoption and reach goals quicker, as well as detect areas for improvement in order to get maximum value. Employing services from companies like Gainsight, Totango and Splunk can monitor what's going on with customers at any given time, both individually and at a macro level.
3) Create a Continuous Feedback Loop: Companies must also create opportunities for each and every customer to provide feedback, receive one-on-one support and encourage open and honest communication at every stage of deployment. We've found that our regular customer sentiment surveys ensure we stay focused on what's important to our customers. And our Okta Community serves as a forum for customers to have ongoing regular dialogue with our teams and with each other. We've also created Customer Advisory Boards that meet twice a year to hear where customers want to go and how we can get them get there. By establishing a process for understanding how your customers are doing, you can make sure your strategy continually maps back to furthering their growth--and your own.
Think of it this way: your customers' success is your success, so do everything you can to make their experience as simple and valuable as possible at every stage of their journey with you. Make it a foundational part of your mission. At the end of the day, it's about helping your grads achieve their goals--not necessarily about driving revenue for yourself. If you help your customers easily deploy, adopt and optimize your product, you'll get both.