At Box, I’d consider ourselves "lucky" in that delivering value to customers is a company-wide focus. But in truth, it’s a result of how we’ve structured our teams and created our culture.
Here are three ways we continue to build customer-centricity:
1: Success is part of the sales cycle.
There are two important parts of how our Success and Sales teams work together that help foster a customer-centric mindset: 1. Our Consulting Services team is embedded in the sales cycle, and 2. Sales owns renewals.
To the former point, since salespeople tend to want to be in control of every aspect of their deal, there can be tension when trying to bring Consulting ("Services") into the sales cycle. To navigate that, we constantly reinforce the value of bringing Consulting in the sales cycle. Our Consulting leaders frequently remind their peers in Sales about how incorporating their team in the sales cycle helps the customer feel more comfortable—when they sign the deal they’ll be in good hands—and it also brings in a perspective from someone who’s seen how different customers use our products.
And as for the latter, Sales leaders often don’t care about renewals. It’s not in their DNA. But in our company, our Sales leader sees renewals as a core part of his sales strategy—in fact, we’ve made changes to the sales compensation model to reflect that. This has also helped us bring Consulting into the sales cycle since services help renewals and renewals are part of the Sales team’s job.
2: Customer-centricity is part of our company values.
Our first company value is “Blow our customers’ minds.” This means its a company-wide objective to create excellent products and services for our customers.
But what about the specialized roles that are internally-focused? A payroll administrator, for example, is thinking about how employees are getting paid, they’re not thinking about the customer. So one of the ways we’ve brought the customer-centric mindset to everyone in the company is to send out a weekly email to all employees that highlights one customer story. We share an example of how one customer is benefitting from our products and services. And we try to tie it to something that’s going on in the world; if there’s a big movie coming out and our products were used in the process of producing the movie, we’ll highlight that. It helps people instantly connect with the story and feel proud of what we’re doing.
3: Our CEO is constantly thinking about the customer.
For the customer to have “a seat at the table,” it matters who the CEO is. For us, our CEO deeply understands the value of Success and it's apparent in everything from our company values to he talks about the company in general. So for others, here's how to identify a CEO that values Customer Success:
- Look at how much they’re investing in Customer Success. What’s the size of the CS team as a percentage of your company, and how does that investment level look relative to Sales, Engineering, Marketing, and Product? Also, what percentage of revenue is spent retaining customers compared to acquiring new ones? The answers to these questions will help you see how the company values its customers.
- Does the CEO understand the customer’s mindshare? Aaron continues to speak about how CIOs are busy: every CIO has 50+ vendors trying to get their attention. The way you stand out is by constantly being present and adding value at every touchpoint. When your executives speak about customers in that way and explain how that influences the company’s strategy, then it's clear they value the customer experience.
- How does the CEO articulate what the company is about? You often hear CEOs say “we care about the customer” and then when asked what the company does, they focus on the product features and not on the benefits to the customer. But if they instead talk about how the company solves specific problems for customers, that’s a strong indicator of how much the customer has a “seat at the table.”
The top articles this week:
This week's newsletter features posts on:
- A Sales-to-CSM Handoff That Actually Works
- Turning Economic Headwinds Into a Growth Opportunity
- The Appropriate CSM to Manager Ratio
- Ways to Encourage Feedback Between Others
Designing a Sales-to-CSM Handoff That Actually Works
Here’s Lincoln Murphy with another helpful template—this time for ensuring the customer is set up for success right off the bat.
Clearbit's VP of Customer Success on Turning Economic Headwinds Into a Growth Opportunity
An interview with Luke Diaz on how he’s leveraging automation to protect the company’s revenue. He discusses personalization, predicting churn with data, and why his Success team holds “red account” meetings where they strategize to secure their at-risk customers.
What's an Appropriate CSM to Manager Ratio?
The rule of thumb, “7 reports to 1 manager” is used across departments, but in this post Brooke Goodbary (Manager - Customer Success at Roku) draws from various studies to show that the company’s maturity should influence the decision of how many CSMs a single manager oversees.
5 Ways to Encourage Feedback From Others
Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, explains how leaders can get their team members to share open and direct feedback with each other. She says, “don’t triangulate; you’re a boss, not a diplomat. Shuttle diplomacy won’t work for you.”