From an interview with:
I fundamentally believe that a product is nothing without the users and customers who are willing to pay for it. Therefore, the group that’s the closest to the customer—most often Customer Success—should hold an equal level of power at the executive level to Sales, Product, and Marketing.
I’ve seen too many organizations make the mistake of moving their Customer Success unit where it doesn’t have a voice at the executive level. Or, they turn it into something of a servant of the Sales team or a servant of the Product team. It’s such a mistake, particularly in SaaS: leaders in tech have a plethora of products with overlapping features to choose from, and they’re under great pressure to pick the right products and make sure they’re not overpaying or double paying. Companies need to make sure their products are being used by their customers and are being seen as valuable in order to survive.
Customer Success is the “how”—and it needs to report to the CEO in order for the CEO to have a pulse on the experience customers are receiving.
But if you’re not yet convinced, here are a few other reasons why Success should be reporting to the CEO:
- Different skills and areas of focus. This tends to be the most commonly stated reason for the CCO to report to the CEO, instead of to the CRO, CTO, CPO, or COO. Those leaders tend to have very clear remits that aren’t solely focused on the customer experience.
- Find product-market fit and scale. The Success team spends more hours with users than any other group in the organization. For a company that is young or trying to establish product-market fit for a new product, the CCO can be a strong voice and have the confidence to make that call. Part of product-market fit is not scientific; at some point you’ve got to have a discussion with the team and determine whether you’re there.
- Keep the revenue conversation in check. The CCO can also keep fear off the table. Fear often creeps in when companies don’t have a good handle on churn, customer health, and how customers perceive the product. When fear creeps in, you can see this panic manifest as reactive fire-fighting and busyness in the organization when it doesn’t necessarily need to be there. The CCO can help predict issues and take action in a targeted way, to keep the organization focused. The CCO can be an ally by creating room for the CRO, CPO, and CTO to continue focusing on the future instead of being reactive.
- Provide an information asset that’s accessible to the whole organization. There’s no excuse for being disconnected from the user. There’s no excuse for making assumptions and thinking you know what’s best for the user, and then going off to design something that doesn’t help the user or blend well with their current processes. The CCO can solve that by providing a bank of qualitative data and deep insights around the customer experience. This data comes from Support, from CSM calls, from surveys—and the magic really starts to happen when the Success org synthesizes that information into trends and makes that information publicly accessible. With that information, the CCO can become key in driving strategic discussions with each leader at the executive level.
The top articles this week:
This week's newsletter features posts on:
- Anti-Racist Management Practices
- How to Talk About Racism at Work
- How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person With Privilege
- Check the Police
Anti-Racist Management Practices
“Holding structural power means you have an opportunity to make sure that those structures are supporting your current and future employees equitably.” This piece gives a concise explanation of what it means to be an anti-racist, specifically at work, and how to get started.
How to Talk About Racism at Work
Valerie Williams, former Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Stripe, shares a guide to having a virtual team discussion around social justice and human rights. It includes an email script and meeting agenda you can copy and paste. Note: This piece is published on Almanac. You may need an account to read the piece (it’s free).
How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person With Privilege
“One of the most effective ways to use our privilege is to become the ally of those on the other side of the privilege seesaw.” Here’s an insightful and thorough explanation on what it looks like to be an ally.
Check the Police
This resource was particularly eye-opening. It shows how police union contracts protect officers from being held accountable for misconduct. I shared this resource in our company all-hands as a place to learn more.