Radical Scale: Secrets of Customer Success

By Parasvil Patel

Radical Scale is a regular feature that explores key strategies for growing early stage technology companies.

Over the past several months the Radical Impact Team has hosted expert roundtables on go-to-market strategies and talent best practices with our portfolio companies. And we’re now sharing the key strategic and tactical insights from those sessions.

This issue of Radical Scale looks at best practices for scaling customer success with Paul Teshima, Chief Client Experience Officer at Wealthsimple.

Key strategic takeaway

Building a culture of customer success across the organization is key to long term, sustainable customer satisfaction. This starts with celebrating customer success managers’ (CSMs’) wins. These stories are used by others to highlight how the organization and specifically the CS team goes above and beyond in supporting its customers. It motivates other CSMs to create their own success stories and that kick starts a virtuous cycle. This cycle drives revenue growth via higher customer satisfaction, retention, upsells, and referrals.

Tactical advice

Process:

  • Map out the customer lifecycle and develop processes to ensure customer success at each step:
    • Implementation: focus on onboarding, training, and implementation of best practices
    • Ongoing adoption: focus on customer marketing, product support, and ongoing best practices training
    • Growth: focus on account management for upsell while continuing to drive best practices adoption

Metric:

  • Across all the customer service metrics that an organization can track, “average time-to-value” for new customers is the most important one. If the customer relationship gets off to a rocky start with a poor onboarding experience, it increases the probability of attrition. Increased time-to-value also allows competitors to steal customers during the sales process by promising faster deployments.

People:

  • When hiring CSMs look for those that are:
    • Great at storytelling: they are able to celebrate the customer’s wins and fuel the customer success culture
    • Optimistic but cynical: they understand that many customers will struggle with the product and have the patience to help them through the journey
    • Naturally curious: they are always looking for ways to help customers in unique and different ways
  • It is also helpful if CSMs have relevant domain knowledge but it isn’t a ‘must have’ as it can be learned on the job.

Technology:

  • Early in the lifecycle of a startup, the sole purpose of the startup is to get to product-market fit as soon as possible. Typically, the customer success role is handled by a product manager who is also iterating on the product. Tools such as Fullstory, Hotjar, or Mixpanel help understand the customer experience, provide critical feedback, and improve speed of product iteration.

Experts

Paul Teshima is the Chief Client Experience Officer at Wealthsimple. Previously, he was the CEO and co-founder of Nudge.ai, an AI enabled platform for sales and CX teams. Nudge’s technology was acquired by Affinity.

Paul is a firm believer that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and business culture can be built through storytelling. He has always been a leader with a strong focus on sales and customer engagement. He previously led customer success and product management at Eloqua (marketing automation solution) as part of the founding executive team through IPO and a successful acquisition for $957 million by Oracle. During his time at Eloqua, the organization grew from $0 to over $100 million in revenue.

 

About the Radical Ventures Impact Team

The Radical Ventures Impact Team is dedicated to helping its portfolio companies achieve global scale by providing deep technology expertise, go-to-market guidance, talent acquisition, strategic communications, and policy support.

If you want to learn more about Radical or its GTM impact efforts, please reach out to Parasvil Patel at parasvil@radical.vc.

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