How to identify and influence change in non-customer centric companies?

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Alejandro Sanchez
Alejandro Sanchez Member Posts: 13 Thought Leader
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edited August 2023 in Customer Journey

I've worked at Sales first companies, Product first companies and Engineering first companies and they all say they are customer centric but they are customer reactive, not centric. I would argue most companies are not truly customer centric. Thoughts on this? And then I want to throw a question: what actions, that have worked, people in CS have taken to influence and ultimately change the company culture, focus, and strategy to be customer centric? 

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  • Vijaya Vardhan P
    Vijaya Vardhan P Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited April 2020
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    Great question Alejandro. Two points:

    1. It is tough. Big companies pivoting from on-prem to cloud tend to use customer success as a "customer retention mechanism" 100% as they dont want to lose out on early cloud adopters. CSMs are more or less like glorified consultants. Metrics end with just adoption and usage. It is tough to drive customer centricity here unless there is a CEO change or a board decision that ties customers to shareholder value.
    2. SaaS startups which understand the importance of customer centricity build CS teams from ground up. CS is driven into the culture of the company from day one.However, it is important that it stays that way as the company grows.  
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Navigator
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    edited April 2020
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    I would agree with your assertion, Alejandro. Sometimes it's just because their leaders don't know any different, though. I became SVP, Customer Success in a company like this where I owned CSMs, implementation, support and sales engineering. Here are some of the things I did: 

    • Began tracking data on customer and revenue health
    • Identified at-risk customers early
    • Began forecasting renewals
    • Shared customer success stories at executive team meetings and in company weekly meetings and quarterly town halls
    • Shared metrics on how our processes were improving to better serve our customers
    • Began surveying customers regularly, but also followed up with qualitative interviews
    • Built a pre-sales scoping approach that got our implementation team involved in enterprise level deals

    It takes someone to act like a chief customer officer. Anyone can play this role, but typically it's a senior member of the team. The more you can embed customer-centric metrics and stories into the execution fabric of the org, the bigger impact you can make. 

    Hope this helps. We weren't perfect, but we did drive a lot of change.

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
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    edited May 2020
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    There is that famous statistic. 80% of companies believe they offer super customer experiences, but only 8% of their customers agree.

    Part of it is because every department has a different approach. Sales only looks to get signed contracts. Product is hyper focused on competition or a tech race that they ignore the voice of the customer.

    We have to remember the goals of the individual and appeal to their motivations. I always have a sales or value proposition attached to any request I send to Sales. I always attach a high-value company to a request I send to product. This opens up the conversation.

     

  • Alejandro Sanchez
    Alejandro Sanchez Member Posts: 13 Thought Leader
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    edited May 2020
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    Thanks Jay great list. I would argue that there needs to be signoff from the CEO regarding the importance of the CCO so that that person, whoever they are, can be taken seriously throughout the organization with their initiatives and customer centric metrics, case studies, exmaples, etc.

  • Alejandro Sanchez
    Alejandro Sanchez Member Posts: 13 Thought Leader
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    edited May 2020
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    Great points Kevin. I've heard about this stat but it's one of those that can be a made up one as I haven't found a legitimate source. So if you have a source, I would love to have it to better quote this when I need it. And yes, understanding individual and team goals and weaving those into a customer centric vision would be an effective approach.

  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 170 Expert
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    edited May 2020
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    @Alejandro Sanchez, this is one of my favorite topics because almost all companies say they're customer centric when they don't really know what that means. Does it mean they know they can't operate their business without customers so they have to have them....sure.

    I worked in a company that was highly customer centric until it was purchase by a PE firm. The switch flipped almost overnight. Once we were on our 3rd CEO and losing customers every month, I sat down with the new CEO and had a heart-to-heart. I laid out the challenges and what would happen if we continued along our path. He listened.

    I had a green light to reinvent to Customer Success model. I met with each Senior Executive to gain buy in and went from there.

  • Alejandro Sanchez
    Alejandro Sanchez Member Posts: 13 Thought Leader
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    edited May 2020
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    Thank  for sharing this story. I am glad they were open to listening. Sad that it took 3 CEOs and lots of losses but sadly many people have to be forced into this conversation rather than eased into it. 

  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
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    edited June 2020
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    it was a Bain And Company study. If you hear it quoted, it came from them. https://media.bain.com/bainweb/PDFs/cms/hotTopics/closingdeliverygap.pdf