May 27, 2016

Read Time 4 min

Insights from your internal teams, lessons from a CS close-call at Zendesk, “fail-fast” moments to avoid


Fighting Churn Newsletter

You already know the value of Net promoter Scores (NPS) and feedback forms from customers. And you undoubtedly also understand the vital importance of building a culture of innovation so that new ideas and solutions can come from anyone on the team. Then, why don’t you tap into the resource of validating product experiments and company direction with internal NPS and team polls?


Your team knows more about the product than anyone else. They know more about the challenges, concerns, potential issues, and greatest achievements of the product and process – because they’re on the front lines. Not tapping into their insights leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and missed opportunities. Here are some ideas about team sentiments to track regularly that will give context to your business metrics and help you understand the success or obstacles of your company:

  • Product and Dev – How valuable was the work we delivered this sprint? What is your confidence level in the code quality shipping this sprint?
  • Customer Success – How would you rate the level of customer excitement, from 1-10? How confident are you in your ability to help customers achieve success, from 1-10?
  • Sales – How is your lead quality on a scale of 1-10? What early actions, questions, or behaviors do leads show that indicate they’ll be successful with the product?
  • Marketing – How confident are you in the leads you hand over to sales, scale of 1-10? What is the quality of your marketing content on a scale of 1-10?

Check out the full read for more insightful ideas for internal surveys and polls.

Learning from a Customer Success close-call at Zendesk

Sometimes, you can save a client relationship – and make it so much stronger. This is exactly what happened at Zendesk during a Customer Success close-call, as shared by Sary Stefanki, Sr. Director of Global Customer Success.

Early on, before Zendesk grew their Customer Success to be the robust program it is now, they came very close to losing an early customer. While this customer and Zendesk had initially aligned really well (both were fast-growing tech companies), as Zendesk’s product matured and improved, no one told the client. And as the client’s company grew and matured, their old processes didn’t suit their needs anymore:

“Because they had self-implemented Zendesk at the beginning, they thought they were on their own, and thus didn’t think about adapting or how else to use the product – they just assumed they had outgrown us and it just wasn’t a good fit any longer.”

When Zendesk realized they hadn’t yet had “a proper success conversation” with the client, a lengthy process of discovery ensued:

“We documented strategies, benchmarked metrics, and created a plan to move their goals forward. It resonated well, but looking back, it was a very dicey time. We had to help mature their whole experience with us – we had, essentially, started with them in elementary school, watched them mature into a teenager, but let them still use their crayons when they should have been using graphing calculators.”

What did Zendesk learn from this experience? Definitely read the entire story for more details and all the lessons they gleaned but the lesson that really stuck out to us was this one:

“Often, success teams make assumptions about their customers and how they think of us as a service, but we’re often wrong. Empathy is the core trait a successful team needs to have, as well as curiosity to make sure you’re asking the right questions to get that customer to a better place.”

Getting in the way of your customer’s journey

Harsh truth: More often than not it’s the company that ruins a customer’s journey, not the customer themselves. Is your company guilt of these three common “fail fast” moments?

  1. Assuming your product is intuitive – Your product experts are likely your own employees. They interact with and think about the product all day long, so it’s easy to misinterpret how intuitive that product or service is or what success should look like. Remember that providing a valuable service, without instruction, works against both your and the customer’s goals.
  2. Failing to ask your customer what is important – In a world where many organizations have data on their data, it’s easy to look to reports and dashboards to inform companies how to map out their customer journey – but this often results in no longer asking your customer what is important. Remember that the journey is only useful if the customer actually wants to take it.
  3. Forgetting your customers are people – In traditional B2B organizations, it’s easy to consider the relationship for its transactional value. But we are actually all C’s – even if we are a B. Businesses are comprised of people, who have wants, needs, perspectives and emotions (even in a business setting); it’s essential to keep the person who consumes your product or service in mind as well as the business that benefits from it. Remember that these individuals want to be heard, they want to be part of the process – that is what will make them feel invested.

Word to the Wise

This week’s wisdom comes from Marketo’s CEO, Phil Fernandez. During a recent interview at SaaStr Annual 2016, he reminded us that even industry leaders like Marketo struggle with customer churn:

“Even though we knew all the book learning about customer retention, it was amazing how the cocaine of the new customer acquisition can be addicting.”  

Ten years and a quarter of a billion dollars later and a Priority 1 for Marketo is still customer retention, they still fight to get their customers fully invested in their product. As he puts it, it’s “a constant journey.” So next time you’re feeling down about your customer success, remember that you are not alone – even the best of the best have to stay constantly invested in their customer’s journeys.

Watch the full interview:


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