Apr 12, 2019

Read Time 6 min

How Customer Success Can Catalyze Customer-Centric Change


Jula Ahlfeldt - Customer Experience Professional

Customer-centricity is a term that gets bounced around a lot, but what does it really mean? And even more, what can Customer Success teams do to contribute to their organization’s Customer Experience (CX) evolution?

If you find yourself wondering these exact same questions, then you should check out our on-demand webinar with Julia Ahlfeldt, where she breaks down what it takes for an organization to truly put the customer at the center of their business.

During this webcast we also learned:

  • The key aspects of customer-centric business practices (e.g. organizational accountability for Customer Experience, Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback loops, with examples and best practices
  • How to identify where your organization stands on the CX maturity curve, along with the clarity to know what it takes to progress forward
  • Practical tips and suggestions that Customer Success teams can implement to catalyze customer-centric change

Above all of that we also had some really excellent Q&A with the audience, that we wanted to recap with you here incase you missed it or want to be reminded of some the expert advice Julia had to share.


Q&A Recap

Speaker: Julia Ahlfeldt, Certified Customer Experience Professional

Q: What do you see as the main differences (if there are any) between the Customer Success (CS) and Customer Experience (CX) practice?

A: Customer Success teams are typically responsible for driving specific outcomes related to customer retention and growth of customer relationships. These teams are responsible for the tactical realization of value for the customer.

Customer Experience is a bit more abstract in that it encompasses all the ways in which a customer interfaces with a brand. So in a B2B setting, it would be the actual product that they’re interfacing with, it might also be newsletters that they are getting from the marketing team, it might be the sales team that they interacted with during the RFP process, or the training and onboarding that they received. It’s all of the different touchpoints and experiences in which a customer interfaces with a brand or an organization.

And then Customer Experience management at its core, is what we’ve spoken about today. It’s all about customer-centricity. It’s about, how does a business make sure all of those ways that a customer interfaces with a brand, are doing what we want them to do to deliver the intended or ideal overall customer journey.


Q: How would you recommend going about getting customers to start providing feedback on their experiences with your product or your customer facing teams in a standardized way?

A: This is a great question, because customers are constantly providing feedback to teams in their interactions with your organization. I typically suggest a multi-pronged approach to this. One of them is to ask the teams to volunteer what they’re hearing and seeing. Another way that you can do this is to have a place that customers can go to organically provide suggestions or feedback. So, it’s a push from them rather than a pull from the company. Another thing that you can do is – I think for organization that in a B2B space where you’ve got fewer customer relationship than in a B2C example, I think a really good way to gather insights is to do in-depth qualitative research. So, maybe once a year go out and do some focus interviews with some of your key clients and see if you can use that as a way to gather insight on how things are going.

You’ll notice that I haven’t said- send out a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, and that’s intentional. I think a lot of organizations out there send surveys asking for feedback and for a score, and they get what I like to call survey score addition, where they focus on the score instead of being focused on results. Where the results are – are we keeping our customers, are we growing our relationships with our customers. With those surveys is even if you have a freeform text box where somebody can give you a rating and then explain why, I still suggest doing some more in-depth focus interview style research periodically once a year. That way you can dig into what are customers really thinking.

If you’ve already got a survey going out on an on-going basis and it’s working for you, I think that can be one of the prongs, but in a B2B setting I don’t think that would be the first thing I would suggest.


Q: Any tips you might have for getting customers who have left and are not customers anymore to give their feedback?

A: Wonderful question and yea, I’d say reach out to those customer after they’ve left and say – you know, we would like to have the opportunity to know to either win back the business or deliver better experiences to other businesses so that we can rectify whatever it was that caused you to leave. Could you please provide your feedback? Those organization that have had an experience or that have left I think are sometimes more likely to provide that feedback than if you were to go out for example to a non-customer. If you go out to someone who’s never had any dealings with your business and ask them to participate in something, it’s not likely going to happen, because they don’t really have any “skin in the game”.

So yea, do reach out to them either through a survey or again I think depending on the context of your business if something like focus interviews would work you could probably go out to speak to ten or fifteen customers that have recently left and it wouldn’t be a totally arduous exercise, and you can use that as some pretty fantastically rich insight.


Q: What metrics or goals should we be aware of when trying to measure the health or improvements in the customer’s journey? Or how do we know if things are going as they should?

A: The ultimate health score for the customer journey is customer lifetime value (LTV). So how long are people remaining customers and how engaged are they with your product or service over time, then multiply that by the size of your customer base. If the customer journey is good, and retention is going to be longer, people are going to be more engaged with your products and services and your going to have more customers. So, that’s the end goal.

Although it is important to understand that those are lagging indicators and you want to look at your leading indicators. I encourage you to sit down with your team and understand your journey. Break it down into seven steps and thing about what does good journey look life. Look at these different kind of phases along the journey and what goes into it.

For example, if you’re an insurance company, and a big thing for them is quote turnaround time, they know that they can quickly turn around accurate quotes makes the customer happy. Or resolution of an issue could be something they think about. Figure out whatever it is that makes your customers happy or unhappy and turn those into specific metrics or measures.

*Bonus Takeways*



What Can Customer Success Teams Do to Catalyze Customer Centric-Change?



  1. Demonstrate Business Impact
    • Report on customer value, not revenue
    • Illustrative example of retained/lost client
  2. Bring Leaders Closer to Client Experiences
    • Executive <> client outreach
    • Map the journey (as a cycle)
  3. Implement Journey Management
    • Client listening to understand needs
    • Establish ongoing insight-to-action loop
  4. Engage with Teams to Spread the Customer Mandate
    • Define what governance would empower Customer Success
    • Define customer principle for Customer Success and advocate to scale this

Thanks again to Julia for all of these excellent insights! To learn more about customer-centricity, tune into her monthly podcast – Decoding the Customer. And stay tuned for more ChurnZero webinars to come.

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