SaaStr Europa Bienvenue à Paris

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Quel bonheur! It was thrilling to be able to exchange with so many passionate “SaaStrepreneurs” at SaaStr Europa in Paris last week (1300 attendees from 32 different countries including founders, CEOs, Cxx this and that, investors and of course a large number of customer success (CS) professionals ! What’s exciting about SaaS of things is that it impacts all aspects of “doing business as usual”: go-to-market, delivery, revenue generation, internal organization, valuation, customer relationship and partnership…

In such a context of the age of the customer, I’m grateful to be actively engaged in the emerging role of customer success in Europe. This strategic mindset is key in the SaaS business model and indeed in any other recurring revenue model where the customer is king or queen. When these are well served and partnered in reaching their own success, this generates win-win success for both customer and vendor alike. As quoted by Jason Lemkin:

Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is

and indeed successful customers wish to stay, invest more to generate more gains and then become raving fans of your solution. Oh, talking of which, Fraser Stark it’s always a pleasure to meet and exchange on the Influitive advocacy platform.

I was thrilled to meet my customer success peers and fabulous ladies from the other side of the pond Emilia d’Anzica and Sue Duris.

Emilia d'Anzica, Sue Duris, Sue Nabeth Moore, Peter Oosterwijk
Emilia d’Anzica, Sue Duris, Sue Nabeth Moore, Peter Oosterwijk

Thanks again for your customer success panel!

It’s always a pleasure to meet and share stories and experiences with my fellow customer success evangelists from this side of the pond: Dave Jackson, Jan Schlosser, Emilie Dubau, Hannah Chaplin, Nathalie Berger, Elisabeth Courland and fellow partner and customer success community builder Kate Forgione.

Kate Forgione, James Mayes
Kate Forgione, James Mayes

 

Dave Jackson, Emilie Dubau
Dave Jackson, Emilie Dubau

 

 

 

 

 

The speakers I heard were terrific and I thoroughly enjoyed the brain date concept where I was able to exchange tête-à-tête on the customer success of things with like-minded CS professionals. The networking was rich, each new encounter presenting a passionate “Saastrepreneur”, terrific story and incredible talent. A special mention to Peter Oosterwijk (the smiling guy in the blue shirt in the photo above), CMO of Curious Inc who has the gift of illustrating in cartoon style and in real time his key takeaways (see samples below from the customer success panel session). Dank je Peter!!

By Peter Oosterwijk
By Peter Oosterwijk
By Peter Oosterwijk
By Peter Oosterwijk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of my key takeaways :

  • Adaptation to new ways of doing business is key to be successful  in SaaS + recurring revenues + subscriptions.
  • “Nail a niche” (Aaron Ross) – Identify customers who consider you as need-to-have rather than nice to have.
  • To win, be a big fish in a small pond
  • Customer success trends in 2018:
    • Incorporation of emotional intelligence
    • Introduce customer success more and more into the products
    • CS will become increasingly recognised as a strategic role
    • CS will involve more than retention
  • Customer success professionals no matter where they are in the world find huge benefits in getting together to share and learn best practices from each other.

UN GRAND MERCI to SaaStr for coming to Paris (capital of love & innovation) to organise this first SaaStr event in Europe! La cerise sur la gateau – the stunning venue at Le Grand Hotel!

Vivement l’année prochaine!

Other useful links:

In addition and if you’re a customer success professional in Europe, you may be interested in the following links:

Customer-Success-Europe : who organise regular CS events in Europe, the next one being in Dublin on 3rd October.

Customer SuccessCon London – on 4th September

Paris customer success Meet-up – on 19th June

Lisbon Meet-up – next date TBC

Customer Success Network – where you can find an on online community which connects CSMs across Europe.

CSM Portail – A francophone community

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Customer Success – A Darwinian Approach in 2016

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Cameleon

Those who have crossed my path will have probably already met my mascot chameleon which I have affectionately called “Adaptus Rex”. Don’t worry, he’s tame! More importantly, as a dinosaur descendant, he learned to survive environmental change! His capacity to modify colours has followed me through all life environments and challenges, adapting to the next state of evolution. Adaptus Rex has always been accompanied by my favourite Darwin quote:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.

Constantly inspired by this quote, consuming it without moderation, I have even placed it as a personal slogan on my LinkedIn profile!

The famous “survival of the fittest” (1) and its selection process is accelerated today in response to unprecedented environmental changes. In our natural world, the recent COP21 decisions here in Paris testify while in business, the technological digital transformation is taking us by storm. Whilst history has always shown us the progressive driving force of technology in transformation, digitalisation is creating an immediate impact and disruption. Each digital change brings a promise of progress or new experiences and which are accompanied by considerable learning curves, irrespective of our generation: baby boomers, Xers (like myself) and millennials. It’s simple. We either adapt, stay competitive and keep ahead or we don’t adapt with the risk of losing out!

In nature, the famous evolutionary story took place in my native northern England during the last major technological transformation: the industrial revolution. To ensure camouflage as a consequence of the sooty manufacturing towns, peppered moths (2), originally white, became predominantly black via a reproduction process. A recent example in response to current climatic change is the shift of snail shell colour from dark to light. Snails have developed lighter coloured shells (3) which have a lower body temperature to keep cooler in response to global warming. This phenomenon is noticeable here in France where snails are still a culinary delicacy, especially at this festive time !*

In business today, we’re lucky enough to be facing another incredible transformation, this time in human form. The digital revolution and the related technological innovations are forcing us human beings to challenge our behaviour, routines, processes and even our business models. Whilst we will not suddenly develop coloured shells and wings (well not in my lifetime anyway), this brings me to the emergence and vital importance of the role of customer success as a lever to facilitate our collective metamorphosis. In today’s professional environment we are constantly trying to keep pace with the impact of digitalised innovations: cloud, big data, IoT, predictive analytics, machine learning, 3D printing and mobility to name but a few.

Customer success emerged and evolved in the Silicon Valley as a logical response to the introduction of the cloud subscription economy. Cloud exposed painful gaps in how existing companies were interacting with their customers. These pain points were filled with the role of customer success to encourage customer engagement with solutions, continued added value and client longevity. As the SaaS model continues to grow with companies moving away from purchasing software upfront preferring to buy on demand, customer success promises a bright future ahead. Other B2B models have also been seduced by its strategic importance and are investing in customer success.

With the continuous flow of new digital technologies to our business environments, it seems that my favourite Darwin quote has never rung so true. Out of all the animal kingdom, though we humans are definitely not the strongest, we are perhaps the most intelligent (open to debate…) but when it comes to responding to change, we are generally slow or right down resistant. Let’s face it, staying in a known comfort zone is so much more tempting than stepping out into unknown and potentially risky territory.

The role of customer success is to partner their clients, helping them adapt to new and unknown situations where gains are promised. The aim is to either obtain better results than before or create new positive experiences which could never have been imagined without innovative technology. The real challenge of this adaptation process is not about the technology itself. It’s rather about how the technology and its promises fit harmoniously into the future organisation, processes and methodologies defined for achieving desired outcomes.

Like the peppered moths of my native England, we humans face the challenge of adapting in our digital fast paced environment. We need to “camouflage” the new technology and associated behaviour, blending it into our daily habitat so that it becomes the accepted “norm”, at least until the next one presents itself. It is essential for survival and for keeping ahead. It is perhaps because human beings are the most intelligent of creatures on earth (so we believe) that our response to change is more complex than our animal neighbours. We perhaps approach each new business context with too much thought, emotion and memory rather than acting on our instinct, like my friends Adaptus Rex, the peppered moth and the shell changing snail.*

Customer success is a passionate role to partner our fellow homo sapiens acclimatise to their new surroundings and rise to the challenges of a business world driven by technological innovation. Afterall, the word “success” derives from the latin “successus”, meaning “an advance, a good result, happy outcome.”

So in the dawn of 2016 with the human tradition to make resolutions (myself included) to change certain behaviours for improvement, there’s no better prospect for customer success to partner these desired outcomes, helping companies transform their performances through the challenges and gains of the digitalised environment.

“Adaptus Rex” and myself take this opportunity to wish you all great resolutions for change, new routines, adaptation and success in 2016.

*P.S. All my respect to snails. I did not eat any over the festive period!

References and further reading:

1) Explanations on “Survival of the fittest

2) The story of the peppered moths

3) How A Few Species are hacking climate change

 

 

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2016 : The Year to Boost Your Customer Success Strategy

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With the arrival of the 3.0 marketing era where each client becomes ambassador to the greatest possible number of people, every company must ensure that their customers reach the outcome expected from their investment (i). Indeed, a satisfied customer is the best possible ambassador of your product or service (ii).

From this need, new business strategies have developped: Customer Experience and Customer Success depending on context.

The Customer Success framework was created by SaaS software companies in the US – the first of them being Salesforce.com. With the advent of cloud, the software industry has changed in depth:

  • In the business model, from selling a box to a subscription-based relationship
  • In design, from a watefall approach to agile development
  • In the implementation, from a heavy installation to a light set up
  • In usage, from an owner front end to a more intuitive web interface
  • In product updates, now available on CD or immediately through the interface
  • etc.

Customer Success is dedicated to partnering customers within this new framework to facilitate the achievement of expected outcomes. As an emerging role, this mission of underlining added value includes the implementation, use and deployment and can be extended to the design and marketing and sales.

To take the example of Salesforce.com, which stood out by creating the logo “no software” and was the first to set the goal of customer success at the heart of its business objective. Today, their signature is “The Customer Success Platform” with a stated goal of nothing less than a “Customer for Life” ! Indeed, it is a whole approach and organisation which complements the solution with features and tools dedicated to this objective and assigned partners working in a very active community. Almost every editor has been inspired by and followed their model: clients for life.

Ultimately, whatever the outcome expected by their customers – e.g. for marketing to optimise its website or its omni-channel interaction or for sales to optimise their sales process, etc. each editor must announce and keep their promise. This will result in customers becoming naturally inclined to act as ambassadors for their product or service  🙂

Happy New Year !

To go further :

(i) 3 Technology Trends That Are Transforming The Customer Experience

(ii) The Ultimate Moment of Truth and The Art of Digital Engagement

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