Myth: Customer Success is a catch-all for things that don't neatly fit into other functions

With Ben Saitz, Chief Customer Officer at Netskope

With over 20 years of experience across diverse sectors, from digital agencies to global tech giants like Google, Ben is passionate about delivering exceptional customer experiences and driving team success.

From pioneering SaaS solutions to navigating the complexities of internet advertising, Ben is driven by a love for technology, and operations excellence, and thrives on the challenge of scaling initiatives

Here’s a myth-busting session with Ben where he shares insights from his journey, advice for CS professionals, and his perspective on the future of CS and the role of AI in helping customer success teams become more successful.

  1. What's a common myth about Customer Success?

That it's just a catch-all for everything that doesn't neatly fit into any other category. 

There's a lot of variability depending on the company's business model. For instance, in some companies, CSMs might focus more on technical aspects, while in others, they might engage with practitioners or senior-level stakeholders. And the way value is defined can vary widely too—it could be savings, ROI, or other metrics. 

Companies need to be self-aware about their unique needs and hire CSMs who align with those. It's about finding the right balance and hiring people who can adapt to evolving requirements. 

  1. How did you find your way into the world of Customer Success?

I started over twenty years back with DoubleClick, an ASP, or application service provider – the precursor to today’s SaaS business model. Our setup was a consumption-based SaaS product back in the year 2000. 

Back then, customer success wasn't something we talked about explicitly. But we knew that the more our customers found value in the platform, the more they'd use it. 

So, in essence, everyone on the team was laser-focused on customer success because it meant more usage, which ultimately translated to business growth. 

  1. What advice would you give somebody starting their Customer Success now?

You need two sets of skills to be successful.

The first is about your business and product space. You’re going to be the expert your customers count on. Be curious, and become an expert in what you're offering. 

Secondly, it’s about organizational and soft skills – you've got to be on top of things and present yourself in a way that inspires confidence. 

As the internal customer advocate, you might need to ruffle a few feathers to get things done. This is where your soft skills come in. You’ll need to stand your ground and keep the customer's needs front and center, without getting bogged down by internal challenges or politics. 

  1. What advice do you have for CS leaders?

If you're not constantly thinking about honing leadership skills, you're going to struggle to climb the ladder. 

A big part of that is building up the team beneath you: How are you building them up? Are you retaining them? How can you set a strategy and a vision for the team? 

It’s about connecting the dots for the team, ensuring they understand their place in the big picture, and providing them with the tools and support they need to succeed.

Get comfortable with making tough calls. whether it's about talent, investments, or priorities. At the end of the day, your effectiveness as a leader boils down to the quality of the decisions you make.

  1. Why does your organization invest in Customer Success as a function? How do they define and measure the success of CS function?

Gross Renewal Rate (GRR) is definitely a big one. It reflects our team's success in helping customers achieve their goals and grow.  

There's no emphasis on individual commissions. The team’s focus remains on ensuring customer success and long-term partnerships. 

For us, the focus is on the business impact rather. Working with major banks and pharmaceutical companies means aligning our product with their regulatory and business objectives. Our CSMs provide the guidance, roadmaps, and support customers need to succeed.

  1. What are your focus areas looking ahead at the rest of 2024? 

We’re doubling down on churn. We’re focused on diving deep into the why behind churn and downsells, figuring out how we can programmatically get ahead of issues, etc.

The next focus area is efficiency to optimize how our CSMs operate. That means playing around with ratios, leveraging automation, and beefing up our toolset to streamline their workflows so they can focus on high-value activities

  1. What do you think is the future of CS? Where does AI fit into it?

AI is going to shake up the world of customer success in a big way. 

But rather than getting lost in the maze of options, we're focusing on pinpointing the use cases that offer the most value.

At our end, we're investing in both building our own AI tools and exploring potential software purchases to bolster our capabilities.

We're eyeing efficiency gains for our CSMs. si we can streamline the process, leaving our team more time to focus on high-impact activities. Think feeding email and meeting summaries, and automating them to be sent to sales folks, etc.

Another area is improving customer communication –  especially when it comes to rolling out changes on our end that affect them. 

Currently, a lot of this is done manually, but with AI, we're aiming to automate the process, making it smoother and more efficient for everyone involved.

  1. With this emphasis on automation, do you think there’s a way to put humans back at the center of value delivery?

Customer Success is fundamentally about relationships, and that's not going to change anytime soon. 

While automation can certainly enhance efficiency,  it's about empowering our talented CSMs to use their brains to tackle complex challenges, not drowning in mundane tasks.

It's about equipping our team with the right tools and automation to excel in their roles while keeping the customer at the heart of everything we do. 

This post is for subscribers only

Subscribe Now
Already have an account? Sign in

You might also like...

Here are some other posts from us you may enjoy reading
Myth: CS teams don’t need sales skills

With Nadav Shem-Tov, Founder & CEO, NST Success Consulting, ex-Senior Director - Customer Success at Gainsight

Myth: Enterprise customers need more human resources

With Sunil Joseph, former Global Vice President, Customer Success, Stack Overflow

Subscribe For Free