4 Customer Success Leaders Reveal the Most Common Blind Spots in the Customer Journey
Blind spots are a natural part of the human experience. And they aren't necessarily all bad – they can help us filter out the noise, focus on what matters, and get things done quickly in a complex world.
But the problem with blind spots is that you often get an often inaccurate or partial view of situations that can negatively influence behaviors and desired outcomes.
For customer success and customer experience leaders, working to uncover your organization’s blind spots is crucial to being able to walk in your customers’ shoes and provide better, more valuable experiences.
So we asked four customer success leaders what they think are the most common blind spots in their profession so you can move forward with eyes wide open to the challenges your customers face – and learn how to fix them.
Customer success starts long before onboarding, and a pivotal point of the customer journey is the transition from pre-sales to post-sales. But there is often a leaky pipeline of information from discovery sessions through to customer success teams. This means customer success teams lose out on critical intelligence into customers’ desired business outcomes and adoption goals.
“The partnership between Sales and Customer Success is something that many companies are still working through, and it plays a key role in customers achieving their business outcomes” says Erika Cowen, VP of Customer Success at F5 Networks. “The introduction from Sales should include more than just a list of products purchased. It should capture the essence of what the customer is trying to achieve and how they will measure success.”
Mike Sasaki, Vice President and Global Head of Customer Success & Support at Mitek Systems, suggests that subpar onboarding experiences are due in part to a blind spot around long-term goals. “I see companies focusing on speed of onboarding to capture revenue as quickly as possible, instead of a focus on quality of onboarding.”
Cowen suggests that this should be more of a partnership than a handoff, and that increased collaboration requires building systems that make it easy for sales teams to provide this knowledge transfer.
Most CS and CX professionals are feeling the pressure to become more data-driven in terms of measuring success. After all, putting measurable processes in place is critical to scaling your organization. But Cowen cautions against the use of unhelpful metrics that inadvertently drive counterproductive behaviors.
She gives an example: “A metric that wants a CSM to engage the client every month can drive bad behaviors like sending a monthly reminder that gets constantly ignored, just for the sake of ticking a box or booking a QBR, because it’s what we think customers expect. We are better served by understanding what our customers value and building our playbooks around those motions.”
Another example she cites is being excessively focused on expansion. “Growth is great, but adoption is what drives customer’s understanding of our products and value to their business. If you can onboard and encourage adoption early in the journey, the expansion will come organically.”
To illustrate this point, Cowen shares how this strategy paid off for her team at F5 Networks. “When we improved time to adoption by about 65% in a 24-month period with the introduction of Customer Success, we also saw our expansion increase about 15% in that same period.”
Mike Sasaki agrees that even with the best of intentions, the desire to measure can lead teams down the wrong path. “I’ve seen leaders focus on the number of business reviews they conduct in a quarter, and pay no attention to the quality of the business review and the actual experience of the customer. Why do we host and conduct QBRs? Is it to drive revenue or to deliver more value for the customer and at the same time improve the customer experience?”
Products are more complex than ever and constantly evolving to support new use cases, offer new features, and retire old ones. The fluidity of product evolution means it's more important than ever to put strategies in place to help users successfully navigate through these changes.
Placing simple, personalized guidance at every stage of the customer journey is key. But too often, companies are missing the mark in providing simple, clear, helpful information that helps drive adoption.
“There is a lot of work to be done to simplify the customer’s journey, particularly for an existing legacy hardware business moving to the cloud or a SaaS model.” says Erika Cowen. “Things to consider include consolidated welcome emails, portals, support experiences, and real-time visibility into systems. Customers need to be equipped with meaningful, simple and relevant resources.”
Mike Sasaki agrees that clear, customized customer communication tends to be missing. “I often read communication from our vendors and think, ‘I’m not sure what that means for me and what I’m supposed to do next.'”
For Jason Whitehead, Co-founder of SuccessChain, a major blind spot for customers is their ability to drive change from within.
"One of the biggest unmet needs for customers is a lack of effective change management and user adoption programs within their own organization. You can buy the best technology in the world, but if you can’t get your staff to change their way of working and use the system in a way that produces value, you will not be successful.”
“Software buyers need the capacity and expertise to manage ongoing change and adoption, at scale, across their entire user population in order to maximize and sustain success," he adds.
His fellow SuccessChain co-founder, Sue Nabeth-Moore, suggests that friction within the change management process is not just problematic for customers – it’s also difficult for vendors selling products who often lack domain expertise and change-management skills.
"For customers to optimize their success with technology they need three main areas of guidance from vendors,” Nabeth-Moore says. “Firstly, a great tool that illuminates their pain points. Secondly, domain and business expertise to understand how the new tool blends into their business routine. And lastly, change management and adoption best practices to adjust, where necessary, the organization, processes, tool stacks and behaviors that deliver the anticipated business results.”
While blind spots may be unavoidable, making efforts to unveil how they're impacting your customers is critical to building long-term loyalty, driving customer success, and staying at the forefront of innovation.