Monthly Archives: January 2017

A Guide to Customer Success Across Europe

Introduction by Allison Pickens, VP of Customer Success & Business Operations at Gainsight

In November, we held our second annual Pulse Europe conference. A few of us at Gainsight led workshops on customer success, but I think I learned as much (if not more) from the attendees about how to manage Customer Success in Europe, as they learned from me. These conversations were particularly timely, since my Customer Success team is starting to recruit our first team members in London.

An important theme emerged across these conversations: The “right way” to do Customer Success varies significantly across countries in Europe. There are certainly commonalities – in particular, Customer Success tends to be higher-touch in Europe than in the U.S. – but it’s mission-critical for a CSM team to vary its approach by country.

Coming out of the conference, a group of leaders decided to get together to document their observations of the unique requirements of doing Customer Success in each European country. What emerged is the following blog post, which aims to educate U.S.-based companies on how to expand their CS programs in Europe, and also to help round out the knowledge of European companies.

I can’t claim credit for this post, but rather I’m indebted to several other, more knowledgeable folks for writing it – in alphabetical order by last name, they are:

  • David Apple, Director of Customer Success at Typeform
  • Vinnie Cholewa, VP Customer Operations at CareerBuilder
  • Jan Schlosser, former Director of Customer Success, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia (EMEAR) at Cisco

What follows is a thorough, candid insider’s guide to doing Customer Success in each country. While the guide includes some generalizations that may be helpful rules-of-thumb, they are based primarily on the writers’ firsthand experiences. The writers welcome you to add your learnings from your own experiences in the comments, so that we can continue to supplement this group’s perspectives.

United Kingdom

CSM style: Documentation and process are as sure as the sun rising and setting in the U.K. Customer Success workflow comes naturally because of the processes that CSMs tend to follow.

Where to locate: The U.K. has the most vibrant start-up scene in Europe for emerging XaaS companies (mainly in London, but also in Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh). In addition, several large global enterprises that are introducing their own Customer Success teams in Europe now have their European headquarters in or around London.

How to hire: The market has a lot of early-in-career talent who have experience in their first roles as junior Customer Success Managers. There’s plenty of compensation information readily available on sites like Glassdoor.com to help inform decisions on salaries. Labor laws in the U.K., more than many other European countries, are similar to those in the U.S.

Market factors: There are concerns about the impact of “Brexit” on the current business momentum; U.K.-based companies may be more limited to the U.K. market, as expanding into non-U.K. European markets will become more expensive at some point. Forecasts for U.K.-based companies are very conservative right now.

If you’re expanding here: The U.K. is the first economy in Europe where we see Customer Success building a beachhead coming over as a “movement” from the U.S. It is an easy market for a U.S.-based company to enter, as it is English-speaking. For U.S. companies moving to Europe, cost may be a factor. While London is a natural option given its world presence, cities like Edinburgh have plenty of individuals with the skills in multiple languages that are vital to operating in Europe at a much more cost-effective rate.

Germany

CSM style: Expect customers to want a high-touch approach. Attention to detail is critical to success in Germany.

There is a more conservative approach to Customer Success and high sensitivity to privacy for usage data, when used for measuring and automating customer success. Data must be stored locally and handled securely, especially for public-sector customers.

To serve German customers with Customer Success resources, you need to have native German speakers (available in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) and German collateral. Ideally, your subscriptions should be available in German to be broadly successful here.

Where to locate: There are two or three main hubs for Customer Success: Berlin (XaaS start-up scene), Munich (the “IT-hub” for global classical tech companies), and Frankfurt (financial center with booming adjacent industries).

How to hire: You should be thoughtful about hiring permanent employees in Germany, because there is a lot of union-related inflexibility in moving employees when needed in a fast-changing business environment: long notice periods, costs of benefits, and hurdles in letting people go if the company grows to a certain critical size. Consider local regulations and comparably high tax rates.

Market factors: Germany is one of the healthiest economies in Europe with a lot of appetite to “digitize” the economy (i.e. “Industry 4.0”). Hence, it probably has the biggest business potential for Customer Success once the subscription economy gains ground here. However, we’re still skeptical as Germany usually moves slowly and is not seen as a digital leader despite their industrial leadership and potential.

If you’re expanding here: For outsiders, you don’t just jump into Germany. You need to have a very specific market fit and fully understand the nuances around data protection, legality and employment law.

Possible strategies to be successful in Germany in the subscription economy include building a strong foothold in smaller and more flexible economies first (most often, Switzerland) and expand into Germany from there when opportunities arise.

Ireland

CSM style: Most companies look at Ireland as a potential candidate for housing a Virtual Customer Success Center, with locally employed agents who do not travel to see customers (hence the term “Virtual”). Local Irish companies are not yet very visible with Customer Success offers in the European market.

Where to locate: Many of the biggest names in tech have a large presence in Dublin, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Airbnb. This has attracted a lot of talent, but there is also a lot of competition for that talent. Intercom is the best known start-up founded in Ireland.

Market factors: Companies setting up in Ireland still enjoy some tangible tax benefits compared to other EU countries. Wages here are slightly lower compared to many Western and Central European countries (though not to Eastern and South European countries).

If you’re expanding here: Many companies look to Ireland to host their European data storage and servers. Don’t overlook the simplicity in the why, as the cool climate helps keep the giant processors happy.

Switzerland

Where to locate: Switzerland is a highly innovative and attractive location. It is a magnet for talent: e.g. Google’s European development center is based in Zürich.

How to hire: There is a very diverse and highly skilled talent pool available to drive Customer Success. You can leverage the country’s English skills in addition to its three main languages: German, French, and Italian. It has a fast-evolving talent pool for Customer Success emerging from local XaaS companies and global firms with a presence here.

Market factors: Significant tax benefits for enterprises and one of the most liberal sets of labor laws in Europe make it attractive for almost any industry to consider Switzerland as a major location and/or European headquarters. At the same time, it can be expensive to hire, particularly if you end up having to relocate folks to work there.

If you’re expanding here: Some call it “mini-Europe”, because if something is successful in the Swiss market, it is almost guaranteed success in all other European markets, especially Germany (with its sensitivity to data privacy and highly skilled workforce). Switzerland has the potential to emerge as a beachhead for Customer Success in Germany, due to language, geographical and cultural proximity and reputation in security.

Due to its geographic location in the center of Europe (easy to get from here to anywhere fast), multilingual talent pool, “Swiss” brand recognition, and a stable political environment for business (in spite of the highest labor costs in Europe), Swiss-based companies are among the most dynamic in Europe. They successfully serve European and global markets, in addition to the stable but comparably small local market.

France

CSM style: France has a highly regulated market that you cannot serve from outside France: it requires a local presence and the use of the local language for all customer interactions, shared materials, and organized communities. Servicing smaller customers to drive Customer Success can be done from outside France (as it has been done in Poland, Edinburgh, and other places), but requires French-speaking CSMs – often French nationals.

Relationships absolutely matter in France. The best sales models will utilize a hybrid approach between prospectors and closers in pre-sales, and CSMs (driving usage and value) and Account Managers (fostering the long-term relationship) in post-sales.

France lags in regards to leveraging non-French subscriptions in the market and hence is rarely a priority to drive significant incremental business from better ARR and Renewal Rate improvements.

How to hire: Labor laws in France are very much in favor of the employee, which makes it very difficult and costly to fire people. Furthermore, the expectations for work hours (35 hours / week) and for vacation days are quite high. You don’t get the “joie de vivre” for free. <img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.2.1/72×72/1f642.png&quot; alt="

Why There’s No Perfect Time to Post on Facebook

There probably isn’t a single best time to share to social media.

There’s a long tradition of studies that have attempted to uncover a ‘best time’ to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and almost every other social media marketing channel, with each study finding a wide range of results (we’ve even created our own studies here at Buffer).

Here are just some recommendations on the best time to post to Facebook to get you started:

  • Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. [Hubspot]
  • Thursday at 8 p.m.  [TrackMaven]
  • 1–4 p.m. late into the week and on weekends [CoSchedule]
  • Early afternoon during the week and Saturdays [Buffer]
  • Off-peak times are best [Buzzsum0]

All of these studies are based on sound logic and can potentially be helpful to point marketers in the right direction. But almost every study reveals a different ‘best time to post’ and I believe there’s no perfect time to post to Facebook (or any social channel for that matter). 

The best time to post depends on a number of factors that are specific to every business: What’s your industry? What location is audience based? When are they online? Are you sponsoring your post?

I’d love to flip the conversation and say that instead of looking for a universal ‘best time to post’, maybe we should be focusing specifically on when is the best time for your brand to post.

facebook-time

Why there’s no universal best time to post on Facebook

The content crush is truly upon us. There’s more content shared to Facebook than any of us could ever consume, and as such, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm helps to determine what is shown to us every time we open up Facebook.

On their Business blog, Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland explains:

On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.

As a result, competition in News Feed – the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses – is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed.

Whenever you post to Facebook, you’re essentially competing against at least 1,500 others post for a place in the News Feed and timing is only one of a number of factors that determines which content appears.

With this in mind, it’s also possible that the best time to post could also be the worst time. Let’s say a study found the best time to publish is 6pm on a Friday, and every brand was to try and push content to their audience at that time, it’s likely that very few of those posts would be seen due to such high competition. The same is true for saying off-peak times are best to publish – if all brands post off-peak then there will be more competition, and so they should go back to posting at peak time.

It’s all very muddled and there’s no clear answer. As such, I’d argue that there’s no specific time that’s best to post to Facebook.

So, when should you post to Facebook? A couple of strategies you can try

If there’s no ‘best’ time to post, how do you decide when to share your content to Facebook?

To answer this question, I feel like there are two approaches we could use:

  1. When your data tells you
  2. When it’s relevant

1. When your data tells you

When it comes to marketing and digital strategy, the best data is always your own. And, thankfully, Facebook has a ton of data available for all page owners and admins. A comprehensive understanding of your own audience on Facebook and how your content is performing will bring more success, than generic insights drawn from studies on a wide variety of Pages from a range of industries and brands.

2. When it’s relevant

This one is a little less scientific. But some content will work best in-the-moment or at a time when it’s most relevant. A great example of this is the content many sports teams share to Facebook to update fans on the scores or breaking news.

For your business, the same can also be true. Some pieces of content will perform best when they’re relevant. For example, the best time to share content related to the launch of your new product tends to be directly following the announcement. Or if you had an advert on a local TV station, it’s best to create and share social content around the same time that it’s broadcast.

How to use Facebook Insights to find your best time to post

If you’re looking to find the best time to post on Facebook, the first best place to start is Facebook Insights.

To see your Page Insights, click Insights at the top of your Page:

page-insights

Once you’re in the Page Insights dashboard, there’s a wealth of data available to you. For this post, though, we’re going to dive into a couple of specific areas to help you discover when to post your content.

How to find out when your fans are online

From the Insights dashboard, select Posts in the left-hand column menu. This will take you to a detailed breakdown of the days and time your fans are most active on Facebook: time-online

This chart shows the average times across the week. You can hover over each individual day to see an overlay of how that day looks vs the averages. Here’s an example of how Sunday’s tend to look for our Page (the dark blue line is data for Sunday):

sunday-data

What does this data tell us?

Here at Buffer, we can see our audience is online 7 days per week and that there’s no specific day where we see a spike. We can also see that from around 9 am in the morning the number of people online is gradually increasing up until around 4 pm where the number begins to decline slightly.

There are plenty of ways to interpret this data. But, to me, this would suggest our best times to post are during the work day between the hours of 9 am – 5 pm when our audience are most active on Facebook. I’d recommend testing a variation of times between those hours to see what works and if there’s a best time at all.

Another experiment we’ve been trying off the back of this data is posting at off-peak times. Brian, our social media manager, has recently been posting when less of our audience is online and we’ve been seeing some success between 3 am – 5 am.

How to find posting times of successful posts

Facebook Insights records reach and engagement figures for every post you share to your Facebook Page. This data can be found in the same place as the data for when your fans are online. Head to your Page Insights, click Posts and below the graph showing times your fans are online, you’ll see ‘All Posts Published’.

all-posts

Here, in the ‘Published’ column, you can see the date and time when each post was published to your Facebook Page. With this data you’re looking out for any trends regarding the times. For example, do posts published around a specific time tend to receive more reach or engagement.

Note: If your posts are Sponsored or Boosted (like many of ours in the above screenshot), this could also skew your data a little as these posts are likely to gain significantly more reach than organic posts regardless or the time they’re published.

What does this data tell us?

Personally, I think our data on the Buffer Facebook Page is pretty inconclusive at the moment. It’s clear that posts published between around 10 am – 12 pm seem to do well, as do posts at around 5 pm. But I’d love to test a bunch more variables before making any clear conclusions.

Using Buffer’s Optimal Scheduling tool

Another way to find some potentially great times to post to your Facebook Page is with our Optimal Scheduling tool.

When you optimize your schedule, we look at the past 5,000 interactions (e.g. likes, favorites, clicks, etc.) you’ve had on the Page you’re optimizing as well as similar profiles in the same timezone. We then plot these according to your timezone in a 24 hour period, to see when most interactions have happened.

We also include an ‘experimental’ element, that picks some timeslots outside your top engaged times to find unexplored, new optimal timing areas for you to post.

How to use the Optimal Scheduling tool

Step 1: Connect your Facebook Page to Buffer

To use our Optimal Scheduling tool, you’ll first need to connect a Facebook Page to Buffer. To do this, login to your Buffer and then click on the + icon next to Accounts in the top left of the dashboard. Then, select Facebook Page:

connect-page

Step 2: Head over to your Schedule tab

From your Buffer dashboard, select your Facebook Page in the left-hand column and then click on the ‘Schedule’ tab:

schedule-tab

Now, click on the ‘Try our Optimal Timing Tool’ link underneath your schedule. Alternatively, you can also follow this link: https://buffer.com/optimal-scheduling/calculate

Step 3: Select your Page

Next, simply the select the Page you’d like the tool to identify posting times for, how many times you’d like to post each day and click ‘Calculate Times’:

calculate-times

Step 3: Check your suggested times

The Optimal Scheduling tool will now display some times for your to post based on recent engagement for your Page and other similar Pages in your timezone. If you wish, you can also replace your current Buffer schedule with these times in one click:

optimal-times

Note: As this tool takes data from your Page and similar profiles in the same timezone, I tend to use the recommended times as a test to see how content performs at each time, rather than a set of ‘best times to post’.

Businesses will win because of the content, not the timing

When one of your Facebook friends gets married, the chances are you’ll see their wedding photos stuck to the top of your News Feed all day, regardless of the time they’re posted. This happens because wedding photos, whether you like them or not, are great content and as soon as they’re posted, a bunch of people rush to like, share and comment on them.

If you want to succeed on Facebook, your content will be the most important factor. Not the time it’s posted. Of course, timing can have an effect on performance if the post is timely or more relevant at set time – such as content aimed at reaching sports fans at the time when games are happening. But largely, your social media success relies on the strength of your content.

Over to you

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic: Do you think there’s a best time to post to Facebook? How do you decide when to publish your posts? Let me know in the comments, I’m excited to join the conversation.

 

Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization

I asked the VP of Customer Success what her goal was for the Customer Success Management (CSM) organization, and she said, “to ensure customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with our company.”

That’s the definition of Customer Success that I developed, so I obviously loved that answer for this reason.

But I didn’t like it because that’s not actually a goal.

That’s their purpose. That’s why the CSM org exists (in fact, it’s why the company exists), but it’s not a goal.

A goal is something that’s meaningful, actionable, and reachable; it’s an objective and a timeframe.

And if you’re a Customer Success leader who wants to get a “seat at the table” with other executives, you need to be able to tie your goals with those of the company and become so important – so valuable to the rest of the company – that you need to reach your goals to drive the company towards their goals.

Let’s dig in…

Your Current Customer Success Reality

I know that I talk about best practices extensively, and in my opinion, these are very important to understand even if you can’t implement them today. You have to know what you’re ultimately working towards, and it’s critical that you work to create an optimized organization.

But unless your company is just getting started, you’ll likely have a bit of real life get in the way of implementing those best practices… if it doesn’t shut the implementation of those best practices down completely, such implementation will likely progress at a slower pace than you’d like.

In fact, I’d say roughly 100% of the companies I work with are already in market with customers at various lifecycle stages and with varying degrees of success (with a sizable number having no success and are on the verge of – or already – churning), so some form of what I’m about to share has been relevant in pretty much every situation I’ve dealt with.

So it’s important to get real, real fast, and start planning around the reality on the ground, which is your current Customer Success reality.

First, you start by…

Understanding Non-existent and Unrealized Success Potential

If you haven’t done this, as soon as you’re done reading this post, create a list of characteristics that indicate when a customer is a bad fit or the things that would indicate they don’t have Success Potential.

If you’re not sure or just curious, you can explore the difference between Bad Fit and Stretch customers.

After you’ve identified the characteristics of a Bad-fit customer, tag all of your customers in whatever system you use to manage your customer relationship as a “good fit” or “bad fit.”

This will tell you who – exactly – has the potential for success and who doesn’t, and this will be the key bifurcation point in our cohort creation (below).

Oh, and for customers that have already churned, you should do the same thing – only go a step further, and mark the churn as unavoidable or avoidable and unexpected or expected. I’ve covered this in “You Have to Know why Customers Churn.”

Okay, so now we move on to…

Identifying Logical Customer Cohorts

Within each Logical Customer Segment, you’ll want to identify customer cohorts based on their Success Potential and current Success Vector.

You can’t treat all customers that are a bad fit or all customers that are a good fit but on a neutral Success Vector the same. You must take into consideration their unique characteristics and provide them an Appropriate Experience, even if you’re actively off-boarding customers without Success Potential or moving those Good-fit in Neutral to a Positive Success Vector.

For those that are a Bad Fit, that is, those that do not have Success Potential, we need to carve them out and work with them in a manner different from those with Success Potential.

And for those that do have Success Potential, remember that they may still churn because what they have is only “potential” … it’s not Success Guaranteed. We need to ensure they’re on the right path toward success.

I’ve come up with five different customer cohorts spread across Bad- and Good-fit customers. Whether that model directly applies to your company and customers isn’t important; use this as a jump-off point, and come up with logical cohorts that work in your unique situations.

That said, the first cohort I carve out is the…

Bad-fit Customer Cohort

These are customers that do not have Success Potential. They are not going to get value from their relationship with you, or you’ll spend resources trying to help them or ignore them but continue to take their money, both of which won’t end well.

Companies have Bad-fit customers for a variety of reasons; some were signed early when the company didn’t know who an ideal customer was or made the decision that they’d sign anyone and everyone, regardless of Success Potential, in order to “learn” or for cash flow reasons. None of those reasons are valid, by the way, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

The reasons for acquiring Bad-fit customers notwithstanding, the fact is you have them, they won’t be successful, and you need to do something with them.

To (Actively) Churn or Not to Churn

For the customer cohort without Success Potential, they will likely – and probably should – churn out.

You can just wait until they churn organically, or you can create a plan to off-board the customers systematically, ideally giving them some alternative products or services they could move on to. You know the right thing to do.

You should spend very few actual Customer Success resources on these Bad-fit customers because they can never be successful, so it’s kind of the opposite of what a Customer Success Organization is meant to do.

You may need to spend some resources to off-board them in a way that doesn’t leave them emotionally unhappy or that’s likely to result in the negative word being spread about your company and your product – which may even include buying a subscription to a competing product or providing access to an integration service to migrate data – but that is the only reasonable, legitimate expense associated with Bad-fit customers.

If your executives – or you – disagree and think you should invest in these Bad-fit customers, whatever; just don’t say “Customer Success doesn’t work” when those customers eventually churn out.

And if you think keeping customers long enough to pay back the acquisition cost is enough, you’re a fool.

I don’t even care that you don’t get the spirit of Customer Success or that it’s not your Operating Philosophy… no, you’re a bad business person.

Keeping Bad-fit customers to simply milk them for revenue until they churn has a potentially enormous cost to it… you’ll kill your Total Addressible Market (TAM), you’ll hurt your brand, and ultimately, you’ll lower the value of your company.

Accepting and Reporting High (Cohort) Churn

I am acutely aware that it will be very difficult for you and your leadership to accept a large amount of churn in this cohort, as it will make your overall retention numbers look bad – maybe really bad.

The high churn you’re not just going to experience, but make happen, as you actively jettison your Bad-fit customers will offset the high retention numbers you’ll have in your Good-fit customer cohorts.

So what I suggest that you do is – where possible – when you report churn (to your board, investors, executives, etc.), explicitly call out this Bad-fit cohort – along with it’s incredibly high churn rate – as an anomaly (“these are Bad-fit customers; we won’t make that mistake again”), and then report retention for the rest of the Good-fit customer base separately as the high number that it is.

You’re not hiding anything – in fact, you’re making everything more visible – but you’re looking at it realistically, too.

The bad-fit cohort that is otherwise bringing everything down is not who you’re building the future of your business around, and you’re working to get it off the books and reduce the resources needed to support that cohort to zero to free up precious resources to work with Good-fit customers.

If your investors, board, or executives want to see an aggregate, roll-up churn, or retention number that includes all cohorts – even the bad-fit – okay, fine. But you might as well try this reporting technique… not just to make yourself look better, but because it really does represent a more realistic, forward-looking view of your customers.

Now we move on to…

Good-fit Customer Cohorts

It’s important to remember that just because a customer has Success Potential doesn’t mean that this potential will be recognized. So when a customer with Success Potential churns out – vs. those that are a bad fit – it hurts. It should sting.

Your Customer Success Practitioners, Organization, and Leaders should be held responsible for the churning out of customers that have Success Potential, for sure. Why? Because when a customer has Success Potential but churns out, it’s your fault.

You didn’t work to make them successful. You let them stray off course. You failed them. But that’s actually a good thing!

It’s a good thing because you can fix it! If it were outside your control, that’d be one thing. But it’s not… you can put into place the systems, processes, and workflows necessary to ensure that customers with Success Potential actually realize this potential and succeed.

But to do that, we have to get real about what’s going on with your Good-fit customers right now by splitting them into cohorts, starting with…

Good-fit Cohort 1: On a Negative Success Vector

The “Negative” here is based on my Success Vector KPI, but this might be a Good-fit customer with a low Customer health score, in a Code Red state, has a thumbs-down emoji status… whatever you use, these are the customers that are ultimately getting no value from their relationship with you.

But they should be, since they’re a Good-fit. They have Success Potential, but you’ve not worked to unlock that potential.

Almost always, customers that are a Good-fit but aren’t getting the value they should share a common trait: they were acquired before you got your Customer Success act together.

They weren’t onboarded properly, they weren’t trained, their integrations were faulty and/or non-existent, and they’ve generally been neglected.

Because they know they have Success Potential, the customer hangs on, knowing that someday, things will work out… until it one day when it just doesn’t.

And you probably ignore them because you’re afraid that if you interact with them, they might remember you exist and remember that they wanted to churn. Or, even worse, they might expect you to help get them back on track.

It’s time to step up and make things right with those customers. There’s no other way to say it; you’re failing them, and eventually, it’s going to catch up with you. You need to get them back on track toward success.

Good-fit Cohort 2: Gone Dark

Good Customers go Dark; it happens every day to good companies around the world. Maybe it’s happened to you.

A customer stops opening your emails, won’t take your calls, stops opening support tickets, stops using your product… They’ve gone dark.

They’re ignoring you. They’re hiding. And you’re freaking out.

The biggest issue with customers that have gone dark is that you don’t know if they’re on the verge of churning or if they’ll stick around for a while.

But you can be 100% sure that if they’ve stopped using your product or consuming your service, there is a 0% chance that they are successful. And what do customers that aren’t successful do? They churn.

So this cohort is the next priority for you after those that are on a known Negative Success Vector.

But here’s the reality about customers that have gone dark: you didn’t work to make them successful from the outset, you didn’t onboard them properly, and you didn’t send them the right message at the right time, which taught them to ignore your messages.

You taught them you don’t care. So why should they listen to you?

You’re going to have to get creative; try different communication methods (email, SMS, WhatsApp, social, phone, FedEx, etc.) to try to get their attention.

All you’re doing at this point is “saving” a customer – this really isn’t “Customer Success” – and you may resort to concessions to get them back on track such as discounts, free Training, product Demos, “restarting” or “resetting” the contract, etc.

But whatever you do, make sure the communication you use to get them to engage is all about them, and be clear on what the next step is. If you can get them out of the darkness, remember that all you did was bring them to the light… now you need to get them on a path to success.

I’d consider them to be on a Negative Success Vector at this point unless you know for sure otherwise.

Good-fit Cohort 3: On a Neutral Success Vector

The “Neutral” here is based on my Success Vector KPI, but this might be a Good-fit customer with a moderate Customer health score, in a Yellow state, has a “hang loose” emoji status… again, whatever you use, these are the customers that are getting some value and aren’t going to churn but aren’t growing.

Their adoption has stagnated, they aren’t going to buy add-ons, and they won’t advocate for you. This might seem like a customer that’s fine – one that doesn’t need your attention.

But if you understand that expansion (and renewal) is part of Customer Success – not a byproduct of it – then you’ll know that a stagnating customer is not a customer that is successful.

And when you understand that merely maintaining the status quo is not ideal, you’ll know why customers on a Neutral Success Vector – while not at immediate risk of churn – are not something to be ignored.

If all you’re doing is renewing customers at the same level, you’re actually failing in your Customer Success initiative. If you aren’t sure why that’s true, go back up two paragraphs and read again.

The vast majority of companies that I’ve worked with who have customers on a Neutral Success Vector signed those customers before they had a fully operational Customer Success approach. They may have had the onboarding phase locked down, but they failed at – or hadn’t gotten around to – operationalizing success across the entire lifecycle.

So the customers got initial value but were then left to fend for themselves.

Going forward, the only customers that should be on a Neutral Success Vector are those that just moved up from Negative or those you pulled back into the light after having gone dark.

Good-fit Cohort 4: On a Positive Success Vector

The “Positive” here is based on my Success Vector KPI, but this might be a Good-fit customer with a great Customer health score, in a Green state, has a thumbs-up or clapping emoji status… again, whatever you use, these are the customers that have been getting value and are expanding their relationship with you.

They were onboarded correctly, are increasing adoption, inviting you into other parts of their company, and advocating for you externally.

Any customers that sign from now on will go through proper vetting (to ensure they’re a good fit before signing), activation, and onboarding, and they will have an Appropriate Experience across their lifecycle as they work toward their ever-evolving Desired Outcome.

But how do you go about…

Prioritizing Success Vector Cohorts

Customers are always evolving, so you need to stay on top of things to ensure that a Good-fit customer doesn’t become a Bad-fit customer or so you’ll know when a customer on a Positive Success Vector suddenly drops to a Negative for whatever reason.

You’ll need to monitor the Success Vector of your customers and intervene proactively on an ongoing basis, but at first – when you’re just trying to reduce the risk in your current customer base – you need to figure out what is happening right now.

The Bad-fit cohort gets resources dedicated to them until they’re taken care of, peeling off resources as the remaining cohort of customers without Success Potential get smaller. On an ongoing basis, the number of Bad-fit customers you have should be so small that you’re spending very little time on these types of customers.

If possible, put resources on all four of the Good-fit cohorts, but whenever you need to prioritize, the Good-fit customers that are most likely to churn should get attention first. As that number starts to reduce, you can peel off resources to work with other cohorts.

If you are legitimately resource-constrained, you’ll focus on the Good-fit, high-value customers on a Negative Success Vector first. But remember, your resource constraints should never give a Good-fit customer a less-than-appropriate experience. If you cannot afford to provide a customer with their Appropriate Experience, then they are a Bad-fit customer.

The fact that there are five discrete customer cohorts – for each Logical Customer Segment – should tell you something about…

Customer Success Management KPIs and Taking Action

One of my favorite pastimes is dispelling the myth of “One Metric that Matters.” Sure, some companies have this as a symbolic rallying point, but when it comes to actually running their business, there is never JUST one metric that matters.

When it comes to Customer Success, while you might need to report on something like Net Revenue Retention (NRR) as a roll-up financial metric across all of your customers, you’ll also need to sanity check that against the aggregate Success Vector to ensure that the revenue you retained will stick around.

But even those two “metrics that matter” are made up of several other metrics that matter – in this case, a different KPI for each customer cohort.

So when you want to figure out your Customer Success Management KPIs, you can have those roll-up, high-level metrics, but the real, actionable metrics are going to be developed by looking at each cohort and asking where you want to be with each of those segments in 3, 6, or 12 months.

You’ll have to be very clear about how you reach those goals, what the coverage ratios of human intervention and technology (maybe even AI & chatbots) need to be, etc.

By having a goal for these cohorts and knowing how you’re going to get there, you’ll start to unravel the types of talent and skill sets required and, from there, the number of Customer Success Practitioners you’ll need.

Some ideas for where you might want to be in 6 months are…

Bad-fit Customers

Zero Identifiable Bad-fit Customers.

This may be 100% churn for this cohort, or it might be 75% churn and moving 25% to a Good-fit cohort because you added functionality that gave them Success Potential.

Good fit, Gone Dark

Zero Identifiable Customers that are “dark.”

This is going to take work; it will not be easy, and it may not have the entirely positive outcome you’re hoping for. Some customers that are dark may end up churning out. That’s actually a good thing; you don’t want zombie customers that are paying you while getting zero value. You aren’t running a low-end gym where your business model would break if all of your members showed up at one time. You’re better than that (even if you are running a low-end gym!).

While some customers that have gone dark will churn, the vast majority will re-engage, and you’ll be able to move them from a Negative to, ultimately, a Positive Success Vector. But it will take work, and you’ll have to get creative; but it’ll be worth it for sure.

Good fit, Negative Success Vector

Off-boarding Bad-fit customers and bringing those that have gone dark back into the light are easier tasks than actually ensuring that customers achieve success. So it’s easy to say for those other two cohorts that you can hit “zero identifiable” in 6 months. Sure, it comes down to resources, but that’s about the only constraint.

When it comes to moving customers from one Success Vector to another, it’s a little more complicated because customers – even within the same Logical Customer Segment – achieve success on their own cadence.

So you’ll need to be realistic about what you can achieve for this cohort within the given timeframe.

Your ultimate goal should be to get all Negative Success Vector customers on at least a Neutral Success Vector, but what can you do in 6 months?

An example might be: in the next 6 months, we can reduce the number of good-fit, Negative Success Vector customers in the Small Agency customer segment by 50% by doing x, y, and z.

But for the same cohort in the Large Agency segment, we can reduce this number by 25% by doing x, y, and z.

However, for this cohort in the Mid-sized Agency segment, we can reduce this number by 75% by doing x, y, and z.

Good fit, Neutral Success Vector

Again, moving customers from one Success Vector to another is more complicated than what you’ll do with Bad-fit customers or those that have gone dark, again because customers – even within the same Logical Customer Segment – achieve success on their own cadence.

Similarly, you’ll need to be realistic about what you can achieve for this cohort in the given timeframe.

Your ultimate goal should be to get all Neutral Success Vector customers on a Positive Success Vector, but what can you do in 6 months?

When a customer is on a Positive Success Vector, they’re expanding their relationship with you, they’re increasing consumption or adoption, or they’re advocating for you publicly. If you can take a Neutral customer and get them to do some or all of those things, you’ll be able to move them to a Positive Success Vector.

However, you have to do it in a way that is customer-positive; working them toward success and then making logical offers to them for upsells or add-ons, getting them to invite you into other parts of their company, or proactively getting them to advocate for you when the time is right. Think of ways to short-circuit their path to success.

This is less about getting them do the thing that will move them to a Positive Success Vector – like buying an add-on – and more about getting them to be successful and making buying that add-on the most logical next step.

You’ll want to be clear that for this cohort, in this segment, we’ll do x, y, and z to make that a reality.

Good fit, Positive Success Vector

For this cohort, we might start to apply a KPI different from just the number of customers that are in this cohort; we might want to focus on a financial metric like NRR.

So we might say that in the next 6 months, for the Good-fit customers on a Neutral Success Vector in the Small Agency customer segment, we can drive a 120% NRR by doing x, y, and z.

This means we’ll expand the revenue we get from this cohort – net of any revenue churn and not taking into consideration what new customers are bringing in; it’s only for this cohort – by 20%, or we end the 6-month timeframe with 120% of the revenue they started that period with.

And for this cohort in the Large Agency segment, we can grow NRR to 150% by doing x, y, and z.

However, for this cohort in the Mid-sized Agency segment, we will grow NRR to 130% by doing x, y, and z.

A lot of people say that much of Customer Success is simply common sense. Well, maybe that’s true, but behind all of

Well, maybe that’s true, but behind all of the common sense are a lot of processes, workflows, strategy, and tactics! Hopefully, what I just shared makes that “common sense” journey toward making your customers successful a little bit easier for you.

The post Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

Snapchat Marketing Strategy 101: Getting Started, Building a Community, and Generating ROI – Carlos Gil [SSM027]

What started as a simple app to send disappearing videos to friends, Snapchat now attracts some of the biggest brands and influencers in the world.

More than 300 million people use the app every month – generating an astounding 10 billion videos views per day!

Which is why Snapchat presents a huge opportunity for businesses and brands to get in on a platform that is growing exponentially by the day.

But how?

Carlos Gil has been helping brands and businesses successfully develop and implement their Snapchat marketing strategy for years. And he’s really, really good at it, too. In 2016, Carlos was listed as one of the world’s top Snapchat marketing influencers by Inc. and a host of other publications.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Carlos all about how marketers can get started with Snapchat and how they can tie their Snapchat marketing efforts into overall business ROI. A huge thank you to Carlos for jam-packing this episode with actionable wisdom and takeaways for social media managers and marketers alike looking to create winning habits and goals that will take their skills to the next level.

How to listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | RSS

This episode is available on:

In this episode, here’s what you’ll learn:

Carlos Gil shares his expert insights on what it takes to get started on Snapchat and how marketers can use this platform to build a engaged community as well as drive real ROI for their business.

  • Carlos’ story of becoming a Snapchat influencer
  • Answering the question: Is it too late to join Snapchat for brands?
  • How to get started on Snapchat and provide value to your audience
  • Tying Snapchat marketing efforts to business ROI
  • How to run an influencer marketing campaign on Snapchat

3 Key Takeaways for Marketers Looking to Expand and Go All-In on Snapchat in 2017

In Carlos’ words…

1. Be real

I often look to DJ Khaled for inspiration (keys to success) – he’s one of the most watched people online today. They key to DJ Khaled’s success has been just being real and he’s set the model of consistency for every brand marketer should aspire to be. What people really want is to be entertained, engaged, and inspired. Think of Snapchat as product storytelling.

2. Take risks

Snapchat is not Facebook, it’s not LinkedIn, and it’s not YouTube – it’s Snapchat. Take risks and tell short, engaging stories on the platform.

3. Develop a long-term strategy

You’re not going to get on Snapchat and see success overnight. There’s no such thing as overnight on social media, but especially on Snapchat. Really start building your strategy over the next 12-18  months. How are you going to first grow your audience? How are you going to keep them engaged long-term? And then, most importantly, how are you going to take that growth and engagement and convert that into sales?

Mentionable Quotes and Shareable Snippets

Carlos Gil Quote on Snapchat Marketing

“If you do anything at all on Snapchat different from your other social media channels, make the focus around storytelling. And if you want to take it one step further, allow others to tell that story for you.”

– Carlos Gil

Show Notes and Other Memorable Moments

Thanks a million for checking out this episode! Below are the websites and other tidbits that were mentioned in today’s podcast about creating incredible Facebook communities using groups. If you have any questions for us, feel free to drop us a line in the comments and we’ll respond right away!

Awesome People, Things, & Articles Mentioned in the Show

Great Quotes

  • “My perspective of social media is completely different than your textbook version of how these channels work. For me, this was a lifeline for me to grow a business and feed my family.”
  • “It’s definitely not too late to join Snapchat. Even though the train has already left the station, there’s still time for brands and businesses to get on board.”
  • “We see a lot of ‘rinse and repeat’ across social media channels. You have to ask yourself: How is my content going to be different on Snapchat than my other social media channels?”
  • “Reach out to influencers directly if they align with your brand and if everything checks out, run a campaign with them on Snapchat.”

How to Say Hello to Carlos (and us)

Carlos Gil is a fantastic person to follow across social media for daily marketing tips, tricks, and motivation. You can find Carlos on Snapchat here, Twitter hereFacebook here, and read more about Carlos’ journey at carlosgil.biz.

Thanks for listening! We’d love to connect with you at @buffer on Twitter or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It’d mean the world to us if you’d be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!

About the Show

The Science of Social Media is a podcast for marketers and social media managers looking for inspiration, ideas, and results for their social media strategies. Each week, we interview one of the very best in social media marketing from brands in every industry. You will learn the latest tactics on social media, the best tools to use, the smartest workflows, and the best goal-setting advice. It is our hope that each episode you’ll find one or two gems to use with your social media marketing!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

Trump’s policies could hurt Fiat Chrysler more than other automakers (FCAU)

mary barra donald trump Sergio marchionneGetty Images

Chrysler infamously had to be bailed out by the federal government in 2009, before going into bankruptcy and then being taken over by Fiat. 

After the financial crisis, Chrysler was by far the weakest of the so-called “Big Three” US automakers. President Obama’s Auto Task Force, led by former investment banker and “Car Czar” Steven Rattner, wanted to let the automaker go. But Fiat and it’s ambitious, unconventional CEO Sergio Marchionne arrived at the right time.

Since then, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has thrived in a US sales boom heavy on pickup trucks and SUVs, staged an IPO, and spun off Ferrari as a separate company.

None of that means FCA is well-situated, however, for the inevitable downturn in the auto industry, which is a highly cyclical and capital-intensive business.

Marchionne knows this and has been trying to get FCA merged up before the bottom falls out and he exits the stage in the next two years. So far, that’s been a non-starter: Marchionne’s efforts to court General Motors in 2015 came to nothing, but he still thinks a merger is a good idea. On FCA’s fourth-quarter earnings call last week, he told analysts that the new administration might like the idea of a GM-FCA tie-up that would create the world’s largest automaker, American-based.

Debt, debt, debt

The real problem for FCA is that it has a poor ratio of cash to debt relative to its peers, and although Marchionne is determined to wipe it out before he departs and leave the automaker with a clean balance sheet, FCA also has a number of plants in Mexico and could get hit harder by a renegotiation of NAFTA or a border tax.

That could be offset, as it would be for others automakers, by a corporate tax cut and business-friendly regulatory reform. But if you look at Ford and GM, each currently has the balance-sheet strength to handle a downturn; GM has said that it can break even in a US market where sales decline to 10 million or 11 million annual sales pace.

Jeep Grand CherokeeGetty Images

FCA competitors aren’t without their issues, but FCA is unique in being under the gun with Marchionne’s business agenda and on a knife’s edge as far the unknown impact of a future downturn. 

After the meeting with the new occupant of the White House last week, Marchionne said that “the set of economic parameters that President Trump has raised are overall positive for FCA.”

But he added, “What concerns me is asymmetrical treatment of some of these proposals, especially on the border tax side.” He said he’s concerned with “[h]ow many of them are doable within which period of time we’re talking about here – this is a two-year view up to the end of 2018.”

A concern that becomes a catastrophe

 Given this overall dynamic, the take offered by Larry P. Vellequette at Automotive News is spot on

[A]proposed “Border Tax” aimed at discouraging vehicle importation from Mexico won’t hurt FCA nearly as much as it will hurt its dealers and its customers. FCA still has more debt than it does cash. It can’t and won’t absorb a “border tax,” or move its Mexican operations to the U.S. Instead, it would simply pass that tax along to its dealers and customers, taking money out of their pockets and cutting sales.

In a downturn, lost sales aren’t what FCA needs, and if it can’t shed its debt load, what is now a concern could become a catastrophe. The carmaker could easily lose pickup and SUV sales to rival companies that are capable of making the border-tax deal work for them. Then it just becomes a beat-the-clock game of FCA trying to ride out the downturn with dwindling cash reserves.

And here’s the problem for Trump: the automaker employs workers and operates factories in the states where the President needs results to win re-election – Ohio, Michigan, Indiana. So a second bailout of FCA wouldn’t be out of the question.

NOW WATCH: ‘I’m gonna ask him who was his acting coach’: Trump mocks Schumer for ‘fake tears’ in wake of immigration ban

Andy Grove’s niece speaks out on behalf of immigrants

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel. He passed away in 2016.


Ann Crady Weiss, the niece of former Intel CEO Andy Grove, spoke out on behalf of immigrants in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the U.S. by immigrants from seven Muslim countries.

Crady Weiss’ story on NewCo Shift is yet another sign that the tech community is at odds with Trump on immigration policy. It also shows what one generation can learn from the hardships of the previous generation. Crady Weiss is a venture partner at True Ventures, but she wrote the post without identifying herself that way.

Crady Weiss wrote, “My uncle immigrated to the United States in 1956 with no assets, a brilliant mind, ambition, and a faith that America was a great country of opportunity. He escaped from Hungary, a country of communists, at the time a source of great fear among many US politicians. If the U.S. President at his time were making policy similar to our President today, my uncle would’ve never been allowed in the US. My uncle was a good and decent American who, until his death last year, contributed an incredible amount to this country.”

Grove died last year. He was one of the key figures of the information age, and he was famous for his hard-charging management style, summed up as “only the paranoid survive.” He was present as a founding employee at Intel, alongside founders Robert Noyce, who died in 1990, and Gordon Moore, who still survives as Intel’s chairman emeritus. Not only did Grove play a key role in making Intel into the world’s biggest chip maker, he also set the pace for competing in what has become a $347 billion global industry.

Crady Weiss noted that Grove, who survived the Holocaust and crossed the border into the West at great risk after the Hungarian Revolution, never forgot his humble beginnings.

She wrote, “He was riddled with symptoms of Parkinson’s, but made it a point to say something. ‘As we sit here and celebrate what we have done, let’s remember that millions of young people who had the misfortune of being born in the wrong national boundaries are going through all the horrors [I did]. I made it. Let’s try to help them.’”

She added, “This is my attempt. We are so very lucky to live in this great country where we can speak our minds no matter what our views. I am absolutely sure that the vast majority of Americans, in their heart of hearts, want to help those in need. I am also sure that we reject the notion that we should summarily ban the next Andy Grove from the US because of the country he happened to be born in. Please speak up in the name of the millions of young people who cannot speak up on their own. Please speak in the best way you think you will be heard.”

And she closed with criticism for Trump, saying, “The man in the White House today lost the popular vote and won the electoral college because of a couple hundred thousand votes going his way. He has the lowest approval ratings of any other President at the same time in office. America will reject him when next allowed. In the meantime, let’s all stand up and make what we stand for known.”