I joined Architect as our first Customer Success hire because after almost ten years in customer-facing roles I’ve developed some strong opinions about what it means to build a successful and ethical CS team. I want to take our theory and practice of customer success beyond the notions of “customer focus,” “definition of success,” “empathy,” and so on, to consider the ethics of how we manifest these concepts in our organizational cultures. For me, this is the “why” of what we do, which animates the what and the how. So while I do want to say something about the specific steps we’re taking as we embark on our journey to build a customer success team, I want to do that within the frame of a clear explanation of why we care about making our customers successful.
People before money
I think most of us want to do work that’s both meaningful and provides enough not just to survive but to thrive. Money is an instrument of thriving, but it isn’t the main event. Maybe we’re thinking about how we support our families and how we can build meaningful relationships with co-workers. Maybe we’re thinking about our industry and how we can improve people’s lives because we care about those people. Regardless, the why of what we do is the people, and the relationships we have with them.
So if it’s not the money but the people, then what does this mean for how we talk about customer success? For starters, it means that some of those words we like to use, like “empathy” and “relationship” are valuable in and of themselves and not simply a means to an end. It means that we center the voice of the customer not because it’s going to get us an upsell or a renewal, but because that’s how we make sure that we’re prioritizing the vitality of our community and advancing toward its goals.
Customer success metrics
In practical terms, this means building a CS team around metrics that relate to customer happiness and measurable success against our customer’s objectives, our objectives as a company, and the objectives of the communities we serve. One dimension along which we measure success might be “adoption”:
- What problems is the customer trying to solve?
- Which of those problems can we help with?
- How can we make sure we’re solving as many problems as we can solve across as much of the organization as possible?
Another dimension along which we measure success might be “customer experience” and “customer satisfaction,” which talk about individuals’ subjective experience of working with us.
- Are we getting in the way? Or are we part of the solution?
- How can we best contribute to your daily happiness while you do your job?
- How can we make you feel supported?
Building a customer-focused culture
So what are we doing at Architect today, to start building a customer-focused culture, that centers on the customer and prioritizes relationships?
- We want to make communication with us easier and more predictable. To do this, we’re announcing that anyone can reach out to us at any time about anything at all through our public support portal, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We want to make communication with us more predictable so that enterprise customers can manage expectations and guarantee support to their own customers in reliance on us, so we are rolling out a same business day response SLA for all paid customers.
- We want to make communication more transparent, so we are allowing anyone to create an account at support.architect.io to be able to view their ticket history and statuses.
- Additionally, all paid customers can join us on a direct chat channel where we can coordinate and collaborate around issues and initiatives.
We want to hear from you. Tell us what’s working, and tell us what isn’t working. Tell us what you’d like us to do more of, and tell us what you’d like us to do less of. We’re here to simplify software development and deployment because we care about developers, and we care about what we’re building together. We look forward to hearing from you.