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4 key takeaways from Pulse Europe

 

If you were in any doubt if customer success was just a buzzword or a maybe even a fad, then Gainsight have been totally crushing all doubts through Pulse, the Customer Success conference that they organise and sponsor and brought to Europe for the first time, 3 years after the first Pulse was held in San Francisco.

Impressively, Pulse is growing as fast as Dreamforce did in it’s first three years! I don’t know whether the Anthony Kennada, VP Marketing at Gainsight and his team are stoked or thinking holy cow at the prospect of one day potentially bringing San francisco to a stand still and having 150,000 customer success advocates at the Moscone centre.

Nick Mehta, Gainsights affable, CEO kicked Pulse Europe off, dressed as James Bond I might add, and emphasised to an already sold crowd that Passion is the most important thing in any movement. Passion for Customer Success was plain to see in the speakers and the audience throughout the day. This was a community of more than 450 people, from 200 companies and 22 different countries, all here to learn, support, advocate and spread the importance of customer success. No doubt they’ll be doing that because of Pulse and events like it.

Here are my 4 takeaways from Pulse Europe 2015:

1. Deliver outcomes not products

One of the first key messages, i’d also heard a couple of weeks back at the Zuora Subscribed conference. Deliver Outcomes not products was the mantra from Tien Tzuo then and now from Nick Mehta and Dan Steinman, Chief Customer Officer in the opening keynote. Why?

Because the costs to start companies are lower than ever before. Crazily lower. This means more competition. Not just more, a ton more competition. How can you compete then? A great place to start is by focusing on delivering outcomes not products.

Free Trials. Freemium models. It’s the age of low friction to sign up for services you want and need to use. Of course, this now also means lower friction to leave, hence the importance and emergence of customer success. How can you ringfence this low friction to leave and help reduce churn? Focus on customer success.

We’re now living in the age of the relationship economy where vendor success and Customer Success is intertwined. We are no longer selling products, but outcomes. The sooner you adapt to that, the better chance you have of being successful.

2. Customer Success is more than churn reduction

Customer Success = Churn reduction. No brainer right? Well, not quite. Churn is the low hanging fruit for Customer Success team. The risk management process and department to protect customers from leaving.

Lincoln Murphy, Gainsights Chief Evengalist, whilst not present at Pulse Europe owing to other commitments, discusses acceptable churn rates in this article on his customer success bible blog Sixteen Ventures . 5-7% annually is stated to be an acceptable churn rate.

If churn is effectively managed, then there is more customer up-sell opportunities and more mature client relationships to benefit from. Customer Success needs to be viewed as a driver of growth, not just as a process to manage churn. Now, not in the future.

3. Customer Success Trends do a hockey stick impression

Proof is in the pudding. Customer Success is looking like the cliched hockey curve right now. It’s on an up and too the right trend. Dan Steinman, Chief Customer Officer and pretty good Austin Powers impersonator (you had to be there), talked us through some impressive data points on customer success trends.

Those included:

    • Customer Success jobs – up and to the right. According to LinkedIN, there were more than 1800 new customer success jobs created in 2015.
    • Social media conversations – up and to the right. Social media conversations on customer success are predicted to grow from around 10,000 in 2012 to a forecast 150,000 + in 2015.
    • Pulse attendance – Up and to the right. 300 people attended the first Pulse conference in 2013. 3000 members of the customer success community attended in May 2015. 10X growth in 3 years.

Customer Success is hot right now.

4. Community

Pulse is a community event. Not a Gainsight conference. There were no product pitches. No Product demo’s. There was very little mention in fact of Gainsight themselves. All The attention was on Customer Success and Gainsights customers. In my book this is how it should be.

And if you are a SaaS Startup, looking to host your own community events or even your first customer conference. Take a leaf out of Gainsight’s book. Customer first. Community first. Your customers can become your best advocates.

Conclusion

If you’re not already focusing on delivering outcomes, then do so today.

Churn reduction is of course a key metric to be managed well via customer success but if you’re not already doing so today, start to think about using customer success to grow your company.

Start to get involved in a community. Whether you are building it or participating. Start to think about your first customer conference. bring them together. Bring potential new customers. Let your current customers do the selling. Start early.

Take these points onboard for your SaaS Startup. Customer success is heating up, Gainsight are the industry benchmark, Pulse is the forum for the movement. Watch out dreamforce.

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