Customer Success Is Spelled R-E-S-P-E-C-T

We spend a lot of time discussing strategies and sharing tactics on how to be great at Customer Success. Heck, we have a whole book, conference, blog site and online university on the topic.

But if I had to come up with the most foundational element to create a culture of Customer Success, it’s actually pretty simple.

Before I give you the secret, let me tell you a story.

A few weeks ago, I met two Customer Success leaders at a private, growth-stage SaaS company. They were very on top of their operational processes (onboarding, renewals, etc.) and knew their metrics cold.

But what stood out was something else.

This company sold to really technical innovators (R&D folks, for example) within the world’s largest companies. When I asked the Customer Success leaders about their clients, their faces started glowing.

They talked about the marvelous innovations their clients delivered. They talked about the brilliance of their clients. They talked about how much they had learned from their clients. They talked about how inspired they were by their clients.

The thing that stood out, in short, was that this team loved and respected their clients.

Why does this stand out?

So much of Customer Success can seem procedural – like a bad episode of “CSI” or “Law & Order:” renewal dates, opt-outs, NPS follow-up, onboarding tasks. But Customer Success at its heart has a much bigger mission: your clients are doing marvelous things in their businesses (hopefully) and you are helping them to achieve their mission using your product or service.

That’s why I think the key to Customer Success culturally is respecting your clients.

This is so different than what I often see:

  • Too many Customer Success orgs are condescending to their clients – nice on the phone but offline, they make fun of how poorly the clients understand their product or service.
  • Others are transactional. They go from one client to the second and third – “next number please” like a lunch counter.
  • And being nice isn’t enough – that’s just table stakes.

If you respect your clients, it shows through. It shows in your meetings, in your calls, and in your emails. Clients can sense it.

And those clients that are respected are more likely to renew, grow, and be advocates.

I thought about this post as I was in the post-event joy of our conference, Pulse 2016. I had a chance to meet 3,200 of our clients and potential clients. And I felt a love and appreciation for them that was almost like a drug.

Here’s my midnight tweet from the event:


So take a step back as a team:

  • Do you know your clients’ businesses?
  • Are you excited about THEIR missions?
  • Do you want them to succeed?

If you can’t answer those questions positively, your Customer Success efforts will be tactical and transactional at best.

Aretha Franklin taught us everything we need to know about Customer Success – R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Nick Mehta

As a huge sports fan, Nick thinks of his job as being like that of a head coach. His role is to help bring the right people together on the team and put them in the best position to win for our customers, partners, employees and their families. He’s a big believer in the Golden Rule and we try to apply it as much as we can to bring more compassion to our interactions with others. And he talks way too fast and overuses the word awesome like it’s going out of style. Before coming to Gainsight, Nick was the CEO of awesome leading Software-as-a-Service E-Discovery provider LiveOffice through its acquisition by Symantec and prior to that was a Vice President at VERITAS Software and Symantec Corporation.