In the whirlwind that was 2023, technology companies faced myriad challenges, from economic uncertainties to rapid market shifts. Amidst this turmoil, customer success teams emerged as pivotal players in retaining business and bolstering confidence among clients. 

Despite turbulent times, the landscape of customer success has transformed to better serve clients. Faced with budget constraints and a pressing need to do more with less, CS teams harnessed the power of AI and digital tools to enhance their operational sophistication. 

A 2023 Customer Leadership Survey of over 1,200 CS leaders by ChurnZero, SaaStr, ESG and HubSpot revealed that 78 percent of companies adopted or are planning to adopt AI in their CS operations within a year.

Despite the adoption of AI, the human element remains crucial. Likewise, the success of these teams isn’t just in their adoption of technology; it’s in their strategic shift in focus and personal touch. This irreplaceable element proved consequential in building trust and fostering long-term relationships.

Rather than reactively addressing customers’ issues, CS teams have pivoted toward proactive strategies for churn reduction, renewals and revenue expansion. This shift meant diving deep into metrics, understanding customer journeys and harnessing data to drive decisions.

CS professionals from Blueprint Test Prep and SailPoint shared how their teams responded to the trends and challenges that defined 2023 to better support their customers.

With 2024 on the horizon, these teams are carrying forward the lessons from the past year, poised to set new benchmarks in customer success. 

 

Morgan King
Customer Onboarding Manager • SailPoint

SailPoint provides identity security solutions that secure and enable thousands of companies globally, offering comprehensive visibility into their digital workforce and ensuring precise access rights for efficient and safe operations.

 

What trends or changes did you notice in supporting your customers over the last year? What lessons from these experiences will you bring into 2024?

It’s no secret that budgets and resources have been tight for companies this year, but what makes working in identity security such an interesting opportunity is that our services are business essential. My goal is to ensure new customers who are just starting their identity security journey receive value from SailPoint as quickly as possible. We organize networking calls for our customers to connect and learn from each other. The insights and knowledge shared during these sessions have been invaluable to new customers — it’s definitely something we’ll continue in 2024.

 

2023 was a turbulent year across the tech industry. How did you support your clients in addressing their needs and retaining their business?

As a customer onboarding manager, I’m always thinking about how I can improve and streamline a customer’s onboarding experience. Time to value is very important in the onboarding phase of a project to ensure customers receive value before their renewal. We want to ensure stakeholders recognize all that SailPoint’s identity security solution can offer and how it is essential to securing their business. 

 

“I’m always thinking about how I can improve and streamline a customer’s onboarding experience.”

 

If a customer hasn’t started to see a return on their investment at the time of renewal, the opportunity to retain their business is at risk. Luckily, that doesn’t tend to happen at SailPoint. As one customer recently put it: “SailPoint’s Identity Security Platform is bleeding edge and makes it very easy to enable the business and users to deliver a quality identity access management service to the enterprise.”

 

What advice do you have for those looking to shift into a CS role in the next year? 

Be flexible and learn from your peers. I let my customers know early on that I am their advocate, and I can only advocate for them if they provide honest feedback about their experience. For my job, I believe being an active listener is critical to customers feeling confident sharing their journey with you. I also think it’s important to be efficient. Whether it’s writing short, to-the-point follow-up notes after calls to make sure everyone’s aligned or building templates to scale our processes, we know our customers’ time is valuable, so our goal is always to be efficient, effective partners.

 

Tavon Whitener
Director of Student Success • Blueprint Test Prep

 Blueprint Test Prep is a high-stakes test prep provider that offers comprehensive services for pre-law, pre-med, medical students and aspiring nurse practitioners, blending advanced technology with education to deliver personalized learning experiences.

 

What trends or changes did you notice in supporting your customers over the last year? What lessons from these experiences will you bring into 2024?

Many trends have surfaced over the last year: customer journey mapping, the AI revolution, ongoing customer support with onboarding and education and increasing ways to adopt customer feedback in a data-driven way. Our learners have provided us with a ton of feedback to act on, and we use our best data points to help drive product improvements for an overall better customer experience.

 

2023 was a turbulent year across the tech industry. How did you support your clients in addressing their needs and retaining their business? 

In the B2C landscape, our customers expect innovation, exceptional experiences, and timely, relevant, impactful services. Our customer success team has leaned into adopting AI to better assist and support our learners in these ways.

For example, we use AI chat support to provide prompt replies to customer inquiries and service requests. We can utilize AI tools to point learners to additional resources and help center articles to help them have a deeper understanding of our products and how to utilize them. Our CS team can boost CSAT responses and NPS through friendly or formal communication based on individual customer experiences, which our AI tools also help enhance.

 

“We can utilize AI tools to point learners to resources and help center articles to help them have a deeper understanding of our products.”

 

There are a multitude of ways being on the cutting edge and adoption of new technologies makes sense for CS teams and helping to grow and retain customers as the digital world continues to evolve.

 

What advice do you have for those looking to shift into a CS role in the next year? 

I have always advocated for candidates looking to upskill. This can include developing a customer-centric mindset, understanding CRMs and sharpening closing skills.

But a key tenet that is always a bit forgotten is seeking a mentor or coach from whom you can bounce ideas off and take feedback. I would also say building close relationships with teams across product, marketing and operations is key to success whether you are in the B2C or B2B landscape. Having a deep understanding of the product you are selling will help with retention and navigating the customer to use the product tools to their full potential.

 

 

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