Customer Connection

Written by UVL Uppuluri

April 27, 2021

The secret sauce of Customer Success

I defined and built the highly successful Customer Success category and discipline at Splunk, resulting in more than 100x growth in adoption, 10x in revenue, largest customers, biggest transactions, and moving the needle from “What is Customer Success?” to Customer Success becoming the #1 priority for the business. This was during my journey with Splunk from less than $100M to over $2B in revenue, and it was a great ride. As we ramp up Customer Success at Customers-First Cribl, I’ve realized that what I enjoy the most are the durable relationships I build with the customers (and even their families sometimes. For example, getting asked by a customer/friend’s daughter to record a birthday video for her mom), apart from all the metrics above. I would like to share below my version of the secret sauce of Customer Success, especially for large enterprise accounts, notably B2B or B2B2C.

Most people talk about Customer experience (CX) and Customer Success (CS = CX + Customer Outcomes). But a big part of CS is Customer Connection (CC) also referred to sometimes as Circles of Influence (CI) or Intimacy and Empathy, especially in the strategic account space. 

How do you get a better CC? The table below is in ascending order, to get to better CC with “Customer is/as Ruler”:

Quality of Customer Connection

The quality of customer connection defines success

Another way to look at quality of Customer Connections:

Move to the center for a closer connection with customers

Usually, vendor CSMs don’t gravitate to higher quality connections as Sales usually builds these relationships, albeit in a transactional context. CSMs are incentivized for longer term and they are freed up to be farmers instead of hunters, to progress  from the red to greener circles. The greater the interaction or time spent in mindful and purposeful interactions, the greater the chances of progressing  into the higher levels of CC.  To best achieve these levels of CC it’s critical for the CSM to care about the customers as individuals as these can’t be faked by shallow kindness or be driven only to achieve specific business or adoption outcomes.  It’s clear to the customer that the CSM will be there through thick and thin. The proverbial used car salesman approach to getting to know someone doesn’t fly at this level. Authenticity can’t be faked. 

This trust is built over time, with some of the representative actions below:

What   Why   How
Agree on customer outcomes Customers like when goals are aligned and if you can make them look good Genuine curiosity and interest,  where it does not feel like a chore but fun
Spend time researching the customer Customers like that you care Publicly available material, reference, social media info, etc.
Optimize the amount of time spent with the customer Appreciate your willingness Be respectful of their time
Duration of contacts Attachment and trust builds over time Cadence of calls, office visits, QBRs
Be there Being available and someone to be counted on Be there in their maintenance windows, even if outside regular work hours
Be responsive Customers want to be heard, even if it is not the solution, and hate silence Customers are not research projects, they want a quick response if not a resolution. Being available off-hours, and emails on the same day, etc.
Get things done In the end, customers want results Keep your promises and do what you say you will do, consistently
Practice personal empathy Like someone who understands their business goals but also personal constraints and situations Get to know their professional, and more importantly, personal situation (daycare pickup time constraints, family situation, social life, likes and dislikes, etc.)
Purpose-driven Initially and later, what gets measured and how Identify and measure KPIs (value, outcomes) with genuine empathy

My future blogs will discuss how to scale Customer Success efforts and other nuances such as segmentation, relevance of other connection levels, etc. Want to hear what customers really have to say about how they are using Cribl LogStream to help solve their biggest observability challenges? Join the Cribl Community and share what you are doing. You can also check out our Docs pages for more in-depth look at our products.

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