Key lessons from Chris Rauch, EVP of Customer Success, Sage

Jun 19, 2019

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For Sage, customer success is one of our strategic pillars. So, what do we mean by it? Crucially, I think it’s essential to think about customer success as not simply a function or role, nor simply a strategy. It really has to be both.

Sage is focused on being a leading SaaS business. And that changes the way that we engage with our customers and, perhaps more importantly, the way they think about us. We know when our customers renew their subscription, they think about the value they have and will receive from us. It is this value that we have to deliver on. We operate in a very competitive landscape – a lot of people want our customers. And it’s much easier today for a customer to cancel a contract. So every interaction we have has to count. We need to make sure that we focus persistently on what customer success really means and how we deliver it.

Our formula for customer success is customer engagement + customer experience + operational excellence. With the volume of customers that Sage has, we have to engage with them as effectively and efficiently as possible, offer them a compelling experience and execute with operational excellence.

To achieve that means making sure your customer success team has the right mindset. And we’ve found a number of key ways to bring that about. The first is simply the language that we use. Engage people in conversations about what it means to make the customer successful. When people start to think about it, they realise that everyone in the organisation – from front to back office - has an impact on customer success. That extends from salespeople selling the right thing to set the customer up for success, to the finance team managing accurate and timely payments.

How people’s performance is measured is also a key lever to change their mindset and behaviour. After all, what gets measured gets done. So as part of our engagement with PwC, we changed our approach to measurement. We developed metrics that go beyond just the hard numbers, for example also capturing how the customer feels about their interactions with us.  

And we now measure the individual as well as the team performance. Measuring individual performance holds everyone to account for their results and leads to a better performance all-round as everyone is encouraged to up their game. Working with PwC was critical to achieving that. They secured the trust of our people and helped identify the critical areas that we needed to address. We now have all members of the team reporting their performance on a daily basis. And that also makes it much easier to spot individuals who may need coaching and support from their manager and their colleagues.

The major lesson I would point to in terms of approaching customer-led transformation? You have to understand where you are transforming from and where you want to go. That means starting with a very detailed view, based on in-depth data, that tells you exactly where you are today. Once you have that, you can make and measure your progress. But if you don’t know where you’re starting from, your journey is unlikely to be successful.

If you’re interested to learn more about the customer led transformation at Sage then read the case study