When it comes to customer success, you have to focus on your internal culture. As I’ve said before, what’s on the inside shows up on the outside. Given this concept, how do you develop your team, evaluate them, and put them in a position to succeed? In today’s conversation, Catherine Blackmore, Global Vice President of Customer Success at Oracle, walks us through the evolution of the purpose of customer success.
When Catherine joined Oracle over 4 years ago, she was a part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud team, which operated as a separate business unit. During this time, Oracle acquired five companies and Catherine’s role was to bring them into one customer success model.
As someone who has evolved in their own role within the organization, Catherine provides a lot of valuable insight into this specific aspect of customer experience. I encourage you to listen to the full episode, as this is a lengthy discussion with a lot of takeaways.
Work on the Long Tail of Customer Success
Understanding the various customer needs across all businesses was the first part of uniting these companies into one model. Catherine shares that she met with the entire leadership team to start working on the long tail of customer success.
“The first thing before we even got into a room and started throwing things on a whiteboard, was all about listening to our customers. What are our customers telling us? What are they saying? What are they telling us that we’re not doing or are doing? What do they value? What are the missing pieces? I mean, those are all the core data points that would point us towards what would ultimately be the thing we’d fix.”
Next, Catherine tells us that after gathering the data, they worked to understand who they consider a “red account customer.” We see this type of categorization in many SaaS and subscription-based companies.
Catherine explains that this term refers to a customer “who is not happy, is ready to walk out the door.” She says, “I want to know why? I want to talk to that customer, what is their experience? What caused them to want to leave? And then separately, I want to know which customers are successful, why are they green? Why are they still here? What is it about the technology or the experience with the company or the team? What kept them here?”
We realized it's all about listening to our customers. What are our customers telling us? What are they telling us we're not doing or are doing? Catherine Blackmore, GVP Customer Success @Oracle Click To Tweet
Employee Success = Customer Success
Catherine worked with some of the customer success managers that were acquired when Oracle gained the extra companies in order to unify the teams across the board.
Catherine says, “The unification was leading to more successful customers, lower churn rates, and a better experience. And it wasn’t just, my team, it was the entire group that really changed the way we were working to better serve the customer. We asked, what’s the role? What’s the purpose? What does this role need to look like? We realized we needed to standardize and have one customer success rolling approach.”
Importantly, Catherine says, “All of our departments need to know what success looks like.” She goes on the clarify, “That’s where great benchmarking data and knowledge and know-how comes in. We need to educate when we actually even sell to our customers at the very first time. It’s not just about what the technology does, right? What are the outcomes that are possible? Why are you buying it and how will you sell it inside the company in value inside the company. Right?”
Catherine has a point because as we know, you need executive buy-in in order to invest in a SaaS product – you need to prove that investing in such a service is worth it.
Catherine goes on further to explain the profiles of the person who can be successful in customer success and who would be successful in this type of work. Please listen to the full episode.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“Lately, in particular, because this all relates to this just huge charter of change management; it’s just that I’m constantly a student of it. It’s that, this challenge, the work that we are doing, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being it’s about being agile.”
About Catherine BlackmoreCatherine is a thought leader and innovator in the area of Customer Success, with over 20 years of experience helping a diverse list of clients from small business to Fortune 100 customers.
Catherine has published numerous blogs, eBooks and whitepapers on the structure, programs, and operational framework for Customer Success organizations and is rated among the Top 50 Influencers to Follow in Customer Success.
As GVP, Customer Success, Catherine is responsible for delivering great experiences and ongoing business value to Oracle’s Cloud customers.