Defining Client Success
I’ve recently joined Metal Toad as Director of Client Success. My role here is to hone the vision for successful, long-term partnerships with our Clients. I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to an already successful and talented team of Toads.
So, what exactly is Client Success?
In my mind, Client Success is a strategy of being proactive with Clients as opposed to a reactive, more traditional customer service experience. Anticipating Client needs and expectations - with the deliverable being the successful resolution of a business challenge - is not an entirely new concept. It is, however, getting more attention these days in hyper-competitive business environments. The Client-vendor experience needs to be differentiated, not just the product or service.
In a software-web development agency environment - where Client retention and monthly account renewals in the traditional SaaS model are not necessarily the name of the game - it remains paramount to build a portfolio of Clients whose subjective experience in working with you as a vendor (across all teams) is on par with the objective quality of the product or service you deliver. Client Success is the responsibility of everyone, from our executives, strategists, project managers and developers and that mentality is well adopted here at Metal Toad.
In the agency setting, projects do come to an end and Clients move on to other business challenges that may not involve you as their partner. Often, this is where most organizations tend to stumble. One of the objectives of a Client Success leader is to nurture those relationships, in partnership with your business development team, to ensure that you continue to “show up” between projects. Client Success is being genuinely interested in the long term outcome of the project and monitoring and discussing the client’s organizational evolution. As important, is maintaining a personal connection to the key stakeholders and your internal champions, who we call “Heroes.”
Even in a deeply technical agency environment, this is still a people business - where the Client’s budget and stakeholder’s or product owner’s personal reputation are on the line. I’ve encountered several organizations where the team lost sight of the customer experience and was mired in internal policy, process, technical details, and frustration with Client expectations. It was always humbling to be on-site, standing face-to-face with the Client and be reminded of the complexities of their business beyond what you wanted to accomplish. A Client Success strategy strives to reinforce the importance of the human in the overall success equation.
Again, Client relationships do end. As the project nears completion, there are a variety of obstacles that prevent the continuation of the partnership, including executive turnover, merger or acquisition, lack of awareness of the Client’s current business challenges, and budget and economic uncertainty.
Mitigating those obstacles can be challenging, but homebase for an agency like Metal Toad is to focus on the Client experience before, during, and after the project. We remember that this is a people business and that the mission is to always be of service and help our Clients discover the world’s best technology and processes.