Becoming Head of Customer Success at a successful company where customer success is already successful – the easiest job ever?

Why did I make a move from a growing product career to the world of customer success? It’s a good question and its something I can give some insight to.

Making a move away from a company after 8 years is always going to be difficult, especially when you don’t have a plan for moving. However, I reached a point in time where I felt taking time off would be beneficial for me, my family and eventually my career. Little did I know this would be shorter lived than initially thought and soon I would be back doing what I enjoy most about working – making a difference.

Finding a passion in Customer Success

In the world of product management, you are faced with multiple daily challenges as you face so many parts of a business. It is an ever-growing list of to-dos and an ever-shortening timeline. It creates a sense of urgency every day and it drives you to be forever strategic, but it also highlights to you where in the business things don’t work (although you can be mostly powerless to change them).

The idea of having the responsibility for a single product can also give you tunnel vision, and you can find yourself isolated in your thoughts of how you want to evolve that product to be what it is as you see it.

When you eventually take a step back and see things through a wider lens it soon becomes apparent that whatever you consider a product, whether it’s the feature you’re creating or the journey you’re building, is just a creation of something that will enable others to succeed at what they are trying to do.

Therefore, it’s this inherent desire to enable success that carries over from product to almost any business function. This still doesn’t answer the question of how I arrived at making that decision so I will continue...

I spent some time whilst building products digging into where I get my energy from to drive that creative side of me which powered me through the day. When I really think about it, it was obvious – I want users of my product to love it because it gives them something that enables them to be better at their job and to provide their business with a valuable asset...

The core of what I love doing is being able to deliver on both of those and by doing so I support my own growth as well as that of the company. It was this mentality that gave me the confidence to take a different path, a path that would eventually allow me to really expand on how I felt about true customer success.

My journey to Webtrends Optimize

Webtrends Optimize is not a new company, it’s not a start-up or a small-time operation. It has been trading for over 5 years as it is today, and in reality, a lot longer (the platform was launched in 2000).

I have watched the path of growth since I spoke with Sandeep Shah (Product Director) a few years back. It was earlier this year I really started to notice things getting louder and busier for Webtrends Optimize, they seemed to be talked about more and more.

A few more months passed and as I mention above I had by this point taken the decision to pause what I was doing and to take my break. But then came my sliding doors moment; a chance meeting meant Sandeep and I crossed paths again and it was obvious immediately that there was a clear mutual feeling that there could be an opportunity for me to be part of Webtrends Optimize.

I had expected it would be at least a month or two before I would be considering what to do next, but as it happened, it wasn’t, the conversations escalated quickly and before I knew it we were discussing the detail of what would become my current role.

Based off my feelings from those conversations I had an expectation coming in that there was a lot to do both for short term efficiency and for long term success. I also believed, because this was going to be my focus, that I would be coming into a business where customer success had not been priority and there would be a big effort to promote this, but this was where I was wrong, very wrong.

It didn’t take long to establish that customer success was already the priority and supporting customers to achieve what they need is put first against anything else. In a short period of time, I found myself thinking back to my product management days and I reminded myself of what customer success is; a culture of enabling customers to reach beneficial outcomes and it was exactly what I was seeing here.

Its something everyone has energy for and it’s the driving force of the company of which everyone is aligned to. I found myself in a customer success role within a successful business where customers success was already successful.

Although I had to see it with my own eyes, none of this was really a surprise, the conversations I had with Sandeep and Matt (Smith) had already told me this would be the case and the numbers of renewing customers spoke of nothing but success.

The conversations we had were around ‘how do we make this even better’ and ‘how do we adjust it to support the continued growth’, both areas I knew I could make an impact. Before Webtrends Optimize, I was defining how a feature or a capability was going to empower a user to achieve an outcome, now I was defining how to achieve these outcomes across the lifecycle of every user way before they even pick up the Webtrends Optimize product.

A product that delivers everything you need and more

The bonus here is that the product speaks for itself. I’ve worked for a company before with a product that vastly outmaneuvers products seemingly better than itself, and we would regularly challenge enterprise level solutions and win.

Webtrends Optimize was the same. The product was more than capable, and it delivered everything it needed to and more. I quickly established that having this great product as a foundation would provide clear goals for me to create even more value and to give all our users the ability to push themselves further than they have been until now.

I could lean on the vast array of capabilities in the product (which complement the testing), to drive this, such as social proofing and product recommendations amongst others. Things that make our users lives easier, things that can enhance an optimisation strategy without needing extra resource, and things that can be impactful in an incredibly short space of time.

How do I make more people fall in love with our product? How do I ensure we deliver value efficiently and consistently? How do I take everyone on the same journey I am on of achieving great things and enabling customers to do the same? These are the questions that give me that energy and the driving force to dedicate myself to answering and solving the true meaning of customer success. All of those small steps I took to build the products ultimately culminate to deliver those same outcomes, but on a much larger scale and with a greater opportunity than I have had before.

How can I turn what I love into more of what I do?

It’s that last piece of this blog that answers that first question, why did I make that decision to step away from product to customer success?

The answer is simply that I focused on what I enjoyed most about work and what I got the most fulfillment from.

When I understood that, I could make a clear decision on what was next for my career. Luckily everything aligned for me and the opportunity here at Webtrends Optimize presented itself at a time when this was front of mind.

That chance to join an incredible business in a role that would give me huge opportunity and joy stemmed from taking a step back and really considering what exactly is it about what I do that I love?

If you know the answer to why users love your product, every product decision you make should be easy and it’s the same with you and your career; find what you love doing the most, harness it and find somewhere you can really use it.