“In traditional businesses, the customer relationship ends with a purchase. But in subscription business, the customer relationship begins with the purchase.”
Back in the day when buying software, we would buy a very expensive license for the software, someone would come to install it and the software company would forget about us once they received payment.
But my my my, how the tables have turned.
Now customer relationship sits in the driver seat and dictates a company’s success. That’s why getting the customer relationship right is incredibly important but it’s no easy task.
In this post, we are recapping the episode “The Power of Language in Customer Relationships with Yamini Rangan (CCO, Dropbox)” from The Customer Success Podcast.
Yamini Rangan is the Chief Customer Officer at Dropbox. Twenty-three years ago, she started her tech career as an engineer and then went off to business school. She’s worked at SAP where Bill McDormit, the CEO of ServiceNow, was her lead. She had the opportunity to visit customers to talk about the value of technology. During these visits, she was able to learn from some master class customer-oriented executives and how they aimed to do the right thing for the customers. For Yamini, Bill was a big inspiration.
From there, she then translated this role into strategy and after spending a lot of time in front of customers, she was able to understand buying patterns. Her job was to help companies scale their go-to-market organizations. She was responsible for helping these companies expand into new markets as well as spearhead Customer Success initiatives in a SaaS world.
The Customer Success Podcast aims to uncover the stories, perspectives, and best practices around the leading Customer Success programs. Hosted by Allison Pickens(Chief Customer Officer at Gainsight), she shares those stories alongside an all-star roster of special guests.
Let’s get into our top 3 takeaways:
What is a CCO
Silos between customer-facing Orgs
Listening to your customer to help your teams
What is a CCO
Chief Customer Officers (CCO) is a title that seems to be coming up a lot!
And Yamini says that it comes down to the subscription economy and the business models that this economy has formed, it’s all about customers.
There’s no way you can run a business at scale without putting customers first. For the last ten years in the software/cloud space, it’s really forced companies to think about customers.
At Dropbox, she started thinking about the core customer value they deliver and the way to deepen that value was by making every interaction they have with the customer frictionless.
If you think about that, every single time there’s a customer interaction with the team, there’s a friction point so this led her to think about friction points across marketing, sales, etc., and that’s what generated the thought process at Dropbox.
In order to deliver a frictionless experience, you have to bring together a set of teams that talk to customers on a day to day and help them holistically solve their problems.
That’s where a CCO comes in!
CCO v. CRO
You might’ve also heard of the title Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) but Yamini wanted a title that represented the north star which is the customer. CRO seems inward-facing instead of human-oriented.
Yamini urges more companies to start thinking about what they’re projecting with their titles and how they describe the customer journey. Companies have a tendency to say things like “reduce churn” or “acquire”. Allison chimed in to point out that customers will never reach out to a company and say “can you acquire me”?
Silos between customer-facing teams
During her first two years at Dropbox, Yamini did a listening tour. She was out to understand what was working, what wasn’t and get a pulse of what each team felt their purpose was.
She found that everyone in Sales had a similar answer, their purpose is to grow. But growth seemed too vague to Yamini, she didn’t understand what this growth was considering, the timeframe (growth this month, quarter, etc.) and what was fueling this “growth”.
She then went to Customer Success who said their purpose was to drive adoption and help with upsell/cross-sell.
And Support was focused on improving NPS.
To Yamini, all of these purposes were great, but if the teams didn’t bring it all together, they weren’t working on delivering the core customer value.
These teams couldn’t succeed by focusing on team goals because the goals were all dependant on each other. It’s part of the journey where companies scale and become more siloed. Yamini’s pitch is to bring parts of the organizations that are customer-facing together and orient them towards what they’re delivering to the customers and break down the silos.
But there’s more than just talking to these teams about these goals, you also have to walk the walk or make things happen.
For Dropbox, it’s about bringing Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience/Customer Education, together.
Talking the talk is all about having a common purpose, and after talking to all teams, that common purpose was this: Amplifying the Voice of the Customer(VoC) to drive differentiation and therefore enable growth.
The primary job for all of the teams was their common purpose and then they may have a secondary purpose like growing sales, etc.
Listening to your customers to help your teams
Yamini was listening to a call where the agent was struggling to figure out what the customer was experiencing.
The agent couldn’t see what the customer was seeing because the agent didn’t have the ability to screen share. This went back and forth for a bit:
Agent: “tell me what’s on your screen”
Agent: “can you click on this button”
Customer: “I don’t see that button”
After the conversation was over, she talks to the agent to understand what happened. The obvious question was why couldn’t the agent share their screen? The agent said, “well we have a security policy that prevents us from sharing if the customer hasn’t signed an agreement with us.”
So Yamini went back to the team internally and figured out what’s happening with the policy. She got the right Terms of Condition in front of the customer and the problem was solved.
And she does this everywhere! Even with sales during negotiations because contracts and deadlines get a bit frustrating.
This was the second part of her journey, having a listening post. These posts are different avenues in which she could listen to customers. She spends hours each quarter doing this! She recommends that every executive finds time to do the same.
Ultimately, by listening to customers, she’s able to break through red tape in the service of the customer!
A CCO aims to reduce friction in customer-facing experiences
All customer-facing teams should align on one purpose
Find the time to listen to your customers to drive customer relationship + reduce friction