I attended Gainsight’s Pusle conference on customer success, held in San Francisco, on May 12 and 13. This conference, which focused on the economic value of customer success, actionable customer success best practices and insight from customer success practitioners, drew over 2000 attendees across 20 countries. This was more than double the size of last year's conference. The speaker list read like a who’s who in the world of young B2B SaaS companies: Apttus, Box, Zuora, Yelp, Satmetrix, MindTouch, Zendesk, Influitive, InsideSales, Docusign, Atlassian amongst others, as well as more established companies such as SAP, ATT, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Workday. It also drew a long list of VC luminaries including Roger Lee from Battery Ventures, Jason Lemkin from Storm Ventures and SaaStr, Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint Ventures and Ajay Agrawal from Bain Capital Ventures,.
So why the interest in customer success?
- Our world has moved to a subscription economy. Categories like media and entertainment and telecommunications have fully embraced this model. Other industries like publishing, computer storage, healthcare, are moving in this direction. This shift is most notable in B2B software.
- In this subscription economy, the economic value of a customer is realized over time, instead of up-front at the initial sale. This means that the duration of the customer relationship has a greater economic impact on the company’s financial health. Being successful in a subscription economy requires that companies actively manage their customers during their engagement relationship to ensure that they are realizing the economic value of their purchase.
- Actively managing customer success has an easily calculated ROI as measured in decreased churn rates, revenue expansion and advocacy. Investors and Wall Street are increasingly focusing on churn metrics as an indicator of long term company performance and profitability.
Gainsight has been an early advocate of the importance of customer success – not only because of its products, but because it has done a good job at articulating best practices, creating courseware to train customer success managers, and creating an industry job board for an ever growing profession.
Customer success is here to stay. Gainsight says that the number of customer success job listings on LinkedIn has increased by 300% this year. A study by Crimson Hexagon also indicated that social media conversations around Customer Success have increased over 500%. The success of this conference is a testament to this growing role which benefits the entire vendor ecosystem that is dedicated to operationalizing customer success.