Communication

Humans of CS vol. 03: Gozde Gorce | What are the most challenging lessons or moments in CS from 2023?

Humans of CS vol. 03: Gozde Gorce | What are the most challenging lessons or moments in CS from 2023?

Gozde, a seasoned Customer Success Leader with a decade of experience working with enterprise clients. Her journey in Customer Success encompasses leading teams, driving strategic initiatives, and refining processes to deliver unparalleled value to customers. Presently, she oversees the strategic Customer Success department at Apollo.io, a platform that integrates a vast buyer database with robust sales engagement and automation tools. Apollo.io, trusted by over 160,000 companies, including industry giants like Autodesk and Jasper.ai, serves more than a million users worldwide.

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Communication

Humans of CS vol. 03: Gozde Gorce | What are the most challenging lessons or moments in CS from 2023?

Lauren Davis
Product Marketing Manager
January 23, 2024

Gozde, a seasoned Customer Success Leader with a decade of experience working with enterprise clients. Her journey in Customer Success encompasses leading teams, driving strategic initiatives, and refining processes to deliver unparalleled value to customers. Presently, she oversees the strategic Customer Success department at Apollo.io, a platform that integrates a vast buyer database with robust sales engagement and automation tools. Apollo.io, trusted by over 160,000 companies, including industry giants like Autodesk and Jasper.ai, serves more than a million users worldwide.

What are the most challenging lessons or moments in CS from 2023?

2023 was a watershed moment for Customer Success (CS) in the tech industry, primarily shaped by the extensive layoffs that served as a reality check. These layoffs highlighted the need for CS teams to continually demonstrate their value, emphasizing efficiency and adaptability in a landscape of economic uncertainties. 

A significant revelation was the reassessment of hiring and salary trends post-Covid-19 pandemic, where the median tenure of laid-off employees was around two years, suggesting a recalibration of hiring policies. For example, as someone who is actively hiring, I can tell that our recruitment team pays more attention to the average tenure of candidates in their past experience than we used to in 2023 when hiring. This period taught us the importance of resilience, strategic operations, and the ability to innovatively prove the ongoing value of CS, not just in maintaining customer relationships but also in contributing tangibly to the company's success amidst changing economic conditions.

CS has evolved over the past few years; what does CS mean for an organization today?

The Customer Success (CS) landscape continues to evolve, maintaining its foundational goal of customer retention and growth while adapting to new strategies and technologies. A critical development is the blurring lines between high-touch (white-glove service) and low-touch (self-service) models, as automation increasingly delivers value across all customer tiers, from SMBs to strategic clients. This shift allows customer success managers (CSMs) to focus more on strategic thinking, which is identified as a crucial trait for success in CS roles.

What should the key metrics be for CS, apart from broadly applicable retention and growth?

In addition to NRR which is already encompassing retention, growth, churn and downsells, I would add improviving onboarding flow and experience by measuring NPS and feature + usage and adoption. The first 30-90 days of the customers journey determines everything. You should know by the 90th day whether the customer is forecasted to renew or churn by looking at their onboarding and adoption.

Predictions for CS in 2024? How will it look for CS teams; general trends; tools, etc?

The coming year, 2024, is poised to be transformative for Customer Success (CS). Key trends and developments are expected to redefine the landscape significantly. Here are the top 4 ones I’m excited about the most:

Increased Emphasis on Automation and Self-Service

One of the most notable shifts will be towards automation and enhancing self-service options for clients. This move not only streamlines the customer experience but also empowers customers to find solutions independently, fostering confidence in using products or services.

Expansion of CS Role into Sales: Internal Go-To-Market (GTM) teams are likely to expand the role of CS professionals, integrating them more closely with sales. This integration signifies a strategic shift, recognizing that the engagement and insights provided by CS are invaluable in driving sales and customer retention. 2024 is to put these strategic relationships into motion and measure the success of expansion from CS org. Expansions are great opportunities for CS teams to overcome the challenge of churn and bring net revenue retention to over 100% 

Broader adoption of AI tools in CS: Over two-thirds (66.3%) of customer success professionals still do not use AI in their day-to-day work, according to a survey Customer Success Collective conducted in 2023. This statistic highlights a significant area for growth and adoption, as AI can tremendously enhance personalized customer experiences and predictive analytics. I foresee this changing with more CS organizations focusing on more upsell and expansion to keep their business profitable,

Dedicated Operations or Enablement Functions in CS Teams: Many teams still need reliable operations or enablement functions. This gap presents an opportunity for organizations to invest in these areas, thereby enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of their CS efforts and enabling CS teams to focus more on what matters, which is providing more value for customers by helping them increase adoption and get the most out of the solutions they pay for.

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