As subscriptions put power in the hands of the user, software brands must create genuine value, says guest contributor Clayton Moulynox.

Customers wield more power than ever before in this new world of subscription-based software. They’re basically a Jedi Master, with a humming lightsaber poised to chop away anything that’s no longer valuable to them with one fatal swing.

Remember huge upfront software investments obligating users to stick with their chosen solution for years? Those days are gone. Software companies once considered a signed contract as the end of the sales cycle. They swiftly moved on to the next big deal leaving their newly acquired customer holding only a thick manual, support phone number and a loose promise of “being in touch”.

In a subscription economy, you need to be convinced of more than the value in signing up to a service. You need to be assured of enough value to keep paying. Essentially, the priority has shifted from convincing customers they need the solution to nurturing customers to be successful with it. Without success—particularly the quick realisation of some kind of value—it’s all too easy to chop one thing and change to something else. Hmmm….yes…much power the customer has (said in your best Yoda voice).

The practice of Customer Success (CS) is the engine for growth for modern companies willing to embrace it. CS isn’t just about proactively educating customers about a product. It’s about actively listening to customers to understand how they want to use the product, then making changes to continue enhancing their experience and value. Soon enough, with the right CS processes in place, companies will anticipate what customers need, delivering it before they even ask (a great example I tweeted about recently here.)

This is the holy grail of Customer Success.

It’s also a core function to deliver on the much sought after “product-led growth” strategy where the product itself becomes the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion. This is born from a company’s capacity to listen to customers, be agile and truly mould their product and engagement to prioritise success. The growth of companies like Slack, Zoom and SurveyMonkey can be attributed to this strategy.

In LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, Customer Success Specialist came in at number 6 with 34% annual growth. It’s no surprise—we’re clearly past the tipping point when it comes to the subscription economy and the importance of working hard to earn the retention of customers. Despite this trend, not every company sees it this way, and many are hesitant to truly become a customer success focused company. Vudoo is not one of them.

My engagement with Vudoo comes from a shared passion and enthusiasm for being at the intersection of delighting customers and challenging the status-quo—or “making a little magic,” as the Vudoo team like to say. From the outset of meeting their leadership team, I’ve been excited at their thought-leadership and dedication to customers. Not only have they started building the customer success function (relatively early in the process compared to other startups I’ve worked with, which really shows their commitment), but they’ve also had the foresight to reach out externally to people who have done it before, to push themselves to build a world-class CS experience.

The plus side for customers? An investment in products and services from SaaS companies with robust CS engines is a valuable one.

I once said that SaaS products are the gift that keeps on giving. It’s another benefit of the subscription economy—you sign up for a service which continues to evolve and improve with no increased investment from you (compared to 10+ years ago where software had to be continually upgraded at a chunky cost for new enhancements and features).

SaaS products backed by excellent Customer Success teams take it to another level. It’s not just the gift that keeps on giving… it’s more like every day is your birthday!

I look forward to continuing to work with Vudoo as they strive to build a world-class customer success practice. Their customers should look forward to benefiting. Just go easy with that lightsaber.

Clayton Moulynox is a Customer Success expert who most recently worked in roles including leading Customer Success and company culture at Seattle based pre-IPO unicorn, Auth0. He returned to Australia in 2019 and now helps early to mid-stage startups with the growth of their business, leaders and managers. Clayton acts as a Customer Success consultant for Vudoo.