Evan Klein, Founder and President of Satrix Solutions, sat down with Tyler Winkler, CEO of UserIQ, a platform that helps businesses realize the full value of customer success so they can fight churn, grow accounts, and align the entire business on users’ needs to discuss the future of the customer success industry.
Evan Klein: Over the past few years, the Customer Success industry has seen tremendous growth. How do you see the industry evolving over the next few years?
Tyler Winkler: Going forward I think there are three broad trends that we’ll see play out:
First, we’re going to see customer success expand even further beyond subscription-based tech companies to reach tech-enabled services companies—businesses that use technology to help perform their service still value customer retention and solving customer needs. The ideas and roles that have been mostly reserved for SaaS companies will make their way to SaaS-adjacent organizations, and to some degree, already have.
Second, for customer success to truly become proactive rather than reactive, teams will need to be more data-driven, leveraging product usage, voice of the customer, customer health, and so much more in concert together in order to make users feel heard and to inform a business strategy that ultimately becomes more user-centric over time. Using data, we’ll see leaders start to build out next-generation health dashboards that focus on driving and reinforcing the right behaviors upfront, rather than highlighting when something has gone off-track. At UserIQ we call this creating an “early warning system” that can identify precursors to churn, or even opportunities for account expansion and advocacy.
Finally, we’re going to see the responsibility of customer success expand beyond the Customer Success team, and continue to become more of an operating philosophy than a single department. Customer success is all about helping individuals achieve their desired outcomes ideally through a stellar experience. In establishing the customer success role and department, we have concentrated primarily on responsibility when the reality is this imperative must be shared across functions. For example, the product team has a huge impact on user experience, and the sales team uncovers those desired customer outcomes in the sales cycle. That means we already have more than a single department making customer success happen; now it’s about creating alignment across them in order to center the business on customer success.
For SaaS companies, the onboarding experience is a critical first step. What is the secret to successful onboarding in order to maximize adoption and accelerate time to value?
There’s no single secret recipe for successful onboarding, but the bedrock is setting the right expectations upfront and understanding a user’s goals. User onboarding needs to accomplish some quick wins, sure, but the business impact should be front and center. Onboarding needs to help users achieve preliminary business goals, or at least tangibly see how it will, rather than simply handing out a badge for learning how to use the product. Training is a part of onboarding, but onboarding is not just training. The challenge that we found when talking to SaaS companies is creating onboarding of this type at scale. We’ve actually created an onboarding grader tool to assess how scalable your current methods are, which has helped SaaS teams prioritize updates to their current practices.
How are your customers leveraging usage data to prioritize product enhancements and/or refine their roadmap?
UserIQ customers are using a few different feature sets in tandem to really drill down here. One of our features, journey paths, can validate hypotheses about what users are doing in the product. Instead of looking at a single feature and its usage in isolation to inform product updates, they’re using journey paths and correlating usage data to understand what comes before and after that product usage, and how likely it is to make a user more successful. Data is increasingly used to connect the dots of how users on the aggregate move within the product, which is how many UserIQ customers are informing their data-driven product roadmap.
Talk to us about the importance of companies effectively communicating new features and offering training for their customers.
New feature introduction is not unlike onboarding in that training needs only to be a portion of the message. The industry, UserIQ included, is working on raising the bar for new feature communication. It’s not enough to alert users to the presence of a new feature. You need to tell them why it was created and how they can leverage it to meet their business goals. Changing habits is hard, so the way you introduce a new feature is crucial. When you launch a new product or feature or tool, you’re asking users to change how they work, and incorporate a new or different step in their process. So it better be a worthwhile addition, and it’s our job to convey why it is.
What do you consider the advantages of UserIQ versus similar platforms in the market?
UserIQ helps companies unify their business around customer success—helping departments identify the right experience and outcomes users need to deliver on the promised value. UserIQ is the only customer success software that brings together customer health, intelligence, and engagement across all devices into a single platform. Our customers are able to cut spend on various cobbled-together point solutions and increase revenue, fight churn, and drive business outcomes.
About Tyler Winkler
Tyler Winkler is the CEO of UserIQ, a platform that helps businesses realize the full value of customer success so they can fight churn, grow accounts, and align the entire business on users’ needs.
Previously, Tyler served for 15 years as the VP of Global Sales & Marketing at SecureWorks and played a significant part in leading the company to a $650M acquisition by Dell. He also led SecureWorks’ global expansion and large-scale restructuring following the acquisition, including the growth of its sales operations, marketing, channel, and business development functions. Tyler serves on the board for Skout Cybersecurity and InteliSecure, and holds a business degree from Towson University in Baltimore.
When he’s not busy “making the boat go faster,” you can find Tyler playing tennis, fishing, rooting on Clemson or Auburn, and enjoying time with his wife and two sons.