Judging by the huge crowds of annual passholders I have personally witnessed at Disneyland, the company is doing a great job in keeping customers satisfied. And judging from the bad press and vocal complaints from its millions of subscribers, MoviePass is struggling mightily to keep the customer satisfied.
I come not to bury MoviePass (I am a frustrated ex-subscriber, and I hope it gets its formula right) nor to praise The Walt Disney Company, whose spokesperson respectfully declined to reveal to me the number of annual passholders it has (for the record, I am an annual passholder and for full disclosure, a tiny shareholder).
MoviePass is trying. A movie theater subscription service and a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc., MoviePass says in a news release “after months of determined testing” it will introduce an updated pricing plan for the new year, effective January 1, 2019.
Good luck with that. I love to go to the movies. The challenge is MoviePass has experimented with many formulas with its subscribers. That has left many, shall I say, grumpy. Definitely they aren’t happy.
But my real question is, what are you doing to ensure customer success? A happy customer is a loyal customer. And a loyal customer is a profitable customer. At least that is the theory.
While great energy is devoted to attracting high-paying clients, why not pay some attention to keeping the high-paying clients you already have?
That is the mindset of a new breed of marketing pro, with titles like director of customer success.
So, what are customer success executives saying is the key to success? That is what Ellen Grace Henson wanted to find out.
“While the job category of customer success started with software-as-a-service, other types of companies, products and services can benefit from a focus on customer success,” says Henson.
If you have not yet heard, customer success is an emerging role in business. This new role for customer success executives emerged from the software world and is most prevalent among software subscription companies. But the implications are important for many fields.
When software went to a subscription model, rather than selling a one-time license, the software companies figured out it pays to keep the subscribers happy. That is, if you wanted them to stay subscribers.
If that sounds like plain old customer service, there is an important distinction. Customer success differs from customer service in the following way: customer success is proactive and customer service is reactive.
Henson, managing director and founder of Marketing Mechanics, has been working in product management since the mid-1990s and consulting for 15 years. She recently conducted several informational interviews with customer success executives and discovered some interesting things.
I caught up with Henson, who is also president of Women In Consulting, after a presentation she made at ConsultCon 2018 in San Diego in October.
“In many organizations, the customer success team gets involved with the customer after the customer makes a purchase, with the intent to provide support focused on retaining customers,” says Henson. “Companies who develop products and services from a customer-centric point of view are less likely to miss the mark with their products and thus less likely to have to re-tool or repair post sales, making the jobs of the customer success teams easier.”
Henson says the customer success team should collaborate with product management, helping to drive an in-depth view of customer needs across all functional teams. While customer service handled complaints, customer success is about preventing customer heartburn.
Here are some of Henson’s customer success tips from her in-depth interviews:
- “Customer success starts with a customer-centric approach to product and service development.”
- “Customers often try to use products in ways not envisioned by the product team. This can result in frustration on the customer’s part. Customer success can help identify product and service gaps. These need to be communicated to product management so that any gaps can be addressed in product and service updates.”
- “The customer success team and the product management team need to collaborate and also drive collaboration across other functional groups.”
- “While it might not always be obvious — the goals for customer success and product management are the same: gain a deeper understanding of customer needs, provide products and services that engage customers and help them achieve their goals, contribute to the company’s business success by delivering value that customers need, want, and will pay for.”
Henson’s bottom line: “Collaboration is also important as the customer success team might discover opportunities for improving products and services. This information needs to be fed into the product (or service) development and delivery process.”